Thursday, December 26, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 431

National Park of American Samoa

When I found out that friends were on the way to Samoa I asked if they would send me a postcard, and here it is.  How nice to see a warm tropical place in the middle of winter!  Thanks so much, P & F.

The card is an Impact Photographics product and credits the picture to Tavita Togia, National Park Service (NPS).  It has a short blurb on the reverse that says: “Pola Island in the National Park of American Samoa, is on the north coast of Tutuila Island and is an important nesting area for sea birds, such as the booby.”

In 1984 Congressman Fofó Iosefa Fiti Sunia introduced a bill to include American Samoa as part of the Federal Fish and Wildlife Restoration Act.  The Bat Preservers Association made the request and the purpose of the bill was to protect the rain forest and the habitat of the Flying fox, a large fruit bat.  To control and eradicate invasive plants and animals that threaten the park’s ecosystem is the major role for the park.  While the islands of Samoa are volcanic they are not made up of individual volcanoes but are composed of overlapping shield volcanoes that developed from a hot spot on the Pacific Plate. 

Because land is traditionally held communally in Samoa, it was not possible for the NPS to purchase the property; instead the land was leased for 50 years to the Park Service from the village councils.  In 2002 Congress approved a 30% expansion on Olosega and Ofu islands.  These two islands can only be reached either by small fisherman boats or by air.  In 2009 the park the visitor center and main office were destroyed by an earthquake and subsequent tsunami.  

It was officially recognized as a National Park in 1988.  The park is distributed across three islands, covering a total of 13,500 acres, and acts as a preserve for coral reefs, tropical rain forests, and fruit bats as well as Samoan culture. It offers activities such as hiking and snorkeling.  More than 25,000 people visit the park annually.  This is the only American National Park Service unit south of the equator. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, December 19, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 430

“Adoration of the Christ Child”

Since this is the week before Christmas I am sharing this postcard with a photograph by C.L. Marsh of one of the two stained glass windows at Faith Chapel, Jekyll Island, Georgia.  The window was made by Maitland Armstrong and his daughter, Helen Maitland Armstrong.   It shows the Three Wise Men bringing gifts to the Christ child. The card is a Dexter Press of West Nyack, New York product and published by Marsh Post Card Service, Jacksonville, Florida.  It has the number 5127-D at the upper right corner on the reverse. 

The window is set in the eastern end of the chapel partly because the Wise Men came from the east but also so that the morning sun shines through illuminating the scene.  Faith Chapel was built in 1904 and used as a non-denominational chapel until 1942.  In 1947 the state of Georgia bought it and Jekyll Island.  Today it is administered by the Jekyll Island State Park Authority and has been open to the public since 1970.  The chapel was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1971. 

David Maitland Armstrong, professionally known as Maitland Armstrong, worked with his friends, Louis Comfort Tiffany and John LaFarge in the 1880s.  In 1887 he formed his own firm called Maitland Armstrong and Company of New York.  His daughter, Helen Maitland Armstrong, joined him in the business and also became an important stained glass artist.  The second stained-glass window in the Faith Chapel is called “David’s Window” and was created by Louise Comfort Tiffany. 

Maitland Armstrong was born in New York on 15 April 1836 and died 26 May 1918.  He was educated at Trinity College, Hartford, Connecticut.  In 1858 he traveled to Italy where he later became the American Counsul in Rome (1869-1871).  In 1878 he was appointed Director of American Fine Arts at the Paris Exposition Universelle.  As an artist he painted landscapes and country scenes and later worked with Tiffany making stained glass. 

Helen Maitland Armstrong was born 14 October 1869 while the family was living in Florence, Italy.  She worked both as a solo artist and also in partnership with her father.  She was one of the first women artists to work with stained glass and her work is considered among the finest produced in the late 19th and early 20th century.  She died 25 November 1948 in New York.

For additional information, see:,_Georgia

Thursday, December 12, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 429

First Day of Issue, John Knox Witherspoon, Patriot, 1975

The postcard this week is a “First Day of Issue” featuring the patriot, John Knox Witherspoon (1723-1794), who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence. It is postmarked 10 November 1975.  This is in a series of First Day of Issue cards and stamps that featured notable early Americans.   The series was issued just prior to the beginning of the bi-centennial year of 1976. 

