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Mystery of the Mounds

Finally found a site that my ‘driver’ (Mike Penney) had yet to visit! Mima Mounds Natural Area Preserve (20 miles south of Olympia) is a National Natural Landmark filled with hundreds of unusual and mysterious ‘mounds’ that are covered year-round in prairie grass and native wildflowers. Nobody knows for sure what caused them but here are some ideas:

– Captain Charles Wilkes, an explorer in 1841 thought they might be burial grounds. He dug but found nothing.

-The Upper Chehalis Tribe claims that a tribal member named Thrush, refused to bathe or cleanse her face for fear something bad would happen to the Earth. After much harassment from her people, she gave in and washed her face. It rained so hard the world flooded. When the water receded, the prairie land below took on the shape of waves.

-Professor Walter Dalquest and biologist Victor Scheffer stated (in 1942) that pocket gophers created the mounds. 

-Others say they formed via shock waves from earthquakes, ancient floods, or runoff from the glaciers.

No matter what caused them it’s a peaceful spot to wander and ponder the mystery of the mounds.


Next a little drive through Rochester and Oakville and bite to eat at the Mill’s Diner.


Hidden in a cove of trees is the Mima Prairie Pioneer Cemetery – Forty-seven souls are buried here dated between 1871 – 1990. Deeded to Thurston County in 1869 by John (born 1800) and Polly  (born 1793) Laws. It is now maintained by Weyerhaeuser Corp.

The largest monument for John and Mary Laws says:
Left Illinois for Vancouver, 1852; later located at Olympia, WA; and then on the donation claim, where their remains now lie. Monument erected by their grand-son, Edgar Bryan in 1905.

Their combined ages – over fourscore years ended in peace and without any fears of the occult hereafter – for good or bad, although their career was sometimes sad they’re resting from toils, pains and strife, after a long and useful life.


Current · Great Northwest · Travel Images

Backroad adventure

What’s to see after Galvin? Claquato and Pe Ell. Where? Headed on down the road past sprawling farms toward Claquato where around 2001 I photographed a wedding in this charming remnant from long ago. Founded in the 1850s by Hawkins Davis and became a prosperous lumber town with a mill. In 1874 the railroad came and like many towns, Claquato was bypassed, which lead to the eventual demise of the town.  Claquato was officially removed from the County records in 1902. The Claquato Church and Claquato Cemetery remain and provide more photo ops. Next was Pe Ell. Not much activity in this once hopping railroad town inhabited largely by Poles. The town was once the home to the only Polish National Catholic Church in Washington.

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Galvin or bust!

I think there are more old cars and relics in Galvin than the entire population of 43! Gas pumps with old gas station signs and plenty of old trucks. The best find was behind the doors of the Buser Auto Museum…Mike called the number and the owner picked up the phone and came down to give us the grand tour! Fun spot for any avid photographer.

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New Mexico back roads

On a quick trip to Las Cruces NM, I just had to head to Hatch for some Mexican pottery and the best green chile cheeseburger ever!

Peacock Mercantile has housed many different businesses since 1926; including a grocery store, mercantile, auto parts store, ice cream shop, pawnshop, and community pool hall.  In 2007 it was purchased by the Nunn family and “Sparky’s” was born. It’s a destination spot for great chile cheeseburgers, chile lemonade, and chile ice cream! While standing in line to place our order we met people from Seattle and Anchorage…what a crossroads!

The family has acquired an eclectic collection of vintage signs and roadside fiberglass giants and was featured on American Pickers. One of the more recent additions is a giant green alien.

Close by we found a roadside station for remembering loved ones filled with retablos, momentoes, and religious statues. Further down the road, we visited the colorful Garden of Memories Cemetery.  The gravestones date from the 1890s to the present day.  

In Fairacres, just a few miles out of Las Cruces was City Line Pawn & Antiques that was more like a museum. Metal riding tractor, vintage blue metal lawn chairs are just a few of the quirky items to be found. It’s on my list to revisit later!

I’m sorry you can’t taste the chile but enjoy the view!

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In search of Eagles

It was a cool and misty day as we headed north to the Skagit Valley in search of the majestic eagle. Waters ran high but we managed to find an older eagle resting above a pond just off the shoulder of the road. He seemed to know we were watching and ‘posed’ as if on cue. We also found majestic vistas worth a shot or two.

Current · Great Northwest · Travel Images

Daytripping in Sequim

Mike’s photo bus headed to Sequim for the day. I feel like I’m getting a taste of what retirement is like. Sunshine, lavender, food, wine…..chocolate! But I digress.  We stopped at Jardin du Soleil and Purple Haze Lavender Farm. Sequim is internationally recognized for this fragrant herb that lends itself well to hydrating oils, lotions and soaps (of which I sell “Pierogi Soap” scented with lavender).

