Archive for the ‘outdoors’ Category

Take a bite….

Mmmm....Sounds tempting....

Mmmm....Sounds tempting....

It’s almost time for the annual “Bite of Seattle”, the festival runs Friday 7/17-Sunday 7/19. (Fri & Sat 11 AM-9 PM, Sun 11 AM-8 PM).

Should be a great time as always, this year there are over 100 food booths with every type of food imaginable. There are also 4 beer gardens for when you get thirsty and 7 outdoor entertainment stages with all types of live music; rock, pop, soul, jazz, 80’s, reggae….Pretty much something for everybody….

Looks like the weather is going to cooperate, should be in the mid 70’s all weekend….

Summertime in Seattle, can’t beat it….

Summertime….

Hey everybody, tomorrow June 21 is the Summer Solstice!

The official start of Summer and the longest day of the year, hopefully Mother Nature cooperates and we get some more sunshine around here….

Get your shades ready, Seattle!

Get your shades ready, Seattle!

Don’t know if it’s true or not but supposedly Seattlites buy more sunglasses per capita than anywhere else in the country. All those months of gray makes our eyes sensitive I guess….

 

Walking the Talk

Walking Green Lake by Seattle Daily Photo - from our Flickr pool

Walking Green Lake by Seattle Daily Photo - from our Flickr pool

The Seattle City Council is reviewing a draft plan to make Seattle a more pedestrian-friendly town. Appropriately enough, the measure is called the Pedestrian Master Plan. Very grand sounding, ain’t it?

I’ve lived in Seattle long enough to remember when Westlake Plaza was closed to traffic, and I’m still outraged that the city opened it. Westlake Center has never regained the vibrancy and foot traffic that it had when the Plaza was closed. And does anyone think that closing Pike Place Market to through traffic would detract from its appeal? There is no bad there.

The new plan, currently in draft and public comment stage, purports to focus on “safety, equity, vibrancy, and health,” through six stated objectives:

1. Complete and maintain the pedestrian system identified in the Pedestrian Master Plan
2. Improve walkability on all streets
3. Increase pedestrian safety
4. Plan, design, and build complete streets to move more people and goods
5. Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking
6. Get more people walking for transportation, recreation, and health

These are great goals, and the plan (read it HERE or download as a PDF –low res or high res) does an admirable job of outlining strategies and tactics to meet them. The city has a funding levy of $60 million to fund pedestrian improvements over the next six years. Based on current programs, the plan projects that $47 million will go towards new improvements, such as sidewalks, curb ramps, and signals, while $19 million would pay for maintenance. The plan would require other funding to fully support all of the objectives, such as private investment.

And it’s this last part that has me worried: private investment.

The draft Plan includes stated strategies for meeting the objectives. Among the strategies for #5– “Create vibrant public spaces that encourage walking”– the single most important strategy is missing: car-free streets. Instead, “develop guidelines for car-free and shared space streets,” is the last item in the sidebar, under “sample of actions” that could possibly, perhaps, be considered to encourage walking.

Private investment does not like car-free streets. Private investment likes lots of convenient parking, preferably on-site parking. Pedestrians buy only as much as they can conveniently carry home or back to the office. Drivers buy as much as can fill up their SUV for the drive home to the suburbs. Car-free streets favor small businesses that serve local residents and employees. Parking lots favor ‘shopping destinations’ that serve tourists and visitors. National chain stores and big retailers wield the political clout and investment dollars that result in parking lots, narrow sidewalks, and through traffic. Neighborhood business owners, residents, and employees get screwed. Again.

It doesn’t have to be that way. As residents and business owners, we have a say in this process. The public comment period for the draft Pedestrian Master Plan has been extended to Friday, June 26th. You can read it at http://www.seattle.gov/mostwalkablecity.htm, or download a PDF from the same site.

Also, the Transportation Committee and the Special Committee on Pedestrian Safety will host a public hearing on the draft plan on Tuesday, July 21st, from 5:00-6:30 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall (600 Fourth Ave.). This is your chance to be heard. Don’t blow it!

Other ways to comment:

Online webform: http://www.seattle.gov/transportation/pedestrian_masterplan/contact.htm
E mail: mostwalkablecity@seattle.gov
Telephone: 206-733-9970
Mail: Pedestrian Master Plan Comments
Seattle Department of Transportation
P.O. Box 34996
Seattle, WA 98124-4996

Greenway Days June 20, 21

Mountains to Sound Greenway

Mountains to Sound Greenway

4 ways to participate!

