Welcome this New Year, 2023

Happy New Year all!!

Sorry, I am not truly punctual with this timing. 2022 was a helluva year for me, and some of that is seeping through this fresh 2023 year.

But not alone lately, as my great time felt plentiful yet mixed with others in a flurry of cheers and goofy moments, close around and through social networks. These times are worthwhile, but time management with what’s left to me is difficult.

2023 will be an interesting year for me. A new job starts soon, with a company I worked through the Fall, doing a mix of project management, coding, design, and admin assist duties. Exciting stuff, especially for a management team that truly listens, appreciates practical thinking, and utilizes my best skills while keeping my brain challenged. Unfortunately, not much I can share here. But the work brings back my skills and love for Javascript coding and the use of Adobe InDesign. Much of that will carry into some personal projects that I will delve more into soon.

That ties into a huge side endeavor I’ve been sporadically building, simply titled Stranger Worlds. This is set on a long road with ambitious goals, sharing a love for (and promoting) indie creativity in genre art and literature. I will share more when details, planning, and funding are a bit more solid. I will occasionally do more as Traveling Orion, as I still have exciting adventures and much to tell. And, I do have some exciting adventures to share!

But for now, I am typing with oily fingers while eating the greasiest pizza ever, in the midst of a layover at the San Francisco airport. My laptop has some strange lag issues. Every sentence is a bit sluggish. But, this is my only chance for a while to reach out, before I return to Seattle. Then, I must catch up and move forward with 2023!

I am very excited and will share more soon. In the meantime, I hope 2023 will be a great and exciting year for you too.

– Orion T

The fragments we treasure, held together in sandstone and dirt

You will always find me in the past. I can be created in the present, but the future will never taint me. What am I?

History

And, where am I?

Everywhere

That’s where one may find bits and pieces of the past, with stories we leave behind wherever in whatever. But my favorite found is in the dirt and rocks, because they reveal much in story. Sometimes in plain sight on site, uncovered and waiting to be be seen.

That all brings me back to one my favorite places visited multiple times through my summer adventures in San Diego of southern California, just south of the Ocean Beach Pier. There is this rough, rocky area stretching far among the tide pools, not easily accessible. Just walk south of the long pier during the low tide, over what initial may look like a closed off area, and watch your step. Then tread across some much more stable ground, but still be careful…

Then comes my favorite parts, the stories the ground tell there. There are markings etched in the sandstone that tell partly of memories and sentiments. They tell of marriage proposals, memorials to lost loved ones, bindings of friendships, and many other moments that may be insignificant to many, but important enough to leave carved for the many to still notice. Also, there are curious bits of man-made remains of what I guess belong to aged structures, parts of things, many curiosities that bring about imagination. There’s definitely deep history there.

Then, there is nature itself, shaped and defiant to the high cliffs and made-made sea walls. The ever-crashing ocean waves reshaping the land slowly, choosing what to preserve and taken away. Look closer, and you will observe tiny little crabs in the little pools and crevices, sharing in their own little stories of preservation and striving in crazy times of changing climates.

These markings and shapings are all wonderful little story fragments, that I left behind but keep treasured together.

– Orion T

Just another never-to-be-forgotten summer…

“All in all, it was a never-to-be-forgotten summer — one of those summers which come seldom into any life, but leave a rich heritage of beautiful memories in their going — one of those summers which, in a fortunate combination of delightful weather, delightful friends and delightful doing, come as near to perfection as anything can come in this world.” – L.M. Montgomery

What a pleasant quote from the famed author of Anne of Green Gables! Though, I am often a bit more of a Fall or Spring favored person, as I love those variances in weather and the changes they bring, Yet, I feel a special, unforgettable summer that works best with all it brings with the awesome raised warm of the Pacific Northwest. a break for many, a time to spend with friends and family on big adventures can be delightful and near perfection.

That being said, I am enjoying this summer of 2022 so far, despite the worries of the world. I have pulled myself further from the claws of the social media beasts, to long escapes to waterfronts and large parks. My times are private, almost selfish as I enjoy my along time in self-reflections, figuring that’s next for the months of ahead. And soon, I shall take a much needed travel trip, to make all this even better.

I hope you are enjoying this summer as well.

