Tale Of Two Forts| Casey & Ebey

Forts are all over Whidbey Island and a few are even state parks! Fort Casey was located close to where I was staying making it an easily accessible place to explore on an early crisp sunny morning and Fort Ebey just a fifteen-minute drive toward Oak Harbor.

Fort Casey:

_DSC0086

Fort Casey is located five miles from Coupeville next door to the Port Townsend-Coupeville Ferry terminal. The fort was established around the 1890s as a World War I coast artillery fortification to protect the Puget Sound at the Admiralty Inlet area. The fort was decommissioned after World War II and made into a state park.

_DSC0080

On a quiet morning, I decided to explore the fortifications early before the crowds. In relative peace, I explored the arm structures, battlements and the iconic large guns reinstalled after becoming a historical site.

_DSC0044_DSC0046_DSC0048_DSC0057IMG_3222IMG_3226_DSC0059IMG_3233IMG_3238_DSC0081IMG_3243IMG_3248IMG_3252

For some reason, I found this funny!

IMG_3242

The iconic Admiralty Lighthouse built in 1903 was not open at the time. Maybe when I return for another visit to Whidbey Island I will have to stop by.

_DSC0087


Fort Ebey:

Fort Ebey just like Fort Casey was part of the World War II coastal defense system with smaller battlements. The old fort has a lot of hiking trails and beach access to explore.

_DSC0102 - Copy

One such battlement had a series of tunnels to explore in the dark. With a flashlight and my phone, I walked around the dark rooms and passageways. I should have known that a walking around a dark secluded area would not be a smart thing to do. At one point when I was walking back down another semi-dark passageway, I caught a dark figure out of the corner of my eye off in a dark bunker. At first, I thought “oh hell! I saw a ghost.” But quickly realized it was a person and he was sorry to scare me, but I was already running down the corridor out towards light and to my car. This really should have taught me a lesson in not going to these places alone!

_DSC0105_DSC0110_DSC0112_DSC0114

After a scare just wanted to calm my nerves so I headed towards the beach to get some sea breeze. The waves were crashing in at an alarming rate. There were moments when the waves were huge, enough to boogie board or surf at one point.

_DSC0101_DSC0116_DSC0120

After what seemed like hours I headed back to my car and headed back to Camp Casey for a day of sunbathing at the pool.

 

Have you been to any of these forts? Did you find the Fort Ebey tunnel a little scary? Let me know in the comments!

Peaks Are Alive|Olympic National Park

I find myself in beautiful places and with that, I find myself at places I least expect. Every time I think of the Olympic Mountains I think of the Sound of Music. Wide open alpine meadows with peaks looking straight out of Alps. Why did Leavenworth have to be in the Cascades? Three days spent in what I believe the most beautiful natural park in Washington, a beautiful place everyone should visit.

IMG_3322

Hurricane Hill Trail:

In order to find the trailhead, you have to drive past the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center along a narrow road with one nerve-wracking switch back with a cliff. No tour buses here!

IMG_3343IMG_3330

The trailhead at the time could only be accessed by the lower trail parking lot. Along the first mile of the trail, the Olympic Peaks peeked out between trees. The vistas were spectacular with so much beauty coming all at once. While hiking to the top, our group came across so many deer walking around as if people did not bother them. One even came popping out of the bushes while a group of us were trying to figure out of we saw a bear in the distant slope.

IMG_3338IMG_3334IMG_3343

Marmots were also out lazy sunbathing on rocks like vacationers. Clouds coming across the slopes like wisps of smoke and a spooky show at the same time. The quietness of the landscape was so beautiful and unreal when this high up.

IMG_3347IMG_3350IMG_3349IMG_3365

Lunch was on a rock outcrop I ended up climbing up later to survey all the surrounding area. While climbing up the rock pile, clouds whipping all around me to the point where it was a wall of clouds. The song Into The Mist by Eivør going through my head as the clouds surrounded me.

Walking in the mist
No one knows where I’ve been
Far from my home now
Going in circles round and round
I’m on my own now

Something’s hiding in the dark
Lurking in between the rocks
Whispers in my ear
I turn around but no one’s there
I call up but there’s no answer

Shadow, shadow by my side
Drifting through the misty night
Are you wandering just like me
Within this surreality?

At this point I was separated from the group….and…I had a feeling something was not right. To be alone and exposed to predication (cougar sightings in the area along with bear), it was unnerving to see a deer below take off running into the trees with deadly quietness following. I knew something was close by, and I needed to figure out where it could be coming through. Thank goodness the group showed up with laughter and not coming face to face with a predator.

