Spotted on the Roadside: The Friendship Chimp in Ellensburg, WA

the ellensburg friendship chimp

washoe the chimp

Washoe the chimp was born in 1965 and raised in Reno, NV. From infancy until age five, she was only spoken to via sign language, which she quickly learned and began to use. In 1980, Washoe and her signing family moved to Ellensburg; for the next twenty years, she would be part of weekly “Chimposiums” given at Central Washington University which educated the public about chimp language abilities. When she died in 2007 at age 42, messages of sympathy arrived from around the globe, even getting a mention in The New York Times. Not only had she broken the language barrier, but she’d done so as part of a project that was dedicated to proving that animal research could be conducted with kindness and respect, which was a huge step forward.  In 2012, this park in downtown Ellensburg was dedicated to Washoe, along with a statue in her likeness, signing “friends”.

Spotted on E 5th St, Ellensburg, WA

Nom or Vom: A Hot Dog In Your Pocket



Today’s nom or vom item was spotted in the wild by Tara, who has noticed a number of items in New Zealand that are trying to introduce bold new American flavors to the kiwi market. Regardless of where you live, how do you feel about the hot dog pizza pocket?

Pros: The taste of freedom in every bite, continuing the proud tradition of combining pizza and hot dogs, presumably personally approved by John McCain, will make you want to bust out your best red white and blue tableware, the only thing standing between you and dinner is 90 seconds, conveniently portable (would fit snugly in a hobbit’s pocket), looks like a chopped up can of cocktail weenies and as we all know you can’t go wrong with cocktail weenies

Cons: It looks like someone chewed up a can of cocktail weenies and than spit out the premasticated slop into a cardboard tube, like a hot dog vomit pocket swimming in a ketchup-y cheese gravy, I see the word “pizza” on the box but there is nothing pizza related in there so I don’t think it counts as a serving of vegetables, limited edition so often means “We don’t think this item has long term appeal so we’re banking on your poor impulse buying decisions”, to be really American it should come with some kind of frosting or dipping packet and you should maybe hear an eagle scream when you bust open the box otherwise it’s just a pale imitation of the real thing

Would you eat a hot dog pocket?

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Horseback Riding on Orcas

horseback riding on orcas shoop

Sadly, no, not horseback riding on orca whales, which is probably a ton more exciting though rife with danger if you’re shitty at holding your breath and a wimp about getting hypothermia. Instead, I went horseback riding on Orcas Island, the largest island in the San Juans (though not as populous as San Juan Island, which I visited briefly last year and plan to revisit soon).

Just like San Juan, you can get there by ferry or plane–I elected to take the ferry again, this time taking my car across so I’d have an easier time getting to Moran State Park, where the ride was to be held. In case you would like to do the same thing–learn from my mistake and make ferry reservations. I hadn’t even considered that capacity would be an issue, because I was getting to the terminal so early and just figured it would be first come, first served. When I pulled up to the ferry ticket-seller, she scowled and asked if I had a reservation. When I told her that I didn’t, she said I’d just have to wait and cross my fingers…uh oh. Luckily, I was able to drive on to the ferry I’d planned on taking, as there are so few ferries that I never would have made my ride time with a later crossing. After the crossing, Jason immediately made reservations for the trip back, and I’m glad he did, as some of the scheduled crossings were already indicated as full and I had no intention of spending the night.

After the ferry docked, I made my way to Moran State Park, which is on the other side of the horseshoe-shaped island (you know, if a horseshoe was sort of mutated and mangled and really nothing like a horseshoe at all), bought a Discovery Pass, and parked. I ended up with a good amount of time to kill, so I took a short hike on the Cascade Lake trail and also started on the trail to the waterfall before second-guessing my ability to get there and back before the ride and doubled back to wait. And wait.

cascade lake

docile deer

Eventually a big horse trailer pulled up, we filled out some waivers indicating that we would not sue if involved in a horse-related injury, checked off boxes pertaining to our level of horsemanship and whether or not we wanted helmets. As I’ve fallen off of a horse before (in a lesson that was attempting to teach me to ride at a trot bareback, which I wasn’t ready for and promptly went ass-over-teakettle), I definitely wanted a helmet. Not so much to protect my head from impact with the ground, but to protect it from those four skull-crushers that they have the audacity to call hooves while I’m rolling around on the ground like a helpless squishy bug. No one else wanted helmets, but after they saw me strapping one on, they changed their minds. I’d like to think that it’s because I make wearing a helmet look cool, but not even I am that self-deluded.

