Gazing upon the Fence of Doors of Vashon Island

Doors are important in most stories. These are transitive devices, that hold the way to one world as small and familiar as one’s own home, or to another world as vast and ready to explore as our universe itself. Either side, is a new story waiting to be told.

That said, is my highlight of a favorite little spot on Vashon Island to the west of Seattle), celebrating the awesomeness of doors in pop culture, with a fence made of many to the side of a house bordering a small alley. For a visitor to find, is to either stumble upon it or be learn of it. This spectacle is not easily noticeable otherwise.

Each colorful, styled door is in reference to some iconic pop-culture staple. Here is a closer look. Try and figure them out.

From left to right, I believe (might have a couple mixed up) we have Sherlock Holmes, Muppet Show, Harry Potter, Twilight Zone, Friends, Shrek, Hobbit, Doctor Who, Winnie the Pooh, Lord of the Rings, Monsters Inc, Napoleon Dynamite, Mystery Date, Christmas Carol, and Chronicles of Narnia (out of frame).

Upon my visit with a couple friends, we had a chance to chat with the artist, and builder of these doors, John “Oz” Osborne. He is a local resident, also very friendly and welcoming toward admirers of his work. He shared a little history, which began as a plan to keep his yard less visible to the local business activity across the alley. His wife, Jenny developed the idea further, as both worked together to expand each part of the fence, one door at a time. The work is still continual, with more space left for more doors.

John explained the most curious of doors, in the picture of the above on the right (him to the right taking a break from painting his own house). This door is in reference to an old board game intended for young girls, Mystery Date. The idea of the game was to gain a desirable date, but avoid the “dud.”

For those visiting Vashon Island, the Fence of Doors is worth personally checking out. Also, see what’s been added with the passage of time. It’s open for all to see, from a small side street. Location is 100th pl SW and 174th street, behind Luna Bella’s consignment boutique.

For those who may never get a chance to visit the little obscure area of the Pacific Northwest, here’s my little video posted on Instagram…

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Fun island town adventuring through Vashon

I love a peaceful, quaint, distant getaway that doesn’t feel too isolated. Vashon Island is awesome, for its lovely greenery and sense of community that I feel such be model for this pandemic time.

Vashon Island a little island of two parts (Vashon and Maury) located west of Seattle, deep within Puget Sound. The 36.9 square miles (95.6 km) landmass has a population of over 10,000, and only accessible from the outside by boat. There are two state-run ferries on the north and south end, where vehicle boarding is possible.

This visit to Vashon Island is my second since the Spring of 2015. I thought of coming back here on remembering that it’s still an island, therefore not likely overwhelmed by summer visitors during this pandemic. And unlike the Seattle city, there has been little growth since.

Coming back, I notice not much has changed in its mostly rural parts. Still, very peaceful, lush, and green. But I saw much awareness and respect for the current times. Many signs of Black Lives Matters on yards and fences, with painted portraits of George Lloyd and Breonna Taylor upon various walls, all express solidarity. There are also constant reminders to keep the virus masks on and be mindful of those around you with social distancing. Sadly, such things have become very polarized and would perhaps bother a more Trump-loyal conservative person, who would otherwise enjoy this lovely island. For myself being a person of color, I find the solidarity welcome. For not wanting to suffer horribly from someone else’s carelessness, I find the pandemic safety awareness also welcome.

I find these positives amplified and mixed in with, the Vashon central town center area, where SW Bank Road and SW 99th cross. Close and quaint, are huddled little shops, markets, restaurants for locals and tourists to enjoy and sink into that Pacific Northwest charm. Not much has changed, except for some good signs of support in these challenging times.

Here, are some pics I took with notes while with other friends, as we walked around…

One of many small local businesses in central Vashon. Some are open, some are closed. Most are well-preserved structures with some little extra character added. This gives Vashon Island a timeless appeal in these changing times.

Raven’s Nest, Northwest Native Art Gallery and Gifts, an indigenous owned and run store of wonderful native art.

The Vashon Theater. A little spot I hope to see open upon a future visit. But for now, they do offer drive-In movies for the summer!

The front of the Vashon Print and Design Shop, showing many ways for one to express support, awareness, and solidarity through glorious poster art.

Lots of gift ideas at the Vashon Pharmacy. Yes, it’s a pharmacy within the place that I barely noticed while looking at all the fun, various housewares.

A large sign in front of Granny’s Attic Thrift Store, an awesome thrift store I highly recommend for treasure hunters. But also, well-aware and meeting of the challenges on running business during the pandemic area. There was a line of people on Saturday, but the measures taken were well worth it, and we picked up some cool, vintage things.

Berries and summer blooms everywhere!

At the The Hardware Store Restaurant, with this canine decoration that I had to take a picture of.

Also at the Hardware Store Restaurant, the pancakes and other food is super great. I highly recommend!

A little art gallery behind the Hardware Store Restaurant, this time with a little pet theme.

A little random art piece alone outside, because no small town is complete without one.

The old bike in a tree, a sub-famed attraction of the island. Sadly, much of the attraction has rotted away as the growing tree swallowed it more. According to this site, the bike was abandoned in 1954, by a local who received it was a gift, and just didn’t want it, and left it in the trees.

And my new favorite part of the Vashon town center is this artistic fence of doors done by a local, located in an alleyway. It’s quite amazing and deserves its own post. I will share more on the doors, the history, and the artist behind the work , in my next post.

