There is a small, little known park in the Shorewood community of Burien, appropriately called Shorewood Park. The park primarily consists of a forested hiking trail that meanders through a ravine. It borders Shorewood Elementary School, and has three main access points to surrounding community roads. The local Shorewood on the Sound Community Club actively maintains the property through volunteers, in association with the city of Burien. Informal plant identification signs exist along the trail, and groups gather regularly to remove invasive plant species. One end of the trail opens into a residential cul de sac that looks out over Puget Sound.

Shorewood Park Burien forest walking trail

Shorewood Park forest walking trail in Burien

Shorewood Park



The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are a 10 member band from Scotland fronted by 3 bagpipe players and joined by guitar, bass, 4 percussionists, and a keyboardist. They play “bagrock”, which is rock ‘n roll bagpipe style. Music covers rock classics plus original renditions, moving back and forth from one to the other. In addition to the sound and the novelty, they are a spirited bunch of guys who seem to genuinely be having fun together on stage.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers at Centerstage Theatre Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers at Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way


Black Violin is an intriguing group of guys who met in high school orchestra while playing classical violin. After music lessons, they listened to rap, hip-hop, and other genres while also jamming on their violins to whatever was playing on the radio. Thus the seeds of Black Violin were born. They now meld classical music with hip-hop, rhythm & blues, bluegrass, and dance music to create a toe tapping, body swaying mix.

Black Violin at Tacoma Broadway Center for the Performing Arts Pantages Theater

Black Violin in concert at Tacoma’s Pantages Theater


High School Trail is an easy and accessible hike from a lower roadside to an upper plateau, with wetlands and forest along the way. Its path follows an old access road, so it is wide enough for walking side by side for good conversation or holding hands. Elevation gain is steady and moderate, with only small rocks along its path.

The trail can be accessed from a gravel parking lot by 2nd Avenue SE in Issaquah, located just south / behind the Issaquah High School and a block north of Front Street. After passing the wetlands behind the school, then turn right and begin heading upwards from there.

High School Trail provides a good access point into Tiger Mountain for hiking, biking, running, and walking the dogs.

High School Trail Tiger Mountain Issaquah hiking

The forest and ferns of High School Trail

Hiking High School Trail at Tiger Mountain in Issaquah

High School Trail hiking

Tiger Mountain State Forest
Trail map



The Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades is a hidden suburban retreat found just a 25 minute drive south of Seattle, yet feeling much further away from the hubbub of daily life. It is owned and operated by the Catholic Archdiocese of Seattle, and is open to other denominations and non-profits for enjoying their facilities. Consider it as a possibility for a personal retreat, organized group retreat, or quiet visit.

The Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center resides on 39 forested, high bank acres above Puget Sound, looking northwest across the open water to Maury Island, Des Moines, Normandy Park, Burien, and active shipping channels. Normally a steep set of stairs descends to the water’s edge below (stairs may be in repair), allowing for sandy beach walks in both directions.

Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades Federal Way statue and Puget Sound view

Puget Sound view from retreat center

The grounds range from well manicured formal gardens to dirt walking paths through second growth forest. There are two main short trails. The Stations Of The Cross trail loops from the main building to a high viewpoint overlooking the Sound and back to the building. Thirteen wooden stations hold different metalwork scenes from the story of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, each positioned for contemplation before moving to the next. The alternate nature trail is oriented to a pleasant short walk through private alder and cedar forest.

The retreat center itself is a large compound able to accommodate many different types of retreats. Facilities include a large water view dining room, several group meeting rooms, library, 24 hour chapel, and 55 guest rooms. The guest rooms are basic, with a comfortable bed and in-room bathroom/shower, and most have Puget Sound views. Their lack of TV and phone is quite intentional (though Wi-Fi is available).

Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades Federal Way lodging rooms

East lodging wing of Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center

We participated in a 2 1/2 day silent retreat that was welcoming, mind-opening, relaxing, and focusing all at the same time. The essential elements began with everyone meeting on Friday evening for communal dinner, followed by a group retreat kick-off meeting, and then for the next two days participants were not supposed to speak to anyone. The forced silence was freeing to ensure internal contemplation instead of otherwise constantly interacting and being socially “on”. There were both laypeople and clergy available for short talking sessions in private, to discuss whatever was of most importance to the individual. Also, 4 cycles of a brief talk on a theme were presented throughout the retreat. Per the intent of the retreat, these talks were “one way” and afterwards the guests would leave silently to personally contemplate what was presented.

The final closing circle showed that most people derived personal benefit and focus for themselves simply by “unplugging” and settling into the casual, contemplative rhythm of the retreat. Most people wanted more time there, and others looked at it as a step on a longer journey.

Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades Federal Way labyrinth

Labyrinth at Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades

Archbishop Brunett Retreat Center at the Palisades

Don’t Just Do Something, Sit There
A Do It At Home Retreat: The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola



Recycled Spirits of Iron, aka Ex Nihilo, is a wonderful experiment in both free expression and free public access to private art space. For many years, metal sculptor Dan Klennert has been creating works of rusting art that spring from junkyards, farm piles, and donations. He assembles overall sculptures from what he has on hand and how they come together in his mind, unlike looking for pieces to fit into a preconceived sculpture.

His 4 acre sculpture park is visible along highway 706 between the tiny towns of Elbe and Ashford, just west of the southwest entrance to Mt Rainier National Park. You are welcome to enter and wander throughout, and is open a wide range of times. There is also a gift shop with hours that are more dependent upon the schedule of Dan, his wife, or their cat.

Definitely worth a visit when on the way to Mt Rainier. And be sure to wander to the less visible areas that can be found behind the home and shop. Back there is a herd of driftwood horses, more whimsical sculptures, some that incorporate political messages, and even an R-rated diorama. Plenty to attract someone to this roadside attraction.

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park dinosaur

Dinosaur on the loose at Recycled Spirits of Iron

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park spider

Spider metal sculpture

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park skeleton motorcycle rider

The Angel from Hell skeleton motorcycle rider

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park motorcycle

Motorcycle made from metal scraps

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park herd or horses

Herd of driftwood horses

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park wood man

Driftwood man sculpture

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park music band

Whimsical “metal” band

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park music band

Sign says “Why does your religion kill?”

Recycled Spirits of Iron Ex Nihilo Elbe sculpture park sign

Recycled Spirits of Iron entrance sign

Daniel Klennert: Recycled Spirits of Iron

A Universe of Metal Sculpture
Creating Welded Sculpture



Narada Falls is a picturesque and easily accessible waterfall for visitors to Mt Rainier National Park. The falls are fed by Paradise River, then tumbling 168 feet on its main drop to a rocky jumble below.

Entrance signs are visible along Paradise Road, which is part of the main roads leading from the southwest park entrance and on up to Paradise. After parking, the tip edge of the falls can be seen from a viewpoint, but this is looking out over the edge and one must walk around to actually see the face of the falls. A short but semi-steep 0.2 mile trail crosses Narada Falls Bridge over the Paradise River and then winds down the valley to a straight-on viewpoint across from the waterfall.

Narada Falls flows year-round, fed from the perpetual ice and snow of Rainier. During the winter, the falls can freeze solid and be a popular destination for ice climbers.

Narada Falls is quite popular because of its beauty and ease of access, and is definitely worth a quick visit for anyone driving into Mt Rainier National Park.

Narada Falls rainbow in Mt Rainier National Park

Narada Falls thundering down

Narada Falls base rainbow in Mt Rainier National Park

Misty base of Narada Falls

Mt Rainier National Park
Narada Falls

Waterfall Lover’s Guide: Pacific Northwest Edition
Day Hiking: Mount Rainier National Park Trails