March 2017April 2017 May 2017

04/30 - Russian Easter

We Kalebergs recently held our annual Russian Easter party to welcome in the belated spring. Given the cold spring, it is no surprise that the real Russian Easter was some time back. Now that the green leaves are returning and the weather has grown milder, we filled our champagne pool, broke out the blini, boiled up the pelmeni and allowed ourselves to rejoice at the end of winter. We even burned Moscow to fight off the monster Napoleon.


A spring-like spread

Truly Russian, at least in spirit

Moscow in flames

Defending Mother Russia from the monster Napoleon

Take that you French, and your French brandy

Routing the invaders

Keywords: russian easter, spring, weather

04/22 - Elwha River Trail - Part 1

With Olympic Hot Springs Road open again, we've been heading up to Whiskey Bend and revisiting the Elwha River Trail. We've already made it to the overlook before the second canyon on the way to Lilian Camp and down past Michael's Ranch for a look at the Elwha River. The trails are still a bit muddy, but lots of people are about celebrating the area's reopening. We've been celebrating this year's crop of trilliums and are looking forward to a great hiking season.

A trillium

A view from the overlook

A tree down across the trail

Another trillium

Another bit of trail

One of the many streams

Yet another trillium

Those yellow violets

The trail is beautiful on a sunny day

Our first slug of the season

Mysterious alligator leaves

Keywords: elwha, spring, trails, trillium

04/21 - Elwha River Trail - Part 2

The last photo in Part 1 is of a mysterious alligator leaf, something we had never noticed before on this trail. On our second trip we solved the mystery. Those are columbine leaves. We have never seen columbines growing in this area before, so we were quite pleased. They've been added to the regional treasure trove along with the trilliums, orchids and yellow violets.

The Elwha River itself is well upstream of the dam, but each year we have seen more brush growing across the river bed. When we first started visiting, over a decade ago, there was some scrub, but now there are substantial bushes. Has the river changed? This part wasn't affected by the dam removal, so this is another mystery.

One of our favorite waterfalls

Another view

The trail

The river

Another view of the river

More of the trail

An orchid

Another orchid

A columbine - the mystery of the alligator leaves solved

Yet another columbine

Even more columbines

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

04/20 - Elwha River Trail - Part 3

The Elwha River Trail out of Whiskey Bend is in pretty good shape, but on our way down to Michael's Ranch we were warned not to linger for a stretch. There were overhead hazards, presumably falling branches. This was the stretch with one of our favorite waterfalls, so we did stop briefly to admire it, but not for long.

This stretch of trail is also being rebuilt a bit. We chatted briefly with two of the trail workers rebuilding a stretch of boardwalk. They were hard at it. Presumably, their work is done, and we'll be spared a bit of mud on our next hike that way.

Warning, warning

Thank you, trail maintainers!

Another view of the boardwalk work

Some forest

A bonus trillium

Keywords: elwha, trillium, waterfall

04/10 - Terracotta Warriors at the Pacific Science Center

On our way back from Walla Walla we spent a night in Seattle and went to see the Terracotta Warriors show at the Pacific Science Center. The science center has had a number of great traveling shows lately including a collection of Tutankhamun's treasures and artifacts from Pompeii. This showing of the terracotta army of the first Chinese emperor was compact and wonderfully curated.

The warriors were discovered in the 1970s, and since then the excavation has turned into a large scale archeological project with thousands of full sized clay warriors, hundreds of clay horses and countless other artifacts buried to accompany the Qin emperor in his afterlife. It wasn't just warriors but musicians, craftsmen and personal goods. Like the pharaohs, the emperor was not going to trust the gods to provide. He would be buried with everything he might ever need to reign eternally after death.

The show made excellent use of lighting and projection giving a sense of how the warriors would have appeared when buried as opposed to how they appear now. One of our favorite pieces was a set of terracotta miniatures showing how the warriors and horses were formed and assembled. Usually, we try to get home from Walla Walla in one long drive and wind up getting stuck in Tacoma. Stopping in Seattle meant an easier drive, but, even better, seeing a first class exhibit.

