Monday, June 27, 2016

Mount Olympia hiking

In our hiking group, every time one of the members decide the trail of hiking. This time it was Mr. Man’s responsibility to select that. Mr. Man already hiked with his friends on a different trail of Diablo Mountain. Even last month we three hiked on another trail at Diablo Mountain. This time we decided more strenuous hiking. So, Mr. Man found out North Peak trail in Mount Olympia. The hike was going to be really strenuous, rather impossible to us. Eleven miles round trip with 3000 feet elevation was not possible, specially with a seven years old. Still we wanted to give a try.  In the morning of our hiking day, two of our hiking group members messaged that they wouldn’t be able to join us. So, we three, and another friend decide to carry on.

Parking car was a little difficult when we reached there. Actually, there was no parking place at the trail head, rather we had to park our car on curbside. Then we started walking. After walking few minutes, we found that the trail was almost as flat as any road. We realized we made some mistake. After searching in the map, we found, we started walking towards the downtown, instead of the peak. After turning around we took the real trail, and saw many people were hiking . The starting point was vary wide ,amid thick green. 

The path was not as much as eventful, as it was looking. Though it was wide without any hidden danger,with burbling sound of the little stream beside the path, but few spell of rain and horses hoop prints made the walking little difficult. Most probably on the rainy days equestrians stroll on the path leaving behind the deep hoop prints making the path very uneven. We faced difficulty to step on the ground. 

Wherever, we set our feet, we felt the pain at the bottom of feet. Anyway,  the path started going upwards, making the walking little difficult. On the top of that my son started whining. Then we reached a little stream, which crossed by jumping over the stream. My son got little interest after seeing the little stream. After crossing the stream the we found that the path was very steep. When we hiked and stood straight, we found that we already gained almost  half of the elevation. We felt motivated and started walking leaving behind the falls trail, as we wanted to hike to North Peak. On our way we met a gentleman. He told us that the trail towards North Peak was extremely steep. On top of that the train was very barren. The day was very hot and brightly sunny. My son was with us. We realized that we could not hike to North Peak. Then we decided to hiking on the Falls trail. Our adventure began from there.

The falls trail was off shoot of the main trail. It was narrow, maximum two and half feet wide path. We started hiking in a line, as no two people could walk side by side. Moreover, the one side of the path was the steep mountain, and another was deep cliff. On the top of that the path was full of pebbles. When we start walking I didn’t see the side of the cliff, but as soon as I saw my jaw dropped. We were walking on a narrow path with deep cliff on one side, any wrong step could cause any major accident. On our way, my husband stopped and wanted to show me the fall from distant, I could not see at first. My son shook me and he desperately wanted to show the fall. With his shake I was about to fall from the cliff. My heart stopped for a fraction of second. Anyway, we went on and on to find out the waterfall, which we saw from distant.  

Then, we reached one point where the steep mountain slightly tilted towards the narrow path. That was another point of challenge. Anyway, we successfully crossed that part. Then we reach one small waterfall deep down the ravine. We became so excited, we almost ran towards the small waterfall without thinking anything. After that, we could’t found any path to cross the fall. We hike upward on a pebbled dart path where we saw a small opening between to pointed rocks. Mr. Man’s friend tried to go through those stones, and he found there was no opening to go there. So we needed to turn around to take the path few steps back. However, turning around was a big challenge. I was at the bottom, so I was the first person to turn around and step back. There was nothing to hold for support. On the top of that the part was so narrow, and steep that one could easily fall in the falls, which was very small , but the sharp boulders there made it dangerous and scary. I tried to turn around, and I found it was difficult to me. So, I sat down on my bottom and try to slip down. As I sat down , I couldn’t control myself . I was slipping down. From behind my husband was shouting and asking me to stand up. I shouted back that I  couldn’t stand up. Somehow I managed to stand up. Then it was my son’s turn. He took it as a fun. He started slipping down just like a slide in his school park. However,my heart beats I skipped . 

