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.