Wonders Along North Beach to Glass Beach


The hike itself isn’t anything special. It’s a nice easy tramp from North Beach Park to Glass Beach in Port Townsend. There’s no trail. You simply tread on sand, some of it rocky, along the shore flanked on one side by the Strait of Juan de Fuca, on the other by cliffs.

What you do get are tide pools abundantly covered in seaweed (of the kind known in Japanese cooking as wakame), anemones, little crabs, limpets and barnacles, seabirds and otters, and on a clear day a magnificent view of Mount Baker and Mount Shuksan, two inactive volcanoes in the Cascade Mountain Range. I couldn’t have asked for a better experience.

Mount Baker

Barnacles

Barnacles on rusty iron debris

Otters

Driftwood

 

Advertisements

The Big Madrone, Fort Worden State Park


During a hike through Fort Worden State Park in Port Townsend, my wife and I came across the most breathtaking madrone we’ve ever seen, probably because it stands by itself in a grassy field just north of Alexander’s Castle and thus given the freedom to spread its wings.

As majestic as the Western red cedar and Douglas fir trees are in the Northwest, the Pacific madrone (arbutus menziesii) is more showy. It isn’t as common an evergreen, needing well-draining, rocky soil to flourish. The trunk can divide into several branches at the base, splaying outward from each other in curvilinear habit. When its thin orange-red bark peels as if molting, underneath is a lighter layer. I used to have one growing in my backyard. Now I regret having cut it down years ago.

The Big Madrone
GPS coordinates: 48.1356, -122.7646
Fort Worden State Park
Port Townsend, WA

Ferrying My Cares Away


In its northwest corner, Washington State is blessed with one of the world’s great ferry systems. Taking the sailing between Seattle and Bainbridge Island on a beautiful sunny day, I became lost in thought staring out at Puget Sound and was reminded again how fortunate I am to live here.

 

A Tuff Climb at Smith Rock (Terrebonne, OR)


It’s hard to miss the strange but spectacular rock formations as you’re driving through Terrebonne on US 97. The last time I visited Smith Rock State Park in central Oregon was in 2011. Even though ill with a slight fever, I managed to get down to the foot of these rocks to admire them as well as the climbers who were scaling the vertical walls. I wanted to come back some day to do one of the hikes to the top.

My wife and I spent a few days in nearby Bend located in a part of the Northwest that’s known for prodigious flows of lava and craft beers. Most of one day was set aside for the long awaited return to Smith Rock twenty-five miles to the north.

The rocks are the result of a volcanic eruption that happened 17 million years ago. The ash from the Newberry volcano spread over much of central Oregon and hardened into tuff over the millenia. The most visually striking features here are the sheer vertical walls and jagged peaks.

The loop Misery Ridge Trail starts at the bridge across the Crooked River. We took it in the opposite direction along part of the River Trail that meets Misery after rounding the southern end of the park. The walk along the river was gorgeous.

River Trail

Along the way, several climbers were scaling the walls. I like to think that I should conquer my fears but not this way.

So far it was an easy trail. Soon Monkey Face came into view. Isn’t it interesting how naming a rock after an animal gives it, well, personality? For obvious reason the formation is the park’s most iconic which from this vantage point looks like a chimp. Monkey Face is near the junction to Misery Ridge Trail that starts the ascent.

Monkey Face (look at the right half)

From its other side, I saw a gorilla.

The views became more fantastic as we made our way to the top. From there we got a sweeping view of several of Oregon’s volcanic cones, including Mount Bachelor, Broken Top and The Three Sisters, thanks to a warm, cloudless sky.

View from the top of Misery Ridge Trail

It wasn’t a particularly hot day but it seemed so as I gasped up the switchbacks bearing backpack, lunch and camera gear with very little shade along the way. It was a tougher climb than it should have been which age did not assuage. Ah, to be lingering over one of Bend’s ice cold brewskis, but a Subway sandwich and water would have to do. Despite that it was a splendid hike.

Images to Remember Morocco By


This post has only images. They reflect the personal wonder and beauty I felt about Morocco’s diverse landscape, architecture, craft and food. They were photographed in and around Casablanca, Rabat, Chefchouen, Volubilis, Meknes, Fes, Erfoud, Erg Chebbi (Sahara), Todra and Dades Gorges, Skoura, Taroudant, Essaouira, Marrakech and El Jadida. (Click on the first to start the slideshow.)

White Storks of Morocco


I’m not a birder. But when an interesting bird appears in my travels, I take note and try to find out a bit more about it. In several places throughout Morocco, I saw the white stork (Circonia circonia) that builds its large nest in high places, atop roofs, walls, even ancient Roman columns. The one above was seen at the ruins of the Chellah necropolis near Rabat. The storks apparently migrate to and from Europe depending on the time of year.

White stork at the ancient ruins of Volubilis

Monkey’s Hands, Dadès Gorge (Morocco)


On our way to the overlook that looks down on the Dadès Gorge, we went past a wondrous formation called Monkey’s Hands or Monkey’s Fingers. It’s as if the hillsides met a giant scrambler some time in the past. These iron-rich and soft sedimentary layers eroded over time to produce these strange and convoluted rocks.

Dades Gorge from the overlook