The goal was a wild, fog-smudged shoreline over 150 miles from Seattle…

We drove, ferried, and drove again, finally arriving in Forks, the small town made famous by the Twilight books & movie. It was a two day blitz – on the first day, the Olympic Mountains and Second Beach; on the second day, the Hoh Rainforest and Rialto Beach. (Even with all the water around Seattle and Puget Sound we are starved for the beach!)

Rialto Beach is an easy half hour drive from Forks, but first we wanted to explore the Hoh Rainforest.  Often mist-filled and rainy, the Hoh area was sunny that day, but even in sunny conditions it was dark inside the forest. Most of my photos of the rainforest didn’t turn out well – patience and a tripod would have worked better than our determined pace. Next time.

As we headed to the coast the fog returned and hovered just at the edge of the land. We parked and made our way through a patch of forest towards the pounding crash and boom of high tide. The powerful sound overtook me well before I saw the beach. Within the woods, even at water’s edge, dim light concealed details, and where thick forest confronted heavy surf, spindly fir tree skeletons stood tall, their future a tangled wreck at their feet.

It was all wet grays and diffuse light.





The smooth, round rocks clattered as they rolled and tumbled under receding waves.



A miscellany of sea life was scattered about the beach. It all made me wish we had a handy marine biologist along to grill with questions: What’s this? And that? Why this color? Who eats this stuff? And what does the other forest, the one that lies beneath the waves look like?




A few enormous logs – the trademark of Pacific Northwest beaches – rolled around freely in the tide. We actually recognized one giant log from the first time we came here, two years ago.






The softest, most subtle colors could be seen through the mist, whether you looked out to sea or back into the woods.




The sun would hide behind thick clouds, then a vague, barely blue patch would form up the beach revealing tantalizing glimpses of rugged outcroppings and sea stacks. There’s a natural arch not far from here, but that would have to wait.  It was getting late. I wished I could stay another night – there are birds here, (last time we saw pelicans), killer whales, seals, and a whole other world out there at low tide.  Today all that was invisible to us, but we were well satisfied.


Drift with me

along sea-sprayed shores…


I discovered a gem – please take a second to listen to this recording of the rocks and surf at Rialto, and sounds inside a hollow log on the beach.  The recording was made by acoustic ecologist (acoustic ecologist – that idea alone makes me shiver with pleasure!) Gordon Hempton. He was interviewed by Krista Tippet, who produces a very good NPR show called “On Being.”


The Hoh Rainforest, in Olympic National Park in Washington State, is a sprawling patch of temperate rainforest between the mountains and the sea, where the Hoh tribe was created by a shape-shifting transformer, K’wati, according to tribal oral tradition.   The meandering Hoh River runs here, gradually transporting clean glacial water from Mount Olympus out to the Pacific Ocean.  It rains and rains and rains in this forest; the constant moisture and mild winters make for a complex green-machine landscape of huge trees luxuriously clad in epiphytes, with ferns and mosses growing everywhere.  A trail can be followed up the Hoh all the way to alpine meadows in the mountains, from about 600′ elev. to 4300′, with a length of 17.5 miles. Sorry to say I walked only a scant mile of it; having already explored another trail earlier, I wanted to save time for nearby Rialto Beach.

This reflection shot was taken straight down into a creek that feeds the Hoh. It wasn’t raining, thankfully, in fact, the sun – if you could find a slice of sky between the trees overhead – was shining.  The little creek moved fast and was full of plants – I counted five different underwater plants at this spot.

After I got home I processed the photo in Lightroom to enhance the painterly quality of the reflections. Here’s a straight photo of the creek from the trail above it; running wide and shallow, with thick growth under the surface, it is a bright spot in the forest:

One of these days – soon – I’ll post more photos from the Hoh Rainforest, and from Rialto Beach. Oh, and Second Beach, just up the coast, and Hurricane Ridge in the mountains – we covered them all in two days’ time. I don’t recommend that pace; we both collapsed when we got home…but it was worth it!

Heaped Horizons

Up on Hurricane Ridge in Olympic National Park last weekend I gazed at the distant horizon of the Olympic Mountain Range, a floating parade of glacier-covered peaks. Marching out to the Olympic mountain tops were folded hills covered in dark spruce and fir. Closer by, the slopes were clad in gold grass sprinkled with evergreens. At my feet, there was yet another horizon, a thin veil of grass stems: horizon heaped upon horizon, as far as I could see.

