Discovery Park

West Point Lighthouse

With last weekend’s sunny 70 degree weather, Nick and I wanted to be sure to go out and enjoy it. We were planning on hiking either Twin Falls or Cedar Butte, but we heard I-90 was going to be down to one lane for construction… so we nixed that idea and went to Discovery Park instead.

I wasn’t sure whether or not to categorize our trip to Discovery Park as hiking or not. The trails at Discovery Park aren’t as intense as real hiking, but they aren’t as easy as a casual walk in the park either. WTA (Washington Trails Association) lists it as a hike, though, so that’s good enough for me.

Our* Discovery Park “hike” statistics**:

  • Roundtrip: 4.52 to 4.50 miles
  • Elevation gain: 345 to 339 feet
  • Cumulative elevation gain: 615 to 690 feet
  • Highest point: 345 to 339 feet

* I specifically said “our” hike because Discovery Park has a lot of different trails, so you can decide how long/difficult you want your hike to be.

** The numbers are what was recorded using the My Tracks and RunKeeper apps, respectively.

Mount Rainier from Discovery Park

About Discovery Park

Discovery Park is Seattle’s largest park at 534 acres. It’s a natural area that serves as a quiet getaway for Seattleites and a sanctuary for wildlife. 12 miles of trails throughout the park take you along the two mile stretch of beaches and through meadows and forests.

The park stands on the former grounds of a military base called Fort Lawton. West Point Lighthouse, which was built in 1881, sits at the westernmost point of the park.


We had no problem parking! Yay! There are, I think, three different parking lots at Discovery Park: North, East, and South. We parked in the North Parking Lot at 11 am on Saturday and there were plenty of empty spaces. It looked like the parking lots were close to full by the time we left in the early afternoon, though.

The “Hike”

Puget Sound

Puget Sound

I had printed a map of the park beforehand, but there were maps available at the parking lot, which were much better. We made our way down to the north end of the beach first, where we almost had the place to ourselves. I took an interactive photo at the beach, so you can see a 360 degree view of it.

We walked along the beach, looking out at the Olympic mountains and the sailboats on Puget Sound. On the beach, we found crab shells and we got squirted at by geoducks. For you Michiganders, geoducks (pronounced “gooey ducks”) are gigantic clams found in the Pacific Northwest. You can find them by the fountains of water they squirt up (like in this video).

We followed the beach to the historic West Point Lighthouse at the western point of the park. Then we took an inland trail along the perimeter of the park until we got back to our parking lot. We didn’t really walk on any of the interior trails, so we’ll have to come back another time for those. 🙂

Freighter and Olympic Mountains

Freighter and Olympic Mountains

Beach and West Point Lighthouse

Beach and West Point Lighthouse

Categories: Hiking, Outing, Park, Photography, Seattle | Leave a comment

Goodbye, Bamboo and Chai!

Woodland Park Zoo’s Asian elephants, Bamboo (age 47) and Chai (age 35), left for their new home at the Oklahoma City Zoo yesterday evening. After the zoo’s African elephant, Watoto, died last year, WPZ decided to find a new home with a large, multi-generational herd for Bamboo and Chai.

Here are some photos I’ve taken of the elephants at Woodland Park Zoo:

Bamboo (Asian elephant)

Bamboo (Asian elephant)

Chai (Asian elephant)

Chai (Asian elephant)

Watoto (African elephant)

Watoto (African elephant)

Categories: Photography, Seattle | 1 Comment

Heybrook Lookout

Heybrook Lookout view east

There are a lot of great hiking trails near my grandparents’ cabin and since we were going to be up there for Easter on Sunday, we figured we’d make a weekend out of it. On Saturday, we hiked Heybrook Lookout and then went to the cabin to relax and spend the night.

Heybrook Lookout hike statistics*:

  • Roundtrip: 2.6 miles (1.93 to 1.94 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 850 feet (878 to 857 feet)
  • Cumulative elevation gain: N/A (949 to 1062 feet)
  • Highest point: 1700 feet (1693 to 1703 feet)

*For each stat, the first number was taken from the WTA website. The numbers in parentheses were what was recorded using the My Tracks and RunKeeper apps, respectively.

Heybrook Lookout is a short, steep hike through the forest. At the end of the trail is a 73′ tall lookout tower that offers gorgeous views of the surrounding mountains. The spot has been used as a lookout since the 1920’s.

