Loony Candidates of the Pacific Northwest

A few days ago, I voted in a primary and special election here in the Seattle area. They really make it easy here. You vote by mail, and they provide you with a nice thick pamphlet which tells you everything you need to know about the various candidates and issues.

People in the State of Washington really have no excuse not to vote. It’s not like you have to stand for hours in a blistering hot parking lot, waiting for the chance to vote, and have to conduct hours of independent research to know who to vote for, like I did for decades in Florida.

The pamphlet for my area was 91 pages long this time around. I adore these pamphlets, because they help me do my homework on the candidates. I can eliminate many people on their statements alone, and then do further research on the more serious ones if I feel the need.

But I also enjoy the pamphlet because there are enough loony candidates to turn it into a joke book. Anyone can run if they meet the requirements. But jeez, it really makes you wonder why certain ones bother.

For your amusement, here are some of the more lunatic fringe candidates (in my opinion) running for office here in the Seattle area, and some quotes directly from their statements as included in the voter’s pamphlet. Suffice it to say, I voted for more sane, serious, and qualified candidates than these.

  • Alex Tsimerman is running for Governor of the State of Washington and says he prefers the StandupAmerica Party. Under his Community Service, he lists, among other things, receiving “over 12 trespasses for a total of more than 1,200 days from going into the Demo-Nazi-Gestapo Council Chambers.” In his statement, he simply repeats the following sentence 25 times: “Stop Seattle/King Fascism with idiotic face!”

  • “Goodspaceguy” has been running for one office or another for as long as I’ve been in this state. This time he’s running for Governor. Apparently this is his legally changed name. He says he prefers the Trump Republican Party. His statement includes the following. “Viruses will always attack you. Your immune system defends you. As governor, I will not shut down your businesses or forbid you to go to work….How many robots would you want to supervise to make your work easier? … Please refer to our world as ‘Spaceship Earth.’ This concept might improve your descendants’ future.”

  • Omari Tahir Garret is also running for Governor. He prefers the Democrat Party. He says he’s running as a spokesperson for anti-apartheid/reparations now movement, and claims that “the current Governor’s biggest mistake is turning Seattle’s SVI building over to proven historical Negro vampire criminals.” He also says that “since race is arbitrarily based on ‘skin color’, redefine ‘race’ based on hair color, which is much easier to change.”

  • Jared Frerichs is running for Lieutenant Governor. He says he prefers the Libertarian Party. Under “Elected Experience” he says he was the student council president at his high school. His statement is short and, I suppose, to the point. “Poverty is bad for business. I have some wild ideas on how we can end poverty forever, but I need your help. I don’t need your money. I need your vote.”

  • Cameron Whitney is running for Commissioner of Public Lands, and prefers the Republican Party. In his Community Service section, he states, “I’ve never been to jail.” And his statement is as follows: “I like environmental protection. I don’t like fires. Let’s work together to clean up the environment and stop fires. President Trump says we need to rake our forests to clean up debris that exacerbates fires and that’s where I intend to start.”

  • Mr Whitney’s competitor for Commissioner of Public Lands is Steve Sharon, who also prefers the Republican Party. He says that “If elected, I will direct an independent, state funded study of the effects of 5G cell-phone towers upon living things. My research indicates that this radiation is killing trees, birds, honey bees, human life.” He also assures us that he will stop chemtrails in Washington state, and says he’s against eugenics, Satan, the New World Order and the Green New Deal.

  • Stan Lippmann is running for Superintendent of Public Instruction. He states that “Sometimes I think it would be better to start all over from 550 BC with a Pythagorean Academy, since it’s been all downhill in the common sense department since then.”

  • David Spring also wants to be Superintendent of Public Instruction. He states that “it makes no sense to shutdown schools for months at a time when there is not even a single case of any child in any school anywhere in our state transmitting the corona virus to any adult.”

  • Chirayu Avinash Patel is running for Insurance Commissioner, and he prefers the Republican Party. He wants to do so in order to manage 168 students so that he can major in every degree at the University of Washington. He plans to run the office externally like the Reagan Administration and internally as the Jefferson Administration. He says he’d be the external commissioner 60 percent of the time, and two other candidates would have the role the other 40 percent of the time. He says he would fill the roles of Ronald, Nancy and Nixon, and the other two would be Carter and Ford. Internally, he says, 168 insurance agents would hold the position in one hour increments.

