Posts Tagged ‘Washington State’

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 31

Raaaaaaa… nier…… Viking Festival (for those who remember the old Rainier Beer commercials). This past weekend the rollicking good Northwest Viking Festival was held in the town of Rainier, Washington… past Yelm… not quite to Tenino.

I believe this was the first annual Viking festival in Wilkowski Park. Admission was free but event organizers encouraged attendees to bring donations for the local food banks.

On a windy Sunday my horde and I did go. Upon arrival we found the Evil Frog Totem (or at least we called it that). I suppose it could have been an ancient billboard for a Norse chiropractor as well.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 1

From the main road it looked like there were just a few vendors and a limp bouncy castle (it was inflated later), but amongst the trees were a delightful assortment of vendors and activities.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 2

There were also tents showcasing how our Viking brethren would have lived before we invented IKEA and Marimekko.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 3

What really stood out to me at vendor stalls was the beautiful leather work. I ooed and awed, then a costumed kid walked by yelling, “it’s time to skin the beaver!!” “Was that a game?” I thought. One of my companions replied, “No, look, it’s a dead beaver.” And there the poor beaver was, sprawled on a table, dead as a doornail. Couldn’t do it. Had to move on.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 4

More pieces of beautifully crafted dead animal. I do wear leather; I guess the ancestral genes that influence us to make our own leather escaped me.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 5

And then, the village blacksmith. His work was fascinating to watch. I don’t know how he could stand the heat though. It was hot where we were standing outside the corral. I had to check to be sure I still had eyebrows.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 6

That’s the sound of a man… working on the chain… maAil… Actually, he was making a stabber of some kind. Whether a rapier or marshmallow stick, I don’t know.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 7

Strolling along, I was greeted by Mr. Cute, a very kind dog whose breed or actual name I don’t remember. His owner said he was so calm because he’d been coming to such events his whole life.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 8

Why yes they do.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 9

Marvelous swords and a wiggy hammer. It reminds me of the nursery rhyme in which “they all lived together in a little crooked house.”

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 10

This gorgeous horse is Night. He is 27 years young and his person says he’s the mascot for the local senior center.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 11

As I petted Night, this nearby well-coiffed horse said, “Pay attention to me!”

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 12

Excitement was brewing around the Ozark Trail (chair).

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 13

Here is definitive proof that Vikings engage in commerce with Romans. Also note the 750W massage throne.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 14

Dear Santa: I want one of these for work.


Oops he did it again.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 16

Tools of the trade. When I remarked that I’d like to crawl into this bed in this airy tent and take a nap, its owner said he discourages unauthorized bed use by setting sharp things on it.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 17

The Chicken Man himself hauls a load of fluid-infused projectiles towards the trebuchets.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 18

Catapults? Trebuchets? I’m not entirely sure. But my closest companion and I discussed all the ridiculous things we could use one for. It became readily apparent that we probably shouldn’t have one.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 19

Here was a stone carver from Seattle. I suggested to my group that we could go into business making grave markers and that went over like a lead zeppelin.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 20

A shopping cart with watermelons? Next to a catapult? Yes please.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 21

The Earl and Lady of Kattegat finally occupied their perches to observe the festivities.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 22

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 23

Young volunteers were fitted with shields and weapons downrange of the catapults. The one on the left couldn’t have too many shields. Shield wall!!

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 24

Note the arrival of the black balloons. They turned out to be more durable than the multicolored water bombs.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 25

3, 2, 1, launch!

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 26

The daring crowd of defenders grew.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 27

From my perspective I couldn’t figure out what type of fur this was. It seemed to be a whole animal with very short appendages. I said, “oh no, he killed a giant platypus!” It turned out to be elk, which was more apparent from the front view. This photo presented a paradox; ancient garb versus modern technology.


Whoo hoo!

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 29

We learned that most of the fighting had taken place on Saturday. Here two kids got medieval in the round.

Rainier Viking Festival 2018 30

This was a great family activity. Some Viking festivals are overtly pagan to the point of being a religious event; that wasn’t our experience. People were friendly, with a local realtor and her precious deaf dog handing out free water at the entrance. They actually talk to strangers in Rainier. I’m more used to Greater Seattle culture in which people don’t say excuse me or use their turn signals and where many people show great discomfort if a stranger speaks to them.

In the restroom a little girl was screaming at her mother that she didn’t want to go to the bathroom. I told her I’d have been spanked if I talked to my mother like that. She did get a swat on her backside. I rarely see parents take control like that in my own biome. Instead they yell at the kids to comply but don’t back up their words, so the kids persist. Score more points for Rainier.

