Thursday, December 31, 2009

Coho Salmon Returning to The Columbia River in Record Numbers

It does not seem all that long ago that the picture being painted about the health of the salmon fisheries in Washington was very very dire, with salmon pretty much wiped out in the middle to upper Columbia River.

Coho salmon in the lower Columbia River received protection under the Endangered Species Act. Upriver there were no Coho left to protect. Now there are.

10 years ago on 12 coho salmon make it past Rock Island Dam by Wenatchee. In 2009, 19,805 made it past Rock Island Dam.

In the 1990s work began to try and restore the coho runs with fish hatcheries and making it easier for the fish to get past the dams to their spawning zones.

Biologists attribute improved conditions in the Pacific Ocean as also helping increase the number of salmon.

The number of hatchery Coho salmon returning far exceeds expectations. There is also an increase of returns from natural spawning. Which bodes well for the future of the salmon runs in Washington.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

BING's Seattle Skyline Winning Photo

You are looking at a photo of the Seattle skyline, taken by photographer Justin Kramer. If I had not read this was the Seattle skyline I would not have known that's what it was.

It's an unusual view of downtown Seattle.

BING, that being Microsoft's somewhat new search engine had a contest where BING solicited for photos of skylines from around the world, with the one determined to be the best being, featured on the BING homepage.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Seattle Most Literate City In America Again

That is the downtown library in America's most literate city, Seattle.

Seattle has been ranked #1 most literate a number of times. This time the criteria was based on the number of bookstores, Internet use, percentage of high school or higher graduates and newspaper circulation.

I am currently reading in Fort Worth, Texas, which is the #52 most literate city in America.

There are two things I always notice when I'm in Washington, after spending time in Texas.

One is that the people in the Pacific Northwest look deflated, like the air has been let out of them.

The other is I'll run into smart people where I'd never run into smart people in Texas. Like at a grocery checkout. In Washington it will be a well-paid, union member, adult doing the checking.

I remember being in Tacoma and the checkout person at the Metro store telling me about the trip she'd just taken to South America, her tale well told, with plenty of poly-syllabic words, properly pronounced.

I recently had a meeting with the Mayor of Fort Worth, educated by Texas schools. I had to explain to him what a Conflict of Interest was.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Wellington Avalanche: Most Deadly in U.S. History

1910 was the year, February was the month, the Washington Cascades was the location. The last 9 days of February, Wellington, Washington, a Great Northern Railway stop high in the mountains, was drowned in snow, falling as much as a foot an hour.

On the worst day 11 feet of snow fell.

Two trains were trapped in Wellington, a mail train and a passenger train, both bound for Seattle from Spokane. Avalanches and the continuing snow prevented snow plows from reaching the trapped trains.

Then on February 28 the snow was replaced by rain and warm temperatures and wind. One hour into March snow broke loose from Windy Mountain, sending a 10 foot wave of snow a half mile long and a quarter mile wide, straight to Wellington.

The avalanche missed some of Wellington's buildings, but slammed directly into the train depot and the trains, sending the trains downhill into the Tye River Valley. 96 was the total killed. Of those, 35 were passengers. 58 Great Northern workers on the trains were killed and 3 in the depot. 23 passengers survived, pulled from the wreckage by those who had escaped the avalanche.

It was not til late July that the remaining bodies were able to be retrieved. I believe the picture above is of some of the victims and rescuers soon after the disaster. By July there would not be so much snow on the ground.

19 years after the Wellington Avalanche the 7.79 Cascade Tunnel under Stevens Pass was opened. After the 1910 disaster snow sheds were built to protect the train track from avalanches. You can see those snow sheds to this day when you take Highway 2 over Stevens Pass.

The Wellington Avalanche and it being the worst of that type disaster in American history is not a well known piece of our history.

But, renowned Burlington, Washington Historian, Farmer, Photographer and Author, Martin Burwash, has made it his life's work to make sure the story of the heroics at Wellington gets told.