Anyway, we successfully avert any danger. Then the path was not as dangerous as it was, still it was not easy path. Again we met another unforeseen danger, though it was not as dangerous as the previous one. Again we reached a small stream which we had to cross. The stream was little below where we had been standing. When we tried to come down , again we found it was slippery with lose dart. Thankfully there two trees, where we could support us to come down. Rest of the hike was normal. Till date we hiked so many places, but this was the first time we faced danger.

Las Tramps hiking

Rocky Ridge loop trail
We wanted to do a family hike, not any strenuous one. I didn’t want to take my little one on any strenuous hike. Ha can’t walk all those trail, he gets tired, he can take his paining legs. After searching I found out Las Tramps Mountain. In Spanish Las Tramps means “The Traps”. Actually till early 20th century, people used to put traps to catch elks, and big cats. Still there are few mountain lion were left, but there is no elks. 

The weather was very good, not cold or not so hot. As the sun rises early now we started from home early to avoid the mid day heat. Slowly we left behind the city and entered in the hilly grass land with few ranches. Houses started becoming scarce , grazing cattle started coming in view. We passed the barns, the grazing cattle,horses, the stables, and reach at the parking lot of the trail head. The parking lot was almost empty. Only few cars were there. We love that, as we wanted to hike on a not so crowded trail . 
Spear thistle

The trail was broad, with vast grassland on both sides. Due to lack of rain the grass started turning yellow. There were few big trees scattered here and there. However the trail was full of wild weeds, mainly with spear thistles with beautiful bright purple flowers. Though the flowers were very bright purple, but the plants were full of thorns. Anyway, the starting of the trail was almost flat, rather it was gaining height very slowly. Suddenly from one point , it started gaining height. Luckily, that of the trail was full of big trees on both sides. Though we were facing a little difficulty to go up, which was very usual, but we didn’t feel tired. Then again, the trail was flat, rather it was going a little up and down. Then again, it started gaining heights. That part of the trail had no big trees. Sun also started showing no mercy on us. My son started throwing tantrums. But we didn’t want to go back. Mr. Man told him that we must reach the peak. However, he didn’t want to do that. When daddy told that he would be first person to set foot on the peek, he regained his energy. However, after reaching the park, the trailhead seemed far away. Mr. Man suggested taking a narrow path which was going downwards very steeply to combine with main trail. I told him taking the longer one without knowing that the path was taking time to reach the bottom. In the mean time , we were confused which path to take, as we saw three-four offshoots of the main trail. Luckily, some hikers were coming from the opposite sides , and suggested us taking one path. That was going slowly downward. 

We were already out of energy, and felt that the path was taking longer time to reach. The path was going coward so steeply that it was difficult to control the speed.
Anyway, the hike was good, and we enjoyed it. 

Seattle trip

The hassles started as soon as we reached the Sea Tac airport. We reached at 9:00 in the  night, after waiting few minutes we got the shuttle bus to the car rental office. The car was booked prior to our journey. So, we thought that, we would get the car very soon. The queue was huge, and only two persons were at the customer service desk. We had been waiting almost an hour when my husband realized that, there should be different queue for those, who already booked their cars, and he was right. He asked me to find out, and when I went downstairs, and I found he was true. Anyway, when we got our car it was 10:30 at night, and our stomachs were rumbling. However, as soon as we started our journey towards the hotel, we lost the road. The road we took ,led us to the car rental office again. We were very confused, and the GPS was also telling something beyond our understanding. Luckily , one person, who was working on the road, told us the route. It was high time to put something in our stomach. 

Space Needle

Anyway, after having our dinner at Taco Bell , we hit the road to our destination, Holiday Inn in Bothell, a nearby city of Seattle. The freeway was almost empty and pitch dark except the big trucks were moving. Only thing  we could understand that, the both sides of the road were covered with thick green. When we reached the hotel, hour hand of the clock already way past twelve. We hurriedly went to bed, as we must wake up early next morning. 
Though we thought, we could start our journey next day before ten in the morning, but we unable to do that. Our plan was to take the underground tour, in downtown Seattle in the morning. When we reached there, we could only get 12:30 tour. We waited for almost half an hour before the tour started. Before starting the tour guide told us the brief but interesting history of Seattle. 
Seattle was built in 1850s on the top of landfill. The high tide ,and frequent rain storms often flooded the city of Seattle. The land on the North was steep with elevation of 45 degree unlike today’s 18 degree. 

