Saturday, August 19, 2017

Berry, berry good

Huckleberry pickin' has been good to me.
WEST GLACIER, MT - - The Flathead Valley is mainly know for  cherries.  But around this time of year it's cherry vs. huckleberry time.  The Huckleberry is about the size of a pea and can be cultivated although it also grows wild so it takes a lot of picking to get a decent amount.  A cup the size in the photo goes for $15;  for 5 lbs. the price drops to $13 per pound.
     "I'm your huckleberry" is featured on tee shirts worn by servers of one popular restaurant chain.  There's huckleberry ice cream, pie, jam,  pancakes, pancake syrup, soda, soap and flavored vodka.  In fact the "huck" can be used about anyway you can think of.
     Of course, here in northwest Montana, they don't tell you that the huckleberry is the state fruit of its neighbor just to the west...Idaho. 

Trail jam

WEST GLACIER MT - -  Some days it's a real traffic slow up in Glacier National Park.  Usually from road work.  Yesterday it was a people-jam on  the trail to Hidden Lake.  This pack of bighorn sheep decided to wander down from the upper mountains to - maybe - lusher feeding grounds.  This required crossing the HL trail and creating a jam up with everyone grabbing for their camera, hoisting the shorter little ones on their shoulders and generally creeping closer to get a good photo.  Luckily there were park rangers there to create a passage for the group and keep the big horns for butting anything/anyone  other than their own heads.  Usually all we see on the trail are marmots or squirrels.

Monday, August 14, 2017

Look, a bear!

A grizzly bear butt

Grinnell Glacier is visible (left center) across Sherburne Lake on the way to Many Glacier Lodge
WEST GLACIER, MT - - Sometimes we find a little humor in a photo from inadvertent happenings.  The top photo is a case in  point.  We were heading back to West Glacier from Many Glacier Lodge on the east side of the park.  This area is usually good for seeing a grizzly or two although they are usually way up a mountainside.  Not this time.
     I hollered bear! and Lydia grabbed  my camera and started taking shots across me and out the driver's window.  Unfortunately, I was also pointing to the bear as I brought the car to a stop.  Until I downloaded the pics I didn't know my reflex action was front and center.  So that's how we do it and I'm sticking to my story.
     In other news, the weather was nice.  No smoke visible today just fleecy clouds until storm clouds moved in.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

A new experience

Wet roads...windshield could be rain
WEST GLACIER, MT - - Those funny spots on the windshield weren't juicy bug splatters but rain drops.  Not heavy, but enough to dampen the woods a bit and maybe give the fire crews a small bit of relief. We haven't seen rain in about 60 days. The "extreme fire danger"  warning signs posted by the forest service may be downgraded a notch, yet everything is still dry, dry, dry.  The rain will clear the smoke a bit, but we aren't expecting big change

Saturday, August 12, 2017

On the lookout

Fire crews are stationed throughout the park

Smoke at the far end of Lake McDonald hides the mountains and the start of Going To The Sun route
WEST GLACIER, MT - - There were nearly 150 lightening strikes in Glacier NP on Thursday night. Some started small blazes.  The fire danger in  the park is listed as extreme.  Rain has been almost non-existant in the past two months.  So the park has beefed up its fire fighter contingent.  The crew working the "look out" brush truck (top) are from Mesa Verde NP (AZ).  The three (one female, two male) have been here for three weeks and don't see any end to their duty.
     "It's where the action is," noted the one crew member as they got ready to move to a new location.
The trio had just finished fueling up at Pole Bridge Mercantile.  One of our favorite places slightly off the grid and well known for great baked goods and good coffee.
     The smoke/haze on the mountains is mainly from wildfires burning just to the north in Canada mixed with the smaller blazes in the park.

     So now you're asking yourself how did we get from coastal Washington to Northwest Montana.  We took a few "scenic" highways through North Cascades NP and eastward.  Smoke, smoke and more smoke made the 400-plus mile journey not very scenic.  We had planned to head north into Canada at about halfway to Glacier, but crappy conditions ended that idea.  Next we thought we would get to Glacier, spend a few days and then head North.  Right now conditions don't seem to make that likely.  But we're in our favorite location..Glacier Campground..and we don't mind hanging out here for a while.  Since we "lived" here for three summers while we worked in the park and have spent a good deal of other 'camp-days' here we're treated as sort of long lost distant relatives.  We're lucky that they always seem to find a campsite for us.


Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Little known facts

Amtrak waits for no one, but everyone waits for Amtrak.

Hungry little buggers

Buggied or boogied??

Sunday, August 06, 2017

Early Sunday stroll

The Plein Aire Art ladies were out early creating  some of the day's wares

Lemons and oyster shells were part of this food vendor's decorations

 Sand sculptures and wall murals featuring old time Anacortes

Big shot:  have chain saw, will carve

Salmon anyone?