  • Peter Thompson, Jr. is running for Representative. He prefers the Republican Party. Under Professional Experience he says he’s a Machinist who has worked at one shop owned by a real machinist and two shops owned by bureaucratic shareholder welfare queens. Under Community Service he says, “Praying for the souls of roadkill. Opossum coffins are not awesome.”

Don’t you just love the democratic process? Who says voting is no fun? All jokes aside, though, I’m sitting here poking fun at these people under the assumption that a nut can’t possibly get elected. But I thought that in 2016, too.

Goodspaceguy

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The Great Unsaid

Just out of pure dumb luck, I was born in a racial majority in a relatively free country. The vast majority of the privilege that I have enjoyed, and still enjoy, I did not earn. I’m very aware of it. But I’d be lying if I said I didn’t take advantage of it. (You’d be lying if you said you wouldn’t too, if you found yourself in this position.) Sorry. It’s an ugly, uncomfortable fact.

And then, too, out of pure dumb luck, I find myself living in one of the most financially vibrant places in the world. The cost of living in the Pacific Northwest is outrageous. It can be a struggle to keep your head above water here. But when you do… oh, when you do… it’s delicious. There, I said it.

I did nothing to deserve any of this. I know it. I admit it. I’m not proud of it. But there you have it. I haven’t actively stolen anything. I haven’t committed crimes or hurt anyone. I have worked hard all my life, yes, but things have been handed to me, and I’ve taken them. I’ve also had fewer hurdles to climb, which means I’ve had a lot more energy to carpe that diem.

The most uncomfortable thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is what I call the Great Unsaid. How did we come to be here, in this fruitful place, where the salmon run and the trees push ever skyward? How did no one else notice that it’s rainy, yes, but the summers and winters are mild, the food is abundant, and the land is beautiful? How did we manage to just move right on in and set up camp?

That’s the thing. People had noticed. For centuries, the indigenous people here had thrived, had cleared large swaths of land to live upon. They had hunted and fished and celebrated and established communities and waged war amongst themselves long before Europeans set foot on this land. I think it would have been a great deal harder for us to move right on in had our timing been a little different. We’d have sailed up to this place at its height.

But no. By the time George Vancouver cruised these shores in 1792, what he found was utter devastation. Whole villages wiped out. Bones stacked up in houses, bleached bodies scattered upon the beaches. Death. Misery. The few people left alive were poverty stricken, weak, refugees unable to defend their ancestral lands.

It seems that smallpox broke out during the American Revolutionary War, and it swept the country from east to west, and from Mexico to Canada, devastating entire communities as it ground on, finally arriving like a tsunami on this coast, only to be snuffed out by the Pacific Ocean.

This was the most significant event in North American history, and yet most of us know nothing about it. You can read more about it in this article in the National Post entitled “Everyone was dead: When Europeans first came to B.C., they stepped into the aftermath of a holocaust”. I’d venture to say that it’s more horrifying but less known about than the holocaust.

So there you have it. Luck again. Europeans cruised up to an area where as much as 95 percent of the population had been conveniently wiped out by a disease which, by the way, these same Europeans had visited upon their shores. They moved right in. They built upon the bones of those who had been here before.

We may not like to think about it, but everything here has been built upon bones. A very opportunistic phoenix rose from someone else’s ashes. And here we are.

George Vancouver
George Vancouver, just a lucky man.

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Scarred for Life

I am currently sporting a three inch gash on my right cheek. The worst part about it is that I have been so sick that I don’t have a clue where it came from. I just surfaced from my swirling pool of delirium at one point and there it was. And of course the minute I knew it was there it started to hurt.

I hope it doesn’t leave a scar. I guess it’s actually more like a scratch. A bright red, deep, angry scratch. Maybe it’s something my enthusiastic dog visited upon me, or else the result of a bad wrestling match with my CPAP mask. I have been known to sleep walk and wind up in strange places, and Nyquil does tend to keep its secrets. I only know it looks like I’ve been in a bar fight. As people stare at me, I’m tempted to say, “You should see the other guy.”