This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is “Horizon”  –  you might broaden yours by checking out a heap of horizons here.

Garden Chiaroscuro

I spent a few rewarding hours in my local botanical garden the other day.  Famous for rain, Seattle was clear and sunny;  the angled October light cast deep shadows on the brilliant stained glass colors of fall.

The back of this Dahlia was as joyfully pretty as the front.

A mushroom – looks like an Amanita – hid behind a fern frond.

We’ve had a lot of sun, but as always we are VERY mushroom-y here in the Pacific northwest!

The season’s last roses are so sweet – this one is a climber with a fruity scent and perfectly round blooms, some of which dropped prematurely onto the ground below, scattering lovely pastel petals.


Oh, the complexity of fall color!

Grasses go to seed in shimmering drifts.

Hydrangeas were beginning to brown. With the color removed from the petals, the structure is revealed beautifully.

In contrast to the orderly structure of a Hydrangea petal, these leaves displayed a marvelous anarchy of form.

And this one had been caught mid way between limb and earth.

Another leaf burnished by autumn’s chiaroscuro light.

But it’s not all fall leaves and mushrooms.  There are straightforward floral beauties still to be found, the late bloomers, the brave ones who raise heads to waning light in defiance of cold and dark and the sure slipping away of leaf and flower….

The photos, many of which illustrate the idea of chiaroscuro, were taken at Bellevue Botanical Garden, Bellevue, WA.

From Wikipedia: Chiaroscuro (English pronunciation: /kiˌɑːrəˈskjʊər/; Italian: [kjarosˈkuːro]; Italian for light-dark) in art is the use of strong contrasts between light and dark, usually bold contrasts affecting a whole composition.


What hue are you? This week’s Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge wonders how readers might reveal themselves via color.

These days I’m variable hues, reflected in the photo I took today.  Another day I may be the pure blue of an Yves Klein painting, or pale as dry sand in the dunes.  I remember a time when every night as I closed my eyes to sleep, a textured field of color flashed in my head – a shiny round of chartreuse, a densely shaded, rough earth brown, a rippled, floating, translucent pink. I don’t know what prompted the color fields, but each night I enjoyed that fleeting moment.      I was smart enough not to seek it, so the vision came and went lightly.

These days I rarely see those images, but no matter – color is a daily companion, intensifying sensory pleasure, carrying me along time’s winding ribbon.

Weekly Photo Challenge: “The Hue of You.”


There are days when you don’t want to travel too far but you definitely want to go somewhere new.  Sunday was like that, so we drove northeast a bit and then probed the back roads for miles, bumping down an old pot-holed logging road into a state forest, where we found gold. Well, golden leaves anyway, and a deep gorge, thundering water, pockmarked rock formations, mushrooms galore, and a fanciful, moss-hung forest.


We were plunged into the midst of vibrant, lush growth, from the forest floor to the treetops far above us. The older trees, with their strange shapes and moss-covered trunks. seemed possessed of distinct personalities.

The deep gorge was lined with slippery rocks, twisting roots, and precarious precipices. It was impossible to see the whole waterfall, but the loud roar of water plunging down through ink-black rock told the story.

One way to peer into the dark recesses of the gorge would be to crawl out on one of the tree trunks that spanned the gorge. I didn’t do that, but I did creep out as close as I dared to the edge on both sides of the gorge to peer down at the water below.

I kept getting distracted by tiny lichens and mushrooms in all shapes.

Coral mushrooms of an indescribable hue grew undisturbed behind fallen logs. Bits of lichen, fallen from branches high above, littered the forest floor.

I kept wishing for the sun to come out – the forecast was for morning fog to burn off and it was already mid-afternoon. Finally blue gaps in the clouds appeared, and then a burst of gold penetrated the thick growth.

Back on the road, there was enough space between towering fir trees to see the bright October sky and sunbeams displaying golden Bigleaf Maple leaves above us.

Our legs were weary from climbing up and down the steep, twisted paths.  We had discovered a new place not too far from home, and as we got into the car we wondered what that “creek” must look like after the spring snow-melt. We’ll be back.


