I appreciate a surprising, grand visual moment where you stop thinking and just admire its beauty.
The above picture shot was taken a few weeks ago, between the Snoqualmie forest and Issaquah, an hour east of Seattle. At the time and depending on your direction on the 91 freeway, you will witness an amazing change 15 minutes later in continuous driving. The forest scenery either switches to damp green bareness or all covered in lush white snow. The landscape change is gasping to see witness, seeing how nature can change with the ever-changing, deeply varied Pacific Northwest weather.
That long snowline is unreal, perfectly straight at a very distinct level. I stared, trying to figure out…how? There’s a science in that somewhere, probably with the atmosphere and density. I tried to find more information online, with no immediate answers. I welcome any explanation below in the comments.
Snoqualmie Pass did not disappoint with snow over the recent Christmas weekend.
This popular Washington State mountainous area was a treat to help make up for a very quiet and otherwise dulled outlook to this holiday season peak. A spontaneous adventure was due, traveling with an old friend who worked in the area. With no New Years plans, ruined by the rising Omicron, I needed this. I never been to the Snoqualmie Pass, therefore it interests me, especially with its famed winter snowfall.
Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain passage in the Cascade Range deep in the Snoqualmie Forest, west of the Snoqualmie Valley, with an elevation of 2,726 ft (831 m). The area is named after the local indigenous Native American tribe, part of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Pass was well-known and utilized by indigenous natives long before U.S settlers set foot in the early 19th century. Over time, the area was planned for a large railroad line expansion, then eventually abandoned.
The Interstate 90 is now the main highway in and out of the area, and 54 miles east of Seattle. The famed Pacific Crest Trail also crosses through the area, a long hiking route that stresses far to the south through California, almost to the Mexico border. The Snoqualmie Pass remains small, but very significant in the Pacific Northwest with a very small population, 311 according to the 2010 U.S. census. The main draw for tourists is now the cluster of four ski areas with resorts stationed throughout: Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East.
After a serene and slow morning drive (about an hour and a half from Seattle), I set foot on some deep and plentiful snow. There was little purpose after, other than to escape the stressful city and explore the snowy landscapes a little, work on a writing project while my driver friend does some skiing. I did some observations of skiing sport and local activity, thinking of future plans to return and gain more from the area. Someday, I would like to partake in the sport of skiing and also do some snowshoe hiking.
Here are some pics, with notes!
The lifts at the Summit at Snoqualmie, early in the morning during a light snowpour. Activity greatly rose around the noontime, for where I was inside sipping on local beer and working on a project.
Well, that’s all for now. But, I will definitely return to the Snoqualmie Pass, hopefully with ski gear!
Through every developed mega-metropolis, should stay a sensible guided rail system as excellent transport. On this rail, are scheduled fast-moving boxcars, stopping at main points of access, where most of the distance has been traveled in a considerably short and convenient time comparable to a rush-hour commute.
And for Seattle, there is our Light Link Rail system. An awesomely modern form of public transportation for over two decades, cutting through its narrow main stretch of land, squeezed and shaped by two large bodies of water. The city can not spread out. But, it will likely increase in population density. The city needs this system.
With this increase, so must the car traffic. Frustrations happen on where to park, getting to work on time, not missing a flight. Yet for Emerald City, the Link Light Rail is a huge boost. I rely on it often, to zoom past traffic lights and daily street inconveniences, to give myself more time and less worry. I can venture easily to and from Angie Lake, past the SeaTac Airport, past the sports arenas, through Downtown, eventually north to the University of Washington.
And now, to my delight this October, the Seattle Light Rail added three more stops to its path. Now, past its Husky Stadium, eventually to the Northgate station. But first, there is the new University District stop, which I highly recommend for local shopping and entertainment. I often treasure hunt at Al’s Music and Games, get spooked at Gargoyles Statuary, check out rare movie showings at the Grand Illusion Cinema, The Roosevelt station is next, which brings you very close to Ravenna Park, a dense mini-forest well-worth strolling through (see my previous entry). And last for now is Northgate Station, where you will find many very large and boring corporate department stores, which are sometimes needed.
The whole stretch between Angie Lake and Northgate is about 22 miles. The ride from one end to the other is 1 hour and 15 minutes. With daily rush hour traffic, the rail is the superior choice in pretty much any two areas to save money and time.
There is more to say about the subtle cheer of riding a rail system, going underground, and rising above. All gently along with the hum of its simple fixed positioning, feeling a bit more relaxed with less to worry about with more assured timing. The more stops on our rails, the more pleasant the plan.
The best way to appreciate the Fall season, is to appreciate what becomes of it.