safety first

Once we were properly geared, we were assigned horses based on our skill levels. I’d selected that I’d had more than 8 hours of riding under my belt (which is true, I probably have at least a hundred hours, just not, you know, in the most recent twenty years save for a couple of rides at Long Beach), and I was selected to ride Candy. Not because she was particularly difficult or spirited, but because saddles tend to slip on her and they figured I’d be the least freaked out if I started going sideways.  Which didn’t end up happening, so hurrah for that!

candy the horse

trail ride orcas

horseback riding on orcas

The trail ride was suitably difficult, not the nose-to-tail plod I expect from the majority of rides, but a lot of narrow switchbacks with steep ascents and descents, needing to pick your way through huge roots and other hazards and duck under low hanging branches. On my beach rides, I felt 100% comfortable pulling out and fiddling with my camera, but on this ride, I was able to take a quick shot while we were stopped and immediately put my phone back in my pocket because I needed my concentration elsewhere.  Speaking of stopping–we stopped every single time a horse pooped so one of the company riders could hop off and kick the poop off the trail into the weeds, which meant we stopped a lot. A lot. Sometimes we’d ride ten feet before having to stop again. Candy pooped six times. Multiply six poops by seven horses and we stopped 42 times. I don’t think it was quite that many, but it was close. 

Close enough that by the time we made it back to our starting point, it was nearly an hour later than we were supposed to have finished. Which wasn’t really a problem for me insofar as the ferry was concerned since I still had nearly five hours before I had to board, but was a problem in that nearly everything else on Orcas was closed. At 4pm.  Someone recommended a pie shop in nearly Olga. Closed. Back near the ferry terminal, the gift shops were closed, the ice cream shops were closed, and the only place that was open, the Orcas Hotel, sold us a sandwich and a drink and then hustled us off their property so our sandwich-eating wouldn’t be in the photos of the wedding they were hosting.  So we went back to the car and waited. And waited. And waited. I ended up falling asleep for a while. I actually considered trekking back to Doe Bay and paying for access to their clothing-optional hot tub because trying to avoid looking at hippie schlong would at least be something to do.

orca friend

Finally, FINALLY, the ferry arrived and we boarded just in time to catch the tail end of a really pretty sunset.

orcas island ferry sunset

sunset orcas

purple sky

purple and blue sky moon

Spotted on the Roadside: We’re Gonna Need A Bigger Boat in Ocean Shores, WA


shark attack

Sharky’s is THE photo op in Ocean Shores, whether you want to photograph a gleeful mauling or an impending attack with your husband looking on in the background like he doesn’t even care that you’re about to be eaten by an enormous freaking shark. If you dare to venture inside the jaws, it’s full of nearly every shark-related thing you could possibly imagine, including a pretty decent book selection, one of which I purchased for a friend’s son who is an aspiring young marine biologist. What’s particularly funny about this (to me) is that the same people who are pumped to take photos in front of Sharky’s are super upset that an actual great white was found in their waters recently. Like anyone is going into the water at Ocean Shores, anyway.

Spotted on Ocean Shores Blvd in Ocean Shores, WA

The Sand & Sawdust Fest in Ocean Shores, WA

driftwood seahorse

If, as Michelangelo said, every block of stone has a statue inside of it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it, it can likewise be said that every log of wood has a statue inside of it, and that statue is probably a bear. Either because there are an inordinate number of bears trapped inside logs, or it could just be that people like bears. Either way, I ventured to the Sand and Sawdust fest in Ocean Shores to see what there was to see. There would be woodcarved bears, undoubtedly, but would there also be sand bears? One could only hope.