Tower from trail

Lookout tower from trail

Tower close up

Lookout tower close up


Heybrook Lookout has a gravel parking area along Highway 2 that can fit around 15-20 cars. Nick and I had no trouble finding a spot to park when we visited, but it would be a good idea to have a backup hike like Bridal Veil Falls, Lake Serene, or Wallace Falls just in case.

Heybrook Lookout Parking Area

Parking area (via Google Maps)

The Hike

This hike would be great for someone who is new to hiking because it isn’t very difficult. The trailhead is at the western end of the parking area. There are no forks in the trail, so you won’t get lost; the trail takes you from the parking area directly to the lookout tower at the top.

Heybrook Lookout view southwest

View of Mount Index

The view from the top of the lookout tower was gorgeous, especially because we had a nice, clear day. The photo at the top of the post shows the view to the east with Baring Mountain. The photo to the right shows the view to the southwest with Mount Index. You can even see Bridal Veil Falls below Mount Index, to the left of the center of the photo.

It’s worth noting that Heybrook Lookout requires a Northwest Forest Pass. You can get a $30 annual pass or a $5 day pass.

Categories: Hiking, Outing, Park | 1 Comment

Caleb’s 16th Birthday

My cousin, Caleb, turns 16 today and we celebrated on Saturday with a picnic lunch, trip to the zoo, go kart racing, and pizza for dinner.

Woodland Park Zoo

Elephants are Caleb’s favorite animal, so he wanted to be sure to see the zoo’s elephants before they go to Oklahoma. The lion cubs are out daily now, but they weren’t doing much when we saw them… so no good lion pictures this time!

Woodland Park Zoo Peacock

The highlight of our trip to the zoo was probably the peacock, which roams freely at the zoo. It was showing off its feathers and doing 360 degree turns so everyone could see him. Such a ham!

Click the link below to see the photos I took at the zoo!

Flickr photo set: Woodland Park Zoo

Go Kart Racing

After the zoo, we went go kart racing. Caleb and Uncle Eric raced first, Nick and I raced second, and Caleb, Nick, and Eric raced a third race to determine the winner… Nick!

I took some photos, but they came out crummy because it was pretty dark inside.

Go Karts: Nick


Go Karts: Caleb and Eric

Caleb and Eric

Categories: Outing, Photography, Seattle, Social Gathering | 4 Comments

Living Computer Museum

Over the weekend, Nick and I went to check out the Living Computer Museum, a collection of computers assembled by Microsoft cofounder Paul Allen. The museum shows how computers have evolved over the years and what’s really cool is that most of the computers are up and running their original software and visitors can interact with them.

Nick with IBM 360

Nick in front of an IBM 360

Microsoft partnership agreement

Microsoft partnership agreement

Original Macintosh

Original Macintosh; I used to use these in school

Apple IIe

Playing Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe

We saw a couple write their names on punch cards on a really old computer. Nick had fun writing simple computer programs on an old IBM. I played Oregon Trail on an Apple IIe and Microsoft Bob on an old PC.

After the museum, we went to a little park on Beacon Hill. I took a few photos, but they didn’t turn out that great. I’ll just have to try again sometime! 🙂 Here are the two best ones:

Seattle from Beacon Hill

Elliott Bay from Beacon Hill

Categories: Museum, Outing, Seattle | 1 Comment

Washington Park Arboretum

Over the weekend, Nick and I went to the Washington Park Arboretum. The arboretum is a 230 acre public park in Seattle that has flowers, plants, and trees from all over the world. We’ve been there many times, but we usually walk around the northern part of the park, following the boardwalk trail that looks out on Union Bay.

Because of our warm winter, so much is in bloom already. There are cherry trees everywhere that are showing off their beautiful pink colors. The early blooming is a problem for the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, though, which is held annually for the entire month of April. The tulips and daffodils are blooming weeks ahead of normal, so they are encouraging people to come early.

Anyway, here are some of the photos I took at the arboretum:


Categories: Outing, Park, Photography | 1 Comment

Poo Poo Point

Poo Poo Point View

Our winter has continued to be unusually warm. Temperatures have been in the 50’s and even low 60’s some days, so it has been great hiking weather. Nick had the day off on Monday for Presidents’ Day, so we decided to tackle Poo Poo Point, our most difficult hike yet.

Poo Poo Point hike statistics* (via High School Trail):

  • Roundtrip: 7.2 miles (7.45 to 7.68 miles)
  • Elevation gain: 1858 feet (1886 to 1850 feet)
  • Cumulative elevation gain: N/A (2221 to 2633 feet)
  • Highest point: 2021 feet (1921 to 1985 feet)

*For each stat, the first number was taken from the WTA website. The numbers in parentheses were what was recorded using the My Tracks and RunKeeper apps, respectively.

