Author Archives: moutonwalks

Another Discovery in Sedona – West Fork Trail


So I guess I have been sleeping under a rock. As many times as I have visited Sedona, and that includes at least six trips, I just visited West Fork Trail in Oak Creek, 12 miles north of Sedona.

During this time of the year the trees are changing colors in dramatic fashion.  The golden maples (at least I think they are maples) are magnificent. All this set against the red rocks and turquoise sky is simply amazing.

It’s a well maintained trail along Oak Creek. Three miles each way but go at your own pace and enjoy the changing fall leaves and the creek that runs by.  There is a $9 entry fee so bring some cash.  I arrived late in the afternoon and didn’t get a chance to hike the full trail. I am told you might get a little wet as the trail crosses the creek. I will definitely make time for a return trip here.


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Hence the Name: Boulder Creek


There’s a creek that runs through Boulder and I bet you can guess its name.  But seriously, though, there’s a great paved walkway or you can stroll closer to the water’s edge.  The roar of the creek will soothe any anxieties one might have about turning 50 years old! But I digress.

IMAG0049BOCO as they like to call it, is a great pedestrian city. From the hikes along the creek to shopping at the Pearl Street mall, there’s lots to do and it is easy on the feets!

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Elk. Ya Herd Me?


It’s mating season for the elk in Estes Park, CO.

I was lucky enough to spot about thirty elk taking it easy on a golf course in town.  There are signs asking you to keep away, which I did, which is why you have to squint to see them in the photo at left.  There is a paved walk along Lake Estes and the golf course that is extremely easy and allows for safe views of these magnificent animals.

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Whale of A Day!


It was a day meant for whale watching. I had booked a trip aboard the Odyssey and wouldn’t you know that just as I was leaving to catch the vessel, a few whales appeared in the waters below our hotel.  Definitely a good sign.

The one drawback to whale watching excursions is that they happen on a boat and some stomachs can’t stomach the choppy seas. Without getting  too descriptive, let me just say that one hour into our chase of the “J” pod (there are 3 out here – J,K,L) I had to reach for  the Dramamine.

Even that didn’t dampen my enthusiasm for what I saw.  The naturalist on board says the group of whales we saw were led by an Orca named J2 by researchers, She is  also known as “Granny”.  Granny is 100 years old and there is a celebration in her honor on July 2.

Orcas  are extremely difficult to photograph because the law forbids boats and humans from coming within  100 yards. They only show themselves for seconds at a time but when they do it is a magnificent sight.  The good folks at San Juan Excursions took pics from our trip and shared them with the passengers.


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Oh Deer!


Within minutes of arriving at my room here in the San Juan Islands, I encountered three deer. A doe and two little ones.  I stopped in my tracks. They stared. They stared some more. One of the little ones jumped into a thicket, tripped a little bit then made it toward her mother. The other came out of nowhere.  I didn’t have my camera handy so I’ve burned a mental photo in my brain. Where’s my Canon when I need it?

Short of that, here is a pic of two more I encountered while driving to Friday Harbor.


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Planes, Rain and Automobile


Whew! Finally made it, safe and sound to San Juan Island.  We caught the ferry at Anacortes, a couple hours drive from Seattle and boarded the ferry for a one hour trip across Rosario Strait to Friday Harbor. It’s $53 bucks to board your car onto the ferry but you don’t pay for the return. The forecast was for rain, and it did all day yesterday, but never anything harder than a light drizzle.Today’s weather beat the forecast and while it was overcast, it never rained.

I found out where Norman Rockwell has been hiding all these years.

In historic Roche Harbor, here on San Juan Island.  It’s an old lime production company town and it is just as beautiful as it is patriotic, with less than a  week before July 4th.  With its American (and Canadian) flags draped all over white picket fences, you get a sense that they are polishing the barbeques and stocking up on fireworks as I write this. It is located on the Haro Strait and if Sarah Palin were here she would we able to see Canada from her hotel room.    Amidst this Americana there is a beautiful sculpture garden overlooking the harbor and another one down the road from town. There were very nice, pricey pieces like the one below,  dotted along a nice walkway.  “Whale Tail” can be yours for $38,000.

