The Ghost Town of Franklin, Washington

To celebrate my 6th anniversary of relocating to Seattle, a place where I had never been before, my husband and I decided to spend the day in places I had never been before. I’ve already written about Flaming Geyser State Park and Green River Gorge Resort. Now I’ll tell you about the last stop of the day, the ghost town of Franklin, Washington.

The remnants of Franklin are very close to the town of Black Diamond, Washington. So close, in fact, that you can hear the gun shots from the Black Diamond Gun Club while standing in the middle of the Franklin Cemetery. That kind of detracts from the ambience. (Or maybe it adds to it, depending on how you look at it.)

Franklin was a coal mining town that was established in the 1885. It was named after Benjamin Franklin. The whole area was lousy with coal, which was why Black Diamond was named Black Diamond. And since I’m digressing anyway, let me tell you that my husband handed me an actual lump of coal the size of my hand recently and it was freakin’ heavy! Am I the only one on the planet who assumed that coal was light like charcoal briquettes? I stand corrected. Anyway, where were we? Oh yeah! Franklin!

Franklin was rather a big deal in its time. It was established in 1885, and had a post office by 1886. At its height, it had a population of 1,100, and the town had a school, saloons, a hotel, a blacksmith shop, and of course, countless company houses. The Seattle to Walla Walla Railroad was extended to Franklin so that coal could be shipped from there to San Francisco. Its people were mostly immigrants from 15 different Eastern and Western European countries.

It was a rough place to live. There were labor conflicts throughout its history. In 1891, the company brought in African Americans as strike-breakers. The scene erupted into violence and two people were killed. The National Guard had to be deployed to quell the strike. Then, in 1894 there was a fire in one of the shafts and the smoke suffocated 37 miners. It was later determined that the fire was intentionally set by one of the very miners who died.

As so often happens with mining towns, as the coal output slumped after 1908, the town started to die. The last mine was closed in 1922. There was some scattered mining here and there until 1981, but by then the town had all but melted into the undergrowth. During its history, though, 4.15 million tons of coal was extracted from the Franklin mines, and there were 88 fatalities.

So now let’s return to the present day, and visit the ghost town. When you leave the parking lot, you have a few choices to make. The first one comes up pretty quickly. Do you want to go to the right and visit the ghost town, or to the left and see the coal car in Green River? We chose right. My husband told me he had pictures of the coal car, and I was sure there’d be plenty online, too. Here’s one. You’re welcome.

Coal car green river

So off we went, on a very well-maintained, wide gravel path which the Washington Trails Association claims is an easy walk on a gentle grade. But I think we gained 400 feet in elevation, and I’m here to tell you that my heart nearly exploded. If anyone with any influence reads this, that path is crying out for benches. (Or maybe that was me.) My advice to you is to wear sunscreen and bring water. The views of the cascade foothills are gorgeous, though.

At some point you come across another coal car, and I was ever so grateful to sit on it for a spell. Then you have to make your second decision. Do you go right, to explore the town, or left, to check out the Franklin No. 2 Mine Shaft and the cemetery?

It was an easy decision for me. I love cemeteries. And we ran into a few hikers that said the town basically consists of a few concrete slabs, so I didn’t mind missing it, at least this time around.

Onward. The path was starting to get narrower, but it is still quite well maintained. A lot of the climbing was over with, too, to my everlasting joy.

Before reaching the shaft, we stumbled across bits of building here and there that appeared to be leftovers of the mining operation. We also saw what looked like a train track suspended about 30 feet in the air, which I later learned was once used to support the pipe that brought water into the town.

The mine shaft was rather fascinating. It was built to go 500 feet below sea level, and we were already pretty freakin’ high up, so the shaft was, according to the plaque in front of it, 1,300 feet deep. I yelled down it. Hello? It echoed. (If some disembodied voice had said, “What do you want?” I’d have made it back to the car in record time.) I also dropped a pebble down there. I never heard it hit bottom. (I wonder how many pebbles are at the foot of that shaft now.) The shaft is covered by a massive grate consisting of railroad tracks and rebar. It looks sturdy, but I still wouldn’t suggest that anyone stand on it.

