Tag Archive | Washington

COVID Diaries: Day 585

I’m currently experiencing the beginning of a “bomb cyclone” that is supposed to be roaring through the Pacific Northwest today through Tuesday.  I’m not sure what a bomb cyclone is, but it is apparently going to be the worst one we’ve had since the early 1980s.  Now depending on which news source you read, it apparently started on Thursday and is a series of “bombs,” or is that cyclones?, raging through.  So far at least, I would describe the last few days as pretty typical of fall in the Northwest.  We got some rain, we got some wind, but I was outside both Friday and yesterday and it seemed like a perfectly lovely fall day. 

Unfortunately all this talk of the bomb cyclone put off my Sunday Funday, because you know, the entire coast was supposed to be underwater and buffeted with near-hurricane force winds.  What we have right now is rain and a bit of wind.  I walked to the grocery store and got soaked on the way back, but the walk there was calm, and almost sunny.  So I guess with the arrival of the rain it is probably a purging and organizing, and puzzle type of evening.  It’s hard to get motivated through the drizzle.

I just have to reflect on my Sunday Funday a few weekends ago, when a friend and I went down to Whidbey Island and did some agate hunting, and I found three! We sat and talked and then went to the little town of Coupeville and poked around in the shops and got dinner at a Tavern nearby.  I got some photos of the gulls too.  It was such a nice day! 

In good news,  Yellow had his follow up appointment with the vet on Friday, and they pulled out his remaining staples.  His wound is closed!  Five long months, and I KNOW that he was just as tired of it as I was.  Even though I explained to him that he doesn’t have to go back for a while, I’m not sure he really understands that.  He did forgive me though when I gave him some wet food.  He really is settling in well here.


Of course, Cora is doing great too – she is happy and healthy and just wants Yellow to play with her.  He’s not ready for that, but he does let her lick him, until she gets rambunctious.  

I think it is time to start a new puzzle.  I’ve been pondering a lot on what’s next in my life’s journey and getting things sorted out.  A little down time couldn’t hurt.




Anderson-Watson Lakes Hike

Today, the fourth Saturday in September, is National Public Lands Day.  As designed, it is the largest organized volunteer event for public lands in the United States.  Well, because of COVID, many of the in-person events have been put on hold, but there are still virtual events that you can participate in – find them here: https://www.neefusa.org/npld

To honor our public lands, which I have been so fortunate to enjoy frequently, I decided to feature a recent hike.

August 3, 2019 – Watson Lakes
Noisy-Diobsud Wilderness, Mt. Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest – 9 miles roundtrip

This hike includes the option to go to a series of alpine glacier lakes, including Anderson Lake, Lower Watson Lake and Upper Watson Lake.  This hike has it all!  You start out hiking through the forest, with multiple inclines and declines.  Eventually you arrive at a meadow and a series of boardwalks so you aren’t slogging through water.  More forested hiking then deposits you into an alpine landscape with beautiful views!

The lakes are amazing, with lots of rocky outcroppings and views of the mountains above!  There are some incredible views of Mount Baker, as well as huge rocks that were deposited by glaciers.  Lelani and I enjoyed this hike thoroughly, taking time at the top to have lunch and canned wine.  After resting up a bit, I braved the waters of Upper Watson Lake for an ice cold swim!

I’ll have to make sure to get back to this hike soon!


As for today – it is pouring down rain here, but I was still able to get out for a soggy walk this morning.  It’s fall, so it’s time for that reminder that you won’t melt!  I hope you are able to get outside for National Public Lands Day today!



Wish I Could See the Tulips

So many of us are staying home, and let’s face it, it is sad that so many social events have been canceled.  It can get lonely…  A local pride and joy each spring, the Tulip Festival, will instead be beautiful blooms of millions of tulips, with very few people to see them.

Here’s a photo from the 2019 Tulip Festival, in case you need a little pick me up for your stay at home life…

Stay safe everybody!




These are interesting times.  In Washington, things are evolving rapidly, with the COVID-19 case count and death toll climbing every day.  Other than people apparently panic buying at the grocery store, nobody seems particularly worried.  Social distancing is the new buzzword of 2020 and us introverts finally don’t have to feel guilty about saying we don’t want to go out!

