People, Places, Things

Leucistic Robin

Having observed this bird ourselves in the neighborhood, turns out, our bird of a different color is famous in our hood. On our walk home from the grocery store, we spied this 8″ X 10″ glossy displayed on the community bulletin board outside at Nelson’s Market.

Our leucistic robin's photo displayed on neighborhood bulletin board

At first sighting, I would never have guessed it was a robin as I would not expect to see a robin with a white head. It is a robin though – a leucistic robin. Leucism is a rare genetic mutation that prevents the development of pigmentation cells as seen in the abnormal plumage on our neighborhood robin. For more information on bird leucism, go here – http://birding.about.com/od/identifyingbirds/a/leucism.htm.

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Birthday Celebrations

We celebrated with a delicious dinner of goat cheese and sundried tomato stuffed ravioli, sauted chicken breasts and mixed sugar snap peas and baby carrots – all drizzled with a thick marinara sauce and sprinkled with flaked asiago and parmessan cheese. Followed by a grand finale flaming birthday cake – a cheese cake with fancy chocolate dipped strawberries, this turned out to be the best birthday celebration ever.

Happy birthday to you . . .

Happy birthday to you . . .

Happy birthday dear Kent . . .

Happy birthday to you . . .

The best birthday EVER, and it wasn’t even MY birthday. What’s up with that?

Hanging the "memories" birthday gift . . .

Hanging the "memories" birthday gift . . .

Happy birthday memories . . .

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Taylor Dock Walk

What is the difference between a walk and a hike?

I found myself asking that very question as I walked along Taylor Dock with a friend today. We had a great time as we walked, and it felt absolutely wonderful to be outside in the sunshine. The coffee and conversation made for a wonderful break in the afternoon, but I didn’t break a sweat. I wore my regular shoes and we basically just loitered the entire duration of our walk. It was a beautiful day to enjoy a stroll and the view. The sun was shining so gloriously on the newest addition to our waterfront, Grace.

Grace is art, gorilla art. A beautifully graceful steel and rivited sculpture snuck in by an anonymous artist in the middle of the night during a low tide and mounted to tin island (a pile of tin scraps left over from the hay day of foundary work along the antique Fairhaven waterfront.) Snuck in during the dark in order to avoid the complex permitting process for such a piece of art, her beauty is appreciated by all.

Grace

But it was during this walk that I found myself questioning the difference between a hike and a walk. You see, with 2012 being the year in which I turn sixty, I am well on my way to meeting a goal of completing sixty hikes before my sixtieth birthday. (You can go here – Sixty Before Sixty – to read about those hikes.)

Today my friend and I walked approximately 1-1/2 miles in and around Fairhaven, along a portion of the South Bay Trail, along Taylor Dock, over Pattle Point and around Boulevard Park, but I did not consider this walk a hike. Today we walked slowly. We strolled really. We chatted (even a little about the difference about a walk and a hike). Often we stopped along our route to enjoy the waterfront views. At Boulevard Park, we stopped in at Wood’s Coffee, ordered coffees and sat outside for practically an hour as we sipped our drinks and continued our conversation.

That was when I realized the difference between a walk and a hike!

You see, last month, I did categorize some of the same walk route as today as a hike (you can go here – South Bay Trail – to read about that hike). Last month’s South Bay Trail hike consisted of a brisk walk of well over five miles in snowy conditions. I wore my hiking boots, I carried my pack, the conditions were harsh and I broke a sweat. It was not just a stroll, nor did I loiter. I got some good exercise out of my effort. That’s the difference!

The basic Wikipedia definition of a hike is, “Hiking is an outdoor activity which consists of walking in natural environments, often in mountainous or other scenic terrain. People often hike on hiking trails“.

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Fish Taxi

After completing the first hike today toward my goal of Sixty Before Sixty (sixty hikes before my sixtieth birthday) through the grounds of the Northern State Recreation Area (see Hike #1 – Northern State Recreation Area) in Sedro Woolley, I drove on to the town of Concrete for a visit to one of my favorite places, the Lower Baker Dam.  Just before the turn off for the road leading up to the Lower Baker Dam, we cross the Baker River by driving over this bridge. It is one of my favorite bridges in all of Skagit County.