For decades Burwash has been accumulating massive amounts of information about what happened in 1910 at Wellington, and its aftermath.

Using this vast fountain of knowledge, Burwash has written an historical novel called Vis Major: Railroad Men, An 'Act of God'---White Death at Wellington.

Vis Major has received glowing reviews and is climbing the Best Seller lists. It's been reported that Burwash has been negotiating for screen rights to Vis Major, with Brad Pitt playing Burwash as the story's narrator.

I usually don't go to movies, I wait for them to come out on DVD, but with Vis Major I may make an exception.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

State of Washington Deep Freezes

Wow. I'd say I'm glad I'm not in Mount Vernon right now. 14.3 degrees. That is cold. Appears all of Washington is in the Deep Freeze today.

Currently I am stuck in Fort Worth, Texas, not all that much warmer than Washington. Here it is currently 26 degrees with the Wind Chill factor making it feel like 16 degrees. A couple hours ago it was 23 with a Wind Chill of 14.

So, with that Texas Wind Chill Factor, I know how cold you're feeling right now up in Washington.

Here in Fort Worth, unlike up in Washington, there is no snow in the Texas forecast. The first snow of the year hit North Texas a week ago today. It didn't stick around for long.


Friday, December 4, 2009

Sun Lakes State Park & Dry Falls

Sun Lakes State Park was my favorite camping destination in my post-teen years. Sun Lakes was about a 4 hour drive from my location on the west side of the Cascades, in the Skagit Valley.

The campground at Sun Lakes could have a slightly crowded feeling, but I never minded. The campground wasn't the attraction. The beach and the lake, all day long, was the fun thing.

And as the sun went down on a hot day a very strong wind would be an added attraction. Something to do with the canyon's walls and dropping temperatures causing some effect, is it a Venturi effect? I don't remember. What I do remember is watching tents blown over and people panicking who did now know a strong wind was going to arrive.

I do not recollect the park ranger's giving warnings about the wind.

Sun Lakes State Park covers 4,027 acres with 73,640 feet of shoreline. The park is near the base of Dry Falls. Believed to be the biggest waterfall the world has ever known, 10 times bigger than Niagara. Dry Falls is now a 400 feet high cliff, 3.5 miles wide.

I remember my brother and me having fun exploring one of the small coulees (that is Washington speak for canyon) and we ran into a ranger who told us we should go no further because he'd just seen a lot of rattlesnakes in the direction we were headed.

At Sun Lakes you can boat, fish, swim, golf, hike, ride horses or just sun bathe. Sun Lakes State Park is on Route 17 at the head of the Lower Grand Coulee. At the start of the Lower Grand Coulee you'll find Soap Lake.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Soap Lake Washington's Healing Waters & Giant Lava Lamp

When I was a kid, growing up in Washington, almost every summer weekend we would take off and go camping. Birch Bay State Park, Ocean Shores State Park, Copalis, Sun Lakes State Park and Soap Lake.

Those are all my favorite places we'd go to in my pre-teen years.

Soap Lake is the name of the town and the lake. This was a favorite place to go because it was one of my mom's fond memories of when she was a kid. Her grandpa, he being my great-grandpa would take my mom on trips to Soap Lake.

Back then, which would have been during the Great Depression, before WWII, people went to one of Soap Lake's sanitariums, hotels and bath houses to partake of the Healing Waters of Soap Lake.

For a time, early in the Great Depression, a drought dried up much of Soap Lake. Then when Grand Coulee Dam began til fill Lake Roosevelt, irrigation brought water to the Washington desert. So much so that Soap Lake's mineral content began to be diluted. By the end of the 1950s wells and pumps had saved Soap Lake.

