Monday, January 26, 2009

Our Fair City

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I love Bellingham; today's pictures show a couple of the reasons why;

1) Nature: No matter where you are in Bellingham, you are only minutes, sometimes seconds away from stepping foot into a beautiful natural paradise.  Today's nature pictures are courtesy of Stimpson Reserve, where the lake has frozen over producing a number of cool effects.  And note: that's not snow on the ground; it's frost and ice.

2) Downtown: I love downtown for alot of reasons, one of which are all the cool and colorful buildings to look at.  I have shot a few of them and you can see them in this other blog post.  Here's a few more...

Our area also has a number of micro-climates which help to contribute to the interesting variety of pictures you'll see. For example, the official readings for B'ham are always taken at the airport. However, the airport is right in the path of the Fraser River outflow which means it's always windier and colder there. Sudden Valley has it's own climate (which is where Stimpson is) and then there's the Chukanut's which also have their own. Makes for a lot of variety. Today it was bitterly cold at Stimpson (Sudden Valley) as witnessed by the large amount of frost and ice.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

AUS Day 9: Fitzroy Island

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This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip for me, even though it could have been so much more!  Fitzroy island is one of the best snorkeling places I've ever experienced; however, we happened to catch it on the coldest day of the year, literally, and it rained/drizzled on and off most of the day.  Still, it was a highlight.

As you can see, we were all a little tired by this time in the trip and Nathan spent the ride over catching up on some Z's.

The day started with about a 1 hour boat ride out to the island.  Part way out, our boat slowed down and were informed that one of the engines was over-heating and as a result, we'd be going out there under about 75% power which simply meant a slightly longer boat ride.  Not much to tell about the trip over.

The island was something I'd never experienced before.  The entire beach is made of coral and everytime a wave receded it made a sound like wind-chimes.  Literally, if you look at the pictures carefully, the whole beach is coral.  This picture of Kyle shows the coral really well.

Once we got over the cold, we all got in the water.  Due to the rain and clouds the water was not clear or calm; still, the snorkeling was amazing.  I could only imagine what it would be like on a clear, warm, sunny day.  If I ever make it back to the Cairns area, I definitely will be getting back to Fitzroy.

Another memory was this huge school of bait-fish that was next to the boat dock.  We were told that the school was actually much smaller than what it was earlier in the year.  We were also told that we could snorkel right into the middle of this school and possibly see some "predator" fish; so we followed that advice and went snorkeling.  I managed to spot a lion-fish; very beautiful (and poisonous) which turned out to be a highlight for me.

Other highlights were watching the nephews learn how to snorkel for the very first time...even Andrew figured it out.  Speaking of which, those boys, especially Nathan and Andrew managed to stay in the water for hours!  The rest of us could only handle the cold for so long; and since we were on an island there really wasn't a good way to warm up.

Finally the weather really caught up with us and about 45 minutes before our departure it started raining for real.  This forced us all under the cover of the local "restaraunt" which, by this time, wasn't really serving anything.  Still, a highlight for me for sure.

Straight to all the pictures

Monday, January 19, 2009

Up to Artist Ridge

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First, a couple of pictures showing Whatcom Falls, which is still running very high (the flood gates are still open I believe).

Now, on to today - which was a perfect day for snow-shoeing...the only complaints being 1) I over-dressed (it was HOT - like 60+ in the sun) and 2) since there was no new snow, it was very icy.

We started off thinking we'd just bum around for an hour or two but once we fought through the crowds and got our gear on, it was just to darn nice to we made it all the way up to Artist Ridge.  The weather was amazing - we saw many skiers and snow-boarders in t-shirts and a few even in shorts.  It took us both about 100' to shed some layers of our own; no gloves, hat or jacket needed.  (For you weather geeks, it's called an inversion layer which simply means it's colder at low elevations and hotter at high elevations; which is why it was still icy at our house when we got back, and much colder).The views were as amazing as ever.  Literally, there was not a single cloud anywhere to be seen.  The highlight for Julie was feeding the birds up at the top; the camp-robbers always seem like they haven't eaten in a long time.

The drive up was interesting too as we saw first-hand some of the destruction the recent floods have caused.  It was very frightening in a way to see how much damage was done just off of the Mt. Baker Highway; as the mud line came way up in a few spots.  The crew was repairing the damage; all of it caused by what, at the moment, is an ankle deep creek about 5' wide.  I could jump across it at its current level.

All in all, a great day spent.  Don't forget to check out the rest of the photos.

Thursday, January 08, 2009

January Flooding - Pictures and Video

All I can say is, wow.  The latest from Bellingham?  Lake Whatcom is getting too high so they opened the flood gates at 2:00 PM today; that means that Whatcom Creek and Whatcom Falls are running extremely high.  I managed a few pictures.

First: Look carefully at the two pictures of Whatcom Falls.  One was taken 3 weeks ago, the other today.  Click on the pictures to see them full frame.  Notice on the snow picture, the rocks to the left of the Falls - in the 2nd photo, completely gone.  Also quite a bit more spray!

Second, after you do that, visit my website (click here) and see the video I took for the full effect of Whatcom Falls.  Turn the volume up.  It's a LOT of water.