Second Day In Seattle

We spent a much smaller amount of time in Seattle on our second day there. Leaving our hotel shortly before 8:30 AM on Thursday, June 27th of 2019, we headed North.

In Everett, Washington we decided to stop at the Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens shortly before 10 AM. It was a nice place to spend 40 minutes or so, walking the paths amidst the flowers and trees…as well as the numerous sculptures on the grounds. We’d made it through Seattle a bit faster than expected, and we were running early anyhow.

Photos from the Evergreen Arboretum & Gardens are below.

Continuing North from Everett, we made our way to Arlington before heading East toward our destination. We’d visited The Outback Kangaroo Farm in June of 2017, having been made aware of the place by my friend Mindy a couple of years earlier. It was such an enjoyable experience the previous time we’d been in the region that we had to visit there again.

What’s not to like about watching lemurs devour bananas, being able to hand-feed kangaroos, getting alpaca kisses, and interacting with numerous other animals? I can’t recommend this place enough, for anyone who loves wildlife of all kinds.

A nice bonus during our second visit, one of the mothers had a joey still peeking out from her pouch. Photos of the kangaroos are below.

Traveling South from Arlington until we reached the Stevens Pass Highway, we intended to hike to Lake Serene, but there were so many vehicles already at the trailhead that we opted to avoid the crowd. Instead, we took a smaller trail down to the South Fork Skykomish River and enjoyed the scenery there.

In addition to clear water and excellent views of the surrounding mountain peaks, we saw what appeared to be claw marks of river otters near the edges of some of the large stone surfaces lining the edge of the river. We stuck around for a little while, hoping that we might catch some glimpses of the otters themselves, but we had no luck. Photos from the river are below.

Shortly after 3 PM, we decided it was time to return to Seattle.

We arrived at our hotel at roughly 5:30 PM and remained there until a little after 9 PM before we decided we should find something for dinner. Options were a bit slim, and we settled on Little Caesars in Kent, since it wasn’t altogether too far from where we were…and we didn’t much feel like sitting down in a restaurant that late in the day.

Seattle Bound

It was with no small amount of sadness that we left Port Angeles shortly after 7 AM on Wednesday, June 26th of 2019. We probably could have spent the rest of our vacation right there, without the slightest bit of hesitation. Unfortunately, we had additional plans for what remained of our vacation, and those plans involved being in Seattle. Our next trip to the Pacific Northwest will likely not include Seattle at all.

It was 9:30 PM when we arrived at the Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge just Northeast of Olympia. There’s a swath of various hiking trails cutting through the marsh between Interstate 5 and the waters of the Nisqually Reach, and we wanted to explore a little bit of that area. I’d certainly like to return someday, free to spend a good deal more time trekking along those trails.

Photos from the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge are below.

It was still too early to check in at our hotel, so we drove North through Seattle and arrived at the Gas Works Park around 12:30 PM. It’s a place I’d wanted to go, but never had occasion to visit in the past. It was a lovely day, and a great many people had come to visit the park, flying kites, laying in the sun, and enjoying picnics. It was a soothing experience after having to suffer through the traffic in Seattle. Of all the cities I’ve driven in, Seattle is the one I loathe the most.

It’s certainly an interesting aesthetic with a lot of potential, and the views of downtown Seattle across Lake Union are quite nice.

Photos of the gas works are below.

Photos of the city as seen from Gas Works Park are below.

Shortly before 2 PM, we stopped for lunch before checking in at our hotel. Our choice was a place called The Habit Burger Grill in Tukwila. It was fantastic. Those who know me well, know how much I love a place called Wayback Burgers (not as widespread as a lot of places), but The Habit came damn close to surpassing that quality.

At 3 PM, we checked in at the hotel and unpacked the car, opting to relax for a bit.

Though it was going to be closing time soon, we decided to drive through Seattle again to visit Woodland Park Zoo. There’s an aviary there, where you’re able to feed the birds with sticks coated in treats, and there’s a butterfly house that we wanted to see again. I’m including photos from the zoo below.