I’m working from home now, whenever possible, and have been busy trying to keep up with the new state and federal guidelines and legislation coming down everyday. I’m blessed that I’m able to easily work from home!  Nobody at my work has been diagnosed yet, but we’ve had a few scares.  It’s getting closer, and I’m sure it is just a matter of time.  I’m kind of exhausted.  I’ve written more policies in the last week than I have in a while.

California ordered a loose shelter in place for the whole state this evening.  I’m actually pretty surprised Washington hasn’t, since we have twice as many cases and four times as many deaths.  I’m not happy that I haven’t had plans to travel, but at least I don’t have anything to cancel!

And in spite of it all, spring sprung today in glorious fashion, shining down with a warm, sunny, gorgeous day.  The flowers are starting to bloom.  It’s clear I need to plant more narcissus.

Be safe everyone, and be kind.  Don’t hog all the toilet paper…

Circus Trip 2018: Washington

Day 1, July 16, 2018

My trip began in a whirlwind of to-do’s and jet lag.  Yes, I realize the contradiction there, and that’s part of what made that week such insanity…  I got home from my London trip early Sunday morning and was planning to depart on my big road trip one week later, the next Sunday morning.

In between I had to:

Work my last two days at my job
Do some happy hours/get togethers with friends and say my temporary goodbyes
Pack the car
See my parents
Get groceries
Get my house in order for several months away
Set up my new health insurance
Get Coraline set up at my parent’s house
See my horse
Get some sleep!  The pain of jetlag is real!

I took an extra day to get everything done, because I was stressing a little bit.  Are you kidding me?  What were you thinking – deciding to take off alone in your car for a several month jaunt around the country!!?  I went anyway.

Pulling away

I got on the road on Monday morning, July 16, 2018 at a few minutes after 9.  I had planned to take Highway 2, which is a little slower but more beautiful than I-90 in Washington.  I got to the junction, got on Highway 2, and was greeted by traffic.  At a standstill.  The only movement was from people taking the exit to get off…  I had a few minutes to ponder before I had to decide, and chose to get back off Highway 2 and head down to I-90 instead.  Later I saw there had been a fatality accident, so who knows how long I would have been sitting there…

I decided that I wasn’t going to sight-see my way through Washington, since I have lived here my whole life and I can always see Washington on a weekend trip!  I did want to break up the drive a bit though, since Washington is a wide state.

Once I made it through the Seattle metro area and onto I-90, it was smooth sailing but very hot!  I stopped for lunch in Roslyn, Washington and poked around a bit there.  I have driven by so many times, but have never stopped.  Roslyn was founded as a coal mining company town in 1883, but eventually transitioned to forestry and tourism.  You probably know Roslyn without knowing you do; it was the fictitious town of Cicely, Alaska in the television show Northern Exposure.

I ate my lunch at the cemetery, because I love historic cemeteries; they are so peaceful.  Roslyn’s is rather unique, in that it has 26 different ethnic cemeteries all next to each other.  It reflects the ethnic diversity of the early miners, and the headstones and decorations in the cemetery show the cultural differences well.  After I ate, I wandered the quiet streets and took a few photos, but didn’t spend much time. The Brick Tavern is said to be the oldest continuously operating tavern in Washington state, and was used for scenes of Northern Exposure.


After leaving Roslyn, I continued my drive, and stopped for a bit at the Wild Horses monument in Vantage.  The monument is a group of metal horses placed on the cliffs overlooking the Columbia River.  It is an iconic view from Interstate 90 for anyone who has driven this stretch.  I have loved these horses for years, but it has been a long time since I stopped here to check them out.

The sculpture was designed and created by sculptor David Govedare, from Chewelah, Washington.  The original idea was for a 36-foot tall woven steel basket, tipped by Grandfather, the symbolic Great Spirit, to let 18 horses escape and run free.

The sculpture was intended as a gift during Washington’s Centennial celebration in 1989. The state gave the land to Grant County, but donor funds fell short and there wasn’t enough money to complete the project. 15 horses were completed and stand atop the hill.  You can hike up the steep hill to get a close up view, but the temperature was 98 degrees that afternoon so I opted not to climb that hill.


I arrived at my destination at about 7 that evening – Elk, Washington, just outside of Spokane.  I was staying with a childhood friend of mine that I hadn’t seen in ages!  Kim has a new baby – he was 7 months old last July.  We checked out her farm, ate pizza, drank wine, and caught up on life.  It was good to not have to worry about finding a campground right out of the gate and it was relaxing spending time with an old, dear friend.  It was a great start to the trip!

