Thoughts, ideas, photos, and stories.


Passing By

Leaving the dreary, rainy west coast behind took a few hours longer than expected, as the wet weather stretched eastward for more than 100 miles.

But on the highway between Hope and Princeton (in BC),  the clouds lifted and the day became quite pleasant. Ruby and Emma were happy to get out of their traveling crates to have a quick swim and a dash along the banks of the Similkameen River.

At Osoyoos we crossed the Canada/US border and headed for Omak and then eastern Washington. The sun played games on the fields, turning them golden when it peeked out over cloud banks.

The pullout after reaching the summit at Mullan Pass in Montana allowed time for a five-minute break and the snapping of a photo.

Winding our way along the Clark Fork and the Missouri Rivers, we ooh-ed and ah-ed at the scenery. Rocky formations on one side, and gorgeous river on the other.

As we got closer to our destination in eastern Montana and the hills were not so pronounced, we saw more coyotes, hawks, and several groups of pronghorn antelope. This bunch allowed me a quick drive-by shooting if I promised not to hurt them as we whizzed past.

Having arrived, I will post eastern Montana photos for the next while. Had to laugh as I wrote that “I have arrived.”


The Divide

(Disclaimer: All these photos are “drive-by shootings” so they may seem to have a dirty windshield film or the odd bug splatter speck. My apologies.)

Three mountain passes (Mullan, MacDonald, and Priest) mark the way between Deer Lodge and Helena, Montana, and denote a continental divide. From the summit of MacDonald Pass, you can look down into eastern Montana and know that all the rivers on this side of the Rocky Mountains flow east. On the western side of the three passes, all the rivers flow west (or any direction but east).dscn6582

At times, the winter weather can be a problem. Snow fences have been put up to slow down the blowing snow and keep most of it off the highway.



After the summit, an amazing panorama opens up to take your breath away. Highway 12, which leads through these three passes, is a shortcut between Garrison (just north of Deer Lodge and east of Missoula) and Helena, Montana’s capital city.


It’s only the beginning of many more beautiful landscapes to come as we travel east through Montana.


From Sun to Ice and Fog


After a relaxing week doing fun things near Olympia, Washington, with my sister-in-law, I drove home yesterday. It has been as cold as -9 C. in Oly, and I was looking forward to the more temperate climate of Vancouver Island. The joke was on me though. Oly warmed up to +6 and Vancouver Island dropped below freezing and had a dump of snow.

My drive home along I-5 was on dry road surfaces and with partly sunny skies. A perfect day for the drive. The ferry ride to the island was calm too, and I felt very lucky to have had such a good day of travelling.

Almost home, with maybe an hour to go, the roads became wet, with ice at the edges. I usually ignore the frequent signs on the many bridges that say, “Bridge Ices,” but yesterday they scared me a bit, especially when I was in the passing lane next to an oversize load. I imagined myself sliding under the track of the skidder that was loaded on the flatbed truck, and sticking well out into my slippery lane.

The highway was blanketed by fog so thick I could barely make out the car in front of me. It’s a good thing I knew my way home because the “pea soup” was thick all the way to my house and down my driveway. I groped my way into my house and was welcomed by the captain and two lovely dogs, Ruby and Emma, who covered me with nuzzles and kisses. I think they were glad to see me. The captain was too, of course. To his credit, he had the house clean(ish) and the dishes done.


Almost home, the hills just south of the Comox Valley. This is the morning after I came home. The fog is all down in the valley now, and no longer on the highway.


Chilly Day in Olympia

In the city of Olympia, Washington, the state capitol building looks over an inlet that is so far back from the ocean, you would think it’s a freshwater lake. Beside that “lake” is a well-cared-for park and walkway. But it was chilly here last week when I visited here. With the cold snap that hit the western Washington area, you had to pick up the pace if you wanted to keep warm.014


The grasses at the water’s edge tell the story. It’s darn cold.020

I’m sure there’s a rule about not feeding the birds, but obviously people have been feeding them. Why else would birds congregate near the shore with people so close by? For that matter, isn’t that seagull getting awfully cozy with the people in this photo? I’d say they’re quite used to being fed. 


