The big lesson in life, baby, is never be scared of anyone or anything.

On an awning for The Emerald supper-club and lounge in Vancouver's Chinatown, a bit of wisdom from Frank Sinatra.

Vancouver At Night

This is the view looking northwest from Vancouver's West End at night.

The First Narrows Bridge is beautifully lit, connecting the darkness of Stanley Park with the North Shore. The usual collection of bulk and container ships are moored on the horizon, waiting for a berth in the harbour. The light pollution of the city is reflected in a low cloud layer.

Jasper Gates, Mount Vernon

Jasper Gates was one of the first homesteaders to settle in what is now Mount Vernon on the Skagit River. Near the corner of 1st and Gates, this statue in granite by local sculptor Tracy Powell shows Jasper and his grandson John.

The basket of living hellebores in his left hand complements the statue nicely!

Snowy Seattle Morning

Most years, Seattle gets a few moderately snowy days like this one. It is typically heavy and wet snow that doesn't last long. This snowfall was mostly melted by noon.

South Fork Stillaguamish

The South Fork of the Stillaguamish River has a headwater at Barlow Pass on the Mountain Loop Highway, and eventually runs into Puget Sound near Stanwood. This is the view looking downstream from a sturdy footbridge crossing near the Big Four Ice Caves. The previous bridge (whose footing you can see in the foreground) was washed out in 2006, and this one was completed in 2009.

Decorated Tree

After drying it off and thawing it out, we wired up and decorated the giant fir we harvested earlier. It is much more sparse than a farmed Christmas tree, but I see this as an advantage. Instead of decorating the surface of a dense cone, we were able to hang ornaments and lights off all its visible interior.

Forest Service Road 4021

An enjoyable use of an AWD vehicle with moderately high clearance is to explore forest service roads before they get too snowed in. This is NF-4021 off the Mountain Loop Highway, at about 2500ft.

Christmas Tree Lumberjacking

In Washington State, one can get a permit to cut a Christmas tree from public land, with very few restrictions. If you had a really big house, it would be tempting to get an impressively sized tree to match.

We chose this modest tree, and it was great fun hauling it back to the car and decorating it back home. The high temperature was only -10C out here, so it took a couple of days for the snow to melt off before we could bring it inside.

Bear Lake, Mt Pilchuck State Forest

Bear Lake lies a half mile off a forest service road in the Mt Pilchuck State Forest.  We were the only visitors to the lake (and likely the road as well) this day.

Tardis Police Box

This is a British police box ... or possibly Dr. Who's Tardis.

It's smaller on the outside.

Mr. Pointy

This is the genuine prop used by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the Buffy The Vampire Slayer TV series.  It was Kendra's favorite stake, given to Buffy and used successfully against numerous vampires, including Dracula.

It looks quite sharp.

Heather Lake Late Hike

Our earlier trip to Heather Lake featured imperfect weather.  This time there was just enough snow to make it picturesque, but not too much to prevent easy hiking in.  We circumnavigated the lake this time.

Mt Shasta

Mt Shasta rises above 14,000ft in northern California. This is the view from the west, with the Pacific Crest Trail, Little Crater Lake, the I5 freeway and Black Butte all visible in the foreground and leading up to the volcanic peak itself. Shastina is a satellite cone attached to the main mountain and would be an impressive peak if it weren't overshadowed by its prominent host.

Early Gifts

Off to the post office with this box of early Christmas gifts!

Seared into memory are the words of an Australian postal clerk: "it could take months" when describing the expected arrival of a package sent on the cheap.  Accordingly, we tend to send things a bit earlier now.

Yosemite Valley and Mono Lake

Mono Lake, Tioga Pass, and the Yosemite Valley including the iconic Half Dome are all visible here if you look carefully.

Dry Lakebed Driving

Four miles of dry lakebed and a rental car?  I couldn't resist.

Just south of here, a series of cockamamie solar power experiments are underway.  The land is cheap and the sun always shines, so I suppose it's a fine place for it.

Gold Strike Hot Springs

The Gold Strike trail leads down 800 vertical feet from Highway 93 to the Colorado River, just downstream of the Hoover Dam. It's not quite a slot canyon, but there are places that are quite narrow and there's plenty of scrambling to get over obstacles.

The trail is rather fun by itself, but the best feature is a series of natural hot springs starting about half way down. While soaking, I was told by a hiker that at the far end of this pool, one could dive down and pop up in a cave further in. I didn't test that idea out.