I first checked out the chainsaw carving area, where the scent of funnel cakes was barely detectable over the more dominant smell of freshly-carved cedar. Almost every vendor had someone chainsaw carving in their tent, sawdust flying everywhere, including (as I am particularly unlucky) directly into my eye, curving around my glasses somehow like the world’s smallest jerk. But oh, the bears.

chainsaw octopus

chainsawed eagle

chainsawed bears

So many bears.

wood carvings

such an angry dog

There was also this angry dog. Why are you so angry, dog? Why are your tiny black eyes so full of hate? Why are your eyebrows furrowed and your lips curled into a sneer?

no papparazzi

Maybe because I ignored his bear friend’s “no paparazzi” warning.

seahawks bench

There was also this timeless treasure, an heirloom piece for future generations (surely officially licensed by the NFL, although it’s not like the woodcarvers can help it if a Seahawk is stuck inside a log, they’re just trying to free him), and if that doesn’t float your boat, you could also buy a gorgeous wooden Beyoncé.

knock knock motherfucker

sand ogre

sand squid

They also had a couple of sand sculptures in the wood carving area, which left me a little confused and temporarily disappointed–two? That’s it? That constitutes a “fest” of sand sculptures? Then I actually walked my lazy ass to the beach and saw that I was, thankfully, so very wrong.

sea grass

ocean shores

beware of sand sharks

dragon and moat

homer simpson squid

Is this a Don Hertzfeldt Sampsans sculpture? Or am I looking at it completely wrong?

ocean shores sand and sawdust fest

racing turtle

sand mermaid

sand minions


sand sculpture

the world is your oyster

turtle race

Just like at Cannon Beach, people weren’t very respectful of the sand sculptures, walking on them, crumbling them, ruining them, just so they could get a few more likes on their instagram photos. It’s gross that they’re so easily able to destroy others’ hard work and still others’ enjoyment, seemingly without any thought about it. But what’s the alternative? Setting up barriers around each creation for the duration of the festival? It doesn’t seem like consideration is coming back into vogue any time soon.

Sadly, there were no bears freed from the sand, but I did find this written in the sand:

j and m equals love forever

Indeed, sand inscriber. Indeed.

Spotted on the Roadside: It’s Decorative Gourd Season, Motherfuckers!

 psl mural

psl days

psl detail 

the future

ahhh refreshing

In accordance with the agreement signed by all bloggers, I am contractually obligated to celebrate the return of the pumpkin spice latte, long may it reign over inferior similarly pumpkin spiced products, such as the pumpkin spice air freshener, pumpkin spice laundry detergent, pumpkin spice lady garden freshener, and pumpkin spice heartworm pills for dogs. This particular mural was painted for Starbucks’ PSL Days commercial on the side of the DeCamp and Stratford Furniture building and is a reminder during those other horrible nine months of the year that Our Latte has not forsaken us.

Spotted on Cherry St in Burlington, WA

In Days of Old When Knights Were Bold: The Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire


If Camlann Medieval Village is an accurate portrait of a quiet 14th century medieval village, the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire is the 14th century Disneyland. It spans three weekends in August, with three distinct themes,  different performances depending on the weekend and a schedule that’s so jam-packed that you could not see everything in a day unless you were really goal-oriented, which is why some people choose to camp out on the grounds for the weekend. I chose to make a go of one jam-packed day during the third weekend, Her Majesty’s Royal Masquerade, where visitors were encouraged to don their most fantastic masks and join the merriment.

My first stop at the Faire was Cirque du Sewer, the only show with an acrobat, trained acro-rats, and an acro-cat (also: an assistant in a hat, and instead of a mat, a poop towel). The show was charming and delightful, though I did once have to suppress my gag reflex when she placed one of the rats on her head and brushed its tail behind her ear like it was her bangs. I don’t know why that revulsed me so utterly, I’m just squeamish. It probably didn’t help that the rats all had names like “Ebola”, “Typhoid” and “Literally Coated In Diseases That Are Flaking Off Onto My Forehead Right Now”.  (Maybe I made up one of these names. Maybe.)

cirque du sewer announcement

just a little mayhem

cat juggling

cirque du sewer

After the exciting grand finale of Cirque du Sewer, which involved slack rope walking and more theme-appropriate piccolo playing, I made my way to the Jousting and Tournament arena, where the Seattle Knights (previously seen at the Hurl Faire and the Portland Pirate Festival) staged battles and performed feats of skill on horseback. I’ve really got to hand it to those guys–I was feeling a little warm just standing around in my t-shirt and jeans, and they were battling in armor for hours. No wonder one of their members passed out during a fight! I saw her later in the day and she was, thankfully, fine…I don’t want to see anyone get hurt for the sake of my entertainment.


