Seattle and Snoqualmie Falls: Pacific Northwest Spring Adventure Part 1

Posted on May 14, 2015 by Mickey

Earlier this year, my job gave me the opportunity to go to a one-day web design conference called An Event Apart in Seattle, WA at the beginning of April. The conference was great, and as I have always loved the Pacific Northwest, there was no way I wasn’t going to add some vacation days to the trip and visit a place I’ve always wanted to see: Vancouver Island! The conference was scheduled for April 1, so my wife and I booked plane tickets for March 31st through April 6th to Seattle. I spent two months pouring over places on Vancouver Island and area’s near Vancouver. I had driven through Vancouver once before back in the summer of 2012. But that was at the end of a VERY long day, of which I wrote about recently in my Canadian Rockies travel blog article.

After researching for many hours, our trip was settled. The first two nights were in Seattle, as I had the conference on Wednesday, April 1st. We would arrive around 10AM on Tuesday and explore Olympic National Park on a long day trip to the Olympic peninsula and then head back to crash. My wife would explore Seattle while I was at my conference. On Thursday, we would leave Seattle for Vancouver Island. We found a great BC Ferries Vacations package that included round trip ferry transportation from Vancouver to Vancouver Island and two nights at Water’s Edge in Ucluelet. Afterwards, we would make our way back to the mainland, spend a night in Squamish to explore the Sea to Sky Highway a little bit, then stay in Vancouver the final night before driving back to Seattle on Monday morning to fly home that evening.

The night before our flights, I received an Email from United Airlines asking to call for a special offer. I had a feeling of what it was, so I gave them a call. We were offered $250 each (minus the cost of a required upgrade to Economy Plus) to alter our flight plans. Instead of flying out at 6:30, we would leave Wichita around 7:30 and have a stop-over in Chicago rather than Denver. We would arrive in Seattle 4 hours later than we originally planned, effectively ending the Olympic National Park daytrip (which was honestly pretty ambitious to do in a day). The only catch was that economy from Chicago to Seattle was full, so we’d have to take a economy plus seat and pay for it out of the $500. All in all, we received about $380 in flights to use later in the year to show up four hours later in Seattle.

We took it. The next morning, we were off for the Pacific Northwest and my wife’s first trip out of the country! The flights were uneventful, and we arrived at Seattle on time. We jumped in our rental car and decided to hit up Snoqualmie Falls. After grabbing some Jack-In-Box for a late lunch, we arrived at Snoqualmie Falls, excited to see these beautiful waterfalls! After admiring their power and beauty, I pulled the camera out to attach to my tripod and realized something dreadful. I had left my tripod to camera connector at home. I had taken it off to have the camera cleaned a few days before and never put it back on.

Spring at Snoqualmie Falls
Spring at Snoqualmie FallsPrints Available
Snoqualmie Falls flows heavily at spring

The plan was to head back to the hotel and call some camera stores and see who carried it. I tried Glazer’s Camera and Tall’s Camera, among a few others. They were all helpful, but all of them said my tripod model required a specific connector mount that I would probably have to order online. I was dejected. We were about to check out some of the most amazing scenery in the world, and I had no tripod to work with. I tried one more camera store called Omega Photo & Camera store and got dumb lucky. They carried it! They were closing in a few minutes, so the plan was to go get it after my conference the next day, and then continue on so I could photograph Snoqualmie Falls, as the camera store was halfway back out to the falls. My wife had a headache and had been resting in bed at the hotel, so I drove to find the conference center for the next morning, and picked up a White Album pizza at Zeek’s Pizza which was one of the best decisions I could have made. I love white sauce pizzas, and the mozzarella, parmesan, fresh oregano on alfredo sauce was a delicious combination! I was starving and that was some good pizza. My wife woke up to eat some and then we crashed for the night.

The next day, the conference was great. It was held in the Bell Harbor International Conference Center, which was right on the harbor in a beautiful location. This post isn’t really about the conference, even though it was great. But I will say it was refreshing to sit outside at lunch and admire the scenery out over the harbor during one of the few times that it wasn’t cloudy and rainy. After the conference, I picked my wife up, who had been shopping in downtown Seattle. We drove to get the tripod connector for my camera, picked up dinner and different places to take to Snoqualmie Falls. It was mostly cloudy and drizzling at times when we got there. But the drizzle was overpowered by the spray of the falls as I shot. You can see that water was pouring over the falls pretty good in the shots above and below.

Snoqualmie Falls
Snoqualmie FallsPrints Available
The powerfall waterfalls at Snoqualmie Falls

After we had our fill at Snoqualmie Falls, I took my wife to where my conference had been earlier in the day, so we could walk around the area down near the harbor for a little bit. The view from the top of the Bell Harbor International Conference Center is one many others have captured before. I love night shots and so I captured the image from the top of the conference center, and also from a walkway above Alaska Way with car lights below.