One of the figures

These weren't just stylized forms, but true portraits

Man and horse

How it was done

Making terracotta horses

Another figure

Fascinating artifacts

A figure now ...

... and as originally painted

Keywords: art, science

04/09 - Walla Walla Coffee Roastery

We usually travel with coffee making gear and a supply of ground coffee. The quality of coffee on the road has been going downhill for some years now, even in Seattle, the supposed home of great coffee. In Walla Walla, we needed a resupply, so we discovered the Walla Walla Roastery, a true temple of great coffee. They even had nitro shots, cold coffee pressed with nitric oxide. We found a delightful Peruvian roast.

The coffee shop clearly has a following. It's right off the airport entrance road east of town. When we arrived, the parking lot was full of college students and their cars. The roastery itself was a flashback to college days with students, textbooks and laptops sprawled all over the place. (We'll confess. When we were students, laptops hadn't been invented yet, but I'm sure our coffeehouses would have been full of them if they had been.) We had some great coffee and relished not having to take finals. Who says Walla Walla is just about wine?

Some of the great coffees

Keywords: walla walla

04/08 - Walla Walla - Bennington Lake

We were out in Walla Walla, so we made a point of dropping by Bennington Lake. It's actually a water control project run by the Army Corps of Engineers, but its also a gem of a park and a great place for a walk between wine touring and fine dining. This year we had great views of two ospreys flying by the lake, and, as usual, the scenery was stunning.

Dried grass and ark wood

One of the trails

The water works

One of the ospreys

Possibly the same osprey, possibly the other

The scene later as the sky darkened a bit

More wonderful sky

Trees and the sky

The trail

Grasses and sky

More ominous sky

Keywords: trails, walla walla

04/04 - Lake Angeles Again

We made it back to the Lake Angeles Trail again. It will be a while before we get back to the lake, a 2400+ foot climb, but we did make it to the little bridge, perhaps 730' above the parking lot. There was no snow or ice on the trail until we climbed about 600', and it looks like there was more across the bridge. While the snow slowly melts, we'll build up for the full climb. If all goes well, we'll be in shape when the trail up near the lake thaws out.

Up near the bridge

Snow on the trail

The little bridge

More of the trail

A cathedral of trees

The trail again

The big rock, 500' above the parking lot

Another darker view from the trail

The stream near the parking lot

Keywords: lake angeles

04/03 - Whiskey Bend Road is Open

We headed out to Madison Falls hoping for a little walk along the Elwha River. To our surprise, the gate on Olympic Hot Springs Road was open. To our further surprise, the bathroom at the ranger station is now both handicapped accessible and beautiful. To our even further surprise, Whiskey Bend Road was open. We made our way up the twisty one and a half lane road and took the Elwha River Trail for a ways. The last time we did this was a year and a half ago, and the trail was only open for a week.

The trail was as beautiful as ever, but we kept expecting to run into a ranger telling us that we had gotten in by mistake and would have to leave. We felt we had sneaked in. The trail is in great shape, though we only made it a bit past Michael's Cabin, heading up on the trail to Lilian Camp. The day was sunny; the greens were brilliant. We had glimpses of snow covered mountains. It was great to be back.

P.S. We're hoping the trail stays open, and that they open the road to Olympic Hot Springs soon. Meanwhile, the Spruce Railroad Trail is still closed, and the latest word on reopening is in July.

The Elwha River Trail

Wonderful light

Michael's Cabin

Much less green than we expected

Another bit of trail

A friendly fungus

A glimpse of the river

A glimpse of snow covered mountain

One of the streams

Yet another view of the trail

A waterfall on Whiskey Bend Road

Keywords: elwha, spring

March 2017April 2017 May 2017