On the reverse is information about Witherspoon.  As can be seen, there is no space for a private message on this side of the card.  Most First Day of Issue cards, envelopes and stamps on envelopes are collectibles.  A postcard such as this one was not necessarily meant to contain a private message.  Sometimes there are first day ceremonies to generate publicity for the new stamp.  Many First Day of Issue postcards have a pre-printed stamp at the upper right corner as this one does; others have a regular stamp with the same design. 

The picture at the left side of the card is called a cachet and is designed to provide information about the subject of the stamp.  On this card it explains why John Witherspoon’s picture is on the stamp. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, December 5, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 428

Little Bohemia, in Northern Wisconsin, ca 1940

 The postcard for this week has a black & white photograph of the Conference Room at Little Bohemia in Northern Wisconsin.  The card is a “Northwoods Postal View” from Herman, the Printer, Minocqua, Wisconsin.

The blurb on the reverse says, “Like a bit of old Europe transplanted to Wisconsin’s Northwoods.  Little Bohemia has all the charm and advantages of the old world and the new.  Picturesque architecture, authentic Bohemian cuisine, and an indefinable spirit of convivial hospitality, combined with the most modern equipment and a variety of sport on land and water, indoors and out, attract 40,000 visitors annually.  And here, too, are to be found incomparable relics of that notorious 20th century Jesse James, the late John Dillinger.” 

The message from the sender reads:  “Sunday.  Well here is the place you’ve heard so much about.  The bullet holes (& there are plenty) are the real McCoy too.  . . . “

Little Bohemia Lodge was built in 1929 by Emil Wanatka and is a rural vacation lodge and restaurant.  It is still in operation today and remains much as it was at the time on 22 April 1934 when there was a hastily and poorly organized federal raid that attempted to capture the notorious outlaw, John Dillinger.  Dillinger and his gang had connections to the lodge through the attorney Louis Piquett who knew the owner.  Wanatka claimed he did not know who Dillinger was until he caught sight of Dillinger’s pistol and noticed that the others also had shoulder holsters.  The following day Wanatka’s wife notified a friend that Dillinger was at the lodge and the FBI was subsequently given the tip.  With little time for preparation and without notifying or obtaining help from local authorities a number of agents arrived by plane from Chicago and attacked the lodge quickly fearing that Dillinger was preparing to leave soon.  The raid took place on a Sunday when the lodge offered a one-dollar dinner special and there were about 75 people inside.  A group of three people were leaving and mistaken for gang members.  The agents opened fire killing one and injuring the others and also alerting Dillinger and the other gangsters of the raid.  Dillinger and 3 others escaped out the back door, which was not guarded, and one other gang member, who was in a cabin next door, engaged in gun fire with the agents before fleeing in the opposite direction from the others.  Three of the women who had accompanied the gang members were captured inside the lodge and later released on parole.  One agent and one innocent bystander were killed, and four other individuals were severely wounded.  The botched raid resulted in severe criticism of the FBI and calls for the resignation of J. Edgar Hoover.  In 2008 scenes from Michael Mann's movie, "Public Enemies," were filmed on location at Little Bohemia.

1940 Commemorative Stamp, American Poets Series,  Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The lodge has a display of historical artifacts from the Dillinger gun battle available for public viewing.  The original bullet holes are still in the walls and windows.  The cancellation date on the card is March 1941 just seven years after the event occurred.  The stamp is a 1940 commemorative in the American Poets series and features Henry Wadsworth Longfellow.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, November 28, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 427

Powder Box Church, Jerome, Arizona, ca 1985
[photo:  Rollie Houck]

Sabino Gonzales built the Powder Box Church in Jerome, Arizona between 1939 and 1941.  Rollie Houck took the photograph on the postcard distributed by Burnmeister Enterprises of Prescott, Arizona.  The card has ICS-108457 on the reverse at the bottom center.  December 18, 1985 has been inked in at the lower left corner on the reverse; however, the card does not have a message or stamp.  There is a short blub at the upper right on the reverse of the card explaining how the church was built.

Mining of copper, gold, silver and other metals in the late 19th century was the main reason for development of Jerome.  When the ore deposits dwindled the population also dropped.  Tourism and retail sales saved the town from completely shutting down.  It became a National Historic Landmark in 1967.  Many of the mineworkers were Mexican.  At that time Mexicans were not permitted to enter Anglo churches so Sabino Gonzales built a church for them using stucco, wire mesh and disassembled blasting power boxes from the local mines.

The church has now become a private residence and can only be viewed from a distance.  The back of the former church can be seen from the front of the Douglas Mansion at Jerome Historic Park.

