Brain-Teasing Boat

B and I went to Discovery Park a couple of weeks ago. I’ve got so many very delicious photos to share with you! It was brilliantly sunny just about everywhere except for Magnolia, which was fogged in. The entire park was shrouded in mist and mystery.

The boats on the Sound looked eerily awesome. Most of them I could figure out: there was the ferry, with the sunlight shining on it through the mist.

Image shows a ferry sailing over a misty Sound. There's a glint of sunlight from the front that makes it look like it's got a train's headlamp shining.

One of the ferries – probably the Bremerton Ferry – with sunlight glinting off its front windows.

Ferries are dead simple to identify. They’re Janus-faced, looking both forward and backward, because they don’t ever turn around.

There were a few barges hauling freight, and even some sailboats. It’s been a terrifying mild January so far. Even that day, with all the fog, was relatively warm, and the breezes just right.

This boat, though… I can’t figure it out. [Read more…]

Reveal That Metazoan! Roadcut Reptile Edition

Oh, look, it’s a brand-new mystery series! Many of you seem to enjoy these puzzlers, and I’ve got pictures of animals other than birds and bugs, so I figured I’d expand a bit. Branch out to other metazoan families, donchaknow. And that’ll help break up the relentless onslaught of mystery flora. The sad truth is, plants stand still. Animals often don’t. Hence, we have a dearth of animals as it is. We cannot afford to ignore any of them just because they don’t fly or don’t have an exoskeleton.

Here to inaugurate our new series is a delightful lizard seen in that incredible rhyolite road cut near the Nevada-Oregon border.

Image shows a gray-brown lizard with horizontal black stripes on its tail clinging jauntily to an outcrop of rheamorphic rhyolite.

Mystery Metazoan I

Saucy, innit? And large! It was quite plump and long. I’m used to Arizona lizards, which were skinny little things about the length of a finger. This one was longer than my hand, and definitely looks like it’s found good eating, out there in the rocky wastes.

Image is a close-up of the lizard's face.

Mystery Metazoan II

Look at those arch eyebrow ridges or whatever you call ‘em on a lizard! I love their dear little faces. There’s something about a lizard’s expression that just screams superiority. It’s like they know they’re better than those warm-blooded young upstarts that went infesting the planet. They almost seem to remember a time when reptilia ruled the world, and they haven’t bloody forgotten it.

Image shows the lizard now on a different rock, facing down and to the left.

Mystery Metazoan III

This one seemed to be curious about us, and also quite pleased to show off the remarkable rocks that were its home. It posed here and posed there, and I snapped away frantically, wanting to get a few good photos in before it decided it had graced the uncouth mammals with its appearance quite long enough.

Image is a close-up view of the head, showing a dark charcoal strip beneath its eye and along its head.

Mystery Metazoan IV

So really look closely at that glorious animal. Note the subtle but gorgeous patterns in its earth-toned scales. Observe the insouciant ease with which it perches in impossible positions on its rocks. Drool on the rocks a little, by all means, but do please return to perusing the lizard.

Alas, it eventually tired of us, and swept away across a rhyolite boulder, vanishing into some rabbit brush.

Image shows the lizard clinging to a rhyolite boulder, about to dodge into some rabbit brush.

Mystery Metazoan V

Look at those toes! They’re so agile. Amazing little critters.

I’ve got more photos over on Flickr for ye. Good luck in your identifications, my darlings!

Baker in Winter

I’ve got a treat for ye! You’ll have to look close, though, because the bloody trees everywhere:

Image shows Mount Baker just barely visible through the branches of bare-branched deciduous trees.

Mount Baker from Lord Hill.

There are several places at Lord Hill Regional Park marked as scenic views. And they probably were, back when the park was first created. However, it’s the Pacific Northwest, and trees love to grow very quickly. In summer, this isn’t a viewpoint at all. In winter, if you’re lucky, and find just the right position, and squint a little, you’ll see Baker peeking through the bare winter branches.

Image is similar to the above, cropped to show the mountain better.

Moar Mount Baker

There are places you can go on Lord Hill where you get magnificent views, but we didn’t make it there this time. We were tuckered by the time we reached this. But there’s plenty of winter left, and there will be sunny days with bare branches, and possibly less fog. The Skykomish River valley was still full of it even in the late afternoon, and my portion of Bothell pretty much remained socked-in. The Sammamish River valley here loves to fog up, and refuses to unfog. We’d actually planned to go to Discovery Park, but a webcam in the area assured me we were out of luck there, too. But Lord Hill’s high enough to pop above the fog, so there we went, and at least we got to see a bit of Baker.

I love Lord Hill. It’s a knob of basalt, and basalt is rather rare in this part of the Puget Sound lowland. I drool over it. I also noticed quarries I hadn’t seen before, but unfortunately, one was rather densely coated in plant life, and the other was not situated in a way that my camera would deal with well in low light conditions, so no photos of those. Sometime this summer, though, B and I will do the transect across the park from the riverside quarry, and see lots of sights, and show them to you properly.

And sometime soonish, we’ll make it back to Discovery Park. I’ve heard the view of the Olympics from there right now is mega-fantastic with all the snow on them. And perhaps we’ll even see a UFD or two.

Mystery Flora: Winter Wonders, Plus Fútbol Fog

About the last thing I expect in early January is a blooming tree. I mean, seriously, tree, don’t you understand it’s winter?!

Image shows a tree with lots of skinny vertical branches. The branches hold bunches of tiny white-pink blooms.

Mystery Flora I

But it does not care. No, siree, this tree that’s growing along a serene Pacific Northwest residential street gives not one shit that it’s January, it’s going to bloom anyway, it can do what it wants! [Read more…]