Kim’s Farm, where I spent my first night



Bellingham to Elk, Washington


Wenatchee: Ohme Gardens

I went to a conference in Chelan last September, and Jon came over to meet me for the weekend. We had already been to Chelan, so we decided to stay about 30 minutes away in beautiful Wenatchee. We went to Ohme Gardens, which is a garden created by a couple on a rocky outcropping overlooking the city. Herman and Ruth Ohme got married in 1929, during the Depression, and really didn’t have any money, but they had purchased a 40 acre orchard property that included this plot of land high on a hill overlooking town.

It was arid, with scrub brush and no trees, but they stood on the dry outcropping and imagined something much more lush. They set about transforming it into an oasis in the desert. You may not know, but Wenatchee only gets 9 inches of rain per year, so creating a garden with plants from the Cascade Mountain range was quite the feat.

In the beginning, the couple would head out for the day to public lands, and dig up plants that they wanted to transplant to their garden. Don’t do this, by the way, it is illegal. But this was back then, and obviously nobody stopped them. Once they transplanted some plants, the hard work began. There was no irrigation system, so they had to drive a truck with barrels of water up as high as they could go, and then they hand watered the whole garden using buckets. Buckets! The garden was smaller in the beginning, but that’s a lot of tramping up and down the hill with a 5 gallon bucket of water…

Ohme Gardens eventually grew to the 7 acres that it is today, and has an irrigation system, multiple ponds, mature pine trees and sunny grassy areas. Due to its location on a steep slope, exploring it means climbing up and down the hill on a series of garden paths and stepping stones. Don’t wear heels… There are plenty of shady nooks and crannies to keep you relatively cool in the hot summer sun, and apparently it is a popular wedding venue.

When Mr. Ohme became too elderly to keep up the garden by himself, his children started helping, and Mr. Ohme died at the age of 80 in 1971.  In 1991, they donated the garden to the State, who eventually transferred it to Chelan County.  I would love to come back sometime when the spring flowers are blooming – I bought their tourist guide and the photos in springtime look amazing. And I had no idea this gem was even there!

I didn’t bring my larger camera, for some crazy reason, so the pictures didn’t turn out as nice as I would have hoped, but I hope you can tell how neat this place is. If you have a chance, go – it is certainly worth the $7 admission.


Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

This weekend, some of my coworkers and I had a Girls’ Weekend in Chelan, a lakefront resort community.  We were a few hours away at a conference for a good part of the week, so we had decided to spend a bit more time in the sunshine of Eastern Washington before coming home.  On Saturday, we went wine tasting and ended up at Lake Chelan Winery.

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Lake Chelan Winery 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Tonight Jon and I are enjoying the 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon that I purchased that day.  On the nose, this wine has robust aromas of stewed plums, tobacco and cloves.  You know that it will be a big wine.  On the palate, there is more of a ripe blackberry flavor with the tastes of tobacco and cloves.  The wine is big, but it has nicely balanced tannins to make it an approachable wine.

Jon was as impressed as I was when he tried it, and was happy with my purchase.

Have you tried any of Lake Chelan Winery’s wines?  What did you think of them?

Arbor Crest 2012 Riesling

I was craving a white tonight – even though the temperature is currently 27 degrees outside with the wind chill bringing it down to 19.  But it is nice inside, as I watch the first of the Olympics broadcasts with Oliver snuggled up next to me.

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars is located in Spokane, WA and this Riesling is sourced from the Dionysus Vineyard in the Columbia Valley.  Arbor Crest is one of the oldest wineries in Washington – it opened in 1982 as the 29th winery in the state.

When we visited in August 2013, we didn’t get to visit the winery’s Cliff House Estate (it was closed that evening), a beautiful mansion located at the top of a 450 foot cliff.  The views from the top of the hill outside looked spectacular, so I’m sure it would be an amazing place to relax on the patio with a glass of their wine.  One day…

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling - Dionysus Vineyard

Arbor Crest Wine Cellars 2012 Riesling – Dionysus Vineyard

2012 was a great year in the Dionysus vineyard, with warm summer days and cooler nights that allowed for the right amount of acid retention.  The 2012 Riesling was aged in stainless steel tanks.  It is a lovely straw color, and on the nose, you pick up a lot of tropical fruit smells, ripe pineapple and honey, with a hint of a floral smell.  On the palate, you get the same ripe pineapple flavor with loads of honey.  The mouth feel is thick and syrupy.

