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June 21, 2012

POTD: Snowshoeing Mount Rainier

While the rest of the United States is suffering from a heatwave, the Pacific Northwest seems to be permanently stuck in winter. Sure, we’ve had a few nice days where the sun has actually made an appearance, but otherwise we’ve endured rain and temperatures in the low 50s for the past few months. Apparently spring does not exist in this part of the world. Of course, no matter what time of year it is, it is always winter at the higher elevations of Mount Rainier. Although the above photo was taken in February, not much has changed since then. Most of the Cascade Range is still covered in snow as well, although the ski resorts have closed down for the season. If you are already looking to plan your winter activities for 2013, click here to visit

At a height of 14,411 feet, Mount Rainier is the tallest mountain in Washington state and is the most heavily glaciated peak south of Alaska. This isn’t your typical mountain, however. Mount Rainier is actually a stratovolcano and is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world due to its location near the most populated area in the Pacific Northwest. Despite this danger, Seattleites are appreciative of Mount Rainier, affectionately calling it “The Mountain”. On a clear day, Rainier provides a beautiful backdrop to the Seattle skyline and Elliott Bay. The recreational opportunities that Rainier presents are also unparalleled. Whether you enjoy hiking, camping, snowshoeing, skiing, or climbing, there is something for everyone. If you are visiting Seattle, it is a “must see” – just be sure to dress warmly, even if it is August.

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.

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 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.

February 20, 2012

Space Needle!

Contrary to popular belief, winters in Seattle aren’t a constant stream of depressing rain and clouds (although having grown up a desert rat, I quite enjoy the rain). The sun does occasionally make an appearance during the winter, as occurred a few weeks ago when we had nearly an entire week of incredible blue skies and sunshine.

Earlier this winter we purchased the Seattle CityPass, which lets you visit a bunch of touristy things for a ridiculously low price. With the appearance of blue skies, we seized the opportunity to use our ticket for the Space Needle.

Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the Space Needle quickly became the symbol of Seattle. At a height of 605 feet, the Space Needle offers amazing views of the Seattle city skyline, Elliott Bay, Mount Rainier, and the Cascade and Olympic mountain ranges. One trip to the top and you’ll quickly agree that this is the most beautiful city in the United States.

Downtown Seattle

Ships in Elliott Bay

Lake Union

Mount Rainier in the distance

The rest of the photos are here.

February 9, 2012

Hiking the PNW: Deception Pass

After a particularly long stretch of foul weather, including a week of snow and ice storms, we were coming down with a slight case of cabin fever. So, despite the cold and rain (this is the Pacific Northwest, after all) we decided to head over to Whidbey Island for a short hike at Deception Pass State Park. We hiked from West Beach to Goose Rock, and this has definitely been one of my favorite hikes so far (I just wish it were a little longer). The scenery is absolutely stunning – a combination of driftwood-choked beaches, small offshore islands, and old growth forests.

The rest of the photos are here.

January 15, 2012

Snow in Seattle!

I love snow. Probably because I grew up in a place where the average winter temperature is 74 degrees, so I never had the whole winter wonderland experience. We woke up to our first snowfall of the year here in Seattle. It doesn’t snow here very often, so the entire neighborhood was outdoors throwing snowballs and sledding down the city’s many hills (and, of course, there were plenty of idiot drivers out). Here are a few shots I took on a walk around our First Hill neighborhood.

View from our apartment. It started to come down pretty heavily around noon.