We stopped at Teriyaki Wok in a strip mall near SeaTac around 7 PM for our dinner, before returning to the hotel for the night. The food was surprisingly good and the portions were fantastic for the price.

Olympic Peninsula Exploration

There was more to Tuesday, June 25th of 2019, than simply our evening drive to Cape Flattery and the hike to the edge of the cliffs for our views of the sunset that night.

At 8:30 AM, we were East of Port Angeles on the spit of land protruding from the Dungeness Recreation Area, leading to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge and the distant lighthouse miles down that sandy edge of the Dungeness Bay.

I was able to capture a spectacular–spectacular in my opinion, at least–shot of Mt Baker some 70+ miles distant, with the lighthouse in the foreground. While walking along the beach, we also located a small clubhouse assembled with driftwood and assorted detritus that had washed up on the shore.

Photos from the Dungeness Recreational Area are below.

Heading West again, we returned to Port Angeles and made our way South, ascending into Olympic National Park toward Hurricane Ridge. Stopping numerous times along the way, the views overlooking the lower elevations of the Olympic Peninsula as well as the mountains we were approaching made for lovely scenery. I’m including photos of the trip to Hurricane Ridge below.

We remained at Hurricane Ridge for a while and considered hiking along one of the trails, but there were a number of people already up there with the same idea. Instead, we enjoyed the grand, sweeping views of the Olympic Mountain peaks and the many deer who clearly felt no real fear of humans. I’m including photos from Hurricane Ridge below.

It was 1 PM when we arrived at our next destination, parking at Lake Crescent to reach the trailhead leading up to Marymere Falls nestled in the old growth forest. The hike to that lovely destination is a beautiful journey on its own, beginning with the greeting of a truly magnificent tree that appears almost to be waving to new arrivals, winding through a maze of moss-covered trees, and crossing the creek that empties glacial water into Lake Crescent.

Photos of the hike and of Marymere Falls are below.

It was 3 PM when we returned to Port Angeles, and we were ready for a late lunch. We’d eaten at this nice little establishment when we’d been to the region in 2017, and we decided it was worth returning to Gordy’s Pizza & Pasta again during this trip. Our recollection of the quality had not been incorrectly favorable.

We returned to our hotel room by 4 PM and remained there until we began the drive West to capture the sunset at Cape Flattery, as I shared in a previous post.

Hall of Mosses

We set out heading West from Port Angeles, Washington at 9 AM before cutting South on Highway 101. We passed through the infamous town of Forks (those poor bastards living there never being able to forget that Twilight exists) and heading East into the Hoh Rainforest section of Olympic National Park.

The drive along Upper Hoh Road is positively lovely, especially once you’ve reached the sections where it runs alongside the Hoh River. The longer you follow that road, the more you feel like you’ve been transported to a vastly different place…a place of magic and fantasy, perhaps.

At the end of the road, you arrive at the parking area from which numerous trailheads begin. The Hall of Mosses was our first destination for the day, which is a relatively short loop of a trail. From there, numerous other trails can be found and followed.

Photos of the Hall of Mosses are both above and below.

Where the Hall of Mosses Trail meets with the substantially longer Hoh River Trail, I got it in my head that we should just continue along that way for a while. As is often the case, I sort of wandered off on my own, leaving the others behind. I had hiked an additional half an hour or so before I saw a barely worn trail that led to the edge of the Hoh River, diverting from the main trail I was on. Of course, I opted to make my way over there.

It was only an afterthought that had me return to where that trail deviated from the main trail to find the others, as they could easily have already passed. I’m not always the best person to explore with, as I am absolutely marked as the first person to be killed in any sort of horror movie…or the idiot who causes other people to be killed by being short-sighted and more than a little bit caught up in my own thing, head up my ass and all.

The others did finally reach me and I convinced them to join me at the river. We spent a long while sitting there along the bank. I crossed shallow sections here and there to explore a bit further once I knew where the others would be, but I mostly stayed nearby.

Photos of the Hoh River Trail are below.

