I wanted to try some night photography again and decided to take advantage of the mostly empty Seattle streets after 10pm. I started by driving up to Queen Anne to Kerry Park, a local park famous for the view of the Seattle skyline. It can be busy but I got lucky and found a parking spot that allowed me to get a decent skyline in the background. I’m still such a beginner when it comes to night photography, but it was fun to play with some long exposures.
After having some fun at Kerry Park, I made my way to Pike Place Market to have some fun. I thought I would have to rush to get a few quick shots before being sent away by security guards, but I got really lucky and found it totally empty. I was able to take my time and really enjoy it. The Christmas lights and huge tree made it extra special.
Before the weather really turned bad, one of my favorite escapes was to just get in the car and drive. Sometimes it would be 8 or 9 hour day drives to far off places but I’ve had just as much fun exploring close to home. Seattle has so much to offer, so many beautiful places to check out and sometimes it is just good therapy to drive late at night. Mostly empty roads and good music can soothe my soul. Here are a few different in city adventures.
Exploring the Museum of Pop Culture, the Space Needle and finding some fail foliage close to home on Alki:
A black and white series that I wanted to do because my car was filthy, it was raining and my mood was pretty black and white. Exploring the city always helps fix that, even on a gloomy day:
Exploring West Seattle on a beautiful day and then a very foggy morning:
A while ago, I took a fantastic day trip to Mount Rainier and submitted a few photos to The Spiel, our local PCA chapter, Pacific Northwest Region (PNWR) monthly magazine. I was pleasantly surprised a few months later when I received the November Spiel and saw my photo on the cover and my blog post published inside! Very cool.
I’ll post a link to the Spiel online edition when it becomes available, but here are a few photos that I grabbed:
Saturday was another great car day but this time with the Jeep (bad weather). It was another day spent with awesome car people, beautiful cars and all for a good cause, more toys for kids in need. 2020 has been a terrible year for everyone but it certainly hits some much harder than others. We had hundreds of cars show up throughout the day to donate much needed toys to help ensure a happier holiday season for every kid.
I met a friend early before we ran to Starbucks for some coffee and breakfast. Starbucks drive-thrus are a wonderful thing. I had to get a shot of my Jeep doing its best Rudolph impression. A red nose…antlers and Christmas lights on the inside:
Then it was on to The Shop where they had sponsored with Avants and DirtFish to hold a socially distanced, masks required, cars and coffee. There was a very rare Audi RS6 Wagon, DirtFish brought out their student cars, we had a ton of beautiful Porsches show up including a brand new 992 Turbo S in a paint to sample Deep Sea Blue and a beautiful old back 356. Santa approved of Rudolph and told me that everyone was going to be on the nice list this year.
December in Seattle is filled with excitement for the holidays, cutting down Christmas trees, lights, school and work breaks, family fun…a lot of wonderful things. It is also typically filled with rain…lots of rain. Fun summer cars with performance tires are kept safely in warm garages, waiting for warmer, drier days to return. 2020 has sucked for a lot of reasons, but December has felt like a gift when it comes to the weather and this Saturday was no exception. Cold but dry and warm enough for safe motoring so a full day of car fun was planned.
I started my day waiting for The Shop and Derby to open. I wanted to have breakfast surrounded by cool cars and then I had a haircut planned at the on-site barber, Annie Oakley Cuts. Then I had blocked a time to use the wash bays and get the car all cleaned up. A full day before noon and I was just getting started!
Now that the car was all clean, it was time to get it dirty again! The Avants car club had organized a toy drive down to the Griot’s headquarters and flagship store in Tacoma. They provided the coffee and donuts, you bring a toy for Toys for Tots…sounded like a good deal to me. Adam, the fonder of Avants, was there to meet and greet and give out copies of their incredible magazine. If you are into cars and you live in Seattle, Portland or Denver (more coming), I highly suggest you join Avants. Their philosophy of drive everything is very inclusive and the culture seems great so far.
After hanging out with Adam, I decided to go explore Tacoma a bit and see if I could find any places to take some cool photos. Mount Rainier is a favorite landmark of mine, Meg always makes fun of me because then you can see the whole mountain I’ll say “the mountain is out in full force today”. I’m a dorky old man, what do you expect. Well, the mountain was out in full force and I wanted to find some views of it. I found a parking lot at Cliff House Restaurant that had a great view and then I found an open marina parking lot. I think they look best in black and white but I’m on the fence. You help me decide…what looks better to you?
