We’ve had a spectacular summer, and last Friday I took an 8-mile round-trip hike into Spray Park on the Northwestern flank of Mt. Rainier. It’s been warm, so a lot of the snow has melted, but there were still some patches left. Water was gushing everywhere, and Spray Falls was brim-full. What a day!
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Seattle in the summer is the perfect base camp for hikers! There are hundreds of trails to explore — many different types for any type of hiker. From beachfront walks to mountain-top climbs, anybody of any skill level can find a hike to enjoy.
The weather is ideal for taking in the outdoors and the scenery is beautiful. There is a reason we call it “The Emerald City.” A great feature of Seattle is that you can find hiking trails within the city limits to enjoy, but you can also go just outside the city and find huge, expansive trails that would take you more than a day to fully explore. These pictures were taken from the trails at Lincoln Park in West Seattle.
There are so many spectacular places to hike near Seattle, it would be tough to explore all of them in a lifetime, but you can find a detailed list of hikes in the area on the Washington Trails Association website.
I’d be happy to help you find the perfect backpack or local dayhike. I’ve blogged about a few of my adventures in the Cascades and Olympics: Seven Lakes Basin, Wallace Falls, Emmons Glacier, Goat Rocks, and Summerland and Rainy Pass. Enjoy and start planning, now!
A few blogs ago, I announced the birth in San Francisco of my 6th grandchild, and I’ve been back to see her (and her parents, of course) twice since then! I spent February and March in their household when Allison went back to work, and then another week last month when she had to be away.
I did a fair bit of sightseeing on both trips, and I wanted to share with you the most unusual field trip of all – a wine-tasting tour of the Quixote Winery in Napa Valley. My San Francisco friend Bob took me there.
The winery building, including grounds, is the only project built in this country by Viennese architect Friedensreich Hundertwasser (1928–2000). It’s designed in a whimsical, exotic way with ceramic tiles, irregularly rounded and painted columns, and deliberately uneven floors designed for their tactile effect on occupants’ feet. There are no right angles, except in the basement. The design style has been called phantasmagoric, psychedelic, and Dr. Seuss-like, and also likened to “the creation of a beautifully demented child.” The winery structure is dominated by an onion dome covered in gold leaf, as well as a living roof (seen here in the foreground) topped with grass, bushes, and trees.
Oh yes, the wine was delicious, too. Quixote is deservedly famous for its Petite Syrah. And it was the best Rose´ I’ve ever tasted.
In case you’re wondering how the cottage gets along when I’m gone, I always arrange for a friend to stay in my (separate) home, ready to answer questions or help with any problem that arises.
On October 25, my 6th grandchild was born, my younger daughter’s first-born. Sweet. I flew down to San Francisco to join the new little family as soon as I could, and spent two sleepless, heavenly weeks with them, helping to care for little Franny. She is a beautiful baby, as all babies are.
The quilt in the background is a labor of love. Each relative or family friend sent a handmade African-animal-based (or whatever they felt like) square with a personal message of love for the new babe. Elephants, monkeys, and giraffes are popular nursery themes these days – but also Franny’s parents worked in Tanzania for three years, so it’s especially meaningful for them.
When guests explore our nearby majestic mountains, I’m always thrilled for them. Here are 2 spectacular dayhikes I took late this summer – we had a late summer! – one to Summerland on the eastern shoulder of Mt Rainier, and the other to the awesome North Cascades out of Rainy Pass – 50 miles east of Marblemount. I also did a 4-day backpack out of Stevens Pass which intercepted the Pacific Crest Trail in places, and that was equally beautiful – but I didn’t bring my camera on that one. I hope you enjoy these photos.
The scrawny little trees that are turning yellow are larches – some call them tamaracks – at about 6,000 elevation. And that cute rodent creature is a marmot. He was so tame!
I have been blessed with 5 grandchildren, and the 6th is almost here! My big idea is to take each kid individually on an important trip – ideally, to a less-developed country where skins are not white, English is not the native language, and the dollar is not the local currency. Last summer was my 3rd “Nonnie Trip” – this time with 13-year-old Logan to Costa Rica. We had a blast.
It’s a beautiful country, and Costa Ricans are justly proud of it and of their progressive program to preserve wild spaces – >30% of the country is national parks. We saw jungle habitat; both oceans; wildlife in trees, jungles, beaches and rivers; an active volcano; and each other – but not much local culture. I was hoping Logan, who is a soccer star, could mingle with some village boys and join a pick-up game, but that didn’t happen. With an inter-generational tour group of 31, it was not too likely. But it was still a wonderful trip. I did my first zipline – whoo-hoo! – and Logan made some good friends.