The beauty of a Pacific Northwest escape, to Vashon Island

It’s been a while, almost too long.

That, for the writing and telling of the better parts of my life, lately long overshadowed by the constant darker shades of pandemic restrictions, the mental weardown of my social circles, and the frustration off the latest news reports. Much of that darkness has been coiled with the confines of the pandemic and partial shutdowns. I spent much time not by traveling or seeing what’s new in my neighborhood, but through the video chats, gaming, long text sessions with distant friends. My work life is mixed, with short assignments, freelance,and straight hustling.

But eventually, I must take time out. I must breathe out in the open, ruminate, refresh, energize in a setting that fits as an escape. So with some very good friends, I took that time and made the best of that plan, by travel to somewhere distant, but not too far.

I returned to Vashon Island, a solid livable mass of 80.8 square miles (209.3 km) to near West Seattle within the beautiful waterways of Puget Sound. The population is a little over 10,000 locals. Less than an hour from home, and then an hour at most through the Vashon Island Ferry from the Fauntleroy Terminal.

I have much to say about Vashon Island, its current state with locals and adaptation to the global pandemic. I also made some new discoveries, and had a lot of fun with companions. Spoiler…I recommend it for anyone that’s Covid 19 conscience, and wants to visit a place that is also that.

I will share more on that experience very soon. In the meantime, just enjoy these capture moments of just getting there…

The sweetly street sights of Seattle’s Ballard District

The days are packed for me, yet the sidewalks still seem empty during this weird pandemic time.

I recently took to the streets of Ballard, a northern district Seattle with a quiet small town feel, lined with boats and docks to the west. It’s an area often missed by visitors with little tourist draw, yet plenty for those loving the deep Pacific Northwest charm of old shops, restaurants, decades old buildings, hints of history throughout, and some cheerful little oddities.

Recently, I finished some extra work in Ballard, which took about a week of back and forth commutes, filled with sorting and paperwork. After the last hours of that assignment, I looked to the sky with plenty of daylight left, inhaled the cool summer evening breeze. With comfy shoes and a half charge phone with no messages to respond to, I went for a long pointless walk around Ballard.

Much remained closed and limited from the ongoing pandemic. Few persons were seen scattering about, probably with purposes of commuting back home, not the aimless adventuring I love. The weekday evening might as well been a Sunday morning, as most remain in their homes.

I would not go home just yet, as I held free time and a thirst for adventure has no schedule. I dive in with comfy shoes, a half-charged phone.

Here are some street sights taken then, with notes….

Here is a cool vintage car, 50’s I think. I’m not sure on further details, but it’s a nice combination of beautiful metal shapes and shines.

I love some good wheels, as none should ever go to waste. Let them inspire other working wheels along the way!

I see not a pipe, but an elephant bellhop standing before me! This was to the side of the Mox Boarding House, a highly recommended hub for tabletop gamers (next to Card Kingdom).

Not a pandemic sign. I learned this was to promote…something…by some years ago by local writer Isaac Marion. If you call the number, there’s a very cryptic and bizarre message. More on that here.

Twice Sold Tales Books store in Ballard (different than the one in Capitol Hill). It was closed, but I love the sign!!! There’s not enough signs with dinosaurs on them.

The Ballard Consignment Store, with giant dogs guarding the entrance…

I really like the dress pattern in the window of the Monster Art and Clothing Shop.

Yeah, it’s Starbucks. It still counts as local for Seattle as the business was born and remains HQed here. But for this location, I love the practical recycled used of old boxcars.

Ballard Brothers Seafood & Burgers and Taco Mamas restaurant. Great food and service inside, wonderful local art by Henry on the outside.

The other side…

And more. I love Henry’s work. It’s super cheerful and very PNW.

That’s all for now. I hope you enjoyed these memories of my little walk. And, if I missed anything, I would love to know more for a future trip in the comments below!

The simple life of the Black Oystercatcher

Haematopus bachmani, aka the Black Oystercatcher doesn’t really catch oysters. It’s catches mussels, limpets, barnacles, and various shellfish, all do well for their natural diet.

The Black Oystercatcher loves rocky shorelines, and often seen along the North American Pacific Coast. They don’t like human development or high industrialization where pollution and disturbances to their nesting areas disrupt their delicate existence.¬†

I took the above picture a few months ago from the Seattle Aquarium, which this little bit of info from its seattleaquarium.org site:

Oystercatchers nest and spend winters in the same basic area. They‚Äôre monogamous‚ÄĒthe same two birds will return to the nest they create together, season after season. They make nests near rocky tidal areas where food abounds. By flipping their bills sideways and backwards, the birds toss rock flakes, pebbles and shell fragments to create a nest that resembles a bowl. Each pair will raise a clutch of eggs (one to three eggs) at a time. If anything happens to a clutch, pairs will raise two or more clutches until they have a successful brood.”

Black Oystercatchers are often very noisy, for reasons I could not uncover. Those noises are a little silly and cute, different from other avians. I love them for that…

That’s why I am sharing this joy of nature now. Maybe this will cheer you and others in this long, difficult pandemic time, for at least a moment. Then, feel free to make a little silly noise of your own.

Orion T

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The sweet, crafty joy of donut awesomeness

Or, is it Doughnuts? I say donuts, much easier to spell and text out.