Beyond the shaft, the trail to the cemetery gets really narrow, as in, deer-path-through-the-deep-woods narrow. And you can tell that in damper times of the year, the path is covered in deep mud. On sunny days like this one, the mud flattens out and dries, and the path has a weird springy feel to it, as if you’re walking on the surface of a drum. Your footsteps make a hollow thumping sound. It’s kind of creepy.

Finally, the path opens up into a giant sloped clearing, and you know you’re in the cemetery. But it’s choked with blackberry brambles. There are a few winding pathways that someone was kind enough to bushwhack for us so that we could visit the few headstones that peek out from the berried vines. People have left coins on the headstones over time. I found that to be very poignant.

The whole place felt very isolated, and I became even more aware of the hollow drum-like thumps that my feet were making. Surely there are dozens of graves here whose headstones had disappeared. Was that hollow sound just the mud, or was I trodding upon graves that were just waiting to cave in?

I wouldn’t want to hang out there at night. But during the day, as I said, you could hear the gun shots from the Black Diamond Gun Club, and, too, we unfortunately ran into a school outing of some sort. About 20 twelve-year-olds screaming and hollering and acting the fool. I don’t enjoy such encounters even in the heart of a metropolis. I really didn’t appreciate it out here among such solemn history.

Still, I stood amongst the graves and brambles and thought about how quickly this bustling town has been reclaimed by nature. So much happened in this place. Lives were lived and lives were lost. And yet, in a few years, much of it will have melted into the landscape and it will be forgotten by most of us.

We all think we make our mark in some way or another. But it’s all so temporary on the grander scale of the universe. It really makes you think.

It reminds me of a poem by Percy Shelley:

Ozymandias

I met a traveller from an antique land,

Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone

Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,

Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,

And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,

Tell that its sculptor well those passions read

Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,

The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;

And on the pedestal, these words appear:

My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;

Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.”

If you’d like to learn more about Franklin, Washington, Wikipedia suggests two publications: The Coal Miner Who Came West by Ernest Moore, one of the last residents of Franklin, and From Smoke to Mist: An archeological study of Franklin, WA – A Turn of the Century Company Coal Town. If you read either of them, please let me know what you think.

Meanwhile, enjoy these photos that we took on our hike.

 

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A Brief Taste of Green River Gorge Resort

To celebrate the 6th anniversary of my having moved to Seattle sight unseen, we decided to visit some other unseen sights. I’ve already blogged about Flaming Geyser State Park, and I will soon post a blog about the ghost town of Franklin, Washington, and when I do, you’ll be able to find it here. But between those two stops, we also popped into the Green River Gorge Resort.

There’s a lot of breathtaking beauty to this place. But to enjoy much of it, you have to be willing to descend into the gorge itself. While I wouldn’t have minded do that, I would have minded the ascent back up quite a bit indeed. And I was anxious to check out the ghost town, so we only had a brief taste of this amazing place. I suspect we’ll be back. If you’d like to see more of the gorge in this area, check out this post by a fellow blogger, Lisa Parsons. Her photos and descriptions are a delight.

Instead of climbing, we chose to park and walk out onto the one lane bridge that crosses the gorge. Hoo, but it’s a long way down! From there we could see the lovely Green River, and the swimmers who were basking in the sun. I definitely can see why people make the effort to go down there, but this was just not the day for it, for me at least.

Washington State has such a varied landscape. Here I was, still in the county in which I reside, gazing at this paradise! Moving out here was the best thing I’ve ever done for myself.

