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The sun and Snow Creek Wall put on one last show for me by way of goodbye.

The sun and Snow Creek Wall put on one last show for me by way of goodbye.

A rock spire on the side of Snow Creek Wall is lit by the slanting rays of the sun as I descend into the canyon.

A rock spire on the side of Snow Creek Wall is lit by the slanting rays of the sun as I descend into the canyon.

I rose with as much leisure as possible, and waited for the sun to dry everything out before I packed. It was another glorious day in The Enchantments, and I was so reluctant to leave. Finally I began the 4000 foot drop back down to civilization.

Every bit of the trail was as beautiful as it was on the way up. I took lots of breaks because my bad knee was complaining. I would sit on one of the many available granite boulders, and gaze in admiration at the world around me. I passed one point in the trail where rustling leaves caught my attention. I first took a photo, then realized what was so beautiful about the spot was the sound, and not the image. So then I took a video. A couple of hikers came up while I was filming. I held up a finger for them to stay back till I finished. They got very excited and looked intently up the hill to discover what wildlife I had discovered. Then I stopped the video and disappointed them when I explained, “No wildlife, just rustling Aspen leaves.”

It looks sort of pretty, but this photo does not convey the magical sound.

It looks sort of pretty, but this photo does not convey the magical sound.

Lots of people passed me on the way up, which was a mystery until I recalled that it was Friday, and guessed that Seattle people were likely getting an early start on weekend hiking. They asked me lots of questions about trail conditions, campsites, and goats. I tried to encourage them by telling them about the trail ahead in the best possible way. “You’re at least half way to the lake!”

A bracket fungus captured my attention while I was resting.

A bracket fungus captured my attention while I was resting.

At the bottom of the hill the parking lot was jammed, compared to the empty lot I had seen Tuesday morning. Yet another affirmation for hiking popular trails during the week. I dumped my dirty smelly pack into the back of the Jeep and grabbed some clean clothes to bring up front with me – for changing in the first bathroom I could find. I plugged in my phone, and it started beeping it’s little heart out as battery life and cell signal brought in all the texts and phone messages I had missed.

One key phone message was from human resources. Yes! I got a promotion. A new job, more accurately. Since it’s government, there is no such thing as promotion in that someone says “Hey Crystal, you’re doing well and we’ve decided to pay you more,” because that could be unfair. So, when a different position became available, I submitted my resume and supporting documents, went through an interview, and was selected for the position.

Pros: higher salary, completely new job within VA that I get to learn and thus will stay interested in work, good career move, good retirement move since my retirement pay will be based on my highest salary.

Cons: I have to change my schedule from compressed to five days a week, and commute to the office every day while I’m in training. Drive to work. Every day. Cuz…remember I live on Jupiter now. I’m out beyond public transportation, and I do not drive a fuel-efficient vehicle, and I’ll have to pay for parking smack downtown. Bluh. ….but it’s an investment in my future, right?

I get to bury myself ever more deeply into veterans disability claims and with this new position I will be able to help them more than ever before. That makes me really happy.

I was so eager to get home that I decided to make the 4 1/2 hour drive rather than find a hotel. I texted Tech Support, who was house-sitting, and let him know I was on my way. He texted back that the chickens had been loose during the week, but all was well at the moment (Someone must have told them they could fly. I was trying to keep that a secret.) He left the heat and lights on so when I arrived in the middle of the night, the place was so welcoming. 🙂

He also left me with this memento, taken from my place while I was gone:

The starry sky from Crystal's place. Photo credit: Tech Support, friend, chicken-catcher and house-sitter.

The starry sky from Crystal’s place. Photo credit: Tech Support, friend, chicken-catcher and house-sitter.

An apple from my tree.

An apple from my tree.

My piece of land is growing on me as she changes her clothes for the season. I have decided there simply aren’t enough colours out there for a proper Autumn view, and I will plant trees with this in mind, so I can enjoy them in future years. There are a few maples turning colours though, and I have been able to capture a few photos of them. It has begun raining again, and the creek level is rising. The pond is still too low and I’ve talked to a neighbor who has a pump and generator, who may be able to lend it to me to restore my little puddle to something more pond like. I’ve harvested apples from my two apple trees and made a pie. The deer eat what I haven’t had a chance to pick up off the ground. I feel more assured when I can walk around and take stock and see what’s changed and what’s stayed the same. I suppose I’m becoming more of a country girl with each day.

Creek level is rising again.

Creek level is rising again.

