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 attractions. There are many opportunities for photographers. A fortuitous one was this one where twin tugboats, the Gulf Titan and Alaska Titan, both built by the Western Towboat Company, were astride each other in the large lock.

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Twisted Fir


The Cascade Lake Loop on Orcas Island in Washington is a pleasant way to explore part of Moran State Park. Its most interesting feature is a twisted Douglas fir that seems out of place. The other evergreens all around it are straight and tall, making you wonder what traumas it withstood during its lifetime. Its shape mimics old junipers I saw in the Southwest.

Hope Springs Eternal


Spring is my favorite season. Winter chill gives way to a time of regrowth, awakening, rejuvenation and hope. Naturally, this is the time I like to visit local gardens.

Seattle has a little treasure, not nearly as well known (if at all) as University of Washington’s Arboretum, Kubota Garden or the Bellevue Botanical Garden. At the northern end of South Seattle College is its own arboretum, entirely designed, built and maintained by students. Within its six acres, surprises are at every turn. I saw signs of spring all around: azaleas and rhododendrons, flowering ground cover, bulb plants, new growth on evergreens, fully leafed Japanese maples. Admission is free. Spring is here at last!

Japanese maples

Rhododendrons, heather

Light and shadow (woodruff)

Crossing the border

New buds (fir)

Columbine

Pine pollen cones

South Seattle College Arboretum
6000 16th Ave SW
Seattle, WA 98106

Great Blue Heron


This is as close as I’ve ever gotten to a great blue heron. I also had a little help from a telephoto lens.  The snapshot was taken at the estuarine reserve called the Skagit Wildlife Area north of Seattle where on luckier days I might’ve seen thousands of snow geese resting or flying overhead.

What’s in a Tulip?


Washington’s Skagit Valley has some of the world’s great tulip fields. In April, hordes of visitors descend on Mount Vernon to take in the brilliant displays, a spectacle well worth the hour and a half’s drive north from Seattle. Admirers take plenty of pictures because the swaths of color never cease to amaze. The tendency is to take snapshots and move along.

But take a look inside the tulip. When the sun strikes the petals, the interior glows to reveal the most beautiful colors and patterns, another of Mother Nature’s wonders.

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Beast or Alien?


My 9-year-old grandson loves reptiles. He’s fascinated so much he takes pictures of all of them at the Los Angeles Zoo, every single time he visits, to the exasperation of his younger sister. It’s no surprise then that he wanted to go through the reptile (and amphibian) exhibit when my wife and I took both our grandkids to the San Diego Zoo recently. I find frogs more interesting if for no other reason than their extraterrestrial appearance. I saw this pair that look straight out of a sci-fi movie. I failed to note what they were called.

Update: the San Diego Zoo was kind enough to answer by email inquiry. This frog is commonly known as White’s Tree Frog, otherwise known as Litoria caerulea.

Icy Beauties


The Northwest experienced its first snowstorm of the year this week. Another is on the way. Despite being a headache for everyone, there are moments of beauty that take your breath away. These icicles formed under one of the eaves of my roof as temperatures went slightly above freezing during the day and the relentless drip of water created these spectacles.