Progressive-house DJ deadmau5 performs to a lively crowd.  Some of the music was excellent, other parts were repetitive and bordering on irritating.

Later in the set, he brought out two industrial assembly robots (decorated with his logo) to dance and groove on either side of the booth. They were really good props!

Joshua Trees

Joshua Trees grow in a number of places in southern Nevada, including the gentle slopes leading up to Mt Charleston, northwest of Las Vegas.  This is around 6000ft.

Bristlecone pines, Mummy Mountain

Mummy Mountain, as seen from around 10,000ft in the Nevada winter.  Bristlecone pines populated the hillsides around this altitude, and feature beautiful exposed wood.  Their lifespans lead in to the millennia.

Las Vegas Strip

Landmarks are easily visible from the air from this view from the northwest along Las Vegas Blvd.  1990s properties like the Rio, Stratosphere, Luxor still pop out, and newer properties like the Wynn and the Cosmopolitan can be seen as well.  The airport is the chevron of darkness in the top-right.

Mount Defiance

Early snow descends on the Cascades here on the Ira Spring Trail, near the fork between the trails leading to Bandara Mountain and Mason Lake and at about 4100ft.  Mount Defiance is the near peak.

Knitting by Firelight

The power went off the other night, and so we kindled the fireplace for both warmth and light. It was lovely, and we should do it more frequently. Sadly, there's a burn ban on for the county due to stagnant winter air, so perhaps not tonight.

Getting the white balance right for this picture was a challenge.

Hemingway's Six Toed Cats

The house where Hemingway lived in Key West for eight years in the 1930s continues to be home to six-toed descendants of a cat he was gifted by a ship's captain. Polydactylism is not entirely uncommon in the larger cat population, and half of the numerous cats at Hemingway House exhibit it.

Mallory Square, Key West

Mallory Square in Key West features street performers every evening.  Most specialize in the sort of spiel that is effective at keeping an audience even when there is very little in the way of a performance happening.

In contrast, this woman just silently fire-danced.

Mile 0 Sunset

At the end of the road, the sun sneaks under a light cloud layer to set into the Gulf of Mexico.  This is mile zero for US route 1 in Florida, which leads north 547 miles until it reaches Georgia.

It may seem like quite a distance for travel through a single state, though I5 spans a greater length of California.

Key Deer

Pint-sized Key Deer are found only in the Florida Keys.  They're a miniature version of regular white-tailed deer, adapted for life in a locale with fewer resources than on the US mainland.  Although considered endangered, it was no trouble at all spotting quite a few of them on Big Pine Key towards sunset.

Brown Pelicans

These two Brown Pelicans were lurking on the dock of Robbie's of Islamorada, looking to profit from unwary tourists trying to feed tarpon (of the excellent genus Megalops) in the waters below. In the foreground is an adult, and a juvenile with immature plumage is in the back.

Grand Tetons

I didn't recognize this striking mountain range when flying over it, as I've never been to this area.  Research after landing has shown that this is the eastern edge of the Grand Tetons, showing Mt Bannon, Prospectors Mountain, and then the South, Middle and Grand Tetons themselves.  I'd love to see them from the perspective of being on the ground in Jackson Hole.

Lake Serene II

Allegedly, that's the shore of Lake Serene extending off to the horizon.  It was quite foggy right up through to this elevation of 2500ft, and so this marks the passing of two weeks of inversion with low cloud and sunny mountaintops.

More Fall Maples

Different maple leaves on the same morning, looking the other way.

Due to a warm fall, leaves were happy to stay on the trees longer than usual.  A few cold mornings brought most of them off all at once this week.

Workplace Fall Colors

Today I learned that there would be morning coastal fog clearing to sun, so I brought in the camera.  As promised, the boundary between the two was present on my walk to work on the east side, so I grabbed this wide shot.

I'm only getting used to this 20mm lens, and I still find it to be a challenge composing with it.

Olallie Lake in Autumn

This is Olallie Lake in autumn.  The Pratt Lake trail follows above the shore to the right up to a saddle to the left.

Consider that in just a month or two the view will be completely different!

Talapus Lake

Talapus Lake is easily accessible in the summer, and an excellent snowshoe trip in the winter. The valley on the far side leads up to Rainbow and Island Lakes.

Inconveniently, the trail to get there necessarily detours a fair distance along the ridge to the upper right, as there's no easy way to negotiate the steep slopes on either side.

