Northern Goshawk Eating a Crow

Today was cloudy but I decided to go out anyway and hope for sun breaks. I walked around the Edmonds Fishing Pier and Brackett’s Landing for awhile then decided to head home. I decided last-minute to stop by a park by my house that I rarely go to because I have never seen much of anything interesting there. That is partly due to long cattails and vegetation on both sides of the boardwalk trail, and partly due to foot traffic in such close proximity to the vegetation. Smart birds stay hidden.

As I neared the end of the boardwalk, I heard a loud ruckus and saw tons of crows flying over a field at the end of the boardwalk. They seemed to be upset by something. As I got closer, I noticed what looked like a hawk standing in the field eating something.

Me being the newbie birder that I am, I had no idea what kind of hawk it was. I watched and took pictures of the hawk eating what I eventually realized was a crow, for about 20 minutes. A Bald Eagle sat up in a nearby tree observing the hawk the entire time.

Finally, the hawk had his (or her) fill and flew away. It wasn’t until I got home and posted the pictures to a Facebook group that I found out the hawk is a Northern Goshawk. Cool. I know nothing about them but soon found out they are rare to see in Washington. I’m reserving my excitement here but really, I am super happy and excited!

Here are a few of the nearly 1,000 pictures I took:

Harbor Seal Pup at Edmonds Fishing Pier

I’ve been down to the Edmonds Fishing Pier several times over the past few months but haven’t had much luck seeing wildlife close enough to get good photographs of.

Today I went down to the pier with a photographer friend and not only was there a good variety of water fowl close to the pier, there was also a young Harbor Seal pup on the beach below the sidewalk!

Thankfully, animal control arrived as well as a volunteer from a seal group to keep people at a safe distance. Many were stopping and going down next to it or standing above it taking pictures. Just a friendly reminder to all who encounter wildlife to keep a good distance away from it.

Have you seen any interesting wildlife recently? If so, I’d love to hear from you!

Snowy Owls Migrating to Washington State?

About every four or five years we see smaller irruptions of Snowy Owls that migrate south from as far as the Arctic. The winter of 2013-2014 saw an extraordinary irruption with Snowy Owls reported as far south as Florida and Bermuda.

2013-2014 irruption
2013-2014 Snowy Owl irruption

Here in the Seattle area, we are very close to the Canadian border and are fortunate to get to see these beautiful owls periodically. An irruption is predicted for this winter and we’ve already seen our first Snowy Owl near Ferndale, WA. I’ve been out twice to see her (assuming it isn’t a juvenile as juveniles and females both have the black barring) at her very windy new beach home. Here are some photos from my last visit:

Have you seen any Snowy Owls in your area? If so, please comment below with your location (state is fine).

Balancing Your Passion with Responsibilities

Since the beginning of this year, I have been cultivating my passion for photography. It started with taking pictures with my iPhone of things that caught my eye as I went on walks or explored rural areas.

I bought a real camera in January, I believe, and began taking pictures. It wasn’t until I met some local photographers this Summer that I really began learning how to properly set my camera for different lighting situations, and how those different settings work together to properly expose photos. I look at some of my pictures from earlier this year and think, “How did I think that was a good picture?”

My love for photography and nature has really become a driving force in my life. Trips are planned around weather and the number of hours of light in the day. If I am in the middle of something and the sun pops out of the clouds, I am making a beeline for the door to go capture whatever bird or animal I can while there is still good light. If I had things my way, I would be outside all day every day reveling in the beauty around me, and of course, taking pictures. But of course, that isn’t reality.

I have had to change the way I take on my responsibilities to help free up those times when opportunities do present themselves, allowing me to go out and take pictures in nice light. Three of my kids are schooled at home so we often work at least one day ahead so that we can have a day freed up, if need be.

I edit from home and manage a roster of writers for GrowTheHeckUp—a Christian entertainment, educational, and news website. Instead of not working on weekends, I will happily get the following week’s articles edited and scheduled to publish on a rainy Saturday or Sunday.

If you work outside your home, you have different challenges than me. You can’t just get your work done ahead of time and leave. In that case, look at how you spend your time outside of work hours and find ways to free up some of your time. Maybe you can make and freeze your meals to give yourself an extra 1-2 hours every day. Instead of watching TV every evening, use that time to cultivate your passion, whether that be enjoying what you love to do; researching ways to improve; learning about marketing and social media to promote your skills or passion; or simply just learning more about it.

Making room for your passion means you will likely have to juggle your responsibilities around to allow for that time to pursue what you love to do. But most importantly, if you find something you really love, don’t let go of it. Pursue it. Enjoy it. And have fun.

Here are some of the photos I have taken over the last several months. Enjoy!