We did have a jaw-droppingly rude experience on the way out. A vendor had the biggest birdcage I’d ever seen for sale. I’d joked that you could put people inside it and then realized that wasn’t funny. But it was great for birds. A family member offered the vendor $20 and he said, “sold!”

Next thing I knew, a short, stout woman in a bright pink shirt was preparing to take away the birdcage. Confused, I asked the vendor, “what just happened?” After he’d told my relative “sold!”, the newcomer had said she’d pay $40 for it. The vendor grinned as he talked about the $40. I was aghast, especially since we were celebrating a birthday. It had happened so quickly that I don’t think I’d heard the woman barge in.

I stood on the sidelines while the woman took the top off the cage and found someone to help her move it. She did not apologize or bat an eyelash. The vendor didn’t either. I should have had the presence of mind to chip in my own $20 and buy it out from under the rude woman, but decided a vendor like that probably doesn’t deserve our business anyway. He probably wasn’t from Rainier.

Overall this was a fun day. I wish we could have left the festival on a more positive note but that was not the festival’s fault. This event will likely grow and I hope more interactive activities occur on both days, not primarily on Saturday. By next year I hope to have my “Straight Outta Asgard” t-shirt or a faux beaver ensemble complete with tooled leather accessories that I didn’t witness being made.

Thank you, Rainier, for using this great event for fun, charity, and education!


When the age of the Vikings came to a close, they must have sensed it. Probably, they gathered together one evening, slapped each other on the back and said, “Hey, good job.” –Jack Handey


©2018 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Read Full Post »

Trueblood House 8-17 1

Disney Pixar’s Up House

August 15th, 2017: It happened! One year from when Kirkland’s historic Trueblood House last moved, it finally landed in its permanent home. Thank you to the amazing new owners who made room for it and took on the expense.

Today’s journey began here on the southeast corner of 1st Street and 7th Avenue where the house has been moored in a church parking lot atop a trailer.

Trueblood House 8-17 2

Trueblood House 8-17 3

Looking south about 12:40 P.M., you can see the preparations being made for the house’s move around the corner.

Trueblood House 8-17 4

Trueblood House 8-17 5

Later on… thar she blows!

Trueblood House 8-17 6

It certainly isn’t every day that you see a house in the middle of the street, especially a late 19th century structure complete with a stained glass window.

Trueblood House 8-17 7

Note the balloons. They are a color-appropriate homage to the Up house! What a cheery and festive touch.

Trueblood House 8-17 8

Here Nickel Brothers moving begins to navigate the turn east onto 6th Avenue.

Trueblood House 8-17 9

Trueblood House 8-17 10

Trueblood House 8-17 11

Trueblood House 8-17 12

They couldn’t have asked for more beautiful weather.

Trueblood House 8-17 13

Trueblood House 8-17 14

See the house. The house is relatively level. Onlookers are making predictions as to how long the house will stay in the street.

Trueblood House 8-17 15

Then– GAAHHH!!! The house suddenly began tilting to the left as a gathering crowd collectively gasped. Was the house falling off the trailer?!

Trueblood House 8-17 16

Oh, it looks like it’s tipping, doesn’t it? Evidently the trailer has hydraulics and they shifted the house to navigate past the massive maple on the south side. As you can see from the branches lying on the sidewalk on the left side, that tree got an impromptu haircut to facilitate safe passage as well. Also note the downspout on the right that caught on the tree. It didn’t fall off.

Trueblood House 8-17 17

Now it’s about 3:40 P.M. and the house is being backed into its new lot. This shot shows just some of the many trucks involved in the move. Communications lines had to be taken down and put back up, there were pilot cars– many different companies helped make this possible.

Trueblood House 8-17 18

It really does look like it’s going to float away.

Trueblood House 8-17 19

These workers kept cutting boards and placing boards and making sure everything was perfect as the house was slooowly backed into position. Note that the house is suspended over a huge hole in the ground. More on that soon.

Trueblood House 8-17 20

Just beyond that center bush is a refrigerator that was said to have come out of the old house. Not only was it handy stadium seating for this event, but a cohort remarked that it was also the ultimate cooler.

Trueblood House 8-17 21

Then the move became even more interesting as this big boy was backed in to assist.

Trueblood House 8-17 22

This was a great moment I almost didn’t catch. One of the movers brought balloons over to this mini-onlooker who was rocking his own PPE. Because this was taken on private property, children’s faces are omitted, but it still captures the joy.