Rollie Houck owned and operated a camera shop in Sedona, Arizona beginning in 1961.  The shop has been sold twice since he had it.  He published several photo books with Arizona images.  There is a plaque honoring him in the shop today.  

For additional information, see:

Thursday, November 21, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 426

 American Bobcat (Lynx rufus)
[photo:  James T. Jones]

This unused Lantern Press postcard has the image  #33703 with a photograph of a handsome Bobcat in a tree by James T. Jones.  The card was purchased at the Verlot Ranger Station.  I confess to be partial to felines in general so it should not be a surprise that this card caught my eye. 

Bobcats are found throughout North America and are medium sized, ranging from 14 to 40 lbs. or between 6.4 to 18.3 kg, and stand between 12 and 24 inches or 30 to 60 cm at the shoulders.  As a comparison, my house cat weighs about 12 lbs. (5.4 kg) and stands approximately 11 inches  (27 cm) tall at the shoulder.  As the picture shows, the bobcat has a gray to brown coat with spots, tufted ears, a whiskered face and yellow eyes with black pupils.  Like many wild animals the coloring helps the cat blend in with its surroundings.  Not visible in the picture is the very short tail.  Unlike some other animals that are born with spots that they lose or those that acquire spots as they get older, the bobcat kittens have spotted fur when they are born and do not lose the spots.  Bobcats are identified as Lynx rufus.   Although I know they are there in the woods when we are hiking, we have never seen one in the wild.  

The bobcats we have here in the Pacific Northwest have a territory that spans from northwestern California to southwestern British Columbia, Canada.  Their ancestors are thought to have evolved from the Eurasian lynx that crossed the Bering Land Bridge into North America perhaps as much as more than 2 million years ago.  These early cats evolved into the modern bobcat about 20,000 years ago. 

When prey is abundant the bobcat will eat often but it can go for long periods without food.  Typically it prefers to hunt rabbits, hares, chickens, geese, other birds, small rodents, and even deer depending on the season and the location.  They are normally most active during twilight until about midnight and also in the early morning hours around dawn and shortly thereafter.  They are territorial and mostly solitary.  They can swim but do so out of necessity not choice.  They are excellent climbers, have a good sense of smell, and sharp hearing and vision.

Bobcats are adaptable and resilient.  They prefers woodlands but do not depend exclusively on the deep forest.  Unfortunately, it is hunted for its fur and as trophies, therefore, in some areas the numbers are declining.  The gestation period is between 60 and 70 days with normally 2 to 4 kittens in a litter born in April or May.  Sometimes the female will have a second litter as late as September.  

For additional information, see:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 425

Mini Land, Legoland, Billund, Jutland, Denmark

My kids loved Legos from the time they were small and playing with Duplo sized bricks to when they were older teens creating fantastic, huge, amazing things with or without instructions.  In 1982 we had the opportunity to visit cousins in Scandinavia and added a special stop at Legoland in Billund, Denmark.  Today’s postcards show two sections of the park.   Legoland A/S Produktion, Grønlund, “Top Card,” distributed the postcards.  The card above has LB 115 at the center bottom on the reverse.  The picture, from Mini Land, shows a Lego construction of Nyhavn, Kopenhagen in miniature.  For size comparison, note the people at the upper left. 

The park is located near the original Lego factory and the Billund Airport.  Since it opened in 1968 over 50 million people have visited with about 2 million guests visiting annually in recent years.   Even before the park opened the Lego factory was attracting about 20,000 visitors a year.  Legoland was originally built to promote the toy business.  Today there are several other Legolands in other parts of the world including here in the United States with one in California and another in Florida.  The company made wooden toys and added plastic toys in 1949.  The park has grown from 14 acres (5.7 ha) to over 45 acres (18 ha) and is divided into themed areas.  

 Mount Rushmore constructed of Legos

Lego cars for kids to drive

Towns reconstructed in miniature using Legos

Rides like this one on a track especially for younger children

It is the third most visited attraction in Denmark.  Like most amusement parks there are rides ranging from roller coasters, boats, trains and cars to things specifically for younger children.  There are also entertainment shows and special events.  

The observation tower, Legoland

The second card, seen above, has LB 118 in the center bottom of the reverse.  It is also a Legloland A/S/ Produktion Gronlund “Top Card.”  Aerial views of the park can be seen from the tower.  As clever advertising, both cards have raised Lego buttons along the borders.

