Christmas Lights, Sweaters & Snow

Even on a wet cold night, Christmas lights are still as pretty as in snow. On the first night the Bellevue Botanical Garden’s Garden d’ Lights, the family and I piled into the car and drove to see this neat, but best kept secret light display. It is a little more compact than the ones you see at the two zoos in the area, but it is worth a visit if you like to see a garden all dressed up in lights. I wish the Lake Washington Arboretum would do something like this with their grounds in the Japanese Garden. Favorite displays were the fish tank (picture below) in a display window and the veggie garden with a rabbit (see below).

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Garden aquarium
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Herring in the garden
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Peter Rabbit stealing carrots in the garden
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Butterfly visiting the garden

Every so many years Seattle will get snow fall ( 2-5 years). Usually it is around Thanksgiving week, but this year it decided to fall during December and a week before college finals. I will admit, I cannot drive well in snow, and the reason is hills. I did make it to class the morning after it snowed, and it was an adventure in itself to get out of the driveway to a plowed road. Once on campus after a two hour delay, the snow was a site to see with snow hanging on the trees.

Christmas sweaters seem to be in abundance these past few years. Last year around Christmas I purchased my first “ugly” sweater (really it is cute sweater) from Fred Meyers for a party. This year the church decided to have a Christmas sweater contest one Sunday to see who had the ugliest, cutest, and fun sweater. I did not win, but that does not mean my cute cat in a stocking sweater is not worth showing off. The other young ladies at church had similar “cute” sweaters on. I believe the ugly sweater is starting to become a “cute ugly” sweater the more I start to see them around.

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The sweater of ugliness!

Decorating the church this year for Christmas was in part a little sad since Nana could not stay long after Thanksgiving this year. This year’s theme was Home For Christmas, and it did not disappoint either. Christmas time is the only time of year the church looks fancy. I will say there was a whole lot of red and green colors this year compare to other years before. There is for the first time in a long time, outdoor Christmas display and lights.I guess if you want to see the whole thing you will have to make a trip to Shoreline Community Church in Shoreline to see it.

Of course this year Christmas lands on a Sunday, so this means there will be service on Christmas morning! Can’t wait to see what is going to happen!

Here is to wishing all my readers a Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year!

Victorian Murder Mystery: The International Sherlock Holmes Exhibition

The game is afoot….

Sherlock Holmes is a much-loved “high functioning sociopath” we all are very familiar with. I would not call me a fan girl of the show Sherlock, but I cannot wait for the new season to come in the BBC in January 2017. So I could not resist going to see The International Exhibition of Sherlock Holmes at the Pacific Science Center instead of braving the Black Friday craziness.

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Outside the exhibition

The day was a crisp cold day in downtown Seattle with some sunshine peeking out from the clouds. With a peppermint mocha in hand, I made my way to line gathering outside the entrance to be the first few people inside. The exhibition is about how the character of Sherlock became, the author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle life (he was one of many who contribute to the beginnings of forensic science), and taking the visitor on a hunt for clues to solve a mystery using the same basic techniques as Sherlock would use during the Victorian times.

At the beginning of the exhibition you are given a small detective notebook with pages for activities within the exhibit to solve a crime. Each part of the exhibit has the background on how the field of forensic started, how those techniques are still in use today and the background knowledge on some of the clues you will encounter while solving the crime. As you walk through the exhibition you are deducting clues and facts in order to figure out what happened at the scene of a crime.

Towards the end of the exhibition there is a section devoted to various shows and movies spun out of the books known to many. One thing I did learn from this section is the phrase “elementary” was never a line uttered by Sherlock or Watson in any of the books written by Conan Doyle. It was added as an effect for a movie back in 1937.

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Horseless buggy

At times I was a little confused on how you are supposed to go about collecting the clues. At one point I had a hard time finding one of articles in 221b Baker Street home of Sherlock Holmes. I had to ask a volunteer for help. It ended up being one of those ah ha moments that should have happened sooner (palm to forehead). One thing I thought was missing was how forensic scientist today use Sherlock Holmes’ techniques to solve crimes. Oh well the scientist in me is always trying to get more young kids interested in sciences (especially young girls).

