Vashon Island

Vashon Island

Lately I’ve been trying to explore areas that are easier to travel to. I’ve been intrigued by Vashon Island and the numerous photos I’ve seen taken on the island. Vashon Island can be reached by ferry from either Port Orchard, West Seattle, or Tacoma which is where we departed from. The ferry ride itself only took about 30 minutes which wasn’t long enough in my book because the scenery is of course gorgeous!

 

After a short drive we headed to Spicy Sisters for some brick-over pizza. HIGHLY recommend the California Club! It was some of the best pizza I have ever had! Not to mention the owners and employees were great. For dessert we walked across the street to this cute ice cream shop Glass Bottle Creamery.

Our main destination was Point Robinson Park. Here there was a beach with a great view of Mount Rainier and of course Point Robinson Lighthouse. The best part of the night was watching the sunset reflected off of the mountain! There were a few other people here, but overall it was a nice and serene evening.

The ferry ride back had quite a few cars but nothing like an Edmonds or Seattle sailing. Vashon Island made for a quick and fun trip!

Seafair 2016

Seafair 2016

An overcast day makes for perfect photography weather! We braved the traffic and made the trip to Lake Washington to see what Seafair in Seattle was all about. The US Navy Blue Angels did not disappoint; as we walked onto the closed I-90 bridge we could hear the roar of their engines! The show lasted about 45 mins so then we made our way to Genesee Park to catch the hydroplanes and grab a bite to eat. We had a surprise fly-by from a couple of US Air Force A10s! The big hydroplanes rival the Blue Angles when it comes to loud engines fyi. Needless to say I’m thankful for the somewhat cloudy weather that kept the heat at bay and made for a great day by the lake.

Lake Washington panorama during Seafair 2016
US Navy Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
US Navy Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
US Navy Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
US Navy Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
US Navy Blue Angels flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
Air Force A10s flying over Lake Washington during Seafair 2016
Seafair 2016 Hydroplanes on Lake Washington
Seafair 2016 Hydroplanes on Lake Washington
Seafair 2016 Hydroplanes on Lake Washington
Augmented Reality – Pokémon and Early Adapters

Augmented Reality – Pokémon and Early Adapters

“Who would win, Blastoise or Charizard?”
“Blastoise duh, he’s water type. Fire is weak against water type.”
“But Charizard is also flying type.”
“Do we need to find out?”
“You’re on.”

Let the battle commence.

While somewhat dramatic, this conversation is reminiscent of many held on the playground during my childhood. The argument of which Pokémon was the “coolest” or which would prevail in battle was common in school. No one was immune to the pervasive reach of these “pocket monsters” that manifested in collectible figurines, Game Boy games, board games, school supplies, TV, VHS, and of course game card collecting. If you didn’t own a piece of it you at least knew about Pikachu and its adorable red-spotted cheeks. Advertisers had us hook-line-and sinker for their Japanese-derived characters and reaped the profits. Our generation that was infatuated with Pokémon is now a part of the working world, a part of an economy that is completely dependent on our spending habits.

Almost no human emotion is as strong as nostalgia, also known as the “nostalgia factor”, and profit seeking companies know this (Alexander, 2014). This includes technology driven companies, who utilize brilliant engineers to create innovations that are adapted by users who act as poster children for their new products. These early adapters are the people who first tried out the new Apple Iphone, and are now using Google Glass to the chagrin of general society. New technology takes a bit to be embedded into the dominant discourse of society, but once it is there, functioning with this technology rather than without is the new normal. Pokémon creators are using this new technology to their benefit, creating Pokémon GO. By utilizing advances in mobile gaming they aim to draw on our nostalgic memories of our childhood and literally make Pokémon a reality.

