Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 9

When you think of the Pacific Northwest you probably think of salmon first, but the mighty slug could be our official state gastropod! They are everywhere and just my speed when it comes to photography!

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This is what you grow in the rain around here-he is, no doubt, off to eat the rest of my garden 😦

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Roda’s “Critter Connection” Challenge, Day 7

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It has been raining in Washington all day and I was really worried about finding a critter to keep this challenge alive. Nothing has been stirring and I was afraid I would have to resort to a shot of my napping cat just to have something to post. So, I went about my day and went rock climbing and baked cupcakes for this month’s baking challenge (post to come soon on that) and I went outside to photograph my cupcakes just to find some light for the pictures. As I was looking around the garden I spotted some bees working over the only flowers left blooming in the yard. I decided to challenge my inner Roda and try to capture the bees at work.

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It was still lightly raining, and there was not a lot of light left, but I took aim anyway!

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In the end I am not Roda! But I did fulfill the challenge for one more day! Hopefully you won’t have to see my cat tomorrow and I will find something moving around out there!

A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 2

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If you remember from the first post, we had just finished our wonderful dinner and were feeling pretty groggy the next morning from our food coma, that actually started the night before. We decided to head over to American Camp Beach for an early hike to clear our heads. This park has some rather impressive historical roots dating back to the mid 1800s when the military established its presence during the British/US occupation. Today it is just a pretty place to hike around.

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A group of kayakers are getting their safety lecture before heading out.

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The entire shoreline is covered with fort structures made from the huge supply of driftwood.

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We don’t get huge breakers on the sound, but look at the mountains in the distance!

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We saw several bald eagles and tried to get a closeup of two of them before they pecked our eyes out.

We were feeling considerably more awake as a result of dodging eagles and tourist with paddles, we headed back to the cottage to get ready for a round of golf.

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I promised a tour of the cottage in the first post, so here it is!

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The front, and only door, is on the left and the “kitchen” is to the right. The door has a gorgeous window!

 

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If you turn to the right from the “kitchen” you see the bathroom and bed. Look at that window!

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Then you turn back, and that is pretty much it!

Like I said before, it is small but the architecture allows for a lot of light, and it is really cozy. What is really stunning about the property is the location and views-more on that in a moment. Another bonus is that it is just 1/4 mile from the only golf course on the Island. We had a 1pm tee time.

I did not take a lot of pictures of the course because, well, it ain’t that pretty! I warmed up in the putting and chipping areas.

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It was a good course for me, the beginner, because there were not too many trees, water features or sand traps. But, this was an 18 hole course with some long drives, so I did not play every hole. I did drive the cart and managed to sneak some action shots of my hubby.

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He looks like he is going to crush this ball

It was fun and very hot! We went back to the cottage and I took some photos of the beautiful property.

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I absolutely love these trees. They surround the cottage.

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We are up on a hill overlooking the water.

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This is the view from the deck on one side.

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And the view from the other side.

The woman who owns this property has a second rental right next door and a beautiful garden, I had to take pictures of that as well! All the islands in the San Juans grow lavender. There is so much of it I would say it is the primary crop here. There are lavender baked goods, soap, bath salts….anything you can think of will have been infused with the scent.

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The bees love it so there is plenty of lavender honey for sale!

The owner has many wonderful and unique plantings throughout the garden.

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There was a trellis that caught my eye. As I swung my camera up I spotted one of the largest bee hives I have ever seen.

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I got a little closer

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At this point we believed it was an abandoned hive and I tried to talk my husband into climbing up and using his head for scale. Then we saw this…

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Obviously there were occupants at home and my hubby said it was a “no go” to the climbing up part. We estimate that the hive is just a little smaller than an adult head!

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The rest of the garden was not as scary!

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We ended this day with a light meal and happy hour at a beautiful spot over looking the ferry dock.

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We watched the float planes, which were constantly present, land and take off.

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Sorry about the quality of these photos, the planes were fast, I only had my cell phone and the happy hour drinks were starting to kick in!

The next morning it was time to head back home. We parked our car in the ferry line and set out on foot to find some breakfast. Cafe Demeter is the best bakery on the Island and just a few steps from the ferry dock. We have been here before and the wait in the long line is completely worth it! Highly recommend this one!IMG_2691

After my breakfast pizza, which I ate before I took any pictures, we wandered around town and checked out a few other places that are near the dock.

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This houses many little shops to browse or pick up a last minute souvenir-probably something with lavender!

 

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Also a great place for coffee or breakfast. It is also open for lunch and dinner.

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We have not dinned here but I have heard good reviews.

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Remember the ice cream we had on day 1? This is that shop but if you go remember they only take cash!

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We had lunch at this spot last year, it was ok.

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On the look out for our ferry at this pretty spot

Our ferry arrived right on time

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We said good bye for this year.