Overall the exhibition is worth exploring especially if a fan of Sherlock Holmes and you want to put those amateur sleuthing skills to good use. I enjoyed learning about how forensic science came about in Victorian London England, and knowing more about a great-great grandfather who was a London “bobby” on the streets of London around the same time as Jack the Ripper was roaming around.

…. as for whodunit, you will have come see for yourself for the answer.

More Information:
Pacific Science Center Pacific Science Center Exhibit runs until January 8, 2017.

Never theorize before you have data. Invariably you end up twisting fact to suit…:

Hiking Rattlesnake Ledge

2017:

I have already done this hike before, but this time it seemed there was something different this time around. It might have been due to hiking in a small group of students at Northwest U, or I just knew the outcome of this hike. Either way, it was a better view this time. Last time I went it was in the middle of summer (the hottest on record), the lake was almost non-existent, and there were people doing stupid stuff up on the ledge. This time, there was none of this!

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The hike started out around 10am in the morning, and ended around 1:30pm. It took us two hours total to go up and down the trail; and hanging out on the ledge taking Instagram worthy pictures (most of the others are out-of-state people who never been, and so worth being a part of this for them).

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Then a few minutes hanging by the lake to cool off before heading back home.

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2015:

What to do when you don’t have a reason to be at Sea Fair? Beat the Interstate 90 bridge closure and go hike Rattlesnake Ledge trail with a friend. Early on Saturday morning a friend and I went on an adventure up Rattlesnake Ledge on a hot summer day (90 degrees!) to experience the view everyone talks about.

Boy was we in for a great view, just look at this view!

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The Ledge View
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Mt. Si View

We started our adventure with a forty-five-minute drive from Seattle towards the outskirts of North Bend. After a few minutes going around in circles in the small town of Tanner looking for the road leading up to the trail with a GPS that was having dumb movement, we finally got to the parking lot of the trailhead around 9am.

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Dry Lake Bed

Since the whole state is in a state of drought, there was a section of the lake bed that had dried up and you could trek across the lake bed to the head of the trail without going all around the lake. Starting up the trail at 9am is a good time because there was not a lot of people going up or down at this time. There were a lot of pauses along the trail for some water after the heat of the day started to come through the canopy of trees. The trail going up had switchbacks, steep inclines in areas, rocky and tree roots on the trail. There were times when my friend had to help me up with the steps made out of tree roots. Overall I made it up the trail without any incident.

I reached the ledge after an hour of hiking two miles up the trail. The view did not disappoint at all, and the sun made the perfect reason to bask on the rocks looking out over the valley below. The lake below was a beautiful bluish- green color with the banks very visible from the ledge showing how dry the summer has been. From the ledge, you could see Mt Si, North Bend, Tanner/Riverbend, Chester Morse Lake, Christmas Lake and Iron Horse State Park Trail.

11145235_10207759989504698_4474455020043415380_oAfter spending an hour on the ledge people watching and resting for the trip back down, I started to see groups of people starting to get crowded the ledge. We decided to start back down the trail after a few people started to push others out-of-the-way on the ledge. While coming down there were a lot of people starting up the trail to the ledge and a few people who were struggling with the heat as they hiked upward. I am so glad the both of us decided to go earlier because marching up the trail with people crowding behind you would not be a fun experience and the weather was getting warmer the longer I was on the trail. When we drove out of the area there were a lot of cars parked on the shoulder of the road and lots of people on or by Rattlesnake Lake.

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I hiked All The Way Up There!

After finishing the hike we stopped in North Bend to refuel ourselves and then head back home to cool off from the Ninety-degree weather.  Now I can check this one hike off my bucket list and try next time to hike up to Upper Ledge which is another 3.8 miles past the lower ledge.

 

Sweaty Hike Through Saint Edwards State Park

Seminary Building

Boy was it hot on the day I decided to go take an urban hike through Saint Edwards State Park! This solo adventure started off with me asking myself is this worth getting sweaty? Yes!