Pokemon GO sign up screen
Pokémon GO Charmander
Pokémon GO User Profile

Augmented reality will reach new social status through Pokémon GO because of a few reasons: first, the company behind it already has experience using this form of augmented reality, bypassing many first-time trial and errors (Rosenberg, 2016). Second, this already established technology with the Pokémon brand will create a marketing frenzy, reaching new users who have the purchasing power to indulge into childhood nostalgia. This use of augmented reality, combined with deeply rooted childhood memories, spells for economic and technological success.

Anne Galloway says that augmented reality, “attempts to overlay physical objects with virtual objects in real-time and allows people to experience the virtual as if it were real” (Galloway, 2004, p. 390). Once a user downloads the app on their phone, they will be able to “see” Pokémon by looking at the world through their phones. Just as we once did in our Game Boys, we might find a wild pikachu in the park, but this time in the same park we walk our dog. “For aspiring Trainers, it could be an entirely new way to interact with a now 20-year-old franchise” (Rosenberg, 2016). But unlike when we were kids, we can share this experience with others. As Kelley writes, “To activate such pervasive devices for use in everyday life much effort has also been spent developing software applications to mediate, augment, or otherwise produce the collective experience of urban space” (Kelley, 2014, p. 841). The augmented reality incorporated into this game allows users, or trainers, to interact with other trainers as teammates in order to claim a landmark, for example, for their team. The ability to play this game with others will help augmented technology to become a part of our daily lives.

But in order to achieve this proliferation, Pokémon GO needs to be introduced to the public only when it is guaranteed to work perfectly. “…the complex, social, cultural, political underpinnings of such potentially invasive technologies may in fact turn against their intended purpose, and rather than enhancing the experience of the city cause backlash from the community they were supposed to serve” (Kukka, 2014, p. 33). Google Glass may be experiencing this backlash right now. Its invasive nature involving abilities like instant recording is still very new and untested in general society. And how to use Google Glass the way it was intended still needs to be taught to new users. Pokémon GO, however, is easily added to our already understood and integrated use of smart phones. The company behind Pokémon GO even has a successful app already in place called Ingress that they are using as a base for Pokémon GO’s interface, “For Pokémon Go, Niantic took the tools it developed with Ingress — including its database of interesting and historical places — and brought them into the world of Pokémon. Those recorded places will become PokéStops and Gyms, where players can pick up items or compete against other players” (Rosenberg, 2016). This adds to the proliferation ability of this game, and therefore also facilitates the adoption of augmented reality technology into general society.

Gyarados and Snorlax - screengrab from the Pokémon GO trailer

Kukka and colleagues used a similar technique to properly introduce Oulu. “Further, as we wanted to engage the whole community and not just those who had an interest in new technology, our stories featured scenarios that were easily understandable and approachable even with superficial understanding of technology” (Kukka, 2014, p. 34). To bridge augmented reality technology out of the hands of early adapters and into those of the general public, developers need to translate complex processes into press-and-play realities. Google Glass fails to appeal to a wide enough audience to be ushered into mainstream consumerism. Pokémon, however, is the embodiment of consumerism. Even though the app itself will be free, that hasn’t stopped other “free to play” games from making huge profits these last few years. Mobile gaming made 36.9 billion last year, and is set to make more money than console games for the first time (Kharpal, 2016). The makers behind Pokémon GO have set themselves up with both timing and technology to work for them. Augmented reality is about to explode.

Even though some experts believe that it may take up to 10 years for augmented reality to become commonplace among citizens (Rosenberg, 2016), I believe that Pokémon GO will usher this form of augmented reality into the hands of the general public because of its inherent nostalgia, easy to acquire nature, and the already prevalent smart phone user base. To this day I remember when my “friend” stole my Raichu. Maybe with the new Pokémon GO app I can catch a new one.

-Kristie

References:

Alexander, S. (2014, October 15). Pokémon: The nostalgia factor. Retrieved July 02, 2016, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/technology/11162921/Pokemon-the-nostalgia-factor.html

Galloway A. (2004) Intimations of everyday life – Ubiquitous computing and the city. Cultural Studies 18: 384-408.

