Hurrican Ridge

Hurrican Ridge

Hurricane Ridge. That’s a pretty dramatic name isn’t it? Especially for a site in the Pacific Northwest where we’re not exactly known for our hurricane season. Still the name, for a viewing area in the Olympic National Park, does have a basis. Olympic National Park is situated in the Olympic Mountains, the range that runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean. As the first of two mountain ranges in Washington the Olympics take the brunt of the bad winter weather that blows in from the ocean. In fact this mountain range is the reason that Seattle enjoys such temperate weather—we are in the rain shadow of the Olympics. We also back up against the Cascades so, with two ranges on either side of us, the worst of the weather bounces from the Olympics across to the Cascades and passes right over us. On a side note this weather movement is also why Eastern Washington is much drier than Western Washington—most of the precipitation that starts in the Olympics is gone by the time a weather system gets to the far side of the Cascades.

So that was your Washington weather lesson for the day! Now back to Hurricane Ridge! Given the information above the name of the Ridge actually starts to become a bit clearer—it is regularly subjected to winter storms which include hurricane-force winds—in some of the storms the wind-speed has been recorded at a high point of 86 miles per hour!

You would never know this to visit on a sunny day though–when the weather is clear the Ridge offers some of the best views in Washington! The starting point for the road is in Port Angeles, which sits right on the Pacific Ocean. Do not be fooled by the weather down in town and take it as an accurate representation of what is going on up at the Ridge. At just short of a mile above sea level the Ridge rises above the fogs that routinely closes in around Port Angeles. Often there is clear skies up there if it’s just the usual daily fog—though fog at the foot of the mountain can ruin some of the viewing chances up top.

In fact the Ridge is so high, 5,242 feet above sea-level, that it is safely in the sub-alpine zone. This mean that you’ll have new types of weather and conditions to face as you head up Hurricane Ridge Road to the summit. At any time of the year it’d be a good idea to check on the Olympic Park website or at the ranger station at the foot of the road before you make the drive up. Rock slides or avalanches can block the road at any time of the year and also, depending on the season and current weather conditions, tire chains might be needed to make it up the road. In these upper levels of the Olympic National Park snow can come at any time of the year and many of the hiking trails keep snow on them into July!

Once you make it up the road though, on a sunny day, the views are amazing. I nabbed a few photos while I was up there (You can see them below) but my day was a bit hazy. On a very clear day you should be able to see Mount Olympus, one of the most elusive mountains in Washington State—mostly because it’s rather short compared to some of the bigger ones and it’s out to the west beyond the Seattle/Tacoma area where most people look around for mountains.

If you are into hiking, Hurricane Ridge is a jumping-off point for a whole variety of hikes, from short ones on wheelchair-accessible paved paths to much more challenging ones that only the fittest hiker would want to attempt. More information on the trails and current conditions can be found in the Visitor Center located right at the Ridge. That’s also where you can find a very interesting informative display about the history, geology, ecology and environment of the park. You can find a gift shop and snack bar on the lower level near to the information desk.

I could go on for a good bit longer but, honestly, the majesty of the Ridge and its scenery are best experienced in person. Consider my photos as an appetizer course and then make plans to head out that way yourself! The majesty of the Olympic Mountains must be experienced in person to truly understand why they have awed Humans since people first began to strike inward from the Pacific Ocean.

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The Moore Theater

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What exactly does it mean to offer your theater to ‘legitimate shows’? According to Mr. Webster the definition of ‘legitimate’ that applies to this context is “relating to plays acted by professional actors but not including revues, burlesques, or some forms of musical comedy”.

Now why did this matter?

I’m not sure if this sign was part of the original Moore Theatre’s design or added at some point during the theatre’s 108-year history but in 1907, when the Moore opened, theatre did not always have the best of reputations. While being one of the main forms of public entertainment there were many types of shows performed on stages and some were less respectable than others. Bawdy comedies, vaudeville performances, burlesques (at this point in history more song-and-dance shows then the strip teases they became), and dance hall performances painted a wide and varied picture of the ‘stage’ in many peoples minds. Some legitimate theatres, eager to distance themselves from these scandalous groups, actually advertised themselves more as lecture halls then performance venues. To that end they could calm the fears of the more reserved and conservatives members of society which would ensure that they stayed in business.