A few more fun photos that I was playing with:
After watching the sun set, it was back in the car to head home to the family for dinner! I was running late after stopping for some of these photos…the turbo helped me make up that time, no problem 🙂
At a recent car event, I was introduced to the annual Northwest Toy Run. The Toy Run is a fun car themed event where thousands of gear heads come from all around the region to donate toys, money and their time to ensure that every kid has a special gift to unwrap this holiday season. Cars…kids…hosted at Pacific Raceways…I signed up immediately!
To make the event a full day, a friend of mine arranged a pre-meet and backroad drive from Alderwood Mall to Pacific Raceways, we would not be taking I5. Those twists and bends might not look extreme, but with chilly weather and summer tires, we had to be careful and it felt pretty thrilling for this old man!
The alarm went off at 6 for a pre-sunrise meet up in West Seattle. The car needed gas and I needed coffee!
We drove up to Alderwood to meet up with the rest of the group. We had an eclectic mix of cars and some great folks. A few of the guys on the trip have some extensive personal car collections, the stuff dreams are made of, and they brought out some fun toys to play with. We got to know each other for a while, then enjoyed a “spirited” drive to our coffee break pitstop and then it was on to the racetrack.
After more miles of fun driving, we made it to Pacific Raceways. Volunteers were busy helping everyone unload the toys, Santa was there to welcome the cars and then it was on to the Avants reserved parking and a slow lap around the track. It was advertised as a 10mph crawl but it was much more fun than that…we did 45 to 50 most of the time. Even at 45mph I still managed to miss every apex! In my defense, I was trying to take photos and my hat kept sliding over my eyes 🙂 That’s okay, everything is fun when you are sporting a Santa hat and I can’t wait to do this again next year!
Soon enough it will be too cold and too wet for me to risk taking the 911 out with the high performance summer tires so I need to take advantage of every opportunity I can get! The weather this past weekend was stunning and just perfect for a long drive. With clear skies and temps in the low 50s, it was warm enough to keep my tires happy and cold enough to feed the turbos with endless amounts of cold air.
I explored mostly backroads from Seattle to Bellingham and turned a four hour drive into an all day adventure, hugging the coast and blasting through some empty farmland along the way.
Chuckanut Drive was pretty crowded but I managed to have some fun on the twisty road and find some beautiful places to pull over and take some photos. To tuck back into one spot, I may have almost backed off a cliff and while avoiding that almost hit a tree. Perhaps I’ve grown too dependent on backup cameras in more modern cars 🙂
On the way home, I decided to take the long route and drive around Alki. I pulled over to admire the clear Seattle skyline view and grabbed a few more photos before heading home. I’m a sucker for any view of the space needle and ferries!
Living in West Seattle, I’m fortunate to be so close to Alki Beach. One of my favorite things to do is take a slow cruise down Alki to soak in the view of the mountains, the Puget Sound and the beautiful sunsets. The people watching is fun too. The busted West Seattle bridge may be a bummer but if I’m going to be stuck anywhere, this place will do nicely:
I half tried to talk my kids into joining me but I was glad when this trip up to Snoqualmie Forrest ended up being a solo drive. Sometimes you just really need to get away from everything and I decided to spend the rainy day looking for “waterfalls” in the woods. When it rains, the runoff from the mountains can make for some beautiful roadside waterfalls…the silver lining to an otherwise muddy day.
This was my route. Without kids telling me to turn around or that they were hungry, I managed to do quite a bit of exploring. I found many dead ends, some beautiful scenic views and a few overgrown passes that became too narrow even for my Jeep. No big animals though.
Okay, so I’m better at taking photos of cars than I am taking photos of waterfalls but here are a few okay ones from the dozens that I found:
You can’t really tell from the map, but I did manage to find some nice elevation and some pretty view points to stop at along the way. Then I ended the day back at The Shop to get the Jeep all nice and clean again:
Unlike the Italian car owners, German car owners know that our cars are waterproof and we show up rain or shine 🙂 As is often the case, the forecast was wrong and the weather was beautiful for German car day @ The Shop. It was the biggest turn out I have seen all year (still in masks and keeping distance).
One of my favorite cars of the day was ”Kermit”, a very bright green 1984 3.2 backdated 911R tribute. The color stood out in the sea of white, gray and black and there was an adorable pug along for the ride:
This stunning 356 Cabriolet grabbed everyone’s attention when it arrived. It was a family affair to drop the top and it is always awesome to see these classics still on the roads doing what they were meant to do!