Irish nacho

Seattle’s economy grew with shipping of timbers to San Francisco , a city with booming economy, as gold was found on the West Coast. The Lumber mill was started by Henry Yesler at foot of the Mills Street, at the heart of the main city which is known as Pioneer Square. The city grew very fast , but the  great fire on Pioneer Square which started at a painting shop gutted down total 19 blocks of the city. Fortunately no one died on the fire. The good thing was that the rat infested city got rid of all rats on that fire. As the city used to flooded frequently, the hydrants of the city was totally dependent on the high tide. However, on the day of fire, the fire department helplessly had to wait for two hours for the high tide, and two hours was more than enough to destroy  city building, which were built with timbers. 
As that was heart of the city, no businessman wanted to shift their business elsewhere. Instead of that, they decided to build the city again on the destroyed old city. So, the present city is exactly one story over the the old city. The sidewalks ware built exactly above the old sidewalks. While one the side walking we could see small glass were attached to there. Those are actually the skylights of the previous city.

The skylights

What is called underground of the city is nothing but the previous city on which the present one was built. It was not excavated by any archeologists. It was well known to the people who leaved at that time. 
The underground tour first started by Bill Spiedel. Bill Spidel was very much moved when he saw the old building had been pulling down by the city council  to build new parking  spaces in order to accommodate the growing car population . His protest was in vein. He wanted to do a signature campaign in order to restore the lost glory of Pioneer Square. Our guide told that, at the end of the underground tour, he forced to sign the people on his petition, before opening the door to go outside. 

A part of Pioneer Square
Pike market

Underground didn’t much more things was not there to see, as almost every thing was gutted down by the fire. We walk through the old streets (actually nothing but rubbles, and ruins). Still there is an ice chamber , how amazing that was, actually that was thick wooden cabinet. We saw a place which was actually a bank teller and a bank vault. And we also saw the ruins of the one of the first elevator created by Tesla (not Tesla motor). 

When we came out from  underground, it was way past our lunch time. My son was hungry, luckily I’ve some cakes in my backpack. Anyway, we started walking down the streets, where we were going I didn’t know, we were walking and walking according to my husband’s directions passing all the buildings old and modern. He only told us, that we were going to Space Needle. He was watching the map and telling us the direction and we kept walking and walking. My son was getting impatient. Suddenly he saw the Duck Tour bus, and he started begging for a trip, then he started badgering us, then he started throwing so much tantrums, that we had to find out a ticket selling booth of that very tour. After we bought ticket for the tour of the next day, he convinced a little that next day he would get chance to ride the duck tour bus. Then again we started walking towards the Space needle. In the middle of the road we suddenly saw that a big crowd, i couldn’t understand what was going on. Then I found out that was political rally. We were walking and walking , from distant we could see the space needle, but could reach it. Lastly my son and I really lost our patience. At last we could see the bottom of the Space Needle, then we took sigh of relief. At last we could reach the Space Needle. We could see the whole Seattle from the top of it. When we actually reached there, I really felt like banging my head on the wall after seeing the length of the queue. My husband asked us to wait nearby instead of waiting in the line with him. My son and I sat down nearby stairs watching the crowds going here and there.

