Goat Rocks Backpack

October 13th, 2011

I had wanted to backpack in the Goat Rocks Wilderness for years. The Pacific Crest Trail (“PCT”) runs through it – and this is one of the highest stretches.  In fact, this year (2011) summer came so late that when we went in August, there were still snow fields to cross and a cornice to scale!  The incredible wildflowers were peaking, and streams, lakes, and waterfalls were full.  Mosquitos were having a field day, and the sun was really strong – that’s why I’m wearing the Lawrence of Arabia headgear.

That is water, not wine, in the bota bag.  (just a funny-shaped canteen)

Goat Rocks (so named because it’s home to herds of mountain goats) lies between Mt Adams to the south and Mt Rainier to the north, about a 4-hour drive from the cottage.  We were a group of 5, and we went in on Friday and came out on Monday.  I celebrated my birthday there!  Noplace else I’d rather be than sitting around a campfire with friends on a clear, starry night up in the high country.

Discovering Whistler

September 23rd, 2011

Whistler Mountain is only a few hours away from Soundview, across the border into British Columbia.  But I had never been there, winter or summer.  It’s a spectacular resort – refurbished and enlarged for the recent winter Olympics, with beautiful shops and common areas, respectful of the fantastic landscape.

The natural obelisk you see on the horizon is Black Tusk – the ubiquitous landmark of Garibaldi Provincial Park. Blessed with two peaks, lakes, forests, meadows, and waterfalls, the area is a mecca for mountain lovers like me.  In the summertime, there are free outdoor concerts in the village almost every evening.  We totally enjoyed Jason Mraz – just him – acoustic and personal – with one other musician, a fabulous guitarist.  What luck!

To get oriented, we took a chairlift up Blackcomb Mountain, then boarded the Peak-to-Peak Gondola which sweeps across a deep abyss to Whistler Mountain, and then walked down (you could have ridden down instead).  Normally in the summer there are many trails open at the top for hiking, but this year summer came late, and even in August snowfields blocked most of the higher paths.

So we hiked to Lake Cheakamus (lower elevation) and drove to a couple of spectacular waterfalls.  Our weather was splendid, and we had a great time.

Another Splendid Day-hike!

July 26th, 2011

Saturday I hiked to Emmons Glacier, the largest glacier in the continental US.  It’s on the east side of Mt Rainier and very easy to get to.  It’s about a 2-hour drive from the cottage to the Sunrise entrance of Mt Rainier National Park.  Then you drive to the White River Campground, park your car, and start walking UP.

But the trail is easy, punctuated by delicate waterfalls, and before long you are straddling the ridge of the glacier’s lateral moraine.

Emmons Moraine trail is the most bang for the buck I’ve experienced around these parts! (the most spectacular mountain wilderness scenery, for the least amount of effort to get there.)

B&B or Conventional Hotel?

July 10th, 2011

A new blog-post on a hospitality trade website talks about why more vacationers are choosing to stay at a B&B, as opposed to a hotel.   According to this article, people enjoy the unique, personal nature of B&Bs.  And Soundview is unique among B&Bs.

The cottage is a separate guesthouse, totally private.  Guests have complete freedom to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and that includes breakfasts.  I don’t cook.  I do provide almost all the breakfast foods you can think of, but you choose and you cook, not me.  I think I would burn out very quickly if I had to get up and make an elaborate breakfast every morning.

This may put off some potential guests who enjoy a lavish breakfast served to several guests at once in a central dining room. But my guests enjoy this self-catered idea.  In the complete, new kitchen in the cottage, they can also prepare other meals and save money and control what they eat.  More and more people these days have special dietary needs, such as avoiding wheat, sugar, or lactose…and managing your own diet in your own kitchen gives you total control, just like at home.

It works for me!

Spectacular Spring Hike to Wallace Falls

June 15th, 2011

Last week I took a spectaculNorthwest Streams Are Full This Springar hike up a series of waterfalls on the way to Stevens Pass, Highway 2.  It’s a state park called Wallace Falls.  The hike is pretty easy – 5 or so miles up to a picnic point, then turn around and come back.  On this brilliant spring day, the trail was crowded with exuberant hikers of all ages and abilities, thrilling to the rushing water, suddenly blue sky, and the impudent, luscious green.  The trail is out of the hamlet called GoldBar, on the way up to Stevens Pass, and it’s less than a 2-hour drive from the cottage.