A collection of great cars with one imposter for you to find…an imposter so bad ass looking that it would be welcome anywhere:
My 997.2 Turbo S getting some attention:
My second favorite car of the day was this beautiful 991 GT3RS:
This was my favorite car of the day. This is a 997.2 GT3RS, a more track focused car and typically in some wild color combinations. It would make the perfect pair with my Turbo S and these things are only going up in value. Garage dreams!
Last Saturday was Italian cars and coffee at The Shop and while it wasn’t raining, it had rained overnight and there was a chance of rain in the forecast. That of course meant that almost nobody showed up for the cars and coffee event because Italian cars are allergic to the rain…or at least their owners are! A few fun cars (and a really cute scooter) did show up.
With C&C being a bust, I went home early, grabbed Shep and we went back to the Snoqualmie Forrest to make the most of the wet weather. Bring on the Jeep!
Shep took a video of us “playing in the puddles”. He’s almost 10 and I’m almost an adult 🙂
2020 was going to be a big year for travel and it was going to be a big year for car tours. Before COVID hit, I was signed up for five different Porsche Club tours and one by one, they were all delayed and eventually cancelled. That’s why I was so excited when I found out that the Olympic Peninsula tour was actually going to happen.. My local chapter, Pacific Northwest Region, had found a way to make it work. The tour had to be limited in size and broken up into smaller groups. There would be no in-person meetups and no group events or dinners. Each group needed to be spaced out so we could always keep a safe distance from each other. Thing we’re going to be a bit different but I wouldn’t have cared if they required me to wear a Hannibal Lecter face mask the whole time. The tour was on and I was ready to go! Four days of driving and car photography was going to be the break I needed to clear my head and recharge my batteries.
I was so excited that I decided to start the tour a day early. While the tour didn’t officially start until Saturday morning, the meetup was in Port Gamble and I didn’t want to drive from Seattle that early in the morning. On Friday morning I loaded up the car, kissed my family goodbye and then drove off to pick up some camera equipment and give the car a quick wash to start the trip.
It turned out that washing the car was a stupid idea because as soon as I hit the road, it started pouring!
Even with the rain, traffic was light and I had a great time making the trip from Seattle to peninsula. I made great time so I decided to explore the Port Ludlow area where I would be staying for the night.
I booked a night at the Port Ludlow Resort and had some time to explore before starting the tour the next day.
Day 1 started at Port Gamble and I arrived a few groups early so that I could get as many photos as possible, I had assigned myself as the official photographer for the trip so I could move between groups. While we had to stick to small groups, it was nice to have a chance to meet at least a few people and enjoy some coffee together before we started our drive. Our leads charted a fantastic route and we enjoyed some amazing twisty roads on our way to have a picnic lunch at Fort Worden in Port Townsend. The rain made the drive even more exciting and I was glad to have all wheel drive and fantastic brakes. While these are driving tours, we always manage to find some fun places to stop, stretch and get some air. After lunch we stopped at another beautiful beach and then drove on to a truly bizarre place, the Troll Haven. After checking out the trolls, we went on to our hotel in Port Angeles, the Olympic Lodge. Our course took us through some of the best driving roads that I’ve ever been on and I can’t wait to find them again on another trip to the peninsula. After we checked in, we were on our own for the evening. After a long day of very “spirited” driving, my body and brain were fried so I stayed in, edited some photos and went to bed early.
Day 2 was another amazing day of driving, talking to other Porsche fanatics, taking photos and enjoying some twisty back roads through the peninsula. We made a loop from Port Angeles to Lake Crescent Lodge for lunch and then back to the same hotel for another night of much needed rest! If day 1 was “spirited”, day 2 was…well, extra spirited. We were always responsible, we had our official lead, a sweeper in the back and two-way radios to stay in contact about any safety issues along the route. That being said, day 2 was 4+ hours of focused driving that demanded your full attention. In addition, I had gotten up extra early so I could wash my car (yes…again) and so I could get some photos of other groups as they left for the day. I had big plans to head up to Hurricane Ridge for some night photography but the thought of more seat time and tight turns caused me to change plans…it was takeout and the Seahawks in my hotel room for me!
