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Just a meandering soul sharing my backyard. Visit my Flickr page too! www.flickr.com/photos/meanderingwa/

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

For Cindy and Dave

Sending a bit of nature with healing thoughts and love.

To Market, To Market

At the first of the month I joined the Nisqually Land trust in a Scots (scotch) Broom pull on the Van Eaton property in Eatonville.  We were blessed, yet again, with fair weather for the duration of the three hours duty. 

Most of the short greenery is Scots Broom.  You can see people in and around it.

This property we have visited before and the previous two work parties had largely cleared out the majority of Broom.  The remaining plants on worker referred to as "Old Growth" Scots Broom.  Boy was he right!

The plants were tall and their bases, stout.  It was quickly apparent that we would have to tackle the plants in teams of two and three.  We used root jacks to up-end some of the brush shrubs.  Other plants required saws to pare down the bases so the jacks could get around them.  Many we had to grub into the roots with hands and tackle them below the ground level.

The soil was very soft, a saving grace.  There were several volunteers from the high school and one found this little Salamander during her efforts.

She was careful to place the little one safely out of harms way.  The students were very interested in the conservation work along the river.  Leaders from the Land Trust were very willing to spend extra time answering their questions. 

After the work party I paid a visit to the Olympia Farmers Market.  Along the way I spotted Santa and his hitch of eight RainDeeres

All the usual vendors were busy.  This market has many local food stalls.  The apple vendor had many varieties I have never heard of

The meat looked wonderful, very well marbled and not stuck under plastic

The biggest crowd, understandably, at Wagner's Bakery.

I worked with Mr Wagners sister many years ago.  My first experience with home made sauerkraut was his.  It converted me to always adding caraway seed to my store bought kraut.  For this I thank him.

Last Sunday I went into Seattle early to see the runners for the Jingle Bell Run.  Once again there was a huge crowd

but I was disappointed to not see as many people in really far out costumes this year.  Overall it felt sort of quiet and not quite as jolly.

Pike Place Market was really busy, far more so than it was last year.  The vendors were hard at work and ready to pounce on anyone taking notice.  I found some unique preserved strawberries that I am going to try in my favorite scone recipe. 

The market is such a wonderful, visual place

Who can resist the neon

I could not resist stopping and watching the donut machine

and had to breeze through DeLaurenti http://www.delaurenti.com/

The craft folks were just setting up.  I always find things I would really love to have ( I don't NEED another purse) and little hidden surprises, like this hand painted column,  everywhere.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving

I am heading to the beach for a couple days.  I am hoping to enjoy some stormy weather, kite flying and lazy hanging about.

I will be taking my weather proof hiking gear and testing it out.

This morning I saw the linked video and felt it was something I wanted to share.  A 360 degree fly around of Mt Rainier with all of the landmark names and placed on a map for you.

Mt Rainier is THE icon for this state.  A majority of the population can see it , to some extent, from their home.  When we can see it clearly, we say "The Mountain is out."

Now all is gray and The Mountain is working up a new layer of white.

Willis Wall, a poster on a hiking forum I participate in is the photographer and creator of this excellent work.

Enjoy this stunning flight.  Willis Wall itself has always been my favorite landmark on the mountain.  It faces north and we can all clearly see it on a fair day.

Mt Rainer Overflight by Willis Wall


Sunday, November 4, 2012

Falling for Orange

When looking for ideas for exploration I am usually driven by several factors.  I am enjoying Geocaching in a low key manner and if someplace I am heading has a geocache or two, more the better.   My Flickr photography projects are never far from my mind. 

Currently I am doing two projects; "The Monthly Scavenger Hunt" and a 365 Project where I take a photo every day and post it on line.  The Monthly Scavenger Hunt lists 15 topics, concepts or ideas at the beginning of each month and we try to convey them with our image.  For the 365 Project we receive a "color of the month" and each days photo must feature that color.  Inside the 365 there are some who try to capture the same type subject every month.  At the end of the year you will have 12 images, in different colors, of the same type subject.  I have almost completed a full year of this project and my monthly special subject capture is a house.

This months color is orange.  With Fall colors slipping away I went out yesterday and today to capture some foliage shots.  It is rainy and the dreary gray skies make many things look dull.  How some of the trees would be glorious with a bit of sunshine lighting them up.

I set out for the Chinese Garden at South Seattle Community College.  I knew the garden opened at noon and figured I would visit the Washington Park Arboretum first, then the Chinese Garden in West Seattle after.  Of course in my easily distracted morning mind, I drove out on I-90 and soon found myself in West Seattle at the campus... at 9am. 

