flowers

Wow, what a view

Wednesday my friend L and I did something we’d been wanting to do for a long time.  We went up to Crystal Mountain Ski Area, and we rode the gondola, which is open to sightseers in the off-season.  It cost twenty bucks, but it was worth every penny.  I really had no idea how far we’d be able to see from up there.  I’d been to Crystal to ski several times, but that was fifteen years ago, and even then I’d never gotten that high on the mountain (the easiest trail down from the top of the gondola is intermediate, and I never got much beyond high beginner trails the entire decade or so that I skied regularly).

Anyway, the day was about as clear and dry as it gets in the Pacific Northwest (and hot — 90+F in the lowlands, which broke records for this time of year, and in the upper 70sF even at almost 7000 feet at the top of the gondola), and the views ranged from Mt. Adams, clear down by the Columbia River, all the way to Mt. Baker, all the way up by the Canadian border.  And Mt. Rainier looked as if a person could reach out and touch it.

The only view even slightly obscured was down towards Puget Sound, where haze hovered over the water, blocking our view of the Olympics and of the cities down there (I bet the nighttime view in clear weather of those cities must be absolutely amazing).

There’s a fancy restaurant up at the top of the gondola, but it was beyond our price range, so we’d packed a picnic (actually, we’d bought our picnic at a Subway on the way), and we had plenty of chipmunk company while we ate.

All in all, it was a seriously spectacular trip.  If you happen to be in this part of the world on a clear day, don’t miss it.

Mount Rainier from the top of the Crystal Mountain gondola.  That's the White River down below.

Mount Rainier from the top of the Crystal Mountain gondola. That’s the White River down below.

That shadowy curve above the crags is Mt. St. Helens.

That shadowy curve above the crags is Mt. St. Helens.

Mt. Adams, and the tubs of flowers on the path to the restaurant.

Mt. Adams, and the tubs of flowers on the path to the restaurant.

Welcome to Crystal Mountain, elevation 6872 feet.

Welcome to Crystal Mountain, elevation 6872 feet.

That little white triangle on the horizon towards the righthand edge of the photo is Mt. Baker.

That little white triangle on the horizon almost dead center is Mt. Baker.

Lunch company.

Lunch company.

Really brave lunch company.

Really brave lunch company.

Headed back down the gondola.  Taken through the clear cover, so please excuse the reflections.

Headed back down the gondola. Taken through the clear cover, so please excuse the reflections.

Just a reminder, the Time in Yellowstone series: Repeating History, True Gold, and Finding Home, and the story “Homesick” (including chapters from all three novels, and only 99 cents for the e-version), are now available as ebooks on Amazon and Smashwords, and Repeating History is now available as a paper book from Amazon and CreateSpace, with the other books coming in paper editions very soon.

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Categories: "Homesick", animals, books, exploring, Finding Home, flowers, Mt. Rainier, national parks, outdoors, parks, Repeating History, travel, True Gold, weather | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

salt water and gardens

Point Defiance Park is one of the most beautiful places in Tacoma, Washington, and that’s saying a lot.  It’s a huge city park (708 acres) on a point sticking out into Puget Sound, with a zoo, a waterfront promenade and beach, a replica of a historic fort, extensive gardens, and expanses of old-growth forest laced with hiking trails.

I had a meeting in Tacoma yesterday afternoon, and afterwards I decided to go walk the promenade, enjoy the gardens, and take some photos.  Here’s a selection:

An iconic western Washington view -- the Pt. Defiance-Vashon Island ferry making its run.

An iconic western Washington view — the Pt. Defiance-Vashon Island ferry making its run across Puget Sound.

Shaded in the foreground to the right is the waterfront promenade walk at Pt. Defiance.  In the background is Mt. Rainier.

Shaded in the foreground to the right is the waterfront promenade walk at Pt. Defiance. In the background is Mt. Rainier.

It's the time of year for dahlias, and the dahlia test garden at Pt. Defiance is in full bloom.  This is my favorite kind of dahlia, known as a ball dahlia.

It’s the time of year for dahlias, and the dahlia test garden at Pt. Defiance is in full bloom. This is my favorite kind of dahlia, known as a ball dahlia.

This dahlia looks like a peppermint stick.

This dahlia looks like a peppermint stick.

These white dahlias were bigger than my outspread hand.  Some of the dahlias on display were bigger than my head.

These white dahlias were bigger than my outspread hand. Some of the dahlias on display were bigger than my head.

One of a dozen rows of dahlias in the test garden.

One of a dozen rows of dahlias in the test garden.

This pretty walkway lined with yellow rudbeckias and green hostas, among others, is near the dahlia garden.

This pretty walkway lined with yellow rudbeckias, white Japanese anemones and hostas in lots of shades of green, is near the dahlia garden.

Pt. Defiance also has a huge rose garden, which is still going strong now in late August.  I don't know what kind these are, but they're profuse.

Pt. Defiance also has a huge rose garden, which is still going strong now in late August. I don’t know what kind these are, but they’re profuse.

This is my favorite color of rose, kind of an orangey salmon.

This is my favorite color of rose, kind of an orangey salmon.

And here's a view of part of the rose garden with its gazebo, which is popular for summer weddings, and for good reason.

And here’s a view of part of the rose garden with its gazebo, which is popular for summer weddings, and for good reason.

Categories: flowers, hiking, Mt. Rainier, outdoors, parks, plants | Tags: , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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