Within the older downtown Portland (Oregon) area, there is Voodoo Doughnuts, an awesome and very well-known freshly-made donuts shop (and growing chain) in the west U.S. The lines are often long, but worth it.

It’s important that I stop here for every visit to the central Portland area. It’s central location is open 24 hours, and I will wait anytime.

Special note to locals and frequent visitors: I hear much about the Blue Star Donuts shops in the area. I will get around to that eventually, then report back. I swear!!!

For every visit, I go with a favorite and something new. On the left (see picture above) is the Mango Tango, a raised yeast shell filled with mango jelly and topped with vanilla and Tang frosting. On the right is a special only available until the end of March, The Hi Tea. That has some earl grey flavored frosting with hibiscus drizzle. Partial proceeds for the Hi Tea are donated to the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Every bite leads to some finger-lickin thumbs up from me. There’s other great and tasty choices too. Here’s a sampling from the central location…

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That’s all for now. If you have a favorite donut place, or just a favorite flavor… I would love to know in the comments below.

Orion T

Up and about Portland in wintertime

Within the wet winters of the Pacific Northwest, can be the best fresh air and beautiful blue skies. Gazing high, I see freshness and the gentle passing of new time, bringing light and hope to a world that can feel pretty dark sometimes.

Below, I enjoy the often quiet breaks after the bursts of wet, gloomy, rough weather. That goes double for me when out of my big city, and into a neighboring city. Because then, I find more of what I miss.

Recently, I was Portland (Oregon), enjoying some beautiful hours from the weekend. In the morning after a heavy night of heavy showers, I enjoy its calm feel under the bare trees, vintage architecture, setting upon its often quirky gluten-free option heavy atmosphere.

The streets seemed almost empty last Saturday morning, with fewer humans walking about. I stopped by one of the many food truck blocks, seeing them all mostly closed until after the noontime hits.

And you can walk around easy, aimlessly enjoy the open streets, hum a little song, because “Keep Portland Weird” is a community push. I had my usual destinations before my business to do here. I don’t come often, but I never forget my sense of direction through the the central downtown. I know all the main spots I love, especially the Courthouse Square, Cameron’s Books, Ground Kontrol Arcade, Voodoo Donuts, Multnomah County Central Library, a bunch of favorite quirky stores and restaurants through all over the city, and some great parks to let that fresh outside air sink through to the heart.

And, I can never forget Powell’s Books, a place I end up often spending an excessive amount of time indoors. It’s also here, where I easily forget how pleasant the outside is.

I will have to talk more about Powell’s Books, in a feature to its own someday. But for now, here is a picture that best represents me in the Portland moment.

– Orion T

Rocking along Swami’s Beach in Southern California

I love them California beaches, from south of San Diego to the north of Crescent City. I’ve explored a good many, appreciating for each stretch of sand locale feels a little different and unique in some special way.

Being away from those beaches for too long, I miss that exploration, and rediscovery. I miss the freedom, and escape that California beaches often provide, and knowing what’s special about each.

Thus, I feel the love again in my periodic return to southern California. For my last trip, though I did something different in escaping the old, yet still familiar areas of San Diego, and Los Angeles/Orange County regions that sometime feel stuck with for too short the time.

So, I shared an nice adventure with an old, very dear friend who drove me to the in-between town area of Encinitas (northest San Diego County). We first enjoying some great Mexican food (huge shout out to the La Especial Norte restaurant, with my highest recommendation for hungry people there). Then, checked out a beach area, less familiar with and not been.

After a short drive, and a walk down to an opening between the nearby cliffs, and I found a pleasant little beach land, known as Swami’s Beach…

This first appears as a little beach, with very limited access through its north end via small open area. But then, walk down the sands a little further, around some crooked cliffs, and there you will see, much more coast with exploring by foot to be done.

But first, who is the Swami, you might ask… That would be Swami Paramahansa Yogananda, and you should check out his Wikipedia page. He stayed in Encintas for some time, at his Self-Realization Fellowship ashram nearby upon a cliff, built in 1937. The beach was eventually named after him unofficially by the surfer community, as his presence became well known, and respected. Much of that known beach, still public, was considered part of the long stretch, further down to San Elijo State Beach (another beach on my list to check out someday).

So, walking down, I noticed right away those wonderful waves of the San Diego shore, which were calming down after the high tide earlier. But still mighty for the surfers here to appreciate during our visit. It’s everything I still love about best about these slightly out of town shore spots. Plenty of room for free-minded people to bond with the waves, dig deep into the sand, led the oceanic breeze brush your face.

But what makes Swami’s Beach memorable and special? There’s much to admire here. At first, its the coziness and peaceful seclusion below the high cliffs (when the high tide is gone). Then, you would notice the many small rocks upon the shore.

These beautiful pebbles, are many and embedded against the waves, scatter, leaving a natural decoration upon the sand for some parts…

Then going forth, there are more rocks…

And then more,

And then, you just have to stop and admire, see what your shoes are stumbling over as you look down. I love these colors together.

These rocks are plenty enough feature to take in for now. I have much more to share, and they deserve another post. For that, I will be back with more on Swami’s Beach.

Orion T

Return to Little Tokyo

One of favorite places to visit in the central Los Angeles is within its historic district of Little Tokyo.

Little Tokyo is the cultural hub and concentration of Japanese culture, accelerated by the settling of Japanese immigrants in the late 19th century. Much of this was due to increased labor needed, resulting from the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1882 barring Chinese laborers. Little Tokyo grew from the opening of the Kame Restaurant on East First Street in 1885, which attracted many immigrants to the area, and eventually settled.