It’s embarrassing to go out in public looking like this, especially since I don’t have a funny story to go along with it. It’s a good thing that I’m feeling so weak and unmotivated that I’m naturally lying low anyway. But in retrospect I needn’t have worried, because I forgot that I am now living in the Pacific Northwest.

You see, in Florida, if I had gone out like this, strangers would be stopping me on the street. “Child, what happened to you?” If I had been walking with my husband they might even say, “Did HE do this to you?” All while giving him the hairy eyeball. In the South, people are all up in your business.

But here in the Pacific Northwest you could walk down a busy street with a sucking chest wound and no one would even bat an eyelash. Here, no one wants to intrude. Its as if everyone walks around wearing a cloak of invisibility. You could have a second head growing out of your chest and the most intrusive interaction you’d have with somebody would be their inquiry as to what floor you are going to when you get on the elevator and can’t reach the buttons because your second head is in the way.

This has its pros and its cons. Sometimes I genuinely don’t want to be bothered with people, and here people make that very easy. You do you, I’ll do me. But I do miss that sense of community, and that honesty. Because come on, if you see a gash on a woman’s face, you really do want to know what the hell happened. At least I do. I’d rather someone asked than that they make up a story. I’d rather think that someone gives a shit rather than feel like I’m all alone in the world. I like my privacy, but I’d also like to think that there’s help out there if I should ever need it. Yes, there’s a happy medium in there somewhere. I just always seem to live out in the lunatic fringe, where all the extremes of behavior come home to roost.

In the meantime, until this wound heals, I’m kind of liking the Pacific Northwest realm of things. Here, my gash doesn’t exist. No one but small children will even look at it directly. No one will ever inquire about its origins. Therefore no one will never know that in this instance, their guess is as good as mine.

scar_face_carved_pumpkin_by_ikisswolves

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Pogonip

After several nights of sleep deprivation, my mind is in a fog. But this blog is a cruel taskmistress. It expects me to grind out content regardless of how many cylinders I’m running on. So, in a desperate attempt to come up with a topic without causing too much strain to my brain, I’ve decided to write about fog. But not just any fog.

When I moved to the Pacific Northwest from Florida, I began to experience weather phenomena that I didn’t even realize existed. One such moment of weirdness was when I walked out into a cold and foggy landscape only to discover that the fog was… how do I even describe it? Tactile. As though I could have made it into a snowball with enough patience and effort. It crackled. I could grab it out of mid air and examine it in my hand. Freezing fog doesn’t really leave you feeling wet like other fog does. (That is, until you thaw out.)

Stuff like this never happens in Florida. I began to wonder if I was hallucinating.

It turns out that there is such a thing as freezing fog. According to a quick glance at Wikipedia, that font of all human knowledge, freezing fog can adhere to surfaces and leave a rime. Apparently another term for it is pogonip, but I’ve yet to hear anyone use that word.

It seems to happen most often in deep mountain valleys, but also in inland areas of the Pacific Northwest. Learning this is a relief, because I truly thought I was losing my mind. Nature is so complex. I love it.

Wikipedia also informs me that there are other types of fog. Frozen (as opposed to freezing) fog requires a visit to Alaska when the temperature drops below -31F. (No thank you.) In those cases, the moisture forms ice crystals in midair.

There’s also evaporation or steam fog, ice fog, precipitation or frontal fog, hail fog, upslope or hill fog, valley fog, sea and coastal fog, and something called Garua fog. I had no idea. I always thought fog was fog.

Just when you think you have a handle on all things weather-related, Mother Nature humbles you.

Pogonip at Topaz Lake

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McWhat?

The airline industry is pretty big here in the Pacific Northwest. I pass by one of Boeing’s fields quite frequently. (It looks like a graveyard for 737 MAX’s at the moment, since they’re grounded.)

So it didn’t surprise me to discover that a portion of the local Highline Heritage Museum is dedicated to the aircraft industry. It’s part of the reason that this region has been able to thrive. Folks around here are quite proud of that.

But there was a little something nestled within this display that I suspect its curators didn’t look at very closely. Hiding amongst some pins that were supposedly given out as gifts by airlines was something quite unexpected. It was a McDonald’s pin, with its distinctive golden arches.

