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!

The Illusion of Snow

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Like dozens of twinkling stars brought down to Earth the white lights wrap around the trees in Seattle City Center, leading down the walkway through the International Fountain and McCaw Hall. While snow is rare in Seattle (Though we did have a brush with it right after Thanksgiving) the lights bring about just that illusion of snow covering everything, allowing the trees to hide their barren branches for just a bit of time.

Though it’s pitch-black outside (thanks to a rare cloud-less night) it’s not as late as one would think. It’s barely eight—the crowds milling in and out of the ice skating rink, or grabbing a bite to eat at the Armory attest to that. Apparently there’s a Stevie Wonder concert at Key Arena that explains the number of people out-and-about; even for a busy area it’s unusually active for a Thursday evening.

Still I steal a chance to pause and grab a photo of this relatively quiet spot before I head into the Armory and all of the people going about their business. Our brief encounter with snow and the whispers of a White Christmas may have passed but, for a bit, the trees all around us are doing their best to compensate. After all if we can’t have snow at least we can have stars.

A Taste of the Christmas Season—A Bit Earlier Than Expected

Hello again! Right now, it’s the beginning of October and that means all things creepy, crawly and ghoulish are on our mind thanks to Halloween being right around the corner. But in Tacoma, right down the road from me in Seattle, one show dares to put Christmas before Halloween however taboo that idea might be.

The show in question is the Tacoma Holiday Food & Gift Festival. This year it is between October 22th and the 26th, giving you a chance, just before Halloween, to start your Christmas shopping. After all, once the mad rush of the holiday season is upon us gift shopping can fall to the bottom of the list. I’ve always felt it was best to get started a bit early…okay honestly I start in August if I’m having a slow year.

As you will all see over the next two months or so, I love Christmas. As you’ll also see, Seattle tends to agree with me on that front. This show, at the Tacoma Dome, is the first major Christmas show of the season. The rest of them get started around the beginning of November and by Thanksgiving weekend Christmas is pretty much in full swing around here.

This show, as the jumping-off point for Christmas in the Puget Sound, is a big one. Taking place in the Tacoma Dome (the largest wooden-domed area in the world), the actual show is spread out in the Dome itself and the Exposition Hall on the other side of the lobby. In 2013 over 600 exhibitors with specialty crafts, exhibits and food displays where featured. 40,000 people attended the five-day show last year, enjoying all of the unique items on display and the live entertainment that was offered. This year there will be 250 new vendors displaying their wares.

I made it down for an afternoon last year and, trust me; you will need a whole afternoon to take in the show. It’s that big! When my mother and I went, we started in the Exhibition Hall and after making the rounds, we headed into the Dome. That’s an easy way to ease yourself into the scale and scope of this show.

Just take it slow, take it easy and be sure to take some breaks. There is a food court there with a separate eating area so that you can take a rest and enjoy some excellent food. Also on the main stage in the Tacoma Dome, they offer shows delivered by local dance groups and youth choirs all throughout the day. The schedule is usually published in the program you’ll get when you arrive along with being posted by the stage. These shows are also wonderful ways to insert pauses into your shopping expeditions along with reveling in some of the great talent that this area possesses.

I hope you all find a chance to make it out to the show and get a bit of the Christmas Spirit going just a bit earlier than normal! Tickets are required—they can be purchased on-line or at the show itself. Children 12 & under get in for free, adults play $14.50. There is a coupon on the website for $1.00 dollar off if you buy your tickets at the gate. The tickets are good for the entire show, from the day you buy them until the end of the show. That means that if you buy your ticket on the 22th then it is good for the entire week. There is parking on site; there is also off-site parking around the Tacoma Dome. Prices may vary depending on where you opt to park.

Happy shopping!

Events in Seattle for the weekend of October 4th-5th, 2014

Some special events in Seattle this weekend for anyone seeking something fun to do!

On Saturday, down at Waterfront Park by the aquarium, from 2-8pm they are hosting the first annual Seattle Waterfront Festival. It’s free, family-focused and will culminate in a light-and-firework show by the Wheel.

BrickCon, an annual Lego convention, is at the Seattle Exhibition Hall both Saturday and Sunday. Doors open at 10am on Saturday and 9am on Sunday. Admission is $9.00, kids under five get in for free. A main feature are intricate models and creations made by adult Lego-fanatics.

This weekend there is also the Northwest Tea Festival at Fisher Pavilion in City Center. It will run from 10am to 6pm on Saturday and from 10am to 4pm on Sunday. A one-day pass is $10.00 per person, a two-day pass is $15.00. Children under twelve get in for free. You get a free tasting cup with your admission to take part in tea-tasting panels along with tea-tasting at various booths.

On Sunday October 5th there is a Croatia Festival at the Armory in Seattle City Center. It opens at noon and runs until around 6:30 in the evening. It focuses on Croatian heritage, culture, and food. Admission is free.

This is just a sample of what’s going on this weekend in Seattle–I hope everyone has fun!

An Day Trip to Olympic Sculpture and Myrtle Edwards Park

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“The Eagle” by Alexander Calder stands guard over Elliot Bay from its permanent display spot in the Olympic Sculpture Park. Since the park is only a mile from downtown Seattle and a few blocks from Seattle City Center it’s an easy walk to make from the heart of Seattle.

Olympic Sculpture Park is one of three locations for the Seattle Art Museum, the other two being the main museum in Downtown Seattle and the second being the Asian Art Museum in Volunteer Park, not far from the Capital Hill neighborhood. Some of the biggest benefits about OSP is that it’s free and it’s open from dawn to dusk, like any other park in Seattle. Another great feature is that it backs up to Myrtle Edwards park with 1.25 miles of walking and biking paths along the waterfront.

Actually if you start at the OSP entrance near Pier 70 and then follow the paths through both parks until you hit the entrance of the Port of Seattle Terminal 91 you’ll be able to walk or bike a large portion of the Seattle waterfront, enjoying some of the best views in the area along the way!

With autumn starting to make the days crisp and sunny you should take the chance to dust off the bikes (or walking shoes), get the kids ready for some fun and head out to take in the art, breathe in some fresh air and get easy exercise all at once! Pack a picnic to take with you and you’ve got a complete outing for the whole day!

Have fun!

‘Personal Courage’ At the Museum of Flight

Here’s a fun fact about me: I am fascinated by airplanes. I’m not entirely sure why this trait came about but I do know it started early. Like “being five years old and staring up at the sky, mesmerized by contrails” early. My first experience at an airport was in Eugene, Oregon in the late nineties (When you could still go past security and meet people at the gate), going to pick up my grandmother when she flew in from visiting family in Minnesota. Then I spent my tween years living pretty much across the street from a U.S. Air Force base and actually thought about becoming a pilot for the Air Force when I was about twelve.

From there the interest in airplanes has moved away from a practical one and more toward a ‘casual appreciation’ type of interest. For instance I love watching airplanes take off—something about the hard, sleek lines of the capsule as it streaks past the soft, rounded lines of the landscape around it captures my attention. I also love being in Downtown Seattle and watching them circle around to approach SeaTac airport, framing themselves up against Mount Rainer if it’s a sunny day. There’s a great joy in viewing their lights and then the plane itself suddenly appearing if it’s foggy. Possibly the greatest fun, though, is to be stargazing and have to squint just to tell if you’re watching an airplane on the approach or if you’ve just spotted a UFO.

Naturally given some of my other hobbies it means that the history of planes is equally fascinating to me. That of course means that the Museum of Flight, down at Boeing Field just south of Seattle proper, is like being in a candy store.

I’ve actually been to the museum three times since I moved in. Unlike other museums in the area it really doesn’t have much in the field of ‘rotating’ exhibits but its permanent collection needs several viewings to soak it all in.

Of course the main bulk of the museum is dedicated to a huge collection of planes suspended from the ceiling several stories up and working down. This is truly the heart of the museum, including (on the ground floor) an exhibit on the life and disappearance of Amelia Earhart and one on the mail planes in the Alaskan bush. You can also go up into a tower and take a look at the instruments and radars that air traffic control officers’ use, along with an active radar display of the air over Boeing Field. Despite their fascinating content these are not my favorite areas of the museum though.

My favorite area is actually on the other side of the gift shop. It is the Personal Courage wing—a two-story area dedicated to fighter planes from World War I and World War II.

Not only do they have planes from both eras on display but they have worked hard to carefully recreate the time periods that the equipment came from. Around the planes are photos, artifacts and interactive exhibits detailing the uniforms worn, the headlines and news articles of the time, the politics of the era, and letters and notes from the soldiers themselves. All of this is just to give viewers a solid, well-rounded image of what was actually going on at the front lines and the home front during the war times.

One particular detail I remember from the WWII exhibit was a series of radios scattered around at different displays that you could interact with by turning the dial between channels. You could flip between songs from the 1940s, like “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” by the Andrews Sisters or Glenn Miller’s “In the Mood”, radio news clips such as live reporters from the London Blitz, or speeches given by Winston Churchill and Franklin Roosevelt. For me the chance to hear back into the past, to listen to what everyone then was hearing in live time, really helps me to step back into the era and connect with it.

The museum was exacting on the details of both displays—gentle enough that the information can be accessible to a wide age range but honest enough that they aren’t sugarcoating it. I would not recommend it for a very young audience but children over eight should be able to handle the content, though every child is different when it comes to the information that they can process and appreciate. I would also not recommend it to people who might be sensitive or easily triggered by sounds of gunfire or explosions. While it is only in a few areas (I believe the trench exhibit in the WWI section may be the only one that really features this) it can still be overwhelming to some. It is accessible for handicapped parties.

To those among us who are history buffs I highly recommend this exhibit. It is carefully crafted and heavy on the details. It was created with love in mind: A love of history, a love of aviation and a love for honoring those that have come before us and secured the world that we enjoy today. It’s in that same spirit that I hope all of you will view the exhibit in and marvel at it.

The Hammering Man–Seattle

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Taken at the corner of University Street and 1st Ave in Seattle at about 9:30 in the morning. I was walking to work and, waiting for the light in front of the Seattle Art Museum, I happened to look up.

The Hammering Man is one several kinetic (moving) sculptures created by American artist Jonathan Borofsky in the early 1990s and installed in cities around the world. The most prominent versions of the sculpture are found in Frankfurt, Germany, Seattle, Washington USA, and Seoul, South Korea. The statue in Seattle swings his hammer four times a minute, working away silently twenty-four hours a day whether the museum is open or not.

If you’re taking a tour of Seattle odds are they’ll be sure you drive past this great piece of art! If you’re walking about on your own though be sure to head toward 1st and University, right above Harbor Steps, to say ‘Hello’ to the Hammering Man and watch him work!