Many people complain about the Pacific Northwest weather after the summer season. Not me, for I believe here shows a pleasant trade off to the warm weather and blue skies. A return to nature, a cycle of renewal, a time for periodic harvesting. To benefit, is to get through the minor inconveniences of darkened skies and wettened soles.
I see the refreshments of fresh Fall colors of earthly greens, oranges, yellows, browns, and much more variety between brought about by the plentiful trees and shrubbery. The season enhances, by spreading from the sky, unto the ground, mixing what was cleared, now a beautiful mess. A good rain and infrequent loosens the stems, brining leaves to the ground, and then see why the Autumn (aka as from a history of French borrowing from Latin) season became more commonly named, Fall. Because the leaves must Fall, for the seasonal cycle to make sense.
Meanwhile, here are some magnificent captures from a recent walk to Ravenna Park, a half-mile narrow ravine below two large bridges. This stretch is perfect for jogging, casual strolls, ruminating, and of appreciating the Fall season. You’ll find this park, located closely north of the University of Washington, in north Seattle.
These pictures are not all of Ravenna Park, that I intend to share. This park has much beauty, which I will features more of in future postings. In the meantime, go take a walk through your nearest park and appreciate what the Fall has given.
Today, I took a long walk in my Seattle neighborhood between errands, from the Magnolia Bridge in Interbay to Pike Place Market, mostly along the waterfront trail overlooking Elliot Bay.
The pleasant, mostly concrete path stretched about 2.3 miles (4 km). It took my feet about two hours, as I stopped often to enjoy a little moment, answer a text, eat some snacks, take a few pictures, write. The trail was narrow, with rocks separating much of the developed green and calming waters. The weather was perfect, being that last little bit of warm sunshine, stretched from the summer, mixed with the breeze of this new fall, squeezed by days of much-needed rain.
I noticed some drawn angels etched on some rocks in a few places. The artist is unknown, with an intent purpose to perhaps delight, and maybe let us know…that yes, there are angels out there in unexpected places. I don’t know, but I appreciated their presence.
Nature often plays with our imagination, leading our wandering minds to double take and circle around, checking to both look closer at details an observe the widest landscape. We notice the natural developments of trees, bushes, rocks presenting the beauty of patience, giving a long story to how its ecosystem builds itself, coexists until practical use comes to an end, then very slowly comes apart.
And even them remains stories in the shapes of old, long after life, passing on its place for some new telling. So goes forth, what you make of the enduring remains, leading to new inspirations. And like much of what I have written on this twisted resilience, is not exactly clear yet.
– Orion T
The above pictures are from a recent hike at Whatcom Falls Park, near Bellingham, Washington. Highly recommended for casual hikers and satisfyingly short-term wanderlust.
The view from Rattlesnake Ledge nearly atop Rattlesnake Mountain, is worth the medium level hike from Rattlesnake Lake.
I love the Pacific Northwest mountain areas, with its many hikes offering forest blanket views. The trail to Rattlesnake Ledge is a most popular one among visitors to the Seattle area, with easy access parking and the lovely small town of North Bend nearby.
Rattlesnake Ledge, located in the Snoqualmie Forest, takes about 2-3 hours with good pacing with 6.5 km (4 miles) total. The peak is 2078 feet high (about 1/3 of a mile). Much of the trail is stead uphill workout, a good starter for those less experienced with mountain hikes.
However, it’s not a place I best recommend on the best, sunniest days. It’s a spot that tourists hit often, and the very top can be dangerous when there’s two many people. The rocky area has no rails, no flat platforms, and no room to be reckless and stupid. It’s better to go here on a weekday, maybe more on the morning. People have slipped and fell to their death from this ridge. Take your time, have shoes with good traction, and stay cautious of where you step.
See those little dark spots through the water of Rattlesnake Lake? Those are mostly tree stumps, as that lake was a small, short-lived logging town over a century ago, eventually flooded out. When the water level is much lower, the stumps are visible and otherworldly to witness. I wrote and took pictures from a previous visit, here.
Beautiful up close texture of the the ledge’s rock side. Surely, a geologist can share stories of this spot, just from studying details here.
A little plant, growing out from the side. Alone and enjoying the view for the rest of its life.
That’s all for now. I have more pictures from more recent adventures, with some surprises. I also have some video, but need more time to sort through clips and edit. Keep adventuring in the meantime, and enjoy what nature offers you!
Summer 2020 was a little weird but full of beautiful moments.
I was a bit worried on its end after a week of nasty fires in the Pacific Northwest, bringing darkened skies of smoke and ash throughout. That’s so very 2020, pushing me back into home isolation.
But yet, I felt great times during the season under the troubling, continual circumstances of the year. Such are the pandemic and continual dread for the future of my world, with social unrest and shared economic stress. What does one do, for feeling the necessity of the news, yet not ignore the constant frustration and trouble that the headlines bring?