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Friday Harbor is just one side of the Island of San Juan. Roche Harbor is on the opposite side of the Island. It is just as pretty but maybe a little more effort to get there. Abbey from abbeyco is a boater who lives here in Seattle and happen to be visiting Roche while we were in Friday Harbor. If you would like to see more about that side of the Island, check out her post. She has great pictures and an adorable little girl too!

So it is good bye for now, until next year…..

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A Ferry Ride, A San Juan Cottage and an Amazing Dinner: Day 1

When people think of the Pacific Northwest they often conjure images of rain, coffee, the Space Needle and salmon flying through the air at Pike Place Market. All thoroughly acceptable iconic images that we deserve here in Seattle. But the true gem of Washington State is our ferry system and the many beautiful islands that we have spread around the Puget Sound. We patiently wait out the constant deluge from the clouds and near constant dark skies from October to May to get to the holy grail of summer. From June to (if we are lucky) the end of September the clouds part, the sun beams down and anyone with a dingy or inflatable tube hits the water.  We PNWs live for the promise of summer and then we take full advantage of the precious time we have until we all are forced back into Starbucks to wait out the winter.

My hubby and I have our wedding anniversary at the end of July and last year we went to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. We had such a great time that we did it again this year, and me with my camera in hand this time. We set out early Sunday morning which was quite foggy as we made our way to Anacortes to catch the ferry.

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This ferry was running on a different route nearby. The camera saw more than my eye did!

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Then the fog started to lift about half way through the hour long boat ride.

As expected there were many boats out on the water despite the early hour and foggy conditions. And the views from the our ferry deck were spectacular.

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He is covering the logo on his jacket but it looks like he is saying the pledge of allegiance with the wrong hand!

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Another ferry docked at nearby Lopez Island

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I have  no idea why these boats are single file, looks like a parade

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I wold love one of these homes on the beach!

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The fog has cleared and you can see the mountains in the distance

 

We were approaching Friday Harbor on the big Island, San Juan.

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More beautiful homes along the waterfront

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Approaching the Friday Harbor Marina

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The ferry dock is on the left of the marina in this shot

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These homes and condos are to the left of the ferry dock, on the opposite side of the marina

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We have arrived!

We were too early to go to our cottage and check in so we decided to mill around the waterfront for awhile. We began at the small park near the marina.

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I love this tree

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Really love it!

 

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This is the Pacific Northwest after all, we do lots of totem poles here!

We made our way down onto the dock where the boats are tied up for the day and there are a few places to buy snacks.

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All boats are great, but I have a preference for these older wooden sailboats.

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One can not stop at the marina and not look for the harbor seal at the Seafood store. She has been coming to this exact spot for 30 years and recently brought her young pup by for a snack. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to see the baby this time.

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It really doesn’t get fresher than this! They sell amazing seafood and prepared meals as well

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This guy was staring me down!

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She showed up right on cue!

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Some kids bought her lunch!

By now, we were getting hungry too but dinner was not for awhile yet.

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There are many great places to get ice cream, but this is our favorite one. By the way, you rock climbers will love this shirt!

We wandered around a few more of our favorite stores, I do love this bookstore! And, marveled at the spectacular views until it was time to check in and get ready for our anniversary dinner.

This is the cottage that we have now stayed at twice. It is small, secluded and adorable. The view can’t be beat!

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I spent some time photographing the cottage and surrounding garden but I will save that for the day 2 post, as this one is long already! We got cleaned up and prepared to head to the other side of the island where the Duck Soup Inn is located.

Our dinner last year was delicious and this year did not disappoint! We had high expectations and were so happy we returned this year.

We started off with cocktails, I don’t remember what these are exactly but isn’t memory loss the sign of a good drink!

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We ordered two appetizers, the cured beef carpaccio with arugula pesto, parmesan, charred onion cream, toasted hazelnuts and berry gastrique

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And Wescott Bay smoked and baked oysters. Both were fantastic and I don’t like oysters! These were not raw, which helped me greatly, and were served with fig aioli, bread crumbs and parmesan.ds3

We both had the corn and spot prawn bisque, and loved it!

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My husband went with the Seared Weathervane Scallops-this was good! The shellfish was flavored by braising in pork belly and served with a summer succotash and red bell pepper sauce-yum!

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And I had the Fresh Ricotta Gnocchi-this was better! Really tasty! How can this be bad when it is served with cherry tomatoes, garlic, summer herbs, browned butter and Midnight Moon aged goat cheese?

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We finished off with more cocktails and a chocolate fudge sundae-yes, more ice cream! The dinner was outstanding and just the right amount of food. Their portions were perfect and we cleaned our plates.

It was a wonderful day and even better evening! Day 2 will have more pictures of the town and the property where we stayed! Thanks for reading this far.

