2019, In The Garden

Flip, The Grasshopper

While Kevin mowed the lawn, I planted my agastache, bee balm, lemon balm, and scabiosa in the frontyard garden. Sara noticed the grasshopper on the lawn, when we were done watering the flowers. I asked her to get my camera. With the Nikon I tried to to get as close as possible to the insect. First, the grasshopper was a bit shy and wanted to hide deep by the roots in the soil. But when it was comfortable enough, it poked its head out again. It wasn’t time for Flip to call it a day, yet. Very quietly I rested on the ground and captured photos of the grasshopper. At the end Flip was so comfortable with me being around, we watched the sunset together.

2019

Happy One Week Anniversary, Ozzy!

Our kitty, Ozzy, has been with us for one week now. He plays with Sara, and the other pets; he nose-kissed Joshua on July 4th (Joshua is still not 100 percent sure, what to think of Ozzy. But he seems to tolerate Ozzy a bit more); after all this excitement, he had a little tummy bug on Friday; he eats and drinks a lot; and he grew a little bit bigger, since we’ve adopted him last Monday. I spoiled him with toys. Sara spoils him with a lot of attention, very day. Right now, he takes a break and snoozes on the ottoman. Mr. Ozzy has to be fit for tonight’s foot attacks. If he doesn’t claw my feet, he claws Kevin’s body parts I don’t really want to mention here. I know, Ozzy can be a little sh*t. That’s why we love him so much. And he fits perfectly into our family.

2019, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 6 (Part II): From Redwoods National & State Park To Willits, California

June 6, 2019

We back tracked from the beach to Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park. There we parked at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center. Kevin, the girls, and I hiked at the Prairie Creek Trail, where we saw lots of Redwoods, ferns, wildflowers, a jay bird, a few ground squirrels, and a daddy long-legs. When we came back to the parking lot, we could see some wild elks on the meadow. I guess, the park staff guides those elks to a certain area, so the vegetation has enough time to recover, grows back; and the elks can feed again. It seemed like a controlled area.

After our hike, we had dinner in Trinidad. Kevin and I debated how far we still want to go. I looked at the map and suggested Willits, which was about three hours down the road. That way, we would have only another three hours to San Jose. We didn’t have to get up too early and rush to get to the airport. Kevin booked a motel room, and we were on our way to Willits.

…to be continued …

2019, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 6 (Part I): From Grants Pass, Oregon To Redwoods National & State Parks, California

June 6, 2019

On Thursday, we’ve made our way from Grants Pass, Oregon to the Redwoods National & State Parks. First we drove through Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park. A little bit into the ride, there was a huge pot hole filled with water and not enough space on the road to get around it, without having the passenger wheels over the hill’s edge. And the edge was to brittle. With the little Ford Fusion we’ve used as a rental car, we really didn’t want to try anything stupid (at this moment, we wished we still had our Jeep Grand Cherokee). I told Kevin to screw it; we’ll turn around. I’ve got enough photos of the park. And it was just not worth to risk getting stuck in that hole or falling several hundred feet upside down into the gorge.

We’ve rather decided to get out of that State Park and drive long the beach into the Del Norte Coast Redwoods State Park on US 101. Katelynn and Sara could walk barefoot at the Crescent Beach, until the tide came in. We’ve found some sand dollars, Dungeness crabs, sea stars and some broken shells along the beach.

Our next stop let us to the Redwoods National Park. In the Thomas H. Kuchel Visitor Center we asked for more information. I found out, that the Park Ranger spoke German due to his German parents, who originated from the Sudetenland. He said, he brushes up his language from all the German tourists, who are the main visitors of the Redwood Parks. He also mentioned, his two sisters moved back to Germany, while he rather stays here in the US. The world is small. Well, after this little chit-chat, the Park Ranger explained to us, the best place to visit is actually Prairie Creek Redwoods State Park, while driving on the Newton B. Drury Scenic Pkwy. Dangit! we’ve bypassed it on US 101. So, we had to backtrack a little bit …

…to be continued …

2019, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 4 (Part IV): Seattle’s Famous Pike Place Market

