Ramble at Gold Creek Pond

I had intended to write more about San Diego this week, but life has a way of interrupting our plans and intentions, c’est la vie. Instead, I will post a short blog about a recent stroll we took around Gold Creek Pond, and next week I’ll continue writing about San Diego.

Gold Creek Pond is located in the Snoqualmie Pass region of Washington State. This gentle, paved, one mile loop is wheelchair friendly and offers some spectacular views of the area.

We went a few weeks ago just as the autumn colors were beginning to show. There are many places to sit and enjoy the scenery and the beautiful views.

The path is a bit narrow in a few areas, as shown in the photo below, which could be a bit tricky for some wheelchair users. But for the most part, it seems to be quite accessible.

Not far from the parking area is the trailhead for Gold Creek Trail 1314, another hike for another day.

I hope you enjoyed this short post. Check back next week when I will write more about San Diego.

View From Above

Paine Field in Everett, WA, opened for commercial flights earlier this year, and oh my, it is quite a swanky place to hang out before a flight! The passenger terminal is gorgeous and feels like you’re in a private airline lounge.

With fire places at both ends, fresh flowers, over stuffed couches, comfortable chairs, a bar, restaurant, who needs the airline lounges?

We flew from Paine Field to San Diego with my sister and family (pictured above) to attend our niece’s wedding. It was a good day for flying and I got some great photos of Western Washington State once we were in the air.

The view above is of the south end of Whidbey Island and the Harbour Pointe neighborhood of Mukilteo.

Looking down at Seattle, Lake Washington, Lake Union and much more from Alaska flight 2676.

The view of Bellevue, Seattle, Lake Washington, Puget Sound, both floating bridges and much more.

Mount Saint Helens and Spirit Lake.

I hope you enjoyed this short blog. I am on vacation and am taking some much needed time away from the hectic pace of life to spend time with family. Check back next week when I will write about San Diego.

Happy travels!

Hikes, Rambles and Strolls

My husband and I have hiked a wide variety of trails in our 32 years of marriage. A few of our favorites are Golden Canyon in Death Valley, Fortynine Palms in Joshua Tree National Park, and Loch Brora in Northern Scotland. But our favorite place to hike is close to home, and includes almost any of the trails you’ll find in western Washington.

The Mountain Loop Highway is a 52 mile highway offering a variety of hikes along the way, as well as campgrounds. One of our absolute favorite hikes in this area is Heather Lake. This 4.2 mile round trip hike has an elevation gain of approximately 1,000 feet. The lake is located in a basin and offers stunning views of Mt. Pilchuck.

Another one of our favorites is Lake Dorothy, and is one of the first hikes we took together after we were married. This is a 9 mile round trip trail with 2,000 feet elevation gain. It is rated as a difficult hike, but the lake is beautiful and worth the effort.

When we first hiked this trail, we planned to stay for the afternoon. The area seemed to be deserted as we were setting up our picnic spot. However, when we opened a bottle of wine, and the pop of the cork echoed through the silence, several heads popped up and looked in our direction. One man said “you can’t open a bottle of wine up here without people noticing!”

Lake Evan and Boardman Lake is a nice hike for families. It is an easy, 0.8 mile hike with just 300 feet elevation gain. We hiked this trail years ago with some friends who were visiting from Florida. Immediately after arriving at Lake Boardman for a picnic, one of the kids fell into the lake. Luckily, it was a warm summer day.

Mount Catherine on Snoqualmie Pass is another beautiful hike. We hiked this trail a few years ago with my sister and her family. You’ll climb 1,330 feet in just 1.5 miles, so it’s not for everyone, but it offers stunning views of the area at the top.

Probably one of the most popular and heavily trafficked hikes is Lake Twenty Two. We drove past the trailhead early one morning recently and noticed that the parking lot was completely full, and people were looking for parking spots on the highway. We chatted with a ranger about this hike, and she said that they refer to it as “Lake Twenty Poo” since the outhouse is quite messy after a long weekend. I’ll pass on this one.

In recent years, we have had to tone down the difficulty of our hikes due to arthritic knees and hips, but we try to keep moving and enjoy easier hikes with less elevation gain. This past weekend we had planned to hike to Lake Boardman, but the road was too rough for our car. So we went back to the ranger station to look for other options. Lake Independence was suggested, so off we went. This trail was described as a gentle stroll though an old growth forest; well, it was probably the toughest hike I have ever been on! I felt like I was climbing the entire time. Climbing up and over rock, roots, and stumps, it was tough! I gave up after 45 minutes. My husband persevered and made it to the Lake.

Lake Coal is not far from the Lake Independence trailhead, and is a short, gentle stroll to get to the lake, so we went there for a picnic.

The drive up to the lakes on Forest Road 4060 offers stunning views of the surrounding area.

I hope you enjoyed this post and look forward to hearing about your favorite hikes in western Washington, or anywhere for that matter! As always, please leave a comment.

Happy hiking!

Orcas Island Retreat

The San Juan Islands, located in the Salish Sea in the northwestern part of Washington State, are an ideal get away for anyone looking for a place to rest and relax. The slow pace, rural setting free of traffic jams and the stress of the city, make for a perfect place to wind down and recharge. And that’s exactly what my husband and I did for the past four days. We found a perfect little Airbnb house on Orcas Island, in a quiet, peaceful location where the deer roam through the yard in the morning and late afternoon. There is a picturesque pond, and several creeks, and each morning a woodpecker entertained us with its antics.

There is a pond just steps away from the deck.

There are many activities on Orcas including kayaking, hiking, whale watching, wine tasting, shopping, and many other things to do. Mt. Constitution in Moran State Park is an interesting place to visit for amazing views of the sea and surrounding islands. You will need a Discover Pass to park your car, but there is a kiosk in the park where one can be purchased.

The photo above is a view of Sucia Islands from the top of the mountain. Vancouver, BC is in the distance.

The long island in the distance is Matia Island, and the shorter one is Puffin Island.

There are many hiking trails on the island as well. We hiked the Cascade Lake Loop Trail, which is a 2.7 mile trail that offers nice views of the lake.

And of course, there are many beaches to explore.

This is the beach at Doe Bay.

Eastsound is the largest town on the island and offers many restaurants, shops, art galleries and wine tasting. The New Leaf Cafe in the Outlook Inn is a great place for dinner, with a beautiful view of the water. The Outlook Inn and the Doe Bay Wine Company (mentioned below) made the New York Times list of 52 places to visit in 2019.

The Doe Bay Wine Company offers affordable and interesting wines to taste. It’s a fun place to visit and the owners are friendly and welcoming.

The many harbours and inlets are inviting and offer many photo opportunities.

The country roads with a maximum speed limit of 40 mph help with the overall feeling of slowing down. We found them to be a welcome change to the frenzy of city life.

The islands are a popular destination in the summer, so book your accommodations and make your reservation for the ferry well in advance. Or, like we did, visit in the off season.

Have you visited the San Juan Islands? If so, leave a comment below with your favorite activities there.