Saturday, September 14, 2013

Going to the Olympics!

I'm Going to the Olympics!  (mid August)

First Beach at La Push
So if you are going to the Olympics you need to be properly energized. Therefore I stopped at Poulsbohemian Cafe for coffee and a bagel while enjoying both them and a wonderful view of Puget's Sound before entering Olympic National Park ( After viewing their 25 minute introductory movie, among other things it gives you a sense of how large the park is and that it is one of the most diverse environments on Earth. Being late afternoon I decided to head west into the park and find a place to stay for the night. Along the way I stopped to pick up a hitchhiker. Just prior to opening the door, I made sure my knife was within reach, the shotgun was loaded, the 9mm cocked and the ejection seat button primed, just in case this 90 lb senior Native American was intent on doing me harm. 

I asked Jill where she was headed and she said home to La Push which is a reservation on the coast and where most of the "Twilight" series is based out of. It was a good 50 miles away and about 40 miles farther than I was planning on driving that evening, but then life has a way of throwing curves at you. So along the way we got to know each other, I decided to take her all way home and somewhere along the way she adopted me as extended family and opened up her home and life to me. So after giving me the tour of the reservation, which took all of about 2 minutes, we parked at her home across from the town's west coast marina and had a few beers while listening to Bob Marley and watching the sun set on the near off shore islands where many of the tribe's elders are buried. 

Later I met her daughter while watching movies on the couch she offered me for the night. And a little later as I returned from the bathroom I found her asleep on that very same couch looking snug and content with my pillow and blanket. So I wound up sleeping in van after all, but Jill made it up to me the next morning with a delicious hot breakfast of fresh Halibut, home fries and coffee! 

Mora Beach
She told me to stay as long as I like and when I hinted that I would probably be moving on she replied to "just do your thing". So my first thing to do was sit at First Beach on the "Res" and watch the boats come and go for a while. After a spell I headed south to 3rd Beach and eventually drove around to Mora Beach to spend a foggy night on the Pacific North West shore.

Heading east the next morning I made my way back into the main part of the park and visited Hurricane Ridge. It was foggy, overcast and a bit drizzly along the way, which is not unusual for this area, but it was enough to dissuade me from the bike ride I was planning and cause me to wonder if I would be able to see anything. However, as I climbed in altitude I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted with clear skies and views of Mount Olympus. From there I shot photos until the fog rolled in and with it plummeting temperatures. 
Mt. Olympus Sunset

The following morning on the way down I had to pull over for what seemed like the Tour de France. Gaggles of weekend road cyclists eager to descend at a faster pace than Mage and I were willing to dare while sipping my mornings cup of joe. 

Bainbridge Museum Art
My next stop was Bainbridge Island on the west side of Puget Sound. I had gotten wind that they had recently opened there own art museum featuring the wares of the Pacific Northwest Artists and decided to have a look. Overall I thought it a lovely little museum. The artistic media is very varied and they even have a children's museum. Something for everyone really. I suggest going if you are in the area and have an hour or  two. If you have a little more time you might also consider checking out the adult museum as well! ;p

Bainbridge Harbor Trail Sculpture
To ruminate on the art I followed the museum visit up with a stroll along the Bainbridge Harbor Water Trail while I killed some time before meeting up with an area meditation group. Afterwards, I ventured into Fay State Park on the shore of Puget Sound to spend a quiet evening with views of the Seattle skyline and the sounds of gently lapping waves. I guess I get a bonus point for helping a couple of young ladies set up their tent. Although, you probably have to deduct that point for watching them struggle for 30 minutes before stepping in to help! I probably should have offered to help sooner, but today with the whole "equality thing" I find it tough to judge the timing in such instances.
Why do we make life so complicated?..........

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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Fireballs and Ice, but no Rain on Mt. Rainier!