A new creek view, available due to some heavy pruning of this big cedar that was dropping branches to the water.

A new creek view, available due to some heavy pruning of this big cedar that was dropping branches to the water.

One of the few maples painting my land red.

One of the few maples painting my land red.

A view up toward the house from down where I'm building a bonfire pile.

A view up toward the house from down where I’m building a bonfire pile.

Distracted by a spider (but you can still see the red in the background). Isn't the colouring gorgeous?

Distracted by a spider (but you can still see the red in the background). Aren’t the patterns on the abdomen gorgeous?

I can't resist red. So yummy.

I can’t resist red. So yummy.

Anyone who watched the show as often as me, will instantly recognize this image from the opening credits of the TV show Northern Exposure.

Anyone who watched the show as often as me, will instantly recognize this image from the opening credits of the TV show Northern Exposure.

This October Columbus Day was a most brilliant day to journey into the mountains of Washington state. My goal is to hit the trail head first thing in the morning and make my annual solo back packing trip into the mountains. But first! I simply had to make the most of the serendipitous location of the trailhead: Leavenworth, Washington. And on the way: the town of Roslyn.

I am a BIG fan of the television program Northern Exposure, and watched it religiously while it was on the air from 1990-95. I have also watched it again, via Netflix, exposing Tara to this quirky make-believe world of Cicely, Alaska. I still quote from the series, when the situation calls for it, and I can still hear the hawk scream right before the program starts (the hawk isn’t in the Netflix versions, btw). Once I saw that the highway to Leavenworth passed within 5 miles of Roslyn, it was a no-brainer that I had to stop.

Do not try this at home. Bravely snapping photos while driving. I couldn't help myself.

Do not try this at home. Bravely snapping photos while driving. I couldn’t help myself.

Just look at the scenery I drove through today. What a gorgeous state in a gorgeous month.

Just look at the scenery I drove through today. What a gorgeous state in a gorgeous month.

My morning went really well – the house is somewhat put into order so that a friend can house-sit for me. For those of you who read insearchofitall, my house sitter is aka Tech Support. Let’s all give a collective Good Luck and Thank You! to TS for taking on the chickens and Racecar for me in my absence.

The weather was so wonderful today. A little cloudy up to Seattle, a couple raindrops over Snoqualmie Pass, and then sunshine and 70 degrees in the mountains. After all the rain and cool temps in the Portland area, I am grateful for such an auspicious omen to begin my journey.

I had a splendid time wandering around the town of Roslyn. I highly recommend it to anyone who gets the chance to stop and look. It’s absolutely darling, and there are interesting things for people who are not fans of Northern Exposure. For example, there are several information stations, a monument, and a museum dedicated to Roslyn’s coal mining history. Coal was discovered here in 1886 and mined for 35 years. Northern Pacific Railroad actively solicited immigrants to move to the US to work in the mines, and people came from 26 different nations. Then the railroad brought up a bunch of African Americans as strikebreakers. So this tiny mountain town was truly international from it’s inception.

Maggie's Pantry, named after one of the main characters in the TV show Northern Exposure.

Maggie’s Pantry, named after one of the main characters in the TV show Northern Exposure.

Look at how cute this darn town is!

Look at how darn cute this town is!

Fans of Northern Exposure will also recognize The Brick.

Fans of Northern Exposure will also recognize The Brick.

“Dr. Joel Fleishman” is still painted in the window of the building that was his doctor’s office in the show.

KBHR (pronounced Kay Bear) studios is not only evident from the outside...

KBHR (pronounced Kay Bear) studios is not only evident from the outside…

...but lovingly maintained on the inside. Complete with an open book, true to

…but lovingly maintained on the inside. Complete with an open book, true to “Chris in the Morning’s” style on the show.

A little train of coal cars outside the museum, filled with actual coal.

A little train of coal cars outside the museum, filled with actual coal.

A mural at a park downtown.

A mural at a park downtown.

Random Roslyn resident I spotted while eating lunch.

Random Roslyn resident I spotted while eating lunch.

I ate at the Roslyn Cafe, with a view of Fleishmann's office.

I ate at the Roslyn Cafe, with a view of Fleishman’s office.

I wonder if the foreign miners are the background to the town of Leavenworth. I have been here before, but the place never stops delighting me. Block after block is filled with buildings constructed in a Bavarian theme. How amazed I am at the compliance of nearly every single building to fit the theme of a Bavarian mountain town. Safeway looks half-timbered, Wells Fargo has carved wood shutters and flowers under the windowsills, and even the hospital is themed. The place is remarkable. And beautiful.

