Saguaro National Park

Posted Jan 22, 2019


Posted Dec 01, 2018

This trip was a lit­tle bit bonkers. To start with, it was only $299 per per­son (plus a manda­to­ry $100 tip and the fee for a Chi­nese visa) for a ten-day Chi­na tour, includ­ing two inter­con­ti­nen­tal flights, two region­al flights, all our lodg­ing, and most meals. It was cheap­er to go on this trip than it would have been to stay home.

Six of us signed up, and we were matched with about 35 oth­er peo­ple from the same region, mak­ing ours a rather large group over­all. The itin­er­ary includ­ed sev­er­al days in Bei­jing before fly­ing south and vis­it­ing the cities of Suzhou, Wuxi and Hangzhou and then fin­ish­ing up in Shang­hai and fly­ing home.

How was this deal so ridicu­lous­ly cheap? We were told that these trips are sub­si­dized by the Chi­nese gov­ern­ment as a way to boost tra­di­tion­al indus­tries, and we did indeed vis­it many a fac­to­ry” (i.e. show­room), though no one was ever required to buy anything. 

We vis­it­ed a jade fac­to­ry,” a pearl fac­to­ry,” a cen­ter of Chi­nese med­i­cine (where a team of doc­tors descend­ed on us and with­in 90 sec­onds diag­nosed every­one with at least one ail­ment, cur­able with herbs con­ve­nient­ly avail­able for pur­chase on the spot), an actu­al­ly quite beau­ti­ful tea plan­ta­tion, and I know I’m for­get­ting a few others.

One per­son I’ll nev­er for­get, though, was Fiona,” the sup­posed daugh­ter of the own­er a jew­el­ry fac­to­ry out­side Shang­hai – she gave an Oscar-wor­thy per­for­mance in a pink poly­ester not-quite-Chanel suit and a per­fect school­girl bob, telling us how kind we all were, stam­mer­ing and pre­tend­ing not to speak much Eng­lish, and even­tu­al­ly whip­ping the group into an absolute face-claw­ing fren­zy when she said – damn it! – she would sell us a few spe­cial items at cost, whether her father became angry or not, because we were all so kind to her, with our big Amer­i­can hearts — not like those rude Chi­nese vis­i­tors who screamed at her and made her feel bad. 

But it was­n’t all shop­ping. The tour also took us to the Great Wall; to gor­geous tem­ples and gar­dens and parks and cas­tles; to the site of the 2008 Sum­mer Olympics; for a ride on the fastest high-speed train in the world; and down into the bow­els of a mas­sive under­ground mall burst­ing with knock offs of every kind and hun­dreds of tiny shops where you could choose and get mea­sured for a suit and have it made and deliv­ered to your hotel by check­out time the next morning. 

A sun­set cruise at Hangzhou bathed us in orange and pur­ple as glow­ing gold­en lights turned on in pago­das and tem­ples along the shore. A few days lat­er, a night­time boat ride on the Huang­pu, wind­ing through the cen­ter of Shang­hai, daz­zled us with the futur­is­tic, ever-mov­ing lights and col­ors of a scene from Blade Runner.

So many more mem­o­ries… Too many to list. This would have been an amaz­ing deal at many times the price. Fly­ing home, we felt a sense of grat­i­tude at hav­ing been lucky enough to have had this amaz­ing expe­ri­ence and adven­ture together.

Narada Falls

Posted Oct 13, 2018

Narada Falls, Mt. Rainier National Park


Posted Oct 06, 2018

Fall colors at Mt. Rainier

Sunrise at Mt. Rainier

Posted Sep 29, 2018

Looking south to the Cascade Mountains from Paradise, Mt. Rainier

Bridal Veil Falls

Posted Sep 09, 2018

Bridal Veil Falls, Washington
Sept. 7, 2018

A four mile hike near Stevens Pass in the Cas­cade Moun­tains leads to Bridal Veil Falls.

Fuji X‑T2, Fuji­non 10 – 24mm (10mm), 1 sec­ond, f22, ISO 200

Windmill Lights

Posted Aug 21, 2018

Windmills at night, near Goldendale, WA
Aug. 11, 2018

This is from my first attempt at astropho­tog­ra­phy and pho­tograph­ing the Milky Way.

Shot with Fuji X‑T2, Roki­non 12mm, 25 sec­onds at f2.0, ISO 3200.

Rowena Loops

Posted Aug 19, 2018

The Rowena Loops, in the Columbia River Gorge.
Aug. 12, 2018

Night sky near Goldendale

Posted Aug 13, 2018

The Milky Way, as seen from Goldendale, WA
Aug. 11, 2018

This is from my first attempt at astropho­tog­ra­phy and pho­tograph­ing the Milky Way.

Shot with Fuji X‑T2, Roki­non 12mm, 25 sec­onds at f2.0, ISO 2500.

Milky Way

Posted Aug 12, 2018

Milky Way, with Mars near the bottom
Aug. 11, 2018

I’d been want­i­ng to try astropho­tog­ra­phy for a while; a week­end spent in east­ern Wash­ing­ton was my first good oppor­tu­ni­ty. Gold­en­dale is a tiny town with very lit­tle light pol­lu­tion, and an obser­va­to­ry that I’d vis­it­ed a few years ago. We stayed in a cab­in about 15 min­utes from the town, and it turned out to be a ter­rif­ic setting. 

Lead­ing up to the week­end, I spent a good bit of time on the web­site Lone­ly Speck, read­ing up on lens­es, cam­era set­tings, and the need to buy a head­lamp (good advice, it turned out). 

The first night there, I was excit­ed to final­ly get to try things out but by then had for­got­ten a few of the fin­er points — details like how to focus in the dark. I did get a cou­ple of decent shots, but I was in a hur­ry, not to men­tion a tired from the four hour dri­ve from Seattle. 

The sec­ond night (shown here), I think I got it right. 

Shot with Fuji X‑T2, Roki­non 12mm, 25 sec­onds at f2.0, ISO 1600