Last of the Summer Blooms

I managed to snap a few shots of the few, blooming dahlias left at a local garden. It was a perfect fall day. What better way to end my last photo session with the dahlias! So here are some colorful blooms of different varieties of dahlias, the last of the season.

As well, I took some photos of the Japanese garden at Point Defiance Park, in Tacoma. The garden pond was perfectly still, creating colorful, autumn color reflections on its surface.

All photos property of Peggy A Thompson

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Autumn’s Color Palette

 

I recently spent a day in Mount Rainier National Park to immerse myself in autumn’s color palette. The color intensity was off the scale! Perhaps this was because plants were already stressed from the unusually hot and dry summer the Pacific Northwest recently experienced. And then came September, with cooler than normal temperatures. I’m sure the irregular weather patterns played a part in the exceptionally blazing colors.

I spent part of the day hiking in the Tipsoo Lake area along Chinook Pass and then made my way down Cayuse Pass to the Stevens Canyon entrance of the Park. If you really want to take in the most color in the most scenic parts of the park, this is the way to go. I’ll start with images from the Tipsoo Lake area.

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Next are images taken along Stevens Canyon Road, heading towards the Paradise Meadows area. If you look closely, notice the roadway along the side of the cliffs. That’s where I drove from to get to the current viewpoint.

And lastly, a few photos taken along Paradise Valley Road. This is the same road that passes by Paradise Meadows, the visitor center and the park lodge, continuing as a short, one-way loop around the Paradise River Valley and ends at the terminus of Stevens Canyon Road. Hang a right and you will quickly be at the main road leading to Paradise Meadows, once again. This short loop is an absolute must to not only get some fantastic views of the mountain, but it also offers fantastic viewing areas for more blazing, autumn color along the sides of the valley. There are plenty of parking areas along the side of the road to stop for picture taking.

I hope you have enjoyed my autumn images of the park. Keep in mind that the crowds at the park are still quite heavy, even on a weekday, with everyone wanting to see the change-of-season colors. Parking lots fill very quickly, and my advice to you would be to arrive at the park early in the morning. Try to avoid the weekend, if at all possible. Also, the region’s rainy season is knocking at our doorstep, which means the higher elevations could get some snow. Get out there now, before the weather makes its dramatic changes!

 

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

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Exploring Washington’s Southwest Coastline

It’s been a while, but I was able to get back Cape Disappointment State Park, located along Washington’s most southwestern coastline, near the mouth of the mighty Columbia River. This park is one of the state’s most beautiful, hidden gems. The headland was named by an exploring fur trader in 1788, who turned back his ship after bad weather, thereby just missing the discovery of the mouth of the Columbia River. Lewis and Clark arrived there in 1805. The park sits in a forested area along with rocky cliffs and beaches, including a small, coastal rainforest. There are two lighthouses located within the park. I’ve been to both before, which includes some hiking, but this time I just revisited the North Head Lighthouse. Here are some photos I took of the area.

Another I area I visited, and for the first time, is Waikiki Beach. One visit and you’ll see why it is named after a Hawaiian beach. It has two, large caves along its cliff fronts and bright, green mosses growing on them, along with light and black sands mixed together on a beautiful beach. It truly does remind one of a tropical island beach!

If you decide to visit, please be aware that this state park has a fee entry area, as do all Washington State Parks.

All photo images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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Changing Seasons

Still have lots of summer blooms to show and also noticing early autumn changes in some of the gardens I frequent. I’m now noticing this Stonecrop species that is a nice, rosy pink color right now. Later in the season, its color will deepen. Blooms close together form a spectacular carpet of pink!

“Autumn Joy” Stonecrop (Sedum spectabile)

Here’s an interesting plant that exhibits its fruit in late summer. It is the Castor Bean Plant. It grows tall and has huge, purple leaves and red, spikey fruits that contain poisonous seeds.

Here’s an interesting plant called Purple Leaf Bugbane. It grows really tall and has purple leaves at its base. The long, fuzzy plumes have a lot of fragrance and attract bees.

I spotted this little Hummingbird among the Fuchsias and tried to get off some shots, which is really hard to do with these fast moving guys!

I was pleasantly surprised to find this Kousa Dogwood full of red berries. They are edible from this particular Dogwood species. Not all Dogwood berries are edible.

Another pleasant surprise I found! Here is a pink fruit hanging from a Oyama Magnolia tree. Later in the season, the fruit will open up to reveal the seeds inside.

Another site this time of year are the bright, orange-red berries of the Mountain Ash.

Here’s something that I have not seen before: White Baneberry, sometimes called Doll’s Eyes. A poisonous plant! I think it quite pretty with its pink stem and white berries with black pupils, hence the name Doll’s Eyes.

And lastly, I couldn’t help but notice the contrasting colors in this setting. One can see how autumn is definitely starting to set in!

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

 

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Mount Rainier’s Hat Styles

For the most part, our hot, dry, and smokey summer is over with, here in the Pacific Northwest. The start of the rainy season is upon us, and temperatures have cooled considerably. And that means that viewers in the South Puget Sound region can expect to see some dramatic cloud formations over Mount Rainier. I am referring to Altocumulus Standing Lenticular cloud formations, or “cap clouds.” When seen over the mountain, we like to say that “the mountain is wearing a hat”…sometimes more than one hat, as was witnessed yesterday. This type of cloud forms over the mountain, many times, when a weather system is moving in from the west, bringing in cool, moist air. When I realized what was happening, I grabbed my camera and headed out to snap a few photos of the marvelous spectacle. I ended up inside the national park. Below are examples of multiple Altocumulus Standing Lenticular clouds.

Here are a few photo taken inside Mount Rainier National Park, from the Kautz Creek Viewpoint.

All images property of Peggy A Thompson

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