Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Summer in Seattle

Well, summer is here and it's been hot, hot, hot. Unusually hot for our neck of the woods. Anyway, in the meantime, the flowers on my balcony have been putting on quite a nice show. Click here to see some pictures (Blogger is being stinky at the moment and won't let me upload the image)!

Update 1:04 pm 07/26/06:

Tuesday, July 25, 2006


I walked down to Fado for a pub night last night, and on my way, passed the construction site for a Four Seasons hotel. The location is great - right in the heart of downtown, with a perfect view of the water. And then I walked two steps more and ran into the Lusty Lady...

Friday, July 21, 2006

Mailbox Peak

When trying to pick out a hike for last weekend, my roommate (nyanko) and I had a few criteria. We needed to be done by early afternoon, and I wanted it to be at least a little challenging, since I'm kinda sorta training for a much bigger hike later in the summer (TBD). Somehow this led us to choose Mailbox Peak, for its proximity (satisfying criterion #1) and for its steepness (#2). I had read many reviews, I KNEW that it was steep (the trail gains 4000 feet in 2.5 miles), but somehow, knowing doesn't seem to placate your muscles when the slope is so steep that your heels are no longer touching the ground. Ultimately, we made it to the top, and it was well worth the work. The views were awesome (we could see Mt. Rainier, Mt. Adams, possibly Mt. St. Helens, Puget Sound, the Olympics, Seattle, Mt. Si, Mt. Baker, and Glacier Peak, just to name a few...). The wildflowers were some of the best I've ever seen. There were, in fact, two mailboxes and a newspaper holder on the peak, as promised, but the fire hydrant that I'd heard about was no longer there. Our much anticipated lunch was extraordinarily yummy, especially because nyanko brought along cherries. A number of people, using the trail as a training hike, got to the top, dumped out the water weights they were carrying, and headed back down after only a few minutes' rest. Crazy! The way down was about as slow going as the way up - just because it was so steep! I tried to take some pictures to convey the steepness, but unless you were behind the camera, I think it's still hard to tell. Of course, it was also slow going because I had to stop every few steps to take more pictures of the wildflowers :). Once we were back in the forest (having successfully skirted the giant talus slope that we almost climbed up on the first part of the trip till someone came by and hollered that there was a way around), we reentered the forest and started following the green dots (trailmarkers, in this case). We had actually taken a lesser trail for part of the way up the hill, which had been marked with a set of older green dots - since it's not a maintained trail, it was easy to lose track of where the main trail was actually going. Anyway, we took the correct (or at least, more used) path back down the hill, though it wasn't too much better. Things got tricky when we got to the part where the trail was not only steep, but also covered in gravel, which acted like marbles or ball bearings, and wreaked havoc on our exhausted senses of balance. I actually fell several times, but with no major injuries. By the time we got back down to the flat forest road that lead back to the trailhead, we were overjoyed. Despite all the foibles and glitches, we had a great time and I'm glad we did it. But next time, we're definitely going to find a more "normal" trail. Click here for some more photos!

Monday, July 17, 2006

Surprise! Lake

Two weekends ago I headed up to the Stevens Pass area again, this time to go on a dayhike to Surprise Lake. The hike started out with a gradual climb through typical Northwest forest, then turned up a steeper hill to gain access to the lake. The water was crystal clear and quite chilly (I went in up to my knees). We ate lunch and enjoyed the scenery, then turned our boots downhill to head back to the cars at the trailhead. I brought up the rear of the group so that I could take advantage of the many wildflower photo opportunities! Click on the image below to see some more results!

Friday, July 14, 2006

Cherry pickin'

This is the third year I've had my dwarf stella cherry tree on my balcony, but the first time I managed to get any edible fruit from it. The first year it didn't produce fruit (this is normal) and then last year the birds ate the unripe cherries before I could get to them. This year, on the recommendation of a labmate, I bought a net to put over the tree and thereby prevent the birds' access. I wasn't sure how to tell when the cherries were ripe... but when I noticed two of them becoming over-ripe, I figured that was good enough! I managed to get 15 cherries from the tree, all told, and they were delicious! Maybe I'll get even more next year :)

Sunday, July 09, 2006

4th of July fireworks

This year for the Fourth, I went to Elizabeth and Andrew's for a nice BBQ and then we walked down to Gasworks for the show. Despite having lived within walking distance for two years, I never did go all the way to the park for the show - but it was totally worth it! It was crowded, for sure, but hearing the music for the fireworks' choreography was awesome, and it was great to be so close. I took along my recently returned camera and grabbed some fun shots - click on the photo to see some more. These pictures came out decidedly better than the shots I took last year with my old camera, especially since that one could only keep the shutter open for 0.25 seconds at the longest. Thanks to Peter for helping me adjust the levels on the above shot. :)

I think the biggest hit of the show was the new type of firework that rose up into the sky very slowly, all the while sparkling away. Some people thought they looked like jellyfish, others thought they looked like UFOs - I just thought they were neat (and HOW did they do that?!)

Wednesday, July 05, 2006

Necklace Valley

Over the long holiday weekend I went to Necklace Valley in the Cascades for three days of hiking, camping, and exploring the valley's numerous glacial lakes. Click here to see some more shots.