Drinking Water at the Waterfall, Planting Vines Under the Bedspring

On a mostly cloudy December day with sun breaks – a common weather occurrence around here – I went for a drive and found myself zipping down a lonely two lane road, 56 miles from Seattle…


A pretty waterfall tumbled down a steep hill and passed underneath the road. I pulled over, parked and got out to take a closer look.

On the concrete barrier at the side of the road was a plastic glass, full to the brim with cold rainwater,

as if set down mid-gaze by the last person who stopped to admire the pounding creek.

I never know what I’ll find when I explore back roads around here.

The road clung to the roiling Skykomish River at one point, opening up a view to Mt. Index in the distance.

Around a few curves and over a hill, “Dr. Seuss trees” gently swayed in the wind, their trunks and limbs laden with soft, wet moss.

Further on in the small town of Index (population 184 in 2012) I stopped to get coffee and look around. An old railway bridge crosses the Skykomish River there, and when you step back, there’s Mt. Index, rising to a precipitous peak.

With its crazy-steep slopes, this mountain is a well known landmark here in the Cascades. The tiny town of Index is a picturesque spot too, with its river and mountain views. Europeans began coming to the area in the late 1800’s – gold had been discovered farther east and there was plenty of logging everywhere. Nowadays river sports and the Index Town Walls draw people – Index is a rock-climber’s minor mecca. A tiny museum in town is open on summer weekends. We went in once and found it fascinating but the old gentleman who was minding the museum and wanted an audience smelled terrible. Oh well.

You can get a decent espresso or a beer and snacks at the Outdoor Adventure Center, open all year for kayaking and rafting. The last time I visited, in August a couple enjoyed a picnic behind the OAC building:

Also from the summer, the tiny Index Town Hall:

Reflecting the local penchant for idiosyncratic expression, a yard in town displayed glorious lilies set against polka dotted posts holding an old box-spring which supported vines. One aspect of the Pacific Northwest that delighted me when I first came here is local people’s freedom of artistic expression in their yards, along the streets, in parks – just about anywhere.

Before too long, those lilies will be back!


Or, as the current Weekly Photo Challenge puts is, One Shot, Two Ways.

In either case I think I have an affinity for this assignment, which is to capture two images of a scene, one horizontal and one vertical.  Seeing things in different ways comes naturally.  I often begin looking from a normal eye level angle, scanning left and right. Then I like to think about other ways to see a scene, switching up the viewpoint for another angle.

I could wade through the photo archives and come up with pairs of photos that demonstrate the principle of One Shot, Two Ways, but I’m trying to hew more closely to the spirit of the challenge by using photos taken just for it.  There was an opportunity for a little road trip the other day and I figured I’d look for a scene  that would lend itself to horizontal and vertical shots. Now, which way to go?

We had major construction and road closures to our south, so that direction was out. Last weekend we went north, and going west means Seattle, unless there’s time for an overnight out on the Olympic Peninsula.  So I scanned a map, searching for some place east of us and not too far away.  Somewhere new.  State Route 2, one of the handful of roads that manages to climb the great barrier of Washington’s Cascade Mountain range, would be the starting point, but then what?   I found a promising road on the map – a local two lane that parallels Rt. 2 for a few miles toward the tiny town of Index, famous for its 1000′ granite rock climbing wall.  We had yet to explore Index, so the route was set.

The road lived up to our expectations. It’s a secondary road that few people use, and it was a delightful ride as it lifted and tumbled and whizzed us around its curves. Tall second growth native trees hung with glowing green moss pressed hard upon its edges. When we stopped the car, the silence soothed our highway-buzzed nerves, bringing us back to that grounded place of rest and renewal.




Index was a cool little town. With about 150 inhabitants, it’s hemmed in by that huge wall of granite, a beautiful winding river, railroad tracks that used to transport ore from mines nearby, and the jutting finger of Mt. Index to the south. There’s a general store, a tiny museum and a rafting and outdoor adventure outfit, and not much else. We heard that homes rarely come up for sale – it’s a tight community in a stunning landscape – and when they do, you’ll need to wait in line and pass muster to buy in. We could see why. Here are few phone photos around Index. Click to enlarge:

You can find more Weekly Photo Challenge double takes here.