Through tough times, the area thrived until World War II, with Japan then at war with the US. This led to the signing of Executive Order 9066, where a mass relocation and confiscation of property of Japanese immigrants across the U.S West Coast would devastate the local community. The area was nearly lost to the Japanese business owners. Eventually, the war ended, and the Japanese community would slowly regain their lost area, growing Little Tokyo through the decades once again to the wonderful cultural spot it is now.

The Japanese Village Plaza

I gained a heartfelt love for Japanese culture, growing up near San Francisco’s Japantown in my teenage years. I enjoyed its history, food, and unique architecture. And with that and foremost, its stylized art then known to me as Japanimation (and later anime, and manga in printed form) applied to visual media in all forms.

Eventually living in South California, I would visit Little Tokyo often with friend of my college anime club, spending many hours going through shops, eating its specialized food, visiting art museums, and feeling further ingrained to its unique and awesome culture. This area, I would greatly miss as I left my old life in Southern California over 10 years ago.

Coming back, I was happy to see it all still very vibrant with all the crazy silly things that I grew to love about Japanese culture since my youth. Here are some recent pictures more reminiscent of that childhood part…

It’s thriving now, far more than I recall in my many visits over a decade ago. There are definitively more more businesses of Japanese influence here. The central area seems cleaner as well, with fresher paint and better details than I recall before. Pretty much all my favorite stores were still there, and packed. The anime/manga influence is also vibrant, with the Jungle Hoppy Shop store being my favorite and doubled in size now.

I also noticed a plentiful choice of Japanese restaurants, with a variety of specialties and appeal. Some showed their pride in preparation of eats, to public eyes, which I would enjoyed a moment in watch…

I would remain in Little Tokyo for only a couple hours with an old college friend, reminiscing of our time spent in this wonderful district. For lunch, we picked upon Daikokuya, a popular rice and ramen-noodle restaurant in the area. There was a 45-minute wait to this small, yet very cozy place. Eventually, the wait was worth it, and I enjoyed their prized Daikaku Ramen bowl and some takoyaki (octopus balls)…YUM!

An overall, I will surely return to Little Tokyo, again and again. You should too.

– Orion T

Happy New Year, 2019

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Happy New Year everyone!

Yes, it’s the 2nd day but still shiny new, barely a scratch. 2018 is gone, out and past away. But, there had to be a better transition to end the year on a better note than it began. Something, to begin the new grand cycle around the sun with a motivational high note. Focus more on what makes me happy, and sharing it with others. That’s how I will enter this new year while seeking something a little extra along the way.

And that I did, by leaving the US and going to Canada for four days. I spent last weekend and more in Vancouver, Canada. There, staying at a hostel and planning as I go. I have done this twice before, but I still treat it all like something new. Because, there is still a vast amount of unexplored areas, things to do, experiences that I have yet to check out. Being that’s it’s close to my otherwise hectic and jumbled life by a few hours, such the escape is still a completely different dream, of which I welcome when I have time.

O, Canada. I missed thee. There, gained many new experiences and revisited simple joys. Through things learned and smiles exchanged, it’s been a wonderful breath of cold air throughout. Some of it was also very wet, and my only loss was my green wool cap. That was a good one, keeping my head warm in tough times. Now, perhaps forever lost, and left behind in the streets of Vancouver. Or better yet, someone else will find and wear it, with a fresh smile.

Meanwhile, I will share more details on memorable moments and findings in the days ahead soon. Look forward, and again…Happy New Year!

Orion T

The shot above is unfocused on the New Year’s fireworks in Downtown Vancouver, at its Convention Center. This moment was accidental, not knowing the lady in my cam sight holding the camera. But, I like the shot as something different from an interesting perspective that holds a different story, maybe. I think I will aim for more different perspectives, in 2019.

 

Along the way, deep into the forest trail

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I recently posted about my hike to Annette Lake, a serene lake high in the mountainous region of the Mt.Baker-Snoqualmie forest.

The lake being serene and amazing, was enough to behold for its own posting. Now, I would like to share a bit more on its trail to and back. It’s a path as awesome as its destination.

The 7.5-mile round trip Annette Lake trail has wonderous sights, rich in the best of the Pacific Northwest nature land preservations, and another reason I love the Washington State. Here, dedicated hikers will step across towering huddled trees, fallen trees with new life taking upon, rocks of all ages, countless waterfalls, old wooden bridges, and patches of snow along the top in this late spring.

The sunlight through the blue sky intensified the green, illuminated darker pathways partially covered full-grown branches, and gave sparkles to the streams of water running down. You can also enjoy the sounds of the trail varied from noisy waterfalls, chirping birds up high, and peaceful void of preserved stillness.

Here are some choice pics along the path…

 

Overall, the Lake Annette Trail is a good hike I highly recommend for those physically able to withstand a moderate uphill exercise binge, with a worthwhile destination of the lake itself to rest for a bit.

My tips for the trail: go early, so you’ll have time to rest and enjoy some views. Bring a water bottle or two, with snacks of nuts and dried fruit. Go in a group, and maybe bring your dog (allowed on the trail). Wear good hiking shoes fit for stepping over small rocky pathways and snow patches. Don’t rush, as parts of the path are narrow, and other hikers will be frequently passing on the good days. Much of the path is upon step hillsides, with an easy fall into deadly grounds. Rest easy at the lake for a good time before heading back.

