Family Reads: Trains and Trails

SThe Boundlessummer is finally here! Kids are out of school and vacations are under way, which means it’s a great time for kids to stock up on some great summer reads. I always love to start summer with a grand adventure, and I think many kids will as well. Kenneth Oppel’s The Boundless fits the bill perfectly. Can it get grander than a 7 mile long train equipped with a pool, lounge, billiards, dining cars and sleeping cars? Combine this with circus performers, Sasquatch attacks, and a murder mystery, and you’ve got yourself a ‘grand adventure’ on tracks. Even better, it offers a little bit of local interest. This historical fantasy brings to life the early railroads of Canada and the Pacific Northwest, and Will Everett’s escapades aboard The Boundless are sure to entertain! Continue reading “Family Reads: Trains and Trails”

Don’t forget the sunscreen – or the rain gear!

Here’s hoping you’ll need the sunscreen. Whether it is a destination lake, a stroll along a creek or an adventurous climb, there are lots of places nearby where you can let the city noise fall to the trailside and sleep in your own bed by nightfall. How do you locate the day hike that fits your style?

Day Hike! Mount Rainier – The visitor centers may be crowded, but a short distance down a trail you just might find yourself alone in a field of wildflowers. This guidebook provides nice trail descriptions, maps and pictures of features you might see along the way.

Day Hiking Central Cascades – This little book packs in a lot of great hikes near Seattle. The “Hikes at a Glance” grid at the beginning helps you compare trail features, distances, difficulty ratings and much more.

Hiking Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness – There are some breathtaking hikes in the Alpine Lakes wilderness. I’ve found that they tend to be steep. If you are looking for more strenuous trails with rewarding destinations, this has some great ones. There are a couple shorter jaunts in the book too.

For a selection of less vigorous walks, try Take A Walk: 110 Walks within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound. It features some city trails and a few lowland hikes.

Trail conditions change, roads wash out and trees come down. In addition to the books, I like to consult a website like Washington Trails Association where people post their trip reports.

Of course, I’ve gotten many a good recommendation at the ranger station. They even have one inside the Seattle REI. Before you go, it is a good idea to see if the trailhead requires a permit.

Got any other suggestions of how you locate a good day hike?

Walkabout

image-of-a-man-walking-in-paris-courtesy-of-anuntrainedeyeTaking a walk is such a mundane activity, but there is still something mysterious and wonderful about it, even if it only takes us around the neighborhood. One notices a relaxation of pace and shortening of perspective, perhaps — objects often seem farther away in a car or the bus, bracketed, as it were, by the window.  And if the opportunity to take a longer walk occurs — a hike, say, or a trek — what a life-changing experience that can be!  Things glimpsed ordinarily and daily become new and seductive.  Our framework for understanding is skewed — objects stranger than they appear — just because we are strolling by.

The experience of walking has attracted many notables in literature, and they have given us accounts of their transformations. Herewith, a sampling:

cover-of-patrick-leigh-fermors-a-time-of-giftsPatrick Leigh Fermor, A Time of gifts:  On foot to Constantinople : from the hook of Holland to the middle Danube and Between the woods and the water: On foot to Constantinople: the middle Danube to the Iron Gates
These wonderful books narrate the author’s adventures as a nineteen-year-old before the onset of World War II, when he set out from Holland and walked through Europe to Constantinople.  His artist’s eye sees detail like no other, and his descriptions have a Continue reading “Walkabout”

Hike Seattle

Happy Earth Day! All over Seattle, the flowers are blooming, the birds are singing, the sun is peeking out from behind the clouds – spring is finally here! What better time to get out on the trails and explore the beautiful landscapes of the Pacific Northwest? Whether you are a seasoned hiker or novice, there are plenty of resources to help you find the perfect destination for an hour, a day, or a weekend.

One of my favorite guides is 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Seattle by Andrew Weber and Bryce Stevens.  Featuring not only well-known hikes, such as Mt. Si and Wallace Falls State Park, but also lesser-known destinations such as O. O. Denny County Park Loop and the Heybrook Lookout Trail, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles includes maps, driving directions, and trail descriptions highlighting points of interest.

Continue reading “Hike Seattle”