Chasing Waterfalls and the Coast

A couple of weeks ago we decided to buzz over to the Olympic Peninsula and search for some waterfalls. There is a waterfall road trip that loops highway 101 starting on the east side of the Peninsula goes north to the Strait of Juan De Fuca and turns south to drive along the Pacific Ocean coast for a while. We took the dogs, so we couldn’t go into the National Park, but we could go into the National Forest, so we drove west and found a couple of waterfalls in the Olympic National Forest, then drove up the coast and found a beautiful beach.

We barely scratched the surface and as soon as we have a couple of days to explore we’ll go again.

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Oh Come on Now – Enough is Enough!

Mother Nature is having a huge laugh at our expense and I’ve had enough. It is the middle of May for god’s sake and I’m still wearing an insulated jacket when I walk the dogs. Oh and did I mention the jacket has a hood, because we are having the wettest spring on record. That matched our winter, which was the wettest on record, too. Yada, yada, yada. Tomorrow is Mother’s Day and in the Midwest, that is the date to plant your hot weather vegetables and tomatoes. Here, I’m still hardening off my tomatoes so they don’t wither and die at night when the temperatures dip into the forties.

Well enough is enough! I am so ready for some warmer weather, not asking for nineties, I don’t want that, but some seventy degree days are desperately needed and sunshine. I need some sunshine! I would even settle for the mid-sixties if I could have the sun out too. I have so much yardwork to do, but every time I get ready to head out, I look outside and it’s raining, again. All the native Washingtonians tell me that this is so unusual and they are getting tired of all the chilly wet weather too.

Well Mother Nature, enough is enough, come on, you’ve had a good laugh and have reminded us all you are in control, not us. It’s time to move on, go inland, go out to sea, I don’t care, just go play your pranks someplace else. I have eight raised beds and all I have planted so far is a bed of strawberries and a bed with three blueberry bushes. I have green beans, zucchini and cucumber seeds I need to get in the ground, not to mention the tomatoes.

And I’m haven’t even mentioned mowing yet. I could mow my yard twice a week, if I was so inclined. All my neighbors mow their lawns one to two times a week, but not me, I don’t care that much about it. I like my grass a bit taller than everyone else around here. If you were to compare our yards to a golf course, my neighbors’ yards look like the putting green and my yard looks like the rough. It hides the weeds.

It’s enough to make me drink, oh wait, I already drink.

Mother Nature Didn’t get the Memo

I don’t think anyone would dispute the fact that we have had the oddest winter across North America. There have been record rainfall in places that don’t get much rain, record warm temperatures in states that usually worry about the wind chill factor instead of heat index and states that normally have snow measured in feet have had to contend with inches instead. Someone forgot to let Mother Nature know how winter is supposed to work around here.

Here in the Pacific Northwest, the weather west of the Cascades is typically the rainy season, with temperatures sinking only to the low forties and maybe a few high thirties thrown in here and there. Not this year, no, we have had temperatures dip to the twenties, with consistent lows in the thirties. Our high temperatures are normally in the high forties and low fifties, but this year we’ve not seen too many days that get up to fifty degrees. Adding insult to injury, we’ve recorded more snow than Chicago, Illinois and Minneapolis, Minnesota. Talk about a slap in the face.

Part of the appeal of coming to the Pacific Northwest was that we don’t really have super hot humid summers or cold cold winters. Well the first year I got out here, we were in the middle of a drought with temperatures in the eighties and nineties, and the apartment complex we lived in didn’t have air conditioning. Now this winter, we’ve had a real winter, with cold temperatures and that four letter word, snow. Talk about a rip-off, I’m beginning to think I’m a jinx, that or maybe Mother Nature has it in for me.

Mother Nature, if you’re out there, come off vacation and get back to work. You have a whole country that is out of whack and needs your guiding hand. Please open your emails.

Hiking at Fort Steilacoom

Today we went on a quick hike at Fort Steilacoom. The place is a bit deceiving at first glance. As we pulled into the parking lot I was disappointed. There were baseball diamonds, soccer fields, a playground and a paved walking trail. I thought here we go again, another boring “unscenic” walking path. Where were the vistas?

We walked along on the path and noticed some people off in the distance that were not on the paved path. We cut across the field and found some dirt trails that led us off into the woods. The deeper we got into the woods, the more serene and beautiful it got.