The Moore is the oldest still-operating theatre in Seattle. As the sign promises it does offer real stage shows along with the mentioned concerts and other types of entertainment. When it opened it catered to Seattle’s elite though, like many theatre venues, it was sorely hit by the changing times and almost closed its doors permanently during the 1970s before a huge innovation saved it…but more on that turn of events in a moment.

The Moore had a long and (rather) glorious run before the 1970s came about. In its first decade it was the home of the Seattle Symphony, and such performers as Ethel Barrymore, and the Marx Brothers graced their stage along with presentations of several Shakespeare plays and “Madame Butterfly”.

The Moore was bought by the Orpheum Vaudeville Circuit right after the first World War ended. They kept it as their main base until 1927. That was when they built their own theatre (now closed) several blocks away. At that point the Moore went up for lease and it was rented by Cecilia Schultz, a premotor of different arts in Seattle. She used the theater for a wide variety of events ranging from musical performances to lectures by Robert Ripley. After she retired in 1949 the Moore was rented mainly by different religious revivals and other smaller events.

Another short run of glory began in 1954 when Hugh Becket, the manager of the freshly-closed Seattle Metropolitan Theatre, took over the Moore and continued his business of booking and hosting plays and performances. Still it did not last long and The Moore was back to renting itself out and struggling to stay ahead of newer theatres and the afore-mentioned rise of the cinema within a few years. By the 1970s the theatre was on the ropes even though it had been added to the historic registry of Seattle in 1974.

As they say though adaptation is the key to survival.

In 1975 two Canadians, Darryl MacDonald and Dan Ireland, took on the theatre and transformed it into a cinema house. They meant to use it as a home for Hollywood revivals and foreign films but in 1976 the Moore, now called the Moore Egyptian, became the home to the first annual Seattle International Film Festival. As SIFF went on to become one of the most successful film festivals in America it moved its headquarters first to a theatre on Capital Hill and then to another building at City Center in Seattle. Ten years later the Moore (dropping “Egyptian” from the title as that went to the new SIFF theatre In Capital Hill) was again without tenants and reverted to being an event-to-event rental again.

In 1992 Ida Cole, an alumna of Microsoft, and her non-profit organization, The Seattle Landmark Association (Which would later become the Seattle Theatre Group), leased the property from its long-time owner George Toulouse. His ownership was the main reason behind the theatre surviving so long with its historical architecture mainly intact.

Now the Moore Theatre, the Seattle Theatre Group still leasing it from the Toulouse family, has returned to its roots as a venue for dynamic entertainment. They have incorporated all of the new additions that have been added over the years which allows which allows them to use the space for all kinds of events, from bands giving concerts to dance troupes and stage actors performing on stage along with using it as a movie theatre.

The Moore Theatre is a true survivor story. In an era when cities across the United States are losing so many of their historic buildings it’s comforting to know that a few of them manage to hang on through dedicated supporters and sheer persistence. Let’s hope we start hearing more success stories like the Moore in the years to come!

Dictionary cited from: www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/legtimate

Information about the Moore Theatre gathered from www.historylink.org , Wikipedia.org , and http://www.stgpresents.org/moore

Pike Place Market

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This iconic sign, at the foot of Pike Street, is the marker for one of Seattle’s oldest and most iconic sights. Still Pike Market’s beginnings were very humble and born out of a utilitarian purpose.

In the late 1800s Seattle’s population began to blow up—between 1890 and 1900 Seattle’s population grew by almost forty thousand heads to end up at 82,000 people by the end of the decade. All of these people created a huge demand for the fresh fruits and produce that was grown by the farmers surrounding the city. Initially they brought their goods to Seattle and sold them to the wholesalers located on Western Avenue who, in turn, sold them to the public. As you can imagine under this system only the wholesalers were turning any kind of profit. The farmers were usually loosing money or, if they were lucky, they were breaking even. The residents of the city had little control over the prices and where forced to pay whatever the wholesalers charged.

