Thursday, July 28, 2011

Hi everyone!

Two weekends ago, Kris and I went out to Whidbey Island with Kris' mother, Kathy. We stopped by this old fort, Fort Casey, that was built in the 1890s, and used lightly through WWII. It's built at the mouth of the Puget Sound, and was considered a critical location for blocking enemy ships from entering the Sound.

An enormous gun. These move up and down from being exposed to fire, then after firing immediately lowering below the fort so the enemy ships don't know where the shots are coming from.

I have no idea what these are for. I assume...loading shells?

From the top of the fort. The entire fort is built into the side of the hill, almost obscuring it from view from the water.

The old switchboard...unfortunately, the door was locked. But you can see inside during the guided tours :)

A view of the bay, looking out toward the sound.

And of course...some deer! They must love this place now that its a state park :)

Friday, July 22, 2011

We've been having a heat wave all this week, but today was the hottest! I've never seen the temperature gauge register 107' before. So glad we had the air conditioner installed last year. That unit has paid for itself five times over already between last summer and this summer so far! :)

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

The zucchinis haven't done well here the last couple of years, so I bought this bush cucumber plant on a whim when we were at Sensinger's. Apparently it likes this spot, because it really took off. The tag said that the cucumbers grow best on a trellis, so dad put a tomato cage over it.

You can't see all of them in this photo, but we have 5 cucumbers coming so far!

We're going to harvest this cucumber to put in a salad for tomorrow night's dinner! :)

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Forest #2

This is my third post about our trip to Wayne County. Hopefully you're scrolling down and reading the posts in chronological order, I think they'll make the most sense that way. :-)

So, on the other side of the creek was the second half of the property. Our first stop in this forest was to a huge old sugar maple that Dad and Uncle Ronnie remembered from their childhood. There used to be a whole grove of maples here, apparently they were planted over 100 years ago to start a maple syrup company before the property was in our family, but the company was only in business a few years (dad can tell you the whole story). This old tree is the last one measures 12.5 feet around! A natural spring runs out of the ground at the base of the tree and runs down the hill to the creek. She's old and hollow now but felt like the mother tree of the forest, definitely the type of tree that would talk to Pocahantas in a Disney movie... :-)

Remember the thick underbrush that covered the first forest? See the difference here?...

So according to Craig, the diversity of this forest was much better. There are a lot of hemlock, but also a good variety of hard woods scattered throughout. The problem here is the density. The canopy here is so thick that it's harder for sunlight to get through and support new growth (hence the lack of underbrush). In areas where there are some openings for the sun to peak through the ground is mostly covered with ferns (underbrush that survives because the deer don't like to eat it!)...

The little orange salamanders liked this side of the creek too!

And one last photo...down by the creek was this chicken's all that remains of the old homestead where our Great-Great-Aunt Sophie used to live. The stone wall in the front right corner of this photo is the foundation of the old barn.

Forest #1

The first half of the property that we hiked was the half with the flagstone quarry. We didn't actually go all the way to the quarry, we'll have to explore that during another trip. This time we were focusing on the trees, but here's a photo of the path that leads to the quarry.

This half of the property also has the old hunting cabin...our Great-Great-Uncle Warner used to live here.
Craig's main observation about this forest was that it was over-run with Beech trees that are low value, and are also plagued with a disease right now that is incurable. Unfortunately most of the Beech trees on our property seem to have the disease which means they could start dying off in the next 10 years or so. This would be the main problem that we'd have to address in this forest. That being said, the forest was absolutely beautiful and everything seemed extra green today after the early morning rain...

Craig guessed that most of the trees in this forest were ~80 years old, this particular tree appears to be much, much older...oh the stories this tree could probably tell...

We thought this tree was pretty neat, look at the way the trunk is twisted. To the left are three black cherries...great trees, but growing too close together here.

There were lots of these cool little guys all over the forest... aren't they cute?? :-)

One other thing that set this forest apart from the forest across the road was the underbrush...lots of bramble and small'll notice the difference between this and the photos in my next post.

Mom, Dad and I travelled up to Wayne County today and met up with Uncle Ronnie, Aunt Bonnie, and Jackie, to hike the hunting grounds with Craig the forester. The property is divided into two parts by a road that runs along the creek. Craig felt that the forests on either side of the road were quite different and would actually require separate development plans to improve the health of each one. So I'll put up separate posts for each forest so that you can see the difference. I'm not sure if I'll get all of this done tonight, so for now, here are a few photos of the stream that runs along the road and divides the two halves of the property...

Monday, May 30, 2011

Hi everyone!

Kris and I went out to Eastern Washington this weekend to camp with some friends by Frenchman Coulee, close to the Columbia River. The area is the desert part of Washington, and is famous for a enormous, dry canyon and large columns of basalt formations that rise on either side (kind of like the ones above and below).

I loved the fluorescent green lichen.

Apparently at one point, lava filled the area and cooled rapidly, cracking the igneous rock into these towers as it was being formed. A flood later in history carried away the topsoil down the Columbia River into Oregon (where all the wineries are now). This exposed the rockface.

We did some hiking along and through the rock columns, and some of my friends (including Kris) tried their hand at some rock climbing. You can see in the pictures that its just perfect for climbing--lots of convenient toeholds and handholds.

I didn't try this time--I've done it before and freaked out because of the height--but Kris and I might hit the gym some more this summer and give it another go.

Kris climbing up the rock. I cheered him on from below :)

We camped below one of the rock faces (you can barely make out our tent in the photo below). The sunsets (and the stars at night) were just gorgeous! The desert landscape was so different from Yosemite.'ll never believe what company we had! The second night we were there, we discovered a rattlesnake, coiled up not 30 feet from where we had our tent. He was just a little guy. We had set up camp too close to some rocks, and Kris found what he thought looked like a rattlesnake den (a triangle shaped hole snugged between two big boulders).

Needless to say, we moved the tent, and checked it good before we got in at night. We imagined there were probably rattlesnakes all around--we just couldn't see them--but we read that the Western rattlesnake is pretty docile compared to the Eastern one, so we hoped it wouldn't seek us out.

I'm ready for May to be over--it seems like its nothing but run-ins with venomous creatures!

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Kitchen. Love, love, love the gas range.

Other side of the kitchen+dishwasher.

Windows are pretty big for a basement, I think.

Living space. Needs some sprucing up--I'm open to furniture arranging suggestions!

The bookshelf looking into the bedroom. I love the exposed wood beams (there are two in the apartment).

The bedroom needs the most attention, I think--I'm hoping to convert the wall where the bike currently is into a sewing area.

I'll post the last few pictures later.

Happy Easter, everyone! I can't wait to see you all soon.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Hi guys!

I'm going to start to post a few pictures, as promised. For today, a quick view of the outside of the apartment--the front yard and fence, the path leading around back to my apartment, and my new grill :)

More coming later.