Compete in the Mountains to Sound Relay – One Day, 100 miles
Registration open until June 18th

Take the Greenway Challenge – a summer-long scavenger hunt with great prizes

Go Geoteaming – use GPS to find hidden caches at Rattlesnake Lake, North Bend

Volunteer for Greenway Days

Events include:
Fenders on Front Street Car Show and Cruise, Issaquah
Fall City Days
Mercer Slough Environmental Education Center, Bellevue
Kayak Rides in Luther Burbank Park, Mercer Island
Tours of the Wild Horse Wind and Solar Facility, Ellensburg
Kite Making and More for Kids at Meadowbrook Farm, Snoqualmie
Interpretive Hikes at Tiger Mountain with Greenway educators

For more information and a complete list of events, visit mtsgreenway.org
or contact Stephanie Dunlap at greenwaydays@mtsgreenway.org or 206.382.5565 x21

Go hiking!

Snow Layers

My husband, dog, and I attempted to hike to Snow Lake on Memorial Day. (Trailhead is located about an hour from Seattle). The entire trail was covered in 2-5′ of snow. About 2 hours in, we finally gave up and turned around after eating lunch on a sun-dried rock, but it was still fun. The turnoff to Snow Lake is actually hard to find, so there is no real destination at this time. I managed to fall through two snow bridges and land in the melted snow runoff (brr). This trail is normally covered with snow well into July, but is extremely popular despite this. Currently I would rank this hike in the more moderate skillset, at least until the snow melts.

Peaks
This is the view we had while eating our lunch.

If you’re not up to hiking in full snow, I recommend heading north to Heather Lake. (Trailhead is located about 90 minutes from Seattle). The entire thing will take you about 4 hours round trip, but it’s worth it if you want to play in the snow in June. The trail itself is dry for about 3/4 of the way up, then you’ll run into snow. Previous hikers have made the trail fairly visible to the lake, but it can be slick so be careful. This hike is currently on the easier end of moderate, but should be alright for everyone when the snow melts in another month or so.

Falls Below Heather Lake
Falls below Heather Lake

Heather Lake Hike
Part of Heather Lake…surrounded with snow.

Heather Lake Hike
Snow, snow, and more snow.

Heather Lake Hike
And finally, my badly stitched photo showing Heather Lake below Mount Pilchuck.

So if you want to get out of the heat, this Saturday there will be no $5 parking fee at the Mount Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest (where the Snow Lake trail is, and many other trailheads). This is the perfect opportunity to go hiking if you haven’t been this year. Coming up…Mount Rainier National Park, Olympic National Park, Lewis & Clark National Historical Park, Fort Vancouver National Historical Site and Whitman Mission National Historic Site all will waive entrance fees the weekends of June 20-21, July 18-19 and August 15-16. (Full list here).

Just FYI, an annual parking pass is only $30 and is good at all trail heads in Washington and Oregon.

Dirty
And as a public service announcement: I do not recommend hiking in sandals in the snow. It’s cold. I wore these on both hikes, which I admit was a pretty stupid thing to do. Luckily, nothing bad happened.

I Went to Sasquatch and All I Did Was Cry and Get Heat Poisoning

A friend of mine has a few tickets to Sasquatch lying around and suggests I come. “I don’t have a tent for you, or a press pass… and you probably can’t come into our VIP camping area because they’re dicks about that, and you’re probably going to get burnt because it’s 85 degrees out here but, yeah, you should totally come!” she says to me over the phone.

I get in my car and drive out of Ballard, down I-5 and then out, East towards the mountains. The sky is a perfect blue and yet bugs are apparently attracted to the gray leather interior of my 1997 Toyota Camry. My windshield quickly becomes a graveyard.

After passing through melting Snoqualmie, and the arid brush near Cle Elum, I find myself in a long line of idling cars at the gates of the Gorge Ampitheatre. Fifteen-year-old children are charged with the task of leaning into my car and asking whether or not I want a camping pass.

“Sammy! Where in the hell is that credit card charger thingy?” one girl asks her friend. “I don’t fucking know! Jesus Christ is it hot out here,” her friend says as she gulps her Dasani “How many hours did you work today?” “I don’t know? Seven?” “You’re supposed to write down your hours, stupid!”.

Finally, someone finds the credit card chargy thing and I pay for a camping pass and park and unload my one person sarcophagus-tent. After spending about five minutes trying to insert the snapping poles into their clips, I give up, stuff the whole mess into my backseat, and set out for the ticket booth. It’s too much trouble, and I feel too self-conscious and pathetic pitching a single person’s tent in front of the people next to me, who are happily barbecuing burgers, laughing and drinking beers. 

Also, it’s hot. Really hot. Fratty boys waiting in front of me tug at their slipping cargo shorts and then, since they’re already down there, scratch their butts for good luck. Everywhere smells like melting skin and bargain sunscreen.

First act: King Kahn and the Shrines. Essentially, an East Indian man wearing a headdress, a gold cape and tighty whities belting songs with his band in the style of James Brown. People are dancing the way they do when they hear jazz but have no jazz-dancing partner. It’s more swaying than dancing.

