Beauty in Unlikely Places, Pondering, Rambling, Vacation

PNW Part 12 (Sol Duc Falls)

This is the final post in my Summer Vacation 2013 Chronicle, so forgive me if I get a little verklempt.  Maybe it’s because I’m listening to some tragically beautiful tunes (think Ellie Goulding, Ed Sheeran, The National), or maybe I’m just sad at having to say “goodbye” (in a way) to one of the most hauntingly beautiful places I’ve ever visited.

I wouldn’t use the word “magnificent” to describe Sol Duc Falls.  I’ve not been to Niagara or Angel or Iguazu Falls, but I know they are so large that you can’t get near them without being overwhelmed by their power and majesty.  You could feel the falls here, but you could also walk over the top of them without being literally blown away.  They were peaceful, beautiful, and accessible.  You could hear the roar, feel the spray; it felt very personal.

_NLG0860 _NLG0875

At the top of the falls, my kids played on the rocks that I took the picture above from.


Also? I’ve always wanted to use my fish-eye lens to take a picture like this:_NLG0880Yes, I lay down in the middle of the trail to get this photo and yes, people looked at me like I was cray-cray.  But did I care? Nope.  It was worth it to be able to cross that off my photo bucket list.

Of course there was more beauty to find along the trail on the way to and from the falls.  Here’s my favorite, but you can find more by clicking on the gallery below.


Beauty in Unlikely Places, Travel, Vacation

PNW Part 11 (Hoh Rain Forest)

The only other rain forest climate I had been in before this trip was in Hawaii, so I wasn’t sure what to expect in the Pacific Northwest.  Did I see green everywhere?  Yes.  Was there a blue sky?  Yes.  Was there oppressive humidity?  Nope.   In other words, it was delightful.

Green literally dripped from every surface.





What wasn’t dripping green was sprouting it.



I was hard-pressed to find a color other than green or brown. I found a berry here and there and a couple of flowers.  Finding a flower felt like finding a unicorn. (SQUEEEEE!!!)



But I did find fungi.

hohfungiEven though we came across other visitors every now and again, I truly felt like we were lost in our own little world.  It felt peaceful and magical and I am so thankful my family let me wander aimlessly with my camera.


For more photos from the trip, click on the gallery below.

Travel, Uncategorized

PNW Part 5 (Whidbey Island)

We spent Saturday on Whidbey Island visiting friends.  I had been on a ferry before, but this was the first time for me to ferry a car to an island.  I geeked out a little.


Before we went to our friends’ house, we went north to a little fishing town called Coupeville.  If you think of Whidbey Island as a C-shape, it’s kind of in the middle as you head north from where the ferry drops you off in Clinton.  It was a small, not overly-charming town with a fantastic view.  (That probably isn’t the town motto).



We had lunch at the little place atop the pier in the picture on the top right.  I had a beer with such a great name I had to take a photo of it (of course!)


After lunch, we headed to Useless Bay, where our friends live.  Funny names those bays have – in order to get to Useless, we had to pass Mutiny, which is right across the Puget Sound from Skunk.  We arrived in late afternoon and got to enjoy the view from this porch for the rest of the day:


We went out before the tide came in…


People just leave their boats tethered at a spot so that they will be in the water when the tide comes in.

We found a baby flounder in one of the tidal pools (more like a tidal river because it flowed the whole time)


I enjoyed watching the tide come in.


After the the yellows and the oranges of the sun’s setting came the pinks and purples.  They were my favorite.


I was able to catch the sun’s last rays as it sunk below the horizon

This is SOOC (except for cropping) #truecolors

So yeah, if you haven’t been, I highly recommend visiting the Puget Sound in July.  It was such a wonderful respite from the unbearable Texas heat.

***Take a look at other posts in the series***

Part 4 here

Part3 here

Part 2 here

Part 1 here

History, Traveling

PNW Part 4 (Seattle Underground)

***Thank you, Bill Speidel, for featuring this blog post on your Facebook wall and mentioning it on Twitter!***


Pioneer Square is the area of Seattle where the original settlers built their businesses and homes, and the Seattle Underground Tour literally takes you underground to give you glimpse of life in Seattle’s early days. Seattle’s original settlement is what is now 1-2 stories under street level, and parts of it have been made safe for people to tour.  Today, Pioneer Square looks like any other area of town with beautiful trees, interesting architecture, Starbucks and a Utilikilts store in its midst. Aren’t familiar with Utilikilts? It’s a shop that sells kilts for the Everyman, and has a jolly good attitude doing it!

Let freedom swing!

The entrance to the tour is a few doors down from Utilikilt.  I would recommend the tour to anyone; however, because of the nature of the early history of the city (hint: the world’s oldest profession was booming!  No pun intended!), the tour guides spoke in code, and I get the feeling I would have learned a lot more by taking the 21 and older Underworld Tour.  Sure, I got the gist of the story, but the original history and economy of Seattle and its rebuilding after the big fire in 1889 were so tied to that, um, “profession”, I’m sure I missed out on some interesting details. (PS – I bet you can guess which establishment was the first to be rebuilt!)

