Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Water Lilies In Late July

Kenilworth is well worth a visit. Started as an area of reflection after the Civil War, cheap swamp land allowed a vet to purchase and start growing lilies. Eventually he and his daughter planted many different types that are on display in around 10 large ponds on the Anacostia River in Washington DC.

The stunning beauty of the flowers in this park is unreal. Plus, that it is in north eastern DC and that I had never heard of it add to the mystical nature of the environment.

It is not only water lilies that one will encounter above and below show additional flora that grow in the shallow ponds. The combination of different blossoms adds interest to the mellow walk around the pools.

No, I have no idea what these different plants are, but walking among them was a wonderful adventure that I was able to enjoy with my Mom. I’m glad we had this chance to hang out and spend a few moments amongst these beauties.

It was crowded on the Saturday we chose as a festival was taking place, but I’m sure there are times earlier or late in the day when it is less busy. This was only my second time to the park. The first was in mid-late June and the lilies were only budding; no blooms yet. So, I’d say late June to late July are the times to go. I may go on August 20th to check it out again as I would like to show my niece this place and see if the blooms are still full.

These larger lilies are a type of lotus. Look at the seed pods and leaves as they are just as cool as the blooms.

It is incredible as you walk among the ponds. You never know what you will find. I brought my dog and he loved it as well, though it was a little hot for him.

Here a dragonfly took a rest just as I walked by.

Kenilworth Park & Aquatic Gardens

Back to New Mexico

It was time to go back

There comes a time when you need to revisit things and that is just how I thought when I planned my last vacation. I wanted to see old friends and walk the places that had made me the happiest. So, I went back to New Mexico to eat good food, hang with friends and walk amongst the American Southwest and its amazing geology and stunning landscape.

We walked the Rio Grande down at the Bosque in Albuquerque. It is always a good experience to revisit the river. What a significant part of New Mexico and as well as a big part of my interaction there. There is so much to do and see that involves the river and don’t forget how important water is in a desert land.

The Fiery Food Festival: Yes, it is true that his was the main event of my trip to New Mexico. I walked Sandia Pueblo Casino and ate burning hot chili samples until my head exploded and my tastebuds didn’t accept the difference between beer and corn chips. As always good companionship and burning hot sauce was a great combination. I will always cherish going to the Fiery Food Festival. It was a yearly endeavor that promoted good times in New Mexico.

Tsankawi in Bandelier National Monument was another highlight. I wandered the ancient ruin and tread in the footsteps of another time. The day was beautiful and the landscape amazing. I have only been there a couple of times but it was well worth the effort. The cave dwellings are epic.

Not only can you see the how and where people lived, but you experience a time shift that puts you in their landscape. You see the craftmanship of creating livable space and surrounding areas where they grew their food and hunted for survival for thousands of years.

Centuries of walking on soft stone cut deep grooves.

The low road to Taos lets you pass through many environments and ecosystems, but this spot has always been a favorite. To some, just a barren hill, but I love the religious iconography placed upon it and the graves in front.

Spanish influence can be seen in many ways in New Mexico, but I picked this cross as Catholicism is everywhere. On the streets, promoted in festivals and in the museums you see the symbols.

Though an unknown mountain to many, San Antonito just south of the CO border is my favorite mountain. It is beautiful in many ways, but I like how it stands by itself. Powerful, peaceful and ready for life.

Abiquiu is such an amazing place. While I was there a blizzard arrived and the complete white out sent me packing back to Santa Fe. I can see why Georgia O’Keefe moved there and spent so much time making art work.

There is so much beauty in the environment; in the wild of New Mexico. You can also find it in the towns. Above was in Cerrillos, but all the different towns have such history and dynamic spaces it is difficult not to see beauty. Below is in Taos. I enjoyed pizza, great art, unexpected wildlife and some native perspective while I was there.

Trip to the Coast

an easy hike in the Hoh Rainforest

Went to Olympic National Park and Forest to take care of some business that I have put off for too long.

It started with a camping trip that Chris, Keith and I had planned for the summer of 2012. We were about 1/2 way through planning it and Keith killed himself. Like so many of us, he just couldn’t hold it together. He left 2 beautiful children and his wife Anne to carry on which was so hard on them. What a devastating situation.

It took me almost 10 years to get back to the Olympic mountains to spread his ashes and walk in nature, hopefully with his blessing.

Keith in the Bisti Wilderness- New Mexico 2010

It was Chris’ idea to go on with our camping trip in Washington State and spread Keith’s ashes. So he had me ask Anne for the ability and I took them with me when I moved away from New Mexico.

We came up with this plan hiking just before or after Keith’s Celebration of Life 11/19/11. It may have been during the hike where I took Chris’ image below.

Chris hiking in Sandia Wilderness- Albuquerque, NM 2011

Chris and Anne couldn’t make the trip due to issues with the 2020 Covid-19 pandemic, so I set off by myself to see what the Pacific coast had to offer.

Wow, it was splendid.

The fog crept up the mountain like dragon’s breath

Early the next day I awoke and started the climb at the lower trail head. The lower trail head was free to park and allowed me a 2 mile warm-up, which I needed as I am so out of shape.

When I got off the plane, I immediately drove to the mountains and set up my tent in the dark. I arrived at a campground at the base of the mountain around 2am. It was a long trip from Virginia to Washington State and I was exhausted.

Rainier was out as I slowly ascended the mountain. It seemed like everyone was passing me, which didn’t surprise me as I am so out of shape, but everyone was nice and gave me positive vibes as I went up. the sun was out and I met a bunch of cool people.