One of the main streets in Leavenworth, Washington.

One of the main streets in Leavenworth, Washington.

Looking west toward the mountains I will be climbing tomorrow.

Looking west toward the mountains I will be climbing tomorrow.

Isn't it convincingly European, in this setting?

Isn’t it convincingly European, in this setting?

This dome was lovely from every angle. I include it again in the nighttime shot at the end.

This dome was lovely from every angle. I include it again in the nighttime shot at the end.

Murals can be found on 80% of the buildings. Not exaggerating.

Murals can be found on 80% of the buildings. Not exaggerating.

Nearly every view today was filled with oranges and reds and mountains.

Nearly every view today was filled with oranges and reds and mountains.

My beautiful room, right downtown, for $89 (a steal for a tourist town during Oktoberfest).

My beautiful room, right downtown at The Leavenworth Village Inn, for $89 (a good price for a tourist town during Oktoberfest).

My view of the captivating onion dome from my hotel room.

My view of the captivating onion dome from my hotel room.

Yes, even the hospital is Bavarian-themed.

Yes, even the hospital is Bavarian-themed.

A shop sign

A shop sign

Christmas shop

Christmas shop

A guest cottage. Now, wouldn't you love to stay in this place, overlooking the miniature golf course and grazing goats.

A guest cottage.

Grazing goat

Grazing goat

Even the signs are in German!

Even the signs are in German!

Gustav's restaurant has it's own dome.

Gustav’s restaurant has it’s own dome.

Yet another picturesque street.

Yet another picturesque street.

Dome at night.

Dome at night.

What you see here is a whole lotta corn. Plus some stuff in the distance...

What you see here is a whole lotta corn. Plus some stuff in the distance…

Tara and I went up to Sauvie Island and gave The Uncles a call to bring them along. Jim was driving the streetcar that day, but Larry was available and agreed to come with us. Yay!

Sauvie Island is a wide, flat island created because the Willamette River splits just before it empties into the Columbia River. So, while the north of the island is bound by the mighty Columbia, the south is bound by a long skinny piece of  the Willamette that wraps around the island and finally drops into the larger river. The island has a distinctly rural feel. It’s slower, totally agricultural, and seems almost lost in time. This atmosphere is unexpected because it’s barely 15 minutes from downtown Portland.

Entrance into the maze

Entrance into the maze

Tara and Larry. Yes, for about two weeks Tara had teal hair. Now, it's mostly brown again.

Tara and Larry. Yes, for about two weeks Tara had teal hair. Now, it’s mostly brown again.

Sauvie Island is famous for the pumpkin patch and the corn maze, which they call the Corn Maize. It’s clear that a ton of work is put into this maze each year, and it’s a pretty slick operation. The maze is so huge there are a couple of bridges built inside of it, which allow wanderers to climb above the corn and look around. The opportunity to do this is totally irresistible, but not at all helpful in finding one’s path out of the maze. Not one bit. Sigh.

The day we chose was so lovely. Sunny and warm and gorgeous and we were not pressed to hurry through the maze at all. We were actually challenged by the maze, which made it more fun. The corn stalks towered over our heads and were planted thickly, so on a path we truly could not see where to go next. I got so turned around so many times. And you know, corn going in one direction looks a lot like corn going another direction.

What is this a picture of? You can figure this one out! They were all this easy, but fun nonetheless.

What is this a picture of? You can figure this one out! They were all this easy, but fun nonetheless.

To lighten things up despite all the scary cornstalks, there was a game to play inside. There were CORNundrums (yes, it’s corny. I think that’s the point!). Larry challenged himself to find them all, so we not only tried to find our way out, but we also tried to hit every pathway, in order to find the CORNundrums. We missed four of them, so we guessed the remaining answers at the end of the maze, and Larry dropped his card into the sweepstakes box. Wish him luck!

Afterward we wandered around and enjoyed the many other things to do on site: farmer’s market, petting barn, food stands, etc. The usual faire stuff.

The Haunted Maize is operational at night, and we didn't stay late enough.

The Haunted Maize is operational at night, and we didn’t stay late enough.

Descending from one of the bridges. Nope, don't know which way to go yet.

Descending from one of the bridges. Nope, don’t know which way to go yet. Look at all that corn!

Guess what I spotted from this bridge? Volcanoes! (listen, I'm nothing if not consistent)

Guess what I spotted from the bridge? Volcanoes! (listen, I’m nothing if not consistent)

Now isn't she a beauty?

