Thursday, June 30, 2011

The Outside of the Shipwrecked Cement Boat

the shipwrecked cement boat at Nisqually Reach
(picture taken by my 12-year-old son)

the cement boat sits on a sand jetty -- see it at the end?
(picture taken by my 12-year-old son)
Earlier in June our family went to DuPont, WA on a warm, sunny day to check out Sequalitchew Creek Trail.  The trail runs through a beautiful canyon bordered on each side with lush green plants and trees.  At the end is a short tunnel, and when you pass through the tunnel you reach a large rocky beach on the Puget Sound.

After we reached the shore, we travelled south along the beach to a sand jetty that juts out into the water and then walked out to the end of the jetty to the old shipwrecked cement boat to explore it. We timed our visit to occur at low tide because otherwise the waters of the Puget Sound cover the sand jetty on which the boat rests.  You can see what it looks like when the water has risen on this video that Fred404 posted on Youtube:  Cement Boat at Nisqually Reach.

barnacles and mussels on the side facing the sun
Because of the ocean water that comes in with the return of the tides each day to surround and fill the inside of the old shipwrecked cement boat, it has a lot of interesting creatures living on its hard walls. One side of the boat (I'm not really good with directions, but I think it's the side facing toward the southeast) gets a lot of exposure to the light (and sometimes warmth!) of the sun, and that side looked dry.  Many barnacles and mussels covered the bottom half of it.

walking on the sunny side

dripping with water!
one side of the cement ship sits in deep shadow
(picture taken by my 12-year-old son)
The other side faces away from the sun and sits in deep shadow.  The boat leans in that direction, and the sides dripped with water. Quite a few star fish had attached themselves down underneath the ship on that side, plus the wall of the ship had seaweed, large and small barnacles, mussels, and really interesting soft, wet creatures (I am not sure yet what they are called) on it.   The soft creatures (you can see their pictures at the bottom) were fun to observe. My younger son gently touched a couple to see their response and was fascinated to see them shrink back and seem to grow shorter.

Another amazing thing we saw on the shadowy side of the ship was a large barnacle sticking out it's legs. We've only seen little barnacles covered by water doing that, but never before had seen such a big one doing it.  It was especially surprising because it wasn't covered by water.

mussels and a barnacle
You can see the legs come of of the barnacle in the short video below.
large and small barnacles on the ship

seaweed on the shady side; there is a starfish at the bottom
(this pic taken by my 12-year-old son)


Hearts at the Beach

We found these hearts at Saltar's Point Beach and Sunnyside Beach in Steilacoom, WA, in mid-June.

The pictures in the collage were taken by my 10-year-old daughter and me.  Our family first began looking for hearts in our world after coming across Clytie's Guest Heart Thursday.  We have a lot of fun with it and are so thankful!  If you enjoy hearts, you're sure to love her Guest Heart Thursday! ♥

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Great Blue Heron at Waughop Lake

On the evening of June 1st, I and my two boys went for a walk at Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, WA. We were amazed when we got to Waughop Lake and saw a great blue heron perched there on a fallen tree! I took the first two pictures, and then, because the battery on his camera had run out, I handed my camera over to my 12-year-old son who took the second two pictures. We had never seen a blue heron there before, and haven't seen one (yet) since then.

~* I'm linking this post to Watery Wednesday. *~

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Mama Mallard and her Ducklings

It's kind of funny. . . we see mallard ducks a lot, yet we don't tire of seeing them. We've taken picture after picture of the mallards at the park. . . waddling along the shore of the lake, sitting on the gravel or on a fallen tree in the water with their heads buried in their feathers, swimming in groups in circles going round and round, ducking their heads in the water. . .

For me, I think part of the joy of seeing mallard ducks is that they have a lovely sense of familiarity about them because we see that type of bird so often.  Also, though, for me seeing them brings back warm memories of growing up, of watching ducks and feeding them with my parents. When I was little my parents and I used to bring stale bread and go to the park near our house and feed them. Now we know that is not good for the ducks, and the signs at parks ask us not to do that, so I can't share that part of the experience with my children. I can however, share the experience of watching the sweet mallard ducks with them. The mallards are so cute with their big bills, big orange feet, and the loud quack of the females. We think the mama mallards sound so much like a laugh, we can't help but laugh along with them!

And especially it's wonderful to see ducklings!!  Babies are the sweetest thing, and to see a nurturing mom caring for her little ones is priceless.  My 10-year-old daughter took this sweet series of pictures at the park last week. The mama's little ducklings were staying near her, and for awhile at least three of her ducklings were hiding underneath her! She looked like such a patient and content mama, sitting there so pleased and proud.

the ducklings are sheltered underneath their mama's wings
Seeing them under this mama's wings reminded me of how we can find safety under the shelter of our Heavenly Father's wings, not literal wings of course, but the picture and meaning the words paint is beautiful. . .

Psalm 17:8
Keep me as the apple of your eye; hide me in the shadow of your wings
Psalm 36:7
How priceless is your unfailing love, O God! People take refuge in the shadow of your wings.

Psalm 63:7
Because you are my help, I sing in the shadow of your wings.

Have a wonderful Sunday!

