Thursday, April 30, 2009

Photographing pipes...pipe organs that is

Many of you might recall my involvement in photographing all of the historically significant pipe organs in the Puget Sound region for the Organ Historical Society's 2008 National Convention which was held in Seattle. My enjoyment of this project simply keeps growing as now I get to see my images used throughout the CD being made of the music from that convention. Having not been in town to go to the convention myself last summer, this will be a wonderful product for me to finally get to hear the stunning music the organists pumped through these pipes! Organists from around the world were in town for this event.

This summer's convention is based in the Cleveland, Ohio area. But there is another local event happening and I too am working on that program, hopes will have it. I'll know here shortly. If you wonder where some of these organs are located I'd be happy to share!

Monday, April 27, 2009

Western Trillium's annual kick off to spring

Many things mark the arrival of spring in our beautiful state. Some are not so thrilling to deal with - ticks and mosquitoes are already out with abundance at many locations in the state. But one thing that excites many of us is the “official” start to spring when the wildflowers of the lowlands begin their annual show. Over the past couple of weeks now one of the most beautiful wildflowers of our area has stirred to life: the western trillium!
While other wildflowers bloom earlier (such as skunk cabbage and palmate coltsfoot) the western trillium (Trillium ovatum) is close behind. It also is common to see it going by the name “western wake-robin” since it is one of the earlier species to bloom. I know many people who feel that spring really is here once they see their first one blooming along a local trail or on their property! We are very fortunate to have numerous places on our property where they grow much to our enjoyment. However, if you are not this lucky there are many close-by locations you are sure to see them now. Walk the Snoqualmie Valley Trail and they will be emerging along the moist hillsides and streams that you find in the semi-shaded regions. Most trails within the Tiger Mountain State Forest as well as the easy stroll to Twin Falls out east of North Bend all offer prime viewing. Likewise, they often are seen in large quantities on most semi-shaded moist slope along any hiking trail in the lower elevations of the Cascades. Very often you will see them growing along with ferns, salal, and yellow violets (which bloom at essentially the same time). You can certainly see where this flower got its name from by taking a closer look at the plant. Most of the structure of the trillium, such as leaves, pedals, flower parts, etc…) are exactly three in number. If not, they are in multiples of three. What a perfectly designed native flower! The flower grows from the top of a very sturdy stalk which rises out of the ground from the rhizome, which is the “storage root” of the plant.

I hope you get out and see some for yourself and while you are at it, keep letting me know what else you are seeing out there!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Mountains to Sound Greenway gains a missing link

I've been wanting to share some great news for our local land preservation this week but have been too busy to get to it yet this week. No more stalling! This week it was announced that a vital missing gap, a so called "donut-hole" along the I-90 Mountains to Sound Greenway, is being filled in. This 7000-acre region is close to being in my own backyard and will help assure this forest in the Raging River corridor is protected from potential development.

Read more here so you can learn more about this addition to our public lands in this weeks story about the Raging River forest acquisition for Mountains to Sound Greenway.

(photo: Rattlesnake Mountain seen along the I-90 Mountains to Sound Greenway from Mount Washington)

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Spring at the Washington State capitol

It got a late start but spring is finally showing off at our state capitol in Olympia. Finally after a few tries over the past years I timed a visit there for when the cherry trees were in full bloom. Victory! The grounds in the courtyard between the Legislative Building (aka capitol come building) and the buildings of the House and Senate were also finely landscaped with literally thousands of daffodils. Other areas to the NE of the Legislative Building had rows of tulips that were just emerging and would offer fine photography opportunities in another week or two in the morning hours.

After well over an hour photographing around the courtyard I did my typical visit to interiors of buildings and also used more time than previous visits in the Temple of Justice where the State Supreme Court resides. Something about that building really draws me. Maybe it is because there is hardly anyone in there compared to the zoo that is happening under the capitol dome outside of the legislature rooms!

(photos: Washington State capitol in spring; interior of where the House Reps meet; interior areas of the Temple of Justice)

Friday, April 17, 2009

It's out! Let Day Hiking begin in the Central Cascades!

