March 2013April 2013 May 2013

04/30 - The Dungeness Dike

The Dungeness Dike Trail has its trailhead along a pretty stretch of Towne Road, not far from the Old Dungeness Schoolhouse. It's a pretty tame walk, but it offers spectacular mountain views. The trail follows the river, as it is a dike, and there are side trails that lead down to the river proper. We saw a few adult bald eagles flying around the fields, possibly a mated pair, and, by the river, we saw a group of three young bald eagles who posed for photos.

It's like something produced by the Swiss National Tourist Board.

Welcome to Switzerland.

The Dungeness Dike Trail

The Dungeness River

Two young eagles

A third young eagle

Another view of the river

The blue sky

California poppies

Keywords: dungeness dike trail, spring, birds, eagle

04/28 - Spring Changes on the Elwha Trail

We were back on the Elwha Trail out of Whiskey Bend and couldn't help noticing a lot of changes. To start with, there were trilliums everywhere, or at least everywhere with enough water. (Trilliums like streams and drainage ditches.) There were also a lot of other flowers, but the real change was the light. The Northwest isn't noted for its sunny days, but when we have them the forest floor is transformed. The tree trunks are steely pillars and the undergrowth just glows.

The usual view of the Elwha Valley from the trail


More trilliums

Even more trilliums

The trail in sunlight

One of the orchids

More of the trail in sunlight

Another orchid

More of the trail

Violets and a strawberry flower

Sap running from a tree

Keywords: elwha, flowers, trillium, spring

04/26 - Lake Angeles Trail Update

We climbed the Lake Angeles trail for about an hour. That took us up about 1350' above the parking lot. We saw our first bit of snow, but it was at least another 1000' of climbing to Lake Angeles. We met a hiker coming down from the lake. She was a far hardier sort than we. She says there are still about three feet of snow at the campground, which means we won't be making it all the way up for some time.

We did see some amazing light. It was a sunny day, and a lot of sunlight made it through the canopy. We also saw a lot of running water at the wood bridge crossing, and as a special treat, our very first trillium on the trail not far from the entrance.

The trail in bright sunlight

A last bit of snow on the ground

A bit more snow

Snow on the low undergrowth

The trail again

As seen from the trail in bright sunlight

The stream

More undergrowth, mahonia

Even more

The trail, lusher as one descends

The first, and only as far as we could tell, trillium

Keywords: lake angeles, trillium, spring

04/24 - The Trilliums of Spring

It really is spring now. We were out on Lake Crescent looking for trilliums, and we found them. They are coming out in force. There are also a lot of other spring flowers.


Little orchids

More trilliums

Indian paintbrush

Skunk cabbage

Along the trail

The high / low on the trail

Keywords: trillium, spruce railroad, spring

04/22 - Winter Crespeou

A crespeou is a multi-layered omelet with each layer being a small, two egg omelet, with suitable accompaniments, in its own right. We usually associate this dish with the late summer or early autumn when we can find all sorts of fresh vegetables, but last year was disappointing, and this winter has dragged on long enough, so we were craving one. So, we made a winter crespeou using what ingredients we could find in all too early spring.

Our crespeou had five layers, from bottom up:

  1. some baby potatoes, sauteed in olive oil until tender.
  2. some dandelion greens and parsley from our garden, sauteed in olive oil with dry cured black olives
  3. diced roasted red pepper with pine nuts
  4. diced raddicio, sauteed in olive oil, with anchovies
  5. diced tomatoes with mint This dish takes some preparation, slicing, roasting and dicing the various ingredients, but it doesn't require much of each. We cooked each layer separately in a crepe pan, and then stacked them to make a lovely five layer crespeou. Knock wood, that will hold us until late summer, or maybe not.

The finished crespeou

Some of our ingredients

The potato layer

Greens from our garden, such as they are

The greens layer of our crespeou

Roasted red pepper and pine nuts

and another layer

Radiccio in the pan

and in a crespeou layer

We added the diced tomato raw, so it was only lightly cooked.

The cross sectional view

Keywords: food, recipes

04/20 - Elwha Trail Out of Whiskey Bend and Our First Trilliums

Whiskey Bend Road has been open most of the winter, but we were waiting for a clement, sunny day. Then we turned off the paved road and made our way to the trailhead and were pleasantly surprised. The trail was as green and lush as ever with streamlets and little waterfalls here and there. We headed down after Michael's Cabin, rather than up, but we didn't get all the way to Hume's Ranch. Instead, we turned at the waterfall.

It was on our way back that we were surprised. We saw the first trillium of the year growing by one of the little waterfalls. Somehow, we never seem to see trilliums on our way out on a hike. Maybe we are too intent on our destination. Maybe they all grow on the wrong side of the trail or pointing in wrong direction. But, on the way back, there they are.