So Many Adventures, So Little Time

I have come to realize that the image I had in my mind of me sitting with a cup of coffee, writing daily blog posts about our nearly-daily adventures was just a mere fantasy. We have gone on a bajillion adventures since the last time I sat down to write…I mean, we go somewhere just about every day!

Our most noteworthy adventure was this past weekend. I was sitting on my couch on Friday thinking about where I wanted to go the next day and Cannon Beach, Oregon popped into my head. Why? I don’t know, but my parents have been there several times and after a quick google search, I saw that it was under 300 miles away from my house… piece of cake!

The kids and I hurriedly began throwing stuff together, packing the car, and making sandwiches so that we could just get up and leave in the morning. After a couple of stops along the way (Solo the Boxer needed food and the kids needed sand digging supplies), we started making our way toward Oregon.

We arrived around 3:00 pm to a crowded Cannon Beach. Not sure what I expected but for some reason, I wasn’t expecting it to be as touristy as it was. We finally found a parking spot and joined the rest of the tourists on the beach. I won’t bore you with all the details of the day. I’ll just leave you with some of my favorite pictures. We did drive back home Saturday night and arrived at 2:00 a.m. and Sunday morning, we got up and decided to go to spend the day in Bellingham! I am paying for it today but it was worth it…a weekend full of fun and sun!

Blogging Procrastination – Colville Trip

I have dreaded writing this post simply for the reason that there was so much that we saw on our way to my grandparent’s house in Colville, I knew it would be a long post so I think what I will do is let the pictures do the talking.

We live in Bothell and decided to take the scenic route to visit my grandparents, rather than I-90. We took US 2 and it was an awesome drive! Lots of rolling green wheat fields, quite a few abandoned places and great views of the Columbia River. It was definitely one of our more memorable road trips and one we look forward to taking again.


PNW Saturday Sights: An Owl & a Toilet

Well gosh…my car was fixed this morning (yay!) after a week outta commission and we just happened to be blessed with some sunshine today! I was tired but decided to take the kids somewhere we haven’t been. I had no clue where and did a quick Google search in the parking lot of my daughter’s work after dropping her off.

Bay View Park looked interesting so we headed there. The tide was out today so there was a good amount of beach. Along with the sunshine, there was a fair amount of clouds and it was chilly so we didn’t stay too long; just long enough for the kids to play a bit. I was tempted to either go find a beach at Deception Pass State Park we hadn’t been to or go home and indulge my laziness. I opted to head home which ended up being a pretty cool several hour journey, though we were only about an hour away.

My two youngest at Bay View State Park

I tend to get distracted by the barns, abandoned buildings, lakes, Eagles, and other random things I see while driving and pull over when I can to take pictures. Our one hour journey turned into about three hours. I believe I was on Farm To Table Road in Skagit County when I looked to my left and saw this owl just sitting there beside the road on a sign!

I quickly stopped the car in the middle of the road, grabbed my camera, rolled down my window (thankfully we were alone on the road) and started snapping away. He/she just sat there the entire time pretty much ignoring me. The kids were wise enough to cease their incessant yammering.

After our awesome owl encounter, we drove on a short distance and behold, there was a toilet on a tree stump in our midst with a Heron parked next to it!


Now you’ve gotta admit, it’s not every day you come face-to-face with an owl and encounter a toilet with a Heron standing next to it, on-guard. We drove to and through Sedro-Wooley and onto Highway 9. I had never driven the length of Highway 9 to the end and had no idea it ended in Sedro-Wooley. Everything north of Arlington is just beautiful. I absolutely love all of the farms, barns, lakes, rivers, bridges, snow-covered mountains, and even the trees. Below are some of the pictures I took from Sedro-Wooley heading south on Highway 9, including some of the historic Nakashima Family Farm.

Did you go anywhere interesting this weekend? If so, I’d love to hear about it and possibly put it on my list of places to go! Thank you for reading and God bless~Giannine


Snoqualmie Falls on a Rainy Day

Well, we had a few days of sun (or semi-sun) and then of course the kids’ 4-day weekend is here and what do you know—5 days of forecasted rain. I said yesterday I would just stay home and make soap and maybe a body butter and sugar scrub but when I got up today, I got the itch to go somewhere and decided on Snoqualmie Falls since it’s a short drive and I haven’t been there in several years.

Anthony is in Lake Stevens until Monday, Mercedez spent the night at her friend’s and Giovanna was the only one home who wanted to come with me so we rushed getting ready and headed out the door. All the gloom and rain really had me convinced we’d be one of only a few who would want to go visit the falls today but, no. Not at all. The place was packed! I had to go to the bathroom and didn’t want to park and walk so we drove toward North Bend and stopped at Herfy’s so I could use the bathroom and grab something to eat to kill a bit of time. I had hopes of going back to a less crowded parking lot.