For more on the Lake Annette Trail, visit the official Washington Trails site at www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/annette-lake.

– Orion T

Colorful Gardens at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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I recently visited the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival in Northern Washington State on a gray day this April. Some of that was detailed in my previous post, Colorful Views…). As amazing as the tulip fields were, I was also impressed by the Roozengaarde display garden area.¬†Here, there are “90+ varieties of tulips and over 150 flower bulb varieties in total. Included are tulips, daffodils, hyacinths, crocus, muscari and other specialty flowers.”

The colors this time of year stand out, and a worthwhile attraction for tourists and locals in the Pacific Northwest. According to its website at tulips.com, the display garden is open all year round. Seeing these with the fields during the festival, is just an added bonus.

I now share some pics of the wonderful display garden below (click on each for the bigger picture):

The admiration and picture-taking was a joy, but personally seeing this for yourself is the best experience, especially with friends or family. For more info, click here and check out the Roozengaarde official site at Tulips.com for more info about tulips and purchase options

– Orion T

 

 

Colorful Views at the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival

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A few days ago, me and local friends ventured out north in the Washington state to the rural area of Skagit Valley by Mount Vernon, to check out its annual Tulip Festival. This wonderful time throughout April is when the tulip farms are at their colorful peak, growing miles of freshly blooms tulips and daffodils. Designated areas for up close viewing are open to the public, with a small admission charge

For the Skagit Valley Tulip Festival of 2018, there are multiple areas to visit and check out, as I entered the Roozengaarde Display Garden and Fields. Stunning place it is, even with the gray weather and muddy grounds (rained hard the day before). I admired and learned much of the tulip life and care that goes into them. I also took some pictures, of which the fields are shared below (click on each to fully appreciate):

The festival time goes on until the end of the month. The tourism on the weekend can be a bit heavy, especially if the rain is gone and the sun is shining. So, be ready¬†for a slow drive when close and lines at the entrance and foot court. It’s all well worth it with friends and family.

For more info, check out tulipfestival.org.

I meanwhile, also show many great up-close shots of the tulips in their enclosed garden area, of which I will share in another post. Look forward!

– Orion T

 

 

 

Wandering Nights of Ocean Beach

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Time for a rewind, till almost a month ago in San Diego, California. The place, Ocean Beach

The place is Ocean Beach, a wonderful beachside town in Southern California. The time is of two weekday nights, with a few hours to spare before some business downtown. The temperature was fairly warm, with the nearby breeze of the mighty Pacific Ocean nearby. The time was well spent, with light drinks, ruminating, and small talk with local strangers. Such is the wonderful atmosphere of Ocean Beach, where the time is just before midnight.

Here are some pics I took between destinations on the main Newport Ave. Look…

A cool two-dimensional display, guarding a parking lot

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A very colorful hostel, of which I would like to stay at someday.

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A colorful place to express one’s image.

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The upper interior of The Electric Chair, seen through the front window.

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The front of the famous Burger spot, Hodads…right before closing.

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A peek inside Hodads before closing. No space is wasted…

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Another peek into Hodads before closing…

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An awesome window display of one of many shops on the main street…

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Another store display of Ocean Beach, but on the outside.

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A cool neon sign…

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An alleyway by a bar I visited. Johnny Cash and Jimmy Hendrix welcome you.

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And past the stores of and streets of Ocean Beach, is an amazing pier that doesn’t close. More on that, I will share in another posting…

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The Icy Cold Elsewhere..

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Pictures shared today are recent and far, though I wish they could be now and near. I read much of the heavy snow in Portland to the south and the mountain snowfall activity far to the east and west. Currently, in Seattle there is just the cold air and whelming noise throughout. Snow here remains improbable in the near future, for now.

But on the recent New Year weekend in Vancouver (Canada), there was some decent snow around. And through a walk in Stanley Park (from the last posting), I cut through a little area around Beaver Lake, a quiet body of water frozen. All was still, except for a small little water area open for the local ducks. The surroundings felt calm on all the senses, canceling out the noise of the nearby central metropolis.

So in light of the recent stresses of the world and current news on modern civilization, I share the recent pics of the frozen area below; especially for those others not quite in presence of the peaceful falling snows.

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‚Äď Orion¬†T

Pictures and notes by Traveling Orion, (Orion Tippens). For external use for public use, please contact and obtain permission first.

Embrace the Coldness…

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The above pic happened¬†last week, on the New Year’s Day of 2017.

The waters are of the Vancouver Harbour, with the Lions Gate Bridge ahead, and the mountainous (and snowy at the time) regions of West Vancouver beyond, all in the wonderful British Columbia region of the Canada country.

But of the day and of fascination, is the lone woman taking a dip in the icy cold waters. I overheard nearby, she was practicing for some attempt at the world¬†record for enduring the freezing water. I think it was 22 seconds, or around that. I didn’t¬†get her name either.

But what I did learn later, was of the annual (97th) Vancouver Polar Bear Swim on the south side of Central Vancouver, at English Bay. Over 1,500 persons dived into the frigidness for a similar and shorter feat, where the waters temped at 7 degrees Celsius (44.6 Fahrenheit). I was a bit late for the main show, yet in time for leftover festivities. Here are some giving it a go.

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Overall, an exciting and notable day for many in 2017, a surely interesting year to come.