german celebration

knight battle

spanish knight joust

spanish knight

trident battle

Finally, in the distance, I spotted the notorious pickle wench, purveyor of ice cold pickles, and wearer of a really ridiculously awesome pickle mask. It was pretty refreshing…for a pickle. Sure, the salt content had me running for McGilly Sasparilly’s “Ambrosia of the Gods” cream soda, but in its first few cold pickle-y bites, I could see why my tablemate at Camlann waxed so rhapsodically about them. Plus, I will pretty much never turn down a proffered pickle. I’d probably even take one from the paws of Ebola the rat, if he felt like sharing.

pickle wench

tiny dressed up dog

jeffrey the jongular

After that, I wandered around, catching the tail end of a performance by Broon, and setting up shop really early for Jeffrey the Jongular. Just before the show, he looked out at the audience and said he needed to go out and wrangle up more audience members. I jokingly asked him why we weren’t good enough for him, and he asked me how big my tip was going to be.

michael bolton

First, Jeffrey, it is not polite to ask a woman about the size of her tips, and second, it made things really awkward when the only cash I had left turned out to be a fistful of quarters from the bottom of my purse. I think the tip issue is the thing that most didn’t sit right with me over the course of the day: with the sole exception of the knights, every performance I attended ended with a lengthy spiel asking for tips, some more aggressive than others, some indicating that our tips were the only thing keeping them off the street. I don’t know what the deal is with Faire, if they’re not paying their performers or what, but it seems weird to me to pay an entry fee into a place that’s offering you a day’s entertainment, only to then feel like the biggest piece of shit on Earth if you only have a few bucks to toss into their hat after partaking in said entertainment, like you’re ripping them off. I don’t typically walk around with a bunch of cash in my wallet–I happened to visit an ATM a few days prior to the Faire and had roughly $40 on me. I spent two bucks on a pickle, three bucks on a soda, and the rest of what I had on me in tips, and when that was gone, I felt like I shouldn’t go see any more shows because I was tapped out. I did go see one more show, Robin’s Risque Revels, in the adult-only theater, enjoyed all of the lowbrow jokes and songs thoroughly, and afterward I felt so guilty that I didn’t have any cash on me that I practically slunk out of the theater and suggested that we go home for the day. I’m not saying don’t go–I enjoyed the Faire, and I’ll probably go back, just that if and when I do, I will be prepared with more cash on hand so I can enjoy performances AND a giant turkey leg.

Talk About a Puff Piece: The Corgi Picnic

death from the ankles down

I feel about dogs the way many women feel about babies. If I see you on the street walking your dog, there is a 99.99% chance I am going to ask you if I can pet him, and a 100% chance that I will coo “Hi, puppy!” at him. I want you to tell me about your dog. Tell me his name. Tell me how old he is. Don’t bother scolding him for leaping up into my arms, that is exactly what I want, an opportunity to snuggle your dog. Are things getting weird? Have I descended into gibberish-talking foolishness and you’re starting to worry? Did you have places to go and (other) people to see? Sorry, I might be missing those social cues because I am too busy petting your dog and telling him that he’s such a good boy, yessums he is. I follow more dogs on instagram than I do people. My most commonly used emoji is the smiley face with heart eyes and this is because I love all of these dogs. I will only unfollow your dog if you use him to shill products that are bad for dogs, because the cuteness of dogs should only be used for good, not evil. Once, I was in a garden store looking at dog products and thinking about how much I like Samoyeds when the fluffiest Samoyed I’ve ever seen walked by and I got to pet him. I don’t know if I manifested him from wishing hard enough the way The Secret would have me believe, but I’m also not ruling it out, because one afternoon I spent a lot of time thinking about how much I like candy and a realtor dropped off a bag of candy on the doorstep of my rental house. Of course I will eat candy from strangers, look at me. Either way, what I am saying is that the afternoon I wished I had a Samoyed to pet and one magically appeared ranks as the best coincidence of my life.