It was almost 5 PM when we returned to Port Angeles. We ate a late lunch/early dinner at Fast Burritos, a place we’d enjoyed eating at during our previous trip in 2017.

At 8:30 PM, we returned to Ediz Hook to watch the sunset as we had the night before. We remained on that spit of land for the next hour and I, for one, found a great deal of peace there. Photos of the second night’s sunset are below.

Return To Port Angeles

Having packed up the night before, we left our hotel in Portland, Oregon shortly before 8 AM. From there we made our way to the Crystal Springs Rhododendron Garden. Our next destination for the day wasn’t going to be open for approximately an hour, and this seemed like a nice place to spend a while walking and enjoying some additional nature. Photos from the garden are below.

No visit to Portland is complete without spending some time at the Portland Japanese Garden, and after a short stop downtown to pick up breakfast from Voodoo Doughnut, we were on our way there. This was my third time wandering through the Japanese Garden, and it never ceases to provide me with a certain sense of peace and tranquility. It was shortly after 9:30 AM when we arrived there, and we remained for close to an hour.

Below are some photos from the Portland Japanese Garden.

Across the street from the Portland Japanese Garden is the International Rose Test Garden. I’d made it a habit of visiting that patch of diverse colors and smells each time I’d been spent a period of time in Washington Park, and this visit would be no exception.

It’s funny that I’d never been a huge fan of the rose as a flower, but seeing such a variety changed my tune a great deal. Photos from the Rose Test Garden are below.

Finally, only a little while before Noon, we left Portland and made our way Northwest, connecting with Highway 101 in Astoria and crossing the bridge into Washington near Cape Disappointment.

The drive along the Western edge of the Olympic Peninsula is a long one, though quite lovely for the most part. We had fallen in love with the small town of Port Angeles during our previous visit in 2017, and there was no way we weren’t going to be spending a few days in the area during this trip. Nestled between the Strait of San Juan de Fuca and the Olympic Mountains, Port Angeles is so perfectly situated as to be the place I’d like to live more than anywhere else I can think of.

It was after 8 AM when we arrived at our hotel in Port Angeles, Washington.

We unloaded the car and made our way out onto the Ediz Hook in order to enjoy the sound of waves lapping against the rocks and driftwood while the sun was setting. If I happened to live in the area, there’s a very good chance I’d be found on Ediz Hook four or five nights out of the week, watching the ships traversing the Salish Sea between Washington and Vancouver Island as I wait for the sun to pass beneath the horizon.

It was almost 10 PM before we finally returned to our hotel room for the night.

Photos from our first night in Port Angeles are below.

Mount Saint Helens

Leaving the hotel behind before 7 AM on Tuesday, June 18th of 2019, we made a first stop at Voodoo Doughnut downtown. The wait wasn’t long and we had a delicious, albeit unhealthy, breakfast to start our day.

From downtown Portland we headed North on Interstate 5, traveling to the exit just beyond Castle Rock, WA. Our first destination of the day was the Johnston Ridge Observatory at the opposite end of the Spirit Lake Highway. Stopping at various points along the route, we enjoyed the scenery, the highest elevations obscured by low cloud cover.

As one gets closer to the destination, the trees take on an almost digital appearance, something that’s difficult to adequately describe. The dense forests of mountain pine look sort of like trees in Minecraft, but more faithfully rendered. It’s an interesting thing, to say the least.

Photos from the trip East along Spirit Lake Highway are above.

It was 10 AM when we finally reached our destination. Upon arrival, I ventured off on my own, along the trail leading in the direction of Spirit Lake. The blasted volcano cone was still far too well-hidden behind cloud cover for me to get any worthwhile shots of Saint Helens itself, so I wandered for a couple of miles, hoping to capture some other stunning scenery.

I only started back, to meet up at the observatory when the morning clouds began burning away as the sun warmed the air.

Photos from that interval of hiking are below.

I was able to enjoy her apex being disrobed as the clouds dissipated, revealing her snow covered higher elevations near the cone. The return hike to the observatory was positively beautiful. We took a moment to stop at the Loowit Viewpoint on our way West, back along Spirit Lake Highway.