Streets of Seattle
Streets of SeattlePrints Available
The rainy night-time streets of Seattle are lit up by a timelapse of cars below a walkway over the Bell Harbor International Conference Center
Seattle at Night
Seattle at NightPrints Available
The lights of Seattle at night

We crashed at the hotel again. At this point, I regretted trying to go the cheap route and staying 20 minutes away from the Bell Harbor Conference Center at a Best Western that wasn’t really the best hotel. The hotel next to the Conference Center that most people stayed out would be have been a great location to base from to see some of the cool Seattle sights. It would have also been helpful for my wife to walk everywhere when I had been at the conference.

Morning in Seattle
Morning in SeattlePrints Available
A beautiful sunrise in Seattle atop the Bell Harbor International Conference Center

I awoke the next morning and drove back to the Conference Center area to shoot a sunrise in Seattle that can be found above. After eating out continental breakfast, we were off. Our real adventure was about to start! Off to rugged west coast of Vancouver Island and the Pacific Rim National Park! Read about that in the Vancouver Island blog post!

Posted under: Washington

12 Favorite Photos In 2012

Posted on January 15, 2013 by Mickey

2012 was an amazing year for me! I managed to travel the American (US and Canada) West extensively in a short period of time. Two major road trips spanning a total of over 7,000 miles in under 2 weeks weilded some great adventures and my best photography yet! From the majestic Canadian Rockies to the rugged Pacific coastline, the west is truley a place to explore! After the amazing year that 2012 was for traveling, I can only hope 2013 turns out even better! With that said, I present the images below as my 12 favorite photographs of the year 2012!

Spectrum of a Sunrise

1. Spectrum of a Sunrise

San Simeon, California – January

It’s interesting that my very first time visiting the Pacific Ocean should also end up being my best photograph of it. In late January, I took a crazy 3500 mile 5-day road trip from my home in Wichita, Kansas, passing through the Grand Canyon and Vegas on the way to the Pacific Ocean and eventually on up the coastline to San Francisco, the Redwoods and our final destination of Portland, Oregon. We hit the Pacific Ocean after dark at San Simeon on the south end of Big Sur. When I woke up the next morning, I was greeted to this magnificent sunrise! It was easily one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever witnessed and produced a number of fine images that morning. This image was the first I took, and turned out the best!


Sunset at Moraine Lake

2. Moraine Lake Sunset

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – August

It’s rather hard to take a bad picture at a place like Moraine Lake. For years, I dreamed of traveling to this spot to photograph the lake. There’s a reason it’s so highly regarded as one of the best mountain lakes in the world! It’s just that beautiful and easily the most stunning alpine mountain lake I’ve ever seen! The funny thing is, during the 2 days I had to photograph in this area, I never really captured the image I want. The weather never cooperated to give me a stunning sunrise or sunset. The wind never truley died down to give me that crystal clear reflection I had hoped for. Yet, I still love this image in all it’s imperfection.


Legend of Multnomah Falls

3. Legend of Multnomah Falls

Columbia River Gorge, Oregon – August

When you visit Multnomah Falls in the beautiful Columbia River Gorge of Oregon, you get a sense of awe about them. Maybe it’s the local legends about how the falls were formed. Or maybe it’s just the fact that Multnomah Falls is the crown jewel of an area that’s highly regarded for it’s large concentration of waterfalls. Everywhere you turn in this area, there’s a beautiful waterfall pouring through the lush green rainforest. While spring is typically the time to go, as the waterfalls are rushing with snow melt-off from the mountains above, I visited in late January, shortly after a massive winter storm pounded the area. The wind was whipping around enough to give much of the trees and plants a nice green blur to them and the water was flowing as if spring time was in full effect making for the scene you see above.


Old Mill Gardens

4. Old Mill Gardens

Little Rock, Arkansas – April

I had a last minute chance to visit Little Rock, Arkansas back in April to play in a soccer tournament. Knowing I would be a new place, I looked up a few interesting places to visit in hopes of maybe getting a good image or two while down there. At the top of most lists was the Old Mill in North Little Rock, which was famous for being in the opening scenes of the classic Gone With The Wind. It just so happened that I visited when the flowers were in full spring bloom giving the place a very colorful look to it!


