Saturday, June 17, 2017

Mercer Slough - #SaturdaySnapshots

I have to admit that the June 13th walk along Mercer Slough wasn't my favorite, mainly because of the mosquitoes! But the nature park was lovely, and the weather was nice and cool. It's amazing that such a quiet, serene green space exists right next to the intersection of two of Seattle's busy freeways -- Interstates 405 and 90.
[Click on photos to enlarge.]

Our path took us along a stream...



Among skunk cabbage...

And over the slough.



Raised walkways kept our feet dry.

Portions of the park were closed for renovation and we couldn't visit the Blueberry Farm, but we explored what we could and had a great time.

From the Bellevue, Washington, Parks & Recreation website:
Nestled in the heart of Bellevue, the 320-acre Mercer Slough Nature Park offers a tranquil setting for a variety of recreational experiences: biking, hiking, canoeing , blueberry picking, and environmental education. The Mercer Slough is Lake Washington’s largest remaining wetland, containing hundreds of plant species and an abundance of water resources. The park provides a diverse habitat for over 170 species of wildlife. Interconnected boardwalks, soft surface trails, and asphalt paths transport visitors through this unique urban wetland.

More info:  Mercer Slough Nature Park


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Friday, June 9, 2017

Twin Falls #Hike - #SaturdaySnapshots

Seems like every hike and walk I take has something that sets it apart from the others. Last week's out-and-back trek started off at Olallie State Park and followed along the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River in western Washington. I love the sound of a roaring river. 


We then veered inland and hiked up, up, and up some more to the top of Twin Falls. The view was worth the effort! The area had a lot of rain this past winter and spring, so the river was full and so were the falls. I took lots of photos of the upper falls. Here are two from different angles.



We continued upward to intersect with the John Wayne trail, so our hike ended up being around five miles. The trail was well tended (washouts had been rebuilt) and lined with ferns, bleeding hearts, salmonberry bushes, and other lush foliage. This isn't a great photo with that big tree smack-dab in the middle, but I wanted to show the ferns, switchback trails, and the hikers down below.



And here's the lower falls:

We walked down 104 wooden steps to reach the viewing platform where I took this picture. Of course, then we had to walk back up! My legs were quivering by the time I reached the top, but the dramatic view of the 135-foot plunge made it all worthwhile.

I hope you're able to view my video to get an idea of the roar from the falls:

video


The various hiking websites I visited described this as an easy hike. Maybe it would be if I were 20 years old! Although I was able to complete the whole thing, easy isn't a word I would use to describe the trek; but I'm sure glad I went.

For more info: Twin Falls Hike


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Friday, May 26, 2017

Bonsai! - #SaturdaySnapshots

The senior center walk on May 23rd took us to Weyerhauser Company's former 130-acre corporate campus in Federal Way, Washington. Although the facility has been sold to another entity (and is currently unoccupied), the walking trails and gardens are still open to the public. 
[Click on photos for a closer look.]

Here's a view of the offices built in 1971. The building is called a "groundscaper"  - a horizontal skyscraper.


Although I enjoyed walking among the trees and around the lakes, my favorite part of the grounds was the Pacific Bonsai Museum, so I'll focus on that today. Each miniature tree is beautifully set in an individual outdoor display area with artwork showing its native habitat. A description board is posted nearby.

Pond Cypress - I've seen these trees in the Big Thicket National Reserve
in southeast Texas.


Coast Redwood - Love the artist's rendition of the view
up into the treetops of a redwood forest.

Mountain Hemlock - A miniature forest.

Sierra Juniper - A beauty from Yosemite National Park, California.

The museum's brochure says they display sixty bonsai in all. Some were in bloom.

Wisteria
Bougainvillea - Kept in a protected area.

My friend Lora Lee has an unusual backpack. As a result of a contest between members of the hiking group, he's been given the name Sir Hikes-a-Lot.



More info about the Pacific Bonsai Garden: HERE
More info about the Weyerhauser site: HERE



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Friday, May 19, 2017

Washington Park #Arboretum - #Seattle - #SaturdaySnapshots

Although I've lived in the Seattle area for thirteen years, I had only visited the Arboretum once and that visit was brief. Last week, however, the senior group hiked all over the garden's paths. [Click on photos for a closer look.] 

The garden's entrance gave a taste of what we'd see inside.
The pink flowers are a type of primrose; the blue ones are ajuga.
Blooming trees put on quite a show.
This dogwood is from Mexico. Strange blooms.
I should have written down the botanical name.
Tulip tree.
Magnolia blossom reminds me of Georgia O'Keeffe.
Spectacular evergreen.