Chihuly Glass museum

 However, I got a chance to hear the rhythmic country music from Mexico. I was too exhausted to dance on the beat of the music, so I just sat down and listened to the musicians, who were playing some typical Mexican instruments which were unknown to me. After half an hour my husband came back with three tickets of 5:30. We had ample of time in our hand. So, before going to the observation deck of the 605 feet  tall tower, we decided to take a walk around, and eat something, as we didn’t get time to have our lunch.  When we were going to the Space Needle, we saw the Chihuly Glass museum just beside the Space Needle. I was very much keen to go inside the museum to see the glass sculptures of Chihuly who gave a different dimension and vibrancy to glass sculptor. My husband asked me to inside by myself, but I didn’t want to do that. After waiting a long time, at last we got chance to go to the observation deck of Space needle from where we could see the whole Seattle City. That was an amazing view. We could see clearly the Emerald bay, the first International sea-plane port. It was already almost dark, still the clear view of the city from the top point of the city was looking amazing. The streets, the buildings, the cars looked like small model of a city from the top. I was getting tired, and wanted to go back to the hotel. Then we took the monorail to back to Pioneer Square . There were other options to go back to Pioneer Square, but we already promised our son a monorail rise. Truly speaking that monorail journey was really memorable. It was an extremely short journey. Only within five minutes we reached pioneer square, which didn’t satisfied us at all. As the monorail traversed through the heart of the city, at  three stories   top of the road, we could see through the inside of buildings, where people were sitting on their desk at the office, or people were chatting and eating at the restaurants. After getting down again we started walking towards the garage where we parked our car. I was extremely tired to walk even a few steps. Anyway, when we reached hotel it was way past evening. We readily got freshen up and went for eating out. Fortunately there was one Irish Restaurant near our hotel, so we didn’t face any problem finding any place to eat. The food was really scrumptious. That was the first time I tasted Irish soda bread. It was so soft and so differently tasted , that I called the waiter and asked him what actually it was called.

Next day was our much awaited tour on ducks. My son was super excited since morning. Our scheduled tour was at 11:30. We reached the starting point way before the scheduled time. My son got his ducky whistle the day before the tour. He forgot to take it from the car. Suddenly he realized , compelled his dad  to go back all the way to the parking garage to bring back his whistle. Anyway, the ducky truck started at right time according to the schedule. It was a 20 mile tour, started from historic Pioneer Square, through the quirky Fremont to the Seattle Waterfront, where we could see the beautiful floating homes. Before going on the tour we decided about the attractions of Seattle we wanted to see . However, Most of the things we could see during the tour. Those tour buses was actually the amphibious landing crafts developed by the US during World War II. They were called as DUCKS at that time. Crossing the downtown Seattle, which we saw the previous day, under the monorail, passing the Space needle, crossing the museum, keeping behind the Elephant carwash, over the Highway 99 bridge, through Fremont we ultimately reached the Seattle Waterfront. Unfortunately we couldn’t the Fremont troll, as it was not on the route. I just want to say, a little history of the Elephant car wash, which was the first ever automatic car wash. Many celebrities used to come there to wash their cars. Through Fremont we finally rolled over the deck to the waterfront. What a lovely sight!! All over the waterfronts there were  floating homes. Some of the home were like house boats, and some were same as houses on land. From distant we could see the Fremont bridge, but unfortunately we couldn’t see the opening of the bridge. We surly missed that. Among the floating homes there was a very, very small home, where some of the outdoor shots of the movie, ‘Sleepless in Seattle’ was taken. After that the house shot to fame, and the price of the house rose very steeply. Most probably the house was sold on 4 million dollar to its present owner! After the waterfront tour, the duck took us by the side of the ocean overlooking the giant wheel, Pike place market, then through Pioneer Square, to the staring point. 
After the tour we decided to go to Pike place market and the very first Starbucks shop. First we went to Pike place market. Truly speaking that market didn’t excite me. I’m from India, this kind of markets still exist very much there. Rather, back to India we are very much use to shop those kind of markets rather than super market. Still we went there to get and experience of old time market. The market was very crowded, the small shops were full of fresh produce and other items, shopkeeper were calling the customers. The experience was nice. I could feel the Indian market here in the USA. We had nothing to buy, also we were hungry. So, we decide to go the oldest Starbucks. That was another same Starbucks, but inside we saw those old chair and tables, high celling, big windows, which gave an old time charm. 

Floating homes

Fremont bridge

We were almost done of our sight seeing, only thing was left was the waterfall park. I had no idea how big was the park, or how long was it opened to public. We started walking, when we reached there, I saw that tiny park with a man made waterfall, which was closed.

