Tag Archives: washington

Spirit of St Louis Replica

Arlington is the current home of a replica of the Ryan Monoplane flown by Charles Lindbergh across the Atlantic.  This is a detailed replica built over many years by a guy called Mike Norman.  It has flown a few times and they are increasing the hours on the airframe prior to taking it further afield.  I hadn’t seen it before but my friend, Bob, advised that it was due to fly on a recent Sunday morning.  The weather was looking nice if a little warm (heat haze) so I made the trip up to Arlington early on the Sunday.

They taxied out a little later than planned but not by much and certainly not when you are working with an experimental airframe.  They took off to the north and flew a couple of circuits.  We were a bit distant from it but not too bad.  I figured I would head to the approach end for the next circuit.  I got there just as they were on short final so too late to get a shot but I figured I would get the next one when they climbed out again.  However, the next approach turned out to be for the cross runway.  They flew close by while downwind but I was on the wrong side for the light when they were on final.

On the next climb out they left the circuit to fly up towards Bellingham.  This left a problem.  By the time that they were due back, the light would almost definitely be tail on down the runway.  I discussed with Bob the options and we decided to go to the south of the runway and hope they came that way.  As it was, they arrived back at exactly the time the light was aligned with the runway so the worst of options.  However, we were not far from the threshold and had a mountain backdrop on final approach so not too bad.  It is a lovely looking replica.  I hope to see it fly again, maybe in nice evening light.  I suspect it is easier to fly when the air is a bit less bumpy!

Foxgloves and Other Wildflowers

Just around the corner from our street is a wilder section of the road which currently has a lot of Foxgloves in bloom.  I wandered around with camera in hand to take some photos.  The bees were busy doing there thing but much patience was required because, whichever flower I decided to focus on, the bees concluded another one was what they wanted.  I spent a lot of time only for them to choose the flowers either side of mine!

The bees were not only interested in the foxgloves.  One particularly large looking bee was really going to town on another flower and I wondered whether he had had so much that he might not be able to get airborne again.  I guess rolling off the edge of the flower gained him so airspeed – enough to stagger back into the air!

A Better Go at a Prime Air 737

In this recent post, I showed a shot of an Amazon Prime Air 737.  With a bit more notice and better timing from an availability point of view, I saw that another jet was coming in to Paine Field from Anchorage.  It was being delivered from the conversion line in China and would have the finishing touches taken care of by ATS at Everett.  I was there and set up in plenty of time – except… I had one camera ready to go but the other one had been previously used for some video at home and was on manual focus.  I was shooting with the 500mm initially and all was well.  As the jet got closer, I switched to the 100-400 and everything was wrong.  Nothing would focus.  It seemed like forever but I must have realized fast and flicked the focus switch because I was able to shoot it as it came level with me and crossed the threshold.  What an amateur mistake.  Fortunately, I got away with it!

Ryanair Subsidiary Buzz

Ryanair has a subsidiary based in Poland that it has been rebranded as Buzz.  I must admit I knew nothing about this until, on my way back home from a meeting south of Seattle, I stopped off at Renton to see what was on the flight line.  A Ryanair jet was parked up and next to it was a Buzz jet.  It still had some taped markings on it but it was basically finished in Buzz colors and registered in Poland.  Obviously it won’t be going to them for a little while longer but, once the grounding is lifted, it should be heading to Eastern Europe.

Tunnels on the Great Northern Railway

More from our hike on the Iron Goat Trail.  I described the snow sheds in this post previously.  There were some areas of the route that suffered such regular disruption that an alternative solutions was needed.  When the track got taken out, trains could get stuck in the mountains, sometimes for days while things got repaired.  One of the trestle bridges was washed away in a land slide and, since this wasn’t the first time, the chosen solution was to cut new tunnels.

A tunnel was also cut at Windy Point to avoid a tight curve on an exposed promontory.  These tunnels are still there.  They were cut from the rock by hand.  Timber linings were inserted to prevent anything falling on to the track but the timbers are no long gone in most areas.  However, you do see a few pieces lying at odd angles in places.  There are also some access tunnels that were used for the crews to access the tunnel during construction allowing multiple faces to dig at the same time to speed construction.  It must have been tough work up on the mountains in all weathers hacking through the rock to build this.

The tunnels are not considered safe to enter these days.  Some are blocked by falls.  I wasn’t interested in heading in there anyway.  I wasn’t equipped for it and the hike was why we were there.  However, I did peak in to the entrances of several tunnels to see where they had been cut in to the rock faces.  We had made an easy drive to get to this location followed by a simple walk but, when this was all being built, this was the middle of nowhere.  The process of picking an alignment and building it all from scratch is most impressive.  Ultimately, a new Cascades tunnel was cut and the train no longer needed to take this route.  Instead of turning up on to the lower grade, trains now continue up the valley and enter the new tunnel to head east.

