Friday, 24 June 2016

A place called Concrete, and other delights on the Cascades Loop Scenic Highway

wild flowers, Okanogan national forest

I was happily settled in Vancouver for a week, being a cook and bottle-washer to my eldest child and her family. when from nowhere, my other half turned up and whisked me away, across the border to Washington state.

No more washing or cooking. No more lazy Vancouver summer days.

No. For we must go to America;

 'for a holiday'.

Off we set in our 'brand new, and spontaneously upgraded jeep' with its immediately broken heating system and not fixable except possibly by tampering with the electrical fuses in 'engineer mode', something we were not quite brave enough to do.

We headed south, with the temperature inside the vehicle permanently fixed at 24 degrees, or 'HOT', depending on the mood of the day, and whether it was snowing or sunny outside.

We were on our way to the Cascade Loop Scenic Highway, north-east of Seattle; for hiking and outdoor recreation.

I was excited, for I was to get the chance to visit a place called Concrete.

But first, there was Sedro-Woolley, where men make sculptures with chain saws.


And where you can get a dam fine cherry pie. reminiscent of my favourite TV series of all time (Twin Peaks).

cherry pie

Land of real ales in big fridges.

real ales
We got going, before a cherry pie and beer fest set in.

Next stop Concrete.

I was duly excited.


Where we tucked into the deluxe combo at the road side diner.

deluxe combo

 inside Concrete's diner

And onwards to Marblemount for dinner at the Buffalo Run, where mild hysteria set in, thanks to a delightful, but linguistically challenged,  Ukranian waitress.

the conversation went a bit like this........

Ukrainian waitress to another customer

how would you like your steak?

well done please

we have only medium, medium rare or rare.......

you cannot have well done.

And to us....

please look at our specials board.....

me........ thank you; I would like the special salmon

we have no salmon

me............then the special trout please

we have no trout.

I had the non special 'fish of the day'

OH had buffalo steak.


 'do you have the desert menu'?


we have apple pie, cherry pie, berry pie and north american fruit pie or fruit cobbler

'I would like the  fruit pie'........

could you repeat please?

I repeat, and ask

'does it come with custard?'

where I am from? 

and so it went on.

We retired to bed, switched off the lights

and recharged our batteries, before our big hike over the mountain pass the next day.

Except the road to the hike was closed, and it was raining, and there were bears......

So we were wet and tired before we got to the path over the pass that was shrouded in cloud.

But we did have a very long walk up a hill, and saw lots of lush vegetation and some snow.

And when we got back to town we resisted the milkshakes in favour of tea and beer,

A day or so later the sun came out and we climbed more hills.

We didn't need to take the short cut. The meadow and alpine flowers were just what we needed.

the walking log

Icicle gorge

We ended in Leavenworth; a little bit of Bavarian eccentricity in the united states of america.

Where all the houses are disguised as alpine chalets, and men wear lederhosen.

Leavenworth architecture

normal attire in Leavenworth

I declined the nutcracker museum.

The shops are full of things that other people must buy.

Add caption
Christmas is BIG

Santa needs new lights

singing reindeer;  many thousand dollars....

and the national accordion festival just happened to be there while we were.

 I wondered why I had wanted one so badly as a child.


After a traditional Bavarian dinner to the accompaniment of some very cheerful accordion playing we retired to our hotel.

I jumped in the lift.

And I am still waiting for the fire department.

Wednesday, 8 June 2016

vancouver strikes again - summer in the city

I am in Vancouver.

Family matters, of a joyful variety.

I have been so busy that I have not had time to bore you with my letterpress workshop in London, or tell you about my new storytelling ventures at Dungeness, involving Tracey and Emmeline, two corrugated metal dolls. More of them later.

For now I just have time to throw some images at you.

Vancouver is a great city for cone hunters and people who like decorated metal street cabinets.

I am not going to show you those either. You can catch up with them on my instagram account.

I am also not going to bore you with my A to Z of Vancouver in pictures. It is going well, but I do need a whale...

Last night I strolled the streets with the words 'summer in the city' as my brief. I did not allow myself to take any photos that didn't meet the brief.

I tried to capture the greenery alongside the skyscrapers and apartment blocks.

The pink/purple tower merits another visit

Flowering blossom  on a city tree

light and airy

cables and tower blocks

leafy side streets

and just as I was heading home

water lilies © Caroline Fraser

I walked over a bridge and looked down into the water

water lilies © Caroline Fraser

beautiful colours and shapes

water lilies © Caroline Fraser

everything a girl in the city could need.

water lilies © Caroline Fraser