Exploring Beauty

img_1964

With all the wonderful rain we have been having our Sunday family day was an inside affair with a trip to the San Jose Museum of Art to check out the Beauty exhibition. I have been studying for an exam on literacy and math as part of the degree program I am undertaking for Education – apparently, it is a new initiative by the Australian Government to examine the skills of potential educators. A lot of the work is for me to revise a lot of the concepts and will come in handy for my next units of math and science and thank goodness for Khan Academy helping me understand some of the math concepts that have completely left my mind.

Rather than spending my weekend away revising on the computer, I granted myself a break in exchange for working in the evenings. It was so refreshing going to a gallery and checking out art that I can totally relate to in this exhibit covered the gamut of design including industrial, textile, scientific, graphic, fine art, fashion, technological and architectural.  The exhibit was the Cooper Hewitt Design Triennial and brought together innovative designers from around the world and really appealed to my design background. I especially loved the fine arts, technological and fashion design.

A couple of my favourite pieces included some 3D printing inspired by the interior of bones. To the right is an amazing blown glass sculpture with incredible detail which to me looks like intestines.

As I love textiles and fashion I enjoy checking out the innovation in the industry I found these a the show. A jacquard woven wool tapestry with incredible detail by the Finnish designer Kustaa Saski using a combination of rubber, acrylic, lurex, and phosphorescent yarn with mohair and cashmere wool.

The white crochet armour was so detailed I wonder about the math that went into designing the pattern. Next to the crochet was this incredible printing technique by a company out of the Netherlands, Vlisco who specialise in Dutch wax prints popular in West and Central Africa and made using an industrialised version of the Indonesian batik process. The prints are created in conjunction with local African traders who suggest colorways or themes to Vlisco. I really enjoyed seeing this much colour together, and I had always enjoyed African textiles when my friend married her husband from Mali she came back to Australia with this incredible collection of clothes from Africa that I absolutely adored.

The skirt with the pyjama top was breathtaking with that amount of fabric on the skirt, and the design of the top is something I would love to create for a summer top. I loved the details in the skirt with the changes in colour gradations, and I just love the combination of colours! The final pic

The image with the detail was created by a student from Central St Martin’s in London who uses plastic in her work – the skirt was made of ruffles of plastic including the detail on the blouse creating a three-dimensional effect.

img_1980

The exhibition continued upstairs where I found a collection the Haas Brothers from Los Angeles. This was the first time I had seen their work, so the impact of the colour attracted me to investigate further. Their collection was entitled the Afreaks series created in conjunction with the Haas Sisters in South Africa – using a specific beading technique. Their work is highly sought after and these guys are true renaissance men with their knowledge of various artistic and traditional techniques.

img_1982

To complete the visit to the gallery the San Jose Museum of Art has an exhibition entitled Your Mind, This Moment – art and the practice of attention. This is a peaceful part of the gallery that encourages you to sit down and admire the art and embrace the space of meditation.

Our family day out was enjoyed by the kids and as this was the last day of the Beauty exhibit we were very lucky to have had the opportunity to see it. The kids always rush through exhibitions, but at least there were some interactive pieces for them to enjoy and introduce them to art and technology. Hopefully, we can have more of this art here in this valley as it is something that I feel I have to travel to the city to get my fix of inspiration!

The views from up high!

img_1845

Finally, I had a free weekend to relax with friends and the family as I have finished my essay writing at the moment, so it’s time to catch up on my To Do list! The weekend was absolutely stunning with its sunshine and warmth – not enough to take off your cardigan yet, though! I spent time hanging out down at the park knitting with my friend and the kids created a tree sculpture in the sandpit dedicated to the environment entitled ‘Protect the Trees’. They kept on finding pieces of foliage and rocks and twigs around the park to add to their group installation.

img_7217

Sunday being our family day we went out for a hike up to Sierra Azul Preserve in Los Gatos. Another hike we haven’t visited in our 10 years of living here. Little did we know what to expect once we started hiking…

img_1854
Look for the hangar in the centre of the pic, and we find our house

 

img_1892
A perfect place for a picnic or to camp – though you would have to haul it up here!
img_1896
A dragon cloud
img_1894
Walking in the woods

 

 

We ended up hiking 4.5 miles up the hill as you can see from the pictures we were looking over the whole valley from where we were from Palo Alto to San Jose. The urban sprawl at its finest on this beautiful and bright day. It was a great hike for exercise walking for miles uphill though the kids constantly wanted to stop!