We ordered peach milkshakes which tasted nothing like peach and really did not even taste like milkshakes at all. They had an odd flavor. I gave mine to Giovanna. We also got an order of large fries to share and a small order of fried mushrooms. Waaaay too much food for two! The large fries could have been shared by three adults and the mushrooms by two. Both were good but not great.

We headed back to the falls and found parking in the smaller lot closest to the falls. There were quite a few people there milling about in the steady drizzle, posing and taking pictures. Giovanna was afraid being up that high and was feeling dizzy so I took my pictures and we headed back to the car. It was a quick trip but fun, nonetheless. For some reason, the road trips to our destination are nearly as fun as the destination itself. I guess we just enjoy the entire experience.


I have no idea where we are going next but it will likely be somewhere pretty close. Thank you for reading and God bless~Giannine

Rosario Beach – Anacortes

The kids and I spent all day Saturday at Northern State Mental Hospital and Deception Pass State Park and had an awesome time. Can’t wait to go back to both! I wasn’t planning on going anywhere Sunday because my heel spurs on both feet were worse than they had been since I started treatment for them. Saturday night, I couldn’t even stand up without being in a lot of pain.

Fast forward to Sunday afternoon: The skies were blue and sun shining brightly for the first time in ages. We had to go somewhere! Even if I just drove somewhere and sat in the car. At about 3:00 we headed back out to Deception Pass but this time, we decided to check out Rosario Beach—a small cove on the southwestern corner of Fidalgo Island. Thankfully, my feet had recovered enough for me to do minimal walking which was all that was required to go from the parking lot to the beach.

The beach is pretty rocky and cluttered with logs and driftwood, making it a bit difficult to walk. We were kind of walking on a slant and the gravel is loose but there are plenty of places to sit along the whole beach. I don’t know what in the world the kids busy themselves with on each beach no matter the terrain, and they always find plenty to do.

I finally got some decent sunset pictures for the first time since getting my camera. It helped that there was an actual sun that day (insert sarcastic smiley).


We started heading home but decided to stop by the Shrimp Shack along the way (yum!). We walked in and my 9-year-old Taye said, “Well this is a nice establishment…” The things that come out of kids’ mouths. Sometimes I think he just looks for opportunities to say new big words he learns. That’s okay, though. We are often impressed with some of his word usage and how he uses them within proper context. I do believe he takes after his mom!


Anyway, I ordered fish tacos and the kids ordered the kids popcorn shrimp baskets which were actually quite large servings. They looked like a regular adult size. I wish I had taken a picture of theirs but only snapped a quick one of mine with my iPhone. The shrimp and tartar sauce were very good. The tartar tasted as if it was made with fresh dill. I will definitely be ordering that basket when we go back out that way but I did enjoy my fish tacos. The Shrimp Shack was great other than the two childish men and their pre-teen boys who behaved obnoxiously the entire time. Enough so that my youngest kids said they were all annoying. Oh well. Maybe less noise and childish banter next time we visit.


We will most definitely be visiting Rosario Beach again this Spring and Summer…I can’t wait to go back! Next stop: Snoqualmie Falls!

Thank you for reading and God bless~Giannine


Deception Pass State Park

After we finished our 2-hour exploration of Northern State Mental Hospital we drove along Chuckanut Drive Scenic Byway and stopped at Larrabee State Park which sits in a little cove. It is a nice little beach comprised of rocks and sand with some larger rocks and wood logs to sit on. We drove the few miles to Bellingham to grab some Starbucks and a few burgers and sundaes for the kids, then decided since we had a couple hours of daylight left, we’d head to Deception Pass State Park to watch the sunset.


After walking for 2 hours at Northern State with still-bothersome heel spurs, my feet were pretty sore so I was really glad to see the parking lot at Deception Pass State Park literally a few feet from the beach with plenty of picnic tables to sit and relax.

Deception Pass State Park spreads over 4,134 acres, a marine and camping park with 77,000 feet of saltwater shoreline and 33,900 feet of freshwater shoreline on three lakes. Something worth noting is the U.S. Navy jets from nearby Naval Air Station Whidbey Island that fly over for hours at a time. They circle around and around. The noise may be bothersome to some, especially if you are camping.

My youngest, Giovanna busied herself with trying to bond with the Seagulls, trying to entice them to come to her to get the rest of her lunch. Anthony and Gavin set off down the expansive beach, and Mercedez and Taye played in the sand and looked for shells. I was just happy to have a comfortable spot to watch the sunset wrapped up in my blanket.


Deception Pass State Park

As you can see in one of the pictures, one of the Naval jets was flying over the beach. There were two of them and they passed over repeatedly the entire hour-and-a-half we were there. The noise didn’t bother me though. I am looking forward to our next trip out to Deception Pass State Park! Next stop: Rosario Beach!

Thank you for reading and God bless~Giannine