Poo Poo Point is a popular hike on Tiger Mountain, just over half an hour away from our house. It is a summit on the west side of the mountain that paragliders and hang gliders use as a launching pad. Unfortunately, no one was gliding off the mountain while we were up there. I think that’s more of a summer thing. Poo Poo Point’s funny name comes from the sound steam whistles made back when it was a logging area.

There are two trails to Poo Poo Point. We took the longer, less busy route via High School Trail. The Chirico Trail route is only half the distance, but it is steeper and more crowded.


Poo Poo Point Parking Area

Parking area (from Google Maps)

The trailhead is unmarked and located at a small gravel parking area near Issaquah High School. The parking area can only fit 5-6 cars, but Nick and I got there early, so we were able to get a spot. There is also some street parking available.

The Hike

Navigating the trails was really easy. You start off on High School Trail and then turn onto Poo Poo Point Trail, taking it all the way to Poo Poo Point. Trail intersections were well marked with signs, so we had no problem finding the right way to go.

The trail started with a gradual upward climb right away that continued for 2 1/4 miles or so. Then there was a short flat stretch before the trail became noticeably steeper for about another mile. After that, it was an easy half mile hike to the end, mostly downhill.

Gap Creek

Gap Creek

The view at the top was beautiful (see the photo at the beginning of this post), offering great views of Issaquah, Lake Sammamish, and the surrounding mountains. I took an interactive photo with my phone, so be sure to check it out! There was plenty of room at the top to sit in the sun and enjoy the view. Nick and I had lunch at one of the picnic tables before hiking back down.

The trails were well-maintained, although a little muddy in spots. The trail was fairly wide much of the time, with only some places narrow enough for only one person to walk. I think part of the trail used to be a logging road.

Nick did fine hiking up the mountain, but I needed to stop often for quick breaks. On the way down, Nick was the slow one, his knees killing him on the descent. We enjoyed the hike, but we’ll probably take it easy for a while until we can find a solution for Nick’s knee pain.

Categories: Hiking, Outing, Park | 2 Comments

Woodland Park Zoo: Valentine’s Day Celebration

Happy Valentine's Day!

Woodland Park Zoo gave the animals special treats today to celebrate Valentine’s Day, so Nick and I went to take pictures.


The lions got frozen heart-shaped blood ice pops

The lions were our first stop. Adia (mom) and Xerxes (dad) had three male lion cubs at the end of October and it was our first time seeing the baby lions. Xerxes hurt his paw earlier in the week, though, so only mom and kids showed up for treats.

The zookeepers made frozen heart-shaped blood ice pops (yum!) for the lions, but the crows got to them first. The crows picked away at the hearts and knocked them over until the lions showed up and scared them away.

The lion cubs were terribly cute and playful. One even came right up to the glass to say hello. 🙂

Lion cub


Orangutan opening a present

We went to see the orangutans next. They definitely won for best-decorated exhibit. Paper hearts, signs, presents, and snacks all over the place. The photo at the top of this post shows part of the orangutan exhibit.

I didn’t get any great photos of the orangutans, but the photo on the right shows one of the orangutans opening a present with a slice of tasty watermelon inside.

After the orangutans, we had a little time to kill, so we went to see the river otters (Nick took pictures of the otters) and a presentation about raptors.

River otters

River otters

Peregrine falcon

Peregrine falcon

Next, we saw the anoa (Priscilla) get her Valentine’s Day treats. An anoa is like a miniature water buffalo.

The zookeeper told us that Priscilla’s partner died a few years ago, so they made a special paper mache anoa so she would have a valentine. Aww. Priscilla got a heart-shaped wreath and some fennel to snack on.


Anoa and paper mache anoa


Anoa and heart-shaped wreath

The wolves were our next stop. They got heart-shaped steaks. I took a photo of one of the wolves looking particularly happy about his steak. 🙂


By then, the zoo was really busy, so we decided to head home after seeing the grizzly bears. There are three different spots to view the bear exhibit, so I picked one and got a great spot while we waited for the bears to come out. But they decided to do the bear treats in a different part of the zoo and we missed it. Zut! I got a quick glimpse of one of the grizzlies eating a frozen treat, but no pictures to share.

To see more photos we took, click the link to our Flickr album below!