After enjoying the bridge, we went back to the parking lot, and there was a stunning spring. It was crystal clear, and poured down to various pools before waterfalling into the gorge itself. There were hoses set up so you could fill your own receptacles with spring water. We happened to have a gallon jug in the car, so we filled up and dropped a donation in the box. It’s wonderful water. You can taste the minerals. I felt healthier for having drunk from this spring.

What follows are some photos we took during this brief stop. We didn’t linger, because there was a ghost town in our future. Watch this space!

 

 

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Flaming Geyser State Park, Washington

To celebrate the 6th anniversary of me moving across the continent to Seattle, a place I had never seen, we decided to visit some places I had also never been. I hope we make this a tradition, because it’s quite fun.

Our first stop was Flaming Geyser State Park. I have been passing signs for this park for several years now, and the name has always intrigued me. I just never quite got around to visiting up to this point.

Let me start off by saying that if you’ve been to Yellowstone and seen the awesome geysers there, you’ll find flaming geyser, like 2020, very underwhelming. According to Wikipedia,

“The park was named for a flame which burned through a concrete basin, fueled by a methane gas pocket 1,000 feet below the surface. When the pocket was discovered by prospective coal miners in the early 1900s, the test hole hit gas and saltwater, shooting water and flames 25 feet into the air.”

Alas, that methane pocket has since been depleted, so the Flaming Geyser is now flameless and geyserless. You’ll see more action from those foolish boys in every generation who think it’s amusing to set their farts afire.

And yet the park is still very much worthwhile. It’s a beautiful, idyllic place, not far from Black Diamond, Washington, and it’s a part of the Green River Gorge State Park Conservation Area. The park is 503 acres, and it borders the Green River for 3 miles. It has several picnic shelters scattered here and there, and there are 4.3 miles of hiking trails and a mile of horse trails, but it’s probably best known for its fishing, swimming, kayaking and rafting opportunities. There’s even a designated radio-controlled aircraft flying area. When the salmon are spawning from October through December, there are plenty of places along the shores and bridge to view their shenanigans.

If you’re ever in the area, and, like me, are heartily sick of this pandemic, I highly recommend Flaming Geyser State Park. Keep your mask on hand in case you encounter other people, but otherwise, enjoy the fresh air and the gorgeous views. You’ll be glad you did.

After this, we also made a brief stop at the Green River Gorge Resort and then went on to the ghost town of Franklin, Washington. Those are other places I’d never visited before. Blog posts about them will be coming in a few days, and when they’re live, I’ll link those posts to the names in this paragraph.

What follows are some of the photos we took during our visit to Flaming Geyser. Enjoy!

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Traveling with Dogs

I would love it if my dogs could go with me wherever I go. I know they’d love it, too, unless I was going someplace scary or noisy. They live to have my attention. It would be fun if I could just say, “Let’s go!” and they would hop into the car and sit quietly and politely in the passenger seat, with a little doggy smiles on their faces.

But those are not the dogs I have. They’d be jumping from the front to the back, trying to climb on my lap while slobbering in my face. They’d bark at every moving thing they saw. If I tried to restrain them in some way, they’d howl. They have also been known to take “sit”, “stay”, “come”, and “shut the eff up” as mere suggestions.

I’ll be the first to admit that this is my fault. I’ve always been rather lax with training, albeit  generous with love. The fact remains: as much as I adore my dogs, they are a pain in the butt to travel with.

They’re even more of a trial during long distance travel, because even though they do tend to settle down eventually and snore, it’s not as if I can leave them sitting in a hot car while I sight see. Most buildings don’t allow pets, and there’s no way that my dogs could ever be mistaken for service dogs. And when out of my car, my dachshund, in particular, attempts to maul any human that comes within mauling distance. He thinks he’s a rottweiler.

I also have to stop much more frequently for potty breaks for them than I do for myself. And if we’re staying in a hotel, I can’t just drift peacefully off to sleep. No, they have to go do their business, right before bed time, regardless of wind and weather. And since it’s a new place for them, they have to thoroughly inspect the grounds before finding the perfect place to make their deposit. These things take time. And then, being the responsible citizen that I am, I have to collect that deposit. Oh, joy. A souvenir of our travels.