While we were there we purchased a book that contained pictures and information about how the bricks are made, the designs, and how the many displayed were created and built.  It shows how the liquid plastic is poured into molds for the different shapes and sizes of bricks, connecting pieces, heads and body parts for mini-figures. 

For additional information, see:
Den store LEGO bog, in Danish, published by Lego System A/S, Billund

Thursday, November 7, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 424

Abbotsford, near Galashiels, Scotland

The three postcards shared this week are views of Abbotsford, the home of the historical novelist and poet Sir Walter Scott.  All three cards were among those sent by K & J.  The card above is a DRG [J. Arthur Dixon] printing with the code:  L6/SP. 3949.  No photographer is named.  It shows the house from the garden and dates from the 1960s.  

Abbotsford, near Melrose, Scotland

The second card in the group, shown above, is a Jarrold & Sons Ltd., Norwich has the code:  CKABFD 1 and also dates from the 1960s.  No photographer credits.

Located in the Scottish Borders on the bank of the River Tweed the house has a gothic and Scottish Baronial architectural style.  As the pictures show, the manor resembles a castle in miniature with towers and imitation battlements.  Originally the estate was a small farm of about 100 acres called Cartleyhole, nicknamed Clarty Hole.  Scott purchased the farm when the lease expired in 1811 and built a small villa that he named Abbotsford for a nearby ford over the river and the abbots of nearby Melrose Abbey.  Over time he continued to build additions to the house eventually turning it into a mansion.  Some of the stones used in constructing the mansion came from ruined castles and abbeys in Scotland.  He had a large library, a collection of ancient furniture, arms and armor plus other relics and curiosities pertaining to Scottish history.  

Abbotsford from the West, home of Sir Walter Scott

This third card is a “Hail Caledonia” product printed by Whiteholme Publishers Ltd, Dundee.  The code number is on the front of the card, 7526X.  No photographer is credited.  The view is from the West.

Scott wanted a historical feel to the house but he also desired all the comforts of modern living.  Early gas lighting and pneumatic bells were installed.  When his fortunes turned in 1825 and he found himself in debt he nearly lost the house to creditors.  In 1830 his creditors presented the library and museum to him as a free gift.  Upon Scott’s death in 1832 the house and contents went to his only son, Lt. Walter Scott, who died in on way from India in 1847 without ever living in the house.   The subsequent possessors were Scott’s grandchildren and great-grandchildren.  In 1847 his publisher, Robert Cadell, cancelled the remaining bond for a share in the copyright of Sir Walter’s works.

Sir Walter Scott was born 1771 and died 1832.  He married Charlotte Carpenter on Christmas Eve 1797 in St. Mary’s Church, Carlisle Cathedral.   A prolific historical writer, among his writings are the novels, Waverley, Rob Roy, Ivanhoe; and poems, The Lady of the Lake, The Field of Waterloo, The Bridal of Triermain, short stories and plays.

Thank you to K & J for sharing the cards.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, October 31, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 423

Traquair House, Peebleshire, Scotland

Jarrold & Sons Ltd. of Norwich, UK, printed and published the unused photo postcard above that has a view from the front.  It has the identifier CKTH 10 and the card most likely dates from the 1960s.  Privately owned by members of the Jarrold family, The Jarrold Group was founded in 1770 in Woodbridge, Suffolk, England.  It was moved in 1823 and is currently based in Norwich.  It is a retail and property company.  Beginning in 1823 the company began publishing children’s books.  Greeting cards and postcards came later.   Like the card shared last week this is one that was provided by K & J along with several others mostly from the United Kingdom. 

Jarrold logo found at the top middle on the reverse

Traquair House is the oldest continually inhabited house in Scotland.  It is not a castle but considered a fortified mansion.  Although the house appears to date from about the 15th century the surrounding land was the site of a hunting seat used by Scottish kings from as early as the 12th century.  Ownership changed often during the following 200 years, sometimes it was under the English crown and other times the Scottish throne.  In the 1500s Lady Janet Douglas married Patrick Ruthven, 3rd Lord of Ruthven with whom she had several children forming the main Ruthven line.  Traquair House remained the family seat of the Earls of Traquair for the next four centuries.  In 1875 it passed to a cousin of the Stuarts, Henry Constable Maxwell.

Traquair House Library

Also a Jarrold publication the identifier on this card above is TH 6 and has a photo of the 18th century library.

