Tulip Festival

If you’ve never heard of the Skagit Value Tulip Festival, you should. If you live in the Seattle area, you should go even. The amazing amount of flowers is only overshadowed by the natural beauty of the flowers themselves. Row upon row of tulips in full bloom. Nature is cool.

Elliott had a good time too 🙂 We let him run loose. And of course, he found a mud puddle. I’m sure that we’ve got many years of cleaning mud off of his shows/clothes ahead of us.

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Mt. St. Helens

We had a pretty full weekend.   Yesterday we went to The Puyallup Fair (thefair.com).   It seems like it is the state fair (at least for 4H), with dozens of rides, and dozens of dozens of food booths.

The real highlight of our weekend:

Mt. St. Helens from Johnston Ridge

Mt. St. Helens from Johnston Ridge

We’ve been talking about it for a while, and finally set aside the day (possibly one of the last good days of the year for it).   We drove south on I-5, making the 3 1/2 trip to Mt. St. Helens.   There are many observation points along the way, but the highlight is the Johnston Ridge Observatory.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mike.helmick/MtStHelens

The site is just amazing.   In the picture above, we are about 5 miles from the peak of St. Helens.  You can clearly see the crater left from the 1980 eruption.   The volcanic memorial site is way bigger than I had expected.   There seems to be mile upon mile of hiking trails, even down into the valley.   Had we been properly prepared, we would have ventured on a little further.

I highly recommend the trip.   Just an amazing site.   Beautiful scenery on the way, and you get to witness the true power of the earth.

Speaking of which (another recommendation coming). Last night we watched “Galapagos” from the BBC. Wow. The documentary itself was beautifully shot (we watched the Blu-ray version). The subject mater, just amazing. I feel privileged just to have reservations to visit the Galapagos next year. To see the origin of “The Origin of Species” and to witness first hand how evolution has played out through adaptation, will be a once in a lifetime experience. I clearly have lots of studying to do before we go.

To Snoqualmie Falls

Yesterday we took another little road trip.   We drove out east (about 40 minutes) to Snoqualmie.   The highlight of the trip was the waterfall.

http://picasaweb.google.com/mike.helmick/SnowqualmineFalls9609

The falls are 268 ft high.  It is quite a drop.   They falls aren’t very wide (although we hear they are fuller at different times of the year).   Probably most impressively, the water seems to just hit the surface below and just scatter all over the place.    This creates a lot of mist, which was supplemented by rain yesterday.

There is a nice observation area at the top of the falls.  Then there is a 1/2 mile trail that goes down to the river.   The trail is pretty steep, but it was a fun walk.   At the bottom, there is another observation platform.  And then…. you have to walk 1/2 mile uphill gaining 268 feet of elevation.   It was a fun hike both ways, but the rain was really pouring down on the way back up.

We got into the car and headed back towards the town of Snoqualmie.   On the way we passed a cool old train, and thought – hey, can we ride that?  It turns out that you can.  So we went to the Northwest Railway Museum, bought tickets, and rode the train to North Bend and back.   The train also goes to the top of the falls, great view.

The train ride was followed up by a very yummy (and a little spendy) dinner at Woodman Lodge in Snoqualmie.   It is actually a really nice restaurant, and we’ll keep it in mind for a place that we can take future guests.

Matilda vs. The Paciffic Ocean

Monday we drove the entire Olympic Peninsula loop. We loaded up the dogs for the trip. The dogs did not like the first part of the trip and really really really wanted to play with the bomb sniffing dog at the ferry terminal. After that they settled in and were pretty good.

Our real destination was Ruby beach, out on the Pacific Ocean side of the state. We went up to Edmunds, across the ferry to Kingston, and then drove highway 101 through Port Angeles, Forks (of Twilight fame), and over to Ruby Beach. After that, down south around the mountains, through Olympia. The rest of the trip was highway, up I-5. We made a special stop of UPS (to pick up Cortny’s new iPhone) and then home. Fun trip.

And… (if you click continue reading) here is a video of Matilda meeting the ocean for the first time. Ruby had been to the Atlantic ocean, so she wasn’t quite as funny this time.

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Going to the Olympics in 2010!

It was kind of a pain dealing with the Web site, but I was able to get tickets to one of the Ice Dancing competition sessions for next February.

So, we now have tickets to 2 events for the Olympics (previously purchased curling tickets).

It will be very exciting to be at the Olympics. We still need to plan a strategy, drive up and back twice, or pay way too much for a hotel room. Unfortunately, we probably need to decide that soon.

Tulip Festival

I should have posted this sooner – but last Saturday we drove up to Skagit county for the Tulip Festival.

Tulip Festival Pictures

It isn’t really a centralized thing – but rather a collection of farms that all grow tulips in this area.  Seeing flowers grown on that scale is quite impressive!   It takes place about an hour north of Seattle.   We drove around a bit, and then parked at one of the farms (they each charge their own admission/parking).   Then we walked around and snapped some pictures.   All of the pictures I took are online ( See above, or @ http://picasaweb.google.com/mike.helmick/TulipFestival ), but I’ve selected a few below.

On the way back we went to a very nice outlet mall…. and spent too much money.   As my mom would say, “I got some really great deals.”

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