Next photo op was the Dungeness Spit and lighthouse with views of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, Vancouver Island and Mount Baker. It’s about a 6 mile walk to the lighthouse. Not enough time to make that hike but a 270mm lens helped make the stop worth it.

Just west of Walmart (they are everywhere!)  we found the Railroad Bridge Park. The 1900s railroad bridge is part of the Olympic Discover Trail. The cold Dungeness River flows beneath it.

Next and last stop Port Angeles and Fort Worden for sunset. Ended up at the Point Wilson Lighthouse (1879) which is still active and whose beacon guides ships.

Thanks Mike and Ed for another relaxing photo tour of the great northwest!

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The other side of Vegas…glitz, glamour, sparkle and kitsch!

Everyone is familiar with the “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada” sign that has been greeting visitors at the southern end of the Strip since 1959. You can now pull off and stand in line to take your photo in front of the iconic sign.

Boulder City kitsch – Southwest Diner features unique items like Santa Fe potato pancakes – YUM – even if they are green mixed with  jalapeno/cilantro/green pepper yielding just the right amount of kick! Not to mention the homemade cinnamon applesauce.

Boulder City, Nevada, just 20 miles from Las Vegas, is the perfect place to spend a day. With a quaint atmosphere and historic charm you can stroll down Main Street and peek into the shops and museums including the Flying Saucer Area 53 Museum!

Boulder City Bowl sits in its original location that first opened in 1947. It is an 8 lane center that uses over lane ball returns and still features it’s original wooden bench seats.

The Neon Museum visitors’ center is located inside the newly renovated historic La Concha Motel lobby; originally constructed in 1961  she sat next to the Riviera Hotel on the strip.

AMERICAN RESTORATION as seen on History Channel features Rick Dale and his crew at Rick’s Restorations in Las Vegas. They take rusty, beat-up items and restore them to their original glory.

“Retro Vegas” is full of art and antiques,  treasures and objet d’art; many pieces are full of historical significance from some of the most fabulous homes in town.

“18b” represents the original Arts District area, consisting of 18 blocks where you will find an eclectic mix of galleries, one-of-a-kind stores, and restaurants. It is quickly becoming a hub of the arts scene in Vegas.

That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

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El Paso Mission Trail 2013

It was a warm and dusty El Paso day. I decided to head toward the border and visit the missions. I was captivated by the cloud filled skies. I couldn’t wait for the early spring setting sun to cast its shadows on the hallowed headstones of the old cemetery.

The El Paso Mission Trail consists of three historic churches now owned by the Catholic Diocese. They stand as symbols of the long and rich relationships between Spain, Mexico and the US.

Spanish explorers arrived and occupied the El Paso area. Mission Ysleta is the oldest; established October 12, 1680. Mission Socorro was officially founded during a Mass delivered by Fray Antonio Guerra on October 13, 1680. Presidio Chapel San Elizario was originally set up by the Spanish as a military fort for soldiers and their families.

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For more information visit: www.elpasomissiontrail.com

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El Paso Holocaust Museum sheds light

On a return visit to New Mexico I visited the El Paso Holocaust Museum. Another memorial to those who lost their lives, survived, and helped save lives during Hitler’s attempt to wipe out a class of citizens.

The displays featured stunning graphics that effectively tell the story of the Holocaust. Life in Europe before the Nazi Party; the Rise of the Nazi Party; the Use of Nazi Propaganda; Kristallnacht ; Life in the Ghettos; Transportation by Railcars to the Camps; Life and Death in Nazi Concentration Camps; Liberation by the Allied Forces; the Righteous Among the Nations; a Memorial and Reflection Room; and a Gallery of El Paso Holocaust Survivors.

Hitler’s actions certainly touched more lives in more places than one can imagine. Thhe founder of the museum was born in Lodz, Poland. His life in the ghetto was heartbreaking yet it was there he met and married his wife. together they escaped the camp and eventually settled in El Paso, Texas.

To learn about Mr. Henry Kellen, the gentleman who started the museum click here: http://www.elpasoholocaustmuseum.org/henrykellen.sstg

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Current · Travel Images

Everything’s coming up roses, I mean tulips!

I was almost too late! but I managed to find the time on Monday to toodle on up to the Tulip Festival.  Fields were pretty much plowed under already so nurseries could get their blooms to market. I still enjoyed the country side and made my first stop at RoozenGaarde. The displays were still lovely and there were a lot of people admiring the scene. Another favorite pit stop of mine is the Christianson’s Nursery.  Charming antique shop on the property and lots of plants. In the parking lot was a woman selling good ol’ fashioned philly sandwiches.  Had to stop and have a bite!

Enjoy the pics….

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