I attended the 2005 Society for Technical Communication conference in Seattle. The conference is a separate rant (let’s just say that I don’t want to be a tech writer ever ever ever and leave it at that).

The good thing about business trips is you can extend them and have a little vacation without paying for airfare. Which is what I did. Seattle itself gets an official “meh” rating from me. But the area around it was rather nice for wee day trips and such.

The first thing I did was quit Seattle and head out to route 101, up toward Port Townsend. Nice drive.

I stopped along the way to hike several times.

101 circles the Olympic Peninsula, which is largely covered by the Olympic National Forest.

Part of the national forest there is the Hoh Rain Forest. What’s interesting about this rain forest is that the trees are largely deciduous. You don’t think about, say, maples being covered in moss like this.

I imagine it’s stunning in autumn when the leaves change colors.

The trees have grown into fantastic shapes.

I hiked up to see this waterfall. Unfortunately, so did a large group of kids. They were actually very well behaved, but it ruined the whole effect of a nice, dramatic waterfall when I was standing next to a kid in a Scooby Doo t-shirt. But maybe that’s just me.

By late afternoon, I was exhausted from driving so far, and began to stop for any excuse at all. Here I noticed how clear the water was and stopped for a better look. Later I pulled over after startling two eagles, and watched them for a while.

I had lunch at Forks, which is probably the farthest point from Seattle on that route. The diner was empty, so my waitress sat down and had blackberry cobbler and ice cream with me, and we chatted away about everything we could think of—why I don’t have a Rhode Island accent, whether her 14-year-old son should have his own truck, whether the weather was a problem. And so on. She suggested that I drive another hour, and then take a break at Ruby Beach, which is here.

It’s covered in sea stacks, which are formations left behind when portions of a cliff break off while the rest of the land recedes—maybe from an earth quake.

As you can see, I was rather impressed by them.

I guess when you’re working on taking better photos, you look for things that will fill the shot. Rocks do nicely for this.

Well, and the sky was just right. The temperature lovely. That’s something I haven’t mentioned. Aside from the humidity, which left me feeling grubby, the temperature was perfect through my whole trip. Just right for jeans and a t-shirt.

To leave Ruby Beach, you have to climb this pile of driftwood. Yes, Dad, I was on the lookout for snakes!

After that, I had three days of conference. I’d like to be a science photographer, I’ll tell you that right now. Unfortunately the market is pretty well covered by Felice Frankel, who is just a peach. Maybe if I’m really nice, she’ll let me come up to MIT to study with her.

But I digress. I headed out the next day toward Mts. Rainier and St. Helens.

I was worried. There was fog everywhere. Furious! come on!

Still, the drive was nice, so I kept on.

And began to enjoy the fog itself. Wished really hard I’d brought my other camera.

And found other amusing things. I guess not everyone supports hydroelectricity.

But as I climbed higher, I got above the clouds and fog.

Until lo! Yes! Mt. Rainier.

It was awfully warm there at the top, so I drove slowly down the other side again, stopping along the way.

Strange that the east side was more clear than the west on the way down. But I guess that’s the direction weather moves out there. I found later that the road to Mt. St. Helens was close. I suppose they’re still worried about the rumbles

The next day? Surprise! Emily came to visit.

We headed to Pike’s Place Market, where I bought wonderful surprises for Jenny. Well, and one for myself. I must remember to photograph it and show you.

Then we took a huge drive. Out west from Seattle on 2, we meandered through Snohomish and across the mountains to Leavenworth.

Then out across to Wenatchee and Yakima, where we found ourselves in a desert. We watched the temperature gauge on the car move from 56 in Seattle to 83 in Yakima. Then we turned around and came back again—400 miles in all that day.