As you walked along underground, if you looked up and saw a brick arch, you knew you were walking on the original ground level, because the archways supported the sidewalk at the rebuilt ground level. The “new” sidewalks were wooden, with steel girders for support. (Larger steel girders were installed during preservation efforts to insure the stability of the “ceiling” for those touring the underground.)

sidewalkPlaced along the new sidewalk, at intervals, near the arches were “skylights” to light the underground sidewalks

_NLG0134Sometimes, prisms were included to scatter even more light down below

_NLG0145From street level today, you can still see the skylights, although you might not have known what you were stepping on. They look like this and they are scattered throughout Pioneer Square:


Now, for a little potty humor. The stories about how the first toilets in Seattle evolved were both interesting and hilarious. They looked something like this:

_NLG0110These early toilets emptied by the forces of gravity rather than being forced through pipes by flushing like we do today. Picture in your mind that early Seattle was built at sea level which equates to not a large push by gravity from the water tank above the toilet through they pipes and out to sea. Imagine what would happen when flooding occurred; it wouldn’t take a very large surge to cause the water to flow in the opposite direction. Truly, people in those days had to be cautious because sometimes flooding was great enough to cause a geyser-like effect, and woe to the unlucky person perched atop that hole. And PS – Sir Thomas Crapper is most closely associated with this type of toilet, not John Crapper as you might have heard. (I did)

I don’t include that to disgust you, just to give a glimpse of one facet of early life as a pioneer. Also? I am kind of a nerd about history and science stuff. I am eternally grateful for the advent of modern plumbing and sanitation.

“The very greatest things – great thoughts, discoveries, inventions – have usually been nurtured in hardship, often pondered over in sorrow, and at length established with difficulty.” ~ Samuel Smiles

The modern toilet is what I consider a “very great thing”.  Nikki smiles, too. 🙂

***Take a look at other posts in the series!***

Part 5 here

Part 3 here

Part 2 here

Part 1 here


PNW Part 3 (Pike’s Market)

Of course we went to Pike’s Market!  Sure, it’s touristy but it is also very functional.  Our local friends shop there regularly – Hello, The Freshest of the Fresh seafood, flowers, veggies!!  (But they know to get there early to beat the crowds. We didn’t make the effort and it was wall-to-wall bodies inside.)



I’d get up early for this!!



He taught his bird to “Meow”

Where there are tourists, there are panhandlers.  This guy was out on the street, then he moved inside.

As fun and busy as the inside was, it was somewhat of a visual overload. Outside was pretty, and more of a visual delight.



_NLG0020 _NLG0021

The original store! The line stretched down the block
The original store! The line stretched down the block
Graffiti Happy – the Seattle way

***Take a look at other posts in the series!***

Part 5 here

Part 4 here

Part 2 here

Part 1 here

Flaneur, Traveling

PNW Part 2 (Out and About in Seattle)

If you know me, you would know that my first destination the morning after we arrived was to the Mother Ship.  When asked to “find my Happy Place”, this is it.  And this is where Excellent Customer Service began.  Sigh.  They grow up so fast…

brings a tear to the eye, eh?
brings a tear to the eye, eh?

After that, we just walked – my favorite way to see any city! (If you don’t know that about me, see my post about “flaneur“)

*no post-processing necessary
I love urban art installations!
some people tried their own art installation...
some people tried their own art installation…

_NLG0058I fell in love with this little alley:

_NLG0046Things I saw while wandering down it:



That punk of a pigeon was giving me the stink-eye!



Then we saw something that some people may think is gross, but there’s no denying it’s a Seattle landmark, another public “art installation”:

the piece on the business card looks like a dragon’s head, non?

Then it was off to the ferris wheel.  On the way there, I was struck by how stuff grows on everything up there!! Fertile, much?!

This is walking under a major highway!! (99)

I know that you can google any picture of the ferris wheel and see it, but I just have to include mine here because I caught some of that beloved sun flare 🙂


My next post will be dedicated to Pike’s Market.  I went a little crazy with the cheeze-whiz there!!

***Take a look at other posts in the series!***

Part 5 here

Part 4 here

Part3 here

Part 1 here


PNW Part 1(Seattle)

Of course we went to dinner at the Space Needle an hour after we landed.  No rest for the weary (or the jet-lagged)!  I know you’ve seen many mucho pictures of it before, but I am including mine here because CAN YOU BELIEVE THERE WAS NOT A CLOUD IN THE SKY?!  We had beautiful weather the whole time we were there.  “Miraculous!”, I’ve heard the locals say.



Of course the view was spectacular. I feel so blessed to have seen this beautiful city on a cloudless day.

*picture taken from our table
*so was this one

We didn’t go to the Chihuly museum (although I HIGHLY recommend it) because he had an installation last fall at the Dallas Arboretum that I visited. (You can see that post here)  It was AMAZING – his work is truly unique!  We did peek through the bushes, though 🙂


I can’t think of another time that I have seen the sun shine as beautifully as it did that day.  Maybe it was the subjects themselves that were being illuminated that left such an impression on me.  Whatever the case, Seattle holds a piece of my heart forevermore.

_NLG9983One more gratuitous picture of downtown, taken from the observation deck, with no glass window obscuring the view:


***Take a look at other posts in the series!***

Part 5 here

Part 4 here

Part 3 here

Part 2 here