As a kid I can remember being particularly interested in my mom's tale of a nudist camp on the far side of the lake. At that time that seemed a shocking thing to me. In 2009, not so much. Come to think of it, I have been in Soap Lake sans swimsuit. The mineral/soap thick water can quickly cause an abrasion where swimsuit material meets skin. Au naturel is much more comfortable

To partake of Soap Lake you go out in the water, swim or just stand in it. Then scoop up some of the mineral rich Soap Lake mud, cover yourself with it, and then go back to the beach to dry the mud in the sun, taking in its curative powers. I was always amused, as a kid, watching people do this. I do not recollect if I ever took a mud treatment myself.

After the 1940s the number of people seeking the Healing Waters of Soap Lake diminished. But the town lived on and its life as a tourist destination lives on, not quite like in its heyday, when people came from all over the country for Soap Lake's legendary curative powers.

In 2002 the World's Largest Lava Lamp was added to Soap Lake as a tourist attraction. I can't remember if the Soap Lake/Grand Coulee area is a volcano zone where you find pumice and obsidian, so I'm not quite getting the Lava Lamp connection. It looks cool though.

Soap Lake is at the lower end of the Grand Coulee, which is abut a mile and a half wide, with steep basalt cliffs rising as high as 900 feet on either side. Soap Lake is in a desert climate with an average of 9 inches of rain a year. And an average 320 sunny days annual. So, you can see why the lakes of the Grand Coulee are a popular tourist destination for Washingtonians on the west side of the Cascades.

Getting to Soap Lake is an easy drive from Seattle or Spokane, it's only 20 miles north of Interstate 90 on Highway 17.

Monday, November 30, 2009

There is No Starbucks in Starbuck Washington

This morning I got a Facebook message from Miss KPF, sent from an Internet Cafe in Dayton, Washington.

I knew Miss KPF was over in the Tri-Cities, Walla Walla zone. She crosses the Cascades about every week to stay a couple days in either Richland, Pasco or Kennewick. I don't know which one because she always refers to where she is as the Tri-Cities.

I did not remember where Dayton was in eastern Washington. So, I looked it up. Dayton is about 30 miles northeast of Walla Walla on Highway 12. Miss KPF was in Dayton to make reservations at the Weinhard Hotel for her group of hardened Harley riders.

When I found Dayton, on the map, another town caught my eye. Starbuck. Now, everyone knows there are plenty of Starbucks in Washington, with the original being at Seattle's Pike Place Market. But I did not know there was a town of Starbuck in Washington.

Starbuck is about 20 miles northwest of Dayton on Highway 261. Population 128. Named after railroad official W.H. Starbuck.

And I am not the first person to ask if there is a Starbucks in Starbuck.

There is not. I also do not know if there is a Starbucks in Dayton. But I do know there is an Internet Cafe there, where Miss KPF was drinking a latte while she played Scrabble on Facebook.

I forgot to mention. That picture at the top, that is the Starbuck City Hall. I don't know if it is still in use. But doesn't it look like it's make a great little Starbucks?

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Four Police Officers Ambushed in Pierce County

What is going on in Washington with police officers being murdered?

Once again it was from Twitter I learned shocking news, as in News4Seattle Tweeted, "4 police officers shot dead at Wash. coffeehouse."

The police officers, 3 men and a woman, were having in a coffee shop having their morning espresso, working on their laptops before their morning shift began at a location in, I think, Lakewood, in south Pierce County, near McChord Air Force Base.

Police are saying this was an ambush, execution type slaying. They have a person of interest and warrants, but so far, no one under arrest.

I Got a Bellevue, Washington Christmas Tree at a Fort Worth Texas Kroger Today

Kroger is a grocery store chain. A few years ago Kroger took over the Northwest based Fred Meyer chain.

Today I went to a Kroger in east Fort Worth, Texas. As soon as I exited my vehicle the air smelled like Washington. In Texas, near as I can tell, the best you can hope for, smell-wise, is the scent of Texas BBQ.

I soon saw why it was smelling like I was back in Washington. Christmas trees. I stood there taking in the scent of a Washington forest for a few minutes, sort of feeling transported back to Washington.