Next: Animal Collective. Sometimes they sound like someone playing pinata with a bag of cats. Other times they sound like a lush jungle. I imagine this is also what it would sound like if I tried to fall asleep while on shrooms. The crowd around me: sunburned, half-comatose and speaking in slurs. A tribe of boys make their way up the hill, looking as desperate and thirsty as the lost boys of Sudan. 

I don’t have a cup for water, I don’t have cash, and I’m dying of thirst. There are no cups that I see, and my friend just lost her water bottle. So, I do what any self-respecting person would do: I go to the First Aid Camp. There, a woman asks for my name and I say, very quietly, “Steven” and try to look as miserable as possible. It’s not that hard.

The folks at the First Aid Camp are a quieter bunch, and much friendlier. A homely girl with bangs and glasses is commiserating with a tan, surfer looking dude who has the tattoo “I am an Ocean. My river; the consciousness,” except (blessedly) without the semi-colon. I look up at the Salene drips above me and feel guilty. But one girl’s affliction appears to be “grass burn,” so I don’t feel that guilty. 

I wander back to the amphitheatre area, where the Decemberists are playing. Lavender Diamond is being, well, Lavender Diamond. And then, all of a sudden, there are people having sex. Behind me. Up above by the fences near the top of the amphitheatre. The girl is going down on the guy, the guy is going down on the girl: they’re doing the whole shebang.

If they were gay or fat, shots would be fired. But instead: cheers. A man next to me shouts “Suck! Suck! Suck!”  like the world’s most annoying porno director. Colin Meloy is watching, too, and shoots the copulating couple a distracted smirk. A security guard approaches them, but instead of stopping them, he stares at their gyrating bodies and gives a big fist pump to the audience. The crowd roars with approval. I want to die. I think to myself “this is why I decided not to go to Arizona State.”

There are still a few acts left. I try to soak up Mos Def’s positive energy, but can’t. I eat some mashed chicken and Yakisoba and feel worse. Then, I wander down to the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and finally feel some relief. Karen O is great: raw, powerful, strikingly gorgeous. I jump around a little bit and it feels amazing.

But I can’t find my friends. I can’t find my keys. Everyone’s cell phone is dead. I wander out the gates with the herds of people and down through the fences. I’m apparently in the wrong section of the parking lot. There are 20 different sections. It’s a disaster. I walk up and down the road next to the camp looking for my car.

Sasquatch has become my prison. I must leave these drunkards with their campfires and public sex and “free high fives.” Journalismism, whatever. Not now. I hate people too much. Except I’m trapped: my car is surrounded by campers and I can’t just run over them. So I cut a rope with my car key, get back into my car and turn on the high beams to scare folks away. Then I drive. And drive.

I’m probably too tired to drive, and I know it, but I keep driving. I pee at one of those scary rest stops where people in movies get raped or rape other people. I flinch when a man comes in, thinking “this is it.”

I drive to Ellensberg, where I saw a few hotels on the way to Sasquatch. I try and book a room but most of them have no vacancy. I speak like a half-dead person, with barely any inflection at all. Finally, the man working the graveyard shift at the Best Western tells me there’s room at the Super 8 across the street. In the lobby of the Super 8, there’s a lady stumbling around, drunk off her ass, telling the receptionist she wants to park her Sebring convertible in front of the hotel. The receptionist adjusts the Jesus cross around her neck and explains that it’s “a fire hazard” to park there and that she has to park in the overflow Burger King parking lot. “I ain’t parking in a burger king parking lot!” the lady says to the receptionist. “It’s a Sebring Con-ver-ta-ble!” Finally, I tell the lady that I parked in the Burger King parking lot and that I drive a Toyota Camry. “XLE!”  The lady looks at me for a moment. “Well I guess then that’s okay,” she says.

My room is a smoker’s room and smells like it’s been submerged in cigarette juice. The stench makes me want to throw up. I open the window, but there’s not enough of a breeze to compensate. I end up watching Little Miss Sunshine on Bravo, finding the depressed teenage boy character more relatable than ever. I laugh a little bit to myself and eventually fall asleep. 

The next day, I drive home and sell my tickets for Sunday and Monday on Craigslist. I no longer understand the appeal of Sasquatch. The crowds have changed, and so have I. The next time I want to listen to the ‘Yeah Yeah Yeahs’, I’ll just put on my headphones.

 

tips & tricks : a guest post about greenlake

2983377613_c23b027c9a.jpg.jpeg
photo by seattle bon vivant [flickr] via our group pool [#].

From time to time suggestions for better Seattle living find their way to Seattle Metblogs HQ. This promising-looking Sunday morning brings such a missive from Steven Blum, proprietor of Oh My God Seattle, who wants to help you better enjoy Greenlake. His note, interspersed with pictures from our group pool, follows.