 

img_1871
“No!! We can’t walk another step!!”
img_1876
“This is boring, my legs are tired,” say the kids!

 

It was too hard for them to walk up and up and up. In the end, we decided to walk to the oak tree on the trail which was 2.25 miles, and from there the kids were a bit annoyed as it really was not that exciting for them to see the oak tree.

img_1886

The good thing was that once the hike was done and we saw the tree we went back downhill – it is hard on your legs and knees. I would totally recommend this hike for a family who wants a bit more of a workout on a hike as it is all uphill to the top the views are perfect on a bright day, and it is so good to see the valley from up high!!

Oh, and the bonus was that I watched two really wonderful films – Hello my name is Doris and Girl Asleep. Both quirky and a lot of fun. A favourite character was Doris as she was an older lady with such a crazy fashion sense who is cracking onto her co-worker. This leads to some funny scenes and the best being when she joined him for a gig out to see an electro-pop band, that outfit is the best!

Girl Asleep is an Australian film set in the 1970s so I loved the film from the beginning seeing the clothes and the 1970s cars in Australia. My favourite sequence of the film is when Greta had her 15th birthday party and everyone who came danced their way into the room and then it was all on – a scene of dancers at the party, I gave this film 5 stars just for this scene of 1970s dancing!

Serendipity

img_1836

Happenstance – serendipity, all those wonderful unexplainable events that happen in your life that generally are good intentions. This is what happened with this skirt as I happened to take a break from essay writing this week to fix a pair of pants. When I am with my new sewing machine, it starts to take me on a bit a creative ride, and as I am just sitting next to it writing assessments at the moment, it was a great excuse to make something. So I went through my basket of unfinished objects and found the top of a pair of jeans that I was going to make into a bag. I love those bags, but unfortunately, even though they were such a novelty they made a great talking point at craft fairs, though no one was very keen to purchase one – live and learn on that one! Anyhow this skirt came to be via a pair of old jeans and an unfinished skirt I made for Missy when she was a baby?!? I like how it has turned out, but the problem with this is that it is a little big still it was the joy of making something that made me happy yesterday!

What other joy and happiness came to me this week? Tuesday I was teaching at the local library my usual monthly event started up for this year – we will be doing the last class in June and starting up again after the summer. This month is a Valentine craft, and we made felt heart pins from a bunch of buttons, trim and embroidery floss. The tutorial is here on this site if you would like to make one of your own. What the world needs now is love so it was a perfect craft to do and everyone was very creative with their hearts and most of the class of 14 made 2 each. Next month we will be making a clutch from repurposed 8″ squares of interior design fabric – gotta start writing the tutorial soon!

img_7160

I also was very lucky to be looking after my friend’s cat for the weekend this little black guy is such a love bug and really appreciated the pats and the company when his humans were away. Any excuse to be with animals for me at the moment, they are so loving!

And another wonderful random act of happenstance happened on Friday when I rewarded myself a trip downtown to Oren’s Hummus Shop for lunch with a friend who I hardly see anymore because she is studying too! I love the falafel there, and the hummus is so creamy and delicious. Afterwards, we were so full we went for a wander downtown and went to City Hall to check out this inspiring CSMA (Community School of Music and Art) Art Exhibit. The classes are taught by CSMA teachers in local schools including our school. The work from our 5th-grade class was artwork inspired by human rights and boy they were powerful! The art teacher created the watercolour with the V to discuss tenants rights here in our own city. The ‘Measure V’ bill for rent stabilisation, is still under contention (the latest news it is being challenged by landlord advocates!) FYI the rent here is already way above market rate, and still, they want more!! I have lost many friends who have moved out of the area because it is so expensive to live here yes close to $2,000 for a 650 square foot, 1 bedroom apartment per month – insane!

Sorry, I digress… anyway my friend, and I was really inspired by the artwork by the children at City Hall and how powerful art can be in the classroom for reflecting on what is going on in the world. My favourite piece is this white woven wall hanging with the many textures, I am a textile lover, that I might have to get my yarn and roving out and make one in colour! We will see as I have many other things to do in the meantime… including studying for my maths and literacy exam for my teaching degree!!

It’s a sun sunny day!

