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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Berry Scouting

I took Lil Blue out for a spin along the Snoqualmie River Trail, Duvall to Carnation.

It was super early to beat the heat and I pretty much had the trail to myself.  The air was almost chilly to start

Along the way I noted the bounty of Blackberry, always present in areas like this.

I think it is going to be a banner year.  Many berries already dark and needing just another week of hot sunny day to convert those sugars and loosen up.  The forecast is for a good solid week of no rain, so first pick should be next weekend.

After first pick, which will go into flavored vodka making, there will be waves and waves of berries to come on.  Today I note plenty of green and red berries, enough to make a long season

Birds were everywhere and Robins lead the way.  They gorge on these berries and I saw some evidence that Coyote were here about as well.

Peter Rabbit was plotting his attack on the bounty too.  Cottontails dashed and darted across the trail.

I peddled into Carnation and stopped for a decaf (aren't I wild ) before beginning the five miles back.  Along the way I could feel that point where the rising sun had burned off enough fog and it was the start of another warm day.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Meet Little Blue

A new toy and option for getting out and about.

This is Little Blue, a Dahon Vitesse folding bike.  Seven speed weighs slightly less than 30 lbs.

They say you never forget how to ride a bike.  I have not ridden since I was a kid, when I use to ride everywhere on my 1 speed, coaster break bike.  Aside from a brief ride on a bike at the beach, nothing.  But it does appeal to me in a somewhat limited way.  I am not full of the courage that road bikers have, nor the athletic ability of those mountain bikers.  No for me a paved bike path is just my speed.

I took my first ride today.  Part of the fun is figuring our where to adjust the seat and handle bar height to.  Next is how to sit in the saddle.  I am a horsewoman and have sat in many saddles, good and bad.  This one is going to take some getting use to.  Finding where the sweet spot is will take time.  There is always an option to try a different type.

I drove to Woodinville, the town north of me and headed south on the Sammamish Slough trail, back to Redmond.  I was going to head north but my neighbor encouraged me to try the southbound track first.

It is a pretty trail down the valley.  There are several truck farms and small properties on one side of the slough, the other side is more light industrial and there is a large golf course.  Most of the way, these are hidden behind trees and shrubs.

The trail is popular and I really wished I had a sign on my back saying Olde Fart Beginner.  The speedsters race up from behind (on left on left) and the joggers and strollers are always present.  I made several stops on my way south to enjoy seeing and hearing birds

There was a large encampment at the soccer fields.  Tents, cars from all over the western US and shouts and yells.  I thought at first a soccer tournament, but as I got close I saw that they were throwing Frisbees.   I asked one woman " Frisbee soccer?"  She was a bit aghasted that I did not know "Ultimate Frisbee"

The whole of the area was ringed with tents.  It looks like they are set for a fun, long weekend.

Other people were out having fun.  This looks like a good team building activity.  I could get with this.

I was surprised not to see kayaks and only these two paddle board riders.

A popular trail gets attention and along the way there were a lot of very nice footbridges and some public art.

So a two hour round trip is under my belt.  My first impression , I would have rather have jumped on a strange young horse.  I felt pretty much out of water.  Like riding a horse, you do better if you keep your eyes up and ahead.  Balance comes to me better when I have something to push against when peddling, so I explored learning the gears and what suits when .  The smaller wheels react pretty quickly to a change of balance and I had one brief panic when a speedster snuck up behind me.

I could feel it in my hands and wrists (numb) and now feel it a little in my shoulder, so conditioning into this is vital.  I raised my handlebar height on the return leg of my ride so I will start out higher next time.

I am hoping Little Blue can come with me and explore some areas not so easily reached on foot or by car. There are some nice trails in eastern Washington that go along old rail beds and get you into some interesting countryside.  There is , of course, the 14 mile trail at Long Beach half of which covers some real gain as you climb up to Cape Disappointment.  

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bonjour Swaledale!

While much of the world is busy watching the World Cup, a little corner of England is saying " Bonjour " to the Tour de France.  The first  leg of the race is in Yorkshire running from Leeds to Harrowgate.  They will head north into Yorkshire Dales National Park and be running south down the Swaledale.

During my journey on the Coast to Coast Path last year, this leg through Swaledale was one of my favorite.  Starting with a lovely hike up and over Nine Standards Rigg and a stay at the wonderful Keld Lodge.

The hike down the dale was chosen so I could divert to Muker to visit Swaledale Woolens, where I was forced to buy a hand-knit sweater.


The dale was a lovely and picturesque as you would imagine starting at the ruins of Crackpot Hall

and through fields and across a ton of stiles of all shapes and sizes.  This was the path to Muker.

I ripped my favorite hiking pants on this style, the day-lit gap is not more than 6 inches

Everywhere there were sheep of the most friendly temperament

Here is a map of the course.  I hope it is a lovely day and that I can find a glimpse of the race, simply to relive some of the beauty of what I remember as one of my favorite part of the trail.


Sunday, June 22, 2014

Thank you Karen

Once again our outdoor community has lost a guiding light.  Karen Sykes; author photographer and hiking guru to many, was lost on Mt Rainier this week.  I never met her in person but her book, Best Wildflower Hikes was my first hiking guidebook.  Forums and blogs are filled with tribute to her wisdom, energy and fabulous storytelling.

Thank you Karen for opening up many areas to me and taking me to places I would not have imagined.  I look forward to someday visiting more of the areas you told me about.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ There's A Hole In The Bottom Of The Sea

This has been a long day on the Golden Circle Tour.