Innocuous enough, one would think. But rather than saying McDonald’s it said… wait. That can’t be right. Was I really seeing what I thought I was seeing? Doesn’t it say “McShit”?

McShit

What do you think? I had to ask my husband to confirm, as my eyesight isn’t what it used to be. Yup. It says McShit.

Needless to say, this raised a lot of questions. Why would anyone mass produce such a pin? Would an airline give this out to people? Surely not.

So I Googled it. So you won’t have to. You’re welcome.

The Urban Dictionary claims that about 30 minutes after eating at this fine establishment, you get McCramps, which then evolve into McFarts, and then… well, you get the picture. It also talks about the phrase “McShit with Lies” which is, apparently, when you ask a cashier for the bathroom code, assuring him that you’ll be back to purchase something afterward, but, in fact, you leave without doing so. (I’m guilty of that. Sometimes you do what you have to do to stay healthy.)

In my search I also came across several McShit t-shirts, so apparently it is a thing. But one suspects the pins were not given out by the airlines. Corporations tend to stick together.

Am I going to point out this little historical error in their exhibit to the museum? Nah. It makes me happy to think about that pin being on display, and only being noticed by an observant few.

For once, I’m in with the in crowd.

___________________

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What the Hail?

A few days ago I was sitting in my living room, cuddling my dog and just generally goofing off, when I experienced what I briefly thought might be the end of the world. One minute, it was your typical Pacific Northwest midwinter’s day: kind of grey, kind of drizzly, kind of cold, but not extreme in any of those categories. Just your basic meh.

And then. And then I heard a plink. And then another. And another. And then the sky opened up to a downpour of epic proportions. I couldn’t even see the back fence in the yard. But as the squall became louder and things began bouncing off the windows and every flat surface, I realized that this wasn’t rain. It was hail. Hail the size of garbanzo beans. And it kept coming.

I just stood there, well back from the window, clutching my freaked out dog, with my mouth hanging open. I’d never seen anything like this in my life. Oh, I’ve seen hail before. Sometimes the size of golf balls. But it never came down this densely or for this length of time. This storm lasted 10 minutes, at least. Long enough for me to wonder if it would ever end.

I wish I had had the presence of mind to take a video of it. Here’s one from Youtube, of the same storm, but it must have thinned out considerably before it reached this person’s street, because this doesn’t do it justice.

I did take the two pictures below of the aftermath. Before the storm the yard was green. It took three days for this hail to melt away completely. My dogs found it rather fascinating, once it was on the ground.

Afterward, I drove the neighborhood to see what things looked like when blanketed in icy balls. Oddly, it only covered a few blocks in radius. Beyond that, nothing. It was our own tiny little frozen pelleted apocalypse.

I’m glad it didn’t catch me outside. I’m sure it would have hurt. Fortunately I didn’t note any property damage.

It always rattles me when nature does something I don’t expect. Thanks to climate change, I’m sure I’ll have these experiences with greater frequency. Here’s hoping they do us no harm.

 

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The Dark Side of Festivals

In the interests of full disclosure, I have to admit that I really enjoy festivals. Since moving to the Pacific Northwest, I’ve attended several a year. The Tulip Festival. The Folklife Festival. The International Film Festival. Dragonfest. The Solstice Parade. Pride. Seafair. Salmon Days. Viking Days. The Wooden Boat Festival, Fourth of July Fireworks. Julefest. The Great Figgy Pudding Caroling Competition. The Parade of Lights.

I love soaking up culture, eating unusual food, hearing unique music, and checking out the amazing crafts. I never fail to have fun at these events. It’s also a great way to hook up with friends who live in other parts of town.

But something has been eating at me ever since I saw this article after the last Fourth of July Fireworks here in Seattle. The day after the fireworks, which are launched from a barge in Lake Union, a cadre of volunteers used kayaks to clean up the toxic debris floating in the water. They apparently clean up 200-400 pounds of trash every year from that one event alone. Much of that is chemically treated fireworks casings. This last time around they also found an unexploded ordinance that the bomb squad had to deal with.

Salmon run through Lake Union. Peregrine Falcons nest there. There are a wide variety of birds that transit this lake. Canada Geese. Osprey. Eagles. Polluting their habitat so that we humans can have a few hours of fun seems kind of extreme to me.