I figured the trees were from Texas. Pine trees grow in Texas in what is called the Piney Woods Region. I was curious where the trees came from so I looked at the yellow tag that was on each tree to learn each tree was "Another Gem from the Emerald Forest." With the Emerald Forest being grown by the Emerald Christmas Tree Company, based in Bellevue, Washington.

These were good-looking Christmas trees. Unless I misunderstood it looked like they were being sold for $29.95. How does someone grow a tree and ship it from Washington all the way to Texas to be sold for only $29.95? What a bargain.

U.S. Military Occupies Seattle's Westlake Center Handcuffing Civilians

I was shocked to learn this morning that on Saturday the U.S. military occupied Westlake Center in downtown Seattle, tossing shoppers to the ground and slapping them in handcuffs.

The soldiers yelled profanely at their prisoners, as the un-arrested holiday shoppers looked on in horror.

Turns out this was all a street theater act put on by opponents of the likely upcoming surge in troops in Afghanistan.

The protesters are part of a group called "The World Can't Wait."

The purpose of this rather bizarre piece of street theatrics was to show what it is like for civilians when a military occupation takes place.

I'm sure these protesters meant well. But I really don't think this type of street theater is going to change any minds or anyone's policies. And it could have quickly spun out of control with really bad results.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Chuckanut Drive Closed By Slide. Again.

It is harder to keep roads open in Washington than in relatively flat Texas. Last week, or was it the week before, an avalanche closed the North Cross-State Highway til the spring thaw.

A rockslide has closed Chuckanut Drive for a week or so, while a hillside is stabilized.

Do rockslides still happen on the section of Interstate 5 that is almost to Bellingham, due west of Lake Padden?

I've seen some huge boulders come down on that stretch of road.

The current slide on Chuckanut Drive brought down boulders described as half the size of a Volkswagen Beetle.

Chuckanut Drive was often my preferred route to get from Mount Vernon to Bellingham, with a stop at Larrabee State Park to hike up Chuckanut Mountain to Lily Lake and then on to Haggens in Bellingham for sushi or Chinese food.

Click here for more on Chuckanut Drive, including a video.

Bellevue Bikini Barristas Being Bare Barred

What's up with the bizarre bikini barrista bonanza going on in Washington?

This type thing is something I'd expect to see in my current Texas location, with its world's highest per capita number of strippers and strip joints, not in much more sensible Washington.

There have been police stings in Snohomish County, where coffee girls were being bad girls. Even my old home zone of Mount Vernon has a Bikini Barrista stand in the area at the Foxy Latte Lady.

And now the city of Bellevue has moved against bikini barristas selling coffee, while scantily clad, at Knotty Bodies, claiming Knotty Bodies is not complying with city codes.

The Bikini Barristas continued to pass coffee to customers using the drive-through, even though Knotty Bodies was told they could be fined $100 a day if they didn't stop.

By Tuesday the Knotty Bodies' attorney claimed a deal had been worked out with the city where they could stay open til the issues are resolved, as long as they closed the drive-through.

This all sounds like a big bikini brouhaha over something silly, to me.

Friday, November 20, 2009

BusinessWeek Says Mount Vernon Top Town In America To Rebound From Recession

I was surprised to learn this morning that BusinessWeek magazine has picked Mount Vernon, Washington as the #1 city in America to rebound from the recession in the first quarter of the new year.

Mount Vernon is a great town. I can see how it was possible for Mount Vernon to be picked as the Best Small City in America, which it was, in 1998.

But, how in the world would a magazine determine that Mount Vernon will be the #1 rebounder from the recession?

BusinessWeek said Mount Vernon's tourist attractions, retail and hospitality industries and proximity to Seattle and Vancouver were the reasons it will recover quickly.

Mount Vernon is an attractive, scenic town, with a powerful river, the Skagit, running through it. You can fish for salmon in Mount Vernon. Not many towns can make that claim. Mount Vernon is very hilly with a bike trail system meandering around town. You can drive to the top of Little Mountain for a panoramic view of the Skagit Valley, including the agricultural fields where a lot of America's food is grown. And tulips.