– Orion T

The picture was taken by me a few days ago from Gasworks Park, a wonderful little spot on the north side of Lake Union in the Seattle city. The slight combined with the warm ready made that time, near perfect.

The Magic of Fast Food Enchantment

I think fast junky food is evidence of dark magic in our modern time, summoning consumables that represents everything that is good and terrible of our human guilty pleasures. We think it out of the thin air of the most basic of thoughts to what we or others can put together using the alchemy of dead animals, vegetables, wheat, fire, grease, and whatever consumable liquids or powders of taste additives. It’s weird as such sudden existence of convenience is often irresistible. The smell of a good burger, a deep dish pizza, garlic fries can enchant a hungry soul. We forget how bad and how processed it is, and seek its bliss just when suddenly in our presence. Sometimes, the more the more quantity, the more flavor, the more we should resist. Then may come regret, but there is that moment with the actual consumption right before that means more, is happiness. This strange process, is wonderful.

– Orion T

Picture was taken a couple weeks ago at the Washington Summer Con, in the townsy town of Puyallup, Washington. A lot of people cosplayed for the event. I took less pictures and focused more on treasure hunting. But love this little surreal moment, as I was also hungry for fast food.

A bright neon sign lights the way…

“Come in, this place is open,” said the neon sign.

I don’t know. It’s been a long day and I should keep going.

“But don’t you see?! My colored brightness is a message to you. This place is open,” continued that neon sign.

Okay, maybe.

“Look at my colors! They light the way!”

I look behind the sign. There is little to excite me, for there are many strangers and I am alone.

“I am still open though. You should come in”

What’s inside? More drinks and some unhealthy food?

“And people who looked at me and followed through.”

Are they happy now? Can I join them?

“I don’t know. I am merely a neon sign.”

Heh, I am tired and should go home soon.

“All cool. I will be stay here, for a few more hours.”

Good night!

“Good night!”

– Orion T

Loving more new season blossoms…

I have to enjoy these fresh blossoms while they last…

And, the best place for the grandest trees in Seattle, are foremost at the Quad in the University of Washington. Here, a grand gathering of cheery cherry trees stand tall in top bloom through this week. Nearly every year, I take time out to enjoy the awesome view. But this year, it seem many were present to share in their glory.

Still worth seeing, and sharing!

– Orion T

Remembering the wonderful snowpeople of Seattle

Sadly, a recent weather report concluded to zero chance of lowland Seattle, for the coming days, and likely the rest of this month. The weather will warm up instead.

Which is too bad for those who don’t get enough snow in their life, but enjoy what it brings. Meanwhile, I do love those pics of the northeast U.S snowfall. And then I remember, that I have pics to look back on, with many I have yet to publish on travelingorion.com.

Last year here in Seattle, we received much low-land snow where in Seattle. I posted some pictures here, and here. But, I held back on many pictures of handmade snowpeople, with an intention to feature in a separate post. But sadly, the plan was set aside in favor of editing and producing a video. I was hoping to revive the theme with the recent snowfall, but didn’t quite find any more snowpersons, and also was a bit too busy to seek any out. So, I remembered last year’s adventures, and now would like to share these special pics.

What a nice bunch! Someday, I will build one of my own. That’s on my bucket list now.

– Orion T

All great adventures begins with small steps

I love a good bookstore, especially with a staircase that leads to room with more books.

One favorite staircase is from Ophelia Books in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle, located one block north of the Fremont Bridge. It’s got a nice collection of used books at very decent prices.

But the coolest aside from the books, is that awesome staircase noticeable at entrance. It’s a narrow spiral, and important that you watch your step going down. Take it downstairs, then browse their science fiction, mystery, lots of non-fiction books of many subjects.

I was there recently, filling in time before a meeting. I found some good books on journalism history, and The Dictionary of Science Fiction Places. I would take the past and future with me, back up the spiral staircase. I will travel this way again.

And now I ask. Do you have any favorite used book stores with cool book cases? Or just favorite book stores? Please share with me in the comments!

– Orion T

Let us walk in the white snow…

Here’s a special theme for this post…walking together in the snow. Trailing through a beautiful place where snow cover is an amazing, poetic experience meant to be shared.