And just like any living creature, my dogs march to the beat of their own drummers, so if I leash them up and walk them simultaneously, they tend to want to go in different directions at different speeds. So in essence, I feel as though I’m being drawn and quartered. This can be particularly painful if they each decide to go around a different side of the same tree.

But I love my dogs to pieces, so every once in a while I relent and take them on a trip with me. But more often than not, I instantly regret it. I’ve found that missing them, but knowing that they’re safe at home and slobbering on a dog sitter, is the best way to go.

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Something Awesome This Way Comes

Struggling with depression as I do, I tend to look at my life as a series of widely spaced stepping stones in a pond. I look forward to hopping to the next refuge, the next awesome thing. That’s what gets me through the rough, wet, clammy patches.

That’s why I love to travel so much. Who wouldn’t get excited, looking forward to a trip to Italy, for example? But it doesn’t have to be that elaborate. It could be a day trip to the seashore, or even a drive to a nearby city to check out a restaurant. I just know that it’s important to me to have something to anticipate.

Travel isn’t the only thing in life to look forward to, of course. It could be starting a new job, or graduating, or finishing a project or achieving a goal. You might be excited about going on a date or talking to a friend on the phone, or choosing what color to paint your bathroom. Heck, I even get butterflies in my stomach when I go to the library, because from there you can go anywhere in your mind.

And the older I get, the more I realize that no matter how dark the cloud is that’s currently over my head, some good experience is surely in my future. I know that for a fact, even if I don’t yet know what the wonderful thing will be. So if I can’t focus on something specific, I put my head down, keep trudging, and hold on to the knowledge that the clouds will break eventually, and that even if it’s obscured at the moment, the sun is up there somewhere.

Just hold on.

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I’m Officially in Nerd Heaven

The tardigrade is my spirit animal. They’re cute and unique and they’re resilient as all get out. They can be frozen, boiled, deprived of water for a decade, or even sent into outer space, and they still survive. They can also be found everywhere, from the depths of the ocean to the freezing Alaskan tundra, but they’re also found, conveniently, in the moss in your back yard. They are the ultimate world travelers. That’s something to aspire to, if you ask me.

I love them so much, in fact, that I’ve already blogged about them twice. If you really want to know more about these amazing creatures, check out those posts here. And here.

I also happen to adore corn mazes. Autumn is my favorite season, and corn mazes, for me, are the epitome of autumn. I love getting lost in these labyrinths and figuring my way out, all while enjoying the crisp cool air. Nothing quite like having fun while exercising!

So imagine my utter joy when a friend sent me this article about a corn maze in the shape of a tardigrade! Road trip! If I didn’t have qualms about going all the way to Lodi, Wisconsin in the midst of a pandemic, I’d definitely be paying a visit to Treinen Farm, which has one of the ten best corn mazes in the US each year.

If you’re anywhere near this place between now and November 8, 2020, I highly recommend you get your tardigrade corn maze nerd on! Oh, yeah!

Tardigrade

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Rounding Tahoma

On the day in question, it was going to be hotter than blue blazes in the Seattle area. For my purposes, that’s about 90 degrees. I know that my Southern friends will scoff at that, but remember, we don’t have air conditioning. I was anticipating misery, so I began casting about for ways to beat the heat.

My husband and I decided that the best way of doing that would be to go to higher altitudes. Specifically, we planned to go to Mount Rainier National Park. We are lucky that this gorgeous mountain is but a day drip away for us.

Mount Rainier is called Tahoma by the Native Americans in this area. I think that’s a much better name.  Tahoma is 14,410 feet high, which means it’s the tallest peak in the Cascade Range. People have been visiting this mountain for more than 9,000 years. It became a national park in 1899.