It will be interesting to get more details as to how BusinessWeek came to decide Mount Vernon is poised to recover economically before the rest of America.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

La Conner, Washington

That is La Conner's Rainbow Bridge, connecting La Conner to Fidalgo Island, Shelter Bay and the Swinomish Indian Reservation. La Conner has 2 main streets, one being 1st Street, the other being the Swinomish Channel, with 1st street carrying cars, pedestrians and bikes, with the Swinomish Channel carrying a lot of boats.

There are many places to dock your boat along the Swinomish Channel in La Conner, plus a couple very big marinas. You can easily sail up to a restaurant's dock for lunch or dinner. Or to browse through La Conner's shops and galleries.

The center part of the town is a historic district listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Tom Robbins, author of Another Roadside Attraction and other novels, calls La Conner home.

In spring La Conner is swarmed by thousands of visitors who come to the Skagit Valley to view the tulip fields during the annual Skagit Valley Tulip Festival.

You can float your boat north on the Swinomish Channel to the Swinomish Northern Lights Casino on Highway 20. There you'll find a RV Park, marina, restaurants and slot machines.

Click for more La Conner info and pictures.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Tacoma, Washington

You are looking at Katie Downs Waterfront Tavern & Eatery on the part of Puget Sound called Commencement Bay, in Tacoma. That is Mount Rainier peaking its head up in the background.

Katie Downs is a northwest themed tavern specializing in pizza, burgers and real good seafood. And handcrafted northwest beers and wine.

There are several good restaurants on the Tacoma waterfront. And several parks. Taking a stroll along the Tacoma waterfront is an activity a lot of people engage in.

Years ago Tacoma was known for the Tacoma Aroma, caused by wood pulp processing plants. The Tacoma Aroma has been long gone. Replaced by pleasant sea breezes, lots of flowers and the scent of evergreen trees.

Tacoma is the location of 2 very expensive Superfund cleanup sites. One being Asarco. I think it may have been the most expensive cleanup to date in America. Where a mess used to exist, now a big condo complex has been built. At the other end of Commencement Bay the Thea Foss Waterway has been cleaned up and turned into a complex of marinas, high rise apartments, lofts, restaurants and a waterfront promenade. That is part of the Thea Foss Waterway in the picture, looking south towards the Tacoma Dome.

The Thea Foss Waterway complex is tied in quite nicely with the Museum of Glass. A broad stairway leads from the Thea Foss Waterway Promenade to the Bridge of Glass, which is a multi-million dollar display of Dale Chihuly glass, installed in a 500 foot long pedestrian bridge that crosses the main road into downtown Tacoma and leads to the Washington State History Museum and the Tacoma Art Museum.

Downtown Tacoma has a free to ride electric trolley train that runs from the transit hub to downtown Tacoma. At the transit hub you'll find free parking in a big parking garage, Freighthouse Square, which is a collection of shops and restaurants, the Sounder, which is a train that will take you to Seattle and a Greyhound bus station.

Downtown Tacoma is very pedestrian friendly. It is very hilly, so you can have yourself a good walking workout while exploring.

Watch the YouTube video below. In it I take you on a short walk across the Bridge of Glass to the Thea Foss Waterway. You'll also see a Sound Transit electric trolley pass by...

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Mount Vernon, Washington

That big white blob you see in the center of the picture is Mount Baker. Your vantage point for looking at Mount Baker is from Interstate 5 in south Mount Vernon.

Mount Baker is a dormant volcano. Mount Vernon is a town in Washington. Mount Vernon is the last town I lived in in Washington. Mount Vernon is the county seat of Skagit County. Skagit County is so-named because of the valley and the river named Skagit.

The Skagit Valley is one of the most fertile, agriculturally speaking, locations on the planet. The climate of Skagit County is similar to northern France, which is one reason millions of tulips are grown annually in the Skagit Valley, but none are shipped to France, due to the import/export laws of the European Union that protect its markets.