One of the little waterfalls

Another view of the little waterfall

The forest (and my thumb)

The forest trail

Michael's Cabin

The view from the trail

More running water


Trilliums, right by the trail side

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

04/15 - The Science of Middle Earth

Science is learning all sorts of new things about the earth, particularly about hot plumes rising from the mantle and creating islands in the Pacific and splitting continents. For the latest, we checked out the April 5th, 2013 issue of Science Magazine, the journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science:

"Plumes of all sizes seem to rise from two huge piles of who-knows-what sitting 2900 kilometers down at the bottom of Earth's mantle embedded in a mystery layer hundreds of kilometers thick. The outline of an operating manual is coming into view, but some pieces of the Earth engine are yet to be labeled."

We are definitely on the frontier here. Let's face it: no one knows what; it is a mystery layer. That's real science.

The plumes are under the redder areas. The mystery layer is inside somewhere. No, we don't know what.

Keywords: science

04/14 - Even More Walla Walla

Before dinner, we explored downtown Walla Walla a bit. Most of the downtown area seems to have been built in the early 20th century, so there are lots of nice old buildings to look at. We made a quick stop at El Corazon Winery which is right in town and looks as much like a hip bar as a winery. Then we wandered around a bit and dropped into Salumiere Cesario which sells charcuterie, salumi, cheese and other gourmet items. It looked like a great place to pack a picnic lunch.

Then we went to dinner at Saffron, a mediterranean restaurant which made the most amazing turkish lamb flatbread sandwich called a gozleme. It tastes like they put grape leaves and zaatar in it. We ordered one to go for breakfast. We also tried the lamb fatee, a stew with lamb and celeriac. Our appetizers were the grilled quail and grilled octopus, two separate dishes. Everything was wonderfully prepared and wonderfully spiced. The serving staff was great, especially given that it was Cayuse weekend, and the house was packed.

El Corazon Winery in Walla Walla proper

Walla Walla is full of early 20th century architecture.

Another Walla Walla street scene

Chandelier at Salumiere Cesario

The salumis at Salumiere Cesario

A whimsical sculpture

Another bit of whimsy

More great old buildings

Another downtown view

The river runs through it.

Saffron, our new favorite restaurant

Keywords: wine, restaurants, walla walla, washington state

04/13 - Walla Walla Continued

We wandered a bit more and dropped by Reynvaan Winery which made wines in what they called a French style, but they were too high alcohol for us.

We did get to learn more about the area. The Walla Walla valley is a broad, flat expanse, but bounded by gently rolling hills. The wineries occupy much of the flat land, but they also follow the land as it rises. The wine makers try to take advantage of the varying temperatures and exposures, as well as the type of land itself. Some vineyards have river stones arrayed between the rows of vines to hold the heat better. Others simply rely on the weather and land.

Wine making is an interesting business. Even we can understand its appeal. Back at our hotel, there was a winery for sale right outside our window. It looked like a bit of a fixer upper, in need of a lot of work and some replanting. Presumably this was reflected in the price what with it being "for sale by owner" rather than through a realtor. We were truly tempted, but we had other fish to fry this trip.

Walla Walla, hills and valleys

Dramatic sky

Reynvaan Winery

More rolling ground

We were so taken with the wine business, we almost bought a winery of our own.

Keywords: walla walla, wine, washington state

04/12 - Walla Walla Wine Country

We were recently out in Walla Walla with some friends of ours. They were there for one of the big local events, the Cayuse Winery annual release weekend. Cayuse is a bit of a cult winery with a serious fan base and limited production. Their wine is carefully rationed, with each buyer getting a certain number of bottles of each type of wine based on their previous purchases and seniority. This means their release is a big event with people driving in from a fair catchment to grab their allocation of yellow boxes. There is also a nice reception with all sorts of hors d'ouevres like smoked salmon, curried goat and pork loin sandwiches. (We washed a lot of them down with their Chamberlin Syrah.)

After Cayuse, we headed south into Oregon and dropped by Petits Noir, a confectioner selling ganache centered chocolate bonbons, a broad variety of nougat candies, and little chocolate buttons. Our favorites might have been the little chocolate buttons with pink peppercorns in them. This being wine country, there was also the Ellanelle Winery offering samples of their wares, and this being Cayuse weekend, also a selection of excellent charcuterie. We rather liked their wines and bought a few bottles, but they need a few years before drinking.

Then it was on to Watermill Winery which is in a lovely old building, some kind of agricultural office with a grand old safe and hard wood floors. They also make apple ciders, some flavored, but we most enjoyed their simplest with a good tart apple flavor.

Then it was back to Washington for Rulo Winery. They were caught up in the spirit of the weekend, so we wound up tasting most of their wines and really enjoying their grenache blanc. It actually tasted more like a rich French white than more traditional white varietals from the area. We also bought a few of their reds which were quite good, but also quite young. We are going to have to do some serious sampling over the next few years.

Wine country, flat country

The great Cayuse wine distribution - a surprisingly exclusive club

The Cayuse mascot

Wine country grapes

Ellanelle Winery had a table at Petits Noir chocolates in

Petits Noir has chocolate and nougat confections

Watermill Winery also makes apple cider

We could smell the foul burger grease across the street at Watermill.

Rulo WInery

One nice thing about winery is that you can drive your forklift right up to the wine and cheese table.

Rulo Winery and their child friendly policy

Keywords: walla walla, wine, washington state

March 2013April 2013 May 2013