Flickr photo set: Woodland Park Zoo

Happy Valentine’s Day! <3

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Kurios: Cabinet of Curosities

Inside Kurios

Nick and I went to the new Cirque du Soleil show, Kurios: Cabinet of Curiosities, on Tuesday with Mom, Dad, and Amanda (thanks for the tickets, Amanda!). I had been to other Cirque shows before (Saltimbanco in 2000 and Alegría in 2003), but this was Nick’s first time experiencing Cirque du Soleil.

Kurios Hats

Trying on silly hats with Amanda and Mom

They didn’t allow photography during the performance, so I apologize for the potato-quality pre-performance pictures.

Kurios had great acts, costumes, and music. The contortionists performed on a giant mechanical hand that had moving fingers.

There was a balancing act that was set up like a dinner party where the chandelier went up high into the air, so one of the performers started stacking chairs to reach the chandelier. All of a sudden, it showed an upside-down version of the same dinner party happening on the ceiling, where they were stacking chairs to reach the same chandelier. We thought that was pretty neat.

The trampoline act was probably our favorite. They set up a giant net that covered the entire stage and the performers jumped almost to the top of the tent. It had an underwater theme and we got a kick out of the performers beneath the net who had big fishtails coming from their backs. Nick really wanted to jump on the trampoline. 😛

The acrobatic act at the very end was amazing, too. The performers stood on each other’s shoulders up to four people high, jumping and somersaulting through the air.

One of Kurios’s performers was teeny tiny, only 3.2 feet tall and 39 pounds. She’s one of the smallest people in the world. Her character lived inside the belly of a man with a big, round, metal body.

Here’s a trailer for Kurios:

For Seattleites who are interested in seeing Kurios for yourself, they will be performing in Marymoor Park through March 22.

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Cougar Mountain

It’s weird to keep hearing about the “dangerous and crippling Snowmageddon blizzard” headed to Northeastern US when it’s been sunny and in the 60’s here in Seattle. Wanting to take advantage of the ridiculously nice winter weather, Nick and I went for a hike on Cougar Mountain on Sunday.

Cougar Mountain - Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls

Our* Cougar Mountain hike statistics:

  • Roundtrip: 5.96 miles
  • Elevation gain: 759 feet
  • Highest point: 1503 feet

* I specifically said our hike because Cougar Mountain has a lot of different trails, so you can decide how long/difficult you want your hike to be.

Although it’s only half an hour away, neither of us had been to Cougar Mountain before. It used to be a busy spot for coal mining from 1863 to 1963, so there are cave holes alongside the trails.


We got to Red Town Trailhead at about 11am and the parking lot was already a chaotic mess. There was nowhere to park and a line of cars waiting for a spot. Street parking wasn’t even an option because there were ditches on the sides of the road. How frustrating!

Thankfully, Cougar Mountain has other trailheads, so we headed to Sky Country Trailhead instead. The parking lot there was divided into a section for cars and a section for horse trailers. The car parking was full, but we found a spot by the horse trailer parking.

Finding a place to park is such a headache when hiking in the Seattle area. Uff da!

The Hike

Our original plan was to do the Coal Creek Falls hike (2.5 miles), but since we changed trailheads, we decided we’d just wing it and do our own thing and head back to the car when we got tired. That turned into a fun 6 mile hike for us!

I had printed a map of Cougar Mountain before we left and between that and the helpful signs at every junction, we had no problem finding our way around.

We started by heading to Coal Creek Falls, which was a quick and easy hike from our trailhead. The falls are only 28 feet high, so more like Cherry Creek Falls than Wallace Falls. I read that the falls even dry up in the summer, so this is the best time of year to see them.

Cougar Mountain - Coal Creek Falls

Coal Creek Falls

Along the trail, we saw a few places were there were TONS of spiderwebs in the branches. I HATE spiders, but even I have to admit they looked neat covered in dew and lit up by the sun.

Cougar Mountain - Spiderweb


Cougar Mountain - Spiderwebs

Lots of spiderwebs

Another point of interest we saw was a grate-covered mine shaft. It was hard to get a good picture of it, though. A little further down the trail, we came to a large, open clay pit, which had a decent view. After that, we took a slightly indirect route back to the parking lot and headed home.

Cougar Mountain - Mine shaft

Mine shaft

Cougar Mountain - Clay pit

Clay pit

Overall, we really liked our Cougar Mountain hike and especially how close it is. We mostly stuck to the central trails, so we still have the northern and southern trails to explore. The trails were well marked and maintained, but they were pretty muddy in some spots. It wasn’t terribly difficult hiking, but it’s definitely a place we’ll come back to!

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