June 4, 2019

Next to the MoPOP is the Seattle Center Monorail Station. Kevin got round trip tickets, and we rode to the Westlake Station, where the Pike Place Market is only a few blocks away. Once, we arrived at the Public Market Center, I was fascinated from the fresh fruits, vegetables and all kinds of sea foods. At one corner we saw a crowd of people and heard  loud noises. When we came closer, we’ve noticed, it was the place, where they throw the fish over the counter. Pike Place Market/Pure Food Fish Market is famous for that “Fish Throw” all around the world. Kevin and I wanted to witness it. And we didn’t come short. One sales person shouted the order, and the rest of the crew repeated the order in sync several times. Nobody can say, they didn’t hear the order. People come from all over to buy fresh fish from Pure Food Fish Market. Katelynn wanted to throw a fish, too. I said, she needs to apply for a job at the fish market, then she can practice throwing fish, before she can go do it like the big guys behind those counters. “It’s hard work, throwing a good fish over the counter in a famous place”, I replied. We also looked at these small, nifty little stores on several floors, before we moved on to the Water Front. Card readings, Buddhist supplies, Pagan/Wiccan supplies, clothes, second hand books, .. just to name some of the stores, we’ve seen in a small area. Now, I wish we’ve stayed longer at the Pike Place Market. It’s a good reason to come back to Seattle.

… to be continued …

2019, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 4 (Part II): The Pacific Science Center (CityPASS)

June 4, 2019

Originally, I really wanted to go to the Chihuly Garden & Glass. But when I asked my family, which place we want to visit next, I’ve got outvoted. The Seattle CityPASS gives a choice: the Chihuly Garden & Glass or the Pacific Science Center. I had to agree, that the Science Center would be much more fun for the girls. What we didn’t know, the Seattle schools are not on Summer Break, yet. A lot of Elementary Schools use the warmer days for Field Trips. As soon as we entered the Courtyard, we heard a whole bunch of kids. We looked back. And sure enough, there was a “herd” of 1st, 2nd and 3rd graders entering the gates. I said: “Oh boy, this might be a short stay here in the Science Center! RUUUNNN!”

Entering the Building, Katelynn and Sara had so much fun touching, playing, exercising, etc. We didn’t go through the whole place. But the girls enjoyed running around in the buildings for over two hours, before we went to lunch. That got the excessive energy out of their system and made them hungry.

… to be continued …

2019, Travel/Vacation

Travel Journal, Day 2: From Weed, California To Vancouver, Washington

June 2, 2019

Sunday morning we left Weed, California and made our way up on US 97 to Crater Lake National Park. US 97 is also named Volcanic Legacy Scenic Byway, because it runs east of Interstate 5 along all the volcano/mountain chains up in the Pacific Northwest. Our morning started with a big treat for us. The Sun was shining, the sky was clear, and Mount Shasta looked stunning with its snow-covered top(s). Most mountains have no caps anymore, because they were blown away from a volcanic eruption or weathering in this region. It leaves these mountains with two or more tops, which is sometimes hard to tell, which one is the highest point, the summit.

Once we’ve made it to Crater National Park, we’ve noticed lots of snow along the roadway. I said to Kevin to take a break and let the kids play in the snow for a little bit. The girls had so much fun sticking their fingers in the frozen white and having a small snowball fight. The fun was over, when Sara threw snow in Katelynn’s mouth. It was time to move on. Sara got some Karma later, when I threw a small snowball on the back of her head at the lake. It didn’t hurt her, because the snow was soft. But it made her think twice being a stinker to her older sibling.

When we saw the lake, we were mesmerized by its blue mirror reflecting water; the size of the caldera,; the big cone “Witch Cauldron” on Wizard Island; and the snow, which was still on the ground in the beginning of June. I’m happy, that the true love of my life took me to this lake. About 25 years ago, my son’s father supposed to take me to this lake. As a matter of fact, he lives in Oregon. But it didn’t work out. So here we go. Kevin made it possible for me to see this beautiful work of nature.

Crater Lake is with a depth of 1,949 feet (594 meters) the deepest lake in the United States of America. The caldera was formed when the Mount Mazama volcano collapsed approximately 7,700 years ago. It is filled with water due to heavy rain and snowfalls. Therefore the water is crystal clear and reflects blue due to the BIV (blue, indigo, violet) in the solar radiation interaction. The lake has two islands: Wizard Island and Phantom Ship. There is also a great chance that the volcano will erupt again, in the future. 

From Crater Lake National Park, we drove past Mount Thielsen, which has a very interesting looking summit. While capturing photos of it, I ran into a guy from Oklahoma. We had a little conversation about Oregon and Washington, before our ways separated again. It’s nice seeing people from home or a neighboring state. We always have something in common.

