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June 4, 2012

Olympic National Park: Rialto Beach

We spent two weekends in May exploring various parts of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula, and because the area is just so beautiful and quickly becoming one of my favorite places in the United States, I took way too many photos. The below shots are from Rialto Beach, a classic Pacific Northwest beach replete with barriers of driftwood, giant Douglas-fir trees, distant sea stacks, and, of course, fog.

The Olympic Range

I stuck my toes in the water. FREEZING!

All photos here.

May 22, 2012

Seaplane over Seattle

Did you know that Seattle’s Lake Union has its own three letter IATA airport code? Yep, it’s LKE, for the Lake Union Sea Plane Base. From there you can take flights to destinations such as Friday Harbor, WA or Victoria, BC. We didn’t go quite so far, instead opting to take a 20 minute scenic flight around the city. My dad has always wanted to fly on a seaplane, so when my parents came up to visit last month, we booked a flight with Seattle Seaplanes.

Home of Seattle Seaplanes on Lake Union

Our ride

Taxiing to the runway, er lake

Mount Rainier

Over Lake Washington

Looking towards the downtown area

CenturyLink Field, home of the Sounders and Seahawks (and during this shot, a motocross race)

The Space Needle. It recently received a layer of “Galaxy Gold” paint, which is why it appears to be orange. Galaxy Gold was the original color of the Space Needle when it opened for the 1962 World’s Fair.

A view of the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in Ballard, which move boats between Puget Sound and Lake Union

Amazingly, the weather was cooperative – sunny and clear skies, which is not typical for Seattle in April. If you’re visiting Seattle, or you’re a local who has never seen the city from the skies, I’d highly recommend booking a scenic flight on a seaplane. The views of the city skyline, Puget Sound, Mount Rainier, the Cascades and the Olympics are incredible. And really, how often do you get to take off and land on a lake?

More photos here.

May 9, 2012

POTD: Giant elk at Yellowstone

When we relocated from Washington DC to Seattle, we made a two day stop in Yellowstone National Park. I’ve always wanted to visit Yellowstone, and the 3,000 mile cross-country road trip presented the perfect opportunity to do so. We camped near Lake Yellowstone, and spent most of our time driving all around the park, stopping at the usual sights (Old Faithful, etc) and taking the occasional hike.

The giant elk in the above photo was always hanging around the entrance to our campground, usually foraging by the side of the road while dozens of cars slowed down or stopped to take photos (ok, myself included). One evening, as we drove back to our campground, with no illumination except for our headlights and the moonlight, we nearly hit this giant elk as he crossed the street in absolute darkness. Thankfully, we hit the brakes just in time. (I wonder how often insurance carriers like Geico and receive claims for damage done by ridiculously large animals).

I would love to visit Yellowstone again, although next time I would probably go during the winter, when you are less likely to be stuck in a traffic jam. I hear the snowshoeing is pretty amazing as well.

May 6, 2012

POTD: Big Sur

One of my favorite places in the United States; I’d live here if I could. That would likely require a few million dollars, though, so I might have to be content with moving to one of the larger California coastal cities and taking the occasional weekend trip to Big Sur.

The last time I made the drive up the coast was in January 2010. There wasn’t much traffic then, but in the summer it can be pretty crowded with droves of tourists in rental cars and motorcyclists outfitted in gear from surdyke packing the two lane highway, gaping at the amazing views and pulling over to take the occasional photo. On a pleasant weekday in the winter, though, it can be miles before you pass another car. The weather is still relatively warm during the winter (compared to much of the U.S., anyways) so it is a perfect time to visit. Pack a picnic lunch, fill up the gas tank, and bring your sunglasses – you won’t regret this roadtrip.

May 2, 2012

POTD: False Klamath Cove

Taken during a morning drive through the Redwood Empire located on the foggy Northern California Coast.

April 30, 2012

Snowshoeing Mount Rainier

Earlier this month, on a rare sunny day in Seattle, we drove to Mount Rainier for a day of snowshoeing. Of all the places we’ve gone snowshoeing this winter, Rainier has definitely been my favorite. Paradise was relatively crowded by the time we got there, but once we strapped on our snowshoes and veered off the main trails, we had nothing but deserted meadows to trek through. The clear skies and views of Rainier and the surrounding Cascade range were amazing. We’ll definitely be heading back here next winter.

More photos here.

April 11, 2012

Silver Falls State Park

Earlier this month we drove down to Salem, Oregon to visit my friend Erin (a classmate at the LSE) and her husband, David. We took a break from eating delicious food and drinking beer to visit Silver Falls State Park. As you might have guessed from the name, this park has a lot of waterfalls. If you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth stopping here. Just make sure you bring some rain gear!

More photos here.

April 3, 2012

POTD: Discovery Park

Yes, this is me being lazy busy and not updating my blog for two weeks. Anyways…

The above photo was taken on a beautiful fall day spent hiking around Seattle’s Discovery Park. Originally a military installation, the land that comprises Discovery Park was returned to the city in the 1970s and turned into a park. There are several miles of hiking trails and beaches as well as an old lighthouse (the West Point Light). This particular photo was taken from the park’s South Beach; you can barely see Mount Rainier in the background as well as one of Seattle’s many passenger ferries.

More photos of Discovery Park are here.

March 12, 2012

Cruising around Elliott Bay

The last attraction we used on our CityPass was the Argosy Harbor Cruise. The weather wasn’t nearly as nice as it was when we visited the Space Needle, but nevertheless the boat ride was fun. Here are a few shots taken from the boat as it cruised around Elliott Bay.

California Sea Lions at rest

California Sea Lion out for a swim

West Seattle

Seattle skyline

More sea lions

Cargo ship

USCGC Healy, recently returned from escorting the Russian Renda through the Artic ice to deliver an emergency supply of fuel to Nome, Alaska.

More photos here.

March 5, 2012

Snowshoeing at the Snoqualmie Summit Nordic Center

A few weekends ago we went snowshoeing at the Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center located about an hour’s drive from Seattle. It was our first time snowshoeing and we loved it; the snow-covered Cascades were incredibly beautiful and it was nice to get out and exercise despite the sub-optimal weather. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we ordered snowshoes shortly after returning from our trip.

Here are a few photos from that trip…

At the start of the black diamond section of the trail. It was pretty tiring.

The snow was a bit deep 🙂

Keechelus Lake

After snowshoeing for six miles we were pretty tired and hungry, despite consuming a bunch of Clif bars, so we stopped at Snoqualmie Falls Brewing to replace all those burned calories with beer and “super” nachos:

The rest of the photos are here.