I think it is possible to buy a French (or Dutch) tulip in America. Yet one more unfair trade issue.

In 1998 Mount Vernon was rated the #1 "Best Small City in America." By whom, I do not remember. Rand McNally? Forbes? I do remember CNN showed up in town. When I lived in Mount Vernon and it was named the Best Small City in America, I, and others were perplexed. Living there many saw many ways the town could be made better.

Now, 10 years later, having spent those 10 years in Texas, I can see quite clearly how and why Mount Vernon could and would be named the Best Small City in America. Just the scenic setting might be enough. Then you have all the recreational opportunities. Paved trails running through the town. Skagit Valley College. The extremely well-done downtown, with the Skagit River running through it.

A strong sense of community. I'll never forget being in downtown Mount Vernon about 2 in the morning. The Seattle TV stations had let us know that downtown Mount Vernon was in danger of being wiped out by the flooding Skagit, due to crest around noon that morning. A flood of people flooded downtown, working with the National Guard, sandbagging downtown.

As the crest of the flood approached, water began to top over the sandbags. I watched from high ground above downtown. I have never seen water look so violent. Then, suddenly, the water level dropped. Emergency sirens sounded. An hour, or so, later I learned that a dike downriver had broken, flooding a dike protected area called Fir Island. Mount Vernon was spared, but Fir Island was a disaster. Two weeks later it happened again. The first flood was called the Thanksgiving Flood, due to when it happened. I do not recollect what the flood 2 weeks later was called. I believe they were both what are known as 100 year floods, as in, floods that bad happen only once every 100 years, on average. Not every 2 weeks.

I miss Mount Vernon, the Skagit Valley and tulips. Possibly the best place to live on the planet Earth.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridges

I was in Tacoma a couple times during the construction of the new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge. There was a viewing area on the beach on the Gig Harbor side. You could walk the beach til you were under the construction. I did that a couple times.

When the voters first approved the building of a new bridge, parallel to the existing one, I thought this would be a very cool looking pair of bridges. The original bridge has always been an impressive thing to see and cross.

I know many years of improved bridge engineering and design have passed since the construction of the first bridge, but I still somehow thought that part of the design criteria would be to somehow make the bridges appear to be twins. Instead they look like distantly related cousins.

They aren't even the same color.

The original bridge's towers are made of steel and painted green. The new bridge's towers are made of concrete and not painted green.

Even though the aesthetics may be a bit off, the Tacoma Narrows Dual Suspension Bridges are still very cool-looking and fun to cross. And they sure did improve the flow of traffic.

One day the older bridge will need to be replaced. I doubt the new bridge built when that day comes will match the look of the current new bridge, but it'd be a nice thing if it did.

You are looking north at the completed new Tacoma Narrows Suspension Bridge from a waterfront deck near Steamers seafood restaurant where very good fish, in the form of cod, and chips were found.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Point Defiance in Tacoma

That's my pal named Pal on the beach at Point Defiance in Tacoma. There is a lot of beach to play on at Point Defiance. And a lot of trails to hike through old growth forest.

At 702 acres, Point Defiance is one of the biggest urban parks in the world. And it has to be one of the most scenic, surrounded on three sides by inlets of Puget Sound, with Mount Rainier in view from multiple locations (on a clear day).

There is an entry fee to Point Defiance Zoo & Aquarium, but sightseeing and playing in the rest of Point Defiance is free of charge.

In Point Defiance park besides the zoo and aquarium, you'll also find a Rose Garden, the Rhododendron Garden, the Camp 6 Logging Museum, Fort Nisqually, a boardwalk, the Washington State Ferry dock that can take you and your car across to Vashon Island, and a lot of very tall trees.

