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A Spring Day So Perfect

June 11, 2013

View from Samish Island

View from Samish Island

Snow-capped Mount Baker seen from the Skagit Valley

Snow-capped Mount Baker seen from the Skagit Valley

Mount Baker viewed from Bonnie's back yard

Mount Baker viewed from Bonnie’s back yard

Cows grazing, Skagit Valley

Cows grazing, Skagit Valley

Today
by Billy Collins

If ever there were a spring day so perfect,
so uplifted by a warm intermittent breeze

that it made you want to throw
open all the windows in the house

and unlatch the door to the canary’s cage,
indeed, rip the little door from its jamb,

a day when the cool brick paths
and the garden bursting with peonies

seemed so etched in sunlight
that you felt like taking

a hammer to the glass paperweight
on the living room end table,

releasing the inhabitants
from their snow-covered cottage

so they could walk out,
holding hands and squinting

into this larger dome of blue and white,
well, today is just that kind of day.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snow-capped peak of Mount Baker viewed from Artist Point

The Mount Baker Scenic Byway dead-ends at Artist Point, about 58 miles from Bellingham.  The road gains elevation in a series of hairpin turns and curves.  There are snow patches everywhere, including a tall bank of dirty snow in the parking lot.  The entire area at the end of the road is called Heather Meadows, and this low green plant provides the ground cover along with huckleberry bushes.

Winding Hwy 542 as it nears Artist Point

Greeted by a tall bank of dirty snow at the edge of the parking lot at Artist Point

Hikers have a choice among several trails that start from the Artist Point parking lot.  One thing I love about the Mount Baker Scenic Byway is that you can see some spectacular scenery without much effort, just a short trek from the car.  But if you want a more strenuous workout, you can hike some of the longer trails in the network.

I wasn’t prepared for a long solo hike, so I simply walked a short distance to Huntoon Point.  The views of Mount Baker were just stupendous.  At 10,781 feet, Mount Baker is the third highest peak in Washington State (after Mount Rainier and Mount Adams), and it is snow covered all year long.

View of Mount Baker from Artist Point

A distant view of the Cascade range from the trail at Artist Point

A glacier on Mount Shuksan

Two snags amidst the heather and huckleberries

Looking across to Table Mountain and a distant trail

If you look closely, you can see two hikers (the dark specks) on the trail.

Mount Baker with contrail

Snow-capped Mount Baker dominates this Skagit Valley view

Winter offers its own pleasures in the rural Skagit Valley, a one-hour drive north of Seattle.  We were on the lookout for trumpeter swans and snow geese on our most recent trip.  We saw the birds, but they had settled to feed some distance from the road.  It’s always awesome to see and hear the great flocks in flight, even if they were too far away for good photos.

Trumpeter swans in flight

Trumpeter swan

Skagit Valley in February

View of Mount Baker across Puget Sound from the Port Townsend waterfront

Port Townsend, with its many well-preserved Victorian homes and buildings, is one of the most picturesque towns in the Pacific Northwest.  It is a delightful destination for a day trip from Seattle.  The easiest way to get there is via the Edmonds-Kingston ferry to the Olympic Peninsula.  Here are some photos from a recent visit:

Mural at the Port Townsend marina

Another mural on one of the old brick buildings in the historic district of downtown Port Townsend

Another lovely mural seen while driving into town

Victorian architecture

Architectural detail on building

Seagull on the Port Townsend waterfront

Don't miss the Saturday market

Sunset over Puget Sound

Country Drives

March 9, 2010

I am a farm girl at heart.  I feel at home driving country roads past farms and fields.  I enjoyed seeing the greening of the Skagit Valley as spring approaches.  The looming Cascade Mountains create a beautiful setting for the farms in this area of Washington.

Skagit Valley barn with Mount Baker

Skagit Valley farm framed by the Cascade Mountains

Another Skagit Valley farm with Mount Baker looming

Drainage ditches, Skagit Valley

Share the road with tractors