So, I hereby mix up today’s pictures recently taken by me, with a poem (Velvet Shoes) by Elinor Wylie, an American poet and novelist of the early 1900s. She lived an interesting yet shortened life of 43 years; married three times, wrote five novels and multiple poems. This poem is timeless, and perfect for a snow walk through the woods.

I will share more details on the pics, at the end.

Velvet Shoes

Let us walk in the white snow
In a soundless space;
With footsteps quiet and slow,
At a tranquil pace,
Under veils of white lace.

I shall go shod in silk,
And you in wool,
White as white cow’s milk,
More beautiful
Than the breast of a gull.

We shall walk through the still town
In a windless peace;
We shall step upon white down,
U
pon silver fleece,
Upon softer than these.

We shall walk in velvet shoes:
Wherever we go

Silence will fall like dews
On white silence below.
We shall walk in the snow.

The candid pictures were taken at Ravenna Park, a beautiful little ravine forest in north Seattle. The park is a 1/2 mile stretch where you can spend a day not admiring it enough. I can never visit there enough and will take any excuse to trail again. The recent snow here was amazing, and a lot of fun for photography. The first shot was taken above the Ravenna Bridge. The others are of the main path through the park. have more pictures, which I will share soon. These three pics with the theme of others walking though, just deserved its own special post.

– Orion T

Goodbye Forever, 2021…

What a year, that 2021!

It was just a weird, bothering time around the Sun. Early on, the January 6th attack on the Capitol felt very surreal. The pandemic still lingers on, ending with the rise of the Omicron variant. Anti-vaxxing movements have become mainstream. Supply chains involving mass cargo on boats have slowed down drastically. There’s still some computer chip shortage. Workplaces are in need of new workers, but a lot not wanting to return to a being underpaid and treated poorly (I am among them). Seattle received some record heat weather at around 108 degrees Fahrenheit, while having two crazy snowfalls in opposite winter seasons. Lots of brutal weather around the world, probably from climate change. Crypto currency is a super crazy thing people are into now. NFTs are huge, and the less you know about them, the better…unless you are super into them. Inflation is wacky. There is so much that we could have done without, but made the year interesting.

I’ve also been very busy with a lot of personal baggage while dealing with a mid-life crisis. There’s a lot of ups and downs, but I do my best to keep going and always find new things to smile about. Sometimes, that’s with friends new and old, in person or online. There’s a lot of mental health concerns among us. But, there’s good stuff. I have new, bigger apartment. I cook a lot more. I have an exciting project that I have been spending a lot of time on, and will hopefully reveal with satisfiable progress in the coming months ahead.

I also adopted Smokey, a 3 yr old rescue cat from Seattle Humane animal shelter.

How cute is Smokey? She demands a lot of attention sometimes, usually when I am on my computer. I have much to write on the challenges of cat ownership, which I will eventually share.

Here are some other fun things and notes that I loved about 2021:

  • Favorite full movie released in 2021 – The Suicide Squad, directed by James Gunn
  • Favorite animated movie released in 2021 – Klaus (on Netflix)
  • Favorite documentary released in 2021 – Life in Color with David Attenborough
  • Favorite standalone streaming TV series released in 2021 – WandaVision (on Disney+)
  • Favorite continuous or new streaming TV series in 2021 – Chucky (The TV series)
  • Best satire of 2021 – Don’t Look Up (movie on Netflix)
  • Best dumb pop culture trend of 2021 – Squid Game
  • Favorite short audio stories and narratives – NPR’s This American Life
  • Favorite YouTube channel of 2021 – Casually Comics, a look at comics past and present, with very fun commentary
  • Best music album of 2021 – Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders & The London Symphony Orchestra – Promises
  • Favorite movie soundtrack vocal of 2021 – Billie Eilish – No Time To Die (For the James Bond: No Time to Die)
  • Favorite fiction book I read in 2021 – Crossings by Alex Landragin (came in 2019, but I really liked it)
  • Favorite non-fiction book I read in 2021 – Black Journalists, White Media by Pamela Newkirk (2020 released)
  • Favorite graphic novel of 2021 – The Body Factory by Heloise Chochois
  • Favorite comic book series of 2021 – Stray Dogs by Tony Fleecs and Trish Forstner
  • Favorite video game I played in 2021 – Yakuza: Like a Dragon
  • Favorite wrestling match of 2021 – Bryan Danielson vs Kenny Omega- AEW Buy In Event
  • Favorite food dish made in 2021 – Alton Brown’s Macaroni and Cheese, but modified with extra sharp white cheddar instead
  • Favorite hike of 2021 – Rattlesnake Lake Trail during the summer
  • Favorite city I never been to before in 2021 – Bellingham, Washington
  • Favorite local development in 2021 – The expansion of the Light Rail in Seattle to the Northgate area
  • Favorite park of 2021 – Ravenna Park
  • Favorite new food snack discovery of 2021 – Japanese import KitKats bars in obscure flavors