Photos as Saint Helens emerged from the clouds are below.

Returning to Interstate 5, we returned South, taking the exit at Woodland to follow the Lewis River Road Eastward. Our next stop was a good distance away and we didn’t arrive at Ape Cave until just before 3 PM. Lacking adequate light sources, our travel down the lava tube was trimmed down and my ability to take photos was limited to near the entrance. I’ve included a couple of those below.

Leaving Ape Cave, we decided to continue Northeast, hoping to find some captivating vistas approaching Muddy River and the Lava Canyon Trailhead. We were not disappointed. Approximately an hour after departing from Ape Cave, we experienced some positively stunning scenery.

The photos from that interval are below.

We returned to our hotel room in Portland roughly 11 hours after we’d started out that morning. It had been a long day, but an absolutely worthwhile one. It’s never a disappointment to experience the beauty emerging from devastation like that.

We’d previously visited Mt. Saint Helens in June of 2017, and I had been there in June of 2014 as well. When I was growing up, my mother had a glass jar filled with ash from the eruption that took place only a year and a half after I’d been born. That ash that had found its way as far as South Dakota and Minnesota fascinated me when I was young…and the volcano itself grew to fascinate me as I became an adult.

Second Leg of the Journey

We left Helena, MT shortly after 7 AM on Sunday, June 16th of 2019. Our route took us West to meet Interstate 90 at the Garrison exit. The last time we’d taken this path out of Helena, in June of 2017, we’d narrowly avoided colliding with a doe as she’d ventured onto the highway from thick shrub growth on the right side of the road. This time, thankfully, there were no near misses.

We remained on I-90 for only a short while, taking the exit at Drummond as that was the recommendation of my GPS. I should have learned not to trust the GPS after a particularly awful set of directions in August of 2016, but shame on me because I was fooled twice. We started out on a simple frontage road running parallel with the interstate before connecting with a meandering gravel road. It wasn’t in perfect condition, but I’d taken my 2001 Chevy Impala down worse roads, for sure.

What initially appeared to be a rough patch of road, perhaps still rutted after late winter in the higher elevations, soon became only a taste of what was to come. If I’d been driving a Jeep, I’d have avoided this road if given the opportunity to do so. It kept getting worse rather than better, large stones protruding from the road’s surface (if one could really call it a road) at random points while giant ruts carved miniature ravines through the hard-packed dirt that made up the islands of discernible road.

Unfortunately, there was no choice but to continue forward. Attempting to reverse down the trail would have certainly led to disaster, while powering through the god awful, stressful ordeal was at least potentially going to lead us to a happy outcome.

The road cleared up just as we approached our destination. Garnet, a ghost town maintained by the Department of the Interior, was just ahead. We’d made it…and without tearing anything from the undercarriage of my car.

To add insult to injury, there was a much nicer, well-maintained gravel road up there as well. There had been a far less treacherous path to this destination. We could have avoided the hazards associated with taking my car up something barely suitable for four-wheel drive. Damn the GPS.

We remained there in Garnet for about an hour and a half, not departing until around 11 AM. Photos from our time in Garnet are featured above.

The route we followed leaving Garnet and making our way to Missoula, where we rejoined Interstate 90 was far less stressful than the one we’d experienced only a couple of hours earlier. Along the way, there was a fantastic view and a great place to stop and take it all in. I’ve included photos of that vista below.

Crossing the rest of the distance through Montana and the upper panhandle of Idaho, we entered Washington. At the recommendation from my cousin, Jeremy, we stopped at Viking Drive-Inn. This is a modest diner located Southwest of Spokane, in a small town known as Sprague. The burgers, while simple, were deliciously seasoned and precisely what we were hungry for at just after 2 PM.

We continued following I-90 until we reached Ritzville, WA, where we headed South, making our way to Palouse Falls State Park. We’d seen photos of the magnificent falls, but we’d never seen it in person. It did not disappoint.

