We took a chance with the weather for you, my darlings, and we are now lodged in a ginormous jacuzzi suite in Castle Rock. Tomorrow, we're hoping our favorite volcano will be visible so we can bring ya'll some great photos. Today, we took the slowest trip we've ever done between Seattle and Castle Rock so we could get a late start (Misha wanted cuddles), wander around Olympia (ZOMG so many waterfalls in the center of the city!), see what pocket gophers hath wrought (mystery: solved!), and wander around Silver Lake near sunset, where all of the birds were magnificent.

We ambled down to Tumwater Falls Park, which is a fabulous place to see some geology if you're wanting to take a break from I5 for a bit. I saw a tiny part of it for about three minutes when my ex-roomie and I were driving from Arizona to Washington, and I've meant to get back ever since. This is a remarkable stretch of the Deschutes River (no, not the Oregon one, we've got one of our own!). It goes hurtling over bedrock, plunging over three major falls and several rapids before melding calmly with Capitol Lake. Here's Upper Tumwater Falls:

Image shows a wide waterfall, broken into two parts by a tree-sized bush. The river flows out below in a series of rapids over (probably basalt) bedrock.
Upper Tumwater Falls. Yes, that is a huge bush growing between the two halves.
There's a wonderful loop trail, which I'll walk you through in detail eventually. I even took videos for you! I loved the whole park, but I think the lower falls is my favorite.
Image shows me standing in front of the lower falls. You can see the thick whitewater curtain, and there is a downed tree lodged over the top. Mist is rising from the falls.
Moi at Lower Tumwater Falls. That water is unbelievably powerful, despite the fact it's only going over a short drop.
 

Afterward, and seeing as how the weather was so very unexpected lovely, we decided we would visit Mima Mounds. A lot of people get very excited about Mima Mounds, probably because they are so mysterious. Alas, the mystery has been solved: they are the "Great Pyramids" of the pocket gophers.

So, this:

Image shows a wee gopher being held in a person's work-gloved hand. It's got very long but thin claws. It's got its little mouth open and rather looks like it's singing. So cute!
The Mazama Pocket Gopher (Thomomys mazama). Image courtesy USFWS - Pacific Region (CC BY 2.0).
 

Ermagherd it's so tiny and cute!

Created this:

Image shows me standing in front of several grassy hills. They're just a bit higher than my head.
Moi at Mima Mounds.
 

See those hills behind me? They're over eight feet tall and thirty feet wide. Tiny little critters you can hold in your hand did this. Wow. So yeah, that was neat. The people shooting guns just across the mounds, not so much. It would've been a very serene place if not for the sound of constant gunfire - I hope that's not a regular thing there.

But it was still pretty neato, and we shall talk more about that soon, too.

After that, we decided to head on down to Castle Rock, and since it was still early, ambled around Silver Lake for a bit. That's my favorite lake created by a lahar that is now more like a wetland. The birds were out in spectacular force. We saw a ton of swifts (too swift to photograph), red-winged blackbirds, the cutest duck family ever (I'll do them a separate post when I have time to edit the video for you), and heard so many others it was like being in an avian symphony hall. I was photographing distant mountains peeking through storm clouds:

Image shows the marsh-plant filled Silver Lake, a conifer-covered ridge, and mountains poking up in the distance from beneath a layer of dark clouds. A heron is just visible in the marsh plants.
Look at the pretty mountains! Mount St. Helens wasn't visible, alas.
 

And I, by chance, caught a heron and a blackbird. Yay!

Cropped image shows the heron in greater detail. A red-wing blackbird is visible on cattails in the background.
Dinnertime for birdies!
 

If you ever get a chance to walk round Silver Lake near sundown, take it. And then go have a good meal, and enjoy a jacuzzi suite. I cannot recommend jacuzzi suites highly enough.

Wish us luck for tomorrow, my darlings. We're going to attempt the Hummocks Trail. We will be walking over what was at the time the largest landslide ever witnessed by human beings. Wowza.

 

Originally published at En Tequila Es Verdad.