Soon, we’ve made it to Eugene. There we went back on Interstate 5 to drive to Portland. Our motel was on the other side of the Columbia River in Vancouver, Washington. My long-time friend, David, was waiting for us, so we all could have dinner together. It was wonderful to see him after over 26 years, again. We had a lot of years to catch up. Kevin and David talked about Seattle and the Army. I’ve never have seen David talking so much, when he was younger. But it was fantastic. He’s back home and in his environment. We’ve all enjoyed the conversations. After guiding us to the motel, David said, we should visit on our way back from Seattle. That way, we could also meet his wife. So, Kevin and I planned a lunch in Vancouver for Wednesday.  There is always some room on our trips for being spontaneous. Especially with kids, we have to be flexible.

… to be continued …

2019, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains In April 2019 (Part II)

Coming from Rush Lake, we took a short break at the Visitor Center. And then we moved on to Quanah Parker Lake. Driving to the lake, there were lots of longhorn and bison grassing in the meadow. Some longhorn cows crossed the road. The grass must have been greener on the other side. 😉 Some longhorn were scratching their necks against the nearby boulders. One of the animals was so close, I could almost touch it, if I was crazy enough to do so. But this Texas girl ain’t messing with a longhorn, nor a bison. That is a whole bunch of NOPE!

At the Quanah Parker Lake Dam, we saw the spillway gate was open. This was the first time, I had the chance to photograph the dam with the water flowing down into Quanah Creek. Usually when visit in September, the water levels are much lower due to the Summer’s drought. In Spring, there is plenty of rain. It will fill up the lakes. And the rest of the water goes over the spillways. Kevin, the girls and I wanted to hike the Little Baldy Trail. But something terrified Luis at the stairs leading down to the dam. I mentioned, there is another small trail right by the pier on the north side of the lake.

Arriving at the Education Center of the park, we hiked the small trail by the pier, looked at some plants and read the educational signs about flora and fauna. Katelynn found a small school of fish swimming near the shore and watched them for a little bit. Luis got really tired, and we called it a day. He was so happy being back in the car and could take a nap on the way back home to Texas. He probably was dreaming about his fluffy couch.

~ The End ~

2019, Travel/Vacation

The Wichita Mountains In April 2019 (Part I)

Yesterday, Kevin, Katelynn, Sara, Luis and I visited the Wichita Mountain National Wildlife Refuge again. The girls have a four-day weekend. And Kevin took the day off. What’s better than go on a hike on a beautiful Good Friday?! This time, we entered the park from the eastern entrance by Medicine Park. Because first we wanted to go up to Mt. Scott. But for some reason, it was closed for entering by car. We didn’t want to take the long hike up to the peak of the mountain. So we decided to move on and hike another trail. But first, we went to the Holy City. Katelynn and Sara went inside the church, before I went behind the buildings with them. Kevin stayed with Luis in the grassy area by the parking lot. Luis can get a bit excited around people. And we didn’t want to take any chances. Before getting back to Road 115, there is a field where the Prairie Dogs call this place their home. It is fun to watch them, when they bark signals to each other. They seem fine being out and about, when visitors of the park just drive by. But once, we crossed the white line, they became territorial, ran back into their burrows.

Last time we were at the refuge, we went to the Jed Johnson Lake Dam. This time, we wanted to hike and chose to go up to the tower. Katelynn, Sara and I decided to cross the little creek and walked up a “shortcut” along the lake, while Kevin and Luis went the regular trail along the creek. But therefore our trail was a little bit more rugged and some steep boulders needed to be climbed, before we made it to the tower. Kevin just walked the easier, but longer way. Luis could walk, lie in the shade or water for a bit, before he trotted behind Kevin again. Our pup is such a couch potato. 😀

Standing next to the Jed Johnson Tower, we had a nice view over the lake. In the distance, Mount Scott could easily be made out as the highest peak in the Wichita Mountain chain. There are also several stories roaming the internet about the Jed Johnson Tower and the lake being haunted. Honestly, if there is a ghost, it is definitely not ill intended. I felt no bad presents going up and around the tower at all. But I sure was drawn to it. After walking around the tower and let Luis rest in the shade for a little bit, we took the same way back which Kevin hiked up with the dog. It was an easier way down to get back to the car.

Coming from Jed Johnson Lake, we also took a short trip to Rush Lake. Since we had quite a bit of rain the last few days, the lakes are full. The water of Rush Lake is currently going over the spillway and the below creek leads into the Jed Johnson Lake.

… to be continued …