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Daisies and Shadows under the Trees

Bellis perennis
We go for nature walks on the first day of each new season, and we went for a nature walk this past Tuesday, the first day of summer, in Fort Steilacoom Park in Lakewood, WA. We began our walk in the late afternoon, when the amazingly bright sun shone low on the horizon (into our squinting eyes) and lovely shadows fell where the sun couldn't reach.

My children enjoy making daisy chains, so when they spotted a lot of little daises growing in the grassy area near Waughop Lake under the black cottonwood trees, they plopped down in the soft, green grass next to the daises and started working on daisy chains.

The little daises which grow amongst the blades of grass are Bellis perennis and go by the names of "English daisies," "common daisies," or "lawn daisies" (we like to call them "English daisies").  Though not a native plant (English daises come from Europe) and considered to be a weed, the little daisies look so happy and are so sweet and pretty, we can't help but enjoy their presence.

Making daisy chains in the shadows under the black cottonwood trees
(see all the cottonwood catkins?)

My six-year-old son showing us his daisy chain
(he just learned to make them!)
my younger daughter's daisy chain!

We went for another walk later in the week, on Thursday, just two days later, and felt shocked to see that the grass had been mowed and so the daisy blossoms had been mowed, too.  I'm very glad they waited to mow the lawn until after our walk on Tuesday!

the mowed lawn sans daisy blossoms. . .

To see more shadows visit Shadow Shot Sunday!

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Squirrel and a Heart

This past Sunday, Father's Day, we went to Nisqually Wildlife Refuge.  The entrance fee is only $3 a family, and it's such a peaceful, beautiful place to visit.  We love seeing all the native plants and hearing the sounds of many birds.  Other animals make this refuge their home, too.  We saw a mink last fall, as well as a neat garter snake.  This visit, when we got to the observation deck near the twin barns, we found that "someone" was watching us!

picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter

picture taken by my 12-year-old son

picture taken by my 12-year-old son

And guess what was behind him?  Windchime pointed out the heart on this fence post!

At the end of our walk, we noticed this sign.  It's a good thing the squirrel didn't attack us. ;)

picture taken by my 12-year-old son

~♥~ To see more hearts, visit Guest Heart Thursday! ~♥~

Sunday, June 19, 2011

The Tunnel at Sequalitchew Creek Trail

At the end of Sequalitchew Creek Trail in Dupont, WA, there is a tunnel that runs under the railroad, and you go through the tunnel to get to Sequalitchew Beach on the other side.  These pictures were taken after we had visited the beach and were returning to the trail. Before we returned to the trail, though, my children enjoyed the tunnel for a bit! They found that it echoed inside the tunnel, and so they ran up and down it and yelled in the tunnel to hear themselves and loud sounds they made.

There are two sides to the tunnel

One side has a short length of old track going through it
(that is not a good side to run down!)

The other side is just cement,
and that's the side in which they ran!

Running to hear the loud footsteps. . . 

and yelling to hear the echoes!!
~* It's Shadow Shot Sunday! *~

So Thankful for my Husband

I would like to publicly say how thankful I am for my husband. He's always willing to travel to a new beach or trail (as long as we have enough money for gas ;)), and he comes on our nature walks whenever he can. He is patient when we stop to look at things along the way and to take pictures. He's such a gentleman, and he carries the bag when we bring a picnic lunch. Though he sometimes takes a peek at his phone while enjoying being outdoors with his family ;), he likes looking at the plants and animals and views on our walks. He's even willing to walk when it's drizzling outside! Thank you, dear husband! You are such a caring and thoughtful husband and father! Happy Fathers Day!! We love you!!!!!

enjoying the beautiful view at the former 
site of Wilkes Observatory in Dupont, WA

pointing towards Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
from the trail to Wilkes Observatory
(above picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter)

at Sequalitchew Beach in Dupont, WA

at Nisqually Wildlife Refuge
(above picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter)

at the Rhododendron Garden at Point Defiance with his phone in hand

on a trail at Tacoma Nature Center

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Shapes in Clouds by the Beach

On Wednesday while at the beach, my six-year-old son said the sky that day had the type of clouds good for watching for shapes, and he was right! It's so fun to see my children use their imagination, and I was pleasantly surprised when as he looked up at the clouds he exclaimed, "There's the Statue of Liberty on a heart!" Here's a picture of what he saw. . .

(picture taken by my 10-year-old daughter)

Until earlier this year I hadn't really considered how blessed we are in the Pacific Northwest to have clouds like that. I mean, well, of course I know that we have a lot of rain thus we have a lot of clouds, but it really made me think when a friend who moved to the Pacific Northwest as an adult shared about she enjoys watching clouds here and seeing the shapes they make and explained that where she lived as a child they would get very excited when a cloud showed up in the sky because it occurred so rarely.  So keep that in mind the next time the clouds start to get you down.  ;)

Here are some more pictures of that day, each taken by my 10-year-old daughter, who loves to take pictures of the sky!

there is a heart in the sky!

Chambers Bay Beach (looking to the south from the bridge)

beautiful reflections!

I'm linking this post to Skywatch Friday, Weekend Reflections, and Guest Heart Thursday.