Trueblood House 8-17 23

The behemoth newcomer was chained to the trailer to assist as the first truck backed up.

Trueblood House 8-17 24

Trueblood House 8-17 25

So much work went into this move. Some people stayed for hours watching the carefully choreographed moving mambo.

Trueblood House 8-17 26

Here you finally have a sense of the yawing abyss. There were men down in there keeping an eye on things as the house sometimes creaked and shuddered into place.

Trueblood House 8-17 27

There it is. This is a cause of rejoicing for the local community, especially the local history buffs.

Trueblood House 8-17 28

The cavalcade of bucket trucks put wires back up with amazing speed. This is one of the last lines to be restrung.

Trueblood House 8-17 29

They had to get it just right before leaving for the night.

Trueblood House 8-17 30

As I texted to friends, “It’s sitting on giant Jenga blocks, then plywood, then the trailer.” The cribbing is holding an estimated 60 tons. Although the primary truck will stay hooked up to the trailer overnight, it is due on a ferry by tomorrow afternoon. So work will begin again in the morning.

Trueblood House 8-17 31

Overall, this was a fantastic experience. Thank you to the new owners for their hospitality and for saving a landmark. Kirkland’s first doctors lived in this home and some of those in attendance had lived in it for years to decades as well. This is a well loved house and I’m grateful that– albeit in an enhanced version (you’ll see)– it will live on.

Trueblood House 8-17 32


Russell: [reading from his scout handbook in monotone] Good afternoon. My name is Russell, and I am a Wilderness Explorer in Tribe 54, Sweatlodge 12. Are you in need of any assistance today, sir?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross the street.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your yard.

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: I could help you cross your… porch?

Carl Fredricksen: No.

Russell: Well, I gotta help you cross *something*!


©2017 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.







Read Full Post »


On Wednesday, August 17th, Kirkland, Washington’s Trueblood House was moved around the corner to a temporary location until a buyer can be found. KIRO News had their helicopter in the air for the actual move and cameras on the ground.


The move began at 11 A.M. It was supposed to take up to three hours. By the time I arrived at 11-something, the house was already in its new location and crews were putting the lines back up that had been taken out of the way.


This is a historic home in need of a savior. It housed Kirkland’s first doctor and has been nicely maintained.


The speed of these linemen gave me an even greater appreciation for how hard they work during storms to restore service.


And there she is, sitting on a truck trailer until she can be set down and fenced off.


Not something you see every day…


Somehow this reminded me of the house in Up. How many balloons would you have to tie to that to get it airborne, anyway?


The rich blue of the house and the golden yellow of the truck was a beautiful contrast on a sunny day.


Nothing fell out from underneath… there were just some cobwebs and slightly rumpled insulation.


Planters were still sitting on the back porch like, “nuttin’ to see here… move along…”


The windows all seemed to remain intact including the stained glass beauty in the front.


Bucket trucks abounded.


Note the dangling porch post on the right. The porch had to be otherwise supported.


She’s made it this long, folks… as long as Washington’s been a state. Let’s keep her alive.


It was a little surreal to see a gate to nowhere. Although it could be a gate to a magical fairy garden…


Imagine how nice this would look on that vacant piece of land you don’t know what to do with. Yep, this provides just the right ambiance for family holidays.


The truck that made the massive haul.


In a way, wouldn’t it be fun to just drive this around town, hanging out the windows and waving at people?


Lots of things had to be pieced back together.


The neighborhood seemed to have a little party going on. The now previous owners of the Trueblood home worked to save it and are pleased that they will be able to build their family a new home.


That’s where the Trueblood House was.


More great work by Frontier and the cable guys. No poles had to be taken down, they just moved some lines.


And there she sits until someone buys her. At 1400-some square feet, she’s not small. She has an amazing story and will provide shelter and joy for years to come if a caring old home lover adopts her.


Fantastic job everyone!

She’ll have to move again, but hopefully it will be the last time. She is part of a dying breed; some historic homes in Kirkland aren’t even protected and can be torn down at will.

For $116,500– and a little land and some moving expenses– the Trueblood House can be yours.


A real building is one on which the eye can light and stay lit. -Ezra Pound


©2016 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.



Read Full Post »


You know it’s springtime in Washington State when you are seized by an overwhelming urge to battle tourists and traffic in the fertile farmland of Skagit County.

Much of the year, this rural area about an hour north of Seattle is fairly calm and civilized. But the when the daffodils and tulips come out to play, we all head towards the burgeoning bulb fields like moths towards light.

