Tuesday, June 29, 2010

I-5 in Washington to be America's First Electric Highway

Washington State's Department of Transportation is planning to turn 276 miles of Interstate 5, from the Canadian border to Portland, into America's First Electric Highway.

By fall of 2010 you should be seeing signs pointing you towards charging stations.

Electric cars are expected to grow in numbers in the next few years. The Chevy Volt will be able to go 40 miles before it runs out of juice and its gas generator takes over. The Nissan Leaf will go about 100 miles before it needs fresh juice.

The Seattle zone is getting a couple thousand charging stations. To get America off to an electric car future 4 states are Guinea Pigs, Washington, Arizona, Tennessee and California will be installing around 15,000 charging stations. Plus Washington, D.C.

The Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) wants to build up to 10 high speed charging stations along I-5. These are called Level 3 stations and can recharge a battery in 15 to 30 minutes.

There is a partnership between Washington, Oregon and California to build the West Coast Green Highway.

Regarding turning Washington's section of I-5 into America's first Electric Highway, Governor Christine Gregoire said, "Washington state is a leader in creating green jobs, adopting new clean technologies and we are poised to do it again with electric vehicles. Providing the nation's first true electrified highway will benefit Washingtonians and show the rest of the country how we can use innovative partnerships to solve some of our most difficult challenges like climate change and our dependence on oil."

It is going to be interesting to see how the I-5 Electric Highway works out. I know most of my car trips are less than 40 miles. I could see how I could easily get used to an electric car.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Kent Washington's 2010 Cornucopia Days

Kent is a town in Washington. I don't know if Kent is considered a Seattle suburb, but I do know Kent is part of the Seattle - Everett - Tacoma metropolitan sprawl, all blended together like a big continuous city.

Before Kent fused with the Seattle metro zone it was long linked with Auburn, with the two towns often referred to as Kent - Auburn.

My biggest sister, I mean, big sister, well, actually, both adjectives are correct, lives in Kent. Kent has an annual festival called Cornucopia Days. Part of Cornucopia Days is the crowning of Miss Cornucopia. I do not know if my big sister is trying out for the Miss Cornucopia competition.

The Websters definition of Cornucopia...
1 : a curved goat's horn overflowing with fruit and ears of grain that is used as a decorative motif emblematic of abundance
2 : an inexhaustible store : abundance
3 : a receptacle shaped like a horn or cone

I can see where someone would want to be known as Miss Receptacle Shaped Like a Cone.

Kent's Cornucopia Days takes place from July 8 through July 11 at various locations with a variety of entertainment options, like dragon boat races, a Carnival, Grand Parade and new events like Kent Cornucopia Days Bike Ride.

Some of the Kent Cornucopia Days Events...

* Crowning of Miss Cornucopia
* Funtastic Shows Carnival
* Kent Lions Street Fair & Taste of Cornucopia
* Farmers Market (Sat., 9-2)
* Kent Youth Soccer Association's 11th annual Cornucopia Cup Tournament
* Kent Valley Artists Association Art Show
* Kent Cornucopia Days First Annual Bike Ride
* Plaza and Gazebo Stages
* Dragon Boat Races
* Blood Drive
* Safety Fair
* Beer Garden
* Pet Adoptathon from KCACC
* Grand Parade (Sun., July 11 at 2 pm)

Cornucopia Days Hours

Thursday, July 8th
3:00 pm until closing for the Carnival

Friday, July 9th
10:00 am - 8:00 pm for the overall Festival & Street Fair
2:00pm until closing for the Carnival

Saturday, July 10th
10:00 am - 8:00 pm for the overall Festival & Street Fair
8:00 am - 6:00 pm for the Kent Cornucopia Days Dragon Boat Races
11:00 am until closing for the Carnival

Sunday, July 11th
10:00 am - 5:00 pm for the overall Festival & Street Fair
2:00 pm for the Parade
12:00 noon until closing for the Carnival

I am fairly certain I will not be able to attend the 2010 Kent Cornucopia Days. Unless my sister is crowned Miss Cornucopia. That I'd have to see in person.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

The Tallest Building West of the Mississippi Seattle's Smith Tower

You are looking at an old postcard of old Seattle. The Smith Tower is on the right. Since the Smith Tower was completed in 1914 this would seem to indicate the old postcard was made after 1914.