One great answer is to reach out, accept the reaching out of peers to make the best of what’s out there. The weather was great most of this season, at least for the Pacific Northwest (sorry friends in California who endured over 100 F). I feel blessed with good friends that shared my hunger for adventure, and that we did.
We shared many weekends all over midwestern Washington in Tacoma, Bellingham, Anacortes, Issaquah, and the Seattle area. We hiked, we ruminated, we explored, we eat, we enjoyed nature and the somewhat the surroundings while being pandemic-minded and safe.
I had a great time throughout but also unplugged much from the social media and pleasures of modern digital technology. But, I am also terribly sorry for not sharing such beautiful experiences in a timely fashion. Much of it was also for me talking, helping, discussing life, and current happenings with friends in between. Personal time was my priority.
But, I will share on memories recent and fresh when I can, especially as the new Fall season sets in. I have the feeling it’s going to be a longer, colder, darker time ahead. With that, more time to share but in a different way.
– Orion T
The above pic is facing Mount Rainier, from the top of Mount Burroughs, taken from one of the many trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center deep within and high above. It’s closed to the majestic peak, the best view I think one can get by hiking after a lengthy two-hour drive deep within the Mount Rainier National Park. The entirety spent with friends, very worthwhile.
I love a peaceful, quaint, distant getaway that doesn’t feel too isolated. Vashon Island is awesome, for its lovely greenery and sense of community that I feel such be model for this pandemic time.
Vashon Island a little island of two parts (Vashon and Maury) located west of Seattle, deep within Puget Sound. The 36.9 square miles (95.6 km) landmass has a population of over 10,000, and only accessible from the outside by boat. There are two state-run ferries on the north and south end, where vehicle boarding is possible.
This visit to Vashon Island is my second since the Spring of 2015. I thought of coming back here on remembering that it’s still an island, therefore not likely overwhelmed by summer visitors during this pandemic. And unlike the Seattle city, there has been little growth since.
Coming back, I notice not much has changed in its mostly rural parts. Still, very peaceful, lush, and green. But I saw much awareness and respect for the current times. Many signs of Black Lives Matters on yards and fences, with painted portraits of George Lloyd and Breonna Taylor upon various walls, all express solidarity. There are also constant reminders to keep the virus masks on and be mindful of those around you with social distancing. Sadly, such things have become very polarized and would perhaps bother a more Trump-loyal conservative person, who would otherwise enjoy this lovely island. For myself being a person of color, I find the solidarity welcome. For not wanting to suffer horribly from someone else’s carelessness, I find the pandemic safety awareness also welcome.
I find these positives amplified and mixed in with, the Vashon central town center area, where SW Bank Road and SW 99th cross. Close and quaint, are huddled little shops, markets, restaurants for locals and tourists to enjoy and sink into that Pacific Northwest charm. Not much has changed, except for some good signs of support in these challenging times.
Here, are some pics I took with notes while with other friends, as we walked around…
One of many small local businesses in central Vashon. Some are open, some are closed. Most are well-preserved structures with some little extra character added. This gives Vashon Island a timeless appeal in these changing times.
The Vashon Theater. A little spot I hope to see open upon a future visit. But for now, they do offer drive-In movies for the summer!
The front of the Vashon Print and Design Shop, showing many ways for one to express support, awareness, and solidarity through glorious poster art.
Lots of gift ideas at the Vashon Pharmacy. Yes, it’s a pharmacy within the place that I barely noticed while looking at all the fun, various housewares.
A large sign in front of Granny’s Attic Thrift Store, an awesome thrift store I highly recommend for treasure hunters. But also, well-aware and meeting of the challenges on running business during the pandemic area. There was a line of people on Saturday, but the measures taken were well worth it, and we picked up some cool, vintage things.
A little art gallery behind the Hardware Store Restaurant, this time with a little pet theme.
A little random art piece alone outside, because no small town is complete without one.
The old bike in a tree, a sub-famed attraction of the island. Sadly, much of the attraction has rotted away as the growing tree swallowed it more. According to this site, the bike was abandoned in 1954, by a local who received it was a gift, and just didn’t want it, and left it in the trees.
And my new favorite part of the Vashon town center is this artistic fence of doors done by a local, located in an alleyway. It’s quite amazing and deserves its own post. I will share more on the doors, the history, and the artist behind the work , in my next post.
Haematopus bachmani, aka the Black Oystercatcher doesn’t really catch oysters. It’s catches mussels, limpets, barnacles, and various shellfish, all do well for their natural diet.
