.All Trips / Pacific Northwest / Washington

A fall visit to the Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden, Spokane, Washington

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One of the things I enjoy about blogging is sharing less commonly visited but interesting destinations.  The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Japanese Garden in Spokane, Washington, certainly fits that bill.  A smaller garden, well known to locals but not to many tourists, it has its charms!  When I lived in Spokane I’d commonly stop by as it was midway between the hospital where I worked and the library I frequented.  I enjoy the calm nature and beauty of Japanese gardens.  They are places where nature, tranquility, gardening skills, and art merge.

The Nishinomiya Tsutakawa Garden sits on the site of the old zoo (closed in the 1930s).  The garden was designed by Nagao Sakurai, a master garden architect (who at one time was …

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“Pic of the Week”, October 16, 2015: Fall Colors, Colorado Rockies

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Fall is my favorite season, largely because of the beautiful transition of colors in the vegetation.  Whether it’s grasses, small bushes or large trees like these aspen, the forests are even more beautiful as the seasons change from summer to winter.

These photos were taken not far from Vail.  The colors here, while vivid, aren’t as diverse as those in the forests of the eastern USA or eastern Canada, consisting mostly of shades of yellow.  But they’re beautiful none-the-less.  And they’re set in the majesty of one of the world’s greatest mountain ranges!

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“Pic of the Week” bonus. October 27, 2013. Larches in their fall colors

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I just enjoyed a beautiful drive in Canada’s Rocky Mountains this past weekend, through the Alberta’s Crowsnest Pass and on towards the Elk River Valley in southeastern British Columbia.  The scenery was absolutely gorgeous with the larches in their orange-yellow canopy.  I had no idea there were so many larches in these evergreen forests.

Those who live in milder climates may not be familiar with larches.  They’re deciduous pine trees (conifers) that change color each fall, shed their needles and regrow them in the coming spring.  They add a great variety of color to the mountainous forests in the Northern states and Canada, although these colors are short-lived, lasting only a week or two at most.

Thought you’d enjoy these images!

(Click on …

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“Pic of the Week”, Oct. 11, 2013. Fall Colors, University of Washington, Seattle

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I really love fall!  It’s my favorite time of year.  The crispness of the morning air is invigorating but especially great are the beautiful vibrant colors of autumn.  No plant is more beautiful in its fall foliage than the sugar maple, not a naturally occurring tree in western Canada or the western American states, but common in the east.

These images were, however, snapped at the University of Washington in Seattle.  A lovely campus, with grand stands of deciduous trees, it’s a great place to go for a fall stroll.

(Click on thumbnails to enlarge, right arrow to advance)

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“Pic of the Week”, Oct. 4, 2013. Stanley Glacier, Kootenay National Park

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Stanley Glacier is easily accessible, so it’s a popular day hike in the Canadian Rockies.  It’s situated by the border of the B.C. and Alberta, near Castle Junction in Kootenay National Park.  The trail provides a great half day hike with an elevation gain of 365 m (1200 ft), taking you to the foot of Stanley Glacier.  The hike encompasses much of what makes the Canadian Rockies special, with wonderful panoramas, cascading creeks, rugged mountains and the hanging Stanley Glacier in a hanging valley.
If you hike in the fall, about this time of year or a little earlier, you’ll be treated to some wonderful colors along the lower portion of the trail in the area of an old …

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“Pic of the Week”. February 22, 2013. Hayfield, Okotoks, Alberta

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When most people think of Alberta they visualize its thick green forests and ruggedly beautiful Rocky Mountains (I’m guilty of this as well).  Alberta is one of Canada’s three prairie provinces (can you name the other two?), so mostly it’s fairly flat land.  It’s on these prairies that much of Alberta’s treasures lie, from rich crops of canola to the world’s best beef, from dinosaur fossils to its oilfields.

One afternoon when my wife and I were driving to see the fall colors in the Rocky Mountains we drove past this hay field near the small city of Okotoks, not far from my home.  Something about the golden color of the grass, the neat orderly hay rolls and rolling land appealed to me …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Kananaskis Country: A fall visit to Highwood Pass and the alpine meadow of Ptarmigan Cirque

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Kananaskis country is one of the lesser traveled gems of the Alberta Rockies.  Locals know this area well but it’s off the radar for most tourists traveling to the Rockies, who selectively go to such highly worthwhile (but much busier) locations like Banff and Lake Louise.  Kananaskis country stretches from the southern border of Banff National Park (Canmore) due south for several hundred kilometers.  It includes the same type of rugged mountainous beauty you expect in the Canadian Rockies, replete with lakes and streams and lush pine forests.   It’s also rich in wildlife but unlike Banff National Park, where a large fence keeps the animals away from traffic, the wildlife …

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.All Trips / Alberta / Central Canada / North America

Banff National Park: “Lake of the Spirits” (Lake Minnewanka)

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Lake Minnewanka is a great destination for a day’s visit (or longer if you’re so inclined) while in the Banff Rockies.  The lake’s name derives from the Stoney Indian language and means “lake of the spirits”.  Indian people lived around Lake Minnewanka for 100 centuries before it was “discovered “ by Europeans in the 19th century.   Lake Minnewanka is located just a few kilometers east of Banff with easy access from the Trans-Canada Highway.  The approach to the lake, as you drive past Mt. Rundle and Cascade Mountain, is inspiring!   There’s a large bachelor herd of bighorn sheep that frequent the roads in the area and if you want a chance to see some of these beautiful creatures up close, this is …

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