Spring’s Gone

I know at times I sound like a broken record, but, as in years past, I truly believe that Western Washington is the most beautiful place in the world during Rhododendron season.  You can’t drive a street in the city without being struck by their beauty, but I never settle for just seeing them in neighbors’ yards.  

Rhododendrons are at their best in woodlands,

Rhody in Bloom against forest

and, luckily, the Point Defiance Rhododendron Garden is just a short mile away. It’s an added bonus that the walk is a gentle way to start getting ready to hike on Mt. Rainier once the snow has receded.

I always end up taking a lot more pictures than I’m ever going to process and post; so the hardest part of posting them is deciding which ones I like best.  

Do you  prefer pink and white, 

Pink and White Rhody

purple and orange, 

Purple and Red Rhody

seen from above

Looking down on Rhody

or a deep red?

Deep Red Rhody

Or do you prefer some of those I’ve posted in previous years (the ones in the links down below) ?  

Luckily, you can never have too much beauty in your life.

Dune Peninsula

Judging from the amount of space I devote on this website to our vacations, you might assume that we spend much of our retired life visiting wildlife refuges.  (Un)fortunately, as much as I would like to lead that lifestyle, it ain’t true.  At times I actually feel like I spend most of my retirement sitting at the computer working on blog entries, but looking back at the calendar to see how few posts I have made that’s obviously not true, either. In fact, I’m never sure where all the time went, just that it went a lot faster than I ever thought it would.

Our regular routine in the rainy season includes three days working out at the YMCA, which we occasionally supplement with walks in nearby Pt. Defiance or trips to local wildlife areas.  One of our favorite walks in late Spring or early Summer is at the Dunes,  a new extension of Pt. Defiance Park is named after Frank Herbert.

Built on the ruins of a historic lead-and-copper smelter it is covered with “prairie grasses and flowers,”  and most of those flowers are at their prime in early spring.  The trail from the upper parking lot is filled with these striking Rhododendrons.


Rhododendrons are native to Washington, but I don’t think these are a native variety. 

Common Hollyhocks line the trail section that overlooks the marina.


If you can take your eyes off the beautiful flowers, and it’s clear enough, you can see Mt. Rainier in the distance lording over Point Ruston.

Mt Rainier from Dune Peninsula

You know it’s a good day here whenever you can see The Mountain.

You can also find flowers like Columbine


and Tough Leaved Iris

Tough-Leaved Iris

on the Dune Peninsula Pavilion.

We usually finish our two-mile walk by going back through the Japanese Garden.  That’s twice as far as we usually walk at the Y, but only seems half as long.  

Pt Defiance Rhododendron Garden

There’s no place I’d rather be this time of year than the Pacific Northwest if for no other reason than it’s Rhododendron season.  The cool, wet weather we’ve been having this Spring seems perfect for Rhododendrons; they last much longer in cool, wet weather.  No wonder the Coast Rhododendron is our State Flower.

While Rhodies look beautiful in neighborhood yards, including ours, they really stand out when seen in a forest setting, their natural habitat. Leslie and I are lucky to live a short walk from the Pt. Defiance Rhododendron Garden and have already visited several times this year.

Red and White Rhododendrons

The native Rhodies are are “pink to rose-purple, and are rarely white,” something like this.

Pink Rhododendron

On the visit where I took my camera, though, the white Rhododendrons, native or not, took center stage

White and Pink Rhododendron

and stood out in the shade of towering fir trees.


It’s clear that most of the Rhodies in the garden aren’t native, and ones like this bright orange Rhodie with its bell-like shape seem almost exotic.

Orange Rhododendron

I still prefer the pinkish-red Rhodies that thrive in nearby mountains and in my childhood neighborhoods, but that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate exotic beauty from far-away lands.

Walking Tacoma’s Dunes Trail

More often than not when I walk outside I’m birding and carrying my Canon with a 600 mm lens.  If I don’t expect to see birds, I sometimes leave my camera at home and focus on walking fast and covering more miles.  

On a recent walk on the Dunes Trail I was slowed by the beautiful flowers. Beginning with several Azaleas bordering the parking lot.  

Pink Azalea

Of course, I had to stop, pull out my iPhone and get a closeup of them.

Closeup of Azalea blossoms

The path on the other side of the bridge didn’t have any more azaleas, but it was covered in lupine.

Field of Lupine

And, once again, I had to pause long enough to take a closer look.

Closeup of Lupine

Apparently my Apple Watch didn’t appreciate my stopping to take pictures and repeatedly asked me if I wanted to stop timing my walk.  I ignored it and pushed the dismiss tab so it would at least add the mileage to my total.

I was sure my Fitness app would warn me that my Walking Pace was trending down later, but that didn’t stop me from taking another shot of this beautiful Oregon Iris further along the trail.

Oregon Iris

I’ve been trying to increase my walking pace at the YMCA, including jogging a lap, to get in shape for your upcoming trip to Colorado and a summer hiking on Mt. Rainier, but, outside, I still break for snapshots of Nature’s beauty.  

Once I hit 80, I realized it’s more important to enjoy the moment than it is to prepare for the future. I probably should have realized it much sooner.