Wednesday, March 11, 2009

To Seattle and Back Again

So we just got back from a trip back home to Seattle. We stayed at a relative's house near Tolme State Park. They have a little bit of land and so I was trudging about in the muck snapping photos of the local plants. It is nearly spring up there, but not quite. The plants were just starting to bud out even as a cold wet snow/sleet was falling. It is very temperate up there. Winter temps are usually in the mid 40's only varying a few degrees from night to day. And that was the weather we got. Icky, rainy, cloudy, and cold - I LOVED it! Snuggy sweater and wood stove weather. Anyway, here are some images from our visit:

The State flower of Washington - the Coast Rhododendron
(Rhododendron macrophyllum). I saw some rhodies in bloom in Seattle, but these in the woods are not quite ready yet. When they do bloom, they are covered in fabulous pink flowers:

Native western trumpet honeysuckle (Lonicera ciliosa). This one also not quite ready to bloom - but it gets pretty orange flowers:

Native Evergreen Huckleberry (Vaccinium ovatum). This one is blue. We also have a deciduous red huckleberry, but it was still sans the leaves, so no pics of that one:

A few old berries dried up from last fall:

Moss! I love moss. The trails throughout the property were covered in it:

Ferns on the trees:

Wood Fungus on the trees:

Oregon grape (Mahonia aquifolium)- this is related to the Leatherleaf Mahonia from China that we can grow in the South. The Native Oregon Grape does not like hot weather though, and prefers the cool Pacific Northwest climate. And they are one of the few things that grow just fine under the giant Western Red Cedar trees:

Here you can see the flowers starting to form.

We visited Tolme state park while we were back home. Sadly this park is on the list of 40-ish parks to close because of budget cuts.

A wall of ferns on the walk in:

The tide is out and the stream is mucky:

On the hill by the stream is a large patch of snowdrops - they are not native, but they have naturalized in the area:

Horsetails and the mucky stream:

The walking bridge out to the sand spit:

The View:

You can find little crabs under the rocks if you kick them over:

And there are clams everywhere. See how they make a moonscape out of the sand:

Here is one bubbling the sand up in a little tide pool:

Here is the culprit:

Poking at clams is Super-Fun!:

They are supposed to have sea otter off this sand spit, but I didn't see any. We had to go to the Seattle Aquarium for that. But before we hit the Aquarium, we had to stop by Ivars Clam bar for some fish-n-chips. Yum! You can sit outside in a warm glass building and watch the water traffic and see people feed seagulls:

See the ferry and the fireboat at the docks. We were going to take a ferry-ride, but ran out of time:

The Kid feeding the Seagulls french fries. The sign lets visitors know that you can never over-feed the seagulls, so have at it!:

Off to the Aquarium....

Pacific Giant Octopus - usually he is sleeping but we were lucky and he was very active when we were there this time:

The fish dome is my favorite part. It is like a sea-garden and the fish are like the birds:

Sea otter:

River Otter:

He really, really, really, wanted whatever was under that rock! Mr. River Otter was just a blur of water and motion:

Fur seal:

And that concludes the little aquarium tour.

Eventually it was time to fly back to Austin, but I ran out to get a photo of the white heather before we left. It was one of the few things in full bloom:

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