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Breaklfast time

Early mornings you'll find us at Gere-A-Deli for coffee and oatmeal

The 'guard kitty' at Alley Cat Antiques wasn't interested in a photo despite the photographer's best efforts.
ANACORTES, WA - - This has been a doubleheader weekend with an arts fair and the weekly edition of the farmer's  market.  Being camped at Cap Sante Marnia puts us in the perfect location for walking everywhere. In fact, we haven't moved the Magic Bus an inch in the last seven days.
     The downside of the camping area, as mentioned in an earlier. blog, is no picnic table or. fire ring.  Not to worry.  We discovered Gere-A Deli on an earlier trip to Anacortes.  We're just about regulars as the table next to us fills up (as does much of  the. rest of. the space). with a group of "mature" individuals five days a week like clockwork.  Good coffee and a do-it-yourself oatmeal / grainola / yogurt / cut fruit layout with dried cranberrys, raisins and brown sugar is all we need.
    We usually go exploring after a suitable two cups of coffee and maybe seconds of oatmeal. Every shop on the street and side streets deserves being checked out.  Sometimes you get lucky and find they have a feline security force.

Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Hazy daze

Smoke from forest fires greys-out the hills and sky
ANACORTES, WA - - For the past two days the haze has been hanging around longer and longer.  The main problem is that it isn't foggy-style marine layer, but smoke from forest fires (big and small) to the east (Washington) and north (British Columbia, Can.) of us.  The winds blow it in and then swirl it round for some clear, sunny periods.
    In the last 35 days we haven't had any rain where we are in western Washington.  We have gotten steady 5-10mph winds during that time.  Luckily, the temperature here has barely touched 80-degrees. 
    Not so to the north and east where the fires are burning.  Higher temps, steady winds and bone dry trees and scrub are the norm.  

Monday, July 31, 2017

Even big guys need a little make over

Check out the twin props on this big tug
ANACORTES, WA - -  We walked by the major shipyard yesterday in Anacortes and I noted a tug in  for repairs / updates which looked a little different.  The  "Goliah" has "tractor tug" emblazoned in bold letters on both sides of the deck railing which identifies it as  capable of doing some real heavy work.  Those twin propellers make the tug look like it got a dose of steroids (4,400 HP power) when it was built in 1997.  It is now owned by  Crowley Maritime Corp. and works in Puget Sound.  With two oil refineries in the area is may be utilized to help berth tankers.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

A bit of background on Anacortes

Why not show your can?

Sunday morning, 8 a.m.

Small work boats ferry supplies / vehicles / etc. between the islands

Maybe the store sells "dragon breath" hot sauce
ANACORTES, WA - - We've been in Anacortes four days and will probably stay a few more.  The city of approximately 17,000 is named after the wife of one of the first settlers.  It's a scrunched up version of her name: Anne Curtis Bowman.  Not quite sure how that works.  Before the name change the area was known as Ship Harbor...which is easier to spell.
     Fildago Island, attached to Whidbey Island by the Cape Deception bridge,  got it's name from Spanish explorer Salvdore Fidalgo (1790) while Skagit County pays homage to the Skagit Indians.   
     The area quickly became a shipping port due mainly to the deep water channed between nearby Geumes Island and Fidalgo which is a link to Puget Sound and the San Juan Islands. Lumber was a big business, but it was fishing where the town and area made its name.  A plan for a railroad spur drove a lot of business and expansion, but the general economy crashed in1891 and with it plans for the RR. 
     Fishing went big-time and in 1915 the city had 11 canneries with salmon the major product.  The area proclaimed itself "The Salmon Canning Capitol of the World."  Probably smelled pretty good when the wind was right.  There is still money to be made in the fishing industry, but you have to walk really close to the large buildings at the dock to get a whiff.
     Things don't get started too early here so it's a good time to wander around and check things out.

Saturday, July 29, 2017

On to Anacortes

The marine layer (fog to us) hangs just above a ferry

Mussels and linguini at Front Street Grill in Coupeville

The Cap Sante Harbor squeeze

This ferry parked real close

A condo (left) with a Friday Harbor view and a Washington State Ferry heading back to Anaortes
ANACORTES, WA - - After 25 days in the Poulsbo area, it was time to leave our four furry friends and head on to new adventures.  Actually, we headed to another of our favorite places, Anacortes which is on the northern tip of Whidbey Island and requires a ferry ride.  Our destination, The Cap Sante Marina campground where we stayed 10 days in 2015 hasn't changed.
      It still offers a great price and is within easy walking distance of all our favorite coffee shops and restaurants.  The drawbacks are a long walk to the restrooms, laundry and showers plus no picnic tables or fire rings.  The close proximity of the marina...950 permanent slips and almost all of the holding what makes it so enticing.
     Friday (7/28) we took a ferry ride to Friday Harbor.  This has been one of our regular excursions nearly every time we are nearby.  The ferry ride and Friday Harbor hasn't  changed hour trip with lots of boats and islands to see and the plenty of souvenir stores to explore for that "got to have' t-shirt.
     Today is Farmer's Market day and it's located about 100 yards away.  This market is largely based on what can be grown or made locally. 
     This wi-fi stop is courtesy of Anacortes public library, where we will  be utilizing ofter.  The Marina has wi-fi but  by the time the signal reaches us it has slowed a bit.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Checking out the Bainbridge Farmers Market

A play on words for the name of this business with plenty of goodies

Sunflowers to brighten up the day.

