American Airlines Castle

American Airlines employees based in Seattle built a cardboard facade of a castle in 2008, and they've been  deploying it at gate A9 for Christmastime since then.  It was excellent boarding a 737 via a castle door!

The castle is part of a project called the Snowball Express that sends children and spouses of US military personnel that were killed on duty, for a Christmas trip to an amusement park.  This year they departed to Six Flags Over Texas near Dallas.

Ice Skating

Winter ice skating, outdoors, really helps set the mood for Christmas.  This is the rink in Bellevue Downtown Park.

Last year at this time, my workplace sponsored a rink that turned out to be a plastic cutting board.  It was a grave disappointment, with very little in common with a real ice surface.  The same fake surface is currently installed at Cal Anderson Park; please don't go.

Christmas Carousel

The business association for downtown Seattle organized to have a carousel placed in Westlake Park for the holidays.  Income from it is split between the association and a local foster kids organization.

The location is perfect, under the Macy's star, and the kids sure looked to be having a great time!

Bellevue Botanical Garden Christmas Lights

The Bellevue Botanical Garden has an annual Christmas light display, and this year's featured a dragon (with steaming nostrils!) in the Asian part of the garden.  It was very crowded, but as everyone was sporting a festive demeanor it hardly mattered.

Cherry Wood

The beautiful texture of the wood of this 50 year cherry tree became visible as we felled it.

The straight boughs will be useful for stakes about the garden.  And the rest of the wood will burn wonderfully once seasoned!

Truck on Fire

It looks like this truck's brakes are on fire, or at least dangerously hot.  But no, its wheels have just been cleaned by warm water as it exits a construction zone, and every warmed surface is steaming on this cool morning.

The wheel washing device is similar to this one, and thankfully avoids the alternative of tracking mud and construction junk across the freeway.

Seattle at Night

Seattle's downtown, viewed from the 50-year-old Space Needle.

The Seattle Center Monorail tracks show up well against the streetlights down 5th Avenue.  Shamefully, Seattle wasted $124 million between 1997 and 2008 only studying the feasibility of building a larger monorail network.  If they'd instead just gone about building track, they could have completed 6mi of the network (using construction costs from 1961 inflated to modern dollars).

Harborview Backboards

Harborview is the urban hospital in Seattle where the most serious regional cases are sent.  Here is their impressive collection of backboards from EMS departments around the state.  They cost around $200, and are owned by the emergency services that send patients here.  I imagine that agencies like Snoqualmie Pass Fire Rescue (in the foreground) come by every once in a while to reclaim their equipment.

Macy's Window

Macy's has an annual "holiday window display," and this year in Seattle it's a pretty good toy train set.  Obligatory clumps of lichen form the shrubbery, as is the case in any diorama, anywhere.

It's reminiscent of the truly excellent Myer Christmas Windows in Melbourne.

Tree Sweaters

For some reason, it costs $23,500 to fully outfit a public square with tree sweaters.  Suzanne Tidwell makes one sort of art: stripey stockings on everything.  Consequently, the Alliance for Pioneer Square managed to gather plenty of donations to commission Suzanne to gussy up the trees and lampposts in Occidental Park.  Don't be mistaken; this has nothing to do with Christmas — it's a Holiday Installation.

Mount Rainier Sunrise

Sunrise greets Mount Rainier (14,411ft) from Mount Si (4167ft). Little Tahoma Peak is visible to the left, and Curtis Ridge and Liberty Ridge are seen following the view to the right. An excellent diagram of climbing routes helps visualize this face, which is the view from the north.

Total Lunar Eclipse

Just prior to morning twilight, a total lunar eclipse was visible in the Pacific Northwest. Morning fog crept over much of Seattle, obscuring the view, but I got up early for a hike up Mount Si to get a better view. I was joined by around six other parties who had the same idea.

The primary frustration to my photography was the maddeningly quick rotation of the Earth. This limited exposures at this focal length to around two seconds, after which the moon and stars become streaks rather than nicely resolved images.

The various remedies for this are quite expensive: a f/2.8 lens that lets in more light, or a motorized equatorial mount to a tripod, which tracks the apparent movement of the sky around the polar axis.

Super Beetle

This is a 1970s era VW Type I Super Beetle, probably with the 1.5L 54hp flat four cylinder engine, and a 4-speed transmission. It looks fantastic in orange.

VW Beetles continued to be built in Mexico through 2003, and served as the dominant taxi model in Mexico City until a very recently. In taxi use, the front-right seat is removed to allow easy passenger access (and room to squeeze in a few more people).

Utopian Heights

At 37th Ave NE and NE 62nd St lies Utopian Heights, a venture by Seattle artists Dennis Evans and Nancy Mee. There's a shrine off the sidewalk where visitors can offer public or private notes.

This is one of Nancy's sculptures, at a neighboring house across 62nd. I'm not really sure what sort of art Dennis makes.

Forestry Road 2219

This is Forestry Road 2219, a road we thought would be plowed this winter. As it wasn't, we parked a mile away from where we were planning on beginning our snowshoe. The noise of the freeway quickly receded, and it wasn't long until we became the only tracks around.

Winter Squash

This winter squash is probably a Hubbard, though it's hard to be sure. It was pale green when we harvested it in September, and gradually yellowed in the basement.

One evening we had two quarters roasted, and the following night we steamed it in cubes. Brown sugar and butter may have been involved. Yummy!

Fuel Coffee

A new-to-us coffee shop within an ambitious walking distance. Fuel had a good atmosphere, and was open on Thanksgiving Day, unlike many other establishments.