This Is Kansas

5. This Is Kansas

Teter Rock, Kansas – July

On my first visit to Teter Rock last July a massive thunderstorm rolled through the plains. There is nothing more awe-inspiring than standing at the top of a hill out on the prairie with the echoes of thunder and flashes of lightning off in the distant. Teter Rock itself was interesting enough, but throw in the crazy lightening storm that developed and it made for classic, iconic Kansas scenery. The image above is the best of the shots from that night and this location has become my favorite place to shoot out on the Kansas prairie.


Emerald Lake Calm

6. Emerald Lake Calm

Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada – August

Across the border from Canada’s famous Banff National Park lies Yoho National Park. Another of the Canadian Rockies beautiful national parks. One of it’s best locations is Emerald Lake. The wind cooperated nicely on this morning, leaving the lake in perfect reflective stillness. Not many tourists were out that morning either, and the lake had a calm and tranquil feeling to it.


Mount Rainier Wildflowers

7. Mount Rainier Wildflowers

Mount Rainier National Park, Washington – September

I could not have planned my day-trip visit to the Paradise region of Mount Rainier any better! Typically wildflower season is much earlier in the summer, with many of the flowers peaking in August. This year, everything was late, and seemed to be peaking on Memorial Day weekend in early September. This was perfect for me, as I visited the Saturday before Memorial Day and was floored by how stunning the wildflowers were. While I had to share the area with more tourists than I have ever seen in my hiking days, I also got to share the trail with a very large black bear. Something I never expected to see, considering just how many people were out on the trails that weekend. This image is probably the best from that day, with some of the most vivid color, contrasted by the glaciers and clouds in the background on Rainier’s slopes.


The Ancient Forest

8. The Ancient Forest

Redwood National Park, California – January

On my massive January road-trip, there were so many places I was excited to visit. While I was interested in visiting the Redwoods, in my mind, I was most interested in the Grand Canyon, Big Sur and the Oregon coastline. As it turned out though, the Redwoods were likely my favorite part of this 3500+ mile trip. Words can’t describe the feeling of hiking silently among ancient giants shrouded in mist and fog. My only regret was that I only got to pass through the area for an hour or two before heading on into Oregon. I would have spent days exploring the region if I would have had the time.


The Lights of Lombard Street

9. The Lights of Lombard Street

San Francisco, California – January

While traveling up the California coastline towards Oregon, I spent a night in San Francisco, seeing a few of the major sights. One of the more interesting places I visited was Lombard Street. Lombard Street is regarded as the most crooked street in the world, and I already had in mind to do a night shot with car lights streaking down it’s curvy streets. What I didn’t expect was the 20+ other photographers there taking the same shot as me. But I still like the shot, even if it wasn’t an original idea!


Sol Duc Falls

10. Sol Duc Falls

Olympic National Park, Washington – August

My time in Olympic National Park was a little bittersweet. Olympic was one of those places I had always wanted to visit. I had always pictured foggy rainforests with constant drizzle and rain. My hope was to capture some of that in photographs. Surprisingly though, it didn’t rain a drop the entire time I was at Olympic and the sun was out the majority of the 2 days I spent traveling the park. However, I still got a few good shots of the coastline and waterfalls, this being my favorite. This waterfall is called Sol Duc Falls, with two rocks that sort of seperate the waterfall into three falls. I thought the view of the bridge from behind the falls was the best of the shots. It’s also the best of the shots I got in Olympic National Park.


Explosive Sunrise

11. Explosive Sunrise

San Simeon, California – August

This was shot just minutes after the other San Simeon sunrise, which was my favorite shot of the year. This one is unique from that one not just in color, but that I captured a wave crashing into a rock 20 feet or so out in the ocean. Beacause of the winter storm that had just passed through much of the west coast, the ocean was rough and violent, creating scenes like this from southern California north to Washington.


Peyto Lake in the Fog Panorama

12. Peyto Lake in the Fog Panorama

Banff National Park, Alberta, Canada – August

This was one of the first shots of possibly my greatest traveling day ever. I had slept in my rental SUV at the very top of the Icefields Parkway up in Jasper National Park to get up early in the morning and shoot some night scenes of the stars above the Athabasca Glacier. The weather had other plans. What had been forecast as a clear and warm (well, relatively speaking for being high in the Canadian Rockies) night turned to a foggy and drizzly night with snow about a thousand feet higher in elevation from where I had camped out. So I traveled south down the Icefields Parkway early in the morning, eventually making my way all the way across British Columbia to the coast and Vancouver late that night. One of my first stops was to get a shot of Peyto Lake in the fog as seen above. The day before the entire area was crawling with tour buses and hundreds of tourists. Because of the overcast and fog, on this morning, I was the only car in the parking lot and had the entire area to myself. And it was such a beautiful place to spend some time admiring one of Canada’s most iconic scenes.

Posted under: News & Updates