The changing leaves tell me I've only got a few days of summer left. Thanks to my intrepid companion and my decision to punk off all writing aside from blogging, I've been able to get as much out of this summer as I possibly could. I'm already looking forward to next year, since I've developed a list about ten miles long of places that must be explored. Washington State is no Arizona, but it's absolutely not boring.
Weekend before last, we headed over to Mercer Slough, Lake Washington's largest remaining wetland. It combines conservation, education and recreation in one 320-acre package. This is the view from one of the overlooks, where you can see that it is, indeed, a wet land:
Mind you, we're in the dry season right now. I can only imagine how damp it is in spring.
Wetland is pretty much just a polite term for swamp, really, but we're not talking dark, fetid, alligator-infested will o' the whispy wilderness. It's cool, calm and peaceful, with pretty pools of water:
And dragonflies that aren't at all camera shy:
Yes, he did pose. Several times. Ham. I adore dragonflies, partly because I grew up with them (yes, we've got 'em in Arizona), and partly because they're so ancient. They've been around a lot longer than our genus. Looking at them is like looking into the deep past.
Mercer Slough has a lot of very large trees around its edges. This one was dripping sparkly droplets of sap all down its trunk, which made it look like it was decked out in diamonds:
I always see incipient amber when I look at dripping sap.
When you reach the main channel of the slough, you cross a bridge over the lazy water, and find a bunch of lazy ducks sunning on one of the decks. They weren't concerned at all with people suddenly showing up and joining them for a tanning session:
From the boardwalk that crosses the low-lying parts of the slough, you can see downtown Bellevue. It's a little strange to see a city rising up out of the wilderness:
After the slough, we headed for downtown Kirkland, where one of the greatest Indian restaurants ever is located. Since the sunshine still shined after dinner, we walked up to Heritage Park, overlooking Lake Washington:
The whole of downtown Kirkland is one of my favorite places in the universe, doubly so now that I know that there's a little rock shop right there in Lake Shore Plaza. Earthlight Gems & Minerals now holds a special place in my heart, because they carry things like opalized fossil clams. I went down there last Sunday, and spent an instructive few hours poring over the fossils, minerals and assorted interesting rocks, then headed up to Waverly Beach Park just up the street, where I could collect some rocks of my own from the beach shingle. Found my first piece of undoubted petrified wood, too! Awesome way to spend a Sunday afternoon, and if you get a chance, do treat yourself.
Yesterday, I'd meant to stay home and see to my poor neglected housecleaning duties. However, it was 80 degrees. So I headed out to Sammamish River Park, just down the road from my house. It seemed like every bird in the Northwest had the same idea. Here we have a Canada goose hamming it up:
Yes, we know you are so much more awesome than the ducks and pigeons.
A bridge crosses the river into a little park where Bothell has historic homes and other relics of its pioneer days:
Back on the other side of the river and a ways down, the water was so still the trees might've been primping in a mirror:
I found out that the river's so nearly straight and placid because it's been engineered that way. It was a different beast before humans got their hands (and heavy equipment) on it. Kinda fascinating, that.
Go far enough down the Sammamish River trail, and you'll come to Blyth Park, which has a hillside with primitive trails. I stumbled across this broken-down bridge while exploring - okay, while I was lost:
Luckily, it's really hard to stay lost up there. It's just that the trail you think is going somewhere suddenly ends, and you have to back-track, brushing aside spider webs and fronds, until you find the connection you were looking for. A tiny place, but a fun place.
And here's a sight you'll almost never see up here - a dry stream bed:
'Tisn't dry now, I'm willing to bet. It started raining this morning. That's Seattle, I'm afraid.
I admit there are times when I miss Arizona. But at times like this, I don't miss it much.