We plan on going back in the future to do more extensive exploring.

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The Word on the Street

I like to think that I am in tune with the local inhabitants here and well versed in the street slang. I hear what is being said about us among the locals and it’s not pretty. In fact, it’s downright degrading.

Every morning I get up at four am feed Orso and take him for a walk. It’s always dark on our first walk of the day and normally no one else is about. We do run into the creatures of the night, deer, raccoons and rabbits, all of which cause Orso to stand up straight, lunge at the interloper and bark loudly. Each time he does this, I usually have to have my shoulder put back in place after being yanked sharply. I truly believe my left arm is two inches longer than my right arm.

And every time he barks loudly at 4 in the morning, I whisper sharply to him, “Shh, people are sleeping, shh.”

I’ve been working hard with Orso to just ignore the offending creature; may it be deer or rabbit. He still stiffens his body and gives a halfhearted leap when he spots a rabbit, but he is doing better at not barking. He looks at me right after he lunges at a rabbit to say, “look I’m trying, but it’s not fair, chasing rabbits is what I do.”

Well now that I have gotten Orso to not give chase, the offending rabbit doesn’t move. The other day we were on our morning constitutional when on our return Orso’s ears when stiff and erect, giving me warning that there was something was ahead. Sure enough about twenty-five feet ahead of us on the same side of the street, was a rabbit just sitting there watching our approach. As we got closer, Orso got more alert and readied himself for the attack. Still the rabbit just sat there, not moving.

I decided that the better decision was to cross the street hoping to avoid a trip to the emergency room and an Aflac claim. The stupid rabbit did not move, just sat there waiting motionless, taunting Orso. Even as we drew closer and were directly across from the rabbit, the rabbit didn’t move, just watched us walk on by.

Yeah, I hear the word on the street, “The short human won’t let the giant brown menace chase us, we’re good.”

Do you have any idea how degrading it is to not be feared by rabbits? What a bunch of punks.

Mount Rainier

Saturday we drove up to Mount Rainier even though it was raining, because if you plan your day around the weather or what is forecast here, you’ll never go anywhere. It was misting rain with low clouds so we couldn’t see Mount Rainier from the Sunrise visitor center, but the drive was still beautiful.

I left my camera home but took these with my phone.

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He’s Going to be the Death of Me

If you find me dead alongside the road sometime it will be more than likely because of Orso. I walk him every day at least three times a day, the first at four am, and almost always it is in the dark. We also have more than our fair share of rabbits out and about along our route and Orso just has to lunge and bark at them in the dark. I try to be very vigilant on our walks watching out for any movement and Orso and his demeanor. If his ears are up and he gets stiff I know something is close by. I do this to avoid becoming a boat anchor or at the very least avoiding rotator cuff surgery.

This morning though I was a bit distracted and not fully on high alert when Orso decided to lunge and bark at something on the side of the road. He thought it was a small rabbit and was determined to scare it off. But it wouldn’t budge, just sitting on the side of the road daring him to cross the street and get closer. As we closed the distance, I saw that it was a rock, a round rock about four inches and not a rabbit. Dumb dog almost dragged me across the road to get to A Rock.

I should have taken that as a sign of what the rest of the walk would be like, but I didn’t. I just kept plodding along. The farthest point we walk to, is down a very dark section of road with no street lights and all of the homes on one side of the road are dark because all the sane people are sound asleep and nothing but dense woods on the other side of the road. As we turned around to head back home, Orso decided it was time to take his morning poop. I waited patiently for him to finish then fished out a poop bag and my flashlight so I could find it and not leave any behind.

After I picked his “elephant dump” and started tying a knot on the end of the bag, I stepped right in some other dog’s poop. Some thoughtless moron left his little dog’s poop on the side of the road and I stepped right in it. I should have shined my flashlight around the area before I took a step. I stood there cursing all little dogs and their owners, because at that moment I hated them all, (even though I know it’s not the dog’s fault, I grouped them all together). That was when Orso either heard or saw something moving in the woods and gave way to barking and lunging at the unseen phantom.

There I was standing on the side of the road trying to get the end of the poop bag tied off and wipe my shoe in the meager amount of grass and Orso was trying to get to some unseen monster in the woods. I’m lucky I only got poop on my shoe and not road rash from being dragged across the road.