There’s more I likely missed. Yet, I think the above sums up my year well. Now, I must join friends online for the final hours of 2021. Stay safe and look forward to 2022!!

Orion T

Snowing up high at 2,726 ft through Snoqualmie Pass

Snoqualmie Pass did not disappoint with snow over the recent Christmas weekend.

This popular Washington State mountainous area was a treat to help make up for a very quiet and otherwise dulled outlook to this holiday season peak. A spontaneous adventure was due, traveling with an old friend who worked in the area. With no New Years plans, ruined by the rising Omicron, I needed this. I never been to the Snoqualmie Pass, therefore it interests me, especially with its famed winter snowfall.

Snoqualmie Pass is a mountain passage in the Cascade Range deep in the Snoqualmie Forest, west of the Snoqualmie Valley, with an elevation of 2,726 ft (831 m). The area is named after the local indigenous Native American tribe, part of the Coast Salish peoples of the Pacific Northwest. Snoqualmie Pass was well-known and utilized by indigenous natives long before U.S settlers set foot in the early 19th century. Over time, the area was planned for a large railroad line expansion, then eventually abandoned.

The Interstate 90 is now the main highway in and out of the area, and 54 miles east of Seattle. The famed Pacific Crest Trail also crosses through the area, a long hiking route that stresses far to the south through California, almost to the Mexico border. The Snoqualmie Pass remains small, but very significant in the Pacific Northwest with a very small population, 311 according to the 2010 U.S. census. The main draw for tourists is now the cluster of four ski areas with resorts stationed throughout: Alpental, Summit West, Summit Central, and Summit East.

After a serene and slow morning drive (about an hour and a half from Seattle), I set foot on some deep and plentiful snow. There was little purpose after, other than to escape the stressful city and explore the snowy landscapes a little, work on a writing project while my driver friend does some skiing. I did some observations of skiing sport and local activity, thinking of future plans to return and gain more from the area. Someday, I would like to partake in the sport of skiing and also do some snowshoe hiking.

Here are some pics, with notes!

This snow is deep and high there, so watch your step! Roughly 3 inches of snow were added overnight. By Monday, 44 inches fell, according to the Washington State Department of Transportation,

The lifts at the Summit at Snoqualmie, early in the morning during a light snowpour. Activity greatly rose around the noontime, for where I was inside sipping on local beer and working on a project.

The view from outside the window. Many large icicles to accompany the weather high of 30 degrees, low of 21 degrees.
Skiing looks difficult, challenging, yet fun. My friend gave me some pointers to think about, regarding balance and momentum.
I will eventually buy some good snowshoes, find some safe hiking terrains, and have some awesome winter wonderland hikes.
No sun in sight that day. The snow coming down was constant, yet not too enduring.
The roads are maintained very well here, but still must be careful and slow when driving through.
That’s me, Traveling Orion!

Well, that’s all for now. But, I will definitely return to the Snoqualmie Pass, hopefully with ski gear!

– Orion T

Some leftover Christmas weekend cheers, with surprise snow

I hope you (yes, you!) had a wonderful, warm, and safe Christmas weekend.

I did, though I would have preferred a more traditional day with many friends and family. The pandemic and rising Omicron variant have put a severe damper on that prospect. Still, thanks to the wonders of modern technology with the video conferencing and cellphones, had a lot of heartwarming talks and goofy discussions of the Matrix Resurrections movie (mini-review at the end).

Through the day of Christmas Eve, I went on a small road trip to the Snoqualmie Pass in the mid Washington State mountain region. The snowpack did not disappoint, with about 11 inches fallen in that last 72 hours. I have never been there before, as I wanted at least one small adventure for this Holiday season. So I enjoyed my time, and will write more on it soon.