Sometimes I feel a little guilty about how enthusiastic I get about other people’s dogs when it’s not like I don’t have a dog of my own. But then I remember that love is not a finite resource, and my little bean has it good, with mountains of toys, a bed in every room, super premium food, and more space on my own bed than I get for myself. Hence why I felt zero guilt snapping up tickets for the annual corgi picnic the second they became available, as I was not going to miss an opportunity to meet and play with up to 100 new corgi friends. After all, there is a reason that “corgi” ends with an “eee” sound, because that is the sound I make whenever I see one.

theo and nala corgisThis is Nala and Theo, corgi best friends.


theo corgi

corgis playing

uh oh uh oh

corgi baitThe pizza provided by the event hosts proved to be excellent corgi bait.

butters the corgiThis is Butters, mostly mild-mannered but occasionally turns into Professor Chaos at home.

corgi buddies

corgi crew

corgi pool

corgi sign


different color corgi eyes

leaping corgi

nala corgi

panting corgi

running corgi


puppy pile

sweet baby corgi puppy face

sweet baby corgi

It was awesome. A dog tornado would roll through the yard, a few would break away for pets and tummy rubs, and then they’d get absorbed back into the group. Everywhere I looked, there was a corgi smile (or two! or ten!). What was surprising was how affable they generally were with one another, even in such large numbers–only a few dogs had to serve hard time in the dog jail pen.

The gracious event hosts are corgi breeders and enthusiasts, and they had a “reserved” pen of their most recent litter so they could become socialized under supervision. I got to hop into the cage and was swarmed by puppies, and it was basically a dream come true. My only regret was that there were no puppy party favors. Napoleon’s regret was not being invited–that, and not getting any pizza, either. Worst. masters. ever.

A Walk on Kalaloch Beach


To get to Kalaloch’s Beach 2 on the Olympic Peninsula, you first need to take a short (very short!) hike through massively burled woods. From there, push on through the enormous berry bushes and rampant weeds that are threatening to overrun the trail, and trust that the little wooden drawbridge over a fairly deep gully will bear your weight. Then it’s just a short scramble over some driftwood and stones and you’re there–a wide sandy beach great for walks and tidepool viewing. And even on a summer Sunday, it was relatively deserted: I saw more bald eagles than I did other people.

Hiking the Hoh: The Hall of Mosses

hall of mosses

crossed tree trunks

crystal clear water

draping moss

ferns and mosses

giant fallen tree

hall of mosses hoh

twisted wood

hiking path in hoh

hoh rainforest

knobbly trees

leaves and moss

black slug

lush green mosses

moss monster

moss moss moss

mossy stump

mushrooms hoh


olympic rainforest

please stay behind fence



such greenery

the moss wins

tree arch

trees growing on a fallen tree

twisted trunk

walking moss people

run away and keep runningKeep running…forever?

As I’ve talked about before, the Pacific Northwest is home to the largest temperate rainforest zone in the world, stretching from Northern California into Alaska. Located in the Olympic National Park, the trees of the Hoh Rainforest are protected from commercial logging, which means that the unique mosses and lichens that can only survive in old growth forests thrive here. Though there were a number of other hikers present on the day I visited, it wasn’t far from the ranger station that I ceased to hear the sounds of human activity. It was so peaceful. Birds called and chattered. I looked up and saw a hawk gliding through the trees. Dappled sunlight filtered through the canopy, and everywhere was this lush, verdant green. It seemed hard to believe that a wildfire had been burning in the forest since May, a fire in this rainforest for the first time in living memory. It’s just another reminder of just how dry this year has been everywhere, that a fire could rage out of control for months in a rainforest, this particular area one of the wettest in the entire United States! It wasn’t bad when I visited, no smoke or anything on the tiny portion of the trails I hiked, but it’s still deeply disturbing to think that this treasure could be in danger–not just from fires, but also from invasive species.

Yesterday marked the 99th anniversary of the national park service, and I’d like to thank them for all the hard work they do to protect and preserve these important, beautiful sites. Not just for our enjoyment or the enjoyment of future generations, but for all of the flora and fauna that can only thrive in wild spaces and can’t protect themselves from encroachment. And I’d like to encourage all of you to get out there and find your park!