Autumn has Arrived

The cooler weather here – highs in the 60’s and lows in the 40’s – has announced the arrival of autumn.  And with it come the beautiful fall colors. 

The leaves on the vine maples have begun to turn red and orange.  

The leaves are falling and cover our loop road.

All around we see the signs of fall.  It is such a change for us to have four distinct seasons.  

The cool air is wonderfully crisp and clean.  The leaves are beautiful, it is hard to resist taking lots of pictures. 

The bracken ferns are turning brown and the clouds are low on the mountains.

 

The animals know it is time to prepare for winter.  Simon and Theodore are busy scooping up the birdseed that the helpful jays have scattered everywhere.   

It is a beautiful time of year here and we are enjoying it.

Building Project

We decided to tackle a new building project, covering the deck on the front of our little home.  This would give us some much needed shade on the hot days – not too many of those and some cover for the rain and snow – a lot more of those.  While our carpentry skills are not very advanced, we are not going to improve if we don’t practice.  You gotta start somewhere! 

We knew the warm, sunny days wouldn’t last forever, so we decided to try and beat the forecasted rain.  We started with the framework to support the new cover.

4 x 4 posts hold up the beams.

A simple frame of 2 x 6’s and then the corrugated metal roofing screwed onto that and the cover is in place. 

The existing boards on the deck were looking pretty tired.

  

The years of exposure had weakened the old boards so much that a few places had holes, and other places were just waiting to disintegrate which did encourage you to be very careful where you stepped.

So the next step was to replace those too.  First we stained and sealed the lumber.  2 x 4’s and 2 x 6’s.

Let it all dry.

And moved it out to the yard.  

We removed all the old boards.  Luckily they were all installed with screws so it was fairly easy to take them up. 

After the boards were off it gave us a chance to take out a few ferns that had come up underneath the deck.  We get a lot of rain up here and they were growing very well under cover!

 

Off with the old and on with the new.

Trimming the ends.  Though there are no pictures to prove it, I really did help.  Rick has many skills, but photography is not one of them. 

Now the deck is sturdy enough for my rocking chair and the cover keeps it out of the rain.  I don’t think we will win any awards for our carpentry skills – yet, but it is solid.  And two days after we finished we got over an inch of rain and had NO leaks!

Butchart Gardens

About 12 miles north of Victoria are the famous Butchart Gardens.  We had been there before, but couldn’t resist visiting again.  It is a place that truly lives up to the hype.

It was a beautiful day to visit, sunny and clear.  The gardens are just as impressive as we remembered.

The most amazing thing about the garden to me is the fact that the ground was a mined-out eyesore and one woman’s vision and hard work transformed it into a world famous place of beauty.

The ground she started with.

What Mrs. Butchart turned that eyesore into.

Everything there is beautiful, even the trash cans are blooming!

Also very welcoming to visitors, even four-legged ones.

An inspiring story and a great place to see.  

There are rows and rows of seedlings being prepared for the next season.

Mrs. Butchart was a very hospitable woman.  She began the tradition of serving tea in her garden to visitors.  These many years after her death, tea is still served overlooking her garden.  It was a wonderful treat, very elegant.  Rick is really not into elegant or tradition – he had a hamburger. 

Some of the leaves are just beginning to show their fall colors.

It was a perfect ending to our trip.  We are looking forward to making a return trip at Christmas time.  They have ice skating on a frozen pond in addition to all the Christmas lights. 

Victoria

 

We arrived in Canada to a beautiful evening and sunset. 

The very elegant Empress Hotel sits at the head of the inner harbor.  It is beautiful day or night.

The Parliment Building is illuminated every night.  It is an impressive building anytime, but the lights make it look magical.  Hard to believe a bunch of politicians work there isn’t it?    

Victoria takes great pride in their floral displays.  There are carefully tended flowers and flower beds everywhere. 

Over 300 hanging baskets of flowers are on the main streets.  They have a special water truck that comes around each night to water them. 

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The rental car business has a beautiful display.

Even the edge of a parking lot is landscaped. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  We took a tour in an open-air  double decker bus.  We did have to dodge a few low branches, but it was a fun way to see the city.

 We were startled to see gas prices so low . . . until we realized that is the price per litre.  According to our tour guide that is about $6.00 per gallon! 

 

That could explain why we saw several little cars.  I don’t know what they were exactly, but they are the smallest cars I’ve ever seen besides the clown cars at the circus. 

  

 

We visited Fisherman’s Wharf where there are several rows of these floating homes.  They sit on barges about 20 x 30 feet. 

Some are a bit smaller though. 

This is one of the more unique styles we saw.   

The upper floor must be a very short loft, because it wasn’t over six feet tall if that. 

 

 

 

This one is for sale – about $300,000.  Quite a contrast to the condos above it that sell for a million or so.

The inner harbor is a busy place.  In addition to all the boat traffic, there are quite a few float planes coming and going. 

It must be a real adventure to land on the water.

It looks just like a runway on the water, there is even a control tower.

We saw these green sea urchins sitting in crates beside the dock where the fishing boats tie up. 

