Hanging With Plants, Climbing The Water Tower & The Black Sun At Volunteer Park

There is something very peaceful about a conservatory full of plants. A place where all the cares can be left outside the glass structure and take a breather for an hour. An old Victorian Conservatory, a Victorian water tower and seeing Seattle from the black side of the sun. All of this done before noon on a quiet overcast day in Volunteer Park.

Volunteer Conservatory:

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Walking among the plants in a Victorian-era greenhouse structure is a step into a peaceful warm environment full of plants from all over. From one area to the other of the building was packed with flowers, trees, cactus, and other exotic plants blooming with color. I went right around the time the conservatory was opening for the day and I believe this is the best time of day to go when it is not crowded with people.

 

The Water Tower:


Walked all the way up to the top of this old Victorian water tower to great views of Seattle, Bellevue, and Lake Washington. From here through the tree top/branches there are glimpses of the old grand houses of Capital Hill. The very same houses that are well out of reach for anyone in this city unless you have a couple of million dollars extra sitting around. From the old style wrought iron bar windows you can see the landscape of the park below, and with the old pictures of the tower, some of the trees below have been growing since 1909!

 

Black Sun Of Seattle:

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If you stand just right on the top of the stairs with the SAM behind you, you can get the Space Needle framed in the middle of the sculpture. I do not remember why it is called the Black Sun, but it has been part of the park since 1987.

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I did not visit the Lake View Cemetery where famous Seattle people are buried (which is next door to the park) because there have been a people destroying grave sites in the Seattle area. So I could not see the final resting places of Bruce Lee. Maybe some other time.

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Tanzanian Adventures: Unexpected Hike

Hiking in Tanzania was an unexpected adventure with a whole lot of people. I was talked into going on this hike with a whole bunch of people because we could have a view of Mount Meru from the top of a hill just behind the hotel. The said hike was to hike to the top of Suye hill before sunset. We did all make it up just as the sun was setting, and we all got a great view of Mount Meru and the rest of Arusha valley below.

It all started with crossing the busy road full of crazy motorcycles and cars. Not something for the faint of heart in this country! The beginning part of the trail started up a steep muddy rock step between a cluster of houses along the slope of the lower part of the hill. Once in the tree line, it was climbing up the steep embankments with slippery mud clinging to our shoes, getting almost lost in the brush when the group was split up, and finding out the cobblestone path was not complete enough to take anyone to the top. It took around an hour to hike up this trail to the top to see the sunset over the valley and to see an unobstructed view of Mount Meru. The guide from the hotel said Mount Kilimanjaro could be seen from the top as well, but it was hidden by cloud cover and this was true for the whole time I was in Tanzania. Most interesting part of this hike was seeing two people living in the shack on top of the hill. Remind me of people living deep in the jungles of South America.

Now going down the hill was an adventure in the dark. I have never hiked in the dark, and hiking down this hill in the dark was not an easy task. What made it easier for me and those around me in the group was the headlamp I had packed just in case. Going down the side of the hill was a challenge with all the slippery mud on the steep parts, and the vegetation that liked to reach out to catch us as we passed by. People were slipping and falling at times. I even when down hard after I had told the people behind me to watch out for a slippery part. Slowly we all made if safely to the bottom with a few scraps, scratches, mud caked on clothing and shoes. It was worth it in the end! I earned the dinner back at the hotel, and it was one adventure worth going on.

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Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

The Grotto
Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

Seminary Building From The Lawn
Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Deception Pass State Park

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit Deception Pass and the bridge that keeps showing up on my news feed over the past couple of months. Over one holiday weekend Dad and I loaded up the truck with our fishing gear and headed for Deception Pass Park’s Cranberry Lake for some fishing. Along the way we stopped to take in the sight that is Deception Pass Bridge.

On a Friday morning we loaded up the truck with fishing gear and drove an hour and a half up to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey  Island side to Cranberry Lake. Once there we were greeted by a serene looking lake, and quietness of an early morning fishing spot. The side we ended up on was the east side of Cranberry lake near the entrance to the park’s campground. A half an hour into fishing I had caught my first fish, a medium size striped bass. For some weird reason I was more tickled about catching it than any other fish caught the whole day. Around 8:30am the Navy decided it was time for some training with the F-18 Hornets (Navel Air Base Whidbey is nearby). At one point if you were not awake already, you would have been once one turned on its after burner and then a sonic boom would jolt you awake. After awhile you just became use to the sound roaring over head as they were doing maneuvers over the lake. Later in the morning we ended up with a medium-sized catfish and a very small striped bass which sadly had to be released back into the lake.

After a while I started catching large clumps of water weeds instead of fish. A true disappointment when you think there is a fish on the end of the line giving a fight.


After four hours of fishing we decided it was time to go when more people started showing up and crowding the dock. On the way back home we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge Park to view the bridge by the same name. This bridge when seen in the flesh is quite a marvel of engineering, and raw beauty nature surrounding the structure in breath-taking. Being on the side of the bridge is a little nerve-wracking when cars are speeding past you close to the narrow strip of concrete you are standing on. But the view was worth the nerve-wracking, and I would never change that feeling.

