Twin Lakes

The Cascade range offers Seattle residents plenty of access to proper mountains, for both summer and winter fun.

Twin Lakes is a feature that helped me match my aerial view to Google's overhead view. It's just on the other side of Stevens Pass, and looks like really beautiful terrain. There's a summer hike there, though I wonder what the area would be like at this time of year.

Housing Outside The Resorts

A grid of modest housing surrounds the Cabo San Lucas airport. The whole area is on a flood plain, and the unpaved roads show silting and erosion from the occasional spectacular rains that hit the area.

Touching Up Jesus

It's never too late to put the finishing touches on Jesus, at least not when you're in the Columbian pilgrimage town of Zipaquirá.

The salt cathedral nearby was surprisingly fun - for a religious attraction narrated in Spanish.

Bogota Barker

As I will be traveling this Thanksgiving, I have prepared a few posts from travel at this time last year.

Last year's Black Friday coincided with an enjoyable street party in Bogota.

This barker with the pinstriped fancy-pants is hard at work attracting bystanders to his guinea pig race. The row of timid guinea pigs know exactly what to do to when commanded, and they diligently scurry over to the numbered homes. Bets are placed, and the furry performers have a remarkable ability to find hutches with no stakes on them.

Magnuson Park

A horizontal stabilizing fin of a WWII-era submarine looms in Magnuson Park.

A different season leads to a different landscape. Last year, there was lush green grass and a pink sunset. Today, there's drifting snow and bright sun.

Granite Mountain

The first real snow of the winter beckoned for a trip up Granite Mountain. We were first up the trail, but were soon joined by perhaps a dozen more mountaineers. The three hikers in the group were stymied by the deep snow, and needed to follow our snowshoe tracks.

This view looks down upon the boggy area just off the summertime trail. Above the treeline, the route is visible from overhead, with this location marked.

Beer Bottle Archaeology

Archaeology in the Pacific Northwest goes back only 150 years or so, unless you start digging into native history.

Here's the bottle top from a Rainier Beer, dated imprecisely to 1883-1916. Imagine beer so precious as to be deserving of a glazed ceramic stopper! It was dug up among other bits of jetsam when the WSDOT started preparing for the Alaskan Way Viaduct's replacement.

Montlake Bridge

Like most movable bridges, the Montlake Bridge has a hollow steel grille deck. This reduces the weight of the structure, minimizing the size and cost of the counterweight and motor needed to open it.

The vehicle lanes are not recommended for bicycles, as the grating is very difficult to navigate.

Missouri River, St Joseph

The Missouri defines much of the Kansas-Missouri border. Here it passes St Joseph, MO, where there's a recent exception to the river border.

The Rosecrans airport is on land that is still in Missouri, despite the river changing course in 1951. The airport is enclosed by the oxbow seen here on the west (far) side of the river. The satellite view of the same area shows the river, airport, and state boundaries, though with less sunset flair.

Nomade - Jaume Plensa

An unexpected delight west of the Des Moines city center was a well-stocked sculpture garden.

This is an interior view of Jaume Plensa's Nomade. For an outside view, see a related work in Spain. Nomade is only three years old and is starting to show corrosion - the Iowan climate is probably a bit rougher on exposed metalwork than Spain's.

Iowa State Capitol

Unfortunately, the Iowa State Capitol in Des Moines was closed on the Sunday of our visit, though the parking lot was filled with busy legislators.

The 23kt dome has been gilt four times, most recently in 1999. It's about 96 troy oz of gold, $129,000 at current prices. (The labor to gild it cost more.) It looks spectacular!

Coralville Devonian Fossils

What might there be in Coralville, other than a wedding? There's a surprisingly good set of Devonian fossils downstream from a Corps of Engineers flood control structure. The spillway of their dam allows the fossil beds to be rejuvenated by frequent flooding (recently in 1993, and again in 2008).

We saw some Hexagonaria, and these are other creatures that resemble fossilized bolts.