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Half Marathon Training Wrap Up!

 

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Spoiler Alert: We survived!

This last week of training was fairly straight forward. We had two runs scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday with the option of either 4 or 5 miles each of those days.  I decided to make them both 5 milers, while my hubby went with 5 on Tuesday and 4 on Thursday. My average pace Tuesday was 9:51 and Thursday was 9:41. I don’t know why one was a little faster than the other, it was the same course and same time of day. The only difference was that it was raining pretty hard on Tuesday with a decent wind to contend with, so perhaps that affected me more than I realized.

 

 

 

I have been so nervous about my back injury and this half marathon, that I have been really scaling back other activities. I did go climbing a couple times this week, but didn’t try anything too hard. When Saturday rolled around we made our way into Seattle to pick up our race packets at the runners expo.

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It was really starting to sink in that this was going to happen! We decided to sign up for the morning VIP package. This is a pre-race option that would allow us to park at the finish line, take a shuttle to the start and a continental breakfast would be available to us. We also would benefit from a private gear check and, most importantly, flush toilets just for the the VIP group. We have done this at other races and have never regretted spending the money for this perk. However, the start time for this year was 6:30am which meant that we had to catch the shuttle at 4:30am! Factoring the drive to the parking garage and getting ready for the run meant getting up at 3:30am! We were not sure that this was a brilliant idea this time.

Saturday evening, we decided to take a Yin Yoga and Gong Bath class. If you are not familiar, Yin yoga focuses on holding static poses for longer periods of time to allow for greater stretching of the muscles. A Gong Bath is effectively meditation with background music played on a variety of gongs and chimes. Our thought was that this would give our muscles a good stretch, before we made them work really hard the next day, and help relax us and wind down before the race on Sunday. Did it work? I think so. My back was less tight and we were happy to have the diversion from thinking about running 13 miles the next morning!

The big day finally came on Sunday. We got up at 3:30am (ugh) and made our way to the start at Husky Stadium at the University of Washington. We immediately saw the wisdom of the VIP package as the line for the honey buckets was the worst I have ever seen at any race in which we have participated. 20,000 people registered for the Seattle Rock n’ Roll and about 250 were in the VIP area. We had coffee (several cups), bagels and yogurt parfaits. Not to mention space heaters! Both my hubby and I made several trips to the bathrooms and the runners outside were lucky to get one. Yes, I will be sticking with the VIP option for future races!

The course this year was a little easier than last year, which I appreciated! My husband was in the fast wave and I started about 30 minutes later. I was nervous about my curtailed training the last few weeks, but it went just fine. Actually better than fine!

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I managed an average pace of 10:15 and had my fastest half marathon to date! This was my third half and the fastest as I finished in 2:16.  I was shocked as my only goal was to keep running the entire route and be able to walk, with my back intact, the next day.  I did a lot better than that-so grateful my body held together.

My husband absolutely crushed this course finishing in 1:38! That’s a 7:20ish pace and a PR for him! Not too shabby for only his second half marathon. Unfortunately, he really pushed it and was hobbling around for the rest of Father’s Day! He laid on the couch and watched the US Open and rehabilitated.

We are both happy and grateful to be healthy and active at this point in our lives. We are planning another half in the fall, but have a lot more to do before that! I want to really hit the climbing routes now that I don’t have to hold back anymore. I also want to start up golf lessons again, provided I keep healing!

Thanks to all of you who were supportive and for your words of encouragement, both on the blog and Instagram, I really appreciate your positivity!

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Half Marathon Training, Week 15 Update!

This is it! My last update before we run the Seattle Rock n’ Roll half marathon on June 18th, Father’s Day. It is hard to believe that we are only a week away from the day. It seemed so far away when we began training 16 weeks ago.

This last week was really tough for me. My back is slowly, so slowly getting better, and I have been stressing over it. We got back from our Vegas trip on Monday and had a 12 mile run scheduled for Tuesday. It did not go well!

 

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I really struggled to get this 10 miles done and had hit the wall and could not go 2 more without possibly doing more damage to my back. At this point I was beginning to question if the half was a good idea. Sure, I could walk the rest but what is the point of that! Even with the struggle my time was not that hideous at 10:38 average pace. But I was in pain and dejected!

When Thursday rolled around, I hit my usual trail for the 4 mile assignment. Even though my pace was faster I still felt exhausted and it seemed like this was such a hard 4 miles-How was I going to do 13!

 

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I was dreading the 6 mile run today. I have been so down and stressed about my injury and my pace. And then I decided to change my narrative. Today is a beautiful day in the Pacific Northwest. The type of day we all dream about here when it is dark and raining for 3 months straight. I took a look around and saw the kayakers gliding down the slough, the bikers dusting off their cycles and all the families out enjoying the sunshine. I decided I was going to relax and just run. The pace and mileage would take care of itself! I did not push myself or set a specific goal, just ran because I love to.  It turned out to be the break my mind and body needed. I had the most enjoyable run of the last two weeks since I hurt my back!