Photos of Palouse Falls follow.

We left Palouse Falls at approximately 4:30 PM before continuing Southwest through Kennewick before crossing the border into Oregon. We connected with Interstate 84 and continued on to Portland, OR. We arrived at our hotel shortly before 9 PM.

Having built up an appetite again, we went to the nearest MOD Pizza. We’d fallen in love with that design-your-own pizza chain when we’d been in Seattle in June of 2017. On the way back to our hotel, we stopped at a particularly seedy 7-Eleven, in what appeared to be a fairly run down area of Portland. Regardless of that, we continued returning to this same 7-Eleven during our week-long stay in Portland because they happened to have green apple Jones Soda in their fountain soda machine. It tastes even better as a fountain soda than in the bottles.

We settled back in at the hotel just before 10 PM.

Sunset At Cape Flattery

I’d first learned of picturesque Cape Flattery–the Northwestern most point of the lower 48 states–from my friend Charles, while he was visiting the Black Hills during the summer of 2016. I wasn’t able to visit the location for myself until the following summer, and I immediately fell in love.

We returned to the Pacific Northwest in June of 2019.

On Tuesday, June 25th we left Port Angeles and headed West shortly before 6 PM. The drive along the Northern edge of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula is a lovely drive, but a long one. It wasn’t until shortly after 8 PM that we arrived at the trailhead to begin the short trek to Cape Flattery.

We arrived in time to enjoy the scenery before we lost the light. The photos above were taken as we initially settled in to await the coming sunset.

Other groups of people came and went, most returning to where they’d parked at the trailhead before darkness descended upon the forest. We stuck it out until we’d been embraced by full dark. We’d carried high-power flashlights with us in anticipation of making our way back to our parked vehicle after nightfall.

The sky ignited with an absolutely beautiful sunset just beyond the not-so-distant island and the lighthouse located there. Photos I’d taken as the sunset lit up the sky are below. It was almost as beautiful when we were no longer able to see anything without a light source. The sound of waves crashing against the cliff face and stone far below us was peaceful and relaxing.

We began the return trip to Port Angeles shortly before 10 PM, and we returned to our hotel room around Midnight.

It’s Been A While: More Politics-Deal With It

This is to be another political post, which makes me think that perhaps I should just get it out of my system altogether and become a politician…since I happen to be so damn opinionated on the matter and hate being an armchair political analyst. I know that plenty of you (assuming anyone actually reads these posts) have entirely different opinions from me…and that’s great, that difference of opinion is what allows for discourse to take place…without diversity of thought an opinion we have no room for meeting of the minds.

Our former mayor posted something earlier today regarding what he perceives as backwards morality from “Christians” that constitute the far right wing of the Republican Party…the invocation of Christ whenever they are rallying against issues that Jesus had no opinion on (at least nothing mentioned in the Gospels) such as gay marriage, abortion, taxes, and numerous other things while actively working to upset programs that coincide with the actual teachings of Christ (caring for the poor and the hungry, the sick and the elderly). You all know that I am not a Christian…that I’m not even remotely religious…but I do have a bit of knowledge about these things.

I initially wanted to do no more than let our former Mayor know that there are still Republicans like myself who don’t feel that these individuals speak for the party as a whole. I was going to leave it at that until someone opted to refer to Romans: Chapter 1, where there are some statements that could be interpreted as being opposed to homosexuality.

I felt it was necessary to point out that Romans was not a Gospel and did not have any statements made by Jesus attached to it. At best it was the writing of Paul the Apostle (not one of the Twelve Apostles, something that I suspect many Christians are unaware of), quite probably half a century after the death of Christ. It might also be noted that Paul was never in the presence of Christ (not being born until after Christ had died) and that his conversion came about from a vision of the risen Christ on the road to Damascus. So Paul had no firsthand experience of Christ or his teachings…in fact he actively persecuted the early Christian cult during his life up until that conversion took place; and this is the man responsible for the bulk of the non-Gospel New Testament. He was just a man, nothing more…as fallible as any other.