Now isn’t she a beauty?

I think looking head-on at a llama is about the most hilarious thing ever. I mean, how can you not laugh?

I think looking head-on at a llama is about the most hilarious thing ever. I mean, how can you not laugh?

Ok, ok, I'm not heartless. Here's the same llama, in a much more flattering angle.

Ok, ok, I’m not heartless. Here’s the same llama, in a much more flattering angle.

 

Kids hauling their treasures toward the parking lot.

Kids hauling their treasures toward the parking lot.

This farm chef hooked me up with a delicious elephant ear!

This farm chef hooked me up with a delicious elephant ear!

Larry is recording the latest CORNundrum.

Larry is recording the latest CORNundrum.

Western Scrub-Jay checking the area to see if it's being watched.

Western Scrub-Jay checking the area to see if it’s being watched.

I should have been focusing on my work, I know. But sometimes it’s much more interesting to gaze through the window at the backyard.

One of the ubiquitous Western Scrub-Jays was digging with its beak. He must have been hitting a small rock in the soil, because it went “tink, tink, tink,” as the bird gouged its beak repeatedly down. It seemed curious to me that the jay was going to so much trouble to peck a hole. If it was after insects, they surely would have scurried away by now, but the bird focused on one spot.

Tink, tink, tink, tink.

Then it picked up something that looked like a peanut, dropped it into the hole, and scratched dirt over it. What?! As I watched, the jay looked around, picked up a leaf, and dropped it onto the top of the place it had just been digging. I told myself it was coincidence. I would never have guessed a bird would be savvy about camouflage.

A little later, I watched the same scenario again, with another peanut, and a leaf. (That morning I had emptied the last of the contents from my peanut bag, that I keep to feed the squirrels.) I looked it up online, and sure enough, Western Scrub-Jays will cache food. I learned something new today!

Jay up on his tip-toes looking for a good spot to cache.

Jay up on his tip-toes looking for a good spot to cache.

Jay about to drop some food into a hole.

Jay about to drop some food into a hole.

I am so impressed with what I learned that I am going to share some of the fascinating facts with you. Scrub-Jays will also collect and bury treasure, and they actually remember their caches and can go right to them when they need to, remembering not only where they are but also what’s in them. Squirrels can’t be that smart. I’ll bet squirrels just wander around and hope they get lucky. Western Scrub-Jays are not necessarily honorable, but they are clever, and will spy on another jay burying its cache, so that they can go steal it. And, get this, Western Scrub-Jays will remember if they were being watched while they cached something, and will come back later in privacy, and dig it up and move it.

i saw my first Stellar's Jay in the yard today! I see these all over the forest, but now finally, in my yard too. Aren't they gorgeous?

i saw my first Steller’s Jay in the yard today! I see these all over the forest, but now finally, in my yard too. Aren’t they gorgeous?

She says, "Um, excuse me? it isn't polite to stare."

She says, “Um, excuse me? It isn’t polite to stare.”

pressed leaves under glass

I’m listening to the voices of parents and children getting closer to my house as they make their trick-or-treating way down the street. They get started late and continue late here in my neighborhood. It’s 7:30 and little ones are still coming. The big kids will continue on after 9pm. (it got dark at 6pm). I’ll just slip off and hand out candy when the bell rings, and you will never know!

My girlie took off for her friends house so they could begin their treating sojourn together. What an excellent time to check in with my life and update my blog.

I downloaded some photos from my camera today and was reminded of two things. 1) I have been snapping shots of wall art in Portland, so if you like wall art you should check out my flickr set. 2) Omigosh! I went to see the Vaux’s swifts again, at Chapman school, and totally forgot to blog it. So, if the treaters continue long enough tonight, I’ll get started on a very late post about birds.

First for fun, I’ll show off my little creative art project at the top. I am incorrigible for making the most of my time, so when Arno shows up for a visit, I make him do my chores with me. We recently met for dinner. We walked to the restaurant, and I brought one of those little Chico bags (my Mom adores them and gave a couple to me). On the walk back home we collected beautiful Autumn leaves. I had picked up a cheap frame at Jo-Ann fabrics for $3.99. Lay down the prettiest leaves, press the glass over the top and viola! Gorgeous seasonal wall hanging.

Here, kitty kitty

T and I were very late carving our pumpkins, but we did manage to get that done this weekend, with success! They turned out great. Of course the barfing pumpkin appeals to a 14-year-old. I stole my design from an image I saw online, but the ears are my idea.

