Driftwood Beach Cabin Trail Boat Launch Wanted! Dead or Alive Beach Driftwood Texture Saratoga Passage

Camano Island State Park

For our first trip of 2015, we took a short jaunt out to Camano Island. Camano Island State Park is a 173-acre camping park with 6,700-feet of rocky shoreline and beach. The park provides sweeping views of Puget Sound, the Olympic Mountains, and Mount Rainier. We decided to comb the beach and look out for birds on the Saratoga passage. There are forest loop trails to hike, but we decided to save them for later.

As we walked we saw a Great Blue Heron, a number of Surf Scoters and Goldeneyes. Along the way I learned that 60% of the Lesser Snow Geese that breed on Wrangle Island, Russia make a yearly migration to Washington state. Camano Island is one of those areas where the geese like to during the winter months. There were no snow geese at the park, but they can be found on other parts of the island and near Stanwood, WA. I’ll have to go back to find some snow geese.

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Dungeness Light Station Dungeness Spit Beach Dungeness Spit Driftwood Dungeness Spit Dungeness Spit Out on the Dungeness Spit Out on the Dungeness Spit Out on the Dungeness Spit Don't let the hat blow away Low Tide Low Tide Beach Combing

Dungeness Spit

The Dungeness Spit was formed by wind and water currents that forced river silt and glacial till to arch into the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Over the centuries the spit has grown to over 5 miles. You can hike all the way to the tip, where a lighthouse has been keeping guard since 1857. The extreme tip, however, like the Dungeness Bay side of the spit, is closed to public entry to protect important wildlife habitat. Because the spit is protected and managed as a wildlife refuge, many recreational activities are restricted.

The best time to go is obviously low tide. The entry trail is 0.5 mile and before descending to the beach, theres a sweeping views of the spit from an overlook. At the base of tall bluffs is the start of the spit with a straightforward hike to the lighthouse. Pack plenty of water and sunscreen. If the 11-mile round trip seems daunting, any distance hiked along the spit will be rewarding.

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Temple Fish Black swan of hawaii Buddha & The Temple Stone Buddha Temple Temple bird Gardens Temple pillars Zen Garden Buddha & The Sig Bamboo Gardens The Byodo-In Temple The Byodo-In Temple

O’ahu: Byodo-In Temple, Valley of the Temples

The Byodo-In Temple is located at the foot of the Ko’olau Mountains in Valley of the Temples Memorial Park. It was established on June 7, 1968, to commemorate the 100 year anniversary of the first Japanese immigrants to Hawaii. The Byodo-In Temple in O’ahu is a smaller-scale replica of the over 950-year-old Byodo-in Temple, a United Nations World Heritage Site in Uji, Japan.

This leisurely walk through the temple grounds includes a lushly landscaped paradise nestled in a cleft of the pali and is home to wild peacocks and hundreds of  Japanese koi carp. The beautiful grounds include a large reflecting pond, meditation niches, and small waterfalls; a beautiful, peaceful, and restful place.

Amida, a golden Buddha housed in the temple, falls solidly in the “awe inspiring” category.  The Buddha is possibly the largest figure carved outside of Japan. Towering more than 9 feet, the immense figure is an original work of art carved by the famous Japanese sculptor, Masuzo Inui.

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Camano Island Drift Wood

Where Have the Games Gone?

Where have the Games Gone? Up until about a year ago (or has it been two years?) I played a lot of games. I even ran a podcast dedicated to a game. You may have noticed that my blog’s name has changed from “Anne, G4m3r W1f3ling” to “All things Anne.” So what happened? What have I been up to?

Hikes and Walks

Since October 2014, I’ve written regularly about my hikes and walks in and around Seattle with my two friends Janice and John, and of course with my husband. I know! Who new that the fun exploring in real life exceeded that of exploring in an MMO world? My husband has an aversion to roughing it in the great outdoors, and we call him Mr. 2% for various reasons. Apparently, he feels that I indulge him in nearly all of his hobbies that it would be only fair to reciprocate for mine.

My impetus for travel is two fold; the first is having friends eager and willing to join me on adventures. Secondly, I’ve found medications that relieve me of nasty allergy and asthma symptoms. Friends make for excellent motivation, entertainment and fun when wandering about ogling at nature. Combine that with being unchained from psychical restrictions, and now I have an impulse to put one foot in front of the other just to see lush vegetation, majestic views, and animals frolicking in the wild.

If you’re interested you can view my posts and pictures of our adventures.

Of course there are more reasons involved for less gaming, but I’ll save that for later blog posts.

 Saratoga Passage

Saratoga Passage



O’ahu: Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens

Waimea Valley is 1875 acres of beautiful and sacred native Hawaiian history. Waimea also known as the “The Valley of the Priests,” gained its title around 1090 when the ruler of Oahu awarded the land to the kähuna nui. Descendants of the high priests lived and cared for much of the Valley until 1886.

In 2009, we took a took a casual walk on a paved path through the botanical gardens and up to the waterfall area. Possibly THE finest collection of Polynesian plants in existence.  Amazing and rare Hawaiian plants blooming with vivid flowers.  Numerous endangered species native to islands such as Lord Howe Island, Guam, Madagascar, the Mascarene Islands, the Ogasawara Islands and even the Seychelles. Several native and endangered birds including the ‘Alae ‘ula live in this serene sanctuary. A 1.5 mile round trip well worth the visit.

