NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Washington State Capitol - Tiffany Chandeliers Galore

Time for another State Capitol tour, this time in Olympia, Washington.  This stop was #10, I've only got 40 more to go!

Like most State Capitol buildings guided tours are available, in Olympia they happen every hour, on the hour, between 10:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. on weekdays and between 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. on weekends. Tours are free and will last 50 minutes, I had limited time so I only joined the tour for the first 10 minutes and then wandered another 10 minutes on my own.

As with most states, this building is not the first in the state's history - I actually saw the old Capitol later that day also.  The exterior is limestone quarried in the state of Washington and while plans got going around 1911 it wasn't completed until 1928 for a variety of reasons.

It's looking pretty good considering it has withstood 3 earthquakes since its completion in 1928, right?  Of course updating has been done over the decades including improvements to safeguard the building during seismic events.  Notice the roofline, whose anthemion cresting is in need of cleaning but still lovely.  Wondering what anthemion means?  I had to look it up myself, it refers to ornament that resembles radiating petals.  The front columns are rather plain in comparison, and if you're checking things out closely I'm sure you noticed the face of Washington in the lower left corner of the photo!

The state of Washington is the 42nd state added to the Union, and I climbed 42 steps to reach the bronze doors.  The bas relief panels on the multiple entry doors showed a variety of themes related to the history of the state including sailing, logging, and even waterfalls.

When I finally got through the doors of course my eyes went straight up to the dome in the rotunda which is 287 feet high from the exterior but 175 feet from the interior floor with a 10,000 lb Tiffany chandelier.  More on those chandeliers later!

At the time of its opening in 1928 then current Governor Hartley couldn’t resist launching a few final barbs at Washington’s spendthrift lawmakers.

"Today is an epochal day," he told reporters, "but it brings no joy to the heart of the taxpayer." Hartley worked up quickly into a bluster, the newspaper drudges scribbling wildly. "May the new building be a deterrent, rather than an incentive, to future extravagance on the part of those in whose hands the business affairs of the state are entrusted." (From

Look at that railing glow!

I'm sure today that citizens are glad the money was spent.  The interior corridors are composed of gray marble from Alaska, and the hallway railings were quite unique with the state seal featuring George Washington featured.

And here's a side-on view of the largest chandelier ever made by Tiffany hanging in the rotunda. It came by train in pieces and was assembled in the Capitol.  It has to be seen, photographs just don't do it justice.

All lamps and Roman fire pots in the rotunda were made by Louis Comfort Tiffany, son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, founder of Tiffany and Company. The Capitol has the largest collection of Tiffany bronze in the world and it was Tiffany’s last large commission before his death in 1933.

Hallways were filled with lobbyists since Senate and House were in session

Here's a picture of those Tiffany fire pots I mentioned.  They replicate ancient Roman signal lights used to call the first Senate into session more than 2,000 years ago.

 Here is another Tiffany chandelier, just couldn't get enough of those!

The railings weren't the only thing featuring the state seal, the doorknobs had it also.

The Reception Room was stunning.  Greek and Roman inspired patterns were everywhere, and the light coming in through the skylight was nice. 

More chandeliers and wall sconces from Tiffany, these made from Czechoslovakian glass.

I don't know the story on the lanterns hanging outside, but I got an interesting shot showing how they are suspended from my vantage point inside the Reception Room.

The Bresche violet marble in this room is from Italy, and you could probably spend quite a bit of time searching out patterns.  The floor is covered in the world's largest single loom carpet, and the piano was donated.  It is from Leipzig, Germany and was built in the late 1800's.  Guests may play it, but no one on my tour volunteered unfortunately.

Which Capitol next?  Hmmm, who knows?

Tuesday, March 13, 2018

From Vista House to Bridal Veil Falls...and Just a Glimpse of Multnomah Falls

We lucked out with the weather in Oregon, it was quickly warming up early in the morning and we didn't really have to worry about ice on the roads or bridges.

I found a fun little website devoted to the Historic Columbia River highway which includes links to maps and even a collection of historic postcards and other ephemera.  The bridges were built from 1913-1921 and while some of them are looking a bit sketchy these day the one at Latourell Falls was a beauty.

