Thunderstorms & Heat

For this area we have had a hot, dry summer.  It was a really welcome change to have thunderstorms come through a couple of days ago.


The lightning over the mountains is an awe inspiring sight.  And the thunder sometimes rattles the whole house. The temperature drops and the heavens let loose and it pours down rain for a while.  It reminds us of the monsoons we enjoyed in the  Tucson summers.

rain off porch

The hanging flower basket is positioned just right to catch the rain dripping off the porch.  The mountains just above us got so much rain in such a short time there was flash flooding that washed out the bridge, but here at AAR not a problem.

rain on flowers

Some of our neighbors have had issues with their dogs during the storms.  A couple have been scared and run off, others just run around in circles and bark like crazy.  They do not appreciate the thunder and lightning.  Our dogs don’t seem to have that problem.

molly and grizzly asleep on porch

Their reaction it to take a nap on the porch.

After the thunderstorms, we have had record breaking heat.  I know those of you in the valley are laughing at this – when we talked to Alex last week it was 112 degrees – but around here anything over 90 degrees is serious heat.  The rain has made it more humid than usual and, to quote the guy at the store yesterday, “It is sweltering!”

muggy sky

Of course no one around here has air conditioning.  I would be surprised it there are ten air conditioned homes in all of Skagit County – certainly none in Marblemount.  This is the Marblemount version of air conditioning.


You use the wood stove a lot more often than the fan!

Even in the “sweltering” heat, we have been working on fencing.  We are trying to get the chicken side of the garden fence complete.  The chickens are very interested in whatever is going on, but they stay in the shade to watch.

chickens watching

The dogs stay in the shade as much as possible too.  I saw Molly napping and wondered where Grizzly was.

molly asleep

I took a closer look and saw that Grizzly had found himself an even cooler spot.  Down in the ditch that is one of our works – in -progress.

molly and grizzly asleep

He looked pretty comfortable snoozing down there – and it didn’t bother him at all when we walked over the boards.

grizzly in ditch

The good news about the heat is that our garden is doing really well, and we had our first ripe tomato last week!

tomatoes sliced

Just big enough for one bacon and tomato sandwich each, but it was mmmgood.


 No, not THAT kind of hummer.  Can you imagine me driving a huge thing like that?  I’m quite sure it would be dangerous.  I’m talking about hummingbirds.  We hung a feeder on the front porch and have been enjoying watching them flit around.

single best clear

We sometimes have four or five buzzing around the feeder at a time.  We’ve found that for such tiny creatures they are very territorial and really kind of mean.

3 hummers

They chase the others off and dive bomb the ones feeding if they don’t approve.

1 in flight

Since they were drinking down the juice so quickly, we hung another feeder just outside the kitchen window.

hummer close drinking

It is right outside the window so you get a close up view of the birds.

close sitting

They seem to really appreciate the feeder that has a little perch for them to sit on while they feed.  It is amazing how much those little things can drink!  I usually have to refill the feeder – which holds about two cups – every day.

1 perched 1 in flight

I had always seen feeders filled with red liquid and thought you had to add the food color to attract the birds.  My neighbor Celia – who has been feeding the hummers around here for years – said not so.  Once they know where the feeder is, they drink the clear liquid with no problem at all.  In fact, it is better for them not to add the food coloring.

2 hummers

And she was right!  I left out the food color and they didn’t care at all.  We have also learned that they make little bird sounds.  Usually you only hear the “humming” of their wings, but when they are chasing each other around they also make little chirping noises.

2 hummers drinking

We don’t know how long in the season they will stay here – they must fly south at some point?  We used to have them nesting on our patio in Bakersfield every spring.  We will enjoy them while they are here.

Visit From the Horned Frog

We have been blessed with visits from many of our friends and family this spring and summer.  Our friends Don and Barbie and their daughter Katie were here for a couple of days.  It was fun to see them and have a little time to share some of our part of the world with them.

berrys on bridge

It is a little ironic that for years in Bakersfield we had a very nice guest room and bath that was hardly ever used.  Now we have a very small house with hardly any room and we have lots of guests!  I guess it IS all about location?  Don and Barbie were very adventurous and decided to sleep in the loft above the chicken coop / garden shed.


If we had known it was going to get so much use as guest quarters, we might have designed it for more than storage.  You enter by way of the ladder and trap door.  Please note we have been working on finishing the interior of the shed, the exposed insulation is not the final look.

ladder to loft

It is small and a bit low to the ground, bit it does have a great view.  Don’s air mattress lost most of  the air during the night, but other than that they survived their “rustic” quarters.  They did tell us they enjoyed watching the deer at the feeder just below them.


Katie was very generous and willing to let her parents experience the loft all by themselves; she stayed in the house in the guest room / office.   After breakfast, we all took a walk over to the river and fish hatchery.

berrys at skagit river

It was a cool, cloudy day, but still a nice view.  This is the mouth of Jordan Creek where it feeds into the Cascade River.  It is part of the spawning area just below the hatchery.

berrys at river

We have been to the hatchery several times, but it is always interesting to see the different cycles the eggs and fish are going through.  This time they were incubating rainbow trout eggs.

rainbow trouttrays

The lighter colored ones are not viable and will be washed away when they do the next rinse.