Rhododendrons and azaleas bloomed everywhere in a wide range of colors. Many of the rhodies were tree-size.

I could have parked myself on a bench and spent the whole afternoon just breathing in the beauty of the Japanese garden.
Because of excavation work (new plantings!) we had to detour off our intended route, but then we came across this totem pole - "Origin of the Eagle Clan!"

Beautiful spot for our lunch break.

I'd like to go back again this summer to see what's blooming then. I'm sure it's lovely in autumn too, when the leaves turn.



More info about the University of Washington Botanic Gardens HERE.




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Monday, May 15, 2017

A Memory of Violets - First Paragraph / First Chapter / Tuesday Intros and #TeaserTuesday

I enjoyed this novel about orphaned flower sellers in 1870s London (remember Eliza Doolittle?) with a second plot that takes place in 1912. The author's descriptions were beautiful, the plots held my attention, and I cared about the characters. Her depiction of the grim life of impoverished children in London during that time was vivid and must have been the result of extensive research. The only slight complaint I have is that some aspects of the story were a little too coincidental to be believable to me. Are you bothered by coincidences?

Genre: Historical Fiction
Book Length: 386 Pages
Amazon Link: A Memory of Violets
Author Website: Hazel Gaynor

First Paragraph:
     Mammy once told me that all flowers are beautiful, but some are more beautiful than others. "Same with babies," she said, 'cause I was after saying that little baby Rosie looked like a rotten old turnip, what with her face all purple and scrunched up. "All babies look like rotten old turnips at first," Mammy said. "She'll be all smoothed out by Lady Day. You wait and see."
     She was, too. All smoothed out. After turning into a real pretty little thing she was then, 'specially with that hair. Red as the flames in the costers' smudge-pot fires.

Teaser (from Page 162 in the paperback):
In the north, nobody would know anything about them. In the north, they could be whoever they wanted to be and, perhaps, if they were farther away from London, farther away from the memories, Violette might forget about her sister.

Synopsis from Amazon:
Step into the world of Victorian London, where the wealth and poverty exist side by side. This is the story of two long-lost sisters, whose lives take different paths, and the young woman who will be transformed by their experiences.
In 1912, twenty-year-old Tilly Harper leaves the peace and beauty of her native Lake District for London, to become assistant housemother at Mr. Shaw’s Home for Watercress and Flower Girls. For years, the home has cared for London’s flower girls—orphaned and crippled children living on the grimy streets and selling posies of violets and watercress to survive.
Soon after she arrives, Tilly discovers a diary written by an orphan named Florrie—a young Irish flower girl who died of a broken heart after she and her sister, Rosie, were separated. Moved by Florrie’s pain and all she endured in her brief life, Tilly sets out to discover what happened to Rosie. But the search will not be easy. Full of twists and surprises, it leads the caring and determined young woman into unexpected places, including the depths of her own heart.


Teaser Tuesday is hosted by The PurpleBooker. Post two sentences from somewhere in a book you're reading. No spoilers, please! List the author and book title too.
Link up HERE

First Chapter/First Paragraph/Tuesday Intros is hosted by Bibliophile By The Sea. To participate, share the first paragraph (or a few) from a book you're reading or thinking about reading soon.



Twitter: @SandyNachlinger

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Cheshiahud Lake Union Loop #Hike - #SaturdaySnapshots

Hikes don't always have to be in the woods! Although the senior center group often treks under trees, plods past mud puddles, and strides alongside streams, other times our adventures are more urban. Our April 28 seven-mile hike took us in a loop on sidewalks, paved paths, and bridges around Lake Union near Seattle. 
[Click on photos for a closer look.]



We followed the route marked in red on the map, starting and ending at Gas Works Park. I like the idea that this abandoned facility has been turned into a popular park and its old equipment left as industrial art.

I've always been fascinated by Lake Union's houseboats - like the one featured in Sleepless in Seattle. We saw quite a few houseboat neighborhoods on this hike. Can you imagine boating right up to your doorstep? There's a limited number of these floating homes and they aren't cheap. A realtor's sign advertised a 1,100 s.f. houseboat for sale for $1 million.

We came across public art ...

...and beautiful blooming flowers. 

"Pocket parks" graced neighborhoods.

We watched seaplanes take off and land.

Our route took us over, under, and around bridges.

And we stopped to enjoy a delicious lunch.

Cool weather. Bright sunshine. Good friends. All in all, a perfect day.

For more info about the Lake Union Loop Hike, click HERE.



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