РOrion T

Pictures and notes by Traveling Orion, (Orion Tippens). For external use for public use, please contact and obtain permission first.

Picture of Today 1/3/2017, Horseshoe Bay to Nowhere..


Above is on a ferry north in West Vancouver, leaving the Horsehoe Bay to Nanaimo Bay, in British Columbia, Canada.

And there, was on a two hour trip later than planned, and not feeling well. So much so, that I cancelled my plans and heading back on the same ferry boat shortly after. The totally hours spent riding the ferry was about four hours. None quite wasted, as I felt rested and away from the troubles of life in that time. I tried writing, but not much done. Sickness is bad, bah.

But what I do have are some fun pics and notations the days before in the Vancouver area , including the New Years weekend. I will try sharing that soon. But in the meantime, enjoy whatever tranquility around, even when inconvenient.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 7/19/16, Over the Mountian to The Moon…

On a plane trip earlier today, to San Diego..

Almost fell asleep..then the corner of my eye caught the striking majesty of Mt. Rainer from above. Oh, such a sight to behold! Took the pic and went back to sleep. The ride felt peaceful as I eventually woke up to the Full Moon above San Diego.

How fantastic, I thought. To think, a new adventure ahead and such sights are just the beginning..

Orion T

And here’s another pic after my descent. What a Moon!

Picture of Today 5/8/16, Mother’s Day in Seattle

There goes the day, mostly gray..

What matters is what one does with the time involved. For me, contacting loved moms I know, wishing them the most of this wonderful day. Also, getting much motherly advice in return for my sickness recovery (yes, yes I’ll get vitamins and soup, but it’s too warm to bundle up). 

So, Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there from here in Seattle. I dedicate the above today pic (and bonus below) to all of yous…

– Orion T

Picture of Today 3/21/16, Fresh Stop

 

Arrival at the new Univerity District Link Light Rail Station..

The location is new, just opened on Saturday, March 19th. The ride takes anyone from the Univeristy of Washington to the Sea-Tac Airport in one ride; which previously took at least two bus rides, traffic through downtown and the freeway, and 2-3 times the wait. To me, it’s now a pleasant 7-8 minute rush to and from the other new station in Capitol Hill. 

Still, enough time to catch up on some reading.

– Orion T

Picture of Today 2/16/16, the Kitty Ride 

  
The South Lake Union got some silly cute deco over it’s cover now..

With Hello Kitty pimped all over, the short ride from downtown Seattle to South Lake Union (and Amazon HQ), wants to inform you of the EMP (Experience Music Project) museum’s latest exhibit. I assume it has something to do with the decades long Sanrio company franchise. It’s amusing to suddenly notice after a hard days work. Maybe we all need a little Hello Kitty in our difficult lives. 

Orion T

Pictures of Last Sunday, A Ducky Day

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Just pictures of ducks today, to bring about the calmness that comes forth before and after the busy work week (plus one Saturday of leftover plans and needed shopping). Sunday is the day we are supposed to stress a little less and be like the lazy ducks here.

And for today I did some sitting of my own, and watched the Seahawks vs. Vikings NFL game. That crazy and very cold (- 6 degrees Fahrenheit) game that had us off our tailfeathers, from the kickoff to the ridiculously close end deciding the advancement of the playoffs through one failed field kick. Go Hawks!

Pictures here, are from last week’s adventure in Vancouver, Canada on the beach edge of English Bay by the Central Downtown area. I like these shots, as I think they deserve a posting of their own, expressing my current state of mind.

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Orion T

Picture of Today 1/3/2016, Time around the Gastown Steam Clock

  

A good walk on Sunday, is to go about an unfamiliar way..

That I did for my last day in Vancouver BC, before heading out. The central downtown is vast, with far more than the few days over my short visits. This time, I walked around the Gastown area, passed many closed stores and dingy markets along the way.  I eventually spent much time at a local flea market; where locals hawked jewelry, DVDs, used tools and old electronics. That was mildly amusing. Not much else happened afterwards, other than me looking through various windows of tourist souvenir stores. Nothing quite caught my interest, as I seemed more for a place to settle down and watch the Seahawks game against the Cardinals (win 30-6!).

But something eventually did catch my eye on the particular corner of Water and Cambie..a smoking clock. Why was the clock smoking? It was powered by steam, of course. The Gastown Steam Clock is awesome and worthwhile of study..

 

The following shot explains a bit more…

  

If I had not turned down that path, I may have never known the existence of a steam-powered clock. And, I learned a bit more about the area of Gastown. Perhaps, another day for those tidbits, when I have more time..

Orion T

Picture of Today 1/2/2016, Canada Gold

  
The other side of yesterday, beyond West Vancouver and looking back…

This time, standing upon the observation deck of the summit at Grouse Mountian. The moment, a beautiful one looking southward at the land I love exploring and will continue to do so” for later in 2016. Over the mountains in the distance I believe are the United States. 

I have more to say and show, but the day is late and I am hungry. There will be features and sets soon, promise. But for now, here is a bonus pic with a different lens…

  

– Orion T

Picture of Today 1/1/2016, New World, this 2016

 

Today, I looked to a whole new world for this New Year..

Not so much West Vancouver BC, the city pictured above beneath what I think is Cypress Mountian. The perspective is afar using a 300mm zoom lens giving a sort of optical trick. The vision, is from Stanley Park in Vancouver BC, Canada; while passing through on a long five hour walk around and through the large wooded area.