IMG_3369IMG_3387

Later a group of hikers had seen a black bear on the trail close by! I was lucky! The rest of the hike was uneventful and mostly viewing all the plants and other animals around the trail. The ride back to camp was rocking out to Mumford and Sons “I Will Wait For You” with a smile on my face.

IMG_3365IMG_3364IMG_3378IMG_3389IMG_3396IMG_3397IMG_3398IMG_3344

Obstruction Point Trail:

There is a dirt road turn out before the parking lot at Hurricane Ridge that goes down to this backcountry trail. Many people don’t see it, and this is one of the best-kept secrets of this area of the National Park. The road is long dusty with lots of switchbacks as it winds towards a small parking lot with a pit toilet. So bring your own toilet paper!

38168749_10212465932913890_6222507601507123200_o

Sunsets are starting to become a thing lately, and I am not complaining about it. Rewarding after a long day of hiking to summit a peak to watch the sun sink down ending another day.

_DSC0187

Spending time atop of a mountain viewing the sunset listening to the wind whip around you in near silence is as close to God as it gets. 37778120_10212406487747798_356720724972404736_o

When night fell, and it was time to put the headlamp on, we trekked down the mountain trying to keep on the trail that was nonexistent in the dark towards the van. Out here the stars shine brightly, and yet a shooting star decides to give us a show. On this night laying in a field with others viewing the stars in the sky made the world seem so small. _DSC0197

Five am wake up call again to chase the sunrise. Again we trekked towards another lake to view the coming sunrise. Pumpkin Seed Lake is an alpine lake very few people know about. It is somewhere off the beaten path of Obstruction Point Trail and finding it can be challenging. Challenging since the trail to it is not marked. You may have to ask someone who knows.

38292903_10212465932033868_8738106715989344256_o_DSC0206

IMG_3607

This frog did not have a great morning after being caught two times by people. By the second time he just sat there defeated. 39400036_10212577663787092_875643024476995584_o

With enough coffee coursing through my veins, I headed up towards other alpine lakes in the area. These nondescript lakes are nestled between other peaks and off known trails where climbing talus and boulder fields is a must.

IMG_3633IMG_3644

This alpine lake at the bottom of the ravine was not as cold as the one at Heather Lake. Just getting down to it was interesting with the possible slide completely down into the lake if you lost your footing. DSCN4477

The famous Ptaragen made one last apearence before it flown away. Many people do not believe they exist because they are hard to spot, live in the highest coldest parts of the mountain ranges. Hear them is at times the only clue they are in the area, and they do get stepped on because they look just like the surrondings.

IMG_3576

Hurricane Ridge Trail:

After partying with another group at the campsite, we all headed towards Hurricane Ridge to hike the small Hurricane Ridge Trail.

IMG_3587IMG_3650

So I said in a previous post I had fed wildlife. Well, I did it again! Yep, this time it was a bunch of gray jays that are also known as camp robbers. To hold a bird in your had is a Disney princess moment. They loved crumbled granola bars and would take a sandwich if I let them. I know shame on me again! I will not be doing this again-it is out of my system now.

IMG_3659

Ok moving on…

Three days hiking in the Olympics was and will be a breathtaking experience. The peak was alive just as in the Sound of Music.

IMG_3651

Information:
Obstruction Point Trail
Hurricane Hill
Hurricane Ridge

Sunset to Sunrise In Mt Rainier National Park

Standing at the base of Mount Rainer at Sunrise is awe-inspiring and humbling. Seeing the mountain from afar looming on the horizon on a clear day does not give it any justice of the beauty of this symbol of Washington State. For two days sunset to sunrise, I had the awe-inspiring moments to see the mountain in all its glory.

IMG_3420

Sunrise area at the northeast corner is the highest of the park’s roads accessible areas to the mountain and the best place to get an up-close look at the biggest glacier collection in U.S. Sunrise like it name was where I set out on viewing the majestic sunsets and sunrises from nearby lookouts.

IMG_3423

The first things first, we had to stop by the White River campground to pitch our tents so we can fall into them into them without having to worry about it later that night. Getting two campsites together was a challenge, but we did find two (later that night we would come back to one of the sites having people already pitched a tent and asleep!). At roughly 2pm we headed for the trails to hike up to see the sunset while eating dinner.