We decided on this day that it would be fun to circumnavigate the entire mountain. This meant that we’d have to use roads that were quite often outside the park itself. But the views were spectacular regardless, and we got to visit some very enchanting small towns along the way.

Our first stop was for ice cream in the little town of Greenwater. We also got to check out a couple statues of Bigfoot. This made me wonder if the plural of Bigfoot is Bigfoots or Bigfeet. I don’t suppose this question will loom large in my life, but it was something to think about rather than feeling guilty about eating ice cream.

Next, we entered the park and headed toward the Sunrise Visitor Center. The State of Washington’s highest paved highway ends there at 6400 feet. Needless to say, we were treated to several switchbacks along the way, and the roadsides were blanketed by a variety of colorful subalpine wildflowers. We also encountered the fascinating remnants of some columnar lava, and enjoyed the glacier-clad slopes in the distance. We got to see Emmons Glacier, the largest American glacier outside of Alaska.

We had packed a picnic lunch, and enjoyed that in the Sunrise picnic area. Two million people visit this national park each year, but we had the picnic area pretty much to ourselves. We adhered to strict social distancing and mask guidelines whenever we saw another human. Mostly, we were surrounded by flowers, and got to watch some chipmunks play. I relished the peace and quiet.

I was a little sad that I wasn’t able to obtain a stamp for my National Parks Passport, because the ranger station was closed. But the gift shop was open, so we were able to add another fridge magnet to our collection. Yay!

After that, we headed south along the east side of the park. We were smack dab in the middle of nowhere, without even a hint of cell phone signal, when we came across a family standing beside their broken down car. They wrote down contact information for a relative, along with their membership number for AAA, and asked if we could please contact that relative as soon as we got a cell signal, and have him call a tow truck. We said we would. We also took a picture of where we thought he was located, more or less, on a map, because needless to say, there were no intersections or addresses to be had.

It took us about a half hour to get a signal and make contact, and we texted the map photo as well. By then it was about 6:30 pm, and we knew that this would be no quick rescue. At that elevation it would be quite cold when the sun went down, so we worried about them. We asked the relative to contact us and let us know they made it out safe. And in fact, they didn’t get home until around midnight. So that must have been a really rotten day for that poor family.

But for us, it was shaping up to be a lovely day indeed. We were getting to see Tahoma from all angles. It’s a formidable mountain. Here’s a quote from the national park brochure we received at the entrance:

“Mount Ranier is an active volcano. Active steam vents, periodic earth tremors, and historic eruptions provide evidence that Mount Rainier is sleeping, not dead.”

Steam still escapes from its summit. I’ve seen it from Seattle. It’s not a gigantic, eruptive plume. It’s just a gentle mist that wafts from the top at unexpected moments. It reminds me of the power of nature.

We stopped for dinner at the little town of Packwood. There are a few restaurants there that rely on the tourist trade, a museum, and an outfitter for outdoor pursuits. That’s about it. I don’t even remember if there’s a stop light. This town relies on gigantic swap meets twice a year, on Memorial Day and Labor Day, for the bulk of their income, and those swap meets have been cancelled due to the pandemic. I have no idea how this town will survive. The elk seem to still like visiting it, though. They were everywhere.

From there we entered the Gifford Pinchot National Forest. It was fun to see all the different people camping along the creeks. Personally, I’ve never camped outside of an official campground, because I like having an actual bathroom, but camping rough seems to be the thing to do in this area. It certainly is a bucolic setting.

We arrived home late in the evening, having successfully driven all the way around Tahoma. When we pulled into our driveway, we discovered that we had driven 214 miles. I cannot get over the beauty and variety of this state and this country. I feel so lucky to live here.

