The calm, empty streets of Seattle now

It’s been a weird last few months, for reasons now inescapable throughout our current hours of civilization. We collectively must stay apart, stay isolated, be sanitized, lower the curve of those infected, allow and support our busy medical workers.

I’m doing my part in my tiny Seattle apartment, keeping busy with projects, working at home, supporting others. But then, usually every other day, I must go out for errands. I take the routes through downtown where people are less likely, the broader sidewalks, avoid any huddled situations.

Throughout the typically tourist-heavy area of the downtown Seattle area around Pike Place Market, there are empty spaces. The air is cleaner, quiet, calming. Voices are few, silent, reserved for essential communications. I pass by someone infrequently, remain distance but smile to spread positive vibes.

I also carry my camera often. It’s not the best, just a Canon Rebel T6…great for those with decent incomes. I have many lenses for it. My current one I often use now is the EFS 18-136mm macro lens. It’s a beauty for sure, but it also weighs a little more than I am used to when placing it in my backpack. For these big empty streets, it’s a perfect accessory to capture these surreal moments.

From this week, I share some favorite moments captured from my essential walks.

That’s all for now. Take care and be safe out there.

Orion T

Clowning around with the Clownfish

Did you know…

That clownfish, also known as anemonefish, are born male, But, the dominant adult one of its group becomes female when the previous one dies. It’s an irreversible change, where it can then reproduce with another male, for the next generation of hermaphroditic organisms.

Clownfish are mostly found in coral reefs in south Asia, and Australia, feeding on a diet of plants and very small organisms (algae, zooplankton, tiny crustaceans). Clownfish live in harmony with sea anemones, sharing in food scraps and immune to their tentacle released toxins meant for prey. Those anemones also cover as shelter from larger predators. The clownfish pays their kindness back by removing parasites, and sometimes standing guard.

These strange factoids are just morsels of the countless grand wonders that make up of our complex planet, and build ecosystems meant to naturally create a long-lasting system of life coexistence.

I learned of such and more in a recent visit to the Seattle Aquarium on Pier 59, where I took the above pictures. Such wonderful things, I will share of more in later postings, spread out over future times. I hope you will enjoy, and be as fascinated as I was in observing, learning of these lively occurrences.

Orion T

Here today, gone tomorrow…the final days of the original Bon Marché

Only, 9, 8, 7, 6, days left…

I see the going out of business signs more now, spread among the malls, department stores, big names of yesterday giving up their land. Past vibrant with the rising consumerism of societies spending addictions, now withering from the lack of capitalist sunlight focused more on the Amazons of online shopping. Or perhaps, it’s all just from unwise business practices, unpaid loans, and becoming prey for the savvy vulture capitalists who see not the products and potential, but the money to picked from the bones of these once-great behemoths.

Now, the downtown Macy’s store in downtown Seattle is next. It began as the Bon Marché store in 1890 (not to be confused with the famed Le Bon Marché in Paris, founded in 1838), which grew into a chain of its own until about the early 2000’s where a number mergers would end up with its name gone, and eventually put into the Macy’s department store chain collective, based in New York City.

Much like many other Macy’s stores closing in 2019, and more scheduled for 2020, everything must go. Here, the local Macy’s was a familiar cornerstone of Seattle’s big department store scene since its Bon Marché beginnings. The interior was much like any other grand upper-middle class catering atmosphere, with central escalators leading to the usual departments of fashion and home goods. But on the exterior was a felt presence, welcoming to spendy tourists and locals with its vintage architecture built-in 1929 designed by local architect John Graham Sr. During the holidays, its massive Holiday star light decoration would light the way outside for locals and tourists to partake in the seasonal consumerism inside

Its upper floors sold to Amazon for office space in recent years, then eventually struggled with likely expensive upkeep related to booming property values. Macy’s as a downtown Seattle store will end very soon.

I meanwhile, dropped by to scavenge for bargain deals. Not disappointing as I would buy new pants, socks, shirts, that were previously beyond my affordable range. In that venture, I was fascinated by what felt like the end of an era, not just for this Macy’s, but many department stores gone over the recent era. How many will be left by 2030?

But for now, here are some moments observed of these final days of the Bon Marché Pacific Northwest legacy, founded in 1890. At least, it had a good full century run.

– Orion T

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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#voodoodonuts #portland #donuts

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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

The Sadly Gone Newsstand

Last Christmas Eve, I stopped by the world-famous Pike Place Market, to have a last look at a familiar staple of preserved atmosphere for 40 years within Downtown Seattle. There was the First and Pike News newsstand in all its glory, for over 40 years on the corner, ever welcoming and giving locals and tourists a deep look into Seattle culture in print, along with a very wide selection of magazines and reads from around the world.

First and Pike News closed on December 31st, 2019.

That part of the market hit me as a wonderful, nostalgic part of this city, that will likely never come back. Meanwhile, the local Barnes and Noble book store, with another large newsstand holding rows of magazines, recently closed on January 18th, 2020. Both closings add a sadness, of a declining city tradition that is the great multiple newspapers and magazine newsstand.

Both, doubly sad signs of that wholesome access to news and magazines in print, dwindling as not just from its outdated model of receiving ad revenues, but its lessening exposure in public places. More people are exponentially are drawn to new media with our Reddits, Facebooks, Twitters. Then battle it out with instant messages, notifications, invitations, interruptions, memes, all taking our attention to faster and shorter spans, as we frantically swipe through ad revenue life-streams, polluted with data mining, privacy-invading bots, mostly run by online conglomerates.

But for a moment, let’s take a look at the beauty that was a wholesome, plentiful newsstand, with its cheapo snacks, postcards, maps, other helpful things that would help both travelers and locals find their way. We then swipe those eyes on printed pages, keep us focused on just the words and images. Those were light, convenient, with no battery charge notice.

That is a beautiful view of colorful machine-bound printed paperworks.

To see a row of frequent prints, each and choice of topics tailor-made by a passionate and dedicated staff is a joy that I shall remember. The newsstand has the nostalgia of browsing and enjoyment of sampling through what’s worth paying. Also, as a light read for that day in the park or evening on a porch. Some places give a little more like snacks and maps. The sadly gone First and Pike News stand offered many more delights and souvenirs for the passing tourists.

Now, that thrill left this part of Seattle. But maybe, you might know of some newsstands in your area. Stop by, browse and appreciate the joy of printed media, formatted for your full attention. Buy some papers and cheap stuff, and smile to the seller. Every little bit of support helps, and maybe keep that wholesome bit of honest joy a part of your neighborhood for more days ahead.

Orion T