Arno and I have been so busy lately that we barely ever have time to see each other. It’s very frustrating but also a relief that he lives 60 miles away (I’ll let you fill in the blanks). I have a feeling that having kids in school is largely why we don’t see enough of each other now. Anyway, I had just dropped off Miss T at Powell’s to meet friends (how cool are friends that meet at Powell’s?!!) and we had the spontaneous idea Sunday to meet halfway through the Gorge.

Imma sucker for foliage. Love these trees over the streets.

It makes sense to split the distance, right? We’ve talked about it, but not put it into practice yet. He suggested Multnomah Falls Lodge, since it was the only public place we could think of that was indoors. I was hoping for coffee. It was raining buckets in the gorge and I passed a couple of cars in compromising positions alongside the freeway, with the accompanying blue flashing lights. Unfortunately, he ran into the same situation and it stopped traffic.

<realtime>Oh seriously, the kids are really hitting the streets now, and it’s 8:14. What’s the deal with Portland? The last little zombie to trick-or-treat here was about 8 years old. <another knock>Oh! Oh! Twin Little Red Riding Hoods and they were, like, 5 years old!</another knock></realtime>

Multnomah Falls, evening, pouring rain

So anyhow, I reached Multnomah Falls first and hung out in the parking lot in the downpour in my warm and toasty car and waited for Arno. I replaced a bandaid from where I cut myself using one of Natalie’s Amazing Knives to carve my pumpkin. Then I couldn’t stand it anymore and climbed out into the rain and took a photo of the magnificent falls right in front of me. Multnomah Falls blows me away. I can’t believe more people don’t wreck on the interstate right here, cuz this place is too stunning to drive past without a double-take.

I’m out there, hiding under the Info booth taking photos ‘cause it has a roof, and Arno runs up! Yay! So we made a sprint for the Lodge. I had heard somewhere that there was a restaurant at the Lodge, but neither of us had been there. So we poked around, found a staircase, and climbed to the top. Wow! It was magical!

Inside is a real, honest to goodness, park lodge. For dining we could sit in either the fireplace room or the vista room. I chose the vista room and we were seated. This place is stunning; I can’t wait to go back. We didn’t really have time to eat dinner, and we were both driving so we didn’t order from the extensive wine list. Instead we had coffee and stuffed mushrooms and talked as the wet dripped from us. Such a gorgeous setting. Even the dishes were beautiful: antique china with a dogwood pattern. The cups, plates, saucers, all matched in dogwood blooms. The walls were stone and mortar, and in the vista room: glass glass glass. So we could look out at the stunning cliffs that hold the falls. Too much foliage: couldn’t actually see the falls. We will come back in winter.

My girl is back home for the night. She had a good time collecting her loot. “No junk gifts this year!” she crowed. “Last year I got a pencil, and coupons, and a stupid bag of uncooked popcorn. This year it’s all good. Well, except the Jesus book.”

“The huh?”

“This booklet called the Four Spiritual Laws.” She handed it to me, “From this guy. But he wasn’t bad. There was this lady at another house that was like all, ‘I want you to know that Jesus loves you. I have had so many miracles in my life since I chose to believe. He does so much good for us all.’ We were all, ‘um, ok, thank you,’ and backing away. But she just kept talking. ‘He loves you!’ We said, ‘thanks’ and mumbled a little. We were trying to make her feel good, you know, like she was making a difference, but we kept backing away. Finally she closed the door.” Aww, my girl is so sweet.

She had a lot of stories tonight. The Chinese couple. “The lady was surprised to see us. ‘oh! You tricker treat?’ and we all nodded. So she counts us, and leaves, and comes back in a little while with five mints. One for each of us. ‘Tricker treat!’ she says. And then, this man was in the yard, and he came around a bush, and was also surprised to see us. Then his face broke into a big smile and he said, ‘ahh! Tricker treat!’ and he looked at his wife and she smiled and nodded. So they were smiling and nodding and bowing and saying ‘tricker treat!’ till we left.”

At one house, a lady opened the door and held two bowls. “‘You can take either two candies, or one dinosaur,’ she said. We were all like, DINOSAUR!!”

Anyhow, we’re both suffering from colds. (I didn’t go to work today – blehhhh) It’s time to go to bed for my way-too-early 4:30am wake up. I’ll turn out the lights and discourage any other treaters, and then my co-workers will get the spoils! Yes guys, you’re welcome.

Holy cow. Seriously? 9:25 and I hear a little girl’s voice outside…there goes the bell.

One of my many guises

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