Wednesday, July 23, 2014

More Seattle


After successfully resisting the urge to work, I hop the bus and return to the big city.  

Pioneer Square Station

The weather is to die for.  Well ….. at least to drive 3,500 miles for!  The sun stays out all day and temps top out in the low-70s.  Now THIS is the way to do summer.

I tell myself I want to sample more of the city, but what I really want to sample is the yummy-looking menu here at the Market.

More about that later.

First I head to the Seattle Public Library.  I hear it’s something to see. 

Indeed it is. 

I see things I’ve never seen in a library before – like a Gift Shop.  And decoratively-carved wooden floors throughout.  

Web Photo

Four stories of the book collection are built on an ingenious series of slanted floors labeled with a continuous run of Dewey Decimal numbers.  

Brilliant.  Why don’t all large libraries do this? And dogs!  I’m not sure if their presence is legal but I see several and I don’t see snooty signs stating Service Animals Only

I notice other things on this 2nd foray into Seattle.  People are so nice!  A young guy waiting near me at the Park and Ride shyly asks if I’m sure I know the right bus to catch.  He wants to prevent me from accidentally ending up at the airport.  (So much for blending in).  

The bus drivers say Welcome Aboard.  On my first ride, I don't have exact change, and the driver waves me on anyway.  Notice the beautiful patterned fabric on the bus seats.  What other city does that? 

In town, people smile and speak.  In heavy city traffic, if a car honks, people turn to look!  NYC it ain’t. 

The tacos are delicious, BTW.  The mole sauce is mucho flavorful.


A day at the park!  

It's the Mariners versus the NY Mets.

Safeco Field is my new favorite big-league ballpark.  It’s no surprise that Seattle does it well, with an eclectic and abundant food selection. 

Of course I did.

And well-considered seating.  I practically hover over home plate.

Unfortunately, it rains hard.  All day long.  I, along with thousands of other fans, arrive soaking wet after the 10-minute walk from the transit station.  I reach my seat 5 minutes before the National Anthem.  

My shoes, socks, and jeans are soaked through.  The fact that I never do dry-out or warm-up doesn’t diminish one single bit the thrill of seeing a tight game.  The Mets win 3-2 after a ninth-inning rally by the home team.  

New York's 41-year-old starting pitcher, Colon, throws a perfect game through the seventh–inning.  I think we might witness history.  But it wasn't to be.  

Another memorable day!  Though I am glad to be back home - warm and dry.  

Monday, July 21, 2014

A Day In Seattle


Web Photo

Just as I had hoped, taking the bus into Seattle from my new home in Bellevue proved simple.  

20 minutes and 4 stops after boarding at the South Bellevue Park and Ride, I'm at Pioneer Square.  I head for the waterfront.  

A local gentleman on the bus comments how much people are enjoying the heat wave.  It was 77.  Sorry, folks back home – don’t hate me!

I make my way over to Pike Place Market. 

It's fabulous!  Also crowded.  A local tells me that several cruise ships are in port. 

It's great fun to roam the maze of shops, restaurants, breweries, fish markets, and produce stands that seem to go on and on.

Back on the city streets, I stroll and browse some more.  This is my favorite shop.  

It has everything a map-nerd like me could wish for.  

I find an upscale antique shop stuffed full of treasure.


All along this trip I have been scheming about ways to sample the region’s prized Dungeness Crab.  On offer here, is Crab Cocktail.  Perfect!

The counter guy asks if I want cocktail sauce. 

Me: What’s the alternative?
He: Melted butter. 
Me: Uh, yeah.  Put me down for that.

And, yes, it is as delectable as it looks.

In the late afternoon, it was back to Home Depot where I receive permission to park overnight from the nice folks. This is a great location - close to the Park & Ride, and quiet.  I have this view of Bellevue from my living room.

[Note: On Sunday I explore the area on foot and find that the urban Bellevue is made up of corporate offices and high-end retail and residential spaces.  Everything looks new.  A real 21st century urban space.]   