2483071977_af4afa4f7c_m.jpg.jpeg 2057325135_c8112adc40_m.jpg.jpeg
photo by grundlepuck [flickr] and jeff carlson [flickr].

Look at you, ya schmuck: Sitting in front of the computer. Another day checking the email to see if you’ve got a new message. Would it kill you to leave the house every now and then? It’s gorgeous out here! Come to Greenlake. What’s Greenlake you ask? Why, it’s a lake with a concrete path around it. There are geese and boats and little kids fishing and grown women sleeping on towels with their dogs and muscley men I never knew existed. There are about a thousand people here right now earnestly attempting to enjoy the weather and be happy (happy is when your mouth opens and you laugh for no reason and you look like you have dementia).

Here are a few tips for maximum Greenlake enjoyment:

1. Don’t go to Greenlake if you need to go poop.
If you really, really need to go, there are bathrooms in the pool building with doors on them. Everywhere else is a strip show starring your ass. (Sometimes also starring “no toilet paper.”) Poop at home.

2. Don’t park on the “dark side” of Greenlake.
This includes the houses on street names like Wallingford and Sunnyside. Every house here looks the same and has an enormous veranda and is on a dead end. You will lose your car and be forced to walk up and down the streets as young families look at you like you’re crazy.

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photo by smohundro [flickr].

3. There are rules for checking out hot runners
These people are everywhere. You will be enjoying your walk when they’re suddenly up in your grill with their pecs and sweaty heads full of hair. Remember-don’t fall down. And look at the pec parts not the sex parts.

4. Don’t run near young children on bikes.
They will fall off their bikes.

3171438498_31be0baa30.jpg.jpeg

5. For god’s sake, talk to the man playing his harmonica.
Seriously? You’re just going to walk by this man and not say a thing? He is talking directly at your face! He is saying “Don’t look at me, the only crazy in Greenlake, don’t look at my paintings, fine don’t look!” Don’t buy into his woefulness. Look directly at him and say “I love you.” This person could be you someday. He could be you.

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photo by bunnies with sharp teeth [flickr] .

6. Don’t scare the turtles!
There are wittle bitty turtles sitting on logs near the Bath House theatre. They will remind you of your uncle Maurice with his reptilian face and slow reaction times. Don’t be too loud or they’ll fall off the logs! TURTLES!

7. Email me.
I’ll be here every sunny day starting now.

Thanks again to Steven for contributing. Do you have tips and tricks for the Seattle summer? Send them to seattle.metblogs at gmail.com.

Get outside this weekend

Unfortunately it looks like today is the best day to actually be outside, but there are plenty of outdoor activities that you should check out this weekend even though you might need a sweater.

Tasty Farmers' Market Veggies (C) Cook Local

Tasty Farmers' Market Veggies (C) Cook Local

  • Seattle Tilth Edible Plant Sale: This is the big one ladies and gentlemen. This is the sale to end all plant sales (well, ok, so there are a lot of good plant sales in this area, but the Seattle Tilth sale is all edible plants and all plants that have been selected as appropriate for our climate. Head to Meridian Park on Saturday or Sunday starting at 9am and ending at 3pm. I plan on getting a bunch of herbs as well as tomatoes, cucumbers, and anything else that looks interesting.
  • Farmers’ Markets: The Ballard, University District, and West Seattle Farmers’ Markets are going strong. This week brings the return of the Redmond Town Center Farmers’ Market as well. I highly recommend picking up some pancetta from Sea Breeze Farms as well as some asparagus.
  • Seattle Yacht Club Opening Day: I wouldn’t recommend kayaking through the Montlake Cut this weekend though, because it’s Opening Day! If you’ve been driving on 520 the past few days, you’ve likely seen the fantastic number of boats moored just ready and waiting to get moving tomorrow. Pack a picnic lunch and a blanket (and maybe an umbrella) and go hang out at the arboretum or on the UW campus and just watch the boats go by.

Volunteers Needed: Duwamish Cleanup

Duwamish Beach by Slightlynorth

Duwamish Beach by Slightlynorth

This Saturday, join volunteers to help clean up various sites along the Duwamish waterway, starting at 10am. Volunteers are needed to help weed, spread mulch in planting areas, plant native vegetation, and pick up trash. Refreshments provided by REI.

After the work parties are finished, there is a community festival from 2-5pm at Cooper Elementary School. The event will feature art exhibits, live performances, environmental education tables and community activities including kids’ crafts, nature hikes, and a chance to win prizes.

For more information visit the website, e-mail da@pugetsound.org or call 206-382-7007.

Ivar’s discontinues 4th of Jul-Ivar’s fireworks show

Boom

Ivar’s has declined to sponsor the fireworks show after a 44-year run, citing competition from other shows. Will another company pick up the show? Stay tuned.

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