Monday, September 29, 2014

Dege Peak

Last week the weather was supposed to be nice with temperatures around 70 degrees F and we decided to do one last summer hike.  We will still do hikes in the fall but as the season moves into autumn and the weather deteriorates some places will not be as accessible as they are in the summer months.  Dege Peak in Mt. Rainier National Park at slightly more than 7,000 ft elevation is one of those places.

We parked in the lot by the Sunrise lodge and started up the Sourdough Ridge trail.  It would be approximately a 4 mile round trip hike with about 700 feet of elevation gain from the parking area.  On a previous trip we had turned to the left toward Frozen Lake and the Mt. Fremont lookout, this time we headed right toward Dege Peak.  The trail is sandy and quite broad at the beginning but it narrows and gets rocky as it goes up.  The last section is steep and very rocky.  When we got to the top I was surprised to find out that the two men who had passed us on the way up were professional photographers and had been carrying about 100 lbs of camera equipment.  They were setting up a tripod and taking pictures of Mt. Rainier and the surrounding area.  Three young women also reached the summit while we were having a snack.  They had had to take rests about as often as I had so I didn’t feel to bad about the slow pace after that. 

It was a beautiful day with the mountain visible at all times.  There was a lenticular or cap cloud hovering over the summit that changed throughout the day.  Clouds below us were creeping in between the other mountains and foothills.  Rain was forecast for late afternoon and I thought we might get wet before we got back to the car but although we felt a couple of drops the rain did not start until we were safely on the way back to town inside the car. 

Not many flowers were still in bloom, most had gone to seed but only a few were decked out in bright fall colors like the Mountain Ash.

Mop head

Blue bell of Scotland



Mountain Ash

Pine White butterfly on Pearly everlasting

Looking east from the top of Dege Peak toward Sunrise Point

Dege Peak from the trail

Craggy views along the trail

The cap cloud had worked its way down the mountain to form a ring and left the top free of clouds for just a little while.

Almost back to the trail head and the parking lot with only a couple of rain drops . . .

Thursday, September 25, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 161

"Cranes" by A. Kent Lovelace

A friend sent this postcard in 1987.  I re-discovered it recently tucked in with some other long forgotten things and liked the picture very much.  Our friend had been working for the City of Dallas, Texas designing a master plan for public art.  She always found the most interesting and beautiful pieces of art which I admired when she lived in Seattle so it was not a surprise that this card appealed to me so much.  It seemed especially appropriate to share it this week since we have completed our spring and summer long naturalist course through the Mountaineers and have spent the last several months looking for and at wildlife, birds, plants, trees, and insects. 

The artist is Kent Lovelace who was born in 1953 and grew up near San Francisco, California before migrating to Seattle and eventually settling on Whidbey Island.  He is the founder of a fine art gallery and the print workshop Stone Press Editions.  His paintings reflect his interest in nature and are his personal interpretations of his experiences rather than totally realistic copies.  His works have been exhibited in North America, Japan and Europe.

Lovelace’s Whidbey Island home and studio are on 10 acres of park-like land with old trees, gardens, native plants and a pond.   It sounds like a perfect place for an artist engaged in painting nature subjects.  His most recent works utilize a technique of painting oil on copper.  The warm metal hue is visible through the translucent paint he uses.  Examples of past and current works can be found in Google Images under his name.

For more information about Kent Lovelace, please see:!about/c786

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Mount Baker

 Mt. Baker

We have actually taken several hikes in the past month but we are also involved in a big clean up project so I have not posted notes or photos about them.   At the beginning of September we spent a weekend at the Mountaineers Mt. Baker Lodge.  Bob was scheduled to lead a hike up Table Mountain; very steep, loose rock on the trail with a snow bank and drop offs so it was a hike beyond my skill level and endurance not to mention the fear of heights thing.  The two of us did walk around Artist’s Point, a beautiful scenic spot with magnificent views of both Mt. Shuksan and Mt. Baker. 

Main room

The Lodge is open to members of the Mountaineers and has scheduled events such as the one we attended.  During the summer months the lodge is open on weekends but during the skiing season in the winter it is open more days.  The Mt. Baker ski area is renown for its powder snow and great ski runs.  