Ever since reading that article, I’m looking at festivals not just in terms of enjoyment, but also in terms of impact. We need to learn to celebrate more responsibly. We need to stop acting like this planet is disposable.

The reason I’m thinking about this today is that I came across another article that made me cringe. It’s entitled What Happens to All Those Beads After Mardi Gras?  It’s lead sentence is, “The city of New Orleans pulled 93,000 pounds of beads from just five blocks of storm drains in 2018”

That is horrifying. It goes on to say that 45 million pounds of plastics come to New Orleans every year for that festival alone, and that the beads in particular contain trace elements of lead. Oh, joy! That’s just what we need. Lead leeching into the Gulf of Mexico.

There are some limited attempts at recycling, and this one guy invented biodegradable beads. These efforts are a step in the right direction, but they’ve barely made a dent in the problem. And let’s face it. Mardi Gras is a money maker for this city. It’s not like this celebration of debauchery, gluttony and environmental selfishness is going anywhere. We need to start thinking out of the box for more earth-friendly revelry.

For example, in lieu of fireworks, how about a laser light show? Several cities have considered this, but have gotten a lot of blowback from citizens who want the traditions to remain unchanged. Well, lest we forget, bloodletting used to be a tradition. Slave auctions were a tradition. Human sacrifice was a tradition. Killing millions of birds each year to adorn ladies hats was a tradition. But we’ve matured and evolved since then. It’s time to take more steps forward.

Will I stop attending festivals? No. Probably not. But I’ll forever look at them differently. And I certainly won’t be dropping beads in the street. But then, I never did that before, either.

For heaven’s sake, how hard is it to clean up after yourself?

Laser Light Show

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A Restaurant Worthy of a Day Trip

There are very few restaurants that I’d be willing to drive 2 ½ hours to visit, but the Watershed Café in Leavenworth, WA is one of those. I’ve written about this amazing place before, but a recent re-visit has me re-inspired. Why this place has yet to be awarded several Michelin Stars is beyond me.

As their website attests, this café is all about “chef owned, farm to table Pacific Northwest inspired cuisine.” Because of this, their menu is ever-changing. If your (extremely recommended) reservation is early enough, you often find that the menu itself is still warm from the printing. But whatever you encounter there, you won’t be disappointed.

Every single dish that is brought out for your enjoyment is a work of art. You almost don’t want to eat it. But the aromas make you change your mind.

On this night, we started out with an appetizer of Hama Hama Savory Clams, with fennel, organic cherry tomatoes, dill, chardonnay, lemon, garlic and Anjou toast. Thank goodness we also ordered Cashmere’s Anjou Bakery Artisan Bread & Butter, because we wanted every bit of bread we could possibly get our hands on to soak up the amazing clam broth. Appetizers don’t normally make me swoon, but this one did.

For my entrée, I indulged in the ultimate comfort food: Watershed Million Dollar Meatloaf. It came with classic whipped potatoes, roasted cremini mushrooms, and cabernet green peppercorn herb gravy. I would have never guessed that meatloaf could be elevated to this degree, but I was grateful that they gave me a slight discount from the million dollar designation, because I would have been tempted to pay that amount, if I could find that many coins in my couch cushions. The mushrooms alone were worth the price of admission.

My husband had the Grape Leaf Wrapped Mary’s Chicken Breast, which came with organic stone ground polenta, crumbled feta, organic butternut squash ratatouille & arugula chimichurri, and roasted pepper coulis. He let me have a bite, and it was every bit as delicious as what I had chosen.

The other entrées on the menu that night included Dry-Rubbed Kurobuta Pork Loin, Sake Ginger Broiled Wild PNW Ling Cod, Roasted Garlic &Parmesan Rissotto, and Basil Pesto Broiled Wild PNW Rockfish. Holy cow, I wish I could have tried them all!

Did we have room for dessert? No. Did we have dessert? Yes. We reluctantly passed on the Warm Flourless Chocolate Cake and the Autumn Spiced Crème Brûlée, and settled on the Blueberry Lemon Custard Crisp with its streusel topping and Tillamook vanilla ice cream. The fresh blueberries burst in our mouths. It was the perfect way to end a perfect meal.