Traquair House has 50 rooms including a Drawing Room with ancestral portraits and photographs of currents residents; a Museum Room with a mural dating from 1530; The King’s Room, where Mary Queen of Scots stayed in 1556 and which contains relics belonging to her; The Still Room, where breakfast is served; The Dining Room, added in the l7th century; The Library; a Roman Catholic chapel; and, a Brewery that was started in 1965 by Peter Maxwell Stuart.  Stuart incorporated the 18th century domestic brewery equipment used earlier to make beer for the house.  A range of beers is made in the Brewery such as the Jacobite Ale and House Ale brands.  Ale was brewed at Traquair during the reign of Mary, Queen of Scots.  A 200-gallon copper was installed in 1739 the the brew house under the chapel.

The Bear Gates

The fifth Earl, Charles Stuart, installed the Bear Gates, shown on the card above, at the main entrance to the grounds in 1738.  The card has the code:  PPL/84463/X and was printed by  DRG [J. Arthur Dixon, 1897-1958)] in Great Britain.   The following poem is printed on the reverse of the card:

"Dool an' sorrow hae fa'en Trquair,
  An' the Yetts that were shut at Charlie's comin'
He vowed wad be opened nevermair,
  Till a Stuart King was crooned in Lunnon.

Gone are the Stuarts o' auld Traquair
  Green is the Avenue rank an' hoary,
An' the Bears look doon wi' an angert glare
  On the "Steekit Yetts" an' the vanished glory."

Dixon was a photographer and manufacturer of greeting cards and postcards.  Born at Cross Hills, Keighley, Yorkshire in 1897 he bought a small printing business in 1926 and moved to Shaklin on the Isle of Wight where he resided until his death in 1958.  It is estimated that he produced nearly 30 million postcards. 

Another front view of Traquair House

Another view of the front of Traquair House with the Peebles Ex-Servicemens' Pipe Band in the foreground.  This card is a Pilgrim Press Ltd., Derby publication with the number 17549B.  The photo is credited to Joan Gibson.  Pilgrim Press Ltd. was established in 1934 and is still in operation.

Many thanks again to K and J for sharing the cards.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, October 24, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 422

Stonehenge, Wiltshire, England

Anthony & Marée Miles of Salisbury, England published this photo postcard showing a view of Stonehenge.  The card is unused and dates from the 1960s.  It was among several other travel postcards shared by K & J.  The blurb on the back of the card reads:  “Stonehenge, Western Aspect.  An eerie Autumn sunset on massive Sarsens, highlighting 3,500 years weathering.  Clearly visible is the locking-tenon capping the 45-ton remaining uprights of the largest trilithon.”

Stonehenge, added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage Sites in 1986, is one of the most famous landmarks in the United Kingdom.  A henge is described as being a circular earthwork with a banked enclosure and an internal ditch.  Unlike other henges the bank at Stonehenge is inside the ditch.  The stone part of its name comes from the huge stones place around the circle and the trilithon refers to the top stone that resembles medieval gallows that were constructed of two uprights and a lintel joining them.

From its beginnings Stonehenge was used as a burial ground.  Human bones found here have been dated to 3000 BC or when it appears the bank was first dug.  Burials were continued at this place for about 500 years.  Earlier postholes from about 8000 BC have been found nearby where it is suspected pine posts had been erected and later rotted in place.  The construction spanned approximately 1500 years.  Mounds, larger but similar to the Hopewell Mounds, were also built in the area around that same time period. 

While the original construction may have been made of timbers a transition was made to stone around 2600 BC.  Bluestone, dolerite, came from about 150 miles away in Wales, and Sarsens, sandstone, was found about 50 miles away.  Each monolith measures around 2 m or 6.6 ft and weighs about two tons.  The inward sides of the stones are smoother than the outer surfaces.  Construction techniques used by the builders are unknown.  Proposed functions include an astronomical observatory or a religious site.  In modern times there have been restorations such as re-erecting fallen or propping up tilting stones.  A new car park was built for visitors.  Also archaeological excavations such as the Stonehenge Riverside Project are continuing. 

There are several less famous Stonehenges worldwide including a replica near Goldendale, Washington and called the Maryhille Stonehenge, that was commissioned in the early 20th century by the wealthy entrepreneur Sam Hill and dedicated as a memorial to people who had died in World War I.  Maryhill Stonehenge is constructed of concrete.