If you have a chance to try it, be sure to let me know what you think!

The Broken Motor

I’m tired tonight…  Last night Jon and I got home from a trip to Chelan, Washington, where our lungs were subjected to a thick cloud of smoke hanging heavy in the air from the wildfires that are burning too close to people’s homes and lives.  There was a fire burning 10 miles outside of town, and although the flames weren’t visible because it is on the other side of a ridge, the stagnant air was heavy with smoke.  You want the wind to pick up and blow the smoke away, but you can’t hope for that, because it would make the fire spread that much more quickly.

I headed over on Tuesday for a work conference, and Jon followed on Friday for what we hoped would be a weekend of hiking, wine tasting and enjoying what is sure to be one of the last beautiful summer weekends in Washington.  Unfortunately, the fires eliminated any chance of getting good hiking in, both because many of the state parks are closed due to the fire danger, and because my lungs and my asthma were feeling the effects of the smoky air.  So we went wine tasting and had a leisurely, non-active weekend.  I’ll be sure to post more about the trip soon.

After arriving home, my oldest cat Martini was so excited to see me she didn’t want to let me out of her sight.  She lay down with me at bedtime, and was purring so loudly that I thought she was going to overheat and explode!  Actually, I joke about it now, but I was really quite worried, because her purring was so raspy and heavy that I was concerned that she had some sort of a respiratory infection.  Her breathing was quite labored, and she would not stop purring.  Normally, when I wake up in the middle of the night I pet her a little, but I didn’t want to pet her for fear that she would NEVER stop purring!  She purred for hours… Right in my ear… this raspy, labored purring.  I thought my first call in the morning would have to be to the vet.

Thankfully, at 4 in the morning (yes, I was awake that whole time, worried about the respiratory infection…) she finally settled down and went to sleep.  And I could finally get some too.  Today her breathing was fine.  So I guess I have to chalk it up to her just being that glad to have her momma home.  Whoever said cats are aloof has never met mine.

Martini – When She’s Not Purring

Tonight I am sipping Blue Heron, by St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw, Michigan.  St. Julian claims to be Michigan’s oldest winery, and I have no reason to doubt that it is.  St. Julian was founded as Border City Wine Cellars in Ontario, Canada in 1921.  In 1934, after Prohibition was repealed, owner Mariano Meconi moved the winery across the river to Detroit.  By this time, the name had been changed to Meconi Wine Company.  Next came a move to the other side of the state in 1936, to Paw Paw, Michigan, which is in the southwest corner, and one of the state’s best wine growing regions.  With the move to Paw Paw, he changed the name to the Italian Wine Company – geez, make up your mind!

He changed the name one more time to St. Julian Winery in 1941, in response to the anti-Italian sentiment that was growing during World War II (ok, I gotta give that one to him).  St. Julian was the patron saint of the town of Faleria, Italy, where Mariano Meconi was born, so he honored his old hometown with the last name change.  So, from 1921 until today – this winery has been producing wine for over 90 years!  That’s pretty good!

Anyway, Blue Heron is a blend of Vidal Blanc, Seyval Blanc and Riesling, and is labeled a semi-sweet wine.  I actually consider it to be a sweet white, with a nose of floral scents and honey.  It tastes of tart, crisp apple and honey.  It reminds me quite a bit of Chateau Ste. Michelle’s everyday Riesling, which is one of my favorite inexpensive, night-at-home wines.  Jon picked this one up in Michigan at the grocery store, without knowing anything about it, and for $6.99 for the bottle, he scored!

Blue Heron White by St. Julian Winery

So, with that, I’m going to finish off my Blue Heron and head to bed.  Hopefully, there will be no purring…

The Mountain Runners

Last Saturday night Jon and I had the good fortune to go to a showing of the movie The Mountain Runners.  It is a film about a crazy marathon event held for a couple of years after the turn of the last century here in Bellingham.  It was the crazy dream of the Mount Baker Club, a club dedicated to promoting outdoor activities.  The Mount Baker Club was in its infancy in 1911, having just been formed, when they decided to hold an event that they hoped would promote tourism to Mount Baker, the 10,781 foot peak in the backyard of Bellingham.  As the crow flies, Mount Baker is just over 30 miles from Bellingham.  On today’s road, with switchbacks for the ascent, the distance is about 60 miles.