Iowa Wedding

This weekend we flew to DSM and then drove a couple of hours to Coralville, IA to attend a wedding. One might not think of Iowa in November as a prime destination, but both the wedding and the tourism surrounding it were quite enjoyable.

Driving 100mi of I80 in each direction, alternative energy subsidies were immediately visible. Segments of massive wind turbines were headed westbound, and Archer Daniels Midland ethanol tankers were headed eastbound.

Caribou-Targhee National Forest

This is the Eightmile Canyon area of the Dubois Ranger District of the Caribou-Targhee National Forest. There looks to be a lot of fun to be had nearby. Not to mention the Idaho National Laboratory, which lies on the plains to the right (southeast) of this view.

We caught the morning light after recent snowfall, on a very early SEA-DEN flight.

Pacific Rainforest

This is close to the wettest, darkest microclimate one can find within greater Vancouver. It's the cleft of a valley in Lighthouse Park, and it didn't hurt the ambiance that it was overcast and showery on the day of our visit.

There are numerous properties around here with killer views over Burrard Inlet. But there are many more homes nestled into damp, dark, perpetually dripping corners of the North Shore. Houses with moss growing on their unused barbeques. Houses that will never see the ocean.

Frogmen Storming the Beach

These are students of a scuba-diving class, easing into the deep water at Whytecliff Park, just ouside of Horseshoe Bay.

In the distance against Bowen Island, a Cowichan-class ferry comes in from Departure Bay on Vancouver Island.


This building, as tall as a grain elevator, houses four wood chip digesters. A conveyor brought in wood chips to the top floor, and piping brought in caustic soda and sodium sulfide.

The digester itself is a tall cylinder built to withstand the heat and pressure of the process that takes a few hours to degrade the lignin and cellulose polymers in the wood into smaller pieces useful for paper making.

There's an excellent diagram of the plant layout on page 98 of a recent environmental report; see the Remedial Investigation Work Plan.

Bleach Plant - Indirect Light

Georgia Pacific's Bellingham pulp mill had a series of facilities for manufacturing related chemicals. As an example, this site used brine, mercury, and lots of electricity to make chlorine (for bleaching) and caustic soda (for digesting wood chips into pulp via the kraft process). This is a pipe that ran between the bleach plant and external storage tanks.

The dominant light seen here is reflected off two orange brick-lined water towers outside, and is fringed with the ambient (blue) daylight. You can see the round towers from the street.

Paper Mill Man-Lift

This view (looking up) is a personnel lift at the closed Georgia Pacific paper mill in Bellingham WA. The lift carried workers up the four stories or so to the top of the building containing the debarking mechanism. It has been idle for 9 years, but still smells of wood chips.

Wiki notes that "this type of belt lift is considered too dangerous for public use." Signage indicates that the lifts are for employee use only; visitors had to take the stairs.

Chinese Boys Dormitory

This is the former INS building on Airport Way South. It's now Seattle Inscape, a many-tenanted arts place.

This room was the Chinese Boys Dormitory, and using filthy sheets left in the building, an artist recreated the feeling of closely spaced bunk beds.

Whitefish, MT

This is the view from what was The Big Mountain, and is now Whitefish Resort. I spotted deer and a golden eagle while hiking.

It's a 9hr drive from Seattle, which seems like a long trip. The driving was considerably less tiresome after a soak at the pools at the Symes Hotel in Hot Springs.

Bear Pawprint

This bear footprint was placed a day or two before I showed up (thank goodness). This is around 5200ft or 5400ft, with the season's first snowfall being around 12 inches at this elevation.

I think it's a grizzly bear paw that made this, but both grizzlies and black bears are found here in Whitefish MT.


This is a Pratt & Whitney PW4077 jet engine, which can produce 77,000 lbf of thrust. It's attached to the left wing of N221UA, a nine year old Boeing 777-200.

Spotted from Chicago O'Hare's C concourse Red Carpet Club, between gates C16 and C18.