Pillowy Softness

The depth and quality of the new snow on Saturday was truly fantastic. Venturing off the trail rewarded the snowshoer with successive steps through pillowy soft conditions. As long as hollows under trees were avoided, it didn't really matter where you stepped. The form of the trees was whimsical, as though they were arranged by Dr Seuss himself.

Heather Lake Snowshoe

Heather Lake is the next valley over from Lake Twentytwo. The hike up is very similar: a bit over 1000ft elevation gain over two miles.

However, the conditions were vastly different this time. Perhaps two feet of perfect, powdery, and recent snowfall covered every surface, and it was well below freezing, so the snow adhered to every surface (instead of slumping off the trees). It was overcast and actively snowing, so the blue skies and sharp shadows were replaced with softer light, and complete silence.


Spring is on the way when witch-hazel starts blooming. This branch was seen in Columbia City on a warm February afternoon.

Disused Mooring

Magnuson Park began life as the Sand Point Naval Reserve. Since then, bits and pieces of it have left federal ownership and most is now run by the city parks department.

Here is a large and capable wartime dock, adjacent to the NOAA land at the north end of the park. NOAA keeps a ship or two of their own docked on their side, and they're big enough to require the four lift bridges along the ship to open at their request (even during commuting hours).

It's now just the edge of a parking lot.

A Little Early

These eager crocuses have a bit more winter to endure before there will be any insects around for them to attract. These are the first heavy flakes of snow ahead of a few inches expected in the coming days. The ground isn't quite yet freezing, so the snowflakes are quickly melting. The cold will win out later tonight, and I doubt I'll even see the top of them tomorrow.

Untouched Trail

I can't resist another photo from Saturday's snowshoe. Although perhaps five parties had reached the lake prior to our arrival, nobody had gone any distance on the trail by the banks of the lake. Perhaps 2-3ft of new snow covered every surface.

The blue wall in the distance is the bottom of 2500ft of steep mountain face that guards the south end of the lake.

SDOT Stair #252

SDOT Stair #252 connects E Alder St and Randolph Ave in Leschi.

It's a neighborhood that is hostile to uninformed exploration, as the topography leads to expensive detours to get around unconnected roads.

Lake Twentytwo

Lake Twentytwo is a fantastic spot that we haven't yet had a chance to get up to in summer. This wintertime hike gave us a feel for the area under snow. It was spectacular.

The general avalanche forecast for Stevens Pass and the North Cascades was moderate for our hike, and it is not risky terrain. Nonetheless, an avalanche overwhelmed a party on the trail in 2008, and one hiker died. The incident report notes, "This is indeed an unfortunate accident that occurred at a low elevation area not known for instability or avalanche problems."

Hooded Merganser Drake

This sharp-looking diving duck is a Hooded Merganser. He probably has a green card, as Seattle is part of their range of permanent residency.

He didn't seem to have a hen in attendance, so perhaps he's a bachelor this year.

Good LED, Bad LED

LED signage and lighting needn't be all bad. The entire area bounded by the Ship Canal, Lake Washington, 65th St, and Puget Sound has now been converted to LED streetlights.

You'll notice the natural character of the light, as compared to the terrible spectrum coming out of high pressure sodium lighting still in use elsewhere.

It's challenging to make straightforward comparisons between LED and HPS lighting. The most thorough study of the topic seems to have been undertaken by the ... er ... urban cultivation community.

I90 Westbound

This variable speed limit reads 60mph, but a fast shutter (or a blink of your own eye) can catch it in a state where very little is shown. LED displays suffer from a terrible flicker if they are driven by inexpensive circuitry.

Unlike elements on incandescent displays, a LED stops producing light the moment it is unpowered. Consequently, this sort of display shows these sort of ill effects if strobed at anything approaching a visible frequency.

Sghr hr mns z bktd.

Found on Lake Dell Ave, which was visited by Google before this lettering was attached.

But what does it mean? My first thought was rot-13, but that didn't produce anything meaningful. A single letter advance provided the answer:

This is not a clue.

Snowy Hot Tub

Being wet and near-naked outside during snowfall is not typically an enjoyable state of being.

However, with two hot tubs and a pool to choose from, the snowy environs become a lot more pleasurable. Muscles exercised during a day of skiing were soothed, and spirits were revived.

Hemlock Dew

Dew covers most surfaces of this western hemlock. It was somewhat above freezing, so most of the snow had slumped off the trees.

The lighting here was very interesting in that the undersides of many branches were lit more brightly than the top sides, by reflection from snow on the ground.

Permitted Graffiti

The Monique Lofts had a graffiti problem, until one of its owners commissioned Nko Reynolds and Joe Martinez to put something up that wouldn't be defaced.

Somehow they squeezed $15,000 out of the city and local businesses, and this is the result. Some grumble that the ghost signage shouldn't have been interfered with, but I think it looks pretty sharp.

Nko pollutes the city with his tags, and then gets the city to pay for legitimate work? Nice gig.

Cruise West

Two of Cruise West's ex-fleet of nine sit unused in Salmon Bay. The cruise operator ran highly rated trips on smaller ships, until the money ran out in 2010. The owner mortgaged his house to prop up the finances, but was unable to keep it going.

The Spirit of Glacier Bay II hasn't been used since running aground on a sand bar in 2008. The Spirit of Yorktown, owned by GE Capital, is still seeking a productive home.

Slutty Kitty

Some cats want nothing more to be touched, and don't care who is doing the touching. Here's one, a Felis catus v. promiscuous.

Others will approach, giving the impression that they want attention. Then they turn into scaredy cats, and change their minds.

It's not unlike a possum or wallaby, who wants the food in your hand but isn't entirely sure it's safe going right up to you to get it. The inner conflict is palpable!

Chihuly Glass

Dale Chihuly's glasswork seems to be everywhere these days, including in the Customs and Border Patrol building that's part of the Peace Arch crossing in Blaine, WA.

Surprisingly, he hasn't blown glass in 30 years, but supervises his many eager minions to create massive works like this Crystal Cascade. It's installed at the north end of the public atrium to Benaroya Hall, and there's another similar (and identically titled) chandelier at the other end.

Where Coffee is Born

Caffé Vita is an excellent roaster based in Capitol Hill, Seattle. They have a large roasting operation, and provide beans to coffeehouses around the region.

This is the back room of their flagship location, where coffee is born. Some might say the coffee is actually conceived in the highlands of Papua New Guinea, or tucked in among the ruins of western Honduras. I'd argue that the coffee is born as it's roasted with care and attention, in the same area code where it will be ultimately enjoyed.

Denny Blaine Lake Park

Risking setting the camera down in duck poop, I caught a few shots of the nightlife down at Denny Blaine Lake Park.

Nearby, the Epiphany Episcopal Church was playing an extended tune with its set of excellent bells.

The only fact I could dig up on the park is that it was the last place Kurt Cobain was seen before he was found dead in 1994.

Montreal Style Bagels, out West

Those in eastern time zones might have an easier time finding good bagels. Even in Vancouver, there are a few choices among good Jewish delis. Sadly, Seattle is poorly served, and the only choices seemed to be New York deli copycats with a tourist bent. (Melbourne was even worse, but they're further away, so that offers some excuse).

Until now! Eltana tries its best to be Washington State's version of St. Viateur's. They did not disappoint.