There was much discussion about what time to set the alarm for Saturday morning. Sunrise was at 6.04am but of course the night sky would lighten much earlier than that, and we had a half hours drive to our destination – Rattlesnake Lake, southeast of Bellevue. So I set my alarm for 2.50am, HG set his for 3am and we told my Mum-in-law we would wake her.
The Perseid Meteor Shower happens once a year and was supposed to peak around the dates of 11/12 August. If you got far enough away from the city lights, then you would see (weather permitting) a magic show of meteors flashing across the sky. I didn’t need my alarm, and Mum-in-law didn’t need us to wake her! I can’t remember the last time I had a continuous 7 or 8 hour sleep ……..3 or 4 hours is all I can manage these nights before I am up restlessly pacing the lounge room, my big toe clicking with every step! I was up and showered by 2.30am and I could see M-I-L’s light was already on – we were packed and ready early. HG waited for his alarm to wake him at 3am – we passed him the car keys when he emerged and off we went tiptoeing down the Apartment hallway.
As we drove up the narrow tree lined and very dark road aptly named Cedar Falls Rd SE to Rattlesnake Lake, we were surprised to pass cars driving in the opposite direction – a popular spot? Arriving at the lake about 4am we drove about trying to find our bearings. Park anywhere quick I said, worrying our headlights would annoy the sky gazers, that one would do, I said pointing to the nearest carpark. I can’t park there says HG – it has a disabled sign! It’s the middle of the night for goodness sake – and there’s about 4 of them in a row sitting empty I said! But in true HG fashion we didn’t park until all carparks had been considered …….. ok, that might be a slight exaggeration – almost all the carparks had been considered. Having to wait until our eyes had adjusted so we could see where to set up our Meteor watch, we sat in the car for 5 minutes peering out the windows. Slowly, shapes emerged and we could make out a few trees and see the lake. HG then used his cell phone to guide us over a log and through a few trees to a lovely grassy clearing next to the lakeside. Not knowing how many, or in fact where, other stargazers were lying, I was terrified we would stumble over and land upon some. But HG’s teenage Sea Cadet training, together with his Boat Masters Navigation certificate (we were near a lake) and possibly his better eyesight than me, came to the fore and he sat us down without incident under the big Washington State sky. M-I-L had decided it was a safer bet to stay in the car and observe out the car window – we had no idea where Rattlesnake Lake got its name (were there large quantities of rattlesnakes here?) or if there were bears in those surrounding trees.
Lying on the duvet I’d grabbed off our bed before we left home, we proceeded to intently watch the sky. We both said that even if we didn’t see any meteors it was just so nice to be out under the stars, in the fresh air, looking at night sky! However, the bonus was that we did see many meteors – the ‘slow’ far away ones that meandered across the sky, and the incredibly bright and fast ‘blink and your miss it’ ones. Magic!
About 5am it was too light to see many more so me and my clicking big toe went for a wander down near the lake, then back to the car to check M-I-L was comfortable, and to take a few photos of the beautiful sunrise. HG rolled himself up in the duvet and snoozed. Dawn also revealed several other star gazers lying around, but thankfully not close enough that we would have tripped over them! It was such a peaceful dawn with the only sounds being fish plopping around in the lake, and the odd bird call. I’m glad we made the effort to get there.
Having the car for the day we then left the lake and drove to Bremerton which is in Puget Sound west of Bainbridge Island and Seattle. It is part of the mainland and is a beautiful wee coastal town. It was a good stop for coffee and a wander around the waterfront. I’m thinking that almost everyone has a boat here in coastal Washington? There are just thousands of them. We then carried on to Poulsbo, another beautiful but much smaller town north of Bremerton where we had brunch and another wander. Poulsbo is also on the waterfront and is full of quaint wee shops and cafes. It was such a glorious warm day and good to be out in it.
A few good buys were bought today too! A U.S.A mailbox for our new home back in New Zealand (a gift from my lovely M-I-L), and an ‘absolutely shirt’ from my local pre-loved clothing shop ‘Between Friends’ back in Bellevue. I named it my Absolutely shirt because it reminds me of my favourite waitress – she works at our local ‘Monsoon’, and her favorite word is ‘absolutely’!