 

img_7063
Enjoying the rays with the family

 

As the rain has been keeping us inside most of the time for the last couple of weeks! Sunday was literally a sunny day so we took full advantage of the morning and went for a wander to explore more of the bay. Over the week a friend of mine told me about a park with amazing views of San Francisco, Oakland and the bay where she volunteers to feed a feral cat colony! I was so excited so we went on a mission to look for it via Seal Point Park and it is right next door to Ryder Park – named after my nephew! It is a dog park with a hill with sweeping views of the Bay all around. Plus the added bonus is that the trail is perfect for riding so one day we will have to catch the Caltrain over there as it is 12 minutes away from the stop – it is a 21-mile bike ride via the Bay trail from Shoreline Park, whew I get sore legs thinking about it!

The pics above are from the top of the hill and looking down onto the sights, like San Francisco on the left behind all the fog. On the right is a pic of some of the sculptures along the trail.

Now, this is what we need more of here where I live super cool looking interactive sculptures. The two discs act like an echo chamber and it’s so good to go in there and sing! This lotus looking sculpture looks like it would spin if it is windy!

 

img_7058
A giant pokemon in real life in front of the binoculars
img_7067
Attack of the wild fennel
img_7083
The San Mateo Bridge and a fishing bridge (the old bridge!)

 

We decided to go and find Project Baycat to see if we could see any cats but unfortunately, they had partied Saturday night and there were no cats to be found. I will just have to go with my friend when she volunteers – I can’t wait! Still, it was a lovely morning to spend with the family in the sunshine.

img_7092

A beautiful Hindu statue of Vishu, the protector and preserver of the universe, and when someone places his statue at a particular location, it means they’re asking him to watch over the place and its inhabitants, and to ensure harmony – sweet!

img_7094

And did I say planes – all of the planes that come into SFO fly directly overhead so if you are into watching some planes, check out this Seal Point Park right next to Ryder Park – the water park in the summer!

 

img_7106
The bearded chicken!

 

And speaking of volunteering – this bearded chicken was left by the farm where our coop is and she has been adopted to our flock! In times like these, giving back at a local level is the best thing. I donated cat food to Project Bay Cat and I am still making pussyhats for my friends who supply the yarn and they donate to a non-profit for the hat. My favourite gig of the week volunteering with the kids and teaching them sewing. It is the best thing to see them create with a needle and thread, and a lot of the time I even learn from them!

 

We are women – now hear us ROAR!

img_6999

Saturday marked a huge event for the knitting activists AKA Craftivists in all of us! I made a total of 13 pussyhats (and still counting!) for the Women’s March. Knitting 6 for the group I marched with and another 2 were sent to Washington DC for women in the march and a friend wanted one made so she bought me the yarn and I knitted it for her, I knitted for my neighbor and ladies in my exercise class and I am still knitting one for a good friend in Oakland. If anyone wanted to offer me money for the yarn and knitting them, I said to them please donate to a cause that you believe in such as the ACLU. I love how knitting is subversive and how these hats created an impact for the wearer, it said this is what I believe and what I stand for and was handmade with love!

I have been knitting the hats in a bulky yarn and on Saturday evening I watched the film  ‘Hunt for the Wilder people’.  I had the hat finished by the end of the film. I really loved that film as it was hilarious, the characters were quirky and the acting was superb, something I really needed after a day marching and feeling the energy of the crowd! To top off this wonderful New Zealand film the scenery was just breathtaking, I so want to visit New Zealand one day! Hopefully soon, when we finally get back home to Australia.

 

img_6992
A couple of the crew here with pink pussyhats on, waiting for the march to begin!
img_7012
More pussyhats and the huge crowd of people bottlenecked heading towards the rally in Cesar Chavez Park

 

The activist in me is alive and furious now after this Women’s March, and I promise to do whatever I can to help the resistance against the tyrant that is now the President of the US. I could not vote in this country as I am not a citizen but the whole world feels for the total lack of morals this man has for anyone but himself. It is really difficult to comprehend the craziness that is happening at the moment but we all know that we have to face the fact that this madman is in a place of power and will do whatever he and his band of cronies can do to support the capitalist regime of destruction.

