This Is Madness »« Is There Anything More Pathetic Than Flood Geologists at GSA Meetings?

Yeah, About That Lighthouse….

It was barely bloody visible. No matter. We had one of those glorious, rare, clear, and very warm days that would have led to some spectacular views. Only, those glorious, rare, clear and very warm days have led to quite a lot of forest fires, so there was a remarkable amount of smoke in the air, cutting visibility considerably.

Sigh.

Still. ‘Twas lovely. The sun shone, waves crashed, and I got me feet wet. Not bad as far as possibly last adventures of the summer season go. I’d been missing the Sound. Our adventures this summer involved more fire than water, and it just seems obscene to live half an hour from one of the most beautiful bodies of water on earth and not get out to see it.

We went to Alki Point. From there, you can see just about everything round Seattle that makes it so geologically interesting. Shall we take a tour? We don’t even have to walk about much.

Discovery

We saw a lighthouse. Sorta. If you enlarge this photo by lots, you’ll see the lighthouse at Discovery Park standing at the very end of land, there. And you can see those wonderful bluffs I’m so enamored with.

Continuing on…

As we walked toward the sandy part of the beach, the Space Needle caught my attention, and then this set of steps with waves splashing exuberantly up against it, and the visual artist part of my soul grabbed my throat and said, “You will stand here and take five billion pictures of this until you have one you are satisfied with.”  So I did:

Splash and Space

If you look closely, just to the left of the Space Needle, you’ll notice the Cascades are visible. They’re mere shadows through the haze on the horizon, but they’re there. Seattle is a city surrounded by mountains, and sometimes you even get to see them.

Speaking of Cascades, we got a rare view of Mount Baker:

Mount Baker

It’s still weird to me, living in a city with views of so many stratovolcanoes that look like nothing so much as ice cream cones. It doesn’t matter how hot the summer gets, they’re always coated in snow, and they’re so adorably round. They probably won’t look so round and innocent when they erupt, but at least they’ll put on a good show. If Baker goes boom, I’ll probably hare off to Alki to enjoy the fireworks, weather permitting.

I mentioned smoke. It clung to the horizon, and at times did some very fascinating things, like stream up islands:

Smoke

And yup, the Olympics were out, too. They’re big. You don’t get a sense of how big most days, with most of them hidden by clouds, but here on a clear day, you get a sense of their enormity. And we saw a fire start up there. Observe:

No fire

No wildfire up my sleeve, ladies and gentlemen. Now I’m going to perform a distracting little gesture with, oh, say, my foot, and then poof!

Fire

We watched it grow from just a little wisp of a hint of smoke to this mushroom cloud. Here’s a better view:

Boat and Blaze

This appears to be the Big Hump fire, caused by some idiot, and busily munching along in the understory. It still amazes me that anything at all burns on this side of the state, but we haven’t had rain for a bit. Hence all the bloody fires, most of which are burning on the dry side of the state. Oregon’s got its own excitement as well. That’s what you get when all the biology dries out and things spark. So let me just say this right now, folks: no matter how damp a place seems, please be ultra-careful with any burny things. I know we geo-types joke about napalming the forest, but we don’t really mean it. Much. And we’d rather it not burn down, thanks ever so much.

Here endeth the PSA and the obsession with fire. Let’s feast our eyes on some color, shall we?

Colors

This is one of the things I love about the Sound: when it’s blue, it’s blue – but also green, all these lovely bright jewel tones that make the whole world seem just that much more brilliant.

It looks all inviting and stuff, but be careful if you can’t resist and dive in. This is northern Pacific water. That means it’s capital-C cold.

Moi getting cold feet

That’s why you’ll only catch me in it up to my ankles. I am a wuss. But a very happy wuss.

On the way back to the car, we noticed an extraordinarily fat seagull on the prowl. Do not leave bags unattended unless you want them filched by a fat bird:

Thief

I don’t know why, but I find this kind of behavior hilarious.

On the other side of the point, I caught sight of a cute little diving bird. I have no idea what it is, but did I mention cute?

Diving bird

How do I know he’s a diving bird? Because I watched him dive a few times. They stay under a rather long time, actually, and then pop back to the surface like ping pong balls.

The sun was starting to get a bit low, and you know me – I can’t resist a good glitter:

Glitter

Nor a majestic mountain. Mount Rainier completes our collection of Cascades volcanoes visible from Seattle:

Mount Rainier

The views round here really are remarkable.

And, if you try hard enough, and go to the end of an alley, at last, you will see a lighthouse:

Alki Lighthouse

And with that, summer adventuring season is pretty much finished. Nice enough finale. And don’t worry – there shall be plenty more pictures – we’ve had enough adventure to keep us in write-ups all winter long.

Comments

  1. says

    You should start a science photography blog. Seriously. I love your pictures. They always make me want to go on a walkabout. Seriously.

  2. says

    I bet that bird is some type of cormorant! They're the most ubiquitous diving bird the US has, and the profile is right. Man, those pictures are gorgeous.