Mt Rainier Sunrise

Unlike this picture (taken from Mt Si), this one is from a Boeing 757-200 departing SeaTac.  Mt Rainier and the Cascades poke above a low cloud layer and a winter day begins.

For maximum confusion, note that Sunrise, WA is an excellent place to see Mt Rainier, though you can catch that view at any time of day.

Pratt Lake

One more from the Pratt Lake area, as it was just such a magical day and I must share another view.  This is looking west across Pratt Lake itself, from around 4300ft.

Little Pratt Lake

The Tooth looms over to the northeast, while Little Pratt Lake lays below.  This perspective is at 4500ft on the ridge dividing two watersheds: Olallie Lake behind us drains into the South Fork Snoqualmie, and Little Pratt drains into the Pratt River and then the Middle Fork Snoqualmie.  Their confluence is in Snoqualmie WA, 17 miles west down the I90.

If you click to look a bit more closely, you can see my tracks on the left bank of the lake shore.

Mt Rainier, Olallie Lake

The Snoqualmie valley and perhaps 30 miles separate Olallie Lake and Mount Rainier on the horizon.  Conditions were excellent, with over a foot of fluffy powder on top of a harder base.  Terrain and snow condition didn't permit use of the summertime trail to Pratt Lake, so I headed up the ridge to the northeast of here.

Dash 8 Q400

This Dash 8 Q400 is flying at its optimal cruise speed, a hair over mach 0.7.  At this speed, the propeller tips are approaching the speed of sound.  Any faster and very bad things would start to happen: the propeller blades would experience higher than design forces, it would sound very loud to a listener on the ground, and we'd be making an emergency landing pretty quickly.

Freezing the motion of the propellers was only possible at very high shutter speeds.  This was taken at 1/4000s.

Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs

Garden of the Gods is a public park on the outskirts of Colorado Springs, created by an endowment in 1909.

This is the Cathedral Spires formation.  It's made of sedimentary sandstone that's been shifted so that its layers run mostly vertically.

Bruiser, Boulder's Pearl Street

"Bruiser" is a person dressed as a dog, who begs for attention on Pearl St in Boulder.  Children are the ones that are most fascinated by him.

His coat could do with a steam clean.

NCAR Boulder

NCAR has a complex by I. M. Pei in Boulder.  All of his prior buildings (with the exception of an interesting church in Taiwan) were completely unimaginative.  This project is quite pleasing, and is well suited to its place on the mesa.

We hiked up Green Mountain (8100ft), in the background, after touring the architecture.

BrightSource Energy, Coalinga CA

The strange shaded area in the top left that looks like an amphitheater or modern art installation is BrightSource Energy's project for Chevron in Coalinga, CA.  It's an array of mirrors that track the sun to send 60 acres of sunshine to a tower housing a boiler.  It's not that efficient (only 45% of the steam energy is converted to electrical power) and is a non-economic project for Chevron to burnish its environmental credentials.

Commonwealth Basin Snowshoe

A trip under the freeway from the Snoqualmie Pass West parking lot lead quickly to gorgeous, easily accessible terrain.  A well-trod trail led up to these flats in Commonwealth Basin.  The sun came out, at least in a limited Cascades sort of way.

5000- and 6000-ft peaks surrounded us, with Red Mountain is pictured looming to the north.  The Pacific Crest Trail winds its way up to that level (and on to the Kendall Katwalk) from where we started.  The PCT will have to wait until next summer, as it would be a challenge planning a safe route across such steep and open terrain at this time of year.

Pacific Crest chair, Snoqualmie Pass

The Pacific Crest chairlift ascends into the gloom of early morning at the skiing area at Snoqualmie Pass.  The forecast called for clearing cloud, so better conditions await these early risers.

We parked here, but had other plans.

Redwood I

Also at the Laumeier Sculpture Park: Johann Feilacher's Redwood I.  It's claimed to be the "largest singular piece of contemporary wood sculpture in existence," a claim I dispute.  There are numerous examples of larger totem poles, including many hewn in living memory.

Eye, Laumeier Sculpture Park

Tony Tasset's fiberglass Eye is one of a few striking pieces of art in the Laumeier Sculpture Park.  For ADA acceptability, there is a braille description of the piece, including a tactile outline of the eyeball itself.

I'm not sure what a blind visitor is supposed to gain from this: "I'm feeling a representation of the eye I'm lacking, which is here because I can't see it."

Armour Meatpacking Plant, National City IL

Armour Meatpacking was an anchor tenant of the St. Louis National Stockyards Company, a corporation that operated the company town of National City, Illinois from 1873 to 1997.  Due to structural changes in the meatpacking industry, it became uneconomic to run this abattoir, and it closed in 1959.  The factory buildings have been crumbing in disuse since then.

It is not difficult to imagine the causes of the decline of the industry: unionization drove up wages, and ancient equipment kept operating costs high.  One refrigeration unit still in place here at Armour has a faceplate dated 1902.  Today, most of the industry not unionized, and situated in rural locales like Tar Heel, NC.

1963 Chrysler Turbine

This 1963 Chrysler Turbine (painted beautifully in Turbine Orange) is one of three remaining in working order.  It is powered by a real gas turbine, and would sound a bit like a vacuum cleaner when running.  You can fuel it with anything that burns.

The only sort of land vehicles that use gas turbines these days are tanks like the M1 Abrams. One of the persistent disadvantages of this type of power source is high fuel consumption.

Union Pacific Rotary Snow Plow

This rotary snow plow from 1966 is both  massive (167 tons) and powerful (3000HP).  Note that all that power goes towards driving the cutting wheel -- as this unit is not self propelled, it must be pushed by 3 or 4 locomotives.  Typical speed of operation was 4 to 6 mph.  It was in service in Wyoming through the mid 1980s.