I could only pick one activity and I wanted to get out and see nature and the marvels of this land.  This tour gives only a little taste, but what a taste it is


This is a day with a bit of variety.

We started with a visit to a geothermal greenhouse and see how fresh vegetables are grown year round using the natural heat generated from the volcanic resources.  Sorry about the photo orientation.

Plant seedlings are started in a separate greenhouse then brought into the planters with more mature plants.

The greenhouse is heated with geothermal heat and the water is processed secondarily.    Lights are also powered with geothermal and turbine generated power. The plants are not hydroponic, but are rooted into large peat bales.  Water is dripped into the bails and runoff is collected and recycled.

Vines climb 25cm per week and when in production, the tomatoes are harvested, packaged and transported to town every day.

Bees are brought in from Belgium and used for pollination.  The are charming, fat round and fuzzy, unlike our common honeybee.  They produce small bulbous cones and the owner says they sometimes make use of the small amount of tomato honey. Parasitic wasps help keep flies out of the fruit.

Completely organic and very environmentally sound.

Gullfoss (golden falls) is a magnificent waterfall dropping staircase fashion and appearing to disappear.

The Wiki page has some wonderful photos of the winter falls, which must be something to see


The falls cascade down with amazing flow and speed.  As there was freezing in the mountains last week, I assume the Spring run off is just getting underway.

Early in the 1900s this area was under speculation for a damming.  One young woman who lived nearby fought very hard to have the areas natural wonders preserved.  Her devotion was complete, including tracking to the city to meet with officials.

We stopped in Haukadalur to see geysers.  Geysir is one of the larger ones and it is from it we get the general term.  Geysir is derived from a word that means "to gush"

Geyser itself no longer erupts like it once did.  Earthquakes have changed its character.

Nearby Strokkur is reliable and erupts with high frequency.

The whole of the basin is filled with small thermal pools, springs and bubbling pots.  Temperatures are around 90C, near boiling.  Some of the thermal pools deposit minerals and are a stunning color, even on this stormy day.

Thingvellir National Park is where we find the hole from the bottom of the sea.  Plate tectonics which create the Mid-Atlantic Rift rise from the ocean and cross Iceland.  It is here that the North American Plate and the Eurasian plates are splitting apart by several centimeters per year.

There really is a hole.  A long Tear Along The Dotted Line rift.



This is a crack of the Eurasian plate

This is the North American plate boundary.

People actually come and scuba dive in the cracks and chasms.

Thingvellir is the birthplace of Iceland.  It is where the first people held Parliament.  The word "thing" originated from this place word.  "Thing" originally a word in abstract; talk and consider the subject / issue at hand.  Only later did the word start to mean an item.

Getting out into the environment was a treat.  It is wild, complex and ever changing.  Moses, lichens short grasses dominate.  Lupins are the main plant along with small shrubby trees which appear to be willow family.  I even spotted some wild Viola

Icelandic Horses were seen frequently and we saw more of the sheep that produce wool.  Most of the ewes have new lambs and it appears that twins are the norm.

Tomorrow it is time to return home and back to my work-a-day world.

It has been quite a time.  Now it is time to dream up another adventure.

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Like Here, Only Different ~ A Wee Diversion

When making plans for this holiday I chatted about traveling with a co-worker.  She and her husband were planning a trip to London and Paris and told me they were flying Iceland Air.  She mentioned that one could lay-over in Reykjavik with no additional charge on the airfare.  When I checked it out the round trip fare was certainly a great deal on its own, the opportunity to have a brief visit even more so.

So here I am, landed in the afternoon and able to have a full day tomorrow with an exciting tour of the Golden Circle.  I am staying right near the center of town in the shopping district.  Center Hotel Klopp


I have my priorities.  My first is finding a nice Icelandic sweater.  Icelandic Handknit Society is two blocks away.  So many items labeled Icelandic may be made of Iceland wool and in traditional patterns, but they are knit in far off places rather right here by traditional hand knitters.  Like the sweater I picked up last Summer at Swaledale Woolens, I am looking for a sweater I can wear for years to come.  I could only window shop today as my flight out of London was an hour late.  There is ample time if we get in from tour early enough tomorrow, or Monday first thing.

I took the opportunity to simply walk around and look at the interesting architecture and view some of the outdoor art.  I was dismayed by how much graffiti there is.  Senseless.  Many buildings are painted in bright colors or fronted with colored aluminum.

This pretty house had a nice yard and it had bird feeders and water feature.  Highly unusual and right in the center of the busy shopping neighborhood.  I was excited to see a blooming flower related to or checker lily.  Of course I oriented my camera incorrectly.

I took a walk around.  It is pretty windy and gray with sprinkles.

Along the harbor this viking boat sculpture.

In the harbor Coast Guard and industry ships of all types

The abstract Harpa Concert Hall is difficult to capture.

Many of the sculptures around town are of the same modernist school .

Around town coffee café culture is huge. This shop is said to be the oldest coffee shop, dating to the early 50s

Hallgrimskirkja took 34 years to build.  The spire is visible for 20Km.  The observation platform in the spire costs a small amount to ride to and those funds are used for charity.  A gray cement building in a gray sky.

That is our friend Leif in he front.

I am looking forward to seeing the natural wonders on tomorrows trip.  Currently I am listening to the movie "Ice Age II" dubbed in Icelandic.  It  is holding my interest for now.

The sun sets sometime very late tonight and rises around 3am.  My east facing room does not have blackout curtains.