 I'll hang out here for a few more days before making my way back to the coast.  

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Mt Rainier NP - Day 2


Early in the AM, I begin the 8-mile up, down, all-around drive to Paradise, the park’s main Visitors’ Center. 

Web Photo

The fabulous weather holds – nothing but blue skies and temps in the 60s.  I hike the Nisqually Glacier Trail for a good half-hour until  snow prevents further progress.  

Nisqually, one of Rainier's 25 glaciers, appears in the upper left corner and slopes toward the middle of this photo below.

Next I strike out on Skyline Trail until snow, once again, halts my progress. 

Back at the Visitors' Center, I watch the furious activity among the prospective summiteers.

After lunch, I drive the long route north up to White River Campground to secure a camping spot for the night before continuing to Sunrise – the park’s highest accessible point.  Arriving after a breathtaking 1.5 hour 14-mile drive, I search the entire campground twice over for vacant sites and find just two.  

One site is situated at an approximate120-degree angle and the other, on closer inspection, is littered with cigarette butts, orange peels, and egg shells.  I am in no mood to spend 30 minutes cleaning up the site.

Earlier in the day, a ranger had assured me that there would be plenty of vacant spots at White River.  After all, the postage-stamp size camping sites preclude all but the tent-campers and the micro-rigs like mine.  By the time I find otherwise, it is too late to backtrack and spend another night at Cougar Rock.  Bummer!

Leaving the park, I'm consoled that I can at least resume my connectivity and cell service after a 24-hour communication blackout.  I'm feeling pressed to check into the classroom.  My students have a major project due on Sunday and I know there would be lots of questions.  Incredibly …. there are none! 
The drive to Auburn, WA – destination Muckleshoot Casino – is only 30 miles but takes over 90 minutes due to construction on Highway 410.  All but a small section of the entire route is surfaced with freshly-placed gravel. 

Gravel is to the GDB what Fire is to The Scarecrow.  

With the GDB's 5-inch clearance, the sharp gravel pings unrelentingly throughout her fragile underbelly of plumbing, pipes, and propane.  It is a long, noisy, worrisome drive.  

But we make it without any obvious damage!

So I'm here for the night at the Muckleshoot Casino in Auburn, WA.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Mt Rainier NP - Day 1


Mt. Rainier, standing 14,410 feet tall, encompasses dense forests, wildflower meadows, snowfields, and glaciers.  All this makes it one vast snowy show-off!  The National Park Service protects approximately 250,000 of its acres.  

Summit seen from Cougar Rock Campground

The mountain's looming bulk dominates the landscape to such a degree it’s almost impossible to take in.  I’ve learned that it’s one thing to be surrounded by a mass of 14-ers like the majestic Rockies, but quite another to have an intimate encounter with just one lone monolith.  With the Rockies, promiscuity is permitted; Rainier requires commitment.  Even if it's short-term like mine was. 

Mt. Rainier National Park is two things: 1) spectacular and 2) crowded.  

And this was hours after the first crush at Paradise Visitors' Center

And why shouldn’t it be?  Crowded, that is.  Almost 300-feet of annual snowfall makes the park inaccessible much of the year.  And the summer vacation season is in full-swing.  When I feel cramped and impatient, I try to remember to balance this with gratitude that so many people visit this treasure.  

One day, this will belong to all those bored-looking teenagers. 

I spend the night at Cougar Rock Campground.  It’s a lovely enclave of trees, rocks, and flowing water.  It offers a variety of trails.   

The GDB peeks shyly out from our campsite on the right.

As blog readers know, I have become somewhat squirrely about hiking alone.  But I manage not to psych myself out over the next 2 days.  Maybe I’m cured? (she said hopefully).  I spend an agreeable couple of hours exploring the Longmire Trail.

In the evening, I attend a Park Service program where Ranger Steve makes a masterful case regarding how nature enriches all of us.