Keith would have loved this hike except for all the people that were out and about. Oh well, everything else was perfect.

I made it to the top and had someone take a pic as I spread Keith’s ashes. No one said anything negative as I did it, so I was happy that it went well. Though, I asked no permission and told only the pic taker what I was doing. It was just as it should be…

Afterwards, I drank Keith’s favorite beer. It was good and just what I needed.

On the way down
When I made it down, I was totally exhausted. It had taken me all day and the rain was coming in. I staggered back to my car and drove down the valley to the next campsite. It was worth the drive to Olympic National Park. I spent the day in my hammock and rested in a cold camp.

Olympic National Park had open hiking trails and fewer people. It was rainy and cold, so that kept some away, but most Washington State people are used to the rain.

The beauty of the place was astounding. Everywhere I looked I found a better picture. I took several thousand, but have reduced it down to just a few for the website. I hiked along a river. The moss and ferns were everywhere.

small, but strong river

The river’s strength was evident as I left and saw the large tree trunks that were swept into the adjacent lake. I drove for 5hrs and made it to the west side of the park where I hiked for 3 days and 2 nights and Graves Creek.

Campsite- Graves Creek, Wa

Several waterfalls were along the road as I left. What a tranquil and beautiful spot. I shall not forget.

The valley opened up several times as I drove though the rainforest.

Then, I made it to the beach.

Don’t let the image fool you. There were hundreds of people here, but most were in their cars as it was raining.

I spent the day driving up the coast. I drove for several hours, but spend most of the time stopping and hiking down to the beaches. I visited 3 or 4. It started raining at noon.

I love the raindrops on the lens in this shot. Also, how grey the day is. It is almost a black and white photo.

I finally made it to my cabin on the coast and then for something different went down to the beach to take some pics.

First pic of the following morning
Surfer checking out the dawn
crows were competing with the gulls for food

In the distance islands stood centered above the waves.

The beauty of the morning blew my mind- so subtle, so perfect.

It was time to drive for another hike, so I went up the road and hiked to Third Beach.

As I approached the beach I had phone service and paused my call to take this pic.

The light was perfect at this time in the morning. The men camped on the beach were just awakening as were the gulls begging for food. A harbor seal followed me, looking for a handout, but I know better than to feed wild animals.

harbor seal’s head

I love the contrast of these pics

I headed back to the cabin only to find that the only restaurant in La Push, Wa is closed on Wednesdays, so I bought some gas station food and went to the cabin to sleep. I read and studied music.

I slept in and timed my next hike to get to my destination at low tide, which was at 1pm. I went to Hole In The Wall and it was packed with people, but sunny and warm.

Looking to the ocean were islands and columns sticking out of the water, but behind me were huge trees washed up like toothpicks on the coast.

Here you can see a couple people for size reference.

All the people were on the south side of Hole In The Wall waiting for low tide to hit, so I hiked over the top of a ridge to access the next run of beach. I had it all to myself.

Hole In The Wall

Mostly, I saw sea anemones in the tidal pools. I looked around for hours. It was great fun.

After the hike was over, I went back to the cabin for my last night indoors. I read some more, but before, I went down to the beach to take some pics.

You can’t go west, without taking at least one sunset pic.

The birds gathered as soon as the sun went down. Kind of cool.

Mostly, pelicans flew around in circles. I have alot of pelican pics, but I’ll spare you.

The Hoh Rainforest

about an hour from the coast

The next day I drove back into teh rain forest. I was looking for moss and boy, did I find some. The Hall Of Mosses in the Hoh Rainforest was incredible.

It was not just the moss that was interesting, but how the coated objects lost their definition and it was difficult to tell what was underneath it.

I mean, what is that thing? I’m sure my dog would have barked at it, if he had been around.

It was lush and dark, even though it was sunny out, it was like you were inside in your own little room. An intimate setting, though many people were around.

ferns grew on moss that grew on trees that grew on moss that grew on trees.

That night it rained and then I got up and left for the airport. I had 8hrs to kill, so I drove around for 5 and then called a friend- Willy and had dinner. He was nice enough to let me stay at his house, since my plane was delayed, but at the last minute I figured out that my plane was actually leaving that night (not the next morning), so I drove to the airport like a mad man and barely made my flight.

Who was this trip about, besides me? Who you might ask?

On the top of a mountain, while driving home, I ran into this rainbow. It made me think of Keith.

Pocahontas State Park guest Artist

hand built ceramic workshop out in the rain, but under a tent.

December 1 &2 I was the guest artist at Pocahontas State Park.  The current CCC Museum was once a craft building built for the community to make arts and crafts in 1939. A wood kiln was built as well on the grounds to support pottery making.

Pulling up the sides of an earthenware cup

Each day I threw pottery and did a hand built workshop where the students made pinch pots and worked on different techniques such as rolling coils, attaching slabs, creating textures and making handles for cups.

The rangers did clay workshops with children and built a fire near the kiln. The made smores in the afternoon and talked to people walking or hiking by.

The weather was overcast, but being in the woods and making pottery outside was very cool.

I enjoyed all the volunteers that helped out and the park rangers who participated in making the event a success.

Making pinch pots and working on hand built techniques.

Teaching the volunteers how the wood kiln works, so they can pass it along to those that are interested.

Maybe, next time the weather will be nicer and there will be more people. Either way I would love to work there again. What a great time.