Mid August 2013

Milky Way, No Snickers though!
I got a late start leaving Mount Saint Helens, but as long as I got to Mt. Rainier ( by nightfall for the Annual Perseid Meteor Shower I couldn't complain. Driving through the park and scouting locations around this, the tallest peak (14,410') in the Cascade Range, I made it as far as Reflection Lakes and decided that it was probably as good a place as any on this iconic mountain of the Pacific Northwest to set up for the night. Judging by the group of other photographers there for sunset it was evident that it was a prime location. Normally I find myself all alone in some remote spot shooting photos late into evening, which is fine by me. However, this night would be a welcome change as a bunch of us crazy photographers chatted about gear,  inquired what camera settings we were choosing and recounted our latest expeditions while subtly patting each other on the back for making the effort to stay up late and take advantage of the meteor shower.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature wasn't cooperating very much as fog banks kept rolling in obscuring Mt. Rainier and the surrounding skies. One of the bunch, Jason, drove down the road and came back to say it was totally clear.  So Sherry and I packed up and followed him down there only to set up and have it fog in after about 15 minutes. I did manage to get a few "Milky Way" shots between the moving fog banks. Pretty quickly those two called it quits and I returned to Reflection Lake. Still fogged in, I was getting ready for a nap when I was surprised to see Jason pull back in, this time saying it was clear in the other direction. I decided I was done chasing breaks in the clouds and opted for the nap. Awakening at 2:30am I looked out to see clear skies. It took me about 2 minutes to set up and by the first shutter click the fog was back! 
Caught one Meteor Streaking over Mt. Rainier

The last two summers I was skunked by bad weather and cloudy skies during the Perseid shower and it looked like the third time 'wasn't gonna be the charm', but in the end I did wind up catching one streaking meteor as it tangoed with Rainier. Content that I wasn't giving up empty handed, I took another nap at 4 am. Then I was awake again at 7am for some sunrise shots with some nice reflections of Mt. Rainier in the lake. With the mystery of the name "Reflection Lake" solved I could move on. 

It usually wouldn't take much to motivate me towards Paradise, but this morning being short on sleep I needed to perk some coffee to energize and propel me towards it here at Mt. Rainier where it happens to be the epicenter of the park. There are many different trails to explore from there as long as you can find parking at this extremely popular spot. Otherwise your first and probably longest hike of the day will be from wherever you eventually park your car, back up to the trail heads. I walked a couple of them and was rewarded with very nice views of the mountain capped with glaciers, framed by waterfalls and adorned in vividly colored wildflowers. There was also a bit of wildlife including deer, elk and wabbit. 

It's sort of pretty up there!
Sunset found me once again at Reflection Lake where the water was calmer and the skies clearer than the previous night. Tonight it would be only Dave from The Dalles and myself holding down the fort. The clear skies had great potential, but unfortunately the meteor shower had already peaked and I wasn't able to catch any more still frames of flying fire rocks hurtling in from space. However, Dave had "app" which enabled us to predict two orbits of the International Space Station so I was able to photograph it streaking across the sky which when shot with a long exposure, incidentally, looks very much like flying fire rocks hurtling in from space. 


That nights nap started at 3am and ended at 6am awaking once again for some more lovely morning sunrise shots. This morning provided us with the remnants of a large lentricular cloud hanging on top of Rainier. Bad news for the climbers up there trying to summit, but good photography fodder for us.

And with that it was time to beat the lava rush and take my leave of this wondrously immense active volcanic bulge reaching high into the heavens.

With all my recent sleep deprivation experience and training  I was starting to feel  very adept at it, almost expert. So what better place to head to and test my mettle than the Olympics!? Luckily I wouldn't have to wait 2 or 4 years for them to come around, all I had to do was drive a few more hours northwest to the Olympic Peninsula

And just like with most Olympic hopefuls, your donations go a long way to covering training and travel expenses. They are greatly appreciated and graciously accepted !    ;)

Glacier Tears
 (But seriously, I have a Paypal account if your pockets are a little too full.)
 (Really, message me and I'll send you the address.)
(It only takes a minute.)
 (Unfortunately, it's not tax deductible.)
(But hey, were you really going to deduct $10??)
(Oh, you were going to donate $1000! Hmmm, maybe we can work something out :) 

How about I give you a percentage of any Gold I come away with......


For Photos and Videos please check out the following links:
Facebook      (A sampling  before someday posting to my Photography website)