I started out towards the beach (Lake Washington) for a glimpse of the lake from a different angle. I started off on the Perimeter trail, but somehow found myself on the Seminary trail which lead to the beach. The beach was peaceful with the water lapping at the shore, and a few people where swimming in the lake as Kenmore Air float planes came flying overhead.

Peek of Lake Washington

After taking in the view of the lake I headed towards the Orchard Loop. The trail that connects to Orchard Loop trail ended up being the part of the hike that felt like it was going to kill me! South Canyon trail ended up being one of those challenging trails because I had to hike it all uphill!! Here I was huffing, puffing, and sweating all the way to the connection for the loop trail. I now know for future hikes to go down this trail instead of up it. Once on the Orchard Loop trail, it was all easy, and I regained my breath. Unfortunately the “orchard” was nowhere to be found, or I miss something along the trail.  I must have because there was not an orchard to be found as I made the whole loop again. Very disappointed after huffing and puffing my way to it.

After finding my way back to where the seminary buildings are, I decided to find the famous Grotto seen in wedding pictures. Ha! I ended up reading the map wrong! I thought the Grotto trail lead to the Grotto, but nope. Apparently it by passes it from the bottom of the hill instead (palm to face). I hiked all the way back down to the lake, and then had to take Seminary trail back up!

Stone Steps On Trail

Eventually I found a map with the “you are here” circle to finally be steered in the correct direction for the Grotto. Dear reader, I made it harder than it should have been. The Perimeter trail going towards the playground in a corner of the field is where the entrance to the trail leading to the Grotto starts.

Behind Look of The Grotto

Once there I really found it peaceful and secluded. A little slice of magic in the middle of the woods. I joked on Instagram I had found the place where I was getting married….when the time comes….when I find someone first…..ok then.

Selfie with The Grotto

The structure is a small stone altar with stone steps and a path leading up to it. Stone walls border around the area to make it look like small outdoor church/sanctuary. A very beautiful spot for a small intimate wedding.

The Grotto
Leading Up To The Grotto

After hiking lost all around the area, I decided it was time to head back home and get out of the heat. While walking back to the car, I decided to check out around the Seminary building.

Seminary Building From The Lawn
Entrance To The Seminary Building

There is something about old church buildings and how they speak volumes without making a sound. Lots of stories being told in these hollow halls of this building, and judging by the land action notice sign, it seems the place will have a few more to share in the coming years.

Overall I hiked a total of 5.5 miles. Not bad for an urban hike.

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Deception Pass State Park

For the longest time I have been wanting to visit Deception Pass and the bridge that keeps showing up on my news feed over the past couple of months. Over one holiday weekend Dad and I loaded up the truck with our fishing gear and headed for Deception Pass Park’s Cranberry Lake for some fishing. Along the way we stopped to take in the sight that is Deception Pass Bridge.

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On a Friday morning we loaded up the truck with fishing gear and drove an hour and a half up to Deception Pass State Park on Whidbey  Island side to Cranberry Lake. Once there we were greeted by a serene looking lake, and quietness of an early morning fishing spot. The side we ended up on was the east side of Cranberry lake near the entrance to the park’s campground. A half an hour into fishing I had caught my first fish, a medium size striped bass. For some weird reason I was more tickled about catching it than any other fish caught the whole day. Around 8:30am the Navy decided it was time for some training with the F-18 Hornets (Navel Air Base Whidbey is nearby). At one point if you were not awake already, you would have been once one turned on its after burner and then a sonic boom would jolt you awake. After awhile you just became use to the sound roaring over head as they were doing maneuvers over the lake. Later in the morning we ended up with a medium-sized catfish and a very small striped bass which sadly had to be released back into the lake.

 

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Stripped Bass
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Catfish

After a while I started catching large clumps of water weeds instead of fish. A true disappointment when you think there is a fish on the end of the line giving a fight.

After four hours of fishing we decided it was time to go when more people started showing up and crowding the dock. On the way back home we stopped at the Deception Pass Bridge Park to view the bridge by the same name. This bridge when seen in the flesh is quite a marvel of engineering, and raw beauty nature surrounding the structure in breath-taking. Being on the side of the bridge is a little nerve-wracking when cars are speeding past you close to the narrow strip of concrete you are standing on. But the view was worth the nerve-wracking, and I would never change that feeling.

