Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Fall Foliage - Part 3

One of the things I like about my yard (although you might not know it by the care it hasn't received this past summer, or the summer before, and the one before that...) are the wonderful colors I get in the fall. The reds, oranges and yellows are bright spots in the gray, wet days that this season brings to the Pacific Northwest.


Oranges & Reds

Crimson Beauty

Maple Leaves

Japanese Maple

A few flowers are still hanging to the last vestiges of summer.

Unknown Shrub

Hardy Fuchsia

Monday, October 25, 2010

Fall Foliage - Part 2

Your fall foliage tour continues with our trip across Loup Loup Pass west of Okanogan, through the Methow Valley and across the North Cascades Highway.

More Views Along Highway 20

Traveling up towards Loup Loup Pass, the tamarack trees were in the midst of preparing for winter. The first year I saw this, I thought the trees were dying. Evergreens weren't supposed to drop their needles like deciduous trees drop their leaves. This is one tree that does! Yellow patches dotted the surrounding evergreen forests as we journeyed westward.

Turning Tamaracks

The Methow Valley had some beautiful fall scenery.

Welcome to the Methow

Birch Stands

Magnificence in Mazama

As we entered the Park Complex, the rain began to fall so you'll have to excuse some of the raindrops that show up on the pictures.

The outside temp was dropping as we got closer and closer to the pass. We could see the fresh layer of snow at the higher elevations but we still had rain where we were. Would it be snowing at the pass?

Heading Towards Washington Pass (notice the snow in background)

As we reached the pass, the rain was just a light drizzle and the temp was 36 degrees. The road surface was clear but you could see a light accumulation on the ground itself. Washington DOT had a plow stationed at the pass and it looked like it had seen recent action by the clumps of snow still on the blade.

Liberty Bell in the Clouds

Fresh Snow Capped Mountains

Now for the fun part. Two weeks ago when we came through Newhalem, I took a few pictures. When I looked back at them versus this past weekend's shots, I could clearly see the change in colors in the foliage. Can you?

October 10, 2010 <----------> October 24, 2010

I wish the fall foliage lasted longer because I do enjoy the colorful displays Mother Nature puts on for us. I suspect our trips across the North Cascades this year are numbered based on the weather this past weekend and the forecasted 24" of snow over the next couple of days.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Fall Foliage - Part 1

It was another gray and sometimes wet weekend on the eastern side of the Cascades. But with the trees showing off their fall finery, who cares?

I'll start off with a shot of trees in Darrington on the western side as we made our way east. My oh my! They were gorgeous! So much so that I asked Karl to turn around and go back so I could take a picture.

Darrington Display

Once over on the eastern side, I had the opportunity to get some shots of the fall colors around the Okanogan area.

Old Homestead

A Different Splash of Color

Hillside Home

Path of Red

Town View

More of the Trees in Town

Yellow Giant

Legion Park


Tomorrow, I will share more pictures from this weekend as we drove through the Methow Valley and across the North Cascades Highway. I even have some shots from two weekends ago so you can see the change.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Viva, Las Vegas!

A few weeks ago, I had to take a quick, two night trip to Las Vegas. It was mostly work all day but I did get a couple of hours of personal time. The last time I was in Vegas was probably 4 or 5 years ago and there were a few new things to see.

On approach to McCarren International Airport, I could see storms out in the desert area. As the plane banked again, there were more thunderheads out towards Lake Mead. Lightning was snaking through the dark clouds as the storm dumped buckets of rain below. Once we got on the ground, I could turn my cellphone on to try and capture the storm. Luckily, it was dry at the airport.

Taxiing to the Gate

Our conference was held at Bally's towards the south end of the Strip. This was the view from my room. Considering I wasn't paying for the room, no real complaints from me. It was a large and clean room compared to some I've stayed in.

Room with a View?

I had a short opportunity to "walk" out to the Strip in front of the hotel before meeting some of the others for dinner. It was a series of moving sidewalks and escalators to go from the hotel lobby to the action out front.

Walkway to the Strip

In Front of Bally's with Paris Next Door

After dinner and a quick meeting, I got to look out from the 26th floor meeting room of Bally's over the Las Vegas skyline. Nice view from up there!

Looking North on the Strip

Before I knew it, it was time to go to bed. No late nights for me!

Las Vegas Sunrise

The next day was spent in our meeting and then dinner with our group. Our group got to go to Spago's at Caeser's Palace. OMG! It was delicious. I had the most wonderful crab and avocado salad, mushroom soup, and halibut entree. Dessert was...meh. It was a chocolate donut with a scoop of vanilla ice cream concoction. At least the dinner itself was superb.