By 1907 the situation was becoming critical—farmers were growing increasingly poorer and citizens were frustrated by continually being gouged for staples. Finally, in the summer of that year, Seattle City Councilman Thomas Revelle brought up the idea of creating a public farmers market that would allow citizens and farmers to meet face-to-face and push the wholesalers to the side. Pike Market opened to the public on August 17th, 1907 with eight farmers showing their wares. By the end of the first day 10,000 citizens had descended on the market had cleaned them all out. Within a week seventy wagons were gathering daily to sell their wares and the number of vendors, and buyers, has only gone up since then.

Now in 2015 on any daily of the week, at any time of year, you can find around one hundred farmers, one-hundred-and-ninety craftsmen, and two hundred businesses all sharing their wares at the Market. On the lower floors of the Market you can find the stores and the upper street-level is where you can find the farmers and craftsmen along with the famous fish markets. The restaurants that have helped to make Pike Market famous are spread throughout the whole area. This is also the area where, if you’re a coffee fan, you’ll find the original Starbucks store. Running along the upper level of the Market is Post Alley where a variety of restaurants and comedy clubs can be found along with the Gum Wall.

The Market is open daily from 10am to 6pm though the craftsmen and farmers usually are closed down by 4pm. Any day is a good day to stop by the Market! Have fun out there!

Doug Aitken’s “Mirror”

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On 1st and Union you will find the new entrance to the Seattle Art Museum. Regulars call it the ‘new entrance’ because when the downtown museum first opened in 1991 the main entrance was near the Hammering Man statue on 1st and University. The museum underwent renovations and when it re-opened in 2007 they moved the main entrance.

The museum is a living building, constantly undergoing changes—both interior ones as exhibitions come and go and exterior ones on the building itself. One of newest changes is a huge moving mural on the outside of the building, right behind the SAM sign that faces onto 1st Avenue. The display, “Mirror” by Doug Aitken, opened in March 2013. It features hundreds of hours of footage of people, environments, landscapes, and locations in Seattle that travel across the panels above the museum doors. The environment affects the display—what pedestrians are doing, the current weather and atmosphere conditions, and traffic and activity on 1st avenue all can alter the mural in different ways.

If you would like to come view “Mirror” you can see it from the street. If the weather is good one of the best viewing places is an open area right between the Four Seasons Hotel and the Pike Place Brewery—both of which are located across the street from SAM. If the weather is a bit mucky you can always view “Mirror” from one of the shops right across the street from the museum—I have been told that Fran’s Chocolate is an excellent viewing point. They also reportedly make a fantastic cup of hot chocolate, so I’ve been told!

However you choose to view “Mirror”, and whether hot chocolate is involved or not, have fun doing so! Until next time happy adventures and travels!