The Smith Tower is located in Seattle's Pioneer Square. The Smith Tower was the first skyscraper in Seattle. It has 38 floors and at the top of its pyramid it is 462 feet tall, with a spire on top of the pyramid reaching a height of 489 feet.

The Smith Tower was built by a Seattle Bill Gates of his day, Lyman Cornelius Smith, who made his fortune making typewriters, firearms and building buildings.

In 1909 Mr. Smith wanted to build a short 14 story building. But his son, Burns, talked him into building a skyscraper to take the tall building crown away from Tacoma's National Real Estate Building, which was then the tallest building west of the Mississippi.

And so, in 1914, the Smith Tower became the tallest building west of the Mississippi, until 1931, when the Kansas City Power & Light Building took the tallest building west of the Mississippi title.

But, the Smith Tower remained the tallest structure in Seattle for another 48 years, when the Space Needle rose over 605 feet, in 1962. If I remember right, the Seafirst Bank Tower soon replaced the Space Needle as the tallest building in Seattle, and, due to its shape, became known as the box the Space Needle came in. In the decades following 1962 the Seattle skyline filled in with many more skyscrapers, dwarfing the Smith Tower.

You can see the pyramid top of the Smith Tower at the right side of the photo. Due to the point of view from which the photo is taken, looking south from a point north of the Space Needle, it makes the Space Needle appear taller than all the other buildings. In reality, this is not true.

Ivar Haglund, he being a well known Seattle seafood restaurateur, bought the Smith Tower in 1976 for a measly $1.8 million. It has changed hands a few times since then. High tech businesses took up much of the Smith Tower. And then started leaving with the dot.com bust. Currently the plan is to turn the Smith Tower into condos.

The Smith Tower has what is now a very rare thing. Live elevator operators operating the classic Otis Elevator, with doors that you can see through as you go up and down past the Smith Tower's floors.

On the 35th floor there is a wraparound observation deck open to the public. I remember taking the Smith Tower elevator to the observation deck, but that was a long time ago and the memory is very faded.

I don't remember the Chinese Room, which is also on the 35th floor. The Chinese Room has gifts from the Empress of China, like the Wishing Chair which causes a woman to get married within a year if she sits in it. Apparently this worked for Lyman's Smith's daughter.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Twin Peaks, Snoqualmie Falls, Salish Lodge & the Snoqualmie Tribe

There is no Salish Lodge in the old postcard of Snoqualmie Falls. Salish Lodge was built in 1919, which would seem to indicate that the postcard was made before 1919.

Snoqualmie Falls is one of the most popular attractions in Washington, with over 1.5 million visitors a year.

When the Snoqualmie River goes into flood mode, after a heavy rain or heavy snowmelt, Snoqualmie Falls turns into an awesomely powerful spectacle. The ground actually vibrates and the spray from the falls becomes a blinding mist.

Snoqualmie Falls has always been well known in the Northwest. And then this TV show called Twin Peaks came alone, using Snoqualmie Falls and Salish Lodge, turning the falls and the lodge into international iconic images.

The Snoqualmie Tribe lived in the Snoqualmie Valley long before Washington became a state. Snoqualmie Falls is a key part of the Snoqualmie People's culture. The falls were a burial site, with the Snoqualmie believing the falls are "the place where First Woman and First Man were created by Moon the Transformer, where prayers were carried up to the Creator by great mists that rise from the powerful flow."

Puget Sound Energy operates 2 hydro power plants at Snoqualmie Falls. The first power plant was built well over a century ago, in 1898. It operates at the bottom of the falls, embedded in rock, the world's first underground power plant. In 1910 Power Plant 2 was built. It is located a short distance downstream from the falls. The 2 power plants generate electricity to power approximately 16,000 homes.