Behind Pal and underneath Mount Rainier you can see an Anthony's Homeport Restaurant where you can get good seafood and watch the passing parade of boats.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Gambling On The Washington Casinos

That's an Orca jumping out of the water in front of the Tulalip Casino in Marysville. Casinos existed in Washington 10 years ago, before I moved to Texas.

But, back then, there were no slot machines, just table games, I think, Keno, and bingo. And buffets. I frequented the buffet at what is now called Skagit Valley Casino. It was Harrah's Skagit Casino back when I ate there. I'm a bit of a buffet aficionado, the Harrah's Skagit Casino buffet was as good as I've had anywhere.

But topping that was the Friday night seafood buffet at the other Skagit County casino, that being the Swinomish Northern Lights Casino. They made oysters like my mom's.

The Washington casinos have multiplied and grown bigger, way bigger, since I moved. I had a friend in Tacoma who got somewhat addicted to the games at the Puyallup's Emerald Queen Casino, in Tacoma. Games like Monopoly. It's like they've taken slot machines and combined them with video games.

The Washington Casinos have grown more Vegas-like, with themes and shows. When I was a youngster going to Nevada was a unique experience. That is no longer the case. Step into any Washington casino and the look, smell and sound is Nevada. Except for free drinks being provided to loosen up your money flow.

Texas does not allow casinos. This causes strange over compensations for that lack. Such as a couple miles across border, north of Dallas/Fort Worth, in Oklahoma, sits the world's 5th biggest casino, the WinStar World Casino Resort. It is not in a city. It is in the middle on nowhere.

Mount Rainier Makes An Appearance

All my years living in Washington I never successfully made it to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park to not have the Mountain shrouded in clouds and fog. It took me 5 trips to San Francisco before the fog lifted enough to see the Golden Gate Bridge. Mount Rainier was not quite that uncooperative.

On August 11, 2008 I drove to Paradise in Mount Rainier National Park, once more, and once again the Mountain was shrouded in clouds. But, me and my small hiking group of 3 trekked towards the unseen Mountain, optimistic a miracle would occur.

There were a lot of people hoping for a similar miracle. We made it to Myrtle Falls, which is the falls you see in the picture. And you can also see that the clouds had lifted from the Mountain.

Watch the video I made of my August 11 visit to Mount Rainier and you'll hear me talking about a near death experience near the lodge where I almost fell off a ladder. And you will hear a lot of people being very excited that the Mountain decided to make an appearance.

Clouds & UFOs Over Mount Rainier

According to my sources, in the Pacific Northwest, Mount Rainier put on an interesting cloud show a couple Friday's back.

When I was in Tacoma in August of 2008 in the early evening I was on my way to Top's Grocery when I saw similar clouds over Mount Rainier. Plus it was a full moon. I have never in my life been more aggravated that I did not have my camera with me.

Go here for more Mount Rainer Flying Saucer clouds and the story of how way back in 1947 a pilot named Kenneth A. Arnold sparked the era of people seeing Flying Saucers when he spotted 9 UFOs near Mount Rainier.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Seattle Pike Place Market Video

I am no great videographer, but I try and make do with my 5 year old camcorder that is due to be replaced.

August 7, 2008 I wandered through downtown Seattle, running my video camera, including a walk through Pike Place Market.

In the video I walk by the spot where the salmon fly, but I didn't not stand around waiting for one to hit the air.

Pike Place Market is the location of the original Starbucks. I did not walk by the original Starbucks in the video.

Go here to watch my amateurish YouTube video of a Thursday afternoon walk through Pike Place Market in Seattle.

Seattle, Washington

I think this picture of Seattle is likely over 10 years old. The Kingdome is still standing and I see no Safeco Field being built south of it.

In the 10 years since I left the Pacific Northwest, and moved to Texas, a lot has changed in Seattle. There no longer is a print version of the P-I. The Supersonics left town for Oklahoma City. This would have seemed unimaginable when I lived in Washington. Seattle without the Sonics, stolen away by an Oklahoma con man named Aubrey McClendon? Aubrey's done a lot of dirty dealings here in Texas. Had I realized he was operating in Washington I would have sent a letter to an editor, or something, with a dire warning.