Going up...elevator, stairs and leap frog.

A suny day on Port Orford Bay

The view from "our" deck of Port Orford Bay activity.

Mieka likes the full face sun...

...while Miss Olive warms up one side at a time

Thursday, July 20, 2017


Lunch at the Sons of Norway Wednesday buffet

Downtown Poulsbo
POULSBO, WA - - It's pretty quiet around here at our house sitexcept for 5am and 5pm when the gang crowds around waiting to be fed.  It isn't the food as much as the 'kitty treats' afterward.  The distribution usually requires lots of daqnce moves to keep one from eating the others treats.
     By now you're wondering what cats have to do with the above photos.  Nothing really, it's called filling space.
     Wednesday for lunch we ventured to the weekly buffet at the Sons of Norway in Poulsbo.  The town plays up its Norwegian origins but it's not a tourist trap like Daytona Beach where T-shirt shops seem to outnumber the sunburned hordes.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Port Townsend, a relaxed kind of place

My kind of place

Lot's of traffic including the ferry

More fun than playing with boats in the bath tub

Those rocks crawled up there all by themselves
POULSBO, WA - - How can you not like a place with some outdoor seating on driftwood called "Better living through coffee?"  The locals sure do.  Port Townsend, about 40 miles from where we are staying, is a neat little town with a ferry terminal. The main connection is to Whidby Island and another favorite locale of ours, Anacortes.
     In PT, you can also learn the basics of sailing, hands-on  or find a trail marker leading along the sand.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The look of innocence

We're just sweet innocents...
...who know nothing...

...and that's the truth
POULSBO, WA - - We had been warned by the owners of the demure appearing felines (above) that they could get into mischief.  It took just over a week to find out.  And there are two more prowling around the house just waiting for their moment.
     Jinx, with the black fur, is friendly and always looking for a good massage and will purr accordingly.  Miss Lily is a bit skittish and prefers he own company...but she's the one to watch.
     Early this morning (Tuesday) I just happened to glimpse Miss Lilly slinking under a bench in the kitchen...WITH SOMETHING IN HER MOUTH.  Not good, since there isn't anything she could catch being an indoor cat relegated only to the upstairs deck to see what freedom might be like.
     ML dropped the object and upon close inspection it appeared to be one of the swallow-like birds who are always darting around although we've never seen any come close to our outside area.  There's always a first time and Miss Lily didn't let the chance go to waste.
     The bird looked dead, but upon close inspection after I scooped it up in a napkin
it was moving a bit.  Now the hovering was being by ML with guest appearances by Jinx.  Lydia opened the front door and I quickly went out to set the bird in the grass to see if it had any real life left.  It flew away from me like a rocket and deserves an award for superb  acting in the face of imminent extinction.  Jinx slipped past the door guard to make a run for is, but I caught him.
     We don't want to think about what a calamity it would have been if the bird had flown off inside the house.   And this was Act Two of the antics.
     In act one on Monday afternoon, LuLu   (cat #3) alerted us to something by scampering to an area where Jinx had been on the deck.  And there in the grass below us was a black cat scampering towards a large area of thorny berry bushes.  It went into the briars just as Lydia got to him/her.  The next plan of attack was for me to bring the packet of kitty treats and shake  to see if I could entice the escapee into returning home..or at least as close that I could nab our 'buddy'.
     Meanwhile Lydia went back upstairs to feed the crew and discovered a coal-black fur ball (probably inwardly laughing his tail off at the stupid human antics) while I was succeeding in getting the impostor out of the briars.  After shouting at me that Jinx was still a family member and the impostor had no collar,  I left the the black kitty to wonder what would have been if I had shaken out some treats.

Friday, July 07, 2017

On the high seas, sort of

Repair work on two naval vessels

A bigger ferry than ours

Seattle skyline

One of us is listing to starboard.
POULSBO, WA - - Actually it wasn't the "high seas" but a rather sedate ferry ride from Bremerton to Seattle. Bremerton is the home of a very large naval port which includes a ship building and repair division.  It's one of  many special locations in the area which make Puget Sound famous.  It also helps that Seattle is just a ferry ride many folks commute by ferry for work.  Check out he house / condo / apartment rental costs and it's easy to see why.    

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Sticker shock

POULSBO, WA - - Driving in downtown Seattle.  No problem.  Just as long as you don't plan on parking.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Out and about

This cat knows which way the wind blows

A bit of color in a mountain scene

Smaller is the big thing these days

This sculpture at Poulsbo Marina looks almost real