Salt Beds

The south end of San Francisco Bay has a number of areas that are encircled with walls that allow the water to be cut off.  These are used to dry out salt beds for harvesting.  The sun evaporates the water and the salt is left when all the water is gone.  After harvesting, the tide can be allowed to flood the beds again and the process repeated.  One cool thing about these beds is that, presumably as a result of algae, they can turn some interesting colors as the water evaporates.  I was flying in to SFO for work and we turned right over the beds on to the approach.  With the sun out, the colors looked excellent.

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Gulfstream Addition to Skyfair

SkyFair was a great time to see a bunch of warbirds flying around.  It didn’t stop the normal operations of the airport though.  As the day wore on, a Gulfstream made an arrival.  It didn’t do anything special for the remaining crowds but it was still something a little different to add to what had been a great day.

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Another Preserved Loco

Preserved locomotives seem to appear in a lot of towns in Washington and Newhalem was no exception.  This old steam locomotive seemed to be particularly well preserved given the rugged location it lives in for a good chunk of the year.  I assume Seattle City Light has enough cash to keep it looking good for the many visitors to the town.  Indeed, getting a shot of it without someone climbing all over it took a bit of patience!

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Have you ever heard of an airline called Starflyer before?  If you have, you are one up on me.  I saw these guys at Haneda in Tokyo.  I didn’t know anything about them but the black livery they apply to their A320s does make them stand out from the crowd.  A few of the planes came in and out while I was there.  I guess now I know!

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Amazon Spheres

When Chris and Sam visited, Sam had a list of things she wanted to do.  I have to admit that one of those things I had no idea existed until she mentioned it.  Having been here eighteen months and also having been through the area involved a couple of times, this was a bit embarrassing.  The subject is the Amazon Spheres.  Amazon seems to control a lot of territory in Seattle these days but, while most of this is in traditional office space, the Spheres are something different.

They are an environmental space that encompasses a wide range of plant life.  It is designed to be used by employees as they have meetings or not to work alone for a while.  They can relax in these spaces.  At the weekends, though, it is sometimes made available for the public to visit for free.  You just have to book a slot.  We didn’t know about this when Sam and Chris were here so we only saw them from the outside.  However, we did then know a little more and were able to plan a visit when Tom and Lenore came to stay.

The interior of the Spheres is something that you can guess at when you are looking from outside but being inside is totally amazing.  The huge diversity of plant types throughout the space is incredible.  The engineering of the spheres themselves and of the stairs and walkways within are very cool to someone with that sort of background like me.  The ability to sustain the plants and keep them fed and watered is impressive and every turn takes you to something new and interesting.  Couple that with some cool workspaces for the staff to use for meetings and you have a unique building complex.  I would happily go back there on another occasion just to hang out and relax while possibly photographing more of the plants.  I could probably have multiple posts of shots from this place but I shall make do with a combination of architectural shots and some of the plants for now.  If you are planning on coming to Seattle, try and time it to coincide with one of the open weekends and give yourself enough time.

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FedEx Coming Through the Clouds

Clouds are not a rarity in the Seattle area but we do actually have lots of nice weather in the summer.  You will still get plenty of clouds though and these can be nice to see with the arriving jets.  A FedEx MD-11 was turning on to its approach over Kenmore when I was down at the lake and I looked up to see it popping in and out of the clouds above.  It was pulling a little vapor of its own but the way it seemed to be peeping through the clouds caught my eye so I grabbed a few shots.

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Newhalem is a company town.  It seems to exist purely for Seattle City Light – I assume they are the operators of the three dams on the river with the associated power generation capacity.  The town doesn’t seem terribly large and the housing looked like it was for the power workers.  Even so, the small downtown area was worthy of a walk around.

Aside from the local shops and parks, more of which will appear later on the blog, there was a suspension bridge across the river.  It led to a trail through the woods which, had we had more time, we would definitely have explored.  Instead we appreciated the views of the river, the bridge itself and some of the local buildings including one which was once a hotel but is now a museum – sadly closed on the day we visited.

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Trailing Some Streamers

San Francisco Bay tends to provide a bit of moisture in the air that shows up as vapor clouds in the trailing vortices of approaching airliners.  Before the planes reach Coyote Point, they are often trailing these streamers but, as they get closer to the airport, something about the conditions must change as they do seem to peter out.  However, on some occasions, the moisture content must have been higher as the streamers lasted longer.

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Some Humpback Fluke Action

We took a trip out to go whale watching while we had some visitors staying with us.  The trip departed from Edmonds and proved to be a great day out.  Our first encounter was with some humpbacks.  We have had some great humpback spotting previously and they got a post here from one of those events.  This time we came across a couple of them feeding in the waters of Puget Sound.  A couple of times we were nice and close when the whales dived.  The humpback is great for getting a view of the fluke as they dive deeper.  Here are a couple of fluke shots I got.  The flukes are the way that the scientists are able to identify the whales since they are quite individual.

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Space Needle Air Traffic

The top of the Space Needle is a good place to watch the floatplane traffic in to Lake Union.  They tend to fly really close by.  Shooting through the glass is not ideal but the passing Otters are too good to pass up.  If you can, getting to the gaps between the glass is a good idea but it is hard to do this and get a good angle on the planes as they pass.  Boeing also helped out with an Oman Air 737 Max taking off from Boeing Field and coming our way.

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