On Christmas, I spent much of the day alone in my apartment with my cat, Smokey, who was extra cuddly that day. Some friends online could not visit their families that day, citing a lack of vaccination at the dinner tables. So for much of the day, we spent smiling, chatting, updated on our lives though our webcams and microphones. With that exchanging fun video bits from YouTube, and played some Jackbox.tv games online (Quiplash, Drawful 2).

And, I got to share this hilarious comedy sketch from the BBC of a Nativity production gone horribly wrong. Lots of fun, and very clever near the end.

And then the next day, we got Snowpacalypse in Seattle 2, Holiday Boogaloo!!! Lots of snowfall happened overnight and through the day. Of course, I took a long walk. This time, to somewhere different and visual stunning. I have many pictures, of which I will sort out later and share soon. The location, I will keep hidden for now.

Here are some snow pics in the meantime, from Seattle downtown and somewhere in the north of Seattle.

That’s all for now. Stay warm, safe, and cheerful out there!

– Orion T

Bonus movie review: Matrix Resurrections is a reminder that truly creative work owes us nothing, leaving more room for appreciation to be given. I had a lot more typed about that, but then it ‘s more than what I wrote above. Maybe, I will share more on this later. It’s still a great movie for it’s meta-humor, original themes reexplored, and multi-layered relationships. But, the viewer needs to free their mind of what to expect or want, and what may not be given.

When every leaf is a flower…

“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.”

Albert Camus – French philosopher, author, journalist, 1957 Nobel Prize winner.

You may notice these “flowers” with their varied sizes and colors, falling to the ground now, especially if you live to the far north in areas of high tree density. This is the best time to look down, admire the scatters, see massive landscapes covered. Some remain on their branches, each telling their own story, waiting for the cycle to end, so others may eventually begin.

Here are some pictures of some select leaves in various states, ready to move on as this season brings beautiful change.

Orion T

The twisted resilience of enduring remains

Nature often plays with our imagination, leading our wandering minds to double take and circle around, checking to both look closer at details an observe the widest landscape. We notice the natural developments of trees, bushes, rocks presenting the beauty of patience, giving a long story to how its ecosystem builds itself, coexists until practical use comes to an end, then very slowly comes apart.

And even them remains stories in the shapes of old, long after life, passing on its place for some new telling. So goes forth, what you make of the enduring remains, leading to new inspirations. And like much of what I have written on this twisted resilience, is not exactly clear yet.

– Orion T

The above pictures are from a recent hike at Whatcom Falls Park, near Bellingham, Washington. Highly recommended for casual hikers and satisfyingly short-term wanderlust.

Living the hottest day in Seattle

108 F degrees happened in Seattle today, breaking an all-time record for hottest day in this city. Portland also broke its all-time heat record at 115 F degrees. This heat wave in the Pacific Northwest is excessive!

Yet, I kept myself cool for most of the day. I went out for a few errands around noon, finding that lemonade was a sold-out commodity in the downtown area. No lemonade seen on any shelves of some local stores I checked, nor at any Starbucks or popular eating areas (or, so I was told by a few local venders). I was craving lemonade, and settled on just making my own later.

For the rest of the day, I stayed indoors blocking out the sunlight through all my windows, and keep my oscillating fan on setting 3 and very loud. I devoured four popsicles.

I hope everyone else stuck with this weather made it through, maybe found a fun way to keep cool. I think today is the height of the rough weather, and hope we can back to usual unpredictable mix of clouds and sun at 70-85 F soon.

– Orion T

The above is picture is of Westlake Avenue, through the top of an clear sippy cup of iced water.

Looking closer and closer, at life

Waiting for the bus, I looked to some large dandelions nearby.

And then. I decided to have a little fun with the macro settings on my camera phone. Most impressive, and revealing!!

I will have more fun with this, again and again for random days ahead.

Senseless in Seattle, with the usual strangeness of its late winter weather

There’s a saying I’ve heard in this Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest…

If you like the weather, wait five minutes. Or, If you don’t like the weather, wait five minutes.

