Sunspots

It’s been a while since I posted my pictures from the eclipse.  This is a post of a sun picture taken on that day but I took this before the eclipse got started.  I was setting up the camera and the filters and I needed to get some shots to check everything was okay before things started to happen.  At the time, I noticed the sunspots on the shot but I was distracted by other things after them and forgot.  However, it was impressive to be able to see features on the surface of the sun as I was taking a shot.

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Sabreliner Testbed

The Sabreliner is a neat little jet under normal circumstances, combining as it does the wing of the Sabre with a fuselage for passengers.  This example, that now lives in the Evergreen Aerospace Museum in McMinnville Oregon, is even better because it is a testbed.  The nose has a new radome grafted into place to allow the testing of different radar.  Meanwhile, pods can be mounted under the wings to test a variety of different sensors and electronics.  Some of these different configurations are displayed alongside the airframe.  Good to know that after years of specialized service, the aircraft will survive in the indoor comfort of the museum.

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Lost Lake

Lost Lake is a within walking distance of the center of Whistler.  The trail from the town takes you along the river.  Once you get to the lake you can take a walk around the perimeter.  There is a beach area that is at one end of the lake that was a popular spot that day.  (You can park there if you don’t feel like a walk from the town.)  While the temperatures were not that high, a couple of people were even making use of the clear skies to do some sunbathing!

We too an alternate route around one side of the lake.  A trail was named the Upper Panorama Trail so we took it.  I think we were justified in assuming that this route would give us an elevated view of the lake.  I’m not sure if there were spots that you could see the lake if you went off the trail but, from the trail itself, we were deep in the trees the entire time.  There was no view of the lake from up there.  It was a good walk though and an opportunity to walk off some of the bakery goods we had been sampling!

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Lake Union Departures

The floatplane activity on Lake Union is fun to check out, not just for an aviation geek like me, but for plenty of visitors to the city too.  I have previously gone down to the lakeshore to check them out but, one evening, while driving into the city to drop a friend off, I was coming down the road on the hill overlooking the lake when a plane took off giving an interesting alternative perspective on its departure.  I figured this needed to be explored further.

The question was where to go.  The road I had been on was not one on which stopping was practical.  Parallel roads exist but there are buildings along most of them so the view is obscured.  However, I did find a location that had a clear view of most of the lake (aside from one building that was right in the touchdown zone!  I wasn’t around for much of the traffic but I did get to see a few arrivals and departures.  Looking down on the flights and having some scenery behind them including the cityscape rather than the sky is a nice change.  I may have to try this out again at a busier time.

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America’s Car Museum

The onset of shorter days and less reliable weather (or at least weather that can be relied on to be crummy) means day trips to indoor places.  Nancy thought a trip to Tacoma to look at the LeMay collection in America’s Car Museum would be a good plan and she wasn’t wrong.  I have seen this museum many times as I drive south on I-5 but hadn’t given much thought to it before.  A couple of days before Nancy suggested it, a friend of mine back in California told me he would be going there in the spring so obviously everyone else was thinking about it but me.

The museum is a cool looking structure.  An asymmetric curved roof based one a wooden interior frame, it sits on a hillside next to the Tacoma Dome overlooking the harbor.  The museum is on multiple levels so, while the building doesn’t look to extensive, it provides a lot of space for the large collection of vehicles.  I shall be showing a few specific examples of cars from the collection in upcoming posts but, for the time being, you can get an idea of the overall museum.

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The Candid Really is Russian

The Antonov 124 is a reasonably regular visitor to the US when outsized cargo needs to be moved.  It is often commented on as being a Russian plane but, while one of the operators is a Russian company and some of the aircraft were assembled in Russia, the design and much of the production is actually Ukrainian.  Ilyushin, on the other hand, really is a Russian company.  Their IL-76 is also operated for freight services but it doesn’t show up anything like as frequently.  Consequently, when a Volga Dnepr example was scheduled in to SeaTac on a Friday afternoon, I was pretty annoyed I would miss it.  However, it ended up being seven hours late so arrived well after dark.

Departure the following day was going to be a practical proposition for me (and many others as it happened).  The weather was not going to be ideal with low cloud and rain but, when the visitor is a rarity, you don’t get to choose whether to go based on weather.  Fortunately, the departure was a lot closer to schedule than the arrival.  I drove past the cargo ramp and saw it parked up and all closed up so did wonder whether it would go on time but things were working well and they headed out.

This aircraft was the newer variant with the PS90 engines and takeoff performance was pretty good.  I had worried it would be low on the climb out and not in a good position to photograph but it climbed well and was in a good position to get a shot.  I had a big grin once it had gone as did the rest of the people waiting for it.

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Skykomish

If you are looking for a place with a great sounding name, it is hard to beat Skykomish.  What a fun sounding name.  The town is a railroad town heading in to (or out of) the Stevens Pass and it provides space for trains to pass when traveling in opposite directions.  It supports the train theme for visitors too.  The old depot building is kept in good condition and next to it is a miniature railway that is available for public rides.  While we were there, a lot of the volunteers were around but not much in the way of customers, so we didn’t see it in action.  A miniature BNSF diesel loco was set up on the train waiting for customers while the volunteers also seemed to be working on some steam locos.  Hopefully, as the day wore on, they got more visitors.  (It was close to Halloween if you are wondering about the giant spider!)

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Every Morning You Great Me (Well, Evening This Time)

A bit of a crummy song reference for which I should really apologize.  Edelweiss is a Swiss airline that flies to Vancouver.  Their flight arrived while Mark and I were on the north side of the field.  Lighting is less than ideal in that location but, once the plane is passed and turning to taxi to the terminal, you get some nice angles and very good light options.  This was my first encounter with an Edelweiss jet and I was pleased that the livery is a bit more interesting than the average these days.

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Deception Falls

We almost missed Deception Falls.  I had put it in to the GPS when we headed across US2 over the Cascades but the GPS had picked up on the place I marked and decided an alternate road would get us close.  It did but on the wrong side of the road and that had a benefit we hadn’t anticipated which will be the subject of a separate post.  However, we had missed the falls and we continued on our way east.

When we made the return trip, as we got closer to the spot I had marked, we realized it was coming up and started to debate whether to stop or whether we were happy to continue home.  We debated for a while over this but, as we got closer, the sign came up for Deception Falls and, since we were there already, why not just stop.  Thank goodness we did.  The falls are really cool and they are right next to the road.  The level of effort is virtually zero for a great result.

The falls run under a bridge which you can cross but, aside from looking upstream and down from the bridge, it is worth looking through your feet.  The surface of the bridge is metal grate which allows you to watch the water tumbling beneath your feet.  On the other side, you can walk along a path that runs up alongside the flowing water.  You are so close to the water, you feel like you are almost in it.

Steps take you up to nearer the top of the falls where you can watch the water crashing down over the rocks.  All of this is just a few steps from the parking lot.  It is very impressive (and rather popular) so definitely worth the time.  We came away wondering how easily we could have bypassed this location and what we would have missed if we had done so.

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Tower, Requesting a Flyby

Another shot from the Portland Open House of the Redhawks and a gratuitous reference to Top Gun scripts.  In this case it wasn’t really a flyby.  Instead, the jets were launching off the near runway.  They were all doing a nice job of keeping it low on departure and they ended up pulling up as the passed the ramp and the tower.  A nice view as they pulled up with a few of them getting some vapor is they climbed out more steeply than the average departure from the airport!

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