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 ūüôā 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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Disneyland Pictures

We had a wonderful time in Disneyland last weekend.   The parks are very manageable (compared to the size of Disney World).   So, it was nice to be able to do everything we wanted to do in just two days (including riding a lot of rides twice: space mountain, big thunder mountain, the matterhorn, haunted mansion, and buzz lightyear).

http://picasaweb.google.com/mike.helmick/Disneyland#

The lines were ok. ¬†Saturday early evening was a little crazy, but other than that it was ok. ¬† We saw the Fireworks both nights (9:25, but the park was open until midnight). ¬† And then Sunday morning, the park wasn’t supposed to open until 10am, but it was open early… ¬†So we went in and knocked out a few rides early.

Also, on Saturday, we had 6 free Fastpasses (Disney’s system that lets you head to the front of the line). ¬† This helped a lot! ¬† We were able to avoid a lot of line waiting.

Fun time! great weather.   All pictures are here -> http://picasaweb.google.com/mike.helmick/Disneyland#

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 Рhey, 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.

Alaska Cruise, Victoria, B.C. (Day 7)

Canada, eh?

So all non-US-flagged ships have to stop in Canada when transporting passengers from the US to the US.   Therefore, we made a port call in Victoria, B.C., Canada.    This was actually the third time we have visited Victoria (in the last year for that matter).  We went once with my parents and once when I attended a conference there.    Originally, we were planning on staying on the ship and enjoying it while other people were ashore.   Well, it turns out that this was totally unnecessary.   The ship NEVER felt crowded, Celebrity does a really good job on this front.   And it was a beautiful day in Victoria, so we had to walk around a bit.  (All pictures from Day 7)

Alaska Cruise, Victoria B.C., Day 7

We started the day with a galley tour (we were very lucky to get this tour, it is not often given). ¬† I’ll have pictures of this in my next post. ¬† After lunch we both had massages (that we scheduled the first night). ¬† I had the 4 hands massage (2 massage therapists). ¬† Since they are working at the same time, for the same length as a regular massage, you get double the massage! ¬†Totally awesome. ¬†Since it was a port day, our massage treatments were discounted. ¬† It makes a lot of sense to save your spa treatments for the port days.

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Alaska Cruise, Hubbard Glacier (Day 4)

After leaving Ketchikan, we headed further north to view Hubbard Glacier. So, technically, this was a “sea day” since we didn’t dock, but the glacier is a major attraction of the cruise. It is impossible to describe in words, so I will just lead in with a picture.

Hubbard Glacier from the Infinity

Hubbard Glacier from the Infinity

This is just one of the many pictures we took on glacier day.  All of the pictures are available on picasaweb.

Alaska Cruise, Hubbard Glacier, Day 4

The glacier as well as the approach to the glacier are simply amazing. ¬† The bay is surrounded by snow covered mountains, and at least one other glacier stuck in there. ¬† As we got closer to the glacier, we entered a huge ice field (ice that dropped off the glacier). ¬† ¬†The captain brought the ship within 3/4 of a mile of the face of Hubbard Glacier. ¬† This allowed for spectacular viewing from right in the middle of the ice field! ¬† It was totally awesome. ¬† ¬†I’ve put together the below video, made up of clips that we took over a period of about 4 hours while near the glacier. Enjoy!

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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 Рbut 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, ‚ÄúI got some really great deals.‚ÄĚ

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