The catamaran

Next day we were undecided what we could do. Actually, I didn’t want to go to orca whale watching, because of the price. Suddenly next morning my husband booked three tickets and asked us to get ready , as it was far from our hotel. It was a long exciting journey. First ,we had to take the ferry to reach the island where we would go for whale watching from San Juan Island. From the starting it was exciting, first to take a mountain road to reach the ferry station . When we reached there it was foggy and chilly. The ferry was a huge catamaran, even big loaded truck also could fit inside the ferry. The lowest level was for car and trucks, middle level was for bikes, and the top most level was for passengers. When my husband booked the tickets , the lady at the desk told him to park the car and to come. She advised him not to take car on ferry, because it could be a headache. She was true, when we reached the other side in San Juan Island there was no place to park the car. 

Anyway, we went to the topmost level of the ferry and got a comfortable place to sit. The outside was amazingly beautiful. The ferry started traveling through the water, through the green mountains. There were small houses amid the big green trees. The one hour journey seemed to very less as I was so engrossed in the beauty of the nature. After getting down on the other side we took the whale watching ferry. It was best time for the same, as it was time for spawning, and the whales usually come in flocks on Elliot bay. It was the border of the USA and Canada. We went a long way on the bay, seeing the nature’s beauty. Suddenly, someone shouted “whale, whale”. I  couldn’t the whale. My husband tried to show me, after some time I saw a fin far away. Then whales started coming one after another. One after another fins are coming out from the water. Then we saw one small fin, and one big fin. One of the crew members said that they were mama and sonny boy. Then we saw three fins came out from water. Oh, Oh, Oh, a tail splashed out of water. Yes,  we were fortunate enough to see a tail splasher. So many fin around our ferry boat. Then we saw an amazing thing, five fins came out together , then the most spectacular thing happened. There of the five-whale group pushed out their head straight. What an amazing show!!! That was the best scene in the total time of whale watching. It was a beautiful excursion out in the nature.

Then it was the time to come back. We came back to the ferry station. We were extremely tired and exhausted. On the top of that we were hungry, but I didn’t want to have anymore burger. My son ate one burger,my husband and I ate ice cream.
It was the end of our four day long Seattle trip.

Friday, June 10, 2016

Open house 2016

It had been a long time I posted anything in my blog. I yet to get my usual motivation to post. Everyday I see my blog. I see all the sweet comment made by my all kind and sweet blogger friends . However, I didn’t even say ,“Thank you “ to them. I’m really, really sorry that I didn’t response to your comments, and not even visiting your blogs. You guys are so kind to me. I’m thankful to all of you. Hopefully in near future I’ll upload regularly in my blog, and visit your blogs. In the mean time few interesting things happened, mostly about my sweet little one.

Firstly the Open House in their school. For one long month the students and the teachers worked extremely hard to put on such beautiful exhibitions in their classroom. For one week they didn’t allow me to enter in their classroom. I usually go to the school to volunteer in different activities there. Though I usually don’t volunteer in my son’s classroom, but I could see inside the classroom while to go to pick him up from school. But they didn’t let me even peek inside before the Open house.

 I enjoyed their excitement about the exhibition. Since morning of the day , my son had been asking me whether I was going to attend the Open house. Anyway, the day was hectic. Right after finishing his swim class we directly headed to the school. The Open house was a huge success. Their teacher worked a lot to make it a success. They did many different kind of project for this exhibition. Most interesting project was “Flat Stanley” “Flat Stanley” is a children’s story about a boy Stanley Lambchop and his younger brother Arthur. Their father gave them a big bulletin board to display picture and posters. He hung that over Stanley’s bed. During the night the board fell from the wall directly on Stanley flattening him. 

 He survived and started taking full advantage of his new state. He started sliding under the locked door, and played with his younger brother by being used as a kite. With his new state he could travel anywhere in an envelope.After reading the book the children created their own “Flat Stanley” and did activities with the toy. After that they send the “Flat” boy to their desired destinations. My son sent him to his friend’s home. After all the “Flat Stanley”s Came back to school the children pointed the places in a big world map and put their Stanleys on the map.

Flat Stanley Project

 That was very nice project. We reached open house little late. Our son showed us all the things they did for the exhibition. Even the children in the class made check list for their parents.

Alien Project

 So, the parents could check the  exhibits they had seen in the class. After watching thoroughly all the exhibits we went to see the other classes exhibition. All the students and the teachers from the school did an excellent job. We were really impressed.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Measurement Project