Pictures will be later, of which there are many.

But today, this picture is a good representation of why I am here. This place being part of a spontaneous trip outside of Seattle; the city I live and now working excessively in. While I have a lot less time for far-out adventures, it’s important to remember the crazy new worlds that are still within a day’s drive or bus ride on the road. 

I know absolutely nothing about this huge city outside of the samewhat familiar perimeters of Central Vancouver. Is it the same or different? How are the people? Are there cool, unique small shops I can browse through and find fantastic treasure? Are there exclusive cultures or secret societies, to which I can break into? How about the food? New friends maybe? 

Not that the place is of any particular fascination, right now. It bears about the same as North Vancouver, a similar land to the east if there. There’s also the rest of Canada. Someday, I wish as I am very curious and life is short. I just want to start this new year right with the reminder and push of what I should strive for; tending to my thrill of discovery and adventuring.

2016, looking forward to what is “over there.”

The Seattle Gum Wall Sticky Situation…

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Behold, the great Seattle Gum Wall to its fullest potential.

For over 20 years, this small south Post Alley area within the Pike Place Public Market welcomed people to place chewed sugary bubble gum remains upon a large wall. Tourists and locals constantly added to it, enhancing its disgustingness into an old wall (now walls, as it spread to the neighboring surfaces and pipes).

Soon, all¬†the sticky chewings shall be removed, and the walls will go through a massive cleansing, to remove chemical buildup and potential harm¬†upon the aged building. The¬†Seattle Times reports that an industrial steam machine till be used. “The machine will melt the gum with 280-degree steam; it will fall to the ground, and a two- to three-man crew will collect the gum in five-gallon buckets.”

I recently dropped by after work long after sunset. I admire how the street lights adds mystique to the germy area. I may return again before the final removal of sticky contents. But for now, here are some pics from I:

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– Orion T

Weekend Adventuring in Olympia, Washington

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Check out the Olympia town in Washington State, when exploring the Pacific Northwest.

Olympia¬†a wonderful stop,¬†halfway between the Portland and Seattle cities, close to the 5 and one 101¬†freeway intersection. This area is also the best stop for food and a stretch when traveling the between the major cities in no particular hurry. You’ll find much¬†to love for any length of time you spend here.

A few things special about Olympia. You will find much art around many corners, more notably upon the walls of allies and businesses. This brings much color and uniqueness to the area. There are also some fantastic sources for literature, with some bookstores I checked out (Browsers Book Store and Danger Room Comics Store). The variety of food is excellent, with the best of it from local businesses. Also, lots of vintage antiques are also visible and up for buying. In between and throughout, you may also notice multiple signs of social activism and awareness with Black Lives Matters signs, climate change awareness, and other messages of modern progressivism. Olympia shows character aplenty in its overall presentation.

For me, it was all about stepping out from the weekday work stress. With a friend as company, I went to explore, and seek interesting visuals, eats, and a little shopping. Olympia did not disappoint, as this was my second visit to the city. Last visit, I barely walked around. This time,we had no particular direction here, other than its main downtown center.

Here are some findings in pictures, with some more notes on the area..

One of Olympia’s prominent buildings, the Old Capitol Building. It’s now the office home of the¬†Superintendent of Public Instruction since 1906. Before in Sylvester Park, stands John Rankin Rogers..twice governor of Washington State, who believed in giving¬†a fair education to “every poor son of the commonwealth.”

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Some up close sculpting on that building. Love the detail here..

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The charming outside of Darby’s Cafe and neighboring local businesses on a 5th avenue block. I love the random little deco touches¬†upon this old¬†building…

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The Capitol Theater across the street from Darby’s. I love the look of this old movie theater, and will look into seeing its inside in a future visit.

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The inside of Darby’s Cafe, to a wall of wild art…

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Above and around inside Darby’s Cafe, a tribute to the Wizard of Oz. The food was quite good too. I had a Brocco Burger (Broccoli, white cheddar, other good stuff) with fries (a bit too much they give) and a root beer float (root beer can be replaced with an alcoholic alternative). All quite good, and filling¬†enough until¬†my trip back to the Emerald City.

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Some art on the side of The Great Cuisine of India restaurant.  Many of the following pics are select examples of the overall mural art scene of the Olympia area.

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The Olympia Rafah Solidarity Mural. from About this from olympiarafahmural.org. “Four thousand sq. ft., interdisciplinary mural with over 200 participants from all over the world. Project celebrates and mourns Rachel Corrie through action. Rachel was born in Olympia and killed in Gaza when run over by an Israeli driven bulldozer in 2003. ORSMP mourns and celebrates the lives of all who struggle for justice.”

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Up close on a select section of the Rafah Mural..

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A mural inside the alley of next to the building of the Old School Pizzeria. A wonderful and very colorful tribute to the imagination..

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The best thing for us comic nerds out there, this old school tribute to the classic Marvel Comics. Located to the side of the Old School Pizzeria. I love this.

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The inside of the Old School Pizzeria is pretty awesome too. Lots of vintage nostalgia all around, and the pizza was pretty awesome too.

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Capitol Lake, with what I think is the Washington State House of Representatives capitol building.

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The lake itself is very serene, and calming for anyone who enjoys a nice walk in the park.

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That’s all for now on this amazing area of the Pacific Northwest. I will be back, with a look at other interesting signs and aspects of this interesting area.