I read an article in Bustle about ‘What to Tell People Who Say You have to Accept the …… Presidency Now’ (sorry I don’t want that name on my blog). In the article, this point rang true to me and that is the fact that, “I condemn ……. as a human being”. His opinions and his concept of “great” has nothing to do with the progress of the future and living in a society that accepts all people. A billionaire has no concept of wanting anything but more for himself and everything HE alone stands for – America is not a wasteland – it is a place full of creative, energetic, human beings wanting to do good for the world and in general. Americans (here on da West Coast anyway) are really caring people, who really do want to make a difference! But now I am living in this bubble on the West that is called Silicon Valley, and I am surrounded by so many cultures, this is what has made me stay here for all this time. Our elementary school had so many countries represented on International Day ranging from Japan to Israel to India to the UK and beyond, the food was amazing!

 

img_6977
We got this – let’s use our bodies, minds and power as a democracy!

 

Coming from Australia, I am used to living in an area that is a melting pot of cultures and people from many countries.I have come from Australia is a place where your neighbours do not get harassed because they wear traditional clothing. A place where your neighbour who is an Italian grandma, has a pet rooster and likes to have a chat about the kids in her strong Italian accent. WE accept people for who they are and assimilate them to our communities and our into our lives. This is what being human is about, because living in a global world means to accept others no matter where they came from. We need to listen to their stories and you may find that their stories relate to your lives some way, stop listen and do not be afraid. We all need this in our lives, who wants to live under a dictatorship fueled by hate and supremacy? Not ME and the millions of other people who marched around the WORLD.

As to why I marched on Saturday 21st, 2017 – women’s rights, people’s rights, diversity, protection of our mother earth, acceptance, truth, justice, science, education, respect, being human and most of all love. Let us continue to fight for our rights for freedom and justice, to live in peace with each other and for each other.

This is what democracy looks like!

fb_img_1485036723998

2017 The year of exploring new frontiers

img_1736-1

This year I am on a mission to visit places that we have not explored before and this means getting out a map and going OK this is something different let’s give it a go. So today we visited a place we have been before for camping and a picnic but never for a hike!! The hike within the park is an area called Phleger Estate that was saved with the help of the Peninsula Open Space Trust in 1995 protecting the second growth redwood forest for future generations. Coming from Washington State with all the green and visiting this preserve after the rains we appreciated seeing the green on the trees and the water in the creeks here in the Bay Area at long last!

img_1608

The highlight of having the rains and the creeks full of water is locating these little fellas, the California Newt – with the amazing camouflage they are quite hard to find as they blend in with the undergrowth but we did manage to find two. We may be going newt tracking as there will be more to be found in other parks around the Bay – especially Butano State Park. They are very hard to photograph too even though they are quite slow they easily get lost amongst their surroundings.

I took out my 50mm low light lens into the forest today to see how it performs under the shade of the trees and I am so impressed! I would have many more beautiful shots if I had thought of this when we were in Washington recently as the overcast day combined with the shade of trees made it pretty tricky to take pics. I love the detail of this lens especially for close up images of moss and fungi and I found so many after the rain.

 

img_1650
Entering the Golden Gate National Recreation Area – need to find more hikes
img_1651
Brilliant white fungi
img_1652
These are so special with the way they grow – so inspiring for textiles
img_1653
The creeks are flowing beautifully
img_1662
The mossy grandfather tree with the second growth redwoods behind
img_1684
After the storm, this tree came down across the trail
img_1707
Close up of a redwood cone and its babies

 

As an example of some of the images taken today with the 50mm fixed lens – you do get stuck sometimes if you want to capture more in the frame but it worked today for the subjects of close-up foliage and landscapes of the river. The trees can be tricky with their height depending on your angle.

In the BA Hiker info page, there was an emphasis on the signposts on the trail so I had to take a picture of this one with the horse and the Indian. As we were wandering through the trail I saw power lines going through and what is a power line without a pair of sneakers hanging from them – this runner must have had enough!

 

img_1742
Pegasus with a wig
img_1745
In honour of David Cronenberg’s Naked Lunch?
img_1758
Yum homemade granola and yoghurt
img_1759
Excited for his burger and chips!
img_1775
Everything has to have a side of bacon for this girl!
img_1779
Nothing like an ice cream for the Lady Liberty herself!