But, that’s not an exclusive saying to the city of Seattle. It’s said of many cities where shifting, unpredictable weather happens. The earliest version of that saying was quoted by famed writer Samuel Clemens, aka Mark Twain. His exact quote was said to be, “If you don’t like the weather in New England, just wait a few minutes.” The context and where he quoted this remains unknown to the Internet. But who cares, it’s timeless to our hours of environmental unpredictability, where it can be the only notable occurance of an otherwise mundane day.

Still, there is something timeless about the joy of unpredictable weather. Constant weather patterns can be boring. TV morning news would be less exciting without our weather reports. Less banter, less small talk for sure. For me, I enjoy the opportunities of photography and inspiration that sudden weather changes bring..

Especially in Seattle.

Orion T

Pictures above are from the newish patio deck area of the upper, main floor of the Pike Place Market. It’s a good place to chill, with less people and more space than other parts of this popular tourist destination.

Through the night of the great Seattle Snowpocalypse of 2021

Continued from my previous post, but before those pics were taken, are more (below) from another long walk.

This walk happened late night last Friday close to midnight with a couple friends, as the snow fell heavy upon the Seattle city. The streets were peaceful, quiet, and relaxing for my boots to stroll about. Locations were mostly the Downtown area around the Pike Place Market, the waterfront, and Space Needle.

Here are the pics of my long, roughly two-hour night experience…

Is that all for now?

Orion T

Goodbye Forever 2020!!

Yes, finally done with this long and strange, and also often saddening year.

But, I learned a lot through this time dealing with a pandemic, a huge turning point in social unrest, and appreciating a lot that I should have really done more before this year. And also, a lot of fun things shared with friends (mostly online). Here is a mix of mostly all the favorite things I enjoyed in 2020..

  • Favorite full movie released in 2020 – Soul
  • Favorite TV show through 2020 – 60 Minutes
  • Favorite new streaming TV series released in 2020 – Queen’s Gambit
  • Favorite continued streaming TV series in 2020 – The Mandalorian
  • Favorite podcast through 2020 – Junk Food Dinner
  • Favorite short audio stories and narratives – NPR’s This American Life
  • Favorite Youtube channel of 2020 – KanaChanTV
  • Favorite printed book of 2020 – Invisible Men, the Trailblazing Black Artists of Comic Books by Ken Quatro
  • Favorite graphic novel of 2020 – Under Earth by Chris Gooch
  • Favorite comic series of 2020 – Excellence by Brandon Thomas and Khary Randolph
  • Favorite new video game of 2020 – Hades (developed and published by Supergiant Games)
  • Favorite older and most played game of 2020 – Final Fantasy XV
  • Favorite “wrestling” match of 2020 – Boneyard Match, Undertaker and AJ Styles – WrestleMania
  • Favorite wrestling match of 2020 – Sasha Banks vs. Bayley – WWE Hell in a Cell 2020
  • Favorite sports team of 2020 – Seattle Seahawks
  • Favorite junk food of 2020 – Pizza Mart (local Seattle chain and bar) slices
  • Favorite dessert of 2020 – salted Caramel Cluster SO Delicious Dairy Free Cashew Ice Cream
  • Favorite food habit – vegan meat alternatives for mostly red meat dishes
  • Favorite Hike of 2020 – Mount Rainer, Sunrise Point
  • Favorite playlist trend – relaxing chill beats compilations and mixes
  • Favorite collectible thing I bought – The Ultimate Gremlin Flasher figure from NECA Toys (pictured above)
  • Favorite thing I did a lot on my own but will share later – writing, lots of writing!

I have much more to to say and share for the coming year. But now, I must join friends online for the final hours of 2020. Stay safe and look forward to 2021!!

Orion T

The Silent Seasonal Lights of Seattle 2020

Rain has fallen heavy tonight upon the Emerald City as the global pandemic courses through. The streets have are almost empty as the night sky takes over and most shopping and restaurant spots normally open, are now closed. There is peace, in between much of our troubled days.

The holiday lights for this time will not dim, as they brighten up this dark year with Christmas-time cheer. Traditions continue, helping those still out or perhaps needing a nice walk (but still stay safe, please), that not all is lost for 2020. Beautiful, colorful, LEDS everywhere!!!

But it’s also cold and wet now. I would not advise going out around here now, unless you really have to or maybe living a lonely life in a dark, small downtown apartment during a pandemic is clawing at your mental health. Then, a good walk through pretty lights can be pleasant, even in Seattle’s coldest, wettest hours.