At last, two years after I started hiking around the regions of Whidbey Island, the Stevens Pass corridor area, Lake Wenatchee/Lake Chelan/Icicle Creek areas, and much more...the last book of the full six-pack of Day Hiking titles is now available and published! Day Hiking-Central Cascades was a wonderful two-year project with my good friend and author Craig Romano. We shared numerous days hiking and talking together and even a full 4-day trip up to Stehekin in spring 2008 together which still is a highlight of this project for me! I hope many others are as pleased with the outcome of this 320 page book as I am. You can order it from the Mountaineers Books,, from booksellers around the area, or even from me if you contact me. I hope to see many of you at upcoming presentations which will continue throughout 2009 and into 2010! And while I'm beaming here today....keep a smile on your face as well :)

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I left San Francisco

Yes, it's true. While the popular song might state you leave your heart in San Francisco, I ended up leaving behind a sock last week on our vacation trip to that fine city! Ah, but the city too was so enjoyable to be touring around in for the first time ever that I can see why millions of people visit every year. My, how I will return to this fun place again someday as there is just so much to enjoy seeing! Staying near Fisherman's Wharf was a nice first way to do things, especially with kids. There is a ton to do there and while the shops are enjoyed by so many, including us, we also enjoyed touring the historic submarine there, the Maritime Museum would be a 1/2 day by itself, and we never even made it out to Alcatraz yet.

The Aquarium on the Bay was very cool with a tunnel of glass to walk through underwater,

and that same day took us SW of that area to the Pacific Ocean to enjoy the VERY excellent San Francisco Zoo where a five day old giraffe seemed to be the star for this family to enjoy! While other highlights included going up the Coit Tower,

photographing at Alamo Square the row of Victorian homes (aka The Painted Ladies), and of course driving down curving Lombard Street,

my son's highlight was roaming about another ballpark. How fun it was to photograph and see his smile as we toured around AT&T Park, home of the San Francisco Giants!

Well, back to reality and hopeful efforts by nature to bring on some dry warm weather finally around the Pacific Northwest!

Sunday, April 12, 2009

He is Risen!

Looking at today in Western Washington, you wouldn't see much brightness or hope even if you were a positive cheerful person - it's downright ugly outside and pouring! But...Happy Easter to everyone! While children may have had to endure indoor egg hunts (what's so wrong with having to look on top of church beams or under sofa cushions to find the eggs anyhow!!??) the rain today continues the "drab and depressing" spring weather we've endured for well over a month here. But today is is a day of great hope and joy. I always feel like Easter is shown through the sunburst rays of sunlight coming out behind things...thus why I enjoy sharing images like these. To Christians today is most special. It is also special in its own way to almost anyone if they let today present itself for what it can offer -- my hope to all of you is that today brings you great joy, peace, and hope.

If you are feeling like you are running out of options even with difficulties in life, may today offer you a renewed positive hope and comfort that you really can move forward in life and put yourself in situations where joyful things will occur.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Good Friday and a Happy Easter

On this holy weekend I extend warm thoughts to everyone. The somber feelings in the Christian world on Good Friday lead to the rejoicing power of hope come Easter morning. Whether you are Christian, Jewish, or non of the above, I hope this time brings comforting thoughts of great positive things in your lives. If your life feels as if you are in the dark shadows of despair, I hope the bright rays of hope burst forth for you soon! Make it happen, even if only in your mental state of mind - that is where it needs to begin is my belief.

(photo: sunburst coming from behind a cross-shaped tree in the Alpine Lakes Wilderness)

Friday, April 3, 2009

Turkey in the sky - and an April's Fool + 2 days

OK, what is going on here? Sure enough not an April Fool's joke, but maybe April Fool's + Two Days indeed to wake up with an inch of snow on the ground. Again!!?? My wife told me she would remove the wreath on our front door finally, but not until we stopped getting snow! That wreath does look nice there..... Ha!

In other news, today marked my first 2009 Snoqualmie Valley sighting of a Turkey Vulture soaring over the West Snoqualmie Valley Road. I've seen them as early as mid-March before but typically it is into April when I start seeing them. So at least something seems to be "on time" in this 2009 spring season we've had! This lone vulture was sure looking lazy and happy as it roamed over the fields of the valley. Soon I'll see groups of 7-12 of them at a time circling in the warm spring updraft winds! To some they are ugly birds, but nature's clean up crew are amazing Turkeys in the sky!
(photos: April Fool's + 2 days daffodil in yard; Turkey Vultures in the Snoqualmie Valley)