Don't be fooled. Inside this thin coating of sweetness is a fiery core of total insanity.

Monday, August 12, 2013

A Keek at the Sea

Raise your hand if you know what a keek is...

Saturday was a strange day. I've been ignoring the house work for about a couple of months now, and desperately need to do some cleaning and sorting out. When I finally get around to vacuuming, I'm going to be able to make a third cat from all the fur the vac sucks up. My son will be here to visit in only a week, so I need to get a move on.

But on Saturday instead of cleaning, Nigel and I decided to hop in the car and head to Woodland Park Zoo in North Seattle. We never got there. Actually, we got as far as the parking lot, which was full, and full of cars waiting for others to leave so they could park. So we turned around in the lot, and headed for the closest Starbucks to rethink and regroup.

Why did I want to go to the zoo? Well, besides animals, zoos also often have interesting plants which they've used to give the animal exhibits the look of an authentic habitat. I'm planning to redo my front garden in a tropical theme, and I thought I might get some ideas and inspiration from the zoo. I could have gone to the Tacoma Zoo, which is closer, but the Seattle Zoo is bigger and recently announced the birth of a brand new baby giraffe.

Anyway, over drinks and a croissant at Starbucks, we talked about what to do instead of the zoo. Sky Nursery was nearby, but I wasn't in the mood for buying plants in pots. I wanted to see an artful display of plants in the ground (either the work of a gardener or the work of Mother Nature, it didn't matter which). Although it's a wonderful nursery which I've posted about here, Sky doesn't have a display garden.

What was nearby? Carkeek Park. What is Carkeek Park? A Northwest Seattle watershed, with "220 acres of forest, meadows, wetlands, creeks, and beach formed by the magic of water and time." From the beach you can see across Puget Sound to the Kitsap Peninsula and the Olympic Mountains. 

We actually lived near Carkeek Park our first year here in the PNW, when we rented a house just a couple of miles from the park. I was always curious about it, but we never explored there.

So that's where we went.

Our first stop was the Environmental Learning Center at the park entrance.

There's a pretty little garden bed with an enormous Joe-Pye Weed outside the Environmental Learning Center at the entrance to the park.

The beds outside the center are edged with recycled broken concrete.

We parked our car further into the park, and walked the trails to reach the beach.

Near the beach is a large meadow with BBQ facilities and picnic tables, as well as a play park for kids. I loved this cool crosswalk. Can you read the words?

A colorful mosaic near the play area.

The North Sounder commuter train travels along these tracks right beside the water. Occasionally in the winter the tracks are blocked by rockfalls.

That dark silhouette between the water and the clouds is the Olympic Mountains.

Horsetail rush/Equisetum is ubiquitous here in the PNW. It's a native that spreads aggressively.

There were lots of barnacle-covered rocks on the beach. Not a beach for walking barefoot.

We watched the waves come in.

Like most Washington beaches, this one was strewn with enormous driftwood.

Piper's Creek is a watershed creek that flows into the Sound.

There's a raised wooden walkway that goes through the wetlands by the creek.

And there's Nigel, sitting on a piece of driftwood, waiting for his wayward wife.


  1. Nice looking place and looks like you both had a lovely time despite initially expecting to go to the zoo instead of this place. It seems the diversion was worth it :)

  2. Nice, that beach is lovely and the driftwood beautiful! Looks like you had a great day regardless/because you didn't join the crowds at the zoo

  3. Play Attention!

    Alison, you always find the neatest things like the fish mosaic.
    I look forward to seeing your tropical garden evolve.

  4. Ah you've taken me back. When I lived in Seattle and was very poor my friends and I were always up for free entertainment, we spent many an afternoon and evening here.

  5. I love the beach! I do hear that the seattle zoo has some great tropical plants. I've never gone but have always thought about it.

  6. It looks like you had a fabulous day, despite the change of plans! I can never get enough of driftwood - it always makes me wonder how far it traveled... And what a fun crosswalk! So cool!

  7. I guess you found a different kind of inspiration. I'd love that piece of driftwood, and have just the spot for it when you bring it over.

  8. For some reason when you said 'over drinks and a croissant at Starbucks' I was envisioning bloody marys. !

  9. Although not the tropical garden at the zoo that you planned, it looks like you had a fun day!

  10. I did not know what a keek was before this post. (I will define booyah soon, lol.)

    Looks like you and Nigel had a wonderful day, even if it wasn't what you had planned. The driftwood looks almost like a prehistoric creature, doesn't it? I can see why walking barefoot on the beach could be painful.

    I'm in the midst of purging my closet of clothes I've kept since 1980. Can you imagine? I haven't cleaned lately either, but it's underrated, I hear. Seems the dust always comes back anyway. I wish it would just go outside and contribute to the building of quality garden soil without any assistance from me.

  11. I love the little creeks and the driftwood.

  12. The Environmental Learning Center has some interesting native plants. It certainly looks like a relaxing walk, even if a little lacking in tropical plants. Sometimes I get inspiration just walking around ritzy or older established neighborhoods and looking at the landscaping.

  13. It looks like a great way to spend the afternoon! That piece of driftwood is wicked cool.


Gardening is a solitary activity. But blogging about it is a social phenomenon! I don't make money from my blog by advertising, or use it to drive customers to a business. If you liked my post, or my writing or photography, or even just one picture or turn of phrase, I'd love to hear from you. That's how I get paid.