 

After our hike as we were in Woodside we visited a legendary cafe – (again something we have not experienced) for lunch. This place is called Buck’s of Woodside and they serve breakfast until 2:30 pm on public holidays so we were sorted following our hike. They did have a delicious choice of meals for lunch on the menu too! It is a place where my Uncle would just love as it reminded me of his House of Vintage back in Australia. What a collection of stuff in there and there’s a whole catalogue of it on the website as an added bonus the food was fresh and tasty and the service was excellent! (This is saying a lot for an American restaurant – usually, service is pretty mediocre, I come from Melbourne where the service is exemplary).

On our way home from hike and lunch it was our day to spend time with the ladies – the chickens, and they were so excited to get out into the sunshine and do their chicken yoga in the grass and run around. Here is Missy with her new chicken MichelleBella. And of course, as I had my camera I could not resist the goats on the farm!

 

img_1812
Oh, look at this cute pygmy goat!
img_1820
Ash hanging out with a baby goat

 

What the … ?

 

img_1562
Ahh yeah, just let me kick you in the nuts!

 

This week was back to everything including my study which I had not really paid attention to for the last couple of weeks while we were away in Washington State. The time there with the family was just so perfect 😀 and so well needed the shock of coming back to reality is rough!

Anyway, I have been hibernating with my assessments and heater in my sewing room most of the last week as I have 3 assessments due in the next 2 weeks. One I have been fully focussing on is an oral assignment, recorded in Soundcloud and submitted as a link. I love how online courses embrace the technology for assessments so we truly learn something new as we are studying – the challenge is exhilarating!

Another assessment is in Prezi – a program I have played with the kids recording their voices for presentations though this one is a huge presentation on Learning Theories and to top it off it is a group assignment. Our group has me in California, 1 member in Sydney and 2 members in Melbourne and we are nearly complete in our presentation though I need to write a reflective essay of the process to go with it – whew!

The kids enjoy seeing mum study though any excuse for them to get on their machines and watch YouTube – yes I do watch YouTube videos in my course but only for educational purposes only 😉 Still balancing life and study is tricky and I am finding it challenging it will make it all worth it, positive education for all is truly a priority for the future.

fullsizerender-12
  A #pussyhat – one of the many I have been knitting this week! 

Back to the What the…? I have to not look at the news and mostly Facebook as it does not do me any good looking at what is happening here in the US. It is truly depressing stuff to see the madness that is happening but the light is that I am working on knitting up some pussyhats for the Women’s March here in San Jose in between my University studies and hanging out with the kiddos and family. A friend of mine asked me if I would like to go with her and a bunch of other ladies in a carpool to the march – and of course, I said HELL YEAH! So I then agreed to knit up some hats for the march here and I also got some thicker yarn to send away toWashington for the huge women’s march on the 21st January. We will be wearing our #pussyhats here in San Jose on the same day in solidarity with our sisters!

Lately I have had this Marvin Gaye song in my head for some reason…

Talkin’, talkin’ to the people
Tryin’ to get them to go your way
Tellin’ lies, not to worry
That we won’t be led astray

So blind, unsignified
Your opponents always lying
Think about the mistakes you make
I believe America’s at stake

You know, busin’, busin’ is the issue
If you have a plan wager
If you have a plan
If you’ve got a master plan

Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
You’re the man
We don’t want to hear no more lies

About how you planned a compromise
We want our dollar value increased
Employment to rise
The nation’s taxation

Is causin’ all, all this inflation
Don’t give us no V sign
Turn around and rob the people blind
Economics is the issue

Do you have a plan wager?
‘Cause if you’ve got a master plan
Got to vote for you
You’re the man

(8 times, over scat singing):
Don’t you understand?
There’s misery in the land
(One version fades out during this; read further for a longer version)
People marching on Washington
Better hear what they have to say
‘Cause the tables just might turn against you, brother
Set around Election Day
Politics and hypocrites
Is turning us all into lunatics
Can you take the guns from our sons?
Right all the wrongs this administration has done?
Peace and freedom is the issue
Do you have a plan wager?
If you’ve got a plan
If you’ve got a master plan
Got to vote for you
Hey hey, got to vote for you
‘Cause you’re the man
(repeat and fade):
Got to vote for you

Read more: Marvin Gaye – You’re The Man Lyrics | MetroLyrics

New Year, New Beginnings

img_6665

This is the year 2017 and time for all those resolutions and all that jazz that never manifest. Last year I was supposed to play my ukelele but did I even pick it up and learn one song – no! I love my ukelele and it is so good to own one and I do need to make time to play if only there were more hours in the day, then maybe?