There are several hikes around Roche Harbor. The longest is 1.75 miles.

Tomorrow – a real treat – my first whale watching trip!  We went to Lime Kiln State Park for an hour today and stared at the sea. Saw a few porpoises but apparently missed the Orcas by two hours. They track them like we in New Orleans follow Mardi Gras parades. I’ll board the float, I mean the boat, at 1:30 p.m.

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A Slice of Niagara in Washington State


If you divided Niagara Falls into four or five sections, one of those pieces would look very much like Snoqalmie Falls in Washington State, about 30 miles from Seattle.

Its swirling waters shoot off a cliff with a force that sprays onlookers stationed at a viewing area.  It’s got a nice picnic area and gift shop but as luck would have it, the hiking trails were closed on the day of my visit. So no walking for me here, just a spectacular view of Mother Nature’s handiwork.

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Wouldn’t you in Woodinville?


It’s a long way from New Orleans to the San Juan Islands, by the time you change planes in Dallas and sit for another 3 1/2 hours in flight.  So I decided to spend a couple of nights at the Willows Lodge in Woodinville, just 45 minutes from Seattle.

I knew nothing of Woodinville  when planning my trip but liked what I saw on the internet . When I arrived, it was better than I imagined.  I am told by the “wine educator” at Columbia Winery, one of several around here, that Woodinville is on the same latitude as the Rhone Valley which, for me, explains why this area, with its rich green rolling hills and vineyards, reminds me of France.

I have a great room at the Willows Lodge, which is home to two pigs named Borage and Basil, both in training for truffle hunting. They live in a little pig house adjacent to an herb farm which supplies  a very fancy restaurant called The Herb Farm, just a hop, skip and a pig away from here.  I am told that eating at the The  Herb Farm is a foodie’s delight though my pocketbook sent me to The Barking Frog next door. So me and my chronically barking dogs took a stroll across the way and enjoyed a sublime meal which was gastronomically exquisite.  I highly recommend the prawns. To Die For.

The Willow’s Lodge is  one big exhale. With colorful gardens and green lawns with plush grass soft enough to sleep on, it is beautiful.  When I arrived, there was a wedding just outside my room. Testimony enough to the memories that have been made here.

Oh, wait, this is supposed to be about good places to walk. There is a paved hiking trail right next door to Willows Lodge called Sammamish River  Trail. If you are so inclined, this paved trail will take you all the way to Seattle. Truth be told, it is more suited for able-bodied cyclists in racing gear.  On the beautiful Sunday afternoon I was there, I got many warnings to watch out on my “left.”

Not one to adapt well to major cultural changes,  I am thankful Woodinville is not in Europe, where the rules of the road are very different.

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High Mt. Ranier!


I left bayou country yesterday en route to higher ground and more great walks.  The summer temperatures can really heat up an airplane cabin so I kept the window shade down for most of the trip. When the pilot said we were getting close to Seattle I raised the shade and got an eyeful of Mount Ranier peeking through the clouds. Oh boy, this trip to Woodinville and San Juan Islands is going to be an adventure!

Just a hiccup upon arrival.  The rental car agent had a wily way of quoting prices. Good thing I questioned her at the Budget counter or else I would have signed a contract for all kinds of additional fees.  It was a simple thing, really.  She quoted an upgrade for “$13” but she really meant $13  a day.  Same goes for cost of adding a driver.  (Never  mind I had already contracted for this same upgrade for a flat fee of $3.)

But I was on to her and all is well!  Time to hit the highways.

Arrived in Woodinville, safe and sound .  Willows Lodge is beautiful. There is a pig and also a wedding right outside my window!  More later.

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San Juan Islands on the Horizon


I’ll be walking around the San Juan Islands in Washington State in about a week. Hope to experience some whale watching too!

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