The Watershed Café is only open for dinner, and is closed on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. If you live anywhere within a 3 hour radius, it’s worth the drive. For those of you who, like me, were not up for the drive back while basking in the post-meal glow, or if eating at this fine establishment would be a bit more of a commute for you, I highly recommend a stay at the Blackbird Lodge right across the street. (More on that in a subsequent post.)

Watershed Chicken
The chicken dish described above.

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Hooray for Summer Solstice!

When I lived in Florida, I didn’t pay much attention to summer solstice. It was just another long, hot day in what seemed like an unending series of long, hot days. But in the Pacific Northwest, when it rains more often than not, and when the winters are dark and cold and raw, you learn to appreciate the seasons. So when summer finally arrives, you can’t really blame Seattleites for getting a little crazy, can you?

This past Saturday I attended the Solstice Parade, which is part of the Fremont Fair in Seattle, and is rapidly becoming on of my very favorite PNW traditions. The very best part, in my opinion, is the mass of naked, body painted bicyclists that start the parade. I wrote about this amazing tradition last year, but this year it seemed like even more people participated. I’d guess that 700 naked people rolled past me.

To say that a parade like this would never, ever happen in conservative Florida is putting it mildly. And that, to me, makes it an even more joyous celebration. Summer! Freedom! Art! Self-Expression! Joy! And the absolute best way to start the season!

I am right where I need to be. Maybe one of these years I will be a participant instead of a spectator! Here are some of the best pictures I could find from my collection, which don’t (hopefully) have any shocking bits on display. Enjoy!

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Exploring Washington State–Mount Rainier National Park

As we came around the curve, a bald eagle landed in the road right in front of us; an opossum clutched in its talons. Upon seeing us, the grand bird flew away, leaving its prey behind. Its wingspan was wider than the lane in which we were driving. It all seemed to happen in slow motion, and yet there was no time for pictures. I didn’t want to look away, even for a second, as its strong wings elevated it ever skyward. The white triangle of its tail spread wide. This was an angle I’d never seen before. It was so unexpected, and so, so close. This was nature at its most beautiful. I felt as though I had been given a special gift.

And here’s the thing: we hadn’t even arrived at the park yet. So this adventure was beginning on a high note, as if the universe wanted to make sure I was in the proper state of awe for the experience to come.

Mount Rainier looms large in the Pacific Northwest. On sunny days, I get to gaze upon it from one of the bridges where I work. I quite often get a glimpse on my commute home as well. I’d always wanted a closer look, but sensed that it would be too incredible to see alone. Some things, the most amazing things, should be shared.

According to the National Park Service, Mount Rainier is “the tallest volcano in the Cascade Mountain Range and the most glaciated peak in the continental United States.” We weren’t going to make it to the 14,410 foot apex. Many of the roads were still closed for the season, and neither of us are climbing fit. But we made it up to the visitor center in Paradise, which is at 5400 feet. More than a mile above sea level. Higher than Denver.

There are currently 25 glaciers on Mount Rainier, which is pretty impressive. But if you look at the timeline here, you can see that they’ve been steadily shrinking. This could be a very effective teaching tool about global warming, but unfortunately the entire National Park System is under a gag order thanks to our current resident in the White House, who is of the minority, self-serving opinion that climate change doesn’t exist, or at least isn’t our fault. Oh no. Can’t be. Then we might have to do something. Sigh.

So I looked at these amazing glaciers, and the accompanying waterfalls, and the gigantic old-growth trees, and realized that they would probably never again be as grand as they were at that very minute. It was a privilege to bear witness.

Thank goodness, at least, for elevation. Before entering the park, it was a sunny 77 degrees. At the visitor center, it was 44 degrees and hailing. Hail. In late May. And at the same time, steam still rises off the mountain’s crest, to remind us all that it’s still an active volcano.

Nature is the most amazing thing we have. Why are we so hellbent on destroying it? I’ll never understand.

Homeward bound, we drove back along the stretch of road where we encountered the majestic eagle, and I was pleased to see that he’d long since come back to retrieve his meal. The circle of life continues. At least for now.

I’ll leave you with these photos, which do not do the place justice, but will at least give you some idea of why I’m so in love with our national parks.

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