Built by volunteers in the 1950s the lodge has had a few additions or renovations since then including a new pantry and sleeping quarters for the host.  The building is three stories tall but since it is nestled in the trees it is nearly invisible from the road.  The lodge sleeps up to 60 people in bunkhouse style divided into sections for women, men and couples/families.  Big windows face out toward Mt. Shuksan and afford a beautiful view.  One evening we saw the almost full super moon rising above the mountain.  My camera was upstairs in the bunkroom, not enough time to run up and get it before the magic moment passed.  But a few people did take photos and go out later to look at the stars, so very bright in the mountains without city lights to distract the eye. 

 The Kitchen

The dining area

The lodge has no public utilities so it has to have its own well and a propane generator that supplies energy for the heat, stove, the refrigerator and powers the lights.  It is on a septic tank system so there were warnings posted about what can be flushed down the toilets or dumped in the sink.   The generator is shut off at 10:30 pm and back on around 7 am.  T
o conserve energy it is also turned off during the day if no one is in the lodge.  Cell phones worked because there is a cell tower at the ski area but there is no Internet service.    

Our bunks during the stay at the lodge.

We stayed in the family section that is located between the men and women but basically the same pattern of bunks. 

 Table Mountain

 Mt. Shuksan (Artist's Point)

 Looking down from Artist's Point

 Mt. Baker in the late afternoon

Mt. Baker is an active volcano with a steaming crater.  It is 10,500 ft high, the crater is located between the two peaks.  There were minor eruptions in the 19th century and it is considered to be next most likely volcano to erupt after Mt. St. Helens.  The glaciers on Mt. Baker are second only to those found on Mt. Rainier.  

 Afternoon sun

 Mt. Shuksan

Mt. Shuksan is one of the most photographed mountains and pictures of it have appeared on calendars and in several books.  This mountain, unlike Mt. Baker, is not a volcano.  It is 9,131 ft high.
The host for the time we were there had helped with the original construction and was able to tell us a little more about the building.  She had everything very well organized with everyone signing up for a job of some type and all helping with the last day cleanup.  The kitchen was big enough for several people to work side-by-side without bumping each other.  There are flush toilets and showers too.  There were 24 of us the weekend we stayed.  The host said that sometimes boy scouts will come up and then the total number might be a hundred or more but the boys camp outside and presumably the adult leaders can use the inside bunks.  The lodge is used both summer and winter.  The lower level has a drying room for wet clothes and an area to put skis. 

There are two entrances, one for summer and one for winter.  The building is above the ground a bit so that in the winter when the snow is deep and the side or summer door is not accessible it is still possible to get into the lodge by the winter door that if necessary connects to a snow tunnel. 

Here are a few pictures –

Red heather going to seed

Not many plants were still in bloom but it was interesting and fun to see some familiar ones that were either going to seed or had already made berries.  We did find some Huckleberries on Artist's Point and had a little feast while others just walked by without seeing these delicious mountain treats.


 Pearly everlasting

 Fireweed going to seed

 Mountain ash berries

Grass floating in the pond made a pretty design too.

Satyr Anglewing butterfly

Thursday, September 18, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 160

The Wild Bunch – Butch Cassidy & The Sundance Kid, 1900

The photo on this postcard was taken in Fort Worth, Texas in 1900 and shows some members of the notorious Wild Bunch, a gang of old West outlaws run by Butch Cassidy and his friend Elzy Lay.   The card was one of those made from vintage or classic photos published by Mountain West Prints and found at the Park City, Utah Museum.  Standing at the back:  William “News” Carver and Harvey Logan known as “Kid Curry.”  Sitting at the left is Harry Longabaugh “the Sundance Kid,” Ben Kilpartrick “the Tall Texan” in the middle and Robert Leroy Parker “Butch Cassidy” on the right end. 

The Wild Bunch was known for horse stealing, cattle rustling, train and bank robberies.  Following a robbery the gang would split up to avoid capture and later meet usually at Robbers Roost in Utah, Hole-in-the-Wall, Wyoming or Fannie Porter’s brothel in San Antonio, Texas.  Apparently these five members of the gang met in Fort Worth, Texas and had the picture taken shortly after a robbery in Winnemucca, Nevada. 