Day three was a short day. We all checked out of the hotel and set off for a leisurely morning drive to the Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge, aka, the Dungeness Spit. After a hike to the beach, we all said our goodbyes and went in whatever direction home was. Like any of these club tours, the cars are cool and the driving is a blast, but it is the people that you meet and the passion that we share for Porsche cars that really makes the trip so much fun. Huge kudos to the PCA for finding a way to make this trip possible and for everyone on the trip for following the rules and keeping us all healthy.
My family thought I was crazy because on Saturday morning, while most sane people slept in, I decided to set my alarm for 3 AM. I’m a night owl, so 3 AM is more likely to be my bedtime than my wake up call! When my alarm went off, I had the moment of “what the hell am I doing this for” but I pushed through it. I showered, geared up and hit the road.
My destination was the Sunrise Visitor Center at the end of Sunrise Park Road. At 6400 feet of elevation, it’s the highest point that you can drive to at Mount Rainier. Fun fact – Mount Rainier has had several Native names including Talol, Tacoma, and Tahoma and we may officially change it back soon. With its 14,411 feel of total elevation and larger than life presence, Seattle feels very much in the shadow of Mount Rainier. I never get sick of seeing the mountain and I’ve always wanted to see a sunrise on the mountain. Hence the need to get up at 3 am to make the 2 1/2 hour drive to the top to beat the sun.
This was me “sneaking” out of the house ~ 3:30 AM, hoping my exhaust wouldn’t wake up the whole neighborhood!
I drove right by plenty of gas stations in Enumclaw but started to panic as I approached the huge national park with only half a tank. Luckily I found the Greenwater General Store (the last stop for gas as it turns out) and while it looked abandoned at 5 AM, the pumps were on and I was so thankful to be able to fill up the tank!
The drive up in the dark was a bit sketchy. I would catch the eyes of elk and deer by the side of the road and had to swerve around a few unlucky roadkill, but I made it without incident…maybe a few new gray hairs.
What greeted me, was the most spectacular view of the mountain that I have ever seen in my 22+ years here. I was mostly alone, the sun hadn’t risen yet, but given the height of the mountain, it was already enjoying plenty of light. I spent the next few hours looking at the views and taking photos of the mountain and my car because…well, that’s what I do now.
My favorites (click any image for full-sized slideshow):
Outside of catching a flight to someplace amazing or to see far away family, it is hard impossible to get me to wake up at 3 AM. Gabe said I had lost my mind and likely had dementia or something 🙂 It was so worth it and next time I’m dragging Meg out of bed with me. We will skip the cars and cameras and just enjoy the sunrise and a picnic breakfast on top of the world.
This Saturday was a repeat of last Saturday but in reverse. I started my morning very early with a trip to Mount Rainier and made it back to Seattle in time for Cars & Coffee, Japanese Car edition, at The Shop. There was a great turn out but I was tired from my morning trip and didn’t take that many photos. The lot was full of Acura NSXs, a few Nissan GTRs and a number of classic Toyota Celicas, Datsuns, etc. My favorite was an uninvited guest for Japanese day…a new Exclusive Series Porsche 911 Turbo S. A very limited edition color/design package on an already incredible car. Gold isn’t my favorite but this one looked great in person.
The Pacific Northwest has some of the most beautiful driving roads in the US. We are surrounded by the Pacific Ocean, countless lakes and huge mountain ranges on all sides. From Seattle, you can head South to Mount Rainier, West to the Olympic mountain range, North to Mount Baker or East to the Cascade mountain range. No matter which direction you head, you will not be disappointed. You can go for a day trip or spend weeks exploring. Some go to hike. Some go to camp. Some to hunt. I took off last Saturday afternoon, after a quick car show, to find some fun driving roads on the way up to Artist Point, Mount Baker.
The trip from Seattle to Artist Point was about 280 miles round rip and would take about 6 to 7 hours based on traffic. Not nearly long enough but it would have to do for a day trip. Mount Baker Highway is a blast and the last 10 miles or so is a crazy fun and twisty hill climb. I got stuck behind an RV at one point but they say my car, pulled over and gave me the thumbs up as I past them…such a great road!
At the top and then in a few different places on the way down, I was able to stop and take some photos. I even ran into another car photographer who shared some of the photos that he took of my car. You can see one of his photos below, watermarked @holdon.media. Of all the photos I took throughout the day, I think my favorite was the lucky snapshot of the shadow. The 911 shape is so iconic that you can recognize it in shadow form. It was a great Seattle summer drive.