We go by car, by bike, by trike, by bus. We intermingle with tourists from all over the world, particularly Japan. We stop to take pictures of everything in our REI sombreros and high tech windbreakers. In a way, it’s hilarious, but it is a glorious backyard to have, and you’ll soon see why. (Click on any photo to get the full effect.)

When you arrive in the valley, you immediately start scanning for fields in bloom. You first find fascinating old barns and gorgeous vistas.


Oh, what’s that? Look, a bright band of yellow! You’re getting closer.


A view to the east, towards the Cascade foothills, down an endless path.


Patriotic donkeys! These are some of the absolutely adorable miniature donkeys of JF Ranch. You can read more about this breed on their website, Miniature Donkey Information. These guys are so cute and evidently are native to Sicily and Sardinia.


Aaahhhh… daffodils… billions and billions of fluffy bursts of joyous sunshine…


The area’s Tulip Route is clearly denoted by road signs. One of the more popular places to traipse around the tulips is at Roozengaarde on Beaver Marsh Road. The colors make you ooh and aah before you even get around the hedge and in the front gate. Tulip Town is another popular stop.


Roozengaarde provides a taste of Holland and a little Dr. Seuss as well. Looks like the windmill and tree had a stern chat one night. Also, I don’t know who that guy is, but he was in a lot of people’s photos… Roozengaarde Man.


I will look at them in a box, I will look at them with a fox, I will look at them with a mouse, I took some home to put in our house…


Two bluegrass musicians provided atmosphere as flower lovers followed the winding bands of color. Roozengaarde changes up the layout every year and is the largest bulb producer in the U.S., with a thousand acres of daffodils, tulips, and irises.


Many people posed by this angular tree that stretched out its arms like a protective mother hen over its multihued neighbors.


Mm hmm. I saw Fabio (again, joke for those who know about the other Fabio incident). Roozengaarde has a display of their many varieties of tulips in alphabetical order. This fiery, fringed fellow was one of many with colorful monikers.


When you snatch the pebble from my hand, it will be time for you to leave… -Master Po

Roozengaarde also has a Ninja tulip.


The wonders of tulips planted in perfect OCD order (right to left). Although, as I have been told, if you’re truly OCD, you’d call it CDO.


Beyond the gardens, the real treasure, the fields…


Look what magnificence springs up from the ground… Around the time I took this photo, I saw a little girl who was about 2 1/2 walking down a row nearby. Boof. Suddenly she was gone. Thankfully her mom quickly snatched her from the mud.



There was a whole field of daffodils, and then these renegades, happily growing right on the beaten path. “Bloom where you’re planted,” they said.


Coming back into the formal gardens, you find yourself at The Edge. Now I can say I’ve been to the edge and back. This called for some U2, Until the End of the World.


Happy, happy, happy people on a 70 degree day under a marshmallow sky…


More bounteous beauty…



Here I was trying to capture the plants growing on this unusual tree just before the exit. I wound up with something very Lothlorien. But that’s okay; Tolkien Reading Day was just March 25th.


More roadside scenery. In places like this cars park all over the sides of the road and we scamper like locusts on the edges of the fields.


It is said that twelve Highlanders and a bagpipe make a rebellion. Here we have just two Bò Ghàidhealach who calmly surveyed their audience while chewing their cud. Click here to learn more about Highland Cattle.


On a sharp curve I was delighted to find artist Christine Sharp (C. Sharp), a founding member of the Kirkland, Washington arts community, spreading her thoughts out on canvas. You can view more of Christine’s unique landscapes on the Sharp Art Gallery Facebook page.



It was interesting to watch tourists not dressed for the occasion trying to navigate these deep, slippery ruts in order to have their picture taken in the tulips.


People from a planet without flowers would think we must be mad with joy the whole time to have such things about us. -Iris Murdoch


You will find stands like this selling flowers all over the valley.


Further down the road I found members of the Russian invasion. Swans and snow geese come to north Snohomish and Skagit Counties every winter to feed in the farmland. Tens of thousands of them can be seen both on land and in the air. See Swans and snow geese are here for the winter (The Herald), as well as the official website for the Port Susan Snow Goose & Birding Festival.


When you visit Skagit County, you usually visit La Conner as well. It’s a favorite weekend getaway for Washingtonians, full of interesting shops like Nasty Jack’s, below. Their art galleries, antique shops, home decor stores, brewery, museums, and restaurants are all easy to walk to and they have some nice lodging options.


La Conner sits on the Swinomish Channel, an 11-mile band of saltwater that divides Fidalgo Island from the mainland. Ever caught a ferry in Anacortes? Anacortes, another wonderful place to hang out, where my great-great-grandfather built a hotel in 1915, sits on the northern part of the island. It’s a gateway to Guemes and other islands, including the San Juans.