The Seattle Seahawks Send-Off

As the news has been reporting for about a week now the Seattle Seahawks are playing in Superbowl XLIX (49)! This is the second year in a row that the Seahawks are off to the biggest game of the year in American football—and that hasn’t happened in quite some time! To be honest it is quite a big deal here in Seattle and in the greater Pacific Northwest area.
Not every city, or even every state, can afford its own NFL team so the Seattle Seahawks are the nearest team for Washington, Oregon, Idaho and British Columbia (Which has a bigger American football following then I excepted honestly). Plus pockets of the fans (Calling themselves “The 12th Man”) pop up all over the country. To say that the fans are loyal would be an understatement—they are well known as one of the most devoted followings of fans for any NFL team.
Last year for the Superbowl and following celebrations they proved that they’d earned this title…and now this year they’re out to top their own record turn-outs from last year!
Sunday is officially a week out from the big game at the University of Phoenix stadium in Glendale, Arizona which is home field for the Arizona Cardinals during the main season. The Seahawks team flew out on Sunday to spend a week practicing and getting ready for Sunday’s kick-off. The team buses took them from their training compound in Renton, Washington and carried them down interstate 5 to SeaTac airport….and along every bit of the route that had a safe-ish place to stand fans crowded to see the team off.
I live about three doors down from the main road that the buses would be traveling on so my mom and I watched the live chopper feed from Channel 7 as they reported on the buses leaving the training compound. Once they were on the interstate my mom and I donned appropriate gear, collected a few members of her ‘team’ of Seahawks plush figures and snowmen, and walked down to the corner to see the buses off.
Bear in mind that fans had been gathering in our neighborhood since about 7am (I was woken up to loud chants of “Sea-HAWKS, Sea-HAWKS!”) though the team website had recommended that fans start gathering about 9am. So by the time my mom and I walked down about 9:15 or so the crowds were thick…and the ones right in front of my street were thin compared to what awaited the team down at the intersection and near the airport. Here are some photos that I nabbed of my street corner:

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The police had shut down all of the streets to traffic and had roped off a lane for the buses and their escorts to get through. Everywhere else was a sea of blue and green, fans bearing homemade signs, waving flags and chanting out slogans and support for the team.
It only lasted a few minutes before the buses went through and headed up into the airport for their flight to Arizona. Fans cheered their hearts out until the buses were out of sight and then dispersed and headed home. There will be an even bigger party next week for the game and I have a feeling that, should the Seahawks bring the Lombardi Trophy back to Seattle for the second time, the fans will throw an even bigger party then the one they had last year when an estimated 700,000 fans turned out for the Victory parade. Please bear in mind that Seattle’s regular population is a bit over 650,000…and many of the Seattle citizens did NOT turn out for the parade.
We shall have to see what the future brings—but the one thing I can promise you is that the 12th Man always knows how to throw a good party and some great support for their beloved team! If you would like to see more photos of the send-off the Seattle Seahawks website has a gallery full of pictures of fans along the whole route!

A Blast From the Past at the Science Center

I should apologize for the silence—my internet was down for an annoyingly long time last week, blacking out my Wednesday update and my ability to double-check dates and prices. Everything has been fixed however and now we are back on schedule!

And speaking of being on schedule Pacific Science Center is getting ready to bring their next exhibit in and it promises to be a fantastic one! This is its last stop in the U.S. for “Pompeii: The Exhibition” before it returns to Italy so you’ll definitely want to see it during its three-and-a-half month run.

Pompeii, near Naples, Italy is the site of one of the greatest natural disasters in recorded Human history. Sometime in 79AD the large volcano Mount Vesuvius erupted and buried the town of Pompeii, along with many near-by communities and villas in meters of hot ash. Many, if not all, of the citizens in the area, and in Pompeii in particular, were killed by the extreme heat and the ash and gas clouds that came from the eruption. Still what had been so thoroughly destroyed by the volcano was also preserved by it.

For almost 1,500 years the site was untouched until, quite by accident, some walls were revealed in 1599 while a crew was digging an underground channel for the Sarno river. Some excavation was done but ultimately the remains were covered up again. Again Pompeii remained undisturbed until 1748 when the Spanish military engineer Rocque Joaquin de Alcubierre intentionally began to uncover it. From that point on regular excavations and study of Pompeii became regular and since the early eighteen hundreds it has been a tourist attraction, starting out as a stop on the Grand Tour. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage site.

This exhibit is one of the few times that pieces and artifacts have left Italy. Many of the artifacts that will be shown are details of everyday life in a Roman city including artwork, armor from guards and gladiators, religious figurines, currency, and personal belongings such as jewelry or hairpieces. There will also be ten full body casts made from the hollows in the hardened ash—the skeletons of the deceased usually decomposed but they left imprints in the ash. Plaster was poured into those shapes and archeologists were able to recreate the forms.

One area of the display will be marked with a ‘mature’ warning—it will be a representation of a brothel. This display will be in its own area and will be visibly blocked from the rest of the exhibit—adults may use their own discretion in going in themselves or allowing younger members of their family to enter. There will be a by-pass route available should you choose not to view it.