The day is off to a bang, I can’t wait until our mid-morning walk and more opportunities to use my Aflac policy.

The Jewel in the Crown

Mount Rainier, inspires awe every time I see her. On my walks or in the car I get a feeling of amazement at her beauty. She stands alone majestic and visible from miles away. Today we drove up to Paradise Visitors Center to get a closer look. Sunrise and Longmire Visitors Centers are still closed from the snow until mid to late July. There are still roads up there closed because of the huge snow falls we had this past winter.

Mount Rainier is one of three active volcanoes in Washington, Mt St Helens and Mt Adams are all still active. Maybe that lends something to the mystery of them. Sadly we had to leave Orso at home for this excursion, dogs are only allowed in the parking lot and not on the trails or on the snow. He had to spend the day in the air conditioning watching TV.

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Day Trip – Mt. St. Helen’s

Today we took a day trip and drove down to Mt. St. Helen’s Visitor Centers. It was a beautiful sunny day, great for exploring and taking some photos.

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Mt. St. Helen’s western side from a distance

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A closer look at the crater

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The side of the mountains facing the blast when the volcano blew.

Crash Kelly Strikes Again

I wanted to go hiking today and decided not to wake up Mitch, so I turned on the computer and searched around for some trails nearby. I found one that was only about fifteen minutes away from our house, so I loaded up Orso and headed out about seven thirty this morning. I left a note that said we went hiking, but I neglected to say where we went. I pulled into the parking lot and noticed a car already in the parking lot. I unloaded Orso and my backpack when I noticed that there was a man just sitting in the car with the engine running. A bit odd, but you know me, once I start on a path I usually just plow on through. As I passed his car he rolled the window down and said something I didn’t hear. I said good morning and kept on walking to the trailhead and into the woods. Yeah I know, not super bright, go into the woods and make it easier for a maniac.

The man didn’t follow us, just my overactive imagination, but I was more aware of any movement I came across. I was disappointed in what I found. The trail was okay, primitive, which was fine, just not much to see. There was a creek and a rickety wooden bridge, but not much else. Maybe because we were too close to civilization or maybe I was just spooked from the guy in the car, anyway I decided to turn around and head back to the car. When I reached the trailhead I saw that the white car was still in the parking lot and there was another car parked between his car and mine. As I got closer to the cars I saw a man in the second car just sitting there. Pretty creepy, so I quickly loaded up Orso, my backpack and jumped in the car and locked the doors. What a scaredy cat. I drove home and decided to wake Mitch up so he could take me hiking.

After he got up we headed out for a second hike, this time farther away. Our destination was Federation Forest State Park, about ninety minutes away. This one turned out to be a bust because the park was closed. Not to be denied, we turned around and found a trailhead along the side of the road, which was part of the park. We unloaded and headed off into the forest. We found huge trees toppled over, some that had pulled out of the ground by the roots. Huge trees that were six or seven feet in diameter laying between other trees or stacked on trees that were crushed under the impact. The trails were a tangled mess of branches and limbs and whole trees that we had to either climb over or crouch down and crawl under.

One such tree that was laying across the path proved to be my swan song. I stepped over it with one leg and as I was clearing it with my left leg, my boot got caught on a small branch still attached to the tree. I went down hard landing on my right side. I hit a root that jutted out of the ground with my ribs under my arm. I thought I was dead for a minute, then when the pain hit I realized I was still alive. I hit so hard I thought I popped an implant. But least I landed so that I saved the camera I was holding and the backpack with the other cameras were not hurt.

Mitch walked up to me and asked if I was impaled on anything before he helped me up. I guess he didn’t want to have any blood gushing out of me. I’m not sure what he would have done if I was impaled on something, leave me and go get help or just leave me. I slowly got back up on my feet and assessed the damage. I think I bruised my ribs on the right side, but none were broken I was pretty sure. There will be a nice bruise in a day or so on my right hip too and I cut the palm of my right hand on something.

I decided I had enough fun for one day so we headed back to the trailhead. As we neared the trailhead we saw a sign that was taped up that read, “Trail closed due to hazardous conditions.” Really I never would have known.

I think I need to do more pre-planning on our hikes.