We talked with the very nice fisherman (or maybe he’s called a diver?) who told us about the sea urchin harvest.  He walks along the bottom of the sea and picks the urchins up.  To keep him from floating up he wears a 50 lb. weight in addition to his diving suit.  

He and his partner harvested about 3000 pounds of sea urchins in a little over five hours.  The will be air freighted to Japan within 48 hours where they are considered quite a delicacy.  They are served as sushi and a big favorite there apparently.  Personally, I would not eat anything that looks like that.  I touched one and the little spines on them are sharp – kind of like a cactus. 

We enjoyed taking a hop to the other side of the harbor on a little water taxi. 

There is a lot of construction going on around the harbor.  This view from our hotel shows some of the new condos being built – and a game of rooftop sand volleyball.  I wonder how they got all that sand up on the second floor?

And this concludes our first day in Victoria. 

 

      

Trip to Victoria B.C.

To celebrate our anniversary, Rick and I took the ferry over to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  Victoria is on Vancouver Island which is actually closer to us than Seattle.  And it is a beautiful trip on the ferry.  We drove to Anacortes (about 60 miles) to board the ferry.  Vancouver Island is about 100 miles from our house.   

Washington State has a whole ferry system which runs regular routes through the San Juan Islands and into the port cities.  Many people regularly commute to work this way. Sure beats the freeway don’t you think?

The ferries can hold a lot of vehicles.  We’ve seen all sorts of cars, pickup trucks, SUV’s, motorhomes, delivery vans and semi trucks.  The larger ferries can hold 200 -300 vehicles plus passengers. 

View from the Car Deck.  This trip was not crowded, but in the peak summer travel season it can be packed with tourists and you need reservations.  They do schedule extra trips during the peak summer months.

As you sail out into the San Juan Islands you see boats and watercraft of every description.  There are commercial vessels, and pleasure crafts large and small. 

  

Float planes are a common sight also.  There is a lot more water around the islands than roads.

The mountain in the background is Mt. Baker, located about 20 miles downriver from our house. 

The first stop along the way is Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We drop off a few, pick up a few more and are on our way.  Total loading time is about 15 minutes. 

Along with being the home port for lots of private boats, Friday Harbor is a stop on the route of the smaller cruise ships that tour the inside passage.

Everyone wants a view of the water.

Beacons are navigational aids for the ship traffic.  Much more efficient than a lighthouse I’m sure, but just doesn’t have the same look does it?

There are some beautiful homes overlooking the water and the islands.

You never know what you might see around the next corner.  Here is a class of kayakers.

It looks like a lot of fun, but way too close to the water for me.

There are over 150 islands in the San Juans.  Most of the islands are very lush and green, covered in trees. 

There is one that is very barren.  Did it used to have trees and they all were cut down?   

As we pull into the ferry dock the ship pulls up and they let down the ramp.

They must get pretty good at this doing it many times a day.

           After a two and a half hour sail, we have arrived in Canada!

Stay tuned for further adventures in Victoria.

 

Our Little Town

It has been quite interesting to move from a big town to this quiet place.  We live about a mile from a little town that does not have many things some people consider necessities. 

It has no supermarket, no shopping mall – not even a department store, no bank, no mail delivery (you pick it up at the post office), no school, no drive-thru, no home improvement warehouse – not even a hardware store.  No signal light, not even a flashing red light, no police department.  It is a town of about 200 people if you search far and wide to count everyone.  

What we do have is peace and quiet, some very beautiful scenery, and a much slower pace of life. 

The Visitor Center is an old Quonset hut.

Here is the church we attend.  On a really big day there are about 50 people.   

We are bordered by the Skagit River, second longest river in the state of Washington, the Cascade Mountains and the North Cascades National Park – sometimes referred to as the “American Alps.”

The backbone of the town is Highway 20, the “North Cascades Highway,” which is part of the larger Cascades Loop.  There is a whole website devoted to the loop if you are interested.  www.cascadeloop.com

Except for the few “locals” most people just stop to get gas, stretch their legs and maybe get a bite to eat  before going on their way over the pass through the Cascades.  On the weekends in the summertime the two gas stations (owned by the same family) are real hot spots.  Many car and motorcycle clubs take the scenic drive up along the river.  

Most of the locals try to avoid town on the weekends to miss all the tourists. The local businesses do 80% of their annual volume from Memorial Day to Labor Day.   

Marblemount started out in the 1800’s being a little cluster of buildings offering services to the gold miners and later the loggers. 

There were some huge logs that came out of this area.

This is an old photo of the original “Mine to Market” road, which followed the path of an old Indian trail along the Cascade River and was used to haul supplies to and from the gold mines in the mountains.   

This road was later paved and renamed Cascade River Road and is the road we live on.  Now it is used mostly by hikers heading for the trailhead about 20 miles above us.

This is the bridge over the Skagit river that connects us to town.  Before it was built in the 1960’s, a pole ferry or canoe was the only way across the river.

It is a beautiful, quiet little place and we love spending time here.