Piper Aztec on Floats

Tucked inside the fence at Renton was something I don’t think I have seen before.  It was a Piper Aztec on amphibious floats.  No reason why an Aztec wouldn’t be on floats but it isn’t something I have seen before.  I would certainly like to see it on the water at some point.  Sadly, because it was tight to the fence, my best option was to use the phone to get the shot!

Trees Growing Out of the Rock

When starting up at rocky mountainsides, it is easy to spot trees that seem to be doing an amazing job of growing out of somewhere that looks like it shouldn’t be possible.  Normally I am a lot further away that is practical to get a good look at how they do this.  However, while hiking in the Cascades, we came across a spot right next to the trail where some trees were growing right out of the rocks next to us.  It was so cool to see how they develop a root structure in solid rock from which they can grow and flourish.  Here are a couple of shots to show how they have successfully embedded themselves in a rocky surface.

Snow Shed Remains

Our hike on the Iron Goat Trail was more than just exercise.  It proved to be quite an educational experience.  There were many relics of the old railroad and a lot of signs telling the tale of how the railroad was built and why it was abandoned later.  The Cascades get a lot of snow and in the early 20th century, the snow depths in winter were a lot more than they are now.  It was not uncommon to get 15-20 feet of snow along this part of the alignment in those days.

This snow caused trouble with avalanches as a result of the amount of trees that had been cut for timber when building the railway.  Landslides were also a problem in other seasons.  To protect from the snow, sheds were built over the track at places most vulnerable to avalanche.  This practice is continued to this day in the mountainous areas of US railroads.

These snow sheds had a reinforced concrete wall on the uphill side.  A timber structure was then built out over the track to provide cover with concrete bases for the supporting timbers on the downhill side of the structure.  Most of the timbers have either been removed for reuse or have decayed after a century up on the mountainside.  The concrete walls are still in reasonable shape.  Some spalling of the concrete has occurred but otherwise they look solid.  A lot of plant life has grown over them and they do have water cascading over the top in many places.  The bases for the timber supports are still visible in many places.

There are many of these sections along the trail.  The first one you come across is quite a surprise but, after you have seen a few of them, they start to be normal when you get to another section.  They are pretty large structures though.

Montlake Bridge Opening

Our days living in Chicago included a lot of bridge raising experiences.  The bascule bridges along the Chicago River were a constant source of interest to me and, despite seeing them raise regularly during the spring and fall boat runs, I never got bored of it.  There are a bunch of bascule bridges in the Seattle area too.  One of the older ones is the bridge across the Montlake Cut near the University of Washington.

I took a bike ride that cross Lake Washington on the 520 bridge and that then turned up to the university and across the Cut.  Just as I started across the bridge, the warning tones started.  I was already heading across so didn’t stop but, once on the other side, I did pause to watch the bridge open.  It took me right back to my Chicago days.  I didn’t wait for it to lower again because I wanted to keep going on my ride but a fun thing to see again.  I imagine the traffic backups make the bridge openings a little less popular with motorists and I suspect I would have been a bit miffed if I had been a few seconds later!  I hope they turn the power off for the wires!

Iron Goat Trail Hike

With the weather nice and a holiday weekend upon us, we wanted to get out and get some exercise while staying away from the crowds that seemed to have forgotten about a pesky virus.  We took a trip up into the Cascades to check out the Iron Goat Trail.  I shared a picture of the caboose at the trailhead a couple of years ago in this post.  This time we decided to stretch our legs a bit more.  The trail is a pretty straightforward one for a lot of it because it is an old railroad right of way.  Consequently, the grade is gentle.  However, the connection sections are a different story.

The lower grade section is a lot more clear and wide so makes for a very easy stroll.  The upper section was more heavily overgrown when we were there and the trail was a bit of a test of faith at times.  The path was probably down there!  It also went across some of the old railway infrastructure so a couple of narrow concrete sections were negotiated.  However, the upper grade did provide some lovely views of the surrounding mountains.

The railway needed some significant infrastructure elements to make it functional.  These will be the source of some follow up posts because they are interesting enough on their own.  In the mean time, I shall share some shots here of the run through the wooded areas and the views across the Cascades that we had on a lovely July day.  I think a return trip is in order.  However, I suspect we won’t do the same route as this time because we ended up covering nearly nine miles and some very steep ascents and descents so were a bit bushed by the end of it.  I will pick the route sections a bit more selectively next time!