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Blue Sky Savannah Bay

Anguilla: Junks Hole & Savannah Bay

Near the remote eastern end of Anguilla is a beautiful lengthy curved bay with sand, snorkeling, and palm trees. There is one building (although I want to call it a shack) called the Palm Grove. The bay itself is called Savannah Bay and looks like it should have a five-star resort on it instead of being empty. The corner by the Palm Grove is called Junks Hole.

This is a mile-long beach without a hotel in sight (but not for long). There is really only one way to get to Junk’s Hole: On the paved road across the eastern end of the island, watch for a sign for Palm Grove. The sand road to the beach is rough and rocky in places, but can be driven during daylight with no great difficulty. Park next to Palm Grove.

Hiking the bay is tame and peaceful with its exquisite blue sky, turquoises sea and white beach. The bay is usually shallow and sandy along the shore, but strong weather can change the bay bottom. The swimming is excellent, but as with all Atlantic beaches, the currents and surf can be strong at certain times of the year.

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Iron Springs Iron Springs Iron Springs Beaver Tree Longmire Cabin Cabin Longmire Museum Mt Rainier Trail of Shadows Mt Rainier Mt Rainier Bubbling Spring Rusty Springs Rusty Springs

Mt. Rainier: Longmire

The trail begins directly across the road from the Longmire Inn and loops around a marshy bog created by the mineral springs that burble out of the meadow. The path brings you close to a couple of the springs and when the trail nears the stream alongside the meadow, you’ll find a few beaver dams. Halfway through the loop, you’ll pass in front of a tiny log cabin, built in 1888 by Elcaine Longmire, James’s son. The trail passes a junction with the Rampart Ridge Trail on the right just before closing the mile-long loop.

A short and sweet hike in addition to touring camp Longmire. The museum features glass cases filled with plants and animals, including a stuffed cougar. Historical photographs and geographical displays provide a worthwhile overview of the park’s history. The adjacent visitor center has some perfunctory exhibits on the surrounding forest and its inhabitants.

During the summer this is a fun little rest stop and a nice prelude of things to come deeper into the park. Because of its relatively low elevation at 2,760 feet, Longmire is one of the few areas of Mount Rainier National Park which remains accessible year-round. During winters of heavy snowfall, three to five feet of snow may cover the ground. This is great for snowshoers and novice skiers when blizzard conditions exist higher on the mountain.

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Mt. Rainier: Skyline Trail

This is a 4.5 hour route that loops around the broad Edith Creek basin, leading through alpine flower fields, past thundering waterfalls, and over high, craggy peaks. By heading northeast from the lodge, you’ll enter the lower reaches of Edith Creek basin on the Skyline Trail. There are several junctions along the way, but Skyline Trail is always well marked. Head straight through two junctions about 1/4 of a mile from the start. The steep trail then gains 200 feet over the next 1/4 mile to a junction with Dearhead Creek Trail. The enticing views of Mount Rainier and Nisqually Glacier on the early portions of this hike are just a taste of things to come.

Stay to the right through the junction with Dearhead Creek Trail, then make a left at the next junction with Alta Vista Trail, 0.6 miles from the start. Leave the pavement behind as you hike straight toward Mount Rainier. Cherish the next 1.25 miles, which climb 850 feet to Panorama Point. The trail ascends a rocky ridge overlooking Nisqually Glacier

We did not go this far and we did not get to Panorama Point. We ended up just shy of Sluiskin Falls and had to head back because it was getting dark. Regardless, it was a beautiful hike with the season just starting to turn Autumn. I want to get to Panorama Point someday, but would need to leave early in the morning to make it.

Mt. Rainier: Shadow Lake-Sunrise Camp Loop

The trail head is located on southwest side of the visitor center parking lot and follow it west toward Sunrise Camp, ignoring any faint side trails. At about 0.5 mile out, you’ll notice a well-signed trail leading to the left (this is the Wonderland Trail) dropping down to White River. Continue straight ahead toward Shadow Lake and the Sunrise Camp.

Shadow Lake is about 1.2 miles from the trail head and is a haven for wildlife. The trees provide perches and shelter for birds and good shade and cover for beasts. Deer frequent this pond, as do mountain goats, so approach it quietly if you want to see any visiting critters. After passing a short spur to an Emmons Glacier overlook, you reach Sunrise Camp at about 1.8 miles. At the junction on the far side of camp, turn right–the left fork leads to Frozen Lake and then steeply up the side of First Burroughs Mountain. The right fork leads you along the wildflower meadows below Burroughs for 0.6 mile to reach yet another trail junction. Go right here and follow this main path 1.4 miles back to the trail head.

We did not go right! We went left for some amazing views of Mt. Rainier, but only after a sharp hilly climb and up all the way to Frozen Lake and part way up Mt. Fremont Lookout. We then backtracked to Sourdough Ridge toward Dege Peak, then back down to Sunrise Visitor Center. The hike took us all day and at that altitude we were out of breath. But it was so worth it.

Note: There are many old, decommissioned trails in the area. Stay on the main marked paths at all times.

Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane Ridge runs east to west on the northern side of the Olympic Peninsula, along the Strait of Juan de Fuca. The tallest mountain – Mount Olympus – is 7,965 feet high. The ruggedly carved mountain range contrasts with the soft fields of wild flowers in the subalpine meadows below. And the best part is that there are numerous trails and walks to enjoy it all.

Since it was a short day trip, we walked the Meadow Loop Trails adjacent to the Hurricane Ridge Visitor Center. I plan on going back to walk the Hurricane Hill Trail, which is a 1.5-mile ascent to panoramic views, and the Heart of the Forest Trail, a 2-mile trail through old-growth forest.