Butch Cassidy’s friend and co-gang leader, Elzy Lay, had been cornered and captured in Carlsbad, New Mexico while he was gathering supplies following a train robbery in 1899.  He was sentenced to life in prison.   He became a trustee at the prison and significantly helped the warden during a prison revolt that eventually allowed him to receive a pardon and early release from prison after serving 7 years.  When he got out he left the life of crime behind, got married, and settled down.  He was the only one who did not die as a result of a gunshot or hanging.  The other gang members died between the ages of 38 and 42 years.

A few of a Wild Bunch had also been members of the Black Jack Ketchum Gang.  Most of these men carried guns but did not shoot or kill people; the exception was Kid Curry who was said to have dispatched 9 lawmen in five gunfights.  He was perhaps not as well known as some of the others but he later became known as the “wildest of the Wild Bunch.”  It was rumored that he could drop a silver dollar from his hand and get off five shots before the dollar hit the ground.  With a Pinkerton detective hot on his trail Curry was caught by a posse near Parachute, Colorado and took his own life rather than be captured. 

Carver earned his nickname "News" because he loved to see his name and exploits in print.  He was ambushed and killed by Sheriff deputies in 1901.   Ben Kilpatrick the Tall Texan spent 9 years in prison and returned to crime after his release.  He was killed while robbing a train near Sanderson, Texas in 1912. 

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid fled to Bolivia where they died by gunshot in 1908 although some rumors persist that they escaped and returned to the United States to live for several more years.   

In 2003 the National Film Registry of the Library of Congress selected the 1969 movie about Cassidy and the Sundance Kid starring Paul Newman and Robert Redford for preservation as being culturally and historically significant.  It was the top grossing film the year it came out. 

For more information about the members of the gang and that era of the Wild West see:

Thursday, September 11, 2014

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 159

 Scenes from Vienna with postcard photos by Berhard Helminger

 St. Stephans’s Cathedral, Vienna, Austria
postcard photo by Berhard Helminger

This post will be a little more like a travel log than a regular postcard entry.  We only had a couple of days in Vienna, Austria with several places recommended by the Rick Steves Guidebook that we wanted to see including the magnificent St. Stephan’s Cathedral featured on today’s postcards above.  Steves is a local Seattle travel expert and public TV travel host who often has tips on things to see that are sometimes missed by group tours.  

I had had a very positive experience with a city tour in Paris two years ago; hence I persuaded Bob that we should take advantage of a city sightseeing bus tour suggested by the hotel.  It was the only organized bus tour we took the entire trip. 

There are good things and bad things about a tour like this one.  On the positive side it is possible to see much more of the city on a tour with a knowledgeable guide than it would be otherwise.  But compared to the city tour I took in Paris, this one was not anywhere near as good.  On the negative side everything went by so fast.  We signed up for an English only tour but through some mix up it ended up having both English and German speaking people.  The guide therefore had to give the information in both languages.  The German version that was given first seemed twice as long and I sometimes felt she was leaving things out in the English translation meanwhile the place we were supposed to notice had long passed as the bus continued forward.

Schönbrunn Palace

On the rare occasions when the bus stopped and we got out everyone had to stay together as a group and not straggle behind or go off on our own so if we saw something we wanted a closer peek at—too bad.   We were given only ½ hour to either eat lunch or walk through the gardens at Schönbrunn Palace before entering and going through the interior with headsets.  The palace is very popular and the restroom line was so long it would have taken the allotted ½ hour just to use it provided, of course, that one had the required 50 cents euro.  Is it possible to tell that I think it is just wrong to charge to use a public toilet? 

A section of the Schönbrunn Palace gardens--the gardens here reminded me of ones at Versailles although on a slightly smaller scale.  If we had had more time we would have walked to the end of the gardens up to the pavilion seen at the upper right above the fountain in the picture and from there had a more complete view of the palace and grounds.  Belvedere is a beautiful palace also but smaller, used as a entertainment or party venue, with smaller gardens.

Photography was not allowed inside the palace only outside in the gardens.  The interior is very opulent and grand.  The tour guide had booklets and maps we could buy in lieu of taking our own photos.   As a contrast, the Paris tour guide gave us at least one hour for lunch and several other times during the day we had an hour or more of free time to look around on our own then meet up with the group at a specified place.  Everything was included and we did not have to purchase maps or booklets at an extra cost. The use of a flash was limited in some cases but I do not remember any place where it was forbidden to take pictures.