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My pace was 10:04/mile and that is not bad for me! We are heading into the taper week and have 4-5 mile runs on both Tuesday and Thursday and then the half on Sunday! We will be carb loading both Friday and Saturday night, and have booked a Gong yoga class Saturday night to relax and stretch our mind and body.

I am hoping to have a recap of the event to post as the wrap up to this project next week.

Wish us luck!

 

 

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week 15

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6miles

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week of the race

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4-5 miles

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4-5 miles

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13.1 miles!

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Working on my photography at the beach

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This weekend I spent with me, myself and I. My husband went to Spokane to run in the Bloomsday event. This is a huge race that he does with his coworkers. They leave early on Saturday morning for the 1 hour flight and head straight to a golf course where they proceed to drink all day and, somehow, play a round or two. They spend the night and get up early to join the 30,000 other folks for the annual 12K (7.5 mile) run, have lunch, drink some more beverages and then fly home Sunday night. That meant that I was on my own to run a 9 mile training run so I figured that after I ran I would take off to the Washington coast and work on my photography skills (such that they are!).

I left for the shore at 1pm on Saturday and arrived at 4pm. I was staying at the Quinault Beach Resort and Casino on, you guessed it, Quinault Beach. I dropped off my bag and immediately headed out to the shoreline.

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As I exited the hotel, I took a shot before I entered the beach

 

These images were from the shore, looking back at the resort. The sky was amazing!

 

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The property had a private boardwalk to enter the beach

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It was windy, and cold to be sure, but the sun was shining.

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The tide was out quite a ways and the beach was covered with jellyfish.

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There were a few seagulls out and about. This one is the same as the bird in the picture that is found at the start of the post.

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I really love the cloud cover. Part of our photography class is playing with the white balance. We are learning how to shoot in cloudy and bright conditions. I played around with this function to get this image.

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Another area of focus in the class is depth analysis. Here I tried to capture the different growth levels of the plant both above and below the surface of the water.

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I switched to my zoom lens to get a little closer to the waves and this seagull.

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By now I was quite cold and ready to head inside for some hot coffee. Sunset was at 8:34 and I had just enough time to settle into my room, have dinner and get back out to the shore with my tripod in tow.

It was extremely windy and the sand was really blowing along. I tried to capture the feeling of movement by using a longer exposure setting. What do you think? Can you see the sand moving?

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I will keep working on that!

These next shots were on aperture priority setting, and the white balance was set to cloudy to make the colors more visible. I should also say that I did not use any filters.

 

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I decided to swing around and look at the clouds in the east as well.

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Moving back to the west again, I tried positioning the sun in different fields of view.

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That was a long as I could stand the cold! I went back to my room and had a hot bath, read a good book and had a great night’s sleep!

The next morning I went for a long walk on the beach sans camera. I just wanted to absorb the beauty, breath in the salty air and stretch my sore muscles-they were definitely feeling that 9 mile run the day before! With my soul refreshed I packed up, checked out and went 5 miles down the road to the city of Ocean Shores. This was a completely different experience! Where Quinault Beach was quiet and mostly deserted, Ocean Shores was crazy, populated and chaotic. There were cars on the beach driving around, horse trailers set up for tourists to ride on and motorized bicycles buzzing around. Why would anyone want to drive all the way to the shore to then drive on the beach! What happened to listening to the waves, feeling the sand in your toes and getting away from it all? I didn’t get it!

There were some standard sights that you usually get at the beach, such as people flying kites.

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And the ocean here looked a lot like the last beach, but the clouds were not as impressive today. At least it was warmer, and I did appreciate that.

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The birds here were insane. Maybe it was because there were so many people around who left their food unattended. The flocks were massive and the small birds were wicked fast. I decided to try to capture some the fast moving objects by moving into shutter priority mode and set it to 800. I can’t tell you how many shots I snapped trying to get a sharp image, but I got a few to my surprise!

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I was getting a headache trying to catch the little birds so I turned my attention to the slower, gulls. I managed to get a couple good ones.

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Then, out of nowhere one of the flocks turned right at me!

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They veered off at the last second, thankfully!

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That was enough for me-I am not really all that comfortable around birds. Especially when there are so many of them. I decided to pack it in for the weekend. I made one last stop for lunch before the long ride home in Sunday traffic.

 

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This granola with greek yogurt and berries was delicious! I had a great, albeit short trip and had a lot of fun with my camera. Next time I think I will skip the touristy beach and just hang out on the calm, serene shoreline. Minus the deadly attack birds!