October 14, 2013

A Week in Diablo

I am happy to say that since arriving in Seattle I have found gainful employment in my chosen field of study, archaeology/museum collections management. Yay!
Back in July I worked on a project for Seattle City Light, deinstalling and packing up exhibits at a small museum they maintained in Diablo, WA. 
There are three dams in a row on the Skagit River that constitute the Skagit River Hydroelectric Project and which have since 1920s supplied Seattle with the vast majority of its electricity. Diablo is the middle dam with associated lake (in the pictures above and below). Ross Dam/Lake is upriver and Gorge Dam/Lake is downriver. Diablo the town (which sits just down from Diablo Dam) along with Newhalem, WA (just down from Gorge Dam) are to this day strictly City Light Company towns, that is, in existence just to provide housing for employees and contractors. All dams, lakes and towns are surrounded by North Cascades National Park (will link to the NPS website when it's available again.)

I somehow didn't think to pack my good camera for the week I spent working there, so had to rely on the iPhone. Luckily, the light at the Diablo Lake Lookout (which beyond these amazing views is complete with plenty of parking, picnic tables, and restrooms all of which get pretty hard to come by up in these parts) and Instagram filters played nice together. 

Diablo itself is tucked down by the River, as mentioned, just below the dam. I'm not sure exactly how many feet below, but upon arrival we were given a walkie talkie to keep with us at all times, "just in case." And everyday when the air raid style noon whistle went off, we did a quick double check that it was indeed 12:00 and that disaster wasn't imminent. There is, after all, a lot of water in that lake up there.
Diablo itself is quaint, in a Dharma Initiative sort of way. This was home for the week, House 10. I quickly started fantasizing about fixing the whole place up and turning it into a charming little mountain resort. 
In the short time we were there it was plain to see that the town plays host to a whole array of colorful characters by way of its purpose. + setting = a novelist's dream. If only I were any good at plot.
It was hot during the days, but deep shadows set in well before sunset, facilitating some lovely evening strolls through town/along the river, same thing. 

A sign on the now-abandoned pool house. Diablo at one time had more long-term residents than today. There was a school (the school building came to house the museum we were dismantling), a community building (that's actually recently been restored for administrative functions), and a pool. All that's left of the pool itself is an indentation in the ground.
A local. 
We speculated about the model year of the firetruck that might be contained within.
The school/museum. This building also housed a cookhouse where three meals a day were prepared for, I do believe everyone staying in town that wanted them up until very recently. 
City Light used to operate tours up and around all the dams. An incline railway that originally took supplies up for dam construction and was later open for visitors to ride is located just across from the school building, thus the school was a natural spot for some interpretation. (Here are a couple of neat images of Diablo/the incline rail: 1928 and 1934.)The museum told the story of the Hydroelectric Project and housed artifacts relating to Seattle City Light's earlier days. In addition, it displayed a collection of items belonging to the family that owned the land prior to City Light. Post 9/11, public access around the dams was restricted, therefore Diablo can no longer be the destination that it once was. Tours that are more restricted in scope  than those of days of old are still offered by City Light in conjunction with the North Cascades Institute during the summer.
I wish I could remember what electricity-related gadget this lovely little logo went with. 
The Diablo Dam, this view is from the end of town, just up the road from the school.

As I mentioned, down from Diablo is the town of Newhalem and Gorge Dam and Lake. I forgot to mention that associated with each dam and lake is also a powerhouse. Love pre-mid-twentieth-century public works architecture. 
All that water sure gets these lines/transformers humming. Audibly.

Up the trail behind the Powerhouse is Ladder Creek Falls. The lighting of the falls at night and the creation of a garden around them was a pet project of Mr. Ross, mastermind of the whole Hydroelectric Project. The original lighting fell into disrepair and the nighttime colored light show with musical accompaniment ceased at some point, but a new more energy efficient system has since been put into place. Likewise many of the tropical plant species Ross imported have since been replaced with natives. We didn't come back after dark, but the unembelished daytime version of the falls wasn't exactly ugly.

Hmmm this looks suspiciously like an old gas fixture to me. I could be wrong, but if so, the irony.

Despite the fact that cell service dropped off to non-existent a couple of miles outside of Newhalem as you headed towards Diablo, meaning our only connection with the outside world while in Diablo was the spotty house wifi, living and working in such a remote, beautiful place was a pretty fantastic off-the-bat-Washington experience for this midwesterner. 

October 8, 2013


A couple of fall-ish Instagrams of recent. Mums on the table at Fiddlehead (our favorite lunch/brunch spot here in West Seattle). 
And a multi-fall-hued tree that I happened to look up and notice at the end of yesterday's run. It was a gorgeous, sunny, crystal clear-in-all-directions weekend. Hoping for another day or two of the same at some point before all the pretty leaves are on the ground. 

October 5, 2013


I have been over utilizing ye olde iPhone in my documenting of life of late while my "real" camera that I spent so long pining for has been collecting dust. In preparation for the slew of photography I plan to do in the very near future to get Unknown Blackbird on Etsy stocked up, I started doing a little experimentation yesterday, using my inherited copy of Anne of Green Gables as subject.
I watched the 1980s adaptations of the Anne books with Megan Follows on a regular basis growing up. I came across the dvd box set a few years ago and now try to revisit Avonlea once a year, usually in the fall. Last week was the week, which inspired this "shoot".

A little present from past me pressed between the pages.
I think 10 year old me was too caught up in the ruffles, bows and other trappings of early 20th century PEI life to notice, but in retrospect, that Gilbert Blythe was "a fine young man." To quote Marilla. ;)

October 3, 2013

Bloom On

We braved a wind-driven drizzle and made it back to the farmer's market this past Sunday, almost for the sole purpose of grabbing these guys.
Another $7, another week of happy at every glance.