Seattle Freeway Park and Starbucks Reserve

Continuing on the Washington adventure, today we go to a very famous park built atop Interstate 5 in downtown Seattle as well as the very spiffy first Starbucks Reserve store with the roasting and hipster flair everywhere.

Let’s start with the drive over the floating bridge! This interstate is supported on floating pontoons

Streets and the freeway pass under this concrete structure making an oasis in the middle of downtown

Traffic goes real fast underneath, but the park is spilling out of its containers

Once up on it, its natural beauty perfectly blends with the manmade

The fall colors were great

Even got the timing of Larch tree needle-drop right (only deciduous pine tree)

The rose beds were looking like the end of the season though

Despite the clear lines everywhere, they stagger and step in ways that really break the man-made order up

I was super confused with this structure, there wasn’t anything inside of it

There are many entrances and egress points across the park, and hidden areas for contemplation

Remember, these trees are growing in concrete suspended above a freeway

Anemone were doing well

Some nice new plaza built in conjunction with a residential tower

Pretty impressive

Sorry for washout, but was most peaceful shot I think

The convention center abuts the park with this fantastical glass structure

It was quite striking, but the reflections make it blend into its surroundings

Love these monumental rocks

Superman’s fortress of solitude inside?

Oh, the sculpture is George Washington!

That night I walked around my hotel and found this vintage stereo shop that felt uber hipster

So much new construction they build at night

And then I was at the Starbucks test concept store I had read about (this was 2016 before they opened these all over)

So cool!

Lots of roasting equipment

Moving parts and making beans bright

Lots of the infrastructure was functional fancy

I’m sure the copper tubing is very important for thermal regulation…

An empty giant copper vat with holes

The big roaster

They were selling many specialty coffees sourced from specific farms

And a ton of branded stuff and high-end coffee accoutrements

And for the starbucks-lover who has everything…

The design was to die for in many areas, particularly lamps

I want

The stairs were striking as well, concrete between the wood

Wonderful lounging and reading spaces really made me resentful when we got the tiny, tasteless and uncomfortable reserve bar in Sacramento

Next up will be the ferry trip to Bainbridge Island and lots of views of downtown.

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Seattle Pt. 1 – Fungus Fair

This will be the first in a long series of posts from a fall trip to Seattle and the Olympic Peninsula. It was a trip for mushroom hunting, one of my passions, and I could not have had better conditions.

A few pics from the way into town, the airport had bronze fishes in the floors

I took light rail and got some good views of downtown

The fall color was clearly in full force, a big contrast to California at the time

I should have gone to the top of that tower, I bet the view is great

We went right by the sports stadiums

I can’t tell you how spectacular this mushroom festival was. Tons of vendors with all kinds of products from art and ceramics to grow your own mushroom kits, and even travel companies. There were speakers and presentations, mushroom art,  dyeing workshop, expert help with identification and the main attraction: labeled displays

They were very well organized and beautifully presented

Fly Agaric, red labels mean poisonous

The green labels meant edible, but you want to go out with experts to get proper identification before eating any mushrooms

As noted, this one has un-fun effects

The Peugeot Sound Mycological Society presented a cornucopia of fungal diversity

You can likely find a local mycological society near you and learn more and go on trips, we have more than a dozen in California

Nothing good is nicknamed poison pie

Cortinarius are really vibrant mushrooms, though not edible and I have a hard time finding them

They just have these deep hues

This is called a viscid cap, because it is covered in slime

Russulas re a class of mushrooms with many varieties

This class has lots of really choice edible varieties

Like these yellow and white chanterelles

It is quite a photogenic mushroom, no?