I was happy to find a little arboretum right there and since it was always open to the public, I put the Chinese Garden aside for another day.  I strolled around enjoying the nice collection of conifer trees and shrubs of all types.

I always love gardens when they have water ways and bridges.  They always add a photogenic touch.

 I found this Pinus contorta "Chief Joseph" by the little waterway.  This is its normal Fall and Winter colour.  In the Spring the needles will green up again.

Another conifer changing color.  This Dawn Redwood will drop its needles.  I love the disgruntled face in the little cone.

In the entry garden I could not resist trying to capture the raindrops.  Here on a berry.

and an explosion of Dalia

Heading back to visit the Washington Park Arboretum as originally planned, I missed a tricky ramp exit off the West Seattle Bridge.  Ah well, I figured, I might as well go via 23rd Avenue up the heart of the oldest neighborhoods in town.  Along the way it dawned on me that for this month I was going to have to find an orange house ( oh no an ORANGE house).  I eyes instantly started swiveling around as I knew many of the neighborhoods I would be passing through were given to some pretty colorful takes on house decor.  It was not long before I found this little turn of the last century gem.

I ambled around the arboretum for a while and know that I must come back here in the Spring when the Rhodie's are in full bloom.

Today I set out for a good solid hike around the Cougar Mountain Wilderness Park .  At 3100 acres it is filled with many trails, most barely two people wide.  Some trails are open to horses and it is a highly popular with trail runners.  The parking lot was filled at 8am with people who likely cannot accept that "Fall Back" = sleep in.  Hikers, runners, dog walkers, the lot was full.  I thought I was in for a busy day.  I headed out and quickly found myself in wonderful solitude.  I had loaded up about 10 Geocache co-ordinates and I set off for what turned out to be a 4 hour loop hike.  It was drizzly a bit but most of the moisture came from heat arising from wearing my waterproof coat.  I soon opened the vents of my coat, but my glasses were happy to steam up.  I need to keep up these distance conditioning hikes for my vacation next year.  The complex of parks here in the Issaquah area ; Cougar, Squak and Tiger have miles of trails and ample opportunity for long flat distances or good stiff climbs.

The Big-leaf Maples  are dropping their leaves in abundance and the trails big and small were paved over.  A person not savvy to finding their way on the smaller trails might get a little confused, but I had no issues today.  This is the wide main trail that runs down the middle of the park.  small side trails take you off in every direction.  Many of the old coal mines, the old town and community that flourished here are discussed with helpful signs.

But for the most part you wind you way around on little trails that take you to nice waterfalls and viewpoints.  Coal Creek Falls were not running heavy, even though we have had a fair amount of rain.  I have to wonder if the ground and trees are still soaking the water up following the extra long dry season we just left.

The fine drizzle left a lot of pretty drops on the mosses.  I cannot resist moss communities.  For my monthly scavenger hunt, one of the subjects is texture.  I think this photo conveys "mossy" texture pretty well.

Drip drip drip... The Fall continues

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ohop Bio survey

Saturday I experienced a new volunteer opportunity.  I joined volunteers lead by the staff of Northwest Trek in a bio survey of the Ohop Valley property owned by the Nisqually Land Trust.

I have told you about this great property and the rehab efforts underway.  The creek through this valley was reintroduced to its historic meandering bed three years ago.  Volunteers from the Land Trust, the Nisqually tribe and Northwest Trek have worked to monitor the progress and revitalization of nature in this little bit of solitude.

A bio survey attempts to note all living creatures present in the study environment.  On the large scale, you see "bioblitzes" events where experts in every conceivable field gather and attempt to survey every living thing in the environment.  It turns into a bit of a competition and all serves to further the science of the environment.  Our low key bio survey tries to characterize what and who is using the environment on a more basic level

This day we noted birds and signs of animals.  We looked for fish and frogs in the meandering creek.  For me a big star was a Magpie ( Pica pica) .  I have never seen a Magpie on the west side of the Cascades.

Magpie was attracted, along with Jays Crows and Raven by an Elk carcass, just below this post.  Personally I suspect this was a hunters leavings after dressing out the kill.  There was no skull rack or skin to be see.  Fresh bones, well stripped of meat.  All around there was scat (feces) of coyote.

We found these lovely feathers which show that a Ruffed Grouse met its end here.

Shortly after starting our survey, the weather turned very unfriendly and rain then hail slammed down.  We had some handy abandoned barns in our section so we walked about inside looking for signs of owls rodents or other creatures that might have used a shelter.  All of the birds ducked for cover and it was a good vantage point to see them emerge from the woods when the hail ended.  It was here we spotted a lone Mourning Dove.

We cut down towards the creek and found this marvelous paper wasp nest.