Now it is back to reality and to regular routine… I have my two subjects a week for this teaching period plus 3 assignments to complete in the next 2 weeks so my time is very limited to socialising and the like. I still need to get out and exercise for my mind, so time on my yoga mat and dancing are priorities. I am really enjoying studying and it gives me a sense of purpose and a goal (at the end of a very long tunnel!) My first group assignment is going along well and it was not as hard as I perceived it to be in fact communicating across the world online with different timezones is so do-able, every day it is done in business which makes me wonder why do business folks still have to have face to face contact and jet around the world constantly? Anyway, that is not my worry, I have to get this blog post written and get on with my reading and weekly tasks for this week for my Education degree…

Our new years eve this year was just the four of us enjoying a lovely dinner of DIY pizza, cocktails using Sonoma organic ginger vodka, loganberry liqueur from Whidbey Island distillers and lemon shrub I made over the summer and tonic water – they went down a treat. A collaboration with my hubby where he made the meringue and I decorated the pavlova sans the cream (as I forgot) turned out to be quite the success. It went down a treat and we shared it with our neighbour who also is a fan of Australia – my good friend in Australia said to me the pavlova was super easy to make and she is a Kiwi and it turned out to be so, though he did spend a lot of time with the hand mixer (I hear the Kitchen Aid is the biz!!).

For New Years Day we mixed it up a bit this year and we abandoned the idea of brunching with friends and decided to start the year off with something we have not done in the 10 years we have lived in the Bay Area. Why we have not done this is a complete mystery but as it turned out the 1st day of the year was a perfectly, clear, sunny day to walk the Golden Gate Bridge! Every time we drive over it seems so surreal that we are living here – well we live in the suburbs of San Francisco so it is not like living in a city! Anyway, I will not complain, I do love the sunshine 🙂 To start the year off on something new was a bold move for us and we plan to do many more adventures like this in the time we have left in the United States. That is if my plan works to escape and head on back home!

img_1490img_1519img_1497img_1514

The views from the bridge are absolutely spectacular and on a day with zero fog and sunshine, it was just amazing to see what this city has to offer. I loved the views of the bridge walking under it and I loved to admire the incredible engineering. The cables viewed from the walking paths with their curves were to behold and the view of the city just wonderful – it is such a beautiful bridge and a glorious bay it is no wonder that people love living here!

Here is a rare image of my hubby and myself finally in front of the Golden Gate Bridge – we had some time to talk about our future while we were away on vacay. Time alone without children screaming the background or media to distract us – now we know where we both stand it is up to us to take life where we want to go. The future can always be scary so a bit of investigation in the job market and where we are both going in life has to be examined before any big decisions are made! The love locks we found on the Golden Gate are from lovers who have used a lock as a symbol of their love and then thrown away the key – what a sweet gesture, I thought it was for suicide victims whew thank goodness they were not as that would be a lot of unnecessary deaths of couples!

I really enjoyed the light of the day the other day with the bridge and wandering along being together as a family. This holiday has really brought us together and it is so good to see the kids in a relaxed mode and enjoying each others company which is why I captured this pic of the two of them chatting away, they are both growing up so fast! Oh and check out the tunnel we had to travel through to get to the bridge, it is quite the adventure going into a little Hobbit tunnel.

So to new beginnings and how to move along 2017 in such a positive light! I plan to do more photography, ride my bike often (see this ride across the bridge for a bit of a long day of riding!) and bake more – this is a clafoutis that I made from apple and berries and it was divine. It is such a simple recipe I found in Sunset magazine using my Vitamix and oh yes I need to use my blender to make smoothies and all that goodness. Really it is so important to stay positive and full of light in the coming year and be there to support each other – I don’t want to mention here why but I think most people know the doom that exists on the horizon.