The Black Oystercatcher loves rocky shorelines, and often seen along the North American Pacific Coast. They don’t like human development or high industrialization where pollution and disturbances to their nesting areas disrupt their delicate existence.
I took the above picture a few months ago from the Seattle Aquarium, which this little bit of info from its seattleaquarium.org site:
“Oystercatchers nest and spend winters in the same basic area. They’remonogamous—the same two birds will return to the nest they create together, season after season. They make nests near rocky tidal areas wherefood abounds. By flipping their bills sideways and backwards, the birds toss rock flakes, pebbles and shell fragments to create a nest that resembles a bowl. Each pair will raise a clutch of eggs (one to three eggs) at a time. If anything happens to a clutch, pairs will raise two or more clutches until they have a successful brood.”
Black Oystercatchers are often very noisy, for reasons I could not uncover. Those noises are a little silly and cute, different from other avians. I love them for that…
That’s why I am sharing this joy of nature now. Maybe this will cheer you and others in this long, difficult pandemic time, for at least a moment. Then, feel free to make a little silly noise of your own.
Within the wet winters of the Pacific Northwest, can be the best fresh air and beautiful blue skies. Gazing high, I see freshness and the gentle passing of new time, bringing light and hope to a world that can feel pretty dark sometimes.
Below, I enjoy the often quiet breaks after the bursts of wet, gloomy, rough weather. That goes double for me when out of my big city, and into a neighboring city. Because then, I find more of what I miss.
Recently, I was Portland (Oregon), enjoying some beautiful hours from the weekend. In the morning after a heavy night of heavy showers, I enjoy its calm feel under the bare trees, vintage architecture, setting upon its often quirky gluten-free option heavy atmosphere.
The streets seemed almost empty last Saturday morning, with fewer humans walking about. I stopped by one of the many food truck blocks, seeing them all mostly closed until after the noontime hits.
And you can walk around easy, aimlessly enjoy the open streets, hum a little song, because “Keep Portland Weird” is a community push. I had my usual destinations before my business to do here. I don’t come often, but I never forget my sense of direction through the the central downtown. I know all the main spots I love, especially the Courthouse Square, Cameron’s Books, Ground Kontrol Arcade, Voodoo Donuts, Multnomah County Central Library, a bunch of favorite quirky stores and restaurants through all over the city, and some great parks to let that fresh outside air sink through to the heart.
And, I can never forget Powell’s Books, a place I end up often spending an excessive amount of time indoors. It’s also here, where I easily forget how pleasant the outside is.
I will have to talk more about Powell’s Books, in a feature to its own someday. But for now, here is a picture that best represents me in the Portland moment.
I now share some pics, a little later in Kobe Terrace Park after a grand snowy morning in Seattle, earlier this week (see last post).
Here, are pics from an afternoon walk, just as the sudden rains began to wash away the snowfall. There was a special beauty to the surroundings, revealing a momentary awesomeness to an otherwise dull afternoon.
– Orion T
Pictures and notes by Traveling Orion, (Orion Tippens). For external use for public use, please contact and obtain permission first.
Every weather season holds wondrous splendor, especially this Fall for the great Seattle city.
After the periodic rough winds and sporadic showers, walk into the biting cold and see for yourself. Ignore the expanse of construction and busy commute hustles, and appreciate the best, fresh signs of natural change.
Here, the fallen leaves of many trees scatter throughout the Emerald City. In some clusters, the concrete loses its dominance. Curbsides are confused as division becomes lost in the rivers of greens and browns and reds and yellows. Benches and tables become hosts to new fallen travelers. We invite those on the ground to stay with every step, kicking others to the next for moments longer.
Here above and below, is a special concrete open spot near the Space Needle before a statue of Chief Seattle. Around is the convergence of 5th, Cedar, and Denny streets with the near overhead tramway connecting the Seattle Center (and Needle above) to the Westlake Center of Downtown. Also, the best spot for an afternoon munch, at the 5 Point Café (happy hour 4-6 weekdays).
Also a sometimes resting place for leaves..
Overall, peaceful for busy Seattle life. The leaves are a special touch and reminder of the best appreciation for passing in the Fall. Never mind the nightfall now approaching 4pm time (sunsets are still killer) and a distraction from the moving gray skies Just enjoy the leaves when here, at least before the street cleaners spoil the fun.
Enjoy, and appreciate this natural cycle of nature. Or even better, walk around and explore what changed. I hear Pioneer Square is amazing, as I will eventually venture to on a promised morning. I wonder about certain favorite places in this grand area, thinking of a good time for a visit to Kobe Terrace in the near future. Here below, is the walkway through the Seattle Center near the great Needle on a recent day of blue skies above.
All pictures taken and posted by Orion Tippens, for travelingorion.wordpress.com.