The biggest surprise on the Vienna tour was that at the end of it the guide announced that we would not be driven back to the hotel but would be let off at either Belvedere Palace or the Opera House both a fair distance from the hotel.  We opted to stop at Belvedere, go through the gardens there then eat a snack before heading back to the hotel via stops along the way to see a couple of other things.  When Bob mentioned that we wanted to walk back she urged us to take the metro transportation but we had more things we wanted to see.  We were outside the boundaries of the small map the hotel provided but the map in the booklet we purchased on the tour extended a little farther.  We really could have used a bigger map.  She only had a city map in Russian!  We ended up relying on the map in the booklet.  I am not sorry we took the tour but we were somewhat disappointed in it.  The booklet we bought, however, is very nice and we would have been totally lost without the map.

The bus had breezed by St. Stephan’s Cathedral, one of the most famous landmarks of the city and we wanted a better look, inside and out.  We could see the tower spire from Belvedere so we set off, got lost or disoriented a couple of times but eventually got to St. Stephan’s.  It was well worth it.  From the Cathedral it was familiar territory and we got back to the hotel without further mishap.  The hotel staff was incredulous that we had walked all that way but even though we are retirees we are hikers after all and throughout the trip we averaged about 5 miles a day of walking.  Easy peasy. 

St. Stephan’s Cathedral on the left as seen from the gardens at Belvedere Palace

Belvedere Palace

The groundbreaking for St. Stephan’s, a Romanesque, Gothic style Catholic Cathedral, was in 1137 with construction lasting from the dedication in 1147 to completion in 1160.  As with many other old churches there was major reconstruction and expansion lasting in this case until 1511 and repair/restoration projects continuing up to the present day.  When we were there the outside of the building was being cleaned by sandblasting and sections were bright stone while other parts that had not been treated were dark, sooty black. 

The clean section of stone next to a black sooty section

At one time it was believed that the church had been built in an open field before the city grew up around it but modern excavations for a new heating system revealed that this spot had been a Roman cemetery from the 4th century.  The discovery suggests that there was an earlier religious building on the site.   It is now located in a pedestrian only area of the city but instead of being in a garden or large square as one might expect it just has a slightly wider sidewalk around it with the tall tower sprouting up out of the street like a tree. 

The street next to the cathedral with the tall tower sprouting out of the sidewalk

Looking up at the rest of the spire

The roof contains 230,000 richly colored tiles that form a mosaic of the double-headed eagle, a symbol of the Habsburg dynasty on one side, the coats of arms of the City of Vienna and designs on another.  It is beautiful.  I am not sure photos can quite capture all the grandeur.  A fire at the end of World War II in 1945 caused severe damage to the cathedral and to neighboring buildings necessitating the use of steel bracing for the roof instead of trying to replace the original wooden framework.

Part of the tiled roof is shown here.  A screen covers the scaffolding where a section of the outside stone is being cleaned.

St. Stephan’s has 23 bells the largest one weighing 22 tons.  It was originally cast in 1711 from cannons captured from Muslim invaders.  The bell had to be recast, using some of the original material, in 1951 because the fire in 1945 caused it to crash to the floor when the wooden cradle burned.  The new bell rings only on a few special occasions such as New Year’s.  Three older bells in the tower are no longer used.  Eleven electrically operated bells were cast in 1960 and hang in the south tower.  There are other replacements for old bells lost in the fire that are used during Masses.  There are two bells in the tallest tower that mark the passing of the hours. 

On the outside walls there are measures available to the public.  Beginning in the Middle Ages a major city had its own set of measures.  These publicly available standards allowed merchants from other places to comply with the local regulations. 
Mozart was music director here shortly before his death.  He was married here and two of his children were baptized here. 
One of the numerous statues is called “Christ with a Toothache” because of the agonized expression on the face. 

“Christ with a Toothache”

Here are a few pictures of the interior of St. Stephan’s--

For more information about the cathedral, please see:,_Vienna

 Below are two more postcards showing views of the inside of the Cathedral.  The printing and/or publishing information is listed as