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…

Weekend Adventuring in Olympia, Washington

image

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.”

image

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

Photo Sep 26, 3 53 03 PM

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…

image

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.

image

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

image

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.

image

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.

Photo Sep 26, 2 34 28 PM

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.”

image

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

Photo Sep 26, 2 08 08 PM

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

image

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.

image

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

image

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

image

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

image

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..

Photo Sep 12, 11 20 34 AM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 9 33 19 AM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 9 32 25 AM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 11 23 25 AM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 12 18 42 PM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 12 08 35 PM

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).

Photo Sep 12, 11 25 48 AM

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

Photo Sep 13, 11 07 03 AM

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

Photo Sep 12, 3 36 29 PM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 11 57 46 AM

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

Photo Sep 12, 2 49 12 PM

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.

Photo Sep 12, 2 47 59 PM

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.

Photo Sep 13, 5 15 57 PM

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

Photo Sep 12, 4 33 31 PM

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

Photo Sep 12, 7 51 40 PM

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

Photo Sep 12, 7 49 21 PM

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.

 – Orion T

Carkeek Park Adventures, Part 2

IMG_1998
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..

….

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..

IMG_1995

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

IMG_2010

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

IMG_2012

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

IMG_1999

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

IMG_2006

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..

IMG_2003

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..

IMG_2004

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

IMG_2007

And hey there, here comes the train!

IMG_2013
That’s all for now. I enjoyed this small little adventure in two parts. I hope you did too.

– Orion T