Fred's Rivertown Alehouse

Fred's Rivertown Alehouse in Snohomish offers a diverse list of perhaps 120 scotches, displayed attractively above their beer taps.  My apologies for the imperfect focus; at f1.8, one would need a tilt-shift lens to get the entire plane of this wall decently sharp.

Ambiance was lively and the service friendly, though not speedy.  A number of taps were recognized from the Brew Fest earlier in the day!

Snohomish Brew Fest

We attended the 2nd iteration of the Snohomish Brew Fest.  It was hosted at the surprising locale of the Snohomish Senior Center, though the only evidence of that was a vague registration process run by someone's great grandmother.

It would be challenging to remember which beers are pictured here, so I'll instead recount the favorites of the evening: Elysian's Mens Room Original Red, Emerald City's Betty Black Lager, and Old Schoolhouse's Newschool ESB.

Seattle's Great Wheel

Seattle's Great Wheel is a Chance Rides R60, a modern 171ft Ferris Wheel on the waterfront.  It spins at 1.5 revolutions per minute, and consumes 500kW of 3-phase 480V electric power.  The ride was totally smooth, such that the motion was quite eerie.

The wheel is presently dressed subtly in the colors of Microsoft Windows.  Look at the hub, and you'll see an approximation of the Windows flag logo in LED lighting.

Tuscohatchie and Crystal Lakes

Looking directly north at about 5500ft on the eastern edge of Granite Mountain, Crystal Lake (in the foreground) and Tuscohatchie Lake (larger and further away) are both visible.  The terrain view of this area hints at its beauty.

It's unclear where the name Tuscohatchie comes from, as Google searching for the term without terms like Lake or Trail comes up empty.

Dramatic Light, Granite Mountain

Another season, another trip up Granite Mountain.  The first snowfall began this past week, and at the summit there is perhaps 8 inches already.  I spent a glorious afternoon in all kinds of clouds, sunshine, and combinations of both.

This trip benefited from traction devices attached to my regular hiking boots.  Future trips this season will require snowshoes!

Heidelberg Project

The Heidelberg Project is a "found art" project in a Detroit slum.  It has faced an uneasy relationship with the city, and there have been two waves of mass demolitions.  Despite this, a number of artists continue to put great care and pride into maintaining and improving it.

Average home values in this census tract are listed as $22,000, but that doesn't match the current real estate listings where you can buy homes in the area for mere hundreds of dollars.

Pewabic Pottery Kiln

Pewabic Pottery is an Arts and Crafts design studio, founded in Detroit in 1903.  An artist and dental supply salesmen, without formal training, invented and perfected unique metallic glazing techniques here.  The finished product is beautiful.

Pewabic Pottery was commissioned for architectural tilework throughout Michigan.  It's now become a neighborhood where the annual household income is $12,000.  We were buzzed in by a security guard.

Scott Fountain, Belle Isle

The Scott Fountain is an expanse of marble, pottery, and bronzework on the western end of Belle Isle in Detroit.  It honors James Scott, "a loafer and a gambler," who left his $500,000 estate to the city under the condition that this fountain be built -- with a life size statue of himself overlooking it.

Controversially, the city went ahead with it.  The design included some Pewabic pottery work.

Willistead Manor, Walkerville

Being a liquor baron allows one to construct an extravagant home.  This was the home of Edward Walker, heir to Hiram, completed in 1906.

This is an uncommonly extravagant house for Windsor.  On the Detroit side, there are plenty of mansions from this era, some offered at bargain prices.  Stark differences in crime rates, demographics, and poverty explain the prices of housing only a few miles away across the river.


Sunrise over Kentucky, from a Boeing 737-500 that's been retrofitted with winglets.

The air is not nearly as clean as in other locales, and the horizon is a rosy red and orange.  Similar views over the West are a thin line of yellow topped by an expanse of blue.

Kittitas Depot, 1909

The Kittitas Depot is an attractive building overlooking the rail yards that once ran through Kittitas WA.  It has a heritage designation that notes an asbestos shingled roof among many other attractive features.

The town was incorporated in 1884 in anticipation of the Northern Pacific being built through the area.  That railroad chose a different route, but Kittitas was then able to exploit the coming of the Milwaukee Road a few years later. The railway supported a meat packing company, potato warehouses, and grain storage facilities until its abandonment in 1980.

Foss River Bridge

BNSF still uses this rail bridge, built in 1909 for Great Northern.  It crosses the Foss River, and is the last point of interest along this rail line until one reaches the Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass.  I've seen a print of a spectacular photograph catching an eastbound train crossing here at dusk after heavy snowfall.

It's made of Carnegie steel (yes, that Carnegie), likely from Homestead, PA.

Fall Colors - Huckleberries

Mount Sawyer was a riot of color this weekend, with the huckleberries at about 5200ft glowing bright red.

The amazing colors are due to transmitted light coming though the leaves, with the lens pointing almost straight into the sun.  Looking the other way, the field was much more subdued purples and browns.

Confusing Shrub-steppe Microclimate

This dry shrub-steppe region sees only 8 or 9 inches of rain annually.  On the upper banks of the rail grade you can see sagebrush and rocky soil sustaining little else.

I was riding along and wondering about the presence of willow saplings -- trees that only grow in moist conditions.  Then I saw bulrushes, and my confusion was complete when my wheels were squelching into a boggy bed of watercress.

This moist and shady microclimate was created a century ago when cutting the grade for the railway uncovered a groundwater source.  It's now a serious obstacle to through hikers and cyclists on the trail.

John Wayne Pioneer Trail

The John Wayne Pioneer Trail runs through 300mi of Washington State on what was the Milwaukee Road.  Here was a sandy section (challenging on a mountain bike) through central Washington's shrub-steppe landscape.  There's just enough rainfall to sustain sagebrush, but not enough for ponderosa pines or other trees.

Boyleston Tunnel, 1908

The Chicago, Milwaukee and Puget Sound Railway (usually just called the Milwaukee Road) passes through Yakima Training Center, a large expanse of Army-owned land next to the Columbia River in Washington.  It's now a public trail open year round to non-motorized traffic.

This is the western entrance to the Boyleston Tunnel, a well-constructed passage built in 1908 that avoids the highest part of the ridge between Ellensburg and Beverly.  Despite being a place with no buildings or residents and only one through road, Boyleston, WA is a marked point of interest on most GPS data sets and many online maps.