A nature lovers paradise

img_1181

All I can say is that I am planning another trip back to the wonderful Washington State. Washington is a nature lover’s paradise, from the tiny little fungi to the massive old growth trees. It was such a perfect way for us all to recharge and revive ourselves at the end of the year. I wanted to capture Whidbey Island in all its glory and our memories of this wonderful getaway.

img_0351

Getting used to the island we did some exploring down to the most southern end of the island, Possession Beach which was quite small though full of small wonders including a harbour seal washed up on the shore that had been attacked by birds revealing its skeleton and inside – with the kids it was an anatomy lesson right there on the beach. My favourite is photographing the log sculptures washed up on the beach they are so picturesque and make excellent props in photographs.

img_0530

A view from our house was this beauty Mt Rainier sitting at 14,410 above sea level so it is visible from all over Seattle. This snow covered beauty revealed herself the morning we were leaving for Deception Pass, and we finally enjoyed a clear morning to see this glorious mountain and have a beautiful sunny/shady day.

img_0595img_0598

An hour drive up north was Deception Pass State Park where a Discovery pass is $10 for a day and you can see as many as you can fit in. The best deal is the annual pass for $30 that is if you are planning to spend more time wandering in the woods. If you are prepared for hiking here with a raincoat with a hood you are so set! Across the water, from the car park, we saw the Olympic mountains on the horizon. That particular morning the navy jets were doing their flying training over the mountains and in the second image you can see the black speck above the mountain which is a jet plane.

We did lovely 2-mile return hike up to the Deception Pass bridge via lots of trails to calm beach inlets along the way. Once we finally reached the bridge it was suggested that we walk on the windy bridge then I realised I had a slight fear of heights and quickly turned around! :/

On our way back to the house we stopped by Fort Casey and checked out the lighthouse in all its Christmas glory. In the darkness of an early winters evening, we drove across the 525 (the main freeway) to Coupeville to see this super cute historic town with lots of stores set in historic buildings it is definitely worth a visit, just for its quirkiness.

On Christmas Eve we took a drive over to Port Townsend via the ferry to check out what we could of Olympic National Park. The park is gigantic just like any national park and takes days to explore which is part of the magic. I really want to go to the Hoh Rainforest though in the time allocated it was too much driving which is a 2-hour drive from Port Angeles yes from the Twilight fame. I am already planning our next trip to Forks (again from Twilight) so we can check out the rainforest and explore this incredible park. We travelled past Dungeness National Refuge and went for a hike to the spit which is gigantic at 5.5 miles long and getting bigger year by year with a wild beach with huge waves on one side and a birder’s paradise on the other with the calm waters.

We made it to the Olympic National Park visitors centre in Port Angeles and spoke to the staff about what it would take to explore the vastness of this place. Hurricane Ridge required chains this time of year so we took a wander to the forest behind the visitors centre for a tiny peek into the grandness of this National Park.

On the way back before driving onto the ferry we checked out Port Townsend for some pics and then the trip back on the ferry was magical with the sun setting with many colours painting the clouds. I love this blue house we drove by, complete with a dragon wind compass.

Christmas day came and we really were working up an appetite for our shepherd’s pie, wine and chocolate feast. We walked up the beach on a 3-mile walk to as far as we could go and turned around. It was an excellent beach for dogs off their leash and my favourite was a black pug with a neon pink puffer jacket – styling! The kids loved climbing the trees on the beach and enjoyed us daring them to jump from the log and land on the beach, Missy here got some air but landed right in the water on the shore – oops cold feet!

Our last day on the island was a very windy 3 degrees celsius so we decided to have a picnic in the woods. The kids were super keen to go so we grabbed the opportunity and off we went. This morning after my shower I looked out the window and found this buck out in the garden enjoying his breakfast. Today we went to South Whidbey State Park for a wander through a magical old growth forest! The trees were breathtaking and I was in awe of the nature that exists in this small little forest from the tiny fern leaves en masse to the 500-year-old cedar.

img_1308

I am hugging an old growth giant, to take a picture in all this shade and green was quite difficult to get the light right and it is hard for the kids to hold my heavy lens so this is the best I could get including the bag as a prop for size comparison 😀

Everything is covered in green moss or ferns it was such an incredible and soul fulfilling experience sharing space with these trees who have been here for so long. The fungi were everywhere especially where trees had been cut or fallen, I read this interesting article about the future of some of the old growth trees in the campground and why the campground is closed.

img_1397img_1400img_1407

We found the 500-year-old Ancient Cedar and I am giving it a blurry virtual hug as you cannot go near the tree so people do not harm it and the roots. The forest was saved in the 1970s by a group of tree huggers (my people) who literally hugged the tree to save it from logging. My boots are now trashed after all the trail walking over mud, sand and rain and these Tevas really did an awesome job keeping my feet warm on all these hikes!