Leaving Summer 2020, in wholesome hindsight…

Summer 2020 was a little weird but full of beautiful moments.

I was a bit worried on its end after a week of nasty fires in the Pacific Northwest, bringing darkened skies of smoke and ash throughout. That’s so very 2020, pushing me back into home isolation.

But yet, I felt great times during the season under the troubling, continual circumstances of the year. Such are the pandemic and continual dread for the future of my world, with social unrest and shared economic stress. What does one do, for feeling the necessity of the news, yet not ignore the constant frustration and trouble that the headlines bring?

One great answer is to reach out, accept the reaching out of peers to make the best of what’s out there. The weather was great most of this season, at least for the Pacific Northwest (sorry friends in California who endured over 100 F). I feel blessed with good friends that shared my hunger for adventure, and that we did.

We shared many weekends all over midwestern Washington in Tacoma, Bellingham, Anacortes, Issaquah, and the Seattle area. We hiked, we ruminated, we explored, we eat, we enjoyed nature and the somewhat the surroundings while being pandemic-minded and safe.

I had a great time throughout but also unplugged much from the social media and pleasures of modern digital technology. But, I am also terribly sorry for not sharing such beautiful experiences in a timely fashion. Much of it was also for me talking, helping, discussing life, and current happenings with friends in between. Personal time was my priority.

But, I will share on memories recent and fresh when I can, especially as the new Fall season sets in. I have the feeling it’s going to be a longer, colder, darker time ahead. With that, more time to share but in a different way.

– Orion T

The above pic is facing Mount Rainier, from the top of Mount Burroughs, taken from one of the many trails from the Sunrise Visitor Center deep within and high above. It’s closed to the majestic peak, the best view I think one can get by hiking after a lengthy two-hour drive deep within the Mount Rainier National Park. The entirety spent with friends, very worthwhile.

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 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’re monogamous—the 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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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

A Thawed Afternoon in Kobe Terrace Park

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I now share some pics, a little later in Kobe Terrace Park after a grand snowy morning in Seattle, earlier this week (see last post).

Here, are pics from an afternoon walk, just as the sudden rains began to wash away the snowfall. There was a special beauty to the surroundings, revealing a momentary awesomeness to an otherwise dull afternoon.

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– Orion T

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

Scattered Fall..

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Every weather season holds wondrous splendor, especially this Fall for the great Seattle city.

After the periodic rough winds and sporadic showers, walk into the biting cold and see for yourself. Ignore the expanse of construction and busy commute hustles, and appreciate the best, fresh signs of natural change.

Here, the fallen leaves of many trees scatter throughout the Emerald City. In some clusters, the concrete loses its dominance. Curbsides are confused as division becomes lost in the rivers of greens and browns and reds and yellows. Benches and tables become hosts to new fallen travelers. We invite those on the ground to stay with every step, kicking others to the next for moments longer.

Here above and below, is a special concrete open spot near the Space Needle before a statue of Chief Seattle. Around is the convergence of 5th, Cedar, and Denny streets with the near overhead tramway connecting the Seattle Center (and Needle above) to the Westlake Center of Downtown. Also, the best spot for an afternoon munch, at the 5 Point Café (happy hour 4-6 weekdays).

Also a sometimes resting place for leaves..

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Overall, peaceful for busy Seattle life. The leaves are a special touch and reminder of the best appreciation for passing in the Fall. Never mind the nightfall now approaching 4pm time (sunsets are still killer) and a distraction from the moving gray skies  Just enjoy the leaves when here, at least before the street cleaners spoil the fun.

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Enjoy, and appreciate this natural cycle of nature. Or even better, walk around and explore what changed. I hear Pioneer Square is amazing, as I will eventually venture to on a promised morning. I wonder about certain favorite places in this grand area, thinking of a good time for a visit to Kobe Terrace in the near future. Here below, is the walkway through the Seattle Center near the great Needle on a recent day of blue skies above.

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All pictures taken and posted by Orion Tippens, for travelingorion.wordpress.com.