Rio Grand County, Colorado

An endless quilt of center pivot irrigation stretches over part of Rio Grand County in Colorado.  An irrigation canal cuts through part of the foreground on an odd angle, and cloud shadows are seen in the middle, but otherwise the view is unblemished.  They need the water; annual rainfall around here is only 7 inches.

Each circle fills a section (a half-mile on each side).  All the roads and boundaries are oriented to the cardinal points, give or take the curvature of the earth.

Green River, Utah

Utah's Green River runs from the top left through some spectacular and dry terrain down to eventually reach the Colorado.  This is its confluence with Nine Mile Creek, and can be compared to the satellite view.

You can fly to the Sand Wash airstrip, visible on the table along the left edge of this picture.  A charter for two runs $280 from Moab.

Gran Café de la Parróquia

The Gran Café de la Parróquia is a 200-year old coffehouse facing the docklands of Veracruz.

This is a lechero that was brought out to me as an espresso at the bottom of the glass.  To get milk, one taps the glass to attract the attention of a different waiter (one bearing a steamed milk pitcher).  The pour of hot milk was aggressively high, and yet successful at both frothing the milk and avoiding spillage.  It was quite tasty.

Mexican Clown

This Mexican clown has spectacular make-up.

Sadly, the heat was getting to the glue keeping his nose on, so he was at imminent risk of becoming a sad clown with a sticky nose.

Zócalo Danzón, Veracruz

An elegant couple dances the danzón in the central square of Veracruz.  A live band was set up behind us, and those are the portales of the Palacio Municipal in the background.

The dance and music are complex, and come from Cuba.  It was a joy to see the square fill up with couples as the evening wore on.

Mexican Danzón Harpist

This is no mariachi.

This is one of many members of a danzón band that filtered in and out of the cafe where I had lunch in Veracruz.  This gentleman spent as much time tuning and polishing his harp as he did playing it.

Palacio Municipal, Veracruz

This city hall building forms one side of the lively zócalo of Veracruz.  It's from the 17th century, older than most buildings in both the US and Canada.

Standing Shock Wave

A standing shock wave is seen as a fine line leading outwards from the engine cowling of a 757-200.  It was only visible where the background had varying horizontal contrast, and its position moved forward as the speed decreased during our descent.  This picture is a shadowgraph.

The shock front is illustrated in the wiki diagram explaining supercritical airfoils, and may help you see the effect shown here.

Little Library: Huskies Edition

There are plenty of Little Free Libraries in our neighborhood.  This one began life as a miniature replica of the house behind it, but was poorly waterproofed and was soon holding a shelf of very soggy books.

This replacement has a University of Washington Huskies Football theme, and was cozy and dry when last inspected.

More Granite Mountain

Granite Mountain was foggy with some late blueberries out this late September.  The sun peeked out on occasion, but it was dominantly a misty day.

Late Fall I90 Corridor Hiking

This is the little lake below what is variously described as Crystal Lake (USGS and Google) as well as Evelyn Lake (Bing, with really good imagery).  There was perhaps 4000ft of vertical on this trip.

It is quickly becoming more difficult terrain to visit as winter sets in.  The last trip report I read showed 18 inches of snow before this point on the trail.

Bronze Fonz

Smiling even in terrible weather, the Bronze Fonz perpetually cheers up the Milwaukee riverfront.  

Hops on the Vine

Beth requested a picture of our hops prior to being harvested, and as it turns out we caught the vine in August, prior to all the flowers forming fully.  It was good fun pulling the vines down, and they are so fragrant that it was difficult to avoid sneezing!

Ready for Halloween

This neighborhood pumpkin is straining at the vine, and is in great shape for jack 'o lantern carving in the coming weeks.  Elevating it against this telephone pole likely helped with its good shape and avoided rot atop dewy grass.

Belcher Mosaic Glass Company

For a mere four years beginning in 1884, the Belcher Mosaic Glass Company made gorgeous mosaics like this one.  They had a patented technique involving an asbestos sandwich and basically cast the metal in place around the glass pieces.  They called these "metallo mosaics" as seen in this ad from 1887.

This mosaic and many others are shown in the superb Smith Museum of Stained Glass, towards the end of Navy Pier in Chicago.

Cloud Gate

Chicago's Cloud Gate at dawn.  Choosing a level horizon was impossible.  I was tempted to pick the general line of the reflection's horizon, but the result is quite unsettling.

There are numerous excellent vantage points to enjoy this sculpture from.  Some turn the curves into swirls and loops.  Others distort the flagstones of the ground into strange fractal patterns.  Walk around according to taste!