Orion T

Weekend Fun in Vancouver, Canada..

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Last weekend, I decided to take a trip north past the Washington U.S. border, and visit Vancouver, British Columbia (and Canada) for the first time. The reason being, to satisfy my long-time curiosity on what that big city is like. I have heard much from passing travelers through the PNW on that city beyond the border.

By much, I only heard it was. Much on the high rises, nightlife, booze, hockey cheering, food variety, expensive living and real estate. But having visited Vancouver, I have to say it was all so much more than such simple opinions.

Vancouver is a grand city, that went beyond my expectations. The central area is not enough to explore on a mere weekend. So, I took my time and savored select things and spent time with some friends for a lunch and dinner. For the remainder time, I kept to myself and walked around.

By the end, I can not close or sum up on how wonderful I think the Vancouver central area is. This must be done through repeat visits, and excessive time spent. But for now, I share my pictures and notes below of select moments in my first (of many) Vancouver visit to come.

The first large notable structures I noticed while walking towards downtown.. The Science World Center. If I had the time, I would have went inside and checked this out, as I like big science center things. Also, the big stadium in the back looks fantastic under the bright blue sky. Science and sports, so far so good.

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I noticed many fantastic creative works of art spread about around the long walking paths along the False Creek inlet. On my next visit, I will focus on some particular works and uncover some detailed info on them.

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Enter the city, after a long walk around and across a bridge. Sorry for the lopsided picture. I was too over-excited and forgot to change the lens and settings.

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My first destination was Granville street, and lunch with an old friend.¬†It’s a great row for shopping and browsing through¬†random shops, as I went through many.

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An awesome favorite place I went, the Rock Shop. It’s a¬†fantastic store¬†for various old and new pop-culture¬†related apparel and novelty items. I bought an awesome Hulk (classic Marvel look) cup from there.

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Inside The Factory, on Granville. A small little bar where each food item on the menu is $4.95 (Canadian dollar). I noticed other places with a similar structure. I really liked that idea, and wish more places would try that. As for this place, I liked the service and the food (had a quesadilla plate with dipping sauces).

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The front display of Golden Age Collectibles on Granville street, a highly recommended comic book and collectible store for those into that.

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Later on, I relaxed at the Vancouver Central Library Branch, while giving my phone a much needed charge. Love the architecture here..

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I was quite thrilled to find the Movieland Video Arcade on Granville street. It seemed refashioned after an adult X-rated spot. What seemed odd, was the place being still for 18 years or older. All I really noticed was this selection of game machines, many of which i enjoyed when I was a kid hanging out at old video arcades.

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The Holy Rosary Cathedral. It’s an awesome building, where I think a wedding reception took place at the time of my passing by.

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The Harbour Centre Building is the closest Vancouver has to Seattle’s Space Needle. It looks grand from afar. From up close, not so much. I think I am too used to seeing the Seattle one.

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Here is a place for all book lovers to visit in central Vancouver, Macleod’s Books. This is an amazing used bookstore, where much buried treasure is likely under the overflow stacks throughout. I took out¬†some interesting reference books and paperbacks. I have much to say and share on this store, which I will save for a future posting.

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At the end of the day before dinner with another friend, at Crab Park..

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Later in the night, I tried some poutine; a popular dish to Canadian folk containing fries, cheese curds, and gravy. It was good.

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One last picture, before some boozing with a new friend I met earlier.

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Overall, a great trip and not nearly as expensive as I thought (considering the exchange rate between the US and Canadian dollar). The weather started sunny, ended run on my departure the next day. Next time, I plan to explore the city and surrounding areas much more, as I live about four hours driving distance away.

 РOrion T

Carkeek Park Adventures, Part 2

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Now turning the wayback machine to the last weekend, and continuation from my Part 1 adventures posted days ago..

So here I was at the beach of Carkeek Park, after an hourly hike (prolonged because I kept stopping to look for birds to photograph). I was hoping for a beach less crowded than the Golden Gardens of nearby Ballard, where I can catch up on some reading in a peaceful non-interrupted setting. This beach had less people, but also less land.

Then, those hazy skies intensified from the distant brush fires. But, the air had a weird, good feel to it. I would imagine for a moment, this was like some alien planet from Star Trek or something. Not sure what the feeling was, but I enjoyed the somewhat surreal atmosphere.

Also, my camera had plenty of battery life left. So, I snapped some pics at times. Here are the best of them..

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Before the beach, i came across this artsy piano crosswalk. There seemed to be no specific purpose to this, being that playful hopping on this would put one in danger from the sharp turn around the corner from coming vehicles.. But, I like it..

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Also before the beach, a massive railroad. A freight train would come through every now and then. Just wait..

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The bridge over the railroad. I was hoping to capture a shot of this with less people on it.

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The southern part of the beach, with many rocks during the low tide. The birds gather, left alone by the humans…

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A passing boat under the hazy sky. The sun coming through gave the water an eerie effect at times..

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I hit up a thrift store on my way here, and brought an early last century music dictionary there. Interesting read, as I love to learn obscure stuff..

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I also got this book of science fiction short stories from an author I never heard of. I love the cover. Some of the stories inside were quite good..

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Someone doing a bit of fishing out there, I think.

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And hey there, here comes the train!

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That’s all for now. I enjoyed this small little adventure in two parts. I hope you did too.

– Orion T