There will also be an immersive CGI section where guests can experience a recreation of the eruption of Mount Vesuvius—there will be some shaking of the ground and walls. Guests who are prone to motion sickness will wish to exercise some caution during this part of the experience.

Once you travel through the whole exhibit there will be an exhibit-specific gift shop at the exit. This one is separate from the main Science Center gift shop.

The exhibit will be in Seattle between February 7th and May 25th, 2015. Tickets are already on sale and may be purchased in advance on-line. Tickets will be dated for specific dates and times of entries so that the exhibit will not become over-crowded. Prices for entry vary with ages and between weekends and regular weekdays. The website will have all of the most current ticket prices. Purchasing on-line is an excellent idea—when the King Tut exhibit was on display at the Science Center in 2012 the lines were quite long for at-the-gate purchases. Advance purchasing allows you to skip these lines.

This show looks to be a fantastic one and an amazing chance to see these artifacts in the United States. After this exhibit leaves Seattle you will have to travel to Italy to see them. I think, personally, it would be best to see this exhibit, let it whet your appetite and then plan a trip to Italy visit the sites of the disaster in person. Whether this will be just a fun day trip in Seattle for you or the launching-off-point for a European adventure I hope you have a fantastic time!

Once the exhibit opens I will be posting a follow-up blog focusing more on the history behind Pompeii and the artifacts inside. This will be part of a new segment I will be working on, a once-a-week post focusing on the history behind exhibits and sites in Seattle!

Seattle Central Library

Christmas has settled into the past and now we face the long, bleak days until spring returns again. I think, no matter where you live in the Western Hemisphere, the winter months drag on until the hope that spring will comes again begins to fade.

Still there are ways to beat even the most insistent case of rainy-day blues! One of my favorite ways to cope is to hide in the library—and Seattle offers one of the most beautiful public libraries on the West Coast.

The Seattle Central Library, with the main entrance on 4th Street right between Spring and Madison, is the central hub for the Seattle Public Library system. It is a magnificent steel-and-glass building that Rem Koolhaas and Joshua Prince-Ramus designed in 2004, and in 2007 the American Institute of Architects placed it at #108 on their list of “150 Favorite Structures in the US”. The library is 11 stories tall and it can hold over one million books and other media, including DVDs, magazines, and newspapers. On the top floor one can find the Seattle Room—a reference room filled with antique maps and many, many books from historical accounts to copies of Washington State and Seattle City censuses and legal documents. It is a treasure trove for the history buff, the historical novelist or even just a local history fan.

One of the most interesting features of the building is the Book Spiral on floors six through eight. These floors house the non-fiction section of the library and are designed as a spiral so that the Dewey Decimal System filing system would not broken up—if you start at the bottom of the spiral you can wander all the way to the back of the eighth floor without being interrupted.

If you like fiction you’ll find the Children’s’ section on the first floor and the Teen and Adult fiction are on the third floor. I’ve wiled away many a rainy afternoon curled up among these shelves with a murder mystery or thumbing through a graphic novel or two. Often it’s the only way to spend a few hours—a wonderful break in a busy day.

The library is free to anyone who wishes to come in. If you are hungry or thirsty there is a coffee shop on the third floor called Chocolati. It sells prepackaged sandwiches, baked treats, a variety of hot drinks, and hand-made chocolates. Naturally food and drink is limited to the coffee shop tables and chairs, it is not allowed in the book or computer areas of the library. Right next to the coffee shop is a gift shop that focuses on items for book-lovers and readers. It also features arts and crafts created by local artists.

The library is open seven days a week. Every day but Sunday it opens at 10 am, on Sunday it opens at noon. Monday through Thursday it closes at 8 pm. Friday through Sunday it closes at 6 pm.

Enjoy your visit—if you do go be sure to stop by Chocolati, you’ll need the energy to explore the library in the fullness that it deserves! Have a good time!