Over Independence Day weekend, Lisa and I drove up to the seaside town of Bellingham, about an hour and a half north of Seattle, to stay with some friends and explore the area. We'd been hoping to get out of town to go camping, but the 90+ degree heat wave that hit the area made the prospect of camping and dayhikes somewhat less appealing.
So instead, we packed our cameras into the air-conditioned car and headed north. Among the highlights from the weekend: a visit to Whatcom Falls Park, in which we saw Whatcom Falls at maybe a tenth of its usual volume. (Did I mention it's been a hot, dry year?) To escape the heat, we went for a swim in a nearby swimming hole-- there are actually several swimming holes in the park-- where the water was still deep enough that people could jump off a cliff into the water, if they were brave/stupid enough.
On Saturday, we drove around the countryside, including going out to a local game preserve and wildlife refuge at Lake Terrell. In the evening, we drove up a rough dirt road into the nearby hills to Samish Overlook, from which we could see south across farmland and west across the San Juan Islands.
One of the San Juans, Portage Island, actually had a small wildlife, which is visible in the photos if you look for the low, small island to the left of the photo that appears to be covered in a blanket of fog. Between the Portage Island fire and the fires further north in British Columbia, there were several layers of haze on the horizon, and the Sun turned blood red as it sank below the horizon.
The next day, we drove out to Mt. Baker, specifically to Artist Point, at the very end of the highway. I'd been to this area once before, on Labor Day weekend in 2011, when we weren't actually able to get to Artist Point because even in September, there was still too much snow on the mountain.
This year, Artist Point opened to visitors in May, and by the time we got up there in early July, there was no snow to be seen anywhere near the parking lot, except for a few small remnants tucked in shady cervices. It was hazy, too-- the photos of Mt. Baker have been post-processed with Adobe Lightroom's new "Dehaze" functionality, which worked pretty well, although it added some noise to the sky.
All in all, it was a good weekend, and we're already making plans to come back and do some more substantial hiking in the area... once the weather's cooled down a bit, anyway.