The individual also pointed towards 2nd Timothy: Chapter 3 and I felt compelled to point out that these verses still have nothing to do with the teachings of Christ…and are even further removed. 2 Timothy has unknown authorship but it is traditionally attributed to some random (unnamed) follower of Paul the Apostle…somewhere in the vicinity of a century after Christ’s death.

This individual then expressed that they had assumed I might believe in the divine inspiration of scripture.

I felt the need to disillusion him of that; considering that it is only in those pieces of writing that it mentioned that the scripture was divinely inspired…I question it a great deal. I question the veracity of anything that changes dramatically in meaning when translated from Hebrew to Aramaic to Greek and further. If divinely inspired, the meaning would remain constant. That is far from the case. I can write a piece of scripture today, tack on something about how all scripture is valid and inspired by god, and people are supposed to accept that? What is in the commonly used Bible today is nothing compared to what is found in the Catholic Bible, and that only consists of what a handful of humans determined would best suit their needs as scripture. Who gets to determine which scripture is valid and which is not…because neither God nor Jesus ever made any statements to that effect?

I didn’t mean to come off as being cynical there, but recognize that I really am a bit cynical when it comes to those things. I can understand how that whole statement could be considered highly cynical, and I was sorry about that. I just wanted to express my concern regarding the mindset associated with scripture being divinely inspired. Bart D. Ehrman has addressed these issues far better than I ever could, being Professor of religious studies at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill…he has been able to go far more in depth than I am able where the veracity of Biblical scripture (and especially the New Testament) is concerned. I highly recommend anyone who has the means should take the time to procure and read some of his books on textual criticism of scripture. That is neither here nor there though.

It was after this that another individual made some comments about how there isn’t really much of an actual difference between big government Republicans and socialist Democrats as far as he was concerned, and he isn’t entirely incorrect. He commented on the fact that there is no article of the Constitution that speaks of equalizing pay or for providing healthcare or education.

To me, it has nothing to do with either Republicans or Democrats really…but I could see where he was coming from.

Those of you who know me are aware that I happen to be a small government Republican. I think we need fewer laws and interferences into the daily lives of the American people. I don’t think it is the place of government (state or national) to define marriage or anything else. We need to step back and trim the fat from our overbearing obsession with legislation.

Regarding protection of wages, healthcare, education, and similar bones of contention I had to disagree…as these are issues that directly impact the life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness of the very population this government was developed to protect. Those issues weren’t salient at the time this country was founded and would almost definitely have been taken into consideration by the founding fathers had that been otherwise. The US government was designed in such a way as to allow for alterations and modification with the passage of time. It has never been a static creation and wasn’t intended to be. Our government has the sole function of providing for the well being of the populace that supports it…to uphold the rights and liberties of the American population. Nowhere is it stated that we are expected to become involved in political or social reform in other nations, but that isn’t often something that we hear complaints about from the same people who are so concerned with the programs that aid the American people.

Regarding the Christian uproar from the far right wing of the Republican party as far as these issues are concerned, John Adams and George Washington were pretty clear on that very point when the Treaty of Tripoli was signed. There was no ambiguity in the wording. Those persons in the US government who are so concerned with their distorted form of Christianity and the almost rabid desire to impose it upon everyone else are suffering from delusions of what Christ taught as well as basic lack of understanding regarding the history of the United States.

That same man recognized that we are, of course, entitled to our differences of opinion and went on from there to express his concern over what he sees as an inflated Executive branch, stating, “Who needs congress when presidential decree gets the job done?”

I definitely feel that our last two presidents have set an unwelcome and disturbing precedent as far as overstepping the bounds of the office is concerned. I’m not a huge fan of our “do nothing” Congress either. It is my opinion that we need a complete overhaul of Washington, but not the variety that the Tea Party has been pushing for…the last thing we need in Washington is more people who don’t understand how the government works (or is intended to work) and who believe that Christ hated the poor and needy.

These are just my opinions of course. I am just some guy who happens to feel that some of this should be common sense.