I live in a beautiful place. It is called the Emerald City because the multitude of yellow and green foliage appears as many emeralds when shining in the sun. Of course, that is not as often as anyone would like. Clouds and rain are predominant weather forces. When the sun does come out, it is astonishingly beautiful. I wonder if it is more striking by the contrast of not seeing it for months at a time. It is beautiful. The town is surrounded by water on all sides. The sound washes right up on the downtown waterfront. One of the museums has a sculpture park and you will see several grassy hills, art instillations and the aquarium right on the edge of the water. The Pike Place Market as well. If you look to the east, both Lake Union and then Lake Washington surround the city. There is a cut between Lake Washington and Lake Union which then travels on through the Ballard Locks. When a boat sails out to the Puget Sound, it must stop at the locks. The lake side is lower and once the boats are inside the locks, the gate closes, water is rushed into the area to reach the same level as the Puget Sound and then the opposite gate is opened, allowing continued sailing or yachting. You can reverse and go from Lake Union to Lake Washington and then onto a floating bridge to Bellevue, while sailboats and kayaks move by. If you look South and it is a clear day, you will be impressed with Mt. Rainier. In Seattle, we say “The mountain is out”. During cloudy weather, you can’t see the mountain, but if it is clear, she rises from sea level to 14,000 and is majestic. Many climbers have attempted the ascent, but not as many reach the top. It is as treacherous as it is majestic. Hiking to Panorama point, I feel as though I am in the clouds looking out over Mt. Hood and Mt. Adams and it’s almost as if I could fly. From Seattle, ferries travel to the many islands and the peninsula. The Edmonds Ferry arrives in Kingston. I love this road as it crosses the Hood Canal. I have twice seen submarines headed from Port Townsend to Seattle and on to unknown destinations. We have several Orca pods that stay in the sound. The humpback and grey whales migrate incredible distances, and will float very close to shore. I wonder if they are as interested in us as we are in them. Seals are very curious, popping their heads up and following kayakers. The dolphins love to swim along the side of sailboats, sometimes jumping and putting on a show. I paddleboard on the coastline. The water is clear and I can watch the crabs crawl along the sandy bottom. Sea anemones, cucumbers and starfish lie within the barnacles. Salmon are abundant, but deeper out. Clams live in the rocky sand, easily found at a low tide. From the Hood canal bridge, the highway travels the northern peninsula coast through Sequim, Port Angeles and on into the heart of the rain forest. It rains 6″ a year in Sequim and 6′ a year in the Hoh, 2 hours west. The Hoh rainforest has sitka cedars that rival the redwoods. It is far from everywhere, so less people. The beaches on the northwestern coast of Washington are wild with large rock formations. The farthest northern and Western point of the United States is in Neah Bay on the Makah reservation. To reach flattery point, you must hike up a forest road onto the top of the rocks that dive into the sea. The natives do dive off the rocks to swim in the pools below. The Makah are a whaling tribe and still have rights when the whale population is stable. Driving back to Seattle, you can go East towards Port Townsend and take a ferry to Whidbey Island and north to Deception Pass. This was named because it is treacherous to navigate, but beautiful to see. Or, driving south to Bainbridge Island ends at the ferry into Seattle. This is the iconic skyline view of the space needle, the wheel and the downtown buildings, most beautiful when taken in at night. When I travel across America, the diversity of habitat and rock formations is astounding, but I always return to Seattle and realize that I live in the most beautiful place I have ever seen.