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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I’ve Learned My Lesson

I’ve always loved gardening, planting plants and seeds then watching them grow. Playing in the dirt is relaxing and hard work at the same time. Dirt and plants don’t talk out loud to you, don’t ask questions or care how you look and are just content to have you pay attention to them. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest from the Midwest, I’ve learned a lot about the way plants grow here. I’ve read books and talked to Master Gardeners. I’ve paid attention to the weather patterns, discovering that while everyone believes it rains every day here, it doesn’t. Our late falls, winters and springs are wet and rainy, but come summer and the tap turns off, this year with a vengeance. At present counting, we are at fifty-six days with no rain, a new record. I decided to plant a huge raised bed garden for vegetables and fruits.

I drew up plan for a large garden area with eight raised beds, four – five foot by ten foot raised beds and four – five-foot square raised beds and Mitch built them. Pretty ambitious I know, but I hadn’t had a garden in two years and was itching to play in the dirt. Well I got my wish and boy did I ever get things to grow. I was warned by experienced gardeners to be very careful when planting, because everything grows well here.

I planted one of the small beds with cucumber seeds and at first, I was disappointed at the small spindly little plants. Silly me, I just needed to be patient. The raised bed is overflowing with a tangled web of cucumber vines, hiding cucumbers that seem to grow over night.

I planted one of the large beds with strawberry plants, almost all came from my neighbor, and now I must go out every day and stick the runners back in the bed, because they’ve covered the bed and are trying to colonize my other beds. I planted three rows of green bean seeds and have already picked four buckets full of green beans and more are growing.

I bought a seed packet of zucchini seeds and a packet of summer squash seeds. Growing success is a gross understatement, because I have one five foot by ten foot raised bed covered from end to end with three and a half foot tall plants and am picking five and six zucchini a day, that doesn’t include the six to eight squash I find hiding under the giant leaves every day.

I have been scouring Pinterest and Facebook for zucchini recipes. I have been thinking of writing a cookbook and now I can write a whole chapter on just zucchini and squash recipes. I’ve frozen six bags of zucchini and squash, have learned to make zucchini spaghetti, zucchini tots and zucchini fries. I swear my hair is getting a green tint to it.

I’ve given so much zucchini and squash away to my neighbors that now if they see me coming with or without anything in my hands, they run inside and close the curtains, until I go by.

I’ve learned my lesson, next year I will buy two zucchini plants and maybe one squash plant. You don’t have to hit me over the head with a zucchini.

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.

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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Death Wish

Though I’ve not seen any of our state’s predators, it is widely recognized that living in the State of Washington we have a large number of predators, Mountain Lions, Bobcats, Lynx, Bears, Wolves, Coyotes and Foxes. Each one of these predators have the ability to eat small and large animals. I am putting out an all call to any or all of these predators. If I send you my address would you send a couple of emissaries around? I promise you will be richly rewarded.

Sound totally insane right? Well I know that mountain lions and bears can’t read (maybe wolves can, they are pretty smart) but I do have a totally rational reason for the need. We have rabbits here. Brazen or stupid, I don’t know which and I don’t care, I just want them gone. The other day a rabbit ran into our backyard in the afternoon while Orso and I were out there. He ran straight at Orso then turned and ran at me with Orso in hot pursuit. I was almost run down by a charging hundred-pound brown locomotive that only had eyes on a one-pound fur ball. Good thing I was paying attention and jumped aside.

Yesterday morning on our early morning walk, yes I still walk Orso at the crack of dawn, when I noticed Orso was very intent on something ahead of us. Something small with tall ears, another rabbit was sitting in the road just waiting for us, not moving, just waiting. Stupid rabbit, or maybe he was suicidal having the curse of not knowing utter fear and was totally bored with the good life. I tightened my grip on the leash and told him no, for all the good that did. He still lunged at the rabbit and woofed quite loud at four in the morning. People are sleeping and don’t want to hear a very deep loud woof then the screams of a rabbit in the jaws of my menace.

Again this morning we ran across another rabbit with a death wish just sitting on the side of the road, watching us come toward him. Again with the woof and the lunge. The evil little creature jump meandered off with a couple of small hops. Not the wild jerking and sprinting I have seen on the nature shows with a fox or coyote in hot pursuit. I could see my fears of being a boat anchor coming true once again if I don’t get rid of these small suicidal marsupials.

Hence my plea to all predators, please come, I’ll send you my address and I promise you will feast handsomely.

Today The Pacific Ocean

Today we drove out to the coast to let Orso play in the ocean. There were a few surfers out there trying to catch a few waves. Overall the day was beautiful, a mild breeze, partly cloudy and mild temperatures. I found some intact sand dollars and made Mitch put them in his pockets to carry for me.

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We took Orso to an inlet first to see how he would do in the ocean with the salt water.

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Then we moved to the ocean shore to explore.

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Worms for Sale

I am learning a whole new lifestyle here. Winters here are not as cold as the in Midwest, wetter though with this past December as one of the wettest on record. January brought more rain, so it’s a fair assumption that the ground here is pretty saturated. This month we’ve had temperatures in the high fifties and even hit sixty a couple of days. For the most part this isn’t so bad, I would rather walk the dogs in the rain than in the bitter freezing cold in the Midwest.

The downside to all of the rain we’ve been having is earthworms are everywhere. They are coming out of the ground because it is so wet and are all over the parking lot of our apartment complex. Maybe it has to do with the landscaping or the black asphalt, I don’t know but it is so gross, walking through the parking lot and dodging hundreds of worms stretched out drowning. The worms range in size from small to night crawler size, so can you imagine what it would feel like stepping on a big squishy slimy night crawler and have your foot slip out from under you. Then you are sitting on the ground getting worm guts on your butt. Even grosser.

In order to solve this dilemma and save the earthworms from either drowning or being squished by cars or feet, I’ve come up with an enterprise that should net me millions or at least ten bucks. I am going to go out and collect all of the water logged worms dry them out and sell them on the internet. I would wrap them up in a cute little box, maybe like the Chinese takeout boxes and ship them all over the world.

This would be a great gift for the fishermen out there, kids that want to start an earthworm farm or even someone that wants to rescue worms and relocate them. Hey, they rescue everything else out there from dogs to elephants, surely someone out there cares about the fate of the lowly earthworm.