The staff at the hatchery has always been very polite and willing to let us explore.  We did notice that we seemed to get extra attention on this visit from the college student summer interns.  The (male) interns were very attentive and even gave Katie some food pellets and let her feed the fish outside in the larger tanks.  Never hurts to have a tall blonde with you!

feeding fish

 Whatever is in those pellets, the fish do like it.

feeding frenzy

Our next adventure was a drive up the North Cascades Hwy. to Newhalem.  Here are Don and Katie on the bridge overlooking one of the little waterfalls and creeks that feed the Skagit River.

katie and don over gorge

A photo op on the bridge.

 photo op

The suspended walking bridge over the Skagit. You can really feel that thing bounce in the middle as you walk along.

barbie on bridge

We also cooked dinner on the grill under the gazebo.  Poor Katie thought she was going to freeze even though we had a fire under the gazebo, so she bundled up.

Katie w blankie

When she is not teaching summer swimming lessons, Katie is a proud TCU Horned Frog.  What is it with all these California girls going to college in Texas?


All that fish feeding and touring around must have tired her out.

katie asleep

 It was great to see our friends, even just for a little while.  And the Dewar’s chews they brought us were wonderful!

Cascade Pass Trail

We’ve had several visitors and lots of activity the past few weeks and I’ve gotten a little behind on my posts.  I’ll try to catch you up.  Our son Alex was here a couple of weeks ago.  While he was here the guys did the shooting days in the back pasture which I’ve already posted.  We also had some beautiful, warm sunny days, so we took Alex on a drive up the road to the Cascade Pass Trailhead.

road up

 It is a beautiful drive with the mountains and glaciers in view.

brenda and alex at turnout

 Lots of streams and creeks (pronounced crick here) along the way.


After a drive of 22 miles, we arrive at the trailhead.  Here you can leave your vehicle and start off on one of the many different trails and hikes in the Cascades.  Originally the Cascade Pass Trail (and the road we live on) were Indian trails leading over the pass to the east side of Washington. It is a very popular place in the summer with the outdoor enthusiasts.


It is a humbling feeling to be so close to the mountain peaks and glaciers, you feel pretty small in comparison.

 rick and alex at snow field

glaciers closer

close glaciers better

We expected to see the snow on the mountains, but we were surprised to see how much of it was still on the ground.


Here is a “snow bridge” over a creek.

rick and alex at snow bridge (2)

 This view shows it a little closer.  It is covered in dirt and needles and sticks, but that is snow!  Probably at least six feet deep.  It was a warm day, and it felt great to stand in front of the creek and snow and feel the cool air.

snow bridge up close

Alex just couldn’t resist the temptation to throw a snowball at someone.  You don’t usually get much opportunity to throw snowballs in July.  Smart boy – he threw it at Rick.

alex w snowball

It is definitely the most beautiful parking lot I have ever seen; certainly it has the most amazing views.


And on the way back home we stopped to look at one of the many waterfalls.  I don’t think I will ever get tired of seeing and listening to the water cascading down the rocks.


Tractor Drivers

Our friends from Bakersfield, Bruce and Tracey and their girls Hannah and Erynn were in the area and came by for a visit.  It was great to see them and have a little time to catch up on all the things going on in their lives.  Of course we treated them to a ride in the Scout.

fam in scout

We have had a heat wave the past week or so.  It was 91 degrees that day, so we all took a walk down to the river to dip our toes in the ice cold water.

at the river

They enjoyed feeding the chickens and playing with the dogs, we roasted hot dogs and s’mores at the firepit even though it was hot.  But  girls favorite thing was driving our little garden tractor.  Since it has been so hot, we needed to water our flower log out front.

flower log

 There is no water out there and it is way too far for the hose to reach so we have to haul the water out with the tractor and trailer.   That was a great excuse for the girls to drive the tractor.  Hannah was first and Erynn was brave enough to ride with her in the trailer.

hannah driving

 Then it was Erynn’s turn – but she had a little problem.  The tractor is equipped with a safety feature that shuts off the engine if there is not enough weight on the seat – in case the driver accidently fell off the tractor won’t continue to run.  The weight sensor is set just a little too high for Erin.  When she stretched to reach the gas pedal she didn’t have enough weight in the seat to keep the engine running.

  erin on tractor

 Wouldn’t it be nice to be so light that was a concern?  So they solved that problem by having Hannah ride with her.

girls on tractor

Both the girls were pretty good drivers – they didn’t hit anything!  Just think, in a few short years they will be driving for real 😉  The flowers got watered, the girls had a good time and no one got hurt.  Then they were off to drive back to Seattle to continue their vacation.  It was a short visit, but a good one.