If you want to read in detail how the foot paths became the Oregon Trail, railroads came to the area,  how this road began as a wagon road, and how the popularity of the bicycle helped prompt road improvement and eventually the bridges go to this link.

More history can be found at Vista House which was built as a rest stop observatory for travelers (according to the guy on desk duty specifically women, a fact he felt obliged to repeat often) on the old Columbia River Gorge Highway and as a memorial honoring Oregon’s pioneers who made their way down the Columbia River.   It is celebrating its 100th birthday this year so if you can you may end up catching a special event such as birthday cake served by costumed volunteers on May 5th. 

The architectiure is German Art Nouveau, but the windows reminded me a lot of the Prairie Style that Frank Lloyd Wright is so known for.  All those Art Deco and Art Nouveau styles were around at the same time so I'm sure they all influenced each other.

Downstairs you'll find exhibits devoted to the history of the highway and Vista House, as well as restrooms and a gift shop that serves beverages.  I got the hot apple cider and Linda got the peppermint mocha which were good choices as it was snowing and windy on the point when we returned to her car.

Hey, there's the Gorge behind us!

I also got a new hat, just in case everyone is tired of that red rosette on my hat in all my winter photos.  I took a few pictures of the Gorge, but due to the weather they were so ugly I didn't want to give a negative impression and scare everyone away.  Let's stick to the close-ups and leave the Gorge views to Linda when she starts featuring it again later this spring!

Next up on our tour was Bridal Veil Falls.  Located at milepost 28 on the Historic Columbia River Scenic Highway it is just a short half mile from the parking area to the viewing platform where you can enjoy the 120 foot falls.

Like me, Linda is appreciative off all that green during winter.  She's originally from South Dakota so she gets it when I grump about the snow and severe cold of the upper Midwest!  We took our time on the mile roundtrip walk just digging the crazy amount of mosses on display with all the leaves off the trees.

The nearby U.S. post office is kept busy with engaged couples dropping off their wedding invitations so that they can be postmarked at Bridal Veil.  And kayakers even go down the falls along Bridal Veil Creek when the water is high.

Along our journey I learned the story of the devastating fire to hit the Gorge last year.  The fire was set by a 15 year old using fireworks last September in very dry conditions.  Here's a link to that story. Linda is one the many heartbroken by the loss, but luckily the fire is a "mosaic" and not all the forest is lost.

If you're coming to Oregon to hike Linda recommends the books by William Sullivan, I know I'll pick one up before my next trip.

View of fire scarring on cliff to left of Multnomah Falls from the parking area

Multnomah Falls is normally a huge attraction with more than 2 million visitors stopping by each year to take in the views, but isn't currently open to the public due to the concerns resulting from the fire including falling trees, landslides, rockfall, and debris flow, which can be triggered by heavy rainfall or freeze/thaw cycles.

Fed by underground springs from Larch Mountain, the flow over the falls varies, but is usually highest during winter and spring.  For some amazing photos of the falls from a year ago check out Linda's blog here.

And here is the link to her Fall 2016 hike which she hopes she will be able to do this coming year after the necessary repairs are made to the trail.  Let's hope this beautiful area re-opens quickly!

Downtown Portland Mural Trio

I'm a bit late to get to the Monday Mural Linkup so I'll have to make this one quick!

When I was on my way to meet Linda I swung through Portland the night before.

I saw a few murals so of course I pulled over and plugged a few quarters into the meter.

I didn't find names for any of the murals, but apparently over the last few years they've had mural festivals where over 50 murals have gone up.  Get out and walk around if you're in Portland, unfortunately I only had 20 minutes but I saw these and some other things as well that I will share later.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

The Tour Continues - Upper Latourell Falls Hidden Treasures

the Historic Columbia River Highway Bridge at Latourell Falls

The trail we hiked from Lower Latourell Falls to Upper Latourell Falls was a loop that eventually brought us right back to where we started so I got to see the Lower Falls twice and from a different angle.  Hey, no complaints here, it was an absolutely stunning waterfall and my favorite one I saw on my whole trip!  But the hike itself was pretty special also, with much to see along the way.  Roll that beautiful forest footage...