Nighttime on the Las Vegas Strip provides plenty of entertainment without going into one of the many casinos and clubs. This guy had transformed himself and was posing for photos right in front of Bally's.

Transformer Performer

One more morning meeting the next day and then it was time to head to the airport and back home. As we got closer to Seattle, I was able to see Mt. St. Helens, Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier from my window seat. Cool! This is why I like window seats rather than aisle ones.

Three Mountains - St. Helens (center), Rainier (left) & Adams (right)

It felt good to get home however and sleep in my own bed.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Fall Colors 2010 Caravan

Last weekend was the NATCOA 5th Annual Fall Colors Caravan, a trip across the North Cascades and back. Stops included Sauk Campground near Rockport, WA, Silverline Resort in Winthrop, WA, and Alpine Campground in Leavenworth, WA. This was the first weekend just about all summer that we didn't head for Okanogan to work on the house.

Six rigs departed from Haggen's grocery store in Arlington to head to Sauk. For once, we weren't the only Pastime camper in the bunch. A new member has joined with their Pastime! Yay!

Mini-Caravan Going to Sauk Campground

After a dry evening around a campfire, rain arrived during the overnight hours. The large drops of water from the surrounding trees interrupted any chance of getting some much needed sleep. Oh well.

The caravan lined up and pulled out of Sauk promptly at 9:00 a.m. Saturday morning. Look out Winthrop - here we come!

Lined Up and Ready to Roll

The journey from Sauk Campground takes you along Hwy 530 and the Sauk River. Then you turn onto Hwy 20 and follow the Skagit River up to Newhalem. It was a gray and drizzly morning but when you've got 20 campers traipsing down the road, who cares?! We're still having a good time.

Skagit River

It's a Little Wet Out

Entering Newhalem

Leaving Newhalem Along the Gorge

The first scheduled stop was the Diablo Overlook above Diablo Lake. We filled up their parking lot with campers.

Diablo Lake & Overlook

Our next scheduled stop was just east of Washington Pass. However, as we got to the pass we were greeted with the thickest fog and cloud soup we have ever encountered on this highway. Ever! The camper in front of us disappeared into it.

Where'd you go, Redgreen?

After some quick chatter on the radios, we abandoned plans to pull over and continued on to the next stop just outside of Winthrop.

It wasn't raining when we stopped at the pullout along the highway. We lined the campers up for the photo op before departing for Silverline Resort.

Winthrop Pullout

Not too long after we arrived at Silverline, so did the rain and I put my camera away for the evening's activities. We had one of the best potluck dinners. Almost 60 people crowded into the pavilion and EZ-Up shelters that had been set up to accommodate our posse of campers and groaning tables of food. Oh my goodness, there was everything from turkey and stuffing to delicious salads and scrumptious desserts. No one went away hungry.

After dinner, a rousing game of camper bingo was then enjoyed by all before the numerous door prizes were handed out. Then it was time for the campfire. Four of the EZ-Ups were hauled down to the group campfire area. We circled the fire pit with the shelters and stayed dry while Mother Nature tried to dampen our spirits. No way! It just made for better memories.

On Sunday morning, a majority of the attendees headed out for the next stop on the caravan in Leavenworth. Due to work commitments on Monday, we were not able to make this leg of the trip.

We did take advantage our of early departure from Winthrop to make a few stops along the North Cascades Highway rather than zipping on by like we normally do.

Our first stop heading west out of Winthrop was just below the hairpin turn at Liberty Bell and Washington Pass. We took photos of the area so our fellow caravaners could see what they missed the day before.

Liberty Bell

Back on the road again, we continued our journey west.

Approaching the Hairpin Turn at Washington Pass - Look closely and you can see another camper making its way along the upper section

Looking back down from the top of the Hairpin

Meadow Area West of Washington Pass

There is a waterfall between mileposts 136 and 137 that we've always wanted to stop at. So we did. The weekend rainfall certainly had an effect on water flow at the falls. Many pictures later, and a short walk with the dogs, we climbed back into the truck and continued on.

Waterfall Along the Highway

In the gorge just before entering Newhalem, the road threads it way through, hugging the step rock walls. There are several pullouts and scenic spots so we decided to take advantage of one. Normally, the riverbed is quiet below Gorge Dam. But with the recent rains, there was plenty of water being released from the dam rushing through the gorge. The rain also awoke several dormant waterfalls that we haven't seen all summer.

Not So Calm Riverbed

Looking Up from Near the Bottom of the Gorge

More Waterfalls

Winding Road Through the Gorge

It was a good weekend. Wet but fun. It felt weird though not to be working on the house. But we'll be back it soon enough!