Since I've moved to Texas the Kingdome is no more, replaced by Quest Field. I remember returning in 1999 and watching Safeco Field under construction. When a Fort Worth Star-Telegram sports reporter first reported on Safeco Field, he said Seattle now has the Taj Mahal of ballparks. I'd been in the Ballpark in Arlington, where the Texas Rangers play and thought it was pretty impressive. I've yet to get to experience Seattle's Taj Mahal of ballparks.

I've seen the light rail under construction and was in the bus tunnel in August of 2008 and saw the signage already in place for the now operating light rail. I remember when the voter's approved building the new mass transit. That happened before I moved. The target completion date seemed so far off then.

Speaking of August of 2008. I spent several days in Seattle during a month stay in Tacoma. Sat in a booth at the Fremont Sunday Market 3 times. That was fun. Spent a day at Pioneer Square at Art in the Park on Thursday, August 7, 2008. On that day I was shocked at how much had changed in Seattle. I took my video camera and wandered all over downtown, Pike Place, the waterfront and the bus tunnel.

One very noticeable change was there were way more people all over downtown than 10 years ago. 10 years ago I don't think any cruise ships homeported in Seattle. Pike Place Market was as crowded as the Saturday before Christmas. It was all such a contrast with the number of people I see on the streets in Dallas or Fort Worth.

Another thing that is real noticeable, when you've been gone for awhile, is well, the first time it happened was February of 2004. I was picked up at Sea-Tac and brought to Pioneer Square due to needing to go to a gallery there. I was so struck by how it seemed as if so many people were deflated. I'd grown way too used to seeing way too many obese people. Not that there aren't any big people in Washington, but their numbers are definitely fewer.

The other huge change in Seattle, and I really hated this one, is parking meters are everywhere. 10 years ago I could park for free at REI. At that point the new REI headquarters was in a neighborhood of old houses. All that is no more, the houses all gone, everything built up, and parking meters everywhere. I eventually gave up trying to find a place to park for free and ended up paying 25 bucks to park near Art in the Park in Pioneer Square.

Traffic has gotten so much worse all over Western Washington since I moved away. I hope that improves with the new light rail. I saw the Lake Union SLUT trolley on the way to Fremont. Impressive looking and fits with Seattle's super sleek, clean and shiny look that has gotten even brighter since I moved away.

When the Alaskan Way Viaduct comes down, opening up the waterfront, I'm guessing yet one more huge downtown Seattle renaissance will be the result. The way time flies, that will happen real soon.

Washington My Old Home

Washington has become a tourist Mecca in the past few decades.

With iconic attractions like Pike Place Market, Mount Rainier and the Space Needle along with the Cascade Mountains, the Olympic Mountains, Mount St. Helens National Monument, North Cascades National Park, Olympic National Park, Mount Rainier National Park, 5 volcanoes including Mount Baker, destination tourist towns like Leavenworth's Bavarian Village and Winthrop's western town, both in Eastern Washington. In Western Washington you can sort of visit Holland in Lynden. Another tourist town is La Conner in the scenic Skagit Valley, where in the Spring the valley floor is covered with tulips and other flowers.

Add in a thriving arts scene including music, theater and museums, plus, orchards, breweries, wineries and to give you plenty of energy to see and do it all, the world's highest per capita number of places to buy coffee.

And in the past decade Seattle has become the homeport to 5, or is it 6, cruise ships, sailing to Alaska, sort of a modern day version of the Alaska Gold Rush when Seattle served as the launch pad to Alaska, with many Seattle fortunes made outfitting gold seekers.

In Washington you can try and seek your fortune in the many casinos owned and operated by Washington State Native American tribes, like the Tulalip and the Puyallup.

While it is true that it rains in Washington, particularly on the west side of the Cascade Mountains, in summer you'll find many days without a cloud in the sky.