Moss draped trees - those on left most likely Cedar

When looking for information on types of mosses I eventually stumbled upon the Willamette Forest page which was very informative.  For instance, did you know that mosses are called bryophytes?

Probably Neckera - a genus common in PNW forests on conifer & hardwood trees

Besides lots and lots of bryophytes my eye caught a few early spring wildflowers poking their little heads up, including this small patch of very early Trillium!  Not the prettiest bunch ever, they were a bit drenched, but an exciting discovery for so early in March.

Let me say this, compared to lichen identification mosses are hard! I might have to buy a guidebook and take it into the woods with me the next time I go.  I can't see enough in the photo below to feel half-way confident in attempting an identification.  But look at how cute that fungus is!

Over by the Upper Falls my eye caught this tiny sprout pushing its way up.  Turned out really nice for a hand held shot, it just sums up this time of year when the forest floor reawakens.

The Cedar trees were massive in spots on the trail, the trail itself was moderately difficult due to the steady incline, but nothing almost anyone couldn't do with some time and patience.  It was fun hiking with Linda again - she had lots to say and point out along the way which was good because I forgot to use my inhaler and I needed all my oxygen for moving uphill!
Admire Linda's new backpack as well as the trees please

When we arrived at the Upper Falls there was only 2 other folks approaching from the other direction.  Nice and peaceful, we got our shots in and moved along over the bridge so they could enjoy it also.

On the other side a gentleman came around the trail bend and offered to take our photograph with Linda's cell phone.  Thank you, Stranger, for neither of us lazy photographers dragged along a tripod for this hike!

Boot twins

We also both drop our lens caps in the dirt often, struggle in deciding which camera equipment to bring along and have been known to climb around off trail looking for that perfect angle.  Though we did restrain ourselves from clambering around like monkeys on this particular day.  And, we both have the same hiking boots because I got mine 3 and a half years ago on her recommendation!

She took me on a few more short hikes that day, so more to come.  Here's one last shot below of the Lower Latourell Falls that  we saw as we finished up the loop.  I took it using my new iPhone X and in general I haven't liked the outdoor shots with the new phone's camera, but this one turned out great for a phone image.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Linda's Tour - Lovely Latourell Falls

After touring Astoria and Cannon Beach (pictures still to come!) I made my way through downtown Portland (pictures still to come!) and back over to Washington's town of Vancouver.  In the morning I met Linda at a park and ride for my anticipated tour of the Columbia River Gorge.

Historic Columbia River Highway

Those who read Linda's Blog have seen all her wonderful photographs of the waterfalls in the Gorge at different times of the year.  But lovely Latourell Falls doesn't need to be dressed up in fall colors  to take your breath away, the crustose lichen on the columnar basalt cliff makes a color statement all on its own.

golden cobblestone lichen (Pleopsidium flavum) at top of falls

Its 224 foot drop is hard to imagine if you don't see it in person. 

Thanks to Linda for this great shot of me approaching the falls!

As I found out, this type of waterfall has its own photography needs.  A tripod would have been ideal and when I make it back to the Northwest I will make sure to have one.  I deleted a lot of shots that just weren't crisp enough since I'm not as used to holding a heavy camera as I used to be.  And unlike a stream which benefits from a slower shutter speed I found that the better shots I ended up with showed the movement of the water instead of blurring it.

For an idea of how large the falls really is, notice the small bridge in the photo above.  The path to the left is what I was walking on in the photo that Linda shared and in the photo below here she is walking towards the bridge!

When your eyes get tired of the bright lichen they can move on to the texture of that columnar basalt.  If you want to know way too much about this area's basalt you can start with this Wikipedia link, or you can just go with the fact that due to volcanic activity lava flowed into this area probably at least 14 million years ago and as it cooled it formed these neat cracks.

Freaking awesome, right?

The creek was pretty, but it really was hard to take your eyes off the falls...

And off the lichen!

After crossing the bridge we passed under the Historic Columbia River Highway and started making our way upwards to see the Upper Latourell Falls.  Maybe Linda will chime in below in the comments to let us know how long the total loop hike was because I know there were a few options and am not sure which one we took.  I was too busy trying to keep up!  I'll post the Upper Falls photos in the next post, more waterfall porn to enjoy tomorrow...