This was the grand prize I was looking for on my trip. The lobster mushroom is a parasitic fungus that attacks a mushroom and covers it in a hard red shell. It smells of seafood and is a very, very expensive edible mushroom. It is also quite distinct, so you can’t confuse it for something poisonous if you have a reasonable idea of what you are looking for

These are coral mushrooms

And a terrible shot of birds nest fungus, the little spores get launched out of the nests when it rains. I have shots of many of these mushrooms and more from my trip, see if you can remember them later

This one was fantastic, a blue green fungus that stains the wood blue

These hericium are also a highlight, they grow on the trunks of trees and so mushroom hunters usually miss them while looking at the ground

They are toothed mushrooms, which have these structures rather than the typical gills

This is a toothed polypore, or perennial hard mushroom

They actually use it to dye cloth and other materials

Did you know you can make natural dyes in every color using fungus? Neither did I, I thought it was just browns

But look at these!

You could even buy material and dye it right there using the large pots of dye they had prepared, this one came out much more spectacular than the image

A very accomplished fungal artist was present from Russia, image doesn’t do it justice, it was exactly perfect

There was even a lichen area, which is  combination of fungus and algae

Some of the fruiting structures were Seussian

Very weird

More fall color on the way out

These vine maples were real highlights in the fall color here

Next up will be a ferry trip, the starbucks temple and a park on top of a freeway

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Capay Valley Hoes Down Harvest Festival

Every fall (except this year), after the main harvesting is done, the Full Belly Farm hosts a very big party to celebrate the changing of seasons and local, organic, sustainable agriculture (a topic I’m pretty passionate about). Let’s go on a trip up the Capay valley in Yolo county…

Lots of almond trees here. It’s a total hipster valley, it had almonds before they were popular with farmers in the state, the local festival is over 100 years old!

This farm is most popular with those living in the bay area, as it supplies many of their farmer’s markets

They planted many crops for fall and early winter harvest, these are onions

They will swell at the base later in the season as the days get even shorter

A brassica (like broccoli or brussel sprouts) or kale

Some old, dried out corn

The stalks were quite picturesque

It had this cool red corn, but think it was for decorative, rather than eating, purposes

Rows of stone fruit, like peaches and plums


Even some hops

I know all this because they give farm tours throughout the day and I got to ask questions

They had chickens for fertilizing fields, getting rid of bugs and eggs

Taking dirt baths

I thought the pigs were cleaner, and much, much cuter

See! I grew up not with a dog, but a miniature pot bellied pig, so I’m a bit partial

Lots of fun activities for the kids, like this fort/maze made from hay

Zip-lining anyone?

Or how about a mini roller-coaster with a splash pool?

If that wasn’t your taste, wading in Cache Creek was also an option

Lots of different bands and stages around the property

This barn housed lots of dried flowers and other growth for arrangements

There were so many colors and textures and smells it was overwhelming

But the wreaths you could make were outstanding, these are from the farm if yours didn’t come up to snuff

Pizza making

They walked the kids through each step in the process, learning about the ingredients

Pumpkin carving contest was out of control, there were over 100

As the day faded, a final trip through the sudan grass maze, a little too easy to get lost

Lovely day, although the party lasts well into the night and they have camping options available


Until next time.

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Road to Opals in Nevada

I took a special trip with my dad a couple years ago to mine for opals. The desert landscapes were very photogenic.

We left from Winnemucca, which is definitely not a made-up town in the middle of nowhere

Slightly cloudy at the end of summer

Click to enlarge

Lots of interesting geologic features, wish I knew more about them like this black spot

Long stretches of road with little around

Rougher rocks poking out

So nice and recently paved

Small patches of green were scattered across the arid landscape

The natural vegetation was sparse

But produced interesting patterns in the distance



Looking towards the opal bearing areas

On the way in we passed gigantic walls of rock

I wonder what the white layer is about

But a nice stop on the way in is an old campground around a hot spring

An off-limits building

I wasn’t soo sure about any swimming in the green water

Sunset with two people on the horizon? No, just a cool rock

More of the Virgin Valley, where several claims allow you to mine for a fee

Lots of claims out here, so really not a good idea to go out on your own

we decided on Rainbow Ridge

They bulldoze the right layers of rock and then you break open the clumps and use water to find the opals

There was so much to go through, but the owner and other rockhounds will help you get your bearings

On the way out got this monumental vista

Odd abandoned building out on a promontory

But this round one in the middle of nowhere was a shining beacon

Until next time

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