Winter Thaw

Seattle saw a brief blizzard on Monday night that was on the edge of freezing over and piling up. But by morning, it stopped snowing and the thaw began. This is an excellent time to take pictures of interesting ice shapes and frost outlining many plants’ interesting contours. 

Ocotillo Tangle

The American Southwest has its share of hardy plants that evolved to survive punishingly dry and hot conditions. The ocotillo is as spiny as any cactus, although it isn't one itself. They sort of look like tall dead sticks splaying out from the ground, but they produce beautiful red blossoms after a rain. Look closely... Continue Reading →

Hidden Beauty

This is the time of year in the Pacific Northwest when irises bloom. There is a nice assortment of bearded irises in my daughter's neighborhood in Seattle. While they're gorgeous to look at, I never bothered to look inside the flower. This takes a little effort because the upright petals (called standards) need to be... Continue Reading →

Sunrise over the Pyramids

The sun had risen while at the Sphinx. I boarded the tour bus to go to an observation area to see the three pyramids of Giza on the horizon. It stopped briefly beforehand so we could all see Khufu and Khafre's pyramids close together. In one of those serendipitous conjunctions in time and space, Khafre... Continue Reading →

Temple of Karnak (Luxor)

The Temple of Karnak in Luxor rivals an amusement park in size. The grounds are so big that it can easily surround the great cathedrals of Europe: Notre Dame, St. Peter's, Milan and more. Started in the Middle Kingdom and added to over a period of 2,000 years into Ptolemaic times by thirty pharaohs, it... Continue Reading →

Hubbard Glacier is Defying Global Warming Trends

The first I saw Hubbard Glacier was from the upper deck of the cruise ship. The captain announced its approach over the PA system. Passengers positioned themselves wherever they could get a good look. I estimated that the vessel got no closer than a few miles because the glacier, the largest in North America at... Continue Reading →

Shakes Glacier Is Receding at a Fast Clip

At the end of a jet boat ride on the Stikine River is Shakes Glacier. It has the unfortunate reputation for being one of the fastest receding glaciers in Alaska, at a current rate of 350ft/yr, according to the Shakes Glacier Survey Team. Because of this, icebergs regularly calve from the terminus, some of which... Continue Reading →

Eagle Eyes

There are terms we use about which we don't give much thought. On the face of it, their origin seems obvious enough, it's just that we have no personal experience to give the expressions much tangible significance; they're part of the common vernacular. 'Eagle eyes' is one of them. I was on a boat tour... Continue Reading →

Departure Delay in Alaska

It seems the common murre, also known as a guillemot, needs a good head start to fly. With a relatively hefty body compared to its wings, departure takes a bit of effort and once aloft, it can't maneuver very well. If you were to suddenly stand up in its flight path, there's a good chance you... Continue Reading →

Twin Titans

The main reasons to visit Hiram M. Chittenden Locks are the fish ladder to see the spectacular return of salmon and trout to their spawning sites and the passage of seagoing vessels through the locks between Salmon Bay and Shilshole Bay. The Ballard Locks, as it's more commonly known, is one of Seattle's top tourist... Continue Reading →

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