Category Archives: Pacific Northwest

Spirit Lake

Sitting beneath Mt St Helens is Spirit Lake.  It was there before the blast but not exactly where it is now.  The debris that rushed off the mountain and the side of the volcano collapsed pushed down to the lake and actually raised it up a couple of hundred feet.  The water also rushed up the surrounding hills.  These had been covered in trees which, as the blast expanded outwards, got snapped off at their bases.  These stripped tree trunks got picked up by the water and washed back in to the lake as the water retreated.  The result is that there are now thousands of tree trunks floating on the surface of the lake making a raft.  This moves with the wind so its location on the lake surface changes all the time but it always covers a substantial portion of the lake.

The lake also covers the previous location of a lodge that used to serve visitors.  The owner of the lodge died in the explosion and the raised level of the lake now puts it above the lodge’s original location.  The owner had been advised to leave but he had lived there all his life and he wasn’t interested in going.  He was one of the many people to die that day.

Landing the Balloon Where You Can

I posted about the hot air balloon over our town in this post.  At the end of that post, the balloons was descending behind the trees for a landing and I was driving off to find them.  It turned out that I had forgotten about a field between the rail tracks and the highway.  I came around the corner and the ballon was on the ground but upright sitting in the field.  It looked pretty incongruous.

I was clearly not the only person intrigued by this as a bunch of vehicles had gone down the normally quiet road alongside the field.  The team was actually still burning as they maneuvered the ballon to the edge of the field to give themselves space to deflate it.  Most people got bored with the view, but I decided to try and get photos and video of the whole sequence of deflating the balloon.  The light was fading rapidly at this point.

A bunch of the crew grabbed the lines to the top of the balloon as the top vent was opened up.  The balloon started to sag rapidly but, once they pulled it over to a certain point, the vent was too low to let the warm air out.  Then they waited while another person gathered up the envelope and squeezed the remaining air out.  Finally, it sagged to the ground and the final gathering up was quickly completed.  By now it was quite dark, and I figured it was time to go home.  I am not aware that they use the field to land normally.  I wonder if this was a bit of an urgent landing as the light was fading fast and the low winds were limiting options.

Sailing Boats on Puget Sound

We took a walk along the beach at Shoreline one Sunday and the weather was lovely.  Obviously plenty of people thought it was a good day too and there were lots of sailing boats out on Puget Sound.  Some of them came in quite close to the shore before tacking away.  The winds was obviously pretty strong as some of them healed over pretty hard as they caught the wind again.  I love the look of yachts sailing in a strong breeze.

Downtown Leavenworth

Our trip took us onward to Leavenworth.  I wasn’t sure how busy the town would be given the time of year but there were plenty of people around.  The warmer environment downtown meant that some of the trees were still showing their color.  While people were everywhere, it wasn’t so crowded which meant getting some openness in the foregrounds was possible.  Preparations were underway for the Christmas lighting so I suspect it will soon be a lot busier.

Alongside the river at one end of the town was a rather nice looking hotel.  It had a hot tub in the garden in which a couple of people were hanging out.  Given how chilly it was, they looked rather incongruous but I imagine the water temperatures meant they were very comfortable.  It looked like a nice place to stay and, if we ever decide to overnight in Leavenworth, we might consider it.

Back to Coupeville for a Day Off

NOLF Coupeville was scheduled for FCLP training and strong winds from the Southeast were forecast which suggested the right runway would be in use.  I also had a day off scheduled.  While the rest of the weather was potentially not ideal, I figured I would make the trip.  Why. Not?  They were due to be flying from late morning but, as seems to be usual, it was just after noon by the time things started to look active.

I was worried about the low cloud base but it was actually not a problem.  The wind was really strong gusting 20-30 kts.  This was giving them some interesting flying.  Early on, there was a hint of sun sometimes which really helped the photos.  As they climbed out after each touchdown, the skies behind made from interesting backgrounds and showed off the heat haze from the exhausts as well as the streaming tip vortices courtesy of the damp conditions.

After a while, I got a visit from the Navy Police.  The young lad informed me I wasn’t allowed to photograph the jets. I pointed out I could be he was most insistent that I couldn’t.  Rather than have trouble I decided the stop shooting.  As it happened, the conditions got a bit worse anyway so I had got the best of what was on offer.  I just watched the rest of the flying which included quite a few bolsters and some sketchy touchdowns as the wind got stronger.

Keystone Harbor

On a day off, I was on Whidbey Island.  I headed down to Keystone Harbor, near Coupeville.  This harbor is next to Fort Casey.   I parked up by the campground and walked along the shore.  There was a decent breeze coming onshore. And the waves were starting to build.  They weren’t too much at this point, though.

There were some old structures along the beach that provided a bit of focus for some shots.  A little more swell would have meant some larger splashes around the concrete but it was still very pretty.  The contrasty skies really made it feel dramatic.

747s Over Kenmore

A sunny but cool Sunday afternoon with a bit of spare time on my hands meant I headed over to Kenmore to see whether there was any floatplane activity.  The answer was not much.  However, I did get something a little larger overhead.  Traffic in to Paine Field was running on a northerly flow.  A Dreamlifter made an approach and was followed a little later by a 747-8F destined for UPS once test flying is complete.  They both turned on to approach overhead the north end of Lake Washington so I got shots of them both.

BNSF Along the Shore

The beach at Shoreline is alongside the BNSF railroad tracks and there is always a good chance that a train will rumble past while you are there.  We got one while we were on a stretch of the beach that is tight up under the tracks.  I grabbed a few shots as the train headed south towards the city.

Hot Air Balloon in Woodinville

Heading home on Sunday afternoon, I saw a hot air balloon overhead Woodinville.  Passenger flights are a regular feature here but I was interested to see if I could work out where they were routing.  I decided to follow them.  I managed to get a couple of places where I could stop and get some shots as they flew above.  One of these was not far from home.  At this point, they seemed to be descending quickly.  As they dropped below the trees, it was clear that they were landing.  I wasn’t sure where this could be but jumped in the car again to see. Where they ended up.  More to come…