 Maryhill Stonehenge

 Views inside the Maryhill Stonehenge circle

The sun as seen through the openings in the Maryhill Stonehenge

 The Columbia River as seen through the stones

 The explanation plaque with a diagram of a typical Stonehenge

The memorial plaque at Maryhill Stonehenge

Thanks to K & J for sharing the Stonehenge postcard.

For additional information, see:

Thursday, October 17, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 421

Byodo-In Temple, Ahuimanu Valley, Kaneohe, Oahu, Hawaii

Movie Supply of Hawaii, Honolulu, distributed the unused postcard shared this week.  It has the alphanumeric code of MS-109 at the lower left corner on the reverse but no photographer is given.  It appears to date around 1968 when this non-denominational Buddhist temple was dedicated to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. 

The beautiful temple is a smaller scale replica of the original 900-year-old temple at Uji in the Kyoto Prefecture of Japan.  Unlike a functioning Buddhist temple it does not host a resident monastic community nor have an active congregation.   The original temple, constructed around 1052, was made of wood without use of nails but this replica is largely concrete.  It has an 18-foot (5.5 m) statue of the Lotus Buddha covered in gold and lacquer inside the building and a 3-ton brass peace bell outside.  There are Koi ponds surrounding the temple and around the ponds are lush Japanese gardens.  The gardens are also home to sparrows and peacocks.  The Ko’olau Range can be seen in background.  Thousands of visitors from around the world come here each year.  People of all faiths are welcome to participate in its traditions.  The temple grounds are also used for weddings and other meetings.

In addition to this temple the Valley of the Temples Memorial Park also contains large Catholic statues.  There are crypts and mausoleums on the grounds and thousands of Buddhist, Shinto, Protesant and Catholic residents of Hawaii are buried in this memorial park.  Paul Trousdale founded the park in 1963. 

Trivia:  The temple was featured in several episodes of the TV shows Hawaii Five-O and Magnum P.I   The grounds have also been used in the ABC TV series Lost as a stand-in for South Korea and also as the Presidential Villa in seaQuest DSV.  The 2001 movie Pearl Harbor used scenes of the temple as have several other movies. 

For additional information, see:

Thursday, October 10, 2019

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 420

Map of Tacoma, Washington, 1893

Today’s postcard has a vintage an aerial panoramic map of the city of Tacoma from 1893.  The card was distributed by Lantern Press of Seattle and has the image number 4394.  I found this card in a museum gift shop.  In addition to the street layout the border around the map shows buildings that existed in the city in 1893.

Tacoma is a port city on Puget Sound and is the second largest city in the area.  Its name comes from Mt. Takhoma or Tahoma now known as Mt. Rainier.  While Seattle is called The Emerald City, Tacoma is called The City of Destiny because it was chosen to be the western terminus of the Northern Pacific Railroad in the late 1800s.  It is located 32 miles southwest of Seattle and 31 miles northeast the state capitol, Olympia. 

When I was little the saw mills and paper pulp mills in Tacoma exuded such a strong smell that combined with the smell of the muddy industrial tide flats earned the unfortunate “Tacoma Aroma” moniker.  It was not an altogether pleasant smell.  During the 1990s companies reduced the sulfur emissions by about 90% and that has mostly eliminated the ever-present odor.   In addition to the lumber products, such as pulpwood and linerboard, Tacoma also continues to operate an U.S. Oil refinery on the tide flats that produces 39,000 barrels of petroleum per day.  Tacoma is home to food and candy companies like Brown & Haley, Roman Meal, Mars. 

There are several parks in Tacoma including Point Defiance Park that has a Zoo and Aquarium.  Multi-use trails for biking and walking connect several public parks.  There are museums and historical sites within the city that are worth visiting such as the Museum of Glass where demonstrations of glass blowing are held and handmade glass items can be purchased. 

The bridge connecting the Washington State Museum of History and the Museum of Glass with the two glass pillars.  The museum is housed in what was the Union Station built in 1910 and an enduring emblem of the city of Tacoma.  The central copper covered dome is 90 feet high.  In the 1990s this building was used as a federal court house.  It was put on the register of National Historic Places in 1974.

One of several ceiling panels filled with blown glass

Glass blowing demonstrations are held several times a day

 A window display of hand blown glass ball ornaments

An outdoor pool with a clear glass exhibit

The Washington State Museum of History has a permanent model train display among other historical displays and items.   

