Friday, August 28, 2015

Mt Baker

  Eight years ago we drove up to Mt Baker with Richie after getting off the flight to Bellingham from Columbus, Ohio. Patrick fell asleep in the car and when we got to the visitors center, Richie got a handful of snow and tossed it at him to wake him up. There was no snow this time but there was plenty of smoke from the many forest fires in the area. We found out that the small fire we saw going into the North Cascades NP visitors center had turned into a full blown blaze and jumped the road in many places threatening the visitors center and the dam that produces power for Seattle Lights.  
   Today 8/26 we drove up to the visitors center for the Mt Baker Snoquamish Wilderness which sits above a large ski area. We left Whidbey by the usual route 20 and turned north on a small side road and connected up with 11 North or Chuckanut Drive. It runs along the bay curving in and around the hills and cliffs to Bellingham. From there we jumped on 5 and exited on 542, Mount Baker Highway. It doesn't go up Mt Baker just to a neighboring mountain where we can view Mt Baker.  

 A few views of Chuckanut Drive. We left the camera at home so you get pics off the cell phone while they can be some great pictures they don't always do very well with the zoom.

We stopped off at Nooksack Falls but the trail down to see the falls was not barrier free but we could see the top of the falls from a bridge over the river. There were some deep pools that looked nice to relax in just before the water went over. I should have snapped a pic but I didn't. 

Road to Nooksack Falls.

Becky loved the moss covered trees.
 As we climbed higher we passed the turn off for the day lodge of the Heather Meadows Ski Area and snapped these pictures.

You can see the road snaking around the mountain with Mt. Suksan in the background.

These views are at the visitor's center. 
The visitor's center.
 They had to build the visitor's center to withstand high snowfalls. The record was 1140 during the winter of 1998-1999. Regular snowfall is in the hundreds of inches. This last winter was rather dry because of the drought but they still managed a few hundred due to storms that sweep off the Pacific and dump their heavy load on the highest peak around.

 There are lots of trails leading everywhere. I was relegated to the "barrier free" trail. It was paved but the inclines were not ADA standards.

The "barrier free" trail.

 We drove on up to Artist Point for more scenery and pictures.

 After Artist Point we drove on down the mountain and came to a little road that ran off into the trees. NF-3075.
 It ran out to a cleared point where we could see the other side of Baker.
 The road branched and dropped down the mountain to a dead end. We turned around and drove back out. The Tahoe was happy to exercise four wheel drive as in several places the road was steep and rutted.
 We had dinner at Grahams in Deming. The food was good, the drinks cold and the place interesting. The bar reminded us of something we saw in the bars in Tombstone.

Pic from Tiger Tales
pic from
Full from dinner, we headed back to base camp. We took WA 9 to Sedro-Woolley playing the Alphabet Game. Of course we had to stop in Acme and get us some road runner traps, specifically a rocket and roller skates.

Boeing and Flying Heritage Collection

8/25 Patrick, Tom and I went down to the Boeing plant in Everett, WA to take a tour. We were not allowed cell phones or cameras in the plant but the workers all had them. We got a private tour, because I'm gimpy, with a nice retired woman who used to tutor engineers on how to write precise directions. She told Patrick that to be an engineer he needed to be good in math, sciences and be an excellent writer. Glad he hears it from someone other than mom and dad.
We toured the building you see to the left in the picture below. There are several large plants and Boeing claims the largest building in the world by volume. They produce about thirty planes per month. 
 The plant has its own airport and all the planes in the picture are new planes awaiting testing and delivery. There is a turquoise plane in the picture below that was being delivered to the customer on the day we were there.

 More buildings under the watchful eye of Mt. Baker.
 The Dream lifter brings parts from Italy, Japan, Kansas and South Carolina to build the 787. There are 4 Dream lifters. When we first saw this one, it had its cargo hatch open. They transport sections of the body and the wings from the other plants to Everett to be assembled.
 After the tour, we looked around the future of flight exibit.

This is a rivet gun that runs of the flex track to make sure that the rivets and precisely placed on the plane.
From Boeing, we circled the runway and went to the Flying Heritage Collection. It is a collection of vintage WWII fighters and aircraft that are still operational and are flown periodically. Some of the aircraft are the only ones left from the war and are not flown but maintained in a state that would allow them to fly.
 Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft established this collection many years ago. His name is all over the Seattle area dealing with philanthropy and business interests.

We got to see them fire up this Sherman tank and run it around the outside of the hanger, bring it in and park it. Pretty neat to see something I have read a lot about. They also have several anti tank and flack guns that they said they shoot off several times a year.

The P-51 Mustang. It was reunited with its pilot after 58 years.

This Zero was found abandoned, beat up and decayed. It will not be restored but many of the planes in the hanger were in this shape when they came to the FHC or to another collector that restored them to their former glory.
 This beautiful B-17 fired up and took off right after we got the the museum. It had come from Mesa, AZ to the museum as a part of a show that the Travel Channel was filming at the FHC. It was quite an impressive site to watch this plane fire up and take off. I kept trying to envision hundreds of them taking off at once to fly bombing raids over Germany.

 This group of people were from the Travel Channel and the young lady straddling the barricade was the media liaison for the museum. We spent several minutes talking to her and getting some inside information about Paul Allen's collection.