Photos were taken to aid the possible identification of the species that made this nest..  It looks bold and tough , but one touch lets you know it is a delicate web of tissue paper consistency.

I learned that this is Balf-face Hornet nest , Dolichovespula maculata

Dolichovespula maculataDolichovespula maculata

I love how the reeds of grass and stems of the little tree are used as foundation of the hanging nest.

near here we found a second Elk carcass.  We also found evidence of Beaver and where deer or Elk had pulled tender bark off planted trees and shrubs.  In the tall grasses we found many snails and I took pictures of two that were unlike the others.

Next weekend I will return to this place and help the land trust pull the protective tubes from around the plantings done three years ago.  I was astonished at how large some of the trees have become in such a short time.  This day there were no Salmon in the creek, like there was last year.  ON my visit last year we had a record run of Salmon through Puget Sound and they eagerly came up the new creek which had not connected to the Nisqually River in at least 75 years.  I guess 4 to 6 years from now we may expect record return of fish that hatched last year.

With just a short mornings effort, I am excited to think I have added another opportunity to experience, learn and give back to the environment.  This work was different from bird surveys as it is an opportunity to expand and stretch skills.  Having people who are knowledgeable about diverse subjects really helps in learning together.  I shared birding skills, another shared their knowledge of scat. 

As I was down south I justified the effort to finish the drive to the beach and spend the night.  I have had my mind on a sweet kite I saw last visit and I figured, I deserved it.  The wind was not favorable to fly my little boat, but I am sure the next time it will be better.

I did get to experience a fierce storm coming ashore in the night.  It sounded like a car wash.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Nothing much, how about you?

Yes I am back.

I was never really gone but it certainly seems my Summer was long and, I have to admit, filled with ennui.  Between a virus that hit me hard and frequent trips into work on the weekends, I never felt greatly inspired for blogging.  Fires late in the Summer kept me home from so many of my favorite areas.  I did some fun stuff and I visited an amazing place I will tell you about later.

It seemed that Summer would never arrive and rain persistently kept me from my favorite areas.  I even got turned back by snow in early June.  I had some nice visits to Eastern Washington and one of my favorite encounters was with this Great Horned Owl nest.

I paid a quick visit to my favorite hike to Red Top, but was turned back by snow.  I stopped at the little abandoned cabin to check on an orchid I know blooms there and encountered this feral peony bloom with a butterfly, perfect timing.

Late in  June I left for a vacation to England and Madeira.  On Madeira I hiked from hotel to hotel using a Sherpa service to transport my bags.  This method of travel is quite popular in Europe and I am aiming for another trip next Summer. 

I was in London for the solstice.

Madeira is remarkable for its rugged volcanic mountains.  I will certainly return to hike in this area.  I fell ill a few days into my visit and did not feel up to the 20Km hike along the spine of the island.  At ~ 6000 feet, I didn't feel totally confident I could easily and safely cover the distance.  I contented myself with spending the day at the hotel enjoying the view and drinking tea.

My neighbor and I had a trip rock hounding.  Augite crystals are found no other place in Washington but this one location.  It was a blazing hot day and we were introduced to several methods of finding rocks.

One new activity that I have really embraced is Mud Racing, or MOB events; Mud Obstacles and Beer.  Warrior Dash is one of the larger events but I am finding smaller events sponsored by local community groups to be just as much fun.  I did eight events this summer and look forward to the next one.  I braved the North Bend Warrior Dash along with some co-workers.

I had two nice hikes, both of which involved trains.  Lester is a ghost town in the Cascades that served as a railroad stop back in the day.  For a long time I have wanted to hike up the abandoned road to pay a visit. 

A second hike took me to the Iron Goat trail.  I need to go back as my visit was highlighted by a fall that broke my camera.  This Pika was the final subject for my Olympus.

My friend Ron suggested a few cameras for me and I was instantly in love with the Nikon Coolpix 510.  I have been out and about snapping pictures for my projects.  I was able to capture the August Blue Moon

This fearsome Isopod on International Rock Flipping Day

A handsome rooster at the Evergreen State Fair.

The stretch of 80+ sunny days was finally broken last weekend with rain.  I feel all is right with the world now.  I even see a hit of new snow on some of the higher mountains today.  I ran out to Snoqualmie Falls on Sunday and got this pictures of the clouds for my Scavenger Hunt.

and Kubota Gardens for the Fall color in the rain

I will probably be heading to the beach soon.  I saw a kite there that I cannot get out of my mind.  My little place in Neah Bay, Bullman Beach, is not going to be open in the winter this year, so I am looking for a little snuggery for the holiday week.

So that's about everything.  I will try to do some stories on Madeira soon.  It is a lot like here, only different.