Bandera Mountain

Bandera Mountain (5200ft) was an eerie sight, with its peak just below the cloud layer boundary.  Splashes of sun and blue sky mixed in with dense fog.

Most of the traffic on the Ira Spring Trail to get up here was going instead to Mason Lake, which was occasionally visible in parting cloud from the peak.

Lilium Columbianum

A Columbia Lily stands against a rocky slope around 4200ft of elevation in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness.  Bear grass was past blooming in this area, and blueberries had yet to ripen.

Downpour over the Missouri River

Local and intense rainfall hits the Missouri River around Augusta, MO.  The 700ft chimneys of the 2300MW Labadie Power Station are barely visible to the bottom left of the rain curtain.  They're notable in that there were no chimneys this tall anywhere on Earth prior to the 1960s.

The Spirit of St. Louis Airport is visible to the left of the river in the foreground.  It's named for Lindbergh's plane, the first to fly New York to Paris nonstop.

A ton of Ikea

Here lies 934kg (a short ton) of Ikea flat pack, strapped down and ready for the Interstate.  A long road trip was necessary to retrieve this load, as the whole Mississippi valley is unserved by Ikea.  I have no idea how college students in Memphis, St Louis, and New Orleans manage to furnish their rentals.

Hot Dog Wielding Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan usually wields something manly like an axe.  This statue (in Atlanta, IL) has him carrying a giant hot dog.  It was erected in 1965 to promote a restaurant (also on Route 66) in the Chicago suburbs.  This Bunyan was relocated to Atlanta following the restaurant's closure.

The folks on motorbikes are Australian tourists riding Route 66, who were in the mood for kitsch in the 94° afternoon heat, even in their leathers. 

Route 66

Atlanta, Illinois is a sleepy town with a street grid matching the diagonal of the railway that runs through it.  The town (then Newcastle) was originally sited a mile away from where the Union Pacific was laid, so they moved the town to its present location to capture the business associated with a train stop.

Route 66 (a federal highway project) was signposted through here in 1926, and it followed this same Union Pacific railroad for around 130 miles between Springfield IL and Chicago.  Interstate 55 has swallowed most of the rural sections of the original road.


A hippopotamus wallows at the always-excellent Saint Louis Zoo.  Schools of fish perform an ongoing underwater cleaning by pecking away whatever they can from every submerged surface.

Their range used to extend over much of Africa up to the Nile delta.  Following the downfall of the drug lord Pablo Escobar, a few imported hippopotamuses were left roaming his estate in rural Colombia.  They've since multiplied to become a small herd, and happily call the Colombian jungle their home.

Alton, IL

A pawn shop occupies a prime corner of downtown Alton, Illinois.  It's "a river trading town of an industrial character", and minor stops like this have little business left with shipping consolidated to higher volume ports.

The flooding Mississippi would have been at least waist-deep here in 1993.

Commodore John Barry Bridge

The Commodore John Barry Bridge connects Pennsylvania and New Jersey across the Delaware River, a few miles downstream of Philadelphia.  The namesake of the bridge was the first American commissioned naval officer.

The toll ($5) is only charged to get out of New Jersey, which is to the top left of this view.

Superior Mirage

A superior mirage distorts the image of a distant cargo ship coming up the Saint Lawrence River, seen from the ferry between Les Escoumins and Trois Pistoles.  Moving the perspective by just a few feet up or down completely changed the image.  The view along the coast of the Gaspé Peninsula was equally odd, with headlands appearing upside-down and changing shape over time.

Little White House, Chicoutimi

This wee house was once one among a neighborhood of similar homes in Chicoutimi, Quebec.  It was built with an unusually strong foundation, which was useful during flooding in 1996 when fast flowing water inundated the area.  The newsreel showing the force of the water is amazing.

The owner of the house (then faced with living on a street without neighbors) soon arranged to sell the house to the city that now uses it as a museum.

Red Fox

This fearless male red fox was more interested in keeping an eye on the yearling foxes in the distance than in evading a passing motorist's camera.  He was enjoying the evening light as much as we were, and his big ears endlessly swiveled to catch the surrounding sounds.  A golden eagle was soaring not far away, competing for the same dinner of field mice.

Chateau Frontenac

The Chateau Frontenac at dusk, after a summer thunderstorm.  It was built by the Canadian Pacific Railway and is now a Fairmont, like many of the rail hotels built in that era.  The high pricing of a holiday weekend didn't allow for booking a room here, so we stayed down the hill in lower Québec City.

Niagara, Welland Canal

Lake Erie (on the horizon) empties via the Niagara River towards Niagara Falls, whose white spray is visible towards the center of this view.  Downstream in the foreground is Lake Ontario.

Separately, the 8 locks of the Welland Canal (to the right) offer a navigable channel between the two lakes.  There's a 99.5m elevation drop either way.

Benaroya Hall

Benaroya Hall was opened in 1998 as a purpose-built venue for the Seattle Symphony.  It's named for Jack and Becky Benaroya, who amassed wealth via a commercial real estate business in the Pacific Northwest, and donated an unsolicited $13M to allow the construction of the hall.  It's an excellent spot to hear orchestral music.

BNSF Trestle, Bellevue

Exploring a bit further south on the same abandoned rail corridor, there are two significant bridges in Bellevue.  This wooden trestle crosses a valley around SE 8th St, and the other is a steel span above the I90 freeway.  Unfortunately, those two locations are no longer connected, as rail crossing under I405 was not kept during its widening.  This gap in the right of way may present difficulties should a future transit project (or rail trail) be developed.