Fremont Lookout:

We headed towards Fremont Lookout on Fremont Peak via the Frozen Lake trail. The trail starts out next to the Sunrise Rainier National Park Hotel. The trails at this point were busy with day hikers coming and going.

IMG_3435

Many hikers we encountered on the way up did talk of seeing bears in the area. Most said the higher up you went towards the lookout, the more chance you would see a bear in the distance. Cougars I can handle, but when it comes to bears, it can be scary to encounter one on a trail. Mount Rainier only has black bears and not grizzly bears thank goodness, but it still was in the back of my mind when I hiked up with the group of us.

IMG_3436

The trail up towards Frozen Lake is long, dusty and has little shade along the way as weaving through the mountainside. Bringing extra water is a must if the temperatures are above 70°F. Side cliffs opened to vistas of Mount Rainier looming before I covered in icy snow.IMG_3446

Frozen Lake is a lake with a snowpack that melts throughout the summer for drinking water in the Sunrise area of the park. It really is a small glacier that must be massive in the winter time. There was not a way of telling how cold this lake is because you cannot swim in it due to being blocked off from the public.

IMG_3456

At the crossroad of trails Frozen Lake and Fremont Lookout, this Cascade Golden Mantle Squirrel was begging for the walnuts we had in our packs. At one point we could get close enough to touch it, and it took the nuts right out of our hands. I will admit to knowing full well there are no feeding animals in the park, and yes there was a sign on the other side of this rock stating this! Shame on me!IMG_3460

The trail up to Fremont Lookout was rocky slopes with small boulder and talus fields to navigate. Towards the top, the trail narrows with massive boulders below reminding all hikers to be careful navigating the loose rocks making up the trail. At one point while getting closer to the lookout, there was a sound like a gunshot/firework coming from the slopes of Mount Rainier opposite of me. This happened not only once, but a few times as an indicator of an avalanche and even in the middle of summer, it is still an issue hikers face. The avalanche was not viable to us on Fremont Peak. IMG_3473

Once in sight of the lookout building, the temperature started dropping as the sun was sinking closer to the horizon. Even saw the mythical bird called a Ptargen that lives in the alpine. _DSC0148

IMG_3475

After exploring the lookout (the lookout is locked, and cannot camp out in it anymore), we all settled into the rock outcrops to enjoy our dinner in a sealed pouch. While eating our meals, we watched the sunset in quietness enjoying natures most beautiful sight. IMG_3487

_DSC0150

_DSC0152

Sunsets are a life-changing moment for many who witness them. Experiencing them atop a mountain is a once in a lifetime moment.  Watching the sun sinking into the horizon reminds me to take a step back and just experience life as it is in the moment. The pinks, purples and golden rays refracting off the slopes of Mount Rainier is and always a beautiful sight to behold. _DSC0154

It’s even better then an Instagram post could ever capture!

_DSC0157

_DSC0155 - Copy

After spending another hour atop, we headed down the trail in dying light toward camp. By halfway down the darkness started to change the landscape into something of a mystery.  I have only ever hiked in darkness once. Being told by forest rangers this is bear and cougar country, it does make one very hyper-aware of your surroundings. I will say it was nerve-wracking to be the one in front of the group leading them down the trail! I did get down the trail unscathed as a group of people started heading up the trail (it must be a thing to hike at night). I arrived with the group back at the campsite and passed out after 5.2 miles!

Shadow Lake Trail:

Getting up to chase the sunrise can be a pain in the butt at 5am after only four hours of sleep the night before. Having no coffee and only a granola bar to get me to the lake just makes it harder. But seeing the sunrise was worth it! As I trudged onward towards my final destination, the rays from the sun started moving up the mountain in golden rays reflecting off illuminating all around the lake. At Shadow Lake, the place was remote enough to allow peace to resonate as nature started waking up for another day.

IMG_3499IMG_3505

Here coffee finally was pumping through my veins waking me up for another day of hiking. The only sound I could not stand was the deer flies and the mosquitoes trying to add to the collection of bites from the previous day.

IMG_3506

After spending relative peace and quiet taking in the beautiful sunrise, it was time to head towards the next trail-First Burroughs Mountain Trail. As I climbed up to the junction for the trail, I passed an old 1930s campground. The outlines of the camping spots can still be seen to this day.IMG_3503

First Burroughs Mountain Trail:

The  Frozen Lake Junction is where a few other alpine trails split off. One such trail is First and Second Burroughs Mountain trail. The trail is 4.7 miles of steep switchbacks along some rocky talus fields were marmots, ptarmigans, pika and the famous mountain goats made appearances. One such marmot ran down the steep slope and jumped right in front my face as he made is way past me!