Yoga Classes – another local gift

May 22nd, 2011

My yoga teacher, Janet Crawley, is offering Soundview Cottage guests a free introductory class. It’s only 5 minutes away, in a pleasant classroom, and Janet is a caring, careful leader.  The one hour+ sessions help me keep my flexibility, balance, and strength. They’re very relaxing, too, and we girls usually enjoy a latte and chat at Starbuck’s afterwards.

Janet always has extra yoga mats. That’s me on the purple mat.


The classes are at 8:30 Monday and Wednesday mornings, in Normandy Park, just down the hill.  Janet’s own websites:  for yoga go to www.JanetCrawley.com and for her ceramic art go to www.ClayQueen.com.

Moshier Community Art Center – a local treasure!

May 10th, 2011

People come here from miles around Puget Sound to throw pots, glaze and fire them.  The facility and the artists at Moshier are the best – and it’s only 5 minutes from Burien, where I live and where Soundview cottage is!

I’ve taken classes for years here, made dozens of bowls and mugs, gotten dirty, laughed and sighed and groaned at the clay, and marveled at the way the glazes come out of the kiln.

Here are some photos of the teachers (who are also friends) with their work at a recent show/sale, and of me at the wheel.

Winter at Soundview

February 21st, 2011

The  full moon woke me up Thursday night, shining on the Sound through the wispiest little clouds.  I love winter here. Sometimes it snows, but usually the snow melts pretty quickly. The views are even more amazing in the winter, because some of the trees are bare now and you can see more of the water.

(this photo is from a few years ago – this much snow is really unusual!)

But a couple of weeks ago, when I was supposed to lead a group of middle shool girls on a snowshoe trip, the weather turned warm and rainy and we had to suddenly switch to Northwest Trek instead of going up to Snoqualmie Pass.

NW Trek was a lot of fun and a perfect Plan B.  We were able to stay out of the drizzle most of the time, riding the heated trams that carry you through the wildlife habitat in the foothills of Mt Rainier, to observe deer, bison, moose, elk, swans, geese – totally oblivious to the human visitors.  In other places in the park, separated from the grazers, are predators like wolves and bears. My favorite are the beavers, which you get to observe swimming underwater through a glass wall.

The girls were adorable – they loved taking photos of each other, and kept pulling me into the picture!  This day was an activity of the Sierra Club Inner City Outings program, where I’m a volunteer leader for two Tukwila schools.  Tukwila is just on the other side of the airport, and it’s said to be the most diverse school district in the nation.  I believe it!

A day in the snow

January 25th, 2011

I took a friend up to the mountains at Snoqualmie Pass last week – just for the day.  It was glorious.  Lots of fresh, clean snow, azure sky.

The Pass is only about 1.3 hrs away, and there are 4 downhill ski areas, snowshoe and cross-country trails, restaurants, lodges, gas station, 2 little markets, a delightful gift shop, and ranger-led snowshoe tours on the weekend. There’s a bigger, higher ski area called Crystal Mountain on the east shoulder of Mt Rainier, but it takes another hour to drive there.  A little farther still, Seattleites can also ski at Stevens Pass, Mt Baker, Mission Ridge, and White Pass – and there’s even a little rope tow at Hurricane Ridge on the Olympic Peninsula.  I love Seattle!  It’s so close to so many different kinds of recreation.
Coming home to the hot tub at Soundview on a clear night is the best!   I keep the hot tub ready for guests all year, and sometimes if the cottage is vacant I use it myself.

The full moon was shining on the Sound that night, with little wispy white clouds glowing all around it.

Our President Inspired Me Last Night.

January 13th, 2011

“We must communicate in a way that heals, not wounds….
our task, working together, is to constantly widen the circle of our concern so that we bequeath the American dream to future generations.
I believe we can be better. Those who died here, those who saved lives here – they help me believe. We may not be able to stop all evil in the world, but I know that how we treat one another is entirely up to us. I believe that for all our imperfections, we are full of decency and goodness, and that the forces that divide us are not as strong as those that unite us.”

At first, I was quick to blame this unspeakable tragedy on the wave of hate rhetoric that has almost drowned our country. But last night in his memorial address at the University of Arizona, our President rose above this kind of divisive finger-pointing. He brought us together in a moment of hope and inspiration, even as we mourned the senseless loss of such fine people. Please let us heed his call and move forward together, for the future of our children.

The peace flag that flies at Soundview Cottage has taken on an additional meaning.