 

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View Below The Bridge
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Vew From the Bridge

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The water below was a light turquoise color close to the waters around Hawaiian Islands during a rain storm and could see the swirling currents in the channel below. At one point a motor boat was gunning the engine into full throttle to get through the channel to the other side. I have heard in the past people have become stick in these strong currents coming off the Strait of Juan de Fuca into Skagit Bay.

 

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Skagit Bay w/ Strawberry Island
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Strait of Juan de Fuca to the Pacific Ocean

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There were plenty of trails to hike down to the beaches along the channel, but I would like to save those for another time when I can devote a whole day to it. I believe another visit will be in store soon, and hopefully it will be on a sunny warm day. Driving back along highway 20, there were two lakes looking very tempting to fish. Pass Lake and Campbell Lake are the next lakes to tryout in the near future.

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North Beach Below

Now I can check this off the bucket list, and hopefully will have the chance to take out-of-state visitors to this wonderful gem close to the San Juan Islands. Maybe I will see them too. Who knows?

Hiking Adventure At Discovery Park

What to do on a nice warm sunny day in Seattle? Go on a mini hike through Discovery Park. On a warm sunny day Nana and I decided to go explore Discovery Park in the Magnolia neighborhood. It has been a while since I last was here, and some memories came back-mostly at Fort Lawton’s Historical District.

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First I started off on the discovery trail loop toward the West Point Lighthouse at the tip of the park. Being at warm sunny day in the middle of the week, I saw a few trail runners, dog walkers, joggers and a few other day hikers along the trail. Along the North Beach trail, there were a few paddle boarders, sail and fishing boats in the bay, but a the beach was pretty much deserted. A beach to one’s self is rare moment to be treasured!

At the West Point Lighthouse there was hardly anyone around on the beach and a very peaceful quiet setting with a marvelous view of the Olympic Mountains across the bay. Here is where I ate my lunch in a shade of a tree in the backyard of the lighthouse keeper’s cottages. Two lighthouse keeper’s cottages look to be in sad disrepair compare to how the lighthouse looked. The lighthouse is not open to the public to tour because of automotive equipment takes up all the space in the small lighthouse. *note* be careful of lead paint around the lighthouse. After looking around I headed up the trail towards the Historical Fort Lawton area. One area I had to pass was the West Point Sewage Treatment Plant within the park. I forgot how nasty it is to walk pass this place on a hot summer day! I almost lost my lunch to putrid smell of untreated sewage waffling off the large tanks near the trail.

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Next stop on the hike was the Fort Lawton Historical District. Up until 2011 this part of the park was an Army base. There are a few structures left to signify the remains of an active military post.The last time I was here in 2014, most of the buildings looked very dilapidated. Now they look all cleaned up and restored to blend in with the renovated officer’s houses going on the market. Twenty two of the remaining base houses have been converted into privet residences for the public to buy at an asking price of $799,000 to over 1.2 million. Base on the Zillow photos, these are not the base housing you would be assigned in the military. Few people were about in this part of the park, and came across a few people sitting in the shade of the buildings enjoying the quietness of a hot summer day. On top of the hill is the church where a stunning view of the snow cap peaks of the Olympic Mountain range can be seen.

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On the way back to the car, I came upon the old Fort Lawton Military Cemetery with bone white head stones in neat rows. The cemetery is small compared to the national ones I have been to. A quiet secluded place of rest for the living and those who have passed on. One of the headstones I came across dated back to the 1908 era when a family (Robinson’s) were laid to rest after fighting in the American Civil, Spanish-American and Mexican wars. This like many others in the small section had Civil War to World War Two as the wars represented by those laid to rest here. For a few moments I sat and reflected in this peaceful place under the flag pole.

The hike in total was five miles all around the park. I am very glad to have seen all of the sights with relative peace and quiet. I have come to a point where it is getting too crowed in Seattle area, and having less crowds to enjoy the park was well worth the sweat.