Baker River Bridge

I like to go directly to viewing area for the Lower Baker Dam first to get a good look at the dam before I go on and do more exploring in the area. I find it to be such an impressive wall of concrete when I stand there and look out to the dam. My father worked on some rehab jobs there when I was a young child. I was so little that I do not recall exactly what it was exactly that he did at the Lower Baker Dam (something to do with construction and often with concrete), but to this day, it feels good to stand there and see something of such mass that he was a part of.

The Lower Baker Dam

Of course, a dam like this, at 285 feet high along a river like the Baker would pose an impossible hurdle for the lifecycle of salmon as they fight their way back up stream to their breading grounds each year, so the operators of the dam, Puget Sound Energy, were faced with solving this problem. Their solution, quite an elaborate Fish Taxi!

Dena learns about the Fish Taxi at the Lower Baker Dam

What happens is, the fish are trapped by being directed to swim into a holding tank. Once the tank has filled with enough fish, they are pumped out of the holding tank and into a large, portable tank on the back of a flatbed truck. Then, the tank full of fish are driven (taxied!) up the road, around the dam, and released back into the river. So continues the life cycle of the salmon!

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Categories: Hikes and Walks, Outdoors, People, Places, Things | 1 Comment

Burn Pile Party

Have a big stack of branches and brush piling up in your back yard? Then why not have a burn pile party?

Burn pile party . . .

Here’s how to host a burn pile party:

  • Make a large pile of fallen tree branches and brush in the back of your yard.
  • Apply for a burn permit through your local fire department. (Note that it might be helpful if your back yard backs up to a large beaver pond, and if you are retired from that local fire department.)
  • Fill your crockpot with pulled pork, make up a few salads and bake a big batch of cookies.
  • Contact your friends and invite them over for a Burn Pile Party.
  • Light your burn pile on fire, and let the fun begin.

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He is retired from the fire department, but this is still some serious back-yard burn pile fire tending!

This is some serious fire tending!

Then later, you can always entertain your friends by playing then some ragtime.

He's playing me some ragtime . . .

Categories: Music and Dance, Outdoors, People, Places, Things | Leave a comment

Washington Park

It was definitely a white Christmas season in Denver, so being from Washington State, it seemed most appropriate to celebrate the season with a walk in the snow through Denver’s own Washington Park.

Park bench full of snow . . . at Washington Park in Denver

One of my favorite parks in Denver, The park includes several trails, including one that goes around the perimeter of the park, tennis courts, a lawn bowling/croquet field, and two playgrounds. A recreation center with an indoor pool, free weights, and other athletic facilities is also located in the park. Smith Lake has a boathouse that can be rented out for various events.

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Denver Snow

Here’s something I really love about Denver. Practically before it even stops snowing, not only have the streets been cleared, but even the trails at the local parks! Here I am, shoveling a path through the back yard.

That's me, shoveling a walkway through the back yard . . .

Wanting to get out and enjoy the snow, I walked the trails around Lollipop Lake at Garland Park. What an absolutely beautiful snow day!

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Categories: Denver, Hikes and Walks, Outdoors, Parks, People, Places, Things, photography, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Denver Skyline Park

You might wonder what the Christkindl Market and ice skating might have in common, but if you were in downtown Denver at Skyline Park, you would know.

Following a 700-year old traditional German Christkindl Market, (Christ Child Market), in December, a portion of Denver’s Skyline Park is lined with festive outdoor huts filled with unique handmade crafts and traditional Christkindl treats.

Denver Christkindl Market

And, for the second year in a row, the portion of Skyline Park located at the base of the D & F Clocktower at 16th and Arapahoe Streets is turned into an ice rink. Open daily for free skating until February 14th, there is a $2.00 cost for skate rentals.

Ice skating . . . at Skyline Park

Skyline Park, what a fun little park!

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Downtown Denver Holiday Lights

Every year the Denver City and County Building is decked out in Christmas lights, and this year was certainly no exception.

Denver City County Building . . . Christmas lights 2011

It’s no surprise that crowds of people flock to downtown Denver after dark to view the colorful light display.

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Categories: Denver, Outdoors, People, Places, Things | 1 Comment

Colorado State Capitol Building

Cold and blowing snow, it seemed like a good day to be inside, touring the State Capitol Building while in downtown Denver.

Colorado State Capitol Building

The dome is coated on the outside with gold (real gold!) and I find it impressive from the inside too.

Looking up inside the dome . . . in the Colorado State Capitol Building

I love the details in building like this and greatly enjoyed my tour. For more information about the Colorado State Capitol Building, go here – http://www.colorado.gov/dpa/doit/archives/cap/first.htm.

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