Return Of The Forest

It has been over 30 years since Mount St. Helens blew its top: Thirteen hundred feet of the mountaintop collapsed into the Toutle River Valley. The explosion claimed 57 lives and devastated almost 150,000 acres of forests. I’ve wanted to visit Mount St. Helens for many years. Finally on Saturday, we took a road trip to see it. While it was a beautiful drive… I was surprised by the lack of trees and vegetation in areas closer to the volcano. Most of the new forests were planted — more than 18 million seedlings were planted by hand. And in some areas of the blast zone, you can still see a lot of trees lay where it fell from the blast.

The area was a photographer’s paradise. However, it was a challenge for me to get good shots. I wanted to capture the vastness of the devastated areas but since my widest angle lens is 18mm, it was difficult to get the feel. I decided to shoot panoramic so that you can get a better sense of the area. The panoramic image below was created using three images. Click on it to see a larger size with better details of the volcano.

For those who enjoys hiking, you can hike up to the top of the volcano. It’s about 18 miles round trip. I thought it would be awesome to get images of the inside of the volcano, but I probably need to get in better shape before I attempt the climb.

Here is a panoramic image of the valley.  Click on it to see larger image.

It’s Times Like This…

Saturday, I met up with my fellow WordPress bloggers: Mike, David, and David’s adorable daughter, Cait — our new and youngest member — for our second photo walkabout in my hometown, Bellingham. I wasn’t born there but have spent almost half of my life living in this little coastal town. After looking through the viewfinder of my camera all day, it’s times like this, I regret moving away. What was I thinking??

Ever since I saw Mike’s panorama shots on his blog, I’ve wanted to learn the technique. During our walk, Mike explained to me how it was done. Well, here is my first attempt at panorama. I created this using 4 images with Photoshop’s photo merge. Then I imported the image into Lightroom for processing.

The Big Boss

There was an uproar of applause, cars honking, and sighs of relief from a lot of people yesterday — when the news broke that Boeing was awarded the Aerial Refueling Tanker contract from the U.S. Airforce. Looks like current Boeing employees don’t have to worry about layoffs for quite sometime and according to the news — tens of thousands of new jobs will be added not just here in Washington State but across the country as well.  I’m happy to hear this since my partner works for Boeing as an electrical engineer. So it’s a relief for me to know he will have plenty of work for years to come. Of course not everyone is over joy by Boeing’s victory. I’m sure the other two competing companies are very disappointed by the loss, to say the least.

Here are some shots I took this morning at the Boeing Plant in Everett. I had to shoot these from a far distance. And could not get the close ups of the plane parts that I would’ve like to.

Winning this contract is definitely a “Dream Lifter” for a lot of people. I just hope they will remember to save for the rainy days… 😉

Forty Acres of Heaven

The City of Redmond is best known as the home of Microsoft and Nintendo of America. However, for us dog lovers — it’s best known for the “Doggy Disneyland” in Marymoor Park. The park contains over six hundred acres of recreational activities, rare amenities, and culturally enriching events. And forty acres were developed into one of the largest off-leash dog park in the country.

This is where dogs can finally be free to be dogs: they can roam freely, run wild, play balls, swim, socialize and sniff endless butts.

The park is open to all breeds and sizes. However, some smaller dogs might feel intimidated by the larger size dogs. Though, this dachshund seem very sure of himself against the giant, looking down on him.

Words of caution… the park is not fenced. So, if you are unable to keep your furry kids under control with verbal commends, you will find yourself chasing after them or worst — they disappear. Just because it’s a leash free park, you still need to keep an eye on them and have them under control. Also, don’t bring your furry kids if you know they can’t play nice with others. Other than that, the park is forty acres of heaven for your furry kids.

On Top Of The World

One thing about predicting the weather in the Pacific Northwest — you can’t go wrong with guessing RAIN. It’s days like this that I wish I could move to some place sunny and warm all the time. Even the Sahara Desert sounds pretty good right now. However, when I look at some of the photos I’ve taken of the places around here; I can understand why I put up with the rain for all these years.

Here are some snap shots I took of one of the most beautiful places on Earth: The Artist Point. If you see the place, you would understand why its name is so fitting. This beautiful majestic vista will take your breath away and make you feel like you are standing on top of the world.

Artist Point is located at the end of Mount Baker Highway, State Route 542 and boasts 360-degree views of Mount Shuksan and Mount Baker, as well as access to a variety of trails. The road to Artist Point is 2.7 miles long and more than 5,000 feet above sea level. It is typically buried under snow and closed from October through July. Typically it opens in late July when the snow have melted enough for the road to be passable and remains open until late September or early October.

If you look at the upper right corner of the second photo, you’ll see a trail. This 6 mile steep trail will lead you to the Mt. Baker photo above.

Here is a close up view of the trail. It’s a lot steeper than it looks. Good thing I had Max to help pull me up the trail. Judging from his ear to ear grin, he was a very happy pup.

Here is the view Max was looking at — Mt. Shuksan. It is one of the most photographed mountains in the Cascade Range. 

Max and I have spent many beautiful, sunny days exploring the wilderness that Mt. Baker has to offer. Our last expedition to Mt. Shuksan’s Lake Ann was unsuccessful because of  bears. I didn’t see the bears but Max could smell them. As we came around the corner of the trail, his fur stood up on the back of his neck and he barked viciously. At first I thought Max was just spooked by a squirel and I tried to go around him but he blocked the path and pushed me back. He would not let me go past. Max is probably the most friendliest dog on earth. And for him to behave that way, I know better than to ignore his warning. We turned back — even if we were only a mile away from the lake. We later heard from other hikers that they saw bears on trail.

Maximus, my protector…  terrified of the vacuum cleaner and yet not afraid of bears.

Snoqualmie Falls

Snoqualmie Falls is a 268 ft (82 m) waterfall on the Snoqualmie River between Snoqualmie and Fall City, Washington, USA. It’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is one of Washington’s most popular scenic attractions. However, the area is best known internationally for its appearance in the television series Twin Peaks. Unfortunately, the land is owned by the Puget Sound Energy, and most of the Snoqualmie river is diverted into the power plants.

The historic Salish Lodge & Spa overlooks Snoqualmie Falls. The original building on the site was erected in 1919. It was completely remodeled in 1988 and the fireplace is the only remaining part of the original structure. Besides the amazing close up view of the falls, I hear the lodge is famous for their fantastic breakfast menu. Although, it looks like a beautiful place to stay; I’m not sure how easy it would be to sleep with the loud thundering sound of the water falls roaring all night long…