Sunday, July 31, 2011

History and Art: Port Townsend, WA

One of the reasons I went with Himself to Washington State this spring was he had to attend a recertification class and would have extra time before he had to sail.  There was the option of taking the class in Tacoma or Port Townsend.  It was an easy choice… someplace we were at a lot or someplace we hadn’t been before.

We went a full day early to enjoy a special beach day (I’ll write about that soon) plus his class schedule was pretty relaxed.  So we got a lot of sight-seeing in and while he was in class I, of course, was out for more exploring.  

Port Townsend downtown is on the register as a US National Historic Landmark.  It was a thriving late 19th century port town.  Due to several factors, the beautiful Victorian homes that were built during that time have never been torn down for “progress”.  There are so many beautiful buildings.  I spent a few hours just driving around enjoying and snapping a few photos from the car.

And not only are there beautiful homes and buildings… the views are spectacular!

(Excuse all the power lines… I was at a stop sign!)

Wilderness is all around the town and wild life was everywhere… even in the middle of neighborhoods.  She pranced up the street not caring a bit about the traffic. One had to drive carefully!

Of course we spent most of our time near the waterfront.  The docks were so cool. 

I took quite a few photos of the boats.

Not something we get to see every day!

Himself would love to have this bench that looks like a dock cleat.  Isn’t it fun? 

Twice a week there is a marketplace in town.  I was able to go to the Saturday market after I dropped Himself off at his class.  So many wonderful things from produce, to local cheeses, to paintings and other fine arts & crafts and more.  Talk about being in Happyland! 

Of course I came out with a bag of treasures… fresh cheese and bread for our drive back to Auburn, a painting, a rose made of cedar bark, and some lavender sachets.  

There were fantastic artisan shops, great restaurants, museums and exhibits and much more to see.  I would love to go back someday and explore even more.

Saturday, July 30, 2011

Bonsai in the Pacific Northwest

As Himself and I traveled around the Seattle area, we went thru Bremerton on our way to Port Townsend.  Driving along we saw a sign that said “Elandan Bonsai”.   Sounded interesting so we pulled in. 

We entered into the shop which was full of all kinds of odds and ends from all over the world.  An ostrich feather might be sitting next to a fossil that is next to a piece of Chinese silk.  VERY fun to explore.  To see the bonsai, you have to pay an admission that was around $7 (I don’t remember as Himself took care of that).  
As you stepped out the back door of the shop, you entered the bonsai garden.  The fantastically landscaped garden is right on the shoreline of Puget Sound.

It really was peaceful walking thru it.  We were the only ones there, largely due to the fact that it was raining the entire time we wandered about.  This is why the photos are not up to my usual standard.  It was probably rather amusing to watch me try to balance an umbrella and snap photos – Himself was wise enough not to comment on the sight! 
Most of the trees are not the traditional medium size bonsai that most are familiar with.  These were large bonsai (hachi-uye, dai, and omono) ranging from 3’ to 6’ high. 

They were lovely to look at but there was just something about it.  I can’t put my finger on it but I just kept saying to myself “Seriously?”

Like this cypress.  He states that being in the water slows the growth and this small tree is 500 years old.  Now I live in the South and there’s quite a few cypress and they don’t have any problem growing very large in the water.  I’d like to know how he decides how old a tree is.

Another “ancient” cypress…

And here is a large tree that he removed everything but one low branch which was wired into this sweeping form. 

This one isn’t even the actual tree he first claims.  He grafted a different variety onto a gnarly trunk. 

On this tree, he planted a different tree into the hollow of a dead trunk making it look like an ancient tree when it’s actually quite young.
Almost everyone tree featured lots of ‘jin’ or dead wood.  What I saw were a lot of large trees (10 – 15 foot tall) cut back severely, with the lopped trunks carved to jin.  In the work yard there was an amazing variety of drills, sanders and saws to achieve this.   

Pretty to look at but I left feeling more like I’d been seeing ‘smoke and mirrors’.   I’ll have to ask the experts in my bonsai club if this is a way of doing things.  Maybe this is the accepted way to do the large trees.  I don’t know.