Snoqualmie Falls is about 300 feet from the visitor's parking lot. There you will find a gift shop, espresso stands, restrooms and the overlook structure. There are also picnic tables and benches and a grassy area called Centennial Green, which is a very popular wedding location.

A half mile trail descends about 300 feet, over a half mile, to the river below the falls. Before you get to the river you'll pass through some rain forest vegetation with moss covered trees and giant ferns. When you reach the river you'll see the 1910 Power Plant 2.

There is an official Snoqualmie Falls website with current information, such as the aforementioned Hiking Trail is closed until 2013. I assume it is being re-built.

The video below will give you a real good view of the Power of Snoqualmie Falls...

Friday, June 25, 2010

Sedro Woolley's Loggerodeo

All those people in the old postcard are surrounding a big cedar stump in Sedro Woolley, Washington.

Long ago there were some mighty big trees growing out of the fertile soil of the Skagit Valley. But, they are ancient history now.

Since it is almost the 4th of July that means it is almost Loggerodeo time in Sedro Woolley. The 76th Sedro Woolley Loggerodeo starts up June 30 and ends July 4 with a big fireworks show at Riverfront Park.

The Loggerodeo Grand Parade starts up at 11am.

If you have yourself a big beard you might want to enter the Loggerodeo Beard Contest. I have no idea what constitutes a winning beard, but I do know that the judges are the Wild Women of Woolley.

You can find all you could possibly want to know about the Loggerodeo at the Sedro Woolley Loggerodeo website.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Mount Rainier, Tacoma, Ti'Swaq and Myrtle Falls

You are looking at a vintage postcard of Myrtle Falls and Mount Rainier. On the postcard Mount Rainier is called Mount Tacoma.

I've seen Mount Rainier called Mount Tahoma and Mount Ti'Swaq, but never Mount Tacoma.

I saw Myrtle Falls and Mount Tacoma for the first time, up close, on August 11, 2008.

When I saw Myrtle Falls it was not falling as much water as is falling in the postcard. And there is a wooden bridge near the top of Myrtle Falls, currently, that does not appear to exist when this postcard was made.

Seeing Mount Rainier up close for the first time sort of surprised me. It did not look as HUGE as I expected it to.

When Washington locals say, "The Mountain is out," it means you can see Mount Rainier. This happens frequently in summer. Not so frequently the rest of the year. When I stayed a month in Tacoma, in summer of 2004, The Mountain was out every day.

From Tacoma, when The Mountain is out, it looks HUGE. When you are up north, in Skagit County, out on the flats, and The Mountain is out, it looks HUGE.

This is why I thought it'd look HUGE up close. But, it didn't. Not like I thought it would.

It took, I think, 5 trips to Mount Rainier National Park before I finally saw The Mountain. It was worth the wait.

You can watch video from August 11, 2008 and the unshrouding of The Mountain, below...

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Deception Pass Bridge Connecting Whidbey Island with Fidalgo Island

You are looking at a vintage postcard of one of my favorite places in the state of Washington. Deception Pass Bridge.

Deception Pass Bridge is one of Washington's iconic images.

Deception Pass State Park is Washington's most popular park. And maybe the biggest.

It appears this picture was taken soon after Deception Pass Bridge was built. It looks like the road at either end of the bridge is not paved. I have no idea when roads were paved in Washington. I would think that by 1935 most highways in Washington were paved. Maybe this photo was taken during the construction process.

Deception Pass Bridge is actually 2 spans, one over Canoe Pass on the north end, the other over Deception Pass on the south end.

Construction on Deception Pass Bridge began in August of 1934, completed on July 31, 1935. Constructing the bridge was a Great Depression CCC project.

In 1982 Deception Pass Bridge was listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

If you are ever so lucky as to be at Deception Pass when there is a large tide differential, you will see a spectacular act of Mother Nature as the tide rushes through the narrow pass.

Deception Pass came by its name when Captain Vancouver's chief navigator, Joseph Whidbey, sailed through the narrow channel and proved it was not a small bay, as claimed by Spanish explorers. Hence the deception. Whidbey discovered that the pass was actually a deep, turbulent channel which connected the Strait of Juan de Fuca with the Saratoga Passage, and, what was thought to be a pennisula was actually what we now know as Fidalgo Island and Whidbey Island.

Before Deception Pass Bridge connected Whidbey Island to Fidalgo Island, a ferry connected the 2 islands. This ferry catered to travelers traveling via the horse and buggy mode. Years ago, on a long hike on the north side of Deception Pass (very scary trail) eventually I came to what I believe was the remains of the old ferry dock.

In the picture, at the top, that high point you see on the right side of the bridge, that is Goose Rock. I have likely hiked Goose Rock more than any other location on the planet. If you visit Deception Pass State Park, the Goose Rock Perimeter Trail is not to be missed. And, if you are in good shape, the hike to the top of Goose Rock is well worth the effort.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Jen Moss, the Naked Pastie Lady of Ashland Oregon

You are looking at Jennifer Moss with the strategically placed daisies.

Jen Moss is known as "Pastie Lady" and "Earth Friend Jen." Jen earned those nicknames when she lived in her hometown of Ojai, California.

Jen left Ojai and moved to Ashland, Oregon. Ashland is a very free-spirited town. It's a right of passage for seniors to streak through town. I believe Ashland has a clothing optional swimming hole.

Now, when Jen moved to Ashland she started to push the tolerance limits. Doing things like Naked Yoga in front of the town's Safeway. Or was it Albertson's?

When Jen was not totally naked she'd often wander around in a hemp bikini and pasties.

All went swimmingly with Jen and her unabashedness in Ashland, for awhile, and then Jen Moss was arrested, in September of 2008, after some construction workers complained about her roller blading in the buff. Why the constructions workers complained, I don't know.

Eventually Jen's naked antics caused Ashland to ban topless events. I don't quite see the logic there. Jen can still do bottomless roller blading as long as she keeps her top on?

I have no idea what the current status is of Jen Moss getting naked in Ashland. She's tried to get the ACLU to take up her naked cause.

Some Jennifer Moss quotes....

"Nudity is natural, but a lot of people are uncomfortable with it. It's OK for children to play video games where they are killing each other, and it's patriotic to murder people in a war. But women's breasts in public? You better watch out!"

"They are charging me with putting on an illegal performance or show. I stripped my clothes to speak the truth, but I was legally covered."

"I do not watch pornography and I support committed, monogamous relationships based on mutual respect. I do believe people have the right to do pornography, but it drains the human soul. Sex is sacred and is about making love, not war."

To show solidarity with Jen Moss and her cause, I think I will go hiking topless today.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Washington Tourist Theme Towns: Lynden, Leavenworth, La Conner & Winthrop

Washington has several theme towns. I'm not sure that is the proper name for them. Towns with a theme. Maybe just calling them Tourist Towns suffices.

Leavenworth is definitely a town with a theme, with that them being a town in the Bavarian Alps, with the Cascade Mountains substituting for the Alps.

Winthrop is another town with a theme, with the Winthrop theme being an Old Western Town. Winthrop came to life when the North Cascades Highway opened a few decades ago. Prior to the highway being built, Winthrop was a very isolated location in Washington. Now it's a major tourist destination.

La Conner, in the Skagit Valley, was a very poor, rundown, sad little town, way back in the 1960s. I don't remember what sparked the change, but the change to La Conner is amazing. La Conner is now a classic tourist town, with galleries, good restaurants, brew pubs, marinas and a lot of visitors.