The film was showing at Mount Vernon’s Lincoln Theatre, which is an independent historic theatre built in 1926.  It is neat to take a step back in time, and see the fully restored beauty.  The Lincoln was built as a vaudeville and silent movie house with a Spanish motif.  It has beautiful and simple wrought iron light fixtures and wall coverings in what’s known as a travertine finish.  It makes large use of reds, yellows and blues.  It’s a bit plain on the outside, but if you appreciate historic architecture and design, you won’t be disappointed by the interior!

The Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon, Washington – Built 1926 – Mediterranean Revival Architectural Style

So, back to the movie.  If you are planning to watch it, stop reading now!  Spoilers!  Although it is a documentary about an event that occurred 100 years ago, so really, maybe you already know what happens…

So here was the plan.  The Mount Baker Club would host a race, where men would depart from Bellingham, make their way to the summit of Mt. Baker and back to Bellingham, all within 24 hours.  There would be two routes to choose from, one where you made the initial 44 miles (one way) of the trip by train to the small town of Glacier, and then ran the remaining portion of the trip to the summit (about 28 miles round trip on foot).  Or you could opt for route two, where you were driven from Bellingham 26 miles (one way) to another small town, Deming, where you began your journey on foot to the summit from the other side of the mountain.  This route’s round trip run was about 32 miles (but supposedly the trails were a little better in this direction).  Once you arrived back at your vehicle (either car or train) after your run, the vehicle took you back the other way into Bellingham.  The first man to arrive won.  Simple right!?

Except that even in the height of summer, the highest portions of Mount Baker still have about 20 feet of snow pack.  And the temperature at the summit is generally 35 degrees colder at that altitude.  So, even if we are having a pleasant 70 degree day in town, it will be about 35 degrees at the top of the mountain.  That’s if it isn’t storming…  And these men, in their race to be the fastest, didn’t want to stop and put on mountaineering gear.  Nope, they were making the summit climb in simple cleated logging boots.  Yikes!

In 1911, the first year of the race, Joe Galbraith took the win with the Deming route in 12 hours and twelve minutes.  But only because Harvey Haggard’s train, while speeding back to town, collided with a bull and derailed!  Up until the derailment Harvey Haggard was in the lead.  Newspapers of the day sensationalized the story quite a bit and announced that 3 men died in the crash, but in fact, there were only minor injuries.  I think Harvey Haggard should have gotten a special prize, for continuing his journey in a horse drawn buggy, then on horseback, and then in a car.  In fact his horse spooked when it saw the waiting car and stopped short, sending Harvey sailing over his front end.  Even after fainting twice on the car ride back to town, Harvey Haggard still finished second.  The bull didn’t fare as well.  He was killed by the train wreck, and BBQ’d up by the townspeople to celebrate the race.

Harvey Haggard Racing to Get to the Train

The Derailment of the “Number 3 Special”

In 1912, Joe Galbraith was going to defend his title, but ended up breaking his arm a few weeks before the race and having to withdraw.  Harvey Haggard won this time, without the high drama experience of the year before.  In 1913, race organizers had come to understand that barring any train derailments, the Glacier route was faster, so they switched things up a bit.  If you took the train up the mountain, you had to take the car down, and vice versa, to even the odds.  But 1913 barely averted tragedy again.  One of the racers, Victor Galbraith, cousin of Joe, fell into a crevasse on his way down from the summit.  Miraculously, he survived the fall, but almost died of hypothermia (remember they aren’t wearing mountaineering gear) as he waited 5 hours at the bottom of the crevasse to be rescued.

After the 1913 race, organizers realized that it was only a matter of time before something went horribly wrong.  There were other issues of mismanagement on the part of the race organizers too, but I won’t go into them here.  The race was ended for good.  Or so you thought!  In 1973, the Mount Baker Marathon was reborn as the Ski to Sea Race.  I’ve blogged about it here, earlier this year, when Jon participated in the running leg of the race.

It’s nice to see a local independent film make its way in the world.  If you can, it is worth seeing – and if you aren’t from the area, check out the website, because it is getting some national and international viewings!