We took the ferry over to Vashon Island the other day.

This big island near Seattle (37 sq. mi.) has no bridges, so it has retained a good bit of charm. Lining up to wait for the ferry, we relaxed and watched the sun struggle to break through thick morning fog.

While we waited, I got out of the car and gazed into clouds of fog. The blending of one tone into another was so subtle, it was mesmerizing.

We boarded and began the short ride to Vashon Island, with just enough time to get out of the car and walk briskly around the deck.  I looked in vain for Orcas (killer whales, regularly seen here), but instead, another ferry slowly appeared through the fog.

There are no big towns on Vashon Island, and only one stop light.  This old wood building which may have been a feed store but now stands empty caught my eye. I’m always drawn to this kind vernacular architecture.

We parked in town to check out the Farmers Market, first stopping at the island’s only supermarket for a bottle of water, which I had forgotten to bring in the rush to leave that morning. In front of the supermarket was a “Scone Wagon” – go figure!  As local residents caught up with each other I took a photograph. This is a typical look on Vashon – relaxed, ready to pull up a weed or two, with a bit of whimsy at one’s side.

The Farmers Market was full of beautiful veggies, many of them organic and all grown on the island. No bargains here though!

Exuberant bunches of dahlias added to the celebration of fall color at the market.

And these root vegetables are ?  I’m not sure…

A huge mural painted on the wall of an old bank next to the market features local history. This is just a portion of it.

We stopped for espresso at a roadside cafe that has a nice front porch. You could help yourself to coffee from carafes left on a table outside (and oh, how I love the easy availability of good espresso in rural places here in the northwest).

Inside there were old Danish coffee grinders on display:

It’s an island, so of course we explored the shore in various places…

The water is so clear!

The sturdy Pt. Robinson Lighthouse is an island attraction – there were at least 4 or 5 other people there!  This lighthouse was built in 1915 and the old keeper’s houses next to it (below) can be rented ($225/night on the off season; about $1500/wk in the summer).

The charming keepers’ houses are situated beautifully along the shore, facing east. There’s a stunning view of Mt. Rainier, wildlife on the water, and plenty of driftwood for building impromptu sculptures. Making interesting piles of driftwood is a common past time in the Pacific Northwest.  A sign reminds you not to take any driftwood from the beach, just in case you could be rude enough to contemplate that…

This was my favorite sculpture:

And here’s that spectacular view of Mt. Rainier, complete with a fishing boat and a loon. We sat on a log, basked in the sun, and watched the loon dive for fish. Perfect.

Back inland we walked a short trail through typical northwest woodland. There were feathery cedar boughs, abundant sword ferns, plentiful mushrooms and moss, and a slant of sunlight brightening up a spot where someone cut down a cedar.

Bright red-orange berries growing in a tangle along the shore were attractive.  I think this plant is poisonous though.  I couldn’t remember its name but I’m pretty sure it’s in the same family as tomatoes.

Back at the ferry dock, the Cascades tore a ragged edge along the horizon and gulls sliced the air over calm waters.

On the ride over to Vashon that morning, fog had completely obscured Mt. Rainier, but now the grand lady’s snowy flanks were resplendent in the late afternoon sunlight.

I feel very lucky to live in a part of the world that so readily offers up treasures of land, water and sky.



will allow


a few moments of no-you:

moments when the self is



Saturday, 10/05/13, 8:59 AM. Aboard the Fauntleroy/ Vashon Island ferry.

Fog on the Sound:






The Daily Post Weekly Photo Challenge is “Good Morning.”


This week’s WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge calls for saturated images.  For that, I give you poppies….

The poppies above are several different types, all in the poppy family, or Papaveraceae.

The blue ones are Meconopsis ‘Lingholm’ – the famous Himalayan Blue Poppy.

The bright red one at the top is an Oriental poppy – Papaver orientale, probably ‘Brilliant.’ Most of the others are also oriental poppies, but the little orange bud is a California poppy; Eschscholzia californica.


And here are a few phrases from online definitions of saturation:

The condition of being full to or beyond satisfaction;  reaching a maximum capacity;  the act or result of supplying so much of something that no more is wanted.

There are hundreds of Weekly Photo Challenge entries to be found here. Try not to get too saturated wading through them!