 Model trains

Looking down on a life-sized display depiction of what Union Station looked like when it was in operation

For additional information, see:,_Washington)

Wednesday, October 9, 2019

Three days, three day hikes, Winthrop, 2019

River front cabins, Winthrop, Washington

 Several weeks ago we went on a three-day trip with 15 Happy Hiker friends.  Most members of the group, including Bob and I, stayed in rented cabins along the river and one couple had their own cabin nearby.  The majority of the group went on long, more strenuous hikes, 10 miles round trip and at least 2000 ft elevation gain, for two of the three days.  We chose to start with a modest hike, or hikes, the first day, Rainy Lake and Washington Pass, about 100 vertical gain for a 2.2 mile total.  There were fantastic reflections in the lake, mountain views, and a waterfall.  The second day we went with another Happy Hiker to Cutthroat Lake, 4 miles round trip with 400 ft elevation gain and found fall colors, rocks, squirrels and chipmunks.  The third day Bob and I went to Blue Lake.  An absolutely beautiful place and the most difficult hike I have attempted this year at about 5 miles round trip and an elevation gain of 1300 feet.  Before the Achilles problem this would have been an average hike for me.  In the evenings the entire group met together at a local restaurant to have dinner. 

 Day 1, Rainy Lake & Washington Pass

Trail sign

Rainy Lake is at 4500 ft elevation and Washington Pass is higher at 5500 ft.  The short trail to Rainy Lake is asphalt and wide enough for a wheelchair or walker.  There are several benches along the trail.  There were nice outhouses at each of the trails we visited.

"What do you see, Bob?"

"Reflections in the lake and a magnificent waterfall!"

Bob's zoom-in view of the waterfall

A young couple asked us to take their photo in this spot and in return they took one of us!

From Rainy Lake we drove a short distance to Washington Pass where there were lookout spots for views of the surrounding mountains.  Like Rainy Lake, the trail up to the lookout areas was paved but was probably not suitable for wheelchairs or walkers.

Views from Washington Pass

Looking down on the road below

Clouds rolling in over the mountains

Totals for Rainy Lake & Washington Pass:  22 hikers including two toddlers and an infant in a front carrier, 1 dog

Day 2, Cutthroat Lake

No camping within 1/4 mile of the lake

Munch, munch, munch,  too busy eating to care about people passing by

Cutthroat Creek

Autumn colors

The trail is packed dirt and while not really wide enough to walk side-by-side it is not narrow or overgrown.

Pipsissewa going to seed

This log bridge without rails was about 8 feet above the creek.  Our friend has Parkinson's and decided it was not a good idea for him to attempt the bridge or fording the creek.  I didn't want to chance it with my still healing Archilles and stayed with him while Bob went on the rest of the short distance to the lake. 

Bob's photo of Cutthroat Lake

Amanita muscaria (poisonous)

This very attractive mushroom can be yellow, orange or red with warty white bumps.  Do not eat (or maybe not even touch), it is poisonous.

Cutthroat Lake
Totals for the day:  32 hikers, 4 bikes, and 4 dogs

Day 3, Blue Lake

View of the Liberty Bell group from the road

Fall colors

Another camping sign

We had hoped to see some of the golden yellow larch trees but were just a little too early in the season to see very many. 

Close up of the bright green larch tree needles that will soon turn golden yellow

Blue Lake

The remains of an old log cabin

One of the mountain tarns on the Tarn Loop Trail next to Blue Lake.  There was a nice meadow also.

Ground cover turning red

Looking down on Blue Lake from the Tarn Loop trail

 Sign on the Tarn Loop trail identifying the Liberty Group mountains

 A tree growing in or near a hole in the mountain side


The Blue Lake trail had some rocks and roots as well as avalanche chutes with loose gravel, rocks and dirt.  On the way down from Blue Lake I fell in an avalanche chute and managed to both sprain and fracture my left ankle.   Bob always carries a first aid kit and was able to wrap my ankle with an Ace bandage.  Then, with slightly more than 1 mile back to the parking area, we inched slowly along.  I am hoping to retire the cane and fancy gray boot in a couple of weeks but the accident has ended my hiking for the rest of this season. 


Blue Lake
Totals for the day:  In the morning on the way up we counted 73 hikers and 3 dogs, in the afternoon the count had exceeded 100 hikers and some more dogs.   The fall and the mile walk out on sprained and fractured ankle resulted in an incomplete count for the afternoon.