All the photos below were taken on our journey. Enjoy them. And I’ll leave you with this quote:

“Of all the fire mountains, which, like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest.” John Muir

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A Most Excellent Adventure

Comet Neowise has left us, and won’t be back for 6,800 years, so it’s safe to say that if you didn’t get a chance to see it, you’re now out of luck. I tried many times to view it, both in the obscenely early morning hours and just after sunset. I managed to glimpse a smudge in the sky from my yard, but the city lights of Seattle are rather unforgiving.

Therefore, while Neowise was still wandering through our patch of the universe, my husband and I decided to go somewhere where the ambient light was less of an irritant. So off we went toward Mount Rainier, on State Route 165. The further from Seattle you get in that direction, the less populated it becomes.

We drove through the sleepy little towns of Buckley, Burnett, Wilkeson and Carbonado at around 11 pm, and calling them sleepy is putting it mildly. There were no signs of life in any of them. It was as though everyone had been abducted by aliens. All the cute little shops were closed, and all the houses were dark and silent. There’s something unsettling about seeing a place for the first time after dark. But I hope to see them in the daylight in healthier times.

You know you’re truly going off the grid when there’s an actual sign that warns you that there is no cell signal or gas beyond this point. It made me think, “Here there be dragons.” I tried really hard not to focus on the fact that if our car broke down, we’d be in a bit of a pickle. But we’ve been in worse pickles, without a doubt.

Occasionally along this road, we’d stop and try to catch a glimpse of the comet. At first, there was still too much light. And then after that, there were too many trees. At each stop, I was blown away by the profound quiet all around us. The dense forest filters out what little sound there is. All I heard was the occasional running water from the melting glaciers.

We saw rabbits and bats and field mice in our headlights as we entered the dense forest. This is Bigfoot country, and when you’re in the thick of it, you can understand why so many people are believers. It’s also the land of serial killers, because there are so many places where you can hide bodies out here where they’d never, ever be found. (More things not to think about after one loses one’s cell phone signal.)

And even as I tried not to be creeped out, we came around a curve and I was so creeped out that I shrieked. Our headlights caught sight of two people, standing on a bridge, only a few feet away, with their backs turned toward us. That was the very last thing I was expecting at that moment. We hadn’t seen a car.

The car was parked on the other side of the bridge, and it turns out that they were star gazing just as we were. The Fairfax Bridge spans the powerful Carbon River, which is melt from the Carbon Glacier. And the valley is running in the perfect direction to see the comet. So we parked behind them. It was probably their turn to be creeped out, because they immediately left, even though we all exchanged pleasantries.

There’s no lighting on this bridge, and I only found out that we were standing 250 feet above the river when doing research for this blog post. I could certainly hear the river roaring down below, but I couldn’t see it. And besides, my primary focus was skyward.

And sure enough, with the help of a monocular, we quickly spotted Neowise. What a beauty. What a phenomenon. It felt like such a gift to witness it.

Feeling satisfied, we arrived home well after midnight. Our dogs were very confused. Shriek notwithstanding, it felt as though we had been on a most excellent adventure, indeed.

Fairfax Bridge

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A Much-Needed Change of Scenery

I don’t know about you, but I’m experiencing a serious case of cabin fever. I have good days and bad days, but today I’m restless and irritable. While I love where I live and where I work, and I realize I’m pretty stinkin’ lucky to have a job and a home to go to these days, I am heartily sick of these being the only windows I get to look out of.

I long to check into a hotel and gaze out a window upon heretofore unseen vistas. I want to peek into foreign apartments across cobblestone alleys. I want to be a voyeur. I want to see street life and identify new daily routines. I want to observe the comings and goings of people I do not know.

Travel always has been my reason for being, but COVID-19 has put paid to that. There are days when I feel like I’m in prison. Anybody who thinks that this new reality isn’t going to be with us for at least a few more years is deluded. So if I’m on the verge of pulling my hair out now, I can’t even imagine the creature who will be gazing back at me from the mirror 6, 8, or 10 months from now.

