The Grotto, Portland, OR

IMG_1055The Grotto, also known as  is National Sanctuary of Our Sorrowful Mother, is a 62-acre Catholic shrine and botanical garden which is administered by the Order of Friars Servants of Mary.

The Grotto is lovely and peaceful. By far the most unique part is the elevator, which is built adjacent to the 110′ cliff and has only two stops. I got on at the bottom, the location of Our Lady’s Grotto, a gift store, and the largest of the churches. and got off at the top, the site of the gardens, other smaller churches and religious artwork.  The grotto is a rock cave carved into the cliff and feature a life-size marble replica of Michelangelo’s Pieta.

The complex is free to visit, but there is a $5 charge to take the elevator. It’s well worth it. To learn more, look here.

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Saint Martin’s Prairie & the Abby Cemetery

13813889994_65fe2fd1ec_bSaint Martin’s College and Abbey in Lacey has been around since the 1890s. It’s small cemetery is located in a rich stand of woods behind the Monastery and is for members of the abbey, thus the vast majority of the uniformed headstones read Father. The metal gates have two welcoming angels and there is a low stone fence.

The nearby College Regional Storm Facility is like a small, tranquil park with a gravel trail that leads around the full storm water ponds. There were plenty of birds and insects, as well as college students playing Frisbee and riding a bike.



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Kelsey Creek Farm, Bellevue

13340504343_aa9c5da73e_bI’ve been wanting to visit Kelsey Creek Farms Park at 13204 SE 8th in Bellevue for a while, so on Saturday after dropping off dear daughter for her ride back to college I stopped by. There was a birthday party going on and plenty of children in the under five crowd. The 150 acre original site had been a forest and was developed as the Twin Valley Dairy Farm in the 1920s. Despite pressure from real estate developers, in the 1960s 80 acres of the property was sold to the City of Bellevue for use as a park. It receives over 200,000 visits a year. ThePark’s website is here.

The log cabin is the Frasier House, built in 1888 and moved to Kelsey Creek Farms Park in 1974.  It was built by two Norwegian woodsmen and lived in for a short time. Mostly it was used as storage. 

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Waiting for new development

Lone TrailerThis once splendid trailer is the last man standing in an ex-trailer park north of Highway 512 and East of South Tacoma Way. I could still see the individual pads where the mobile homes once sit and my husband pointed out where each unit’s power was. And there are a couple of rundown buildings that I suspect were the park’s office and perhaps a laundry facility.  I wonder why it was deserted and dear husband opined that maybe it was cleared away for redevelopment and then the market collapsed. Perhaps.

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Dalco Passage

12280410435_512a2bf47b_c(1)While others were watching the Superbowl, I went out to give my new camera a spin. It was kind of eerie being out with almost everyone watching the game. Though there were plenty of police and taxis.  I wandered through Five Mile Drive in Pt. Defiance and took a shot of Dalco Passage, thinking that I would find a fascinating history of Dalco, but no such luck. All I can find is that Dalco Passage is a tidal strait in the Puget Sound, located between the southern end of Vashon Island and Tacoma. Below are a couple of more shots including the sweet beggar of a raccoon (which I didn’t feed). And go Seahawks!

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Garfield Nature Trail

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Garfield Nature Trail at 620 Rogers Street NW, Olympia is like a little haven of wilderness right in the middle of a residential neighborhood. It isn’t a typical park with picnic areas and playground equipment. Instead it is a trail through a ravine between Rogers Street NW and West Bay Drive NW. I hiked from Rogers to West Bay and back again. The path has several sets of stairs and boardwalks and I wish I had worn my sneakers because is places it was damp and a tad slippery. The trail was busy with young people, families and folks walking dogs.

City Haven Peace Park

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There is a small, private park named City Haven Peace Park located next to the Quaker Meetinghouse/Hillside Community Church at 2508 39th Street South. This space has an abundance of birds, squirrels and an occasional raccoon. There are also several inuksuk, which are rock formations roughly shaped like humans.

Spanaway Lake, the last day of 2013

11678596936_a43ee371af_hI wanted some place pretty for the last day in 2013, so I made my dear husband go out to Spanaway Lake in the light Northwest rain. I find it amazing that I had never been there before. During the warmer months it is possible to rent row boats and canoes at the boathouse. The lake encompasses 280 acres and a maximum depth of 28 feet and a mean depth of 16 feet.

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Reef HQ Aquarium

Photo Jul 14, 2 54 06 PMThe Reef HQ Aquarium in Townsville is the world’s largest living coral reef aquarium. It is part of the Great Barrier Reef Marine Park Authority. We visited this aquarium and had a behind the scenes look at a sea turtle hospital as well as all of the wonderful conservation work being done. We spent the night here and I didn’t think that I’d be able to sleep on the air mattress, but really it was no problem!

Rain Forestation Nature Park

9390501463_0f65e2e86f_cThis begins a 20+ day blog catchup and recap of my time in Australia. No doubt the recap will have more photos than words. :)

The first day we went to the Rain Forestation Nature Park in Kuranda. Link is here. There were kangaroos and koalas (I got to hold one!) and crocodiles (oh my!). There was a WWII amphibious duck  (DUKW) boat which toured the tropical rainforest and the plunged into a lake.  It seems like everything the guides pointed out could kill you, including the plants!

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