Here are some photos from Costa Rica. Pura Vida! (that means life is good)
In case anyone’s wondering what happens to the cottage while I’m away for weeks at a time, there are two couples, friends from other parts of the country who like spending time in this area. They come and live in my home and manage the cottage (not all four at once – either George and Catie OR Don and Karla). Since guests cook for themselves, it’s not a lot of work to make sure the cleaning lady does her job, the hot tub is ready, and the cupboards and fridge are stocked with all the breakfast ingredients that I always provide. These good folks are on call 24/7 (or “on-knock” – come down and knock on the door if you need anything), and guests have given them good reviews for helpfulness.
I took two wonderful trips abroad – in June I toured Ireland and Scotland with friends, and in July I took my 13-year-old grandson to Costa Rica.
I had always wanted to go to Ireland, and when new friends from Australia – who stayed in the cottage last year – invited me to meet them in Dublin and drive around the countryside, I couldn’t wait! Except for the damp and cloudy weather, Ireland and Scotland both exceeded my expectations. The mysterious castles, the green countryside, the vast open spaces outside the cities, the dramatic cliffs and ocean views, the darling villages, the proud history and friendly people, the spontaneous joyful trad music in the pubs. We stayed in B&Bs, always finding something delightful as the daylight waned, and then dashing out for a brilliant dinner or an evening of trad and fish & chips. Yes, contrary to the bad rap re: UK dining, the food was delicious!
My next post will be about Costa Rica. If anyone has any questions like “Where was that photo taken?” or “Where did you stay on the Isle of Skye?” – pls email me – firstname.lastname@example.org
Keeping the cottage busy in the summertime is always easy. This last summer especially, parched Americans from everywhere else in the country were flocking to the cool, comfortable Northwest, and Soundview was booked almost every night. But in the autumn the snowbirds fly south and it’s harder to make a living. But the more interesting guests start coming now. It takes grit to sit in a hot tub when your head is sticking up into 35-degree night air. It takes vision to enjoy the view of the Sound when it’s raining, and insight to imagine the Olympic Mountains looming on the northern horizon when the clouds come.
So this time of year I lower the rates – 20% off, even on the weekends and holidays, from November 1 through May 15. And I keep the hot tub going. I tried this for the first time last year, and the results were significant. Everybody won! The cottage was busier than it had ever been during that period, and so was I – and I enjoyed it.
Fall and winter months are perfect times for persona
l retreats, romantic hideaways, and business trips. Concerts, plays, ballet, and opera are 15 minutes away in downtown Seattle, and the sports stadiums (stadia?) are even closer. Yet Soundview as always is peaceful and serene. Come enjoy some down time here.
I love my new little Mitusbishi i-Car! I’ve had it since Feb. 22, and it did take a little getting used to, because it will only go about 72 miles on a full charge. It’s all-electric! I got it to save money on gasoline, to reduce my carbon footprint, and to advertise the cottage with the graphics on the sides.
I kept my old faithful ’96 Subaru wagon for longer trips and for hauling the occasional sheet of plywood or lots of plants – although I did recently bring home 3 giant fuchsias for the cottage in my new little i-Car.
I couldn’t get the graphics right away – I was picky about the design, and my good friend graphic artist Lari (Power Graphics SD) was very patient with me through about 17 takes on the design. Then the application was a little problematic – had to be redone cuz of a technical glitch. But now it’s finished! And I absolutely love the graphics and the car.
These photos show how the graphics were applied. These cool young guys came out to my place and put the printed film on right on the spot in just about an hour!
The car is really pretty zippy. The brakes and steering are marvelous, and I can turn on a dime and tuck it into a very short parking space! Best of all, the electricity it takes to charge it doesn’t cost me much at all. I had a “Level 2” charger installed in my garage – it takes about 7 hrs from no-charge to full-charge. My last electric bill was hardly increased from the same 2 months last year, and the rates have gone up, AND I also have a new electric heat pump (installed last July) for my own house – to replace my oil furnace.
This Mitsubishi is cheaper than the other all-electric on the road, the Nissan Leaf. After I get my tax credit for 2012 (fingers crossed), the price tag, with graphics and leather seats, will be about $25,000. (plus the charger) In Washington State, they don’t charge sales tax on electric cars.
For my local errands, which is most of my driving, this little car is perfect!
My new Mitsubishi i-Car is so cute! It handles beautifully and has lots of pep, even on the freeway! It’s all-electric. No gas, no pollution. It won’t go very far (about 60 mile range), so I’m keeping my faithful Subaru wagon. Within a couple of weeks, it will sport this graphic to advertise the cottage. More photos soon! I can’t wait. (there’s no orange stripe between the doors – that was just to see where the break would come in the design process.) My old friend Lari Power did the beautiful graphic.