The water below was a light turquoise color close to the waters around Hawaiian Islands during a rain storm and could see the swirling currents in the channel below. At one point a motor boat was gunning the engine into full throttle to get through the channel to the other side. I have heard in the past people have become stick in these strong currents coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Skagit Bay.

There were plenty of trails to hike down to the beaches along the channel, but I would like to save those for another time when I can devote a whole day to it. I believe another visit will be in store soon, and hopefully it will be on a sunny warm day. Driving back along highway 20, there were two lakes looking very tempting to fish. Pass Lake and Campbell Lake are the next lakes to tryout in the near future.

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North Beach Below

Now I can check this off the bucket list, and hopefully will have the chance to take out-of-state visitors to this wonderful gem close to the San Juan Islands. Maybe I will see them too. Who knows?

Hike For The Oktoberfest Beer

Looking back on all the hikes I have done over the years and I can say I have hiked Wallace Falls in all seasons. Strange to think that it is the primary hike that I have done with others. This past March I hiked this very same trail with Megan for her college geography project. I have hiked it in the middle of winter with the rain pouring down, in the middle of a hot summer with lots of people crowding the trails, in the early spring with snow still on the ground and now early fall with all the trees peppered with fall blowing in the breeze. I think I need to find a new favorite hiking trail after this.

Our adventure started out with a detour that ended up taking us through the back country roads because as I found out last-minute SR-522 was closed for bridge construction. The drive ended up putting an extra thirty minutes to our already hour-long drive. Once we go there, there were lots of people starting out for the rail head in the parking lot and the weather looked like the rain was going to hold out. Another disappointment while hiking was the closed Rail Road Grade trail, so we had to hike the Woody Trail instead to get to the Upper Falls of Wallace Falls. The problems did not stop there, at the beginning of the hike my water bladder line leaked all over the front of my shirt resulting in me finishing the hike with my tank top (thank goodness for that!) and I started to over heat from all the exertion. Since hiking this trail many of times before, you would think I never have a problem. Wrong! Apparently the trail was more difficult this time around then the last three times. I felt half way through I was going to die from all the exertion I had to put forth to get over tree roots, and lift myself up to reach high steps on the stair parts of the hike. Michael realized how vertically challenged I am when it comes to certain heights and had to in the last bit of the hike hoist me up so I could get up the trail.

Apparently I have thought the Valley Over Look was the upper falls part of the hike. I was surprised to find that I had not made it to Upper Falls before. So we trudged up the steep switched backs to the Upper Falls area. When we got up to the falls, of my goodness! I have to say I missed out all those time when I didn’t make it up. The falls were beautiful!

The hike going down was not as bad except the last stretch where the stairs came back! But over all I’m glade I made it finally to Upper Falls of Wallace Falls.  Took us both 3 1/2 hours round a trip to hike the trail. I think next time I will aim to hike further up to Wallace Lake using the Rail Road Grade trail when it reopens again next summer. The trail is popular, but not as popular as Rattle Snake Ridge trail (believe me, people who have gone said it is very crowed in the day, and so go as early as possible for Rattle Snake!) and since it was free entry day for national and state parks, there were a little more people this time.

We hiked for the Oktoberfest beer. This means I made a hearty Oktoberfest Lager Stew for when we returned from our hike. I found this recipe on Pinterest and wanted to try my hand at cooking with beer again. Instead of celebrating Oktoberfest by getting massively sh*t faced to prove I can drink a Stein of beer like the Germans, I decided why not eat our beer? I think eating it is just as good as drinking it. The beer of choice I made it with: Pyramid Oktoberfest Autumn Lager. The end result was a hearty stew with Michael giving it a thumbs up for a repeat. I think I will make a hearty stew after each hike we take, since it seems to be a meal to replenish the soul and body. A little beer thrown into the mix wont hurt either.  I also made the night before another beer theme dish, Craft Beer Mac and Cheese.  The beer of choice: Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA Dry Hopped IPA.  I found the vanilla Greek yogurt to be a little more powerful in flavor. Took a lot of beer to mellow out the taste of vanilla. Overall the mac and cheese came out better than expected since I did not need to put milk in. A repeat dish again.

Earlier this week at work my company had a Oktoberfest party since the German Oktoberfest starts on 20th of September and goes to October 6th. While getting the party setup I kept having the Toaster Strudel commercial where the kid says “strudel” in a German accent  in my head. Didn’t help when people were saying Prost! all the time and clinking their beer bottles ( not German steins 😦 ) every time someone finished a round of the hot sauce challenge.

I know! What the heck is what you are thinking when seeing such a commercial like that! I tried and only got as far as the one after the Tabasco sauce before it was like eating gasoline and needing a snow cone. At least I can say I’ve tried it.

Overall hiked for the Oktoberfest beer, had a try at the hot sauce challenge, hiked five miles with nature and spent a wonderful time with my boyfriend while doing all of this. I believe this time was an unconventional Oktoberfest celebration weekend.