IMG_3527

Once to the top of First Burroughs Mountain, I was up close and personal with a mountain that is a sleeping volcano. My second one in a span of four weeks!

_DSC0173

Spending an hour looking at Mt. Rainier, and checking out all the peaks of interest, the group and I made our way down the trail towards the parking lot. Five Guys Burgers and a Starbucks were in order after two days of hiking in the alpine of Mount Rainier.

IMG_3525

What are some favorite memories at national parks? Is Rainier on your list of places to visit? Let me know in the comments!

Information:

Fremont Lookout
Shadow Lake
First Burroughs Mountain

A Day On San Juan Island

A day trip to the San Juan Islands starts off with an early morning ferry ride from Anacortes to Friday Harbor in one hour of winding through the islands. The early wake-up call was for catching the 8:30am ferry to San Juan Island. Why such an early reservation? So we can make a day of it.

Image result for san juan islands

My goodness, the ride is gorgeous! With all the islands rising out of the water as the ferry passed through the channel. This might have been how the Hawaiian Islands looked long ago. Once touched down in Friday Harbor it was all open road winding through country beautiful with farms, lavender, and ocean views towards Cattle Point Marine Park to the lighthouse.

IMG_3569

Cattle Point:
The lighthouse was not open, so we all opted to explore the tidal pools for sea life. Climbing over black volcanic basalt cliffs, finding all kinds of marine life hiding until the tide started to move back in.

IMG_3553

DSC00467

Catching a red Rock Crab or maybe Dungeness Crab live and unbound was a crazy moment. The crab was not a happy crab since it almost got my finger (which can snap it off!) and got to hold it by the front legs claws away from me. Also lying along the rocky shore was a dead moon jelly that was massive.

IMG_3544

IMG_3550

From the shore of the Cattle Point, you can see the western side of Lopez Island in the distance which some people in the group mistaken as Canada (Victoria Island). When you think about it, San Juan Island is very close to Canada when the cellphone text you welcome to Canada cell service.

IMG_3551

Lime Kiln Point State Park:
With the island being only fifty-five square miles, getting to Lime Kiln took only fifteen minutes. This park is known as the whale watching park and it is the only park dedicated in the world to shore-based orca whale watching. The 1919 lighthouse still in service is the point where you will find people with binoculars waiting for the orca pods to swim by. On this particular day, I missed the orcas by two hours.

DSC00502

The park is more than orcas but has a fascinating history as well. On the site of the park was a lime-kiln operation. The history lesson here is visible with one of the original kilns restored. Lime at one time was a huge economic boost for the San Juan Islands with two major ones in operation on San Juan alone. Lime Kiln was used to turn limestone into quicklime and carbonic acid. The island has many limestone quarries dotted around the island, but this particular kiln lasted from 1860 to 1930, when the production of quicklime ceased.

_DSC0174

IMG_3555

The kiln by the looks of it is really an inefficient way to turn limestone into lime. the number of trees need to keep the kiln at a constant 1,517°F (825°C) all the time to melt the limestone into lime powder.

IMG_3558IMG_3556_DSC0178

Along the cliffs, you can see the rejected barrels of lime near the old shipping dock.

_DSC0181

Spending a good chunk at Lime Kiln meant forgoing ice cream in Friday Harbor. A bummer, but it just means I need to plan another trip back to explore the town a little more.


How does limestone become quicklime (calcium oxide)?

Calcium oxide is usually made by the thermal decomposition of materials, such as limestone or seashells, that contain calcium carbonate (CaCO3; mineral calcite) in a lime-kiln. This is accomplished by heating the material to above 825 °C (1,517 °F), a process called calcination or lime-burning, to liberate a molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2), leaving quicklime.

CaCO3(s) → CaO(s) + CO2(g)

The quicklime is not stable and, when cooled, will spontaneously react with CO2 from the air until, after enough time, it will be completely converted back to calcium carbonate unless slaked with water to set as lime plaster or lime mortar.

Quicklime is still used today in many different industrial applications such as agriculture, paper, cement, and mining metals.

Whale watching at Lime Kiln:
The local orca pods are called J, K and L pods. Lately, there has been news of these pods not doing so well, and are at the point of extinction. This is true, and heartbreaking to witness a beautiful species no longer alive in our waters. If you do see them off in the distance frolicking, celebrate it! You have a treasured memory to share.

