A nature lovers paradise

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Pacific North West Festivities

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We decided at the last minute to apply for a house sit up in Washington State for the holidays – we submitted as a family and the owner of the house was happy for us to come up to the island and look after her 3 cats for 10 days. We had no idea where this island was and the logistics have been a bit tricky as we had to meet up on Saturday for a tour of the house and how to care for the cats. Everything happened so quickly and we managed to book our flights in time and book an Air BnB in Seattle for the night before to catch up with our friends for dinner. As we travelled to Whidbey Island at the northern boundary of Puget Sound on Saturday morning we saw some snow and as we travelled further north there was more snow and we drove onto the ferry and landed on the island to being snowed on! What an experience driving in snow in a small little hire car, thank goodness we made it to the house and were warm and toasty to watch the end of the snowfall from safely inside our house sit.

Last Tuesday was the final workshop at the library for the Sew Sew with FabMo and we made Christmas decorations with felt and FabMo fabric. It is a fun little hand sewing project with various levels of skills in sewing which I always love. We had beginners who made tried sewing for the first time to a European contingent who were very skilled with a needle and made their own creatures including a hedgehog. I highly recommend coming to check this out if you would like to make your own decorations for friends or family and want to start sewing with a small project.

Wednesday I had a lunch date with a friend of mine who has just started a job at Stanford. I promised we would get together for some art lunch dates while she is working there so it was the perfect time to head on down to see the Nick Cave sound suit exhibit. We had been to the De Young and that is where I saw my first Nick Cave sound suit and I had to ask my friend this isn’t Nick Cave from the Bad Seeds fame. Lucky she knew and put me in the right direction, since then I have been researching these wonderful sound suits and the choreography with the suits and I really love them and the stories behind each suit. I am totally drawn to them as they are so textile focused and that is my love.

What I really enjoyed is the detail of each suit – as you can see in these pics there are lots and lots of buttons sewn onto the fabric as are pieces of knitted fabric pieces with a little-stuffed toy in between. The brushed wire is amazing in real life.

As a family activity, this is wonderful with a felt wall so you can decorate the sound suits as well as a caravan out the front of the gallery to design your own sound suit – the interactivity for the kids would make it a great winter activity for the school holidays.

If you have already had lunch a wander down to the Arizona Cactus garden is a fun thing to do with an amazing collection of cactus and succulents. I just love succulents so I was in plant heaven checking this out – the light was overcast and perfect for photographs as there were no shadows. The parking is $1.25 for 30 minutes so I would recommend a couple of hours max and then finding somewhere to eat close by or even head on back home if you are a local.

While I was near the cactus garden there is a mausoleum for the Stanford family and right next to them a sculpture of the family with these icons beneath them on how they envisaged the university for their son who passed away at 15 years old from typhoid. The Stanford family then wanted to educate all the children of California, they had some grand plans for the time and their sense of education was pioneering. I really liked seeing crafts, science and art as part of their vision.

On Friday and we made our way to the airport to fly to Seattle – we stayed the night in an Air BnB and visited our friends who live close by for dinner. We had a tasty dinner of Thai food and we walked from their house to the downtown for ice cream?!? Yes, ice cream in winter – there are 3 ice cream shops within a block of our friend’s house. We went to this place called the Nutty Squirrel and I enjoyed an amazing combination of Olive oil and Clementine on a cold winters night. After ice cream we went to our friend’s neighbours house for a nice glass of red wine – I am loving the Pacific North West.

 

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Finding the coffee shop in the snow
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Finally found a latte to keep us warm
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Getting snowed on and eating snow flakes
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Beautiful blown glass baubles from the studio in Langley

 

Saturday we made our way up to the island with no idea that we were going to be travelling in the snow. As we headed up north on the I-5 the snow was coming down and by the time we made it to the ferry, there was a blanket of snow on the ground. We drove onto the ferry and sat in the car for the 30-minute ride and off we went on the island to find a coffee shop to enjoy a snack before we drove up to the house. The Useless Bay Coffee Shop in Langley was recommended to us and it was a real local hangout with excellent service and food. After our snack we made it out to the snowfall and had to drive a hire car in the snow – what a scary experience. The drive to the house had a few hills and with the power of the universe, we made it to the house with no chains on the tyres and the car riding a rollercoaster ride on the snow.

With a sigh or relief, we found the house with the driveway covered in snow – I had to quickly text the owner to let us know which garage to enter in as it would be so hard to move the car out in the snow. We had only met via email so to meet each other in person finally was so good. We toured the house and checked out where the kitties hide and here we are, enjoying a quiet, relaxing break away from everything.

There are 3 kitties to look after at this house with an older cat called Spike living in the house and he really loves brushing. He is used to us now and loves to get brushes whenever he comes out from his resting spot. The other two kitties live in a barn as professional rat catchers. They have their own little room with a heater and lots of cat toys and even a chair to hang out with them for pats. They are Artemis and Apollo and enjoy our visits to give them some snacks in their cat hangout room.

Today in 5-degree celsius weather I took a wander through the orchard to see if I could find any apples on the trees, there was just one with other little ones who are just hanging on. The owner of the house gave us some cider from these orchards and we had some mulling spices to make a delicious mulled cider and so our festive season began.