Still, I once saw a family feeding ducks in a park, and I wondered if the Cheezies the ducks consumed would shorten their life. It can’t be good for them.


The hen mallard has two drakes fussing about her. Lucky girl. These ducks are so common to the west coast I hesitated to post this very ordinary photo, but their plumage is  magnificent just now. I thought they deserved to be shown off.  Maybe I’m wrong about the Cheezies.


The Last Hurrah

The Education Building in Olympia, Washington, looked to me like a castle where Sleeping Beauty might reside.DSCN4833

On the lawns in front of the building is a monument to a man who was twice governor of Washington. He must have been a good man. Read the inscription and see if you agree. I think he deserved to have his statue in this place of honour.


Here he is, standing proud and tall. But alas…just when you think you’ve arrived …DSCN4840

Well … some things are just beyond your control, and Mother Nature has the last hurrah.



Because it’s there

I value my life. I’ll never understand the rationale behind risking one’s life for the thrill of climbing a mountain. It must be an amazing experience –  when you live to tell about it.

While visiting in the Olympia area of the State of Washington, I stopped grumbling about the cold weather when I realized that with it, came new snow on the volcanic mountain that overlooks  western Washington. Mt Rainier, named after Rear Admiral Peter Rainier, a friend of Captain George Vancouver, is considered an active volcano. It hasn’t erupted in over 100 years, but there are frequent “shakes” that keep geologists on their toes.

They say that because of the enormous amount of ice in the glaciers on this mountain, in the case of an eruption, this would contribute to huge “rivers” of mud, ash, and debris flowing down to cover the valley below.

I don’t see residents leaving the area in droves, so they must think the risk is minimal, at least for now.

Not only are they not moving out of the area, but people come to the mountain for recreation. Mt. Rainier is the highest mountain in the state and is especially attractive to climbers. Unfortunately, the mountain has claimed many lives and continues to take an average of two lives a year.

So, I ask, why do people feel the need to risk their lives  climbing a mountain?

You know the answer.

“Because it’s there.”DSCN4830


Olympia – the State Capitol


1. the Capitol Building (capitol with an “o”)

2. the capital city of the state (capital with an”a”)

The Capitol Building for the state of Washington is in Olympia. I would love to have taken a photo of it on a sunny day to make it look its best, but during the two weeks I was in the State of Washington,  I think it rained for 13 of the 14 days. I’m sure this is not the usual weather and it has probably been sunny and warm ever since I left.


To one side of the building is a tree that is much bigger than all the rest. It’s a shame that it was not yet in leaf. It must be spectacular in the summer. That’s a four-storey building behind it, and even allowing for perspective, it gives you an idea of the great size of the tree.


Across the street is the Court House for those who choose not to follow the laws laid down in the Capitol Building. It looks cold and austere, almost like a prison.


Down the hill from the legislative buildings we have a view of the dredged estuary of the DesChutes River and beyond it the gateway to the Pacific. These waters are sheltered by many islands and fingers of land that stand between Olympia and the open Pacific. I think  the fog was coating the camera lens when I took these photos, but the fuzziness of the photos helps to give the impression of the kind of day it was. The hood of my jacket was up more than down.



 A few flowering plum or cherry trees (sorry I can’t remember which) added a touch of cheer to the otherwise dull day. I almost didn’t use this photo because the old-fashioned lamp post was right in the middle of the photo, seemingly cutting it in half, but then when I looked more closely I realized, it does cut the scene in half. To the left is spring and cheerful nature, and to the right are the gray concrete, asphalt, and metal of man-made things.


To the side of the Capitol stands The Winged Victory Monument of Olympia, a statue of World War I soldiers with Nike, the Greek Goddess of Victory.



Apparently I missed the best show, a tour of the inside of the buildings. I’m sure it would have been fantastic, but I was too busy pulling my hood up against the drizzle and hurrying back to the car trying to prevent my camera lens from getting too spattered with raindrops.