Kelley, M. J. (2014). The Semantic Production of Space: Pervasive Computing and the Urban Landscape. Environment and Planning A, 46(4), 837-851.

Kharpal, A. (2016, April 22). Mobile game revenues to overtake console, PC for first time. Retrieved July 02, 2016, from http://www.cnbc.com/2016/04/22/mobile-game-revenue-to-pass-console-pc-for-first-time.html

Kukka, H., Luusua, A., Ylipulli, J., Suopajärvi, T., Kostakos, V., & Ojala, T. (2014). From cyberpunk to calm urban computing: Exploring the role of technology in the future cityscape. Technological Forecasting and Social Change, 84, 29-42.

Rosenberg, G. (2016, June 30). To Be The Very Best: Pokémon Enters Into Augmented Reality. Retrieved July 02, 2016, from http://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/06/30/483857216/in-pokemon-go-an-app-to-become-the-very-best

Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent

Sol Duc Falls, Marymere Falls, and Lake Crescent

To celebrate an occasion my husband and I traveled past Port Townsend to Lake Crescent and set up camp. The campground itself is a lot of fun and comes with running water, bathrooms, established fire pits, dogs allowed, and an area to get your kayak in the water! We absolutely loved camping here. Lake Crescent is beautifully opaque at both sunrise and sunset with vivid colors throughout the day.

We took the quick drive up to see Sol Duc and hiked the short trail leading directly to the falls. The Sol Duc Falls are absolutely stunning! There were several people there, and a couple even decided to skip onto the middle rock to get pictures. Please don’t do that. A week later someone fell from there, went over two falls, and had to be rescued at the bottom of a cliff by search and rescue. The falls were constantly changing in the light because of all the tree coverage and the spray made it somewhat difficult to get a decent shot without getting my camera wet as well. I also wish my tripod was about six inches taller! But I would love to come back to these falls, considering they were so easy to get to and deliver many photographic opportunities.

On the way home we stopped at Marymere Falls. Storm King Ranger Station is on the bank of Lake Crescent and the trail to Marymere Falls begins there. A flat hike, we made good time and made the short incline to the falls. They don’t impress as much as Sol Duc, but the hike is serene and gentle and would make for a good stroll and picnic at the falls. There is a higher vantage point but of the two the lower is more conducive to a good waterfall shot.

I highly recommend a trip with these destinations. If we had more time we could have easily gone to the coast, Neah Bay and Rialto Beach. Next trip up there I want to spend some time at Hurricane Ridge!

 

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016

Skagit Valley Tulip Festival 2016

Tulip Town and Roozengaarde Gardens

For Easter Sunday we drove up to Mount Vernon, Washington in Skagit county to see the annual Tulip Festival. It was a little early so some of the tulips were not blooming yet, but it’s hard to say we missed out. The weather in the South Sound was gorgeous, but of course once we drove up I-5 through Seattle and past Marysville the weather deteriorated into a cold rain shower. It still being lunch time we stopped and enjoyed some delicious pizza at Skagit River Brewery.

Fortunately during the time it took for us to eat the rain stopped and the sun came out! We got in the car and followed the signs to the tulip fields. We discovered Tulip Town first, and enjoyed the many rows of tulips in their fields. We are no strangers to the Tulip Festival, however we had never been to Tulip Town and it was a nice change to see more established buildings and more offerings from vendors. No pets allowed but very kid friendly. Here we bought our yearly potted tulips, this year they are a gorgeous pink frilly variety. I get new ones each year to add to our garden.

The arrangement and variety of tulips at Roozengaarde however, is unparalleled. We headed there next and were able to get in right away because of only a small crowd of people. We took our time, enjoyed some fudge, and took advantage of the moody skies effect on the colorful tulips. Eventually we got too cold and as the rain started to fall again we headed home. We have gone every year for several years now and each experience is different. I hope you’re able to make it there this spring! If not, here are some of the images I was able to capture. Enjoy!

(Click the photos to see them larger)

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