Day 15: Issaquah, WA (again)
No map today – I drove around a bit, but got nowhere, which was the point.
The last time I visited this area was in July 2010, with a friend. Back then, the temperature in Virginia was in the upper 90s and into the 100s (F, of course), a bit warm even for July in Virginia. Here, though, as we went hiking up in the Cascades, the thermometer read in the 30s.
Behold, today, it again read in the 30s.
I finally visited another brewery today, Snoqualmie Brewery and Taproom.
Now, the thing to remember about beer is that at its basic level, beer consists of four ingredients: water, malt, yeast and hops. While some beer adds this or that other flavor, most of the variations in beer come from variations in those four ingredients. Beer mystics add a fifth ingredient, the brewer – but hopefully none of the brewer actually gets into the brew. There are laws about that sort of thing. Hops (basically the seed cone of a certain plant) are added to impart a distinctive bitter flavor to the beer, to help ensure that the only active microorganisms in the brew are the yeasts, and as a preservative. A lot of people (not including me) love overhopped beers, such as IPAs. But almost all beer is made with hops, and so their flavor and aroma are central to the beer-enjoying process.
Most of the hops grown in the US come from here in the Pacific Northwest, so I figured the breweries around here would have characteristics based on not having to transport these magical plants as far. I can’t really tell the difference, though – clearly, more research is necessary. The beer at Snoqualmie was good, though – I had a sampler.
Also, getting back off the beer subject for now, I learned something important the last time I was out here. We went to the Snoqualmie Casino, which I mentioned in the last post. I said to myself, “Oh, we’re just going to a casino. I don’t need my camera.” So we get in there – we didn’t gamble; we just had dinner and hung out in the nightclub and at the cigar bar there – and we went out onto the back deck of the building, a structure that overlooks a broad expanse of lush, green river valley on the west side of the Cascades.
In the summer, sunset lingers here well into the evening, and as we all know, the Seattle area is known for its wet weather. On that evening, the setting sun illuminated misty clouds as I stepped out, camera-less, onto the deck, and created a vivid, perfect, double rainbow spanning the valley. A rainbow, in fact, that would have made an awesome picture.
So I learned: Never go anywhere without my camera (which, since I used to be a semi-professional photographer, I ought to have already known). Consequently, today, a day of fine, clear skies and bright sunshine (yes, it happens in Seattle from time to time), I carried my Nikon with me to Snoqualmie Falls. I figured that while the conditions for creating a rainbow were probably not going to happen, I could at least get pictures of one of the coolest-looking waterfalls in the country. Eagerly, I schlepped the camera up onto the observation platform, and got this shot:
That’s right – the mist kicked up by the falls was so thick you could barely see the cataract. If you kind of stare at the picture for a few seconds, you might make out a bit of the waterfall, pretty much in the center of the shot. Or you can click on this link to the Wikipedia picture of the falls, taken by some lucky photographer who even got a goddamn rainbow in there.