On the other side of the channel from La Conner is the Swinomish Reservation. You can see some of the tribe’s pavilions, built to resemble traditional cedar hats, in the background.


Northwest Coastal-type art on a building for rent. The nearby Swinomish are Coast Salish.


Swans and geese and… some other cute guy (fifth from the left) enjoying food and fellowship. If you are in a fairly quiet place, you can turn off your engine and listen to them talking to each other. It’s fascinating.


Up Valentine Road on the south side of the valley is the Pleasant Ridge Cemetery, the oldest in Skagit County. It is beautifully cared for and some of the headstones have been painstakingly repaired. It is a place for quiet contemplation and respect, not somewhere to let the dogs out of the car or for kids to run around.


In these plots you will find graves ranging from those of well-known Skagit County pioneers like the Andersons and Chilbergs right up to the present day. Visit Magnus Anderson, carpenter, farmer and host at Fir (Skagit River Journal) for their stories.


In keeping with the agricultural theme, I noted this marker for a well-loved man, Russell Nelson, who evidently was an excellent farmer (see the emphatic last line).  What a fitting memorial!


She’s still there. The plight of this history-rich old building makes me sick. Some might remember my detailed post on the Pleasant Ridge School from last year. The schoolhouse was built in 1891 and in service until 1930. Since then efforts to save her have fallen through, and she’s been slowly rotting away in this field. There’s now even more clutter, including a dilapidated travel trailer, encroaching upon her from the house next door, which is likely part of the same parcel.

It will soon be too late for this grand dame, and I sincerely hope that she can be saved from the ravages of time. It is shameful that this iconic piece of Skagit County history is in this condition. She needs a champion.


The view north from the corner of Pleasant Ridge where it rejoins the main road.


Stopping at the Snow Goose for seafood, vegetables, wine, yard art, flowers, and a whopper of an ice cream cone is a tradition for area residents and visitors alike. Almost 50 flavors, from both the Lopez Island Creamery and Cascade Glacier, are served in huge handmade waffle cones. Many people pose for photos with their monster treats along the roadside. There are other farm stands to stop at too, including Pleasant Ridge Farm, which has awesome local cider.


Avian aerial acrobatics! These shots represent just a portion of how many birds were actually present. It was amazing to watch against the swirling cerulean sky.



You will find many old barns and farmhouses in Skagit County. Undoubtedly each has many stories to tell. You can even go on a tour of historic barns in the area– check out this Historic Barn Tour guide.


Just west of I-5 is the small town of Conway, in which the Fir-Conway Lutheran Church has been serving the community since 1888. The current building was dedicated in 1916. It’s kept in beautiful shape and there were men outside working on it as I took this shot.


Going through Conway means stopping and seeing what Tony Stinson’s up to. You might remember his giant hammer from my 2012 post. Tony is a carpenter who can make… just about anything.


Conway is well-known for its Pub and Eatery, the Conway Muse, and its antique shops as well. Be sure to stop into Kitty Jean’s Antiques behind the post office as well. Her compassion for animals is remarkable and unless you stop by you won’t see why.

You can find more information on the Skagit County Tulip Festival’s official website. For us locals the festival is about flowers, farms, food, art, animals, birds, supporting area businesses– many things. But the crowning glory of springtime in the Skagit Valley is the menagerie of daffodils and tulips that blanket the earth like broad sweeps of the Master Painter’s brush.


I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

-William Wordsworth, I Wander’d Lonely as a Cloud


©2015 H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com. All articles/posts on this blog are copyrighted original material that may not be reproduced in part or whole in any electronic or printed medium without prior permission from H. Hiatt/wildninjablog.com.

Read Full Post »


Oso Mudslide. Marcus Yam, The Seattle Times.

“It’s much worse than everyone’s been saying,” said the firefighter, who did not want to be named. “The slide is about a mile wide. Entire neighborhoods are just gone. When the slide hit the river, it was like a tsunami.” -From the Seattle Times (more…)

Read Full Post »


Washington State’s Initiative 1098, if passed by the voters, will impose a state income tax on the wealthy.

No. No no no no. This is not a good idea.

First, just because you have more money than the average Washington resident doesn’t automatically mean that you gained it unfairly or by taking advantage of other people. The mentality that the rich need to be penalized for having more money than others could be considered jealous and greedy. Like Mark Twain said, the world doesn’t owe you a living. It was here first. (more…)

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: