Thursday, July 20, 2017

Seattle is in a Quagmire

    Y'all know I'm a country gal, so why am I in Seattle?

     Because in a few days, I will be boarding a boat at one of these docks.

       I took the photos above on the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center downtown Seattle, known as the Skyview Observatory. See the giant Ferris wheel known as the "Great Wheel" in photo above, mid-center? It's 175 feet tall, and each of the gondolas can seat eight people.

     The view is many islands in the Puget Sound Region. On a clear day, you can see the Olympic Mountains and the glaciers to the west. Mount Rainier (sixty miles away, photo below) is barely visible to the southeast.

     See the Interstate and all those buildings (above photo)? I'll not mince words. One day in downtown Seattle and I was feeling . . . like Seattle has no soul. Montreal has soul, French cities have soul, Kansas City has soul and Tucson has soul, but I just wasn't feeling the soul in downtown Seattle. I was bombarded instead by a lot of parking signs. After doing some research, I found out that parking and traffic is "a challenge" (click here for news article).

     It's also a hilly city which means it's not bicycle-friendly. I didn't see any bicycle lanes downtown. Photo below was taken on top of a hill looking down at a cargo container ship going north through Elliot Bay.

Seattle is a major port for loading and unloading cargo container ships.

     Everywhere there is a hubbub of construction activity and tall cranes lowering and raising materials.

     More and more new skyscrapers are being built.

Very modern buildings . . .

The public library (below) is very modern too.

That "far-away" hazy-looking mini-city to the east of Seattle (photo below) is Bellevue which is another rapid-growing city.

To the east of Seattle, there's also a hazy-looking view of the Cascades Mountain Range.

     Later I decided to explore my ennui about this busy crowded city and read Wikipedia's info about Seattle. This city definitely has more than just parking and traffic challenges; it's described as having the USA's sixth-worse rush hour traffic. It's also bursting at the seams with new population growth. And over 45,000 households are spending more than half their income on housing (click here for Wikipedia's Seattle info).

The infamous "Pike Place Market" located along the shoreline downtown is worthy of a look and see.

It's an exciting maze of individual shops and stores and producers.

For Chef Jim and Chef Renauld and other foodies out there who need chowder ideas, click here.

It's wonderful to smell fresh baked goods and chocolates!

     And it's exciting to watch the delivery of fresh fish (below photo). This is Jack's Fish Spot; click here for their menu. Is there a discernible $6 difference between Hammersley Inlet oysters and Kumamoto Oysters? 

Great looking produce too.

And the duck and quail eggs add a touch of class to the Pike Place Market.

As I walked downtown, I found myself in a Chinatown of sorts (click here for very interesting history of this neighborhood).

I saw a green spot in this jungle of glass and concrete.

This is the Danny Woo Garden which is built on a hill.

     It's a terraced community garden which serves approximately 70 low-income Asians averaging 76 years old (click here for more info).

China Daily is cheaper than the Seattle Times.

This info about "The Ring of Fire" was interesting (click here for more info). 

     When I left Seattle for the day, I returned via cheap ORCA public transportation ($2 round trip) to La Lair in Des Moines, Washington (at a great BoondockersWelcome spot). I tossed and turned all night wondering why I didn't like Seattle and how I'd write a post about it. And the best explanation for my feelings has already been written by Daniel DeMay in this article (click here). It's a very good article about the problems of Seattle's exponential growth which is causing difficulties in not only traffic and housing but culture too because of the changing population trends. And thank you Chef Renauld for challenging me to explore my unsettled thoughts. As Socrates has said, the unexamined life is not worth living.

PS: I'm hoping that Seattle finds its soul in another few years.

Thursday, July 13, 2017

A day at the King County Fair in Enumclaw, Washington State

I love county fairs!

There's the usual face painting and food.

And the usual exciting rides . . .

Mini-cars are always a favorite.

It's fun to watch kids having fun.

This is a 1940 Ford that was a Washington State Police Car.

But the sole reason I go to county fairs is because of the animals and their owners. Her calf is only five months old.

Signs say "Do not touch the animals" but no one (including me) can resist.

This puppy (photo below) is being socialized via a structured program for the first year of its life. Next year there's a 50/50 chance it will become a guide dog for a blind person.

Happiness is a pet chicken resting on your chest!

     Jack (being hosed down by his owner, photo below) is a Nubian/Boer cross-breed goat. He's trained as a pack goat; hikers and trekkers use him to carry their gear.

      Remember Olive the "Miss Personality" horse I met last week and posted about? She's the Belgian/Quarter Horse cross-breed. In photo below, she's easy to identify. She's the one with the biggest feet and butt.

I wish people's moods were as easy to figure out as horses' moods.

It'd be helpful too if people wore colored ribbons.

This bearded goat (below photo) is my favorite. See how she's twitching her ears? That means she's paying attention.

Not all animals pay attention, some are just show-offs.

Some are just sullen and want to go home.

This rooster (photo below) crowed all day to practice for the rooster crowing contest. By the time the contest started at 4 PM, he was hoarse and lost the contest (honest!).

Would you let your five-year old kid ride a big fast bucking sheep? Apparently most mothers wouldn't because most of these little kids got alot of help.

The excitement continues tomorrow!

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Mount Rainier National Park's Summerland Trail is the Real Deal

Imagine walking alone in the forest on this trail . . . .

. . . and you're looking down, watching your steps over the roots and rocks on the trail, because you've stumbled a time or two. 

     And you happen to look up and not more than 20 feet ahead on the trail, between those two trees on either side of the trail (see photo above), a black bear is walking toward YOU!

     I couldn't believe it, nor was I expecting to see a bear on the trail. Maybe I'd see a bear or elk in the distance, but not on the trail, walking nonchalantly toward me! There was a fallen tree trunk parallel to the trail (almost as big as the one on the trail in photo above). Since the bear wasn't moving off the trail (still walking toward me!) I climbed and stood up on the three-foot high tree trunk. Got my bear spray, put a nervous shaky finger on the trigger valve, and watched that bear walk right by me! About 12 or less feet away! 

I was on Mount Rainier National Park's Summerland Trail.

     The bear sniffed the air as it walked by me. Did it see me? Did it smell Chef Renauld's craisin/flaxseed/oatmeal cookies in my backpack? I didn't notice any direct eye contact from the bear (that I could see), so I just froze and didn't make loud noises like they tell you to. It lumbered off the trail when it passed me, and soon disappeared behind other nearby big trees.  I just froze on top of that big tree trunk for another two minutes! Would it come back for Chef Renauld's cookies? Were baby bears not far behind on the trail?  I thought about getting my camera out (it's within immediate reach) but opening that velcro tab makes alot of noise! I was afraid I'd scare and upset the bear into an attack mode, if I opened that loud velcro tab.

     A most exciting hike! But even if I hadn't seen a bear, this hike was the best hike I've ever done in a national park (and so far that includes Canada, Peru and New Zealand). Wonderful scenery . . .

The last quarter mile of the trail was slushy snow; I opted out.

      One of the hikers I met briefly on the trail explained that because the snow melts slowly, the vehicle road to the trailhead parking lot opens late in the year (usually July) and it closes the beginning of October. That's only three months or less time when hikers have access to this trail. She said that's why this trail is so pristine.

Giant trees, probably 500 or more years old.

Tiny pine cones.

Unique little foot bridges.

Each bridge was different.

A lovely constant sound of waterfalls and trickling streams.

The sporadic company of other hikers was fun, too.

The flowers were pretty.

The plants were loving the rare sun.

And the views were outstanding. Little Tahoma Peak (below).

And the big one, Mount Rainier, in the distance.