But there’s really no point in struggling against these shackles. They’re here to stay for the foreseeable future. But for now, at least, I refuse to completely give up and get fetal. No. I’ve still got an inner life, and it is still free to roam.

So imagine my utter joy when I heard about a website called window-swap.com. It’s a brilliant concept. People all over the world submit 10 minute videos of the view from their windows. It gives you a virtual change of scenery at the very least.

While writing this post, I have gazed at a courtyard in Milan, with a mesmerizing whirligig in the foreground. From there I went to Bangalore and watched two beautiful dogs wandering around on a lushly planted balcony while listening to cars tooting their horns and birds chirping their chirps. Then I went to Sauerland, Germany and watched the rain fall on a flowery back yard with a beautiful, elaborate outdoor fireplace. In Brooklyn, I had a stunning view of the Brooklyn Bridge, but that view was rivaled by another stunning water/bridge view in South Queensferry, Scotland.

I suspect that I’ll be visiting this site often. And although I am not very tech-savvy, I vow to figure out how to submit views of my own. Perhaps one from work of my gorgeous waterway when it’s busy with boat traffic, or one of my drawbridge opening, and maybe my back yard with my dogs running around. We’ll see.

This website can feel a little bittersweet. So many of us are relegated to one view right now, which can become monotonous even if that view is spectacular. Now, more than ever, the grass seems to be greener in other people’s yards, and window-swap is making it possible to see this for yourself.

It’s also a great source of comfort. It brings tears to my eyes. It’s a relief, seeing that there are still other places out there. On days like today, it’s helping me hang onto my sanity.

A view from Menorca Spain
A view from Menorca, Spain

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Soos Creek Botanical Gardens, Auburn, Washington

I’ve been passing by Soos Creek Botanical Gardens for a few years now. I’ve always longed to visit, but they are only open Wednesday through Saturday, and I’m too busy opening drawbridges for a living on every one of those days. But recently I had a Saturday off and decided to take advantage of the opportunity. I’m so glad I did. It’s even more spectacular than I had anticipated.

This is a long, narrow plot of land, so the front entrance always gave me the impression that this would be a small place, when in fact it covers 22 acres. And this was a fantastic time to visit, because the garden was a riot of color. The first flower that drew my attention was this one.

Soos

If anyone can please tell me what this flower is, I’d appreciate it, because I’d dearly love to add some to my garden. Its stunning, vibrant red just naturally makes me smile. There were very reasonably priced plants for sale near the parking lot, and I definitely looked for this flower, but no luck.

This garden has several different themes to it, including a rain garden and alder grove, a garden with over 100 rare perennials, a heritage flower garden, a raised bed fruit and vegetable garden that was planted to help the food bank, a pond surrounded by and filled with water loving plants, a long stretch of grass bordered by gorgeous blooms that I think would make for a perfect wedding venue, a cedar grove, a ravine garden, a wildflower prairie meadow, and a native woodland.

I can imagine visiting this place again and again, and always seeing something new. I also hope to have the opportunity to visit during different times of the year as well as during healthier times, because currently the indoor features were closed due to the pandemic. In particular, I’d love to visit the Soos Creek Heritage Center to learn about the history of this area, and about the settlers who established the farming community in the 70 square mile Soos Creek Plateau. They’ve also had to cancel their regular educational programs and other activities that are usually held in the red barn, And the Elizabeth Fenzl Garden room looks like it would be a beautiful place to sit and contemplate the beauty of this place.

Aside from the size of this whole facility, another thing that took me by surprise was the artwork scattered here and there. It added a hint of whimsy to the place. And the front gate looks like woven tree limbs, but is actually made of metal. And I wasn’t expecting the animals. The aviary was full of doves, cockatiels, parakeets and peacocks. And there were horses and cows grazing contentedly on pastures to the side. These creatures added another dimension to this beautiful pace. So, yeah, I’ll definitely be back.

Here are some of the many pictures that we took on our visit. Enjoy!

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