And then there is Lynden. Lynden is the reason I am from Washington. My Dutch ancestors came to America in the late 1800s. They kept trying to find a place to live that they liked. Further and further west they went. And then they heard of this place in the far northwest corner of America. My great-grandpa was sent, solo, to check it out. He spent a summer, and then returned to his sister, my great aunt Anna, and my great-great grandpa and grandma, Cornelis and Aagie, bringing with him apples, thick bark from a tree, tales of berries growing wild, lush farmland, tall trees and land that reminded him of Holland.

And so they moved to the Lynden area, along with a lot of other Dutch people.

Lynden retains its Dutch character, leading many to say a visit to Lynden is like a visit to Holland without needing a passport.

When you visit Lynden you can't help but notice that there seems to be a lot of churches. And the lawns are all immaculately kept. Lynden may be the most litter free town in America.

I am likely forgetting a Washington theme/tourist town or two. Of all of them, Leavenworth is my favorite.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

The Fremont Fair & Summer Solstice Parade with Naked Bike Riders

You are looking at the Fremont Troll. An iconic Seattle image. The Fremont Troll resides under the Aurora Bridge in the Independent Republic of Fremont.

Years ago, way back when there was still a Soviet Union, Fremont seceded from both Seattle and America, seeking to become one of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics.

The USSR never granted Fremont member status, but, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, Fremont did acquire a missile or two, and a statue of Lenin.

Today, June 19, with this being the Saturday closest to the Summer Solstice of June 21, Fremont celebrates with its annual Fremont Fair and Summer Solstice Parade.

The Fremont Summer Solstice Parade is infamous due to the large number of bike riders in the parade who opt to make it a clothing optional event.

The Fremont Fair is thought, by many, to be the quintessential Seattle event. I have attended a time or two and I would have to agree.

I recollect one of my co-attendees purchasing special brownies from a vendor loudly hawking the special brownies. The brownies contained an ingredient that is frowned upon, or outright illegal, in other, less liberal, less free-spirited areas of America.

I do not remember those special brownies causing any particular problem. I do remember them being the most relaxation inducing brownies I've ever consumed.

I have never ridden my bike sans clothing. Quite frankly, the idea holds absolutely no appeal to me. But, I don't begrudge others who think this seems like a fun thing to do. Or the over 100,000 who freely attend the extremely liberated Fremont Fair and Summer Solstice Parade.

If you get hungry while at the Fremont Fair you'll find all sorts of food vendors covering just about every cuisine you can think of. Or you can wander off to a Fremont area restaurant, like Nectar, Roxy's Diner, ToST, 35th Street Bistro, Tula's Restaurant & Nightclub, Serafina, Tractor Tavern, Pasta Freska, McCormick's & Schmick's Harborside Lake Union and Zoka Coffee Roaster & Tea Co.

If you can't attend the Fremont Summer Solstice Parade today, you can see what it is like, including the naked bike riders, by watching the video below...

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Samish Island Washington Clam Digging & Crabbing with the Samish Indian Nation

That is my mom and dad on the left. They are sitting around the communal crab bucket, breaking dungeness crab free from its shell.

Samish Bay is to my mom and dad's left. This crabbing and horse clam digging likely took place on Father's Day weekend, which would make it in June.

Well, actually this would have taken place on the weekend date with a good low tide, suitable for crabbing and clamming, closest to Father's Day.

This annual event took place on Samish Island. Which isn't really an island. It used to be an island, but then, long ago, some industrious pioneers, likely Dutch, built dikes to turn block the sea, creating farmland and easy access to the former Samish Island.

The Samish are one of the Northwest Indian Tribes. Samish Island was Samish Nation land.

The Samish were very good at carving canoes and building longhouses. One of the Samish Longhouses, on the eastern end of Samish Island, measured approximately 1,250 feet long.

There is no town named Samish, but there is a Samish River. And Samish Bay. The Swinomish Tribe and the Skagit Tribe have big casino resorts. The Samish Tribe does not.

In 1847 the Samish Tribe had over 2,000 members. By the time of the Point Elliot Treaty, 1855, the Samish had dwindled to around 150 members, decimated by measles, smallpox and attacks by the Canadian Haida and Tsimshian Tribes.

Though there were Samish Tribe members attending the Point Elliot Treaty Council, none signed the treaty. Thus, the Samish were not given a reservation of their own. Without their own reservation the Samish were sent to the Lummi and Swinomish reservations.

But, many of the Samish had reservations about being stuck on rival tribe's reservations. So, a large group of Samish went to their tribal land on Guemes Island, which is a short distance west of Samish Island. On Guemes the Samish established New Guemes and built a big longhouse which housed over 100 tribemembers.

By 1912 the Samish were pushed off Guemes Island by bad behavior by white settlers.

The Samish Tribe kept plugging away, trying to get recognized and respected. In 1926 the Samish organized a formal constitution.

In 1971 the Samish Indian Tribe was awarded compensation for land taken by the Point Elliot Treaty. For 26 years the Samish fought in adminstrative and federal court proceedings til they finally regained official federal recognition,, for the Samish Indian Nation in April of 1996.

The Samish Nation is currently headquarted in Anacortes. I don't know if the tribe has any plans to build a casino.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Lincoln City Oregon Siletz Bay Sand Castle Competition

Betty Jo Bouvier sent me an email with a dozen, or so, pictures of sand castles. Taken somewhere on the Oregon Coast.

I did not recognize the beach. Betty Jo then informed me that she believed the sand castles were on a beach near Lincoln City.

After a little Googling I decided Betty Jo was right. Lincoln City has an event called the Siletz Bay Sand Castle Competition.

This year the event takes place on August 7.

There are 4 categories of sand castle builders. Kids 5 to 12 years old, Teens 13 to 18 years old, Adults 19 and older, plus Families or Groups.

There are prizes. Best Mermaid gets an Adult $100 and a Kid or Teen $50.

I have no idea what a "Chowderhead" is, but the best one gets $100.

The Best Traditional Sand Castle, that is, literally a sand castle with a moat and turrets, gets $100.

And the Best Tiki also gets $100.

There are additional cash and merchandise awards.

Registration starts at 10am on the Dock 51 Street. The entry fee is one can (or more) of food per entrant, which will be donated to the Lincoln City Food Bank.

Your castle must be built using only sand, water, shells and other natural beach material, found on the beach on the day of the event. No power tools are allowed.

Judging takes place in the afternoon, with the prizes awarded on the dock. You have to be present to win.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Is Seattle Going To Get Its Own Version Of Vancouver's Clothing Optional Wreck Beach?

Seattle's new mayor, Mike McGinn, has been asking Seattlites ideas about what sort of things they'd like to see in Seattle's future.

Apparently a lot of people in Seattle would like to have European type clothing optional outdoor recreation locations.

I don't know why Europe is being the point of naked reference. All you have to do is drive up to Vancouver and visit Wreck Beach for some Nude Beach fun.

I've only been to Wreck Beach once. I was surprised at how many naked people were having fun. I felt a lot of pressure to not keep my clothes on, very susceptible, I am, to any peer pressure, so, I soon joined in. I had no sunscreen with me, so this could not last more than an hour.

In addition to laying on the beach, others were playing volleyball and other games. Some strolled the beach in their birthday suit glory. Vendors cook burgers for sale. It's quite a festive atmosphere.

The nudists tended to be young and in good shape, I think, maybe, somewhat due to Wreck Beach being next to the University of British Columbia.

Closer to Seattle, there is a beach near Bellingham that is clothing optional, called Teddy Bear Cove. I do not know if this is still the case in 2010, but I suspect it is. I have also been to a nude beach by Evergreen State College in Olympia. I did not join in.

I don't see why it would be a big deal in Seattle to designate one of the town's beaches as clothing optional.

Afterall, in 3 weeks Seattle will be seeing the annual Fremont Solstice Parade with it famous, or is it infamous, Nude Bike Ride.

Watch the YouTube video below to see how totally wholesome Seattle's Fremont Parade's Bike Ride is...