Here are some of my choice phonecam captures of the Pike Place Market and Westlake area, taken recently. Live vicariously through them, hopefully in a safe and seasonal cheered environment…

– Orion T

Back to the Kubota Japanese Garden

2020 isn’t over yet as we we have one last month, and a stressful for many holiday season to go.

Meanwhile, I have the perfect place to wind down for those in the Seattle area, to decompress outside and away, socially distant and pandemic-mindful. That is the Kubota Garden park in the Rainer Beach area.

The Kubota Garden is one of the few curated Japanese gardens, with much greenery and sights reminiscent of the timeless natural scenic beauty of Japan. It’s free to enter, but with current pandemic restrictions (no big gatherings!).

I’ve written more about this place before, of which you can read here.

But for now, here are some pictures I took from a recent visit. For location and more information, click here.

– Orion T

A problem of all sorts of different angles…

“We think that we can fix our lives by taking some simple step, but it’s not like that. Most problems need lots of sticking plasters. They need coaxing and massaging and looking at from all sorts of different angles.”

― writer Alexander McCall Smith, The Quiet Side of Passion

The picture is saved from way back at the beginning of 2020, during my visit to Swami’s Beach in Encinitas (North San Diego County) California. I stumbled upon this pic an hour ago, and felt it should be shared, though I had little context. I know little else about this stairway, just that it’s unsafe and off-limits to visitors at the time. It still deserves a nice metaphorical quote, at least.


Foggy Seattle Weather Predictions

The good news is that Seattle is back to normal…with the weather.

Unpredictable, beautiful in own way through every condition. The other day it was sunny, but with low level fog giving moments of surreal blue haze. The next day, a spooky fog through the day, hiding the Space Needle from viewers afar. Then the next day, we got some needed rain.

The forecast today will be partly cloudy, partly sunny, higher humidity, maybe rain. We will see. For those living local and around, enjoy the moment when the Seattle weather can just be itself.

– Orion T

Plain of a Peaceful Paradise

A moment to admire from a month ago, among friends at the Maury Island Marine Park, part of Maury Island, part of Vashon Island (depending on one’s perspective), part of the greater Seattle area in Washington State.

Before me stands the Point Robinson Lighthouse, a small beacon of light for foggy and dank nighttime conditions since 1885 (automated since 1978). Bit its doors remain closed most of the time. Other times, you might be able to enter, maybe get a tour. More info at vashonparks.org.

I love lighthouses. I intend to visit more of these eventually, and share in experience.

Before that structure, you’ll notice much dead wood mixed in the wild grass, probably washed up on short, or left behind from a past operation. I do not really know. But such is a beautiful sight to see much so scattered, enjoying its long life, relaxed on the beach, with the company of playful feet at times.

The waters are quiet, with few boats. Along the shore, there are plenty of rocks mixed with slippery moss and hints of passing life. Walk further then the rocks, and you are either wet or among the trees and grass of this medium-sized local park. The choice is yours.

This place is peaceful, and I love the moment where I am part. You should come when given the chance, and love your moment too.

Orion T

The surreal life of a frog

Frogs are weird.

Did you know that frogs don’t drink water? They soak it through their skin.

Or know that a frog can shred a layer of skin about once a week? The old dead skin is not wasted. The frog usually eats it.

Did you know that most frogs have teeth? Frog teeth are located in the upper jaw, which are used to hold its prey before swallowing it whole. Prey depends on the size of the frog, from insects to pocket-sized animals.

There are over 5,000 species of frog. The study of frogs is called Herpetologists.

A group of frogs is called an army.

Ranidaphobia is the fear of frogs.

Some people also have frogs as pets!

Frogs are a huge part of pop culture for every generation. Frogs are very everywhere in books, games, movies; as princes, mascots, obscure B movies, lots of mythological references. I love Kermit the Frog, who I see as the best frog.

I would love to know what your favorite frog is, fictional or not!

Orion T

Top picture is taken off the Shadow Lake (not to be confused with Shadow Lake in King county, WA) trail near Sunrise Point very high up at about 6400 feet in the Mount Rainer National Park, Washington State. I recently did some hiking there, and will share more on that soon.

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 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!