 

Have you been to any of the San Juan Islands? Which one was your favorite? Any great places to explore? Let me know in the comments!

 

 

 

Sugar Plum Christmas Time

The Nutcracker… that is for children and adults who are children at heart.
Because of an adult is a good person, in his heart, he still is a child.
In every person, the best, most important part is that which remains from his childhood.
~George Balanchine

There is something about the season of Christmas that brings out the child in all of us. The sugar-plum candies on brightly decorated plates, merry tunes playing from a bygone era, and magic of twinkling lights in the rain. As I have grown older there is still a part of me still in child awe at the season of Christmas. The Nutcracker is one, walking along a pathway of lights as they do in Scandinavia, and being together with those who you cherish.

George Balanchine’s The Nutcracker at Pacific Northwest Ballet:
img_2613As the quote above says, The Nutcracker has been something I have always wanted to see. This past September I saw the tickets go on sale for the day after Thanksgiving and decided it was time to see this with Nana. I will admit I did pick out great seats for this matinée performance Sunday after Thanksgiving.

img_2617

Since this version is different from the Stowell and Sendak Nutcracker many have seen before 2015, this version was brightly colorful and done with the spirit of Christmas all wrapped into two hours. Traditional Nutcracker is weaved throughout the ballet with the famous Sugar Plum Fairy and her Cavalier performing the pas de deux at the end. A new character with some humor to the story is Mother Ginger and her Polichinelle. You just have to go to see the Nutcracker to see this part!

Green Lake Pathway of Lights:

1456106_659432324100484_214871829_n

On a clear cold December Saturday evening, a walk around Green Lake lighted with candles sounded like something Christmas to me. Since this part of Seattle is normally busy no matter what time of day it is, I decided to leave around 3:30pm to have plenty of time to find a parking spot on one of the surrounding streets. I scored one with relative ease! When I first started out on the path, volunteers were just beginning to light the candles and the sun was setting. Halfway around the lake was done with still light, and the other half was done with light from the many candles lining the path.

On the side of the lake where the community park is located was a bunch of hot air balloons laminating the dark skies, and giving off a spectacular view. unfortunately, there were no hot air balloon rides being done at the time. With some hot free hot chocolate in hand, and keeping an extra eye out for small children, walked around the rest of the lake with the masses. I will admit this event gets very crowded fast and people as my mom was saying, can become not so smart in the dark. So if you are not for big crowds, go at the very beginning.

Lastly…..

DSC_0010

Last Year of University & Becoming A Scientist

This will be the last year of college for this girl and I am excited about what is ahead. It seemed like yesterday when I received my late acceptance to Northwest University two weeks before the start of classes! I thank the Lord everyday for this opportunity, especially since it took so long to finally go back to school.

 

I have learned and grown a lot since stepping foot on campus two years ago. In nine months I will be walking across the stage and graduate with my Bachelors of Science in Biology and Chemistry. I am forever grateful to my colleagues at Dendreon and Seattle biotech for support all these years for getting me to this point. So grateful for you all!

 

As I have said many times, life is a science experiment and there are many adventures worth taking. Being in science is an adventure in its self. The hard paths in life are the ones with the best views. I don’t doubt it! I remember thinking back when I was getting my Associates degree how so much had been found already that there is nothing left to discover. Fast forward years later, there is still a whole lot to discover.

_DSC0112_edited-1

This year my main goal is to graduate from Northwest in May- nine months out. Other goals is to study hard, have time for self-care and have fun along the way. I realized back in Tanzania I needed to step up my game when it came to de-stressing from all the stress during the week. This year is going to be stressful, and I am ready for it.

_DSC0113

I love being a scientist and a women in STEM. Science is not an easy subject, but once you master it, you go far! I have done a lot in the short amount of time at Northwest and in biotech. I never imagined when I was in high school this is what I would be doing or helping to find a cure for cancer. I am still in aw at it all.

To all those girls out there loving STEM, keep going!! We need more of you! I hope one day you will graduate with a degree in something you are passionate about. Never give up!

_DSC0111

What I wore:

Shirt: Northwest University t-shirt (Eagle Exchange)
Jeans: Curvy Profile blue jeans (Old Navy)
Shoes: Maroon All Stars Converses (DSW)
Glasses: Via Spiga (Costco Optical)

White Lab Coat: Dickies Work Wear (Amazon)
Navy Dress: Sheath dress (Land’s End)
Shoes: Nude pumps Jessica Simpson (DSW)

Hair: Tracy King Designs (Seattle)