Fall Colors in the Kubota Garden

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For those dwelling around in the Pacific Northwest, there is a medium-sized park, open to the public in Seattle, to view the best seasonal colors in nature. You should go there now, while the scenery is very Fall-tastic.

This place is the Kubota Garden, a 20-acre Japanese garden in the Rainier Beach neighborhood. The park is named after Fujitaro Kubota, a Japanese emigrant and horticultural pioneer who blended his Japanese design techniques with North American materials here, starting off in 1927. Fujitaro died in 1973 at age 94, hoping the land would eventually become public. In 1981, the land became a historic landmark.  In 1987, the land became public, and since became an attraction for visitors. In late 2017, it was my turn.

Kubota Garden is beautiful with every step inside. The walkways are crooked and intertwined, leading to little sights worth a long gaze. Such are small ponds, little structures of wood and rock, bridges, waterfalls, with a variety of uncommon trees and shrubbery. All quiet and peaceful, leaving the noise of the world to the distance.

I came here on the advice of a friend, who suggested this as a place to relax, and avoid the troubles of the world for at least an hour. By public transport, this was an easy destination (about an hour if taking the rail from downtown, then a short bus transfer). I arrived, not considering the grandness of the place, or a map.

This brought me much joy in the heart, to explore, and not finding any particular pattern or sense to the pathways of the place. I felt lost and didn’t want to be found for a while. I found many little partially mossed benches, shadowy coverings by spidery trees, and open grassy spots perfect for a picnic. I would stop here and there, sitting down and watching birds and dogs being walked by. And perfect for this day, was the amazing colors of the Fall season, with an awesome variety in every view.

The only regret here is my arrival so very late in the day. The evening was close, and I had to leave for a meeting. I did take some pictures, showing the amazing Fall-ness of it all. Click on each for a full look:

I shall come back here again, for a longer visit and for every season.

-Orion T

Elevating in the Smith Tower…

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The other day, I had the pleasure of visiting the oldest skyscraper in Seattle, the Smith Tower. Completed in 1914, this was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River, for its time. It was also the highest building in Seattle until the Space Needle came along in 1962 (completed in 1961). So, the Smith Tower needed an elevator…

And that it got, a lovely manual operated system of seven elevators. Each operated by a human who would push the buttons, turn things, slide the doors, and give some amusing small talk in transition. this would go on for 103 years.

Now six of the seven doors are to be automated, in an effort to keep up with modern fire and safety standards. One elevator will remain with a human operator, probably the one that leads to the observation deck…a classy tourist destination for those looking to enjoy a bit of the old city with its remains of an interesting history.

Going up, this was my first time. The elevator had see-through windows, and a vintage wobbling and mechanical nature, reminding me of an old apartment elevator in my childhood home in San Francisco. Except this one had the operator, who told me a humorous anecdote of the Smith Tower history.

Here are a few pics I took of the doors, inside panel, and elevator serviceman:

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Overall, a pleasant experience leading to another, being the observation room and outside deck on the 35th floor. That will be shared in another post in the near future….promise.

-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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A Snowy Morning in Kobe Terrace Park

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Seattle morning just last Monday, I awoke to witness the beautiful snow blanketing the city. I walked towards work, with a detour to one particular small park upon a hill, where the overnight snowfall revealed a new world.

That park is Kobe Terrace (in Seattle’s International District), a small enclosed area with a community garden upon a hill, all overlooking to the southwest distance of Seattle. Anytime is a good time to visit throughout the year. Though some particular times are better than others.

This time was short and quite wonderful, being a winter wonderland surrounded by cherry trees, small garden pots, and Japanese style deco wooden structures. Even with the noisy freeway nearby, one can feel the serenity brought in by the fresh overnight snow (about one inch, I was told). I could easily imagine traveling through the country town of Hokkaido, Japan; for at least the 30 minutes to myself, before arriving at nearby work thereafter.

Snow in this area is rare, as the Seattle central area is low and distant from the mountain regions. Such occurs once or twice a year, if lucky. For this time, the snow continued to fall until the noontime. Shortly after, the rain washed much of away, leaving a different beautiful setting (of which I will share in my next post).

These pictures below and the memory with them, are very worthwhile to share for this wonderful little moment away…

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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.

Picture of Today 1/29/2017, Hope Within Resistance..

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The latest rally against Trump across many cities, here again in Seattle.

Though, this particular gathering happened in response to the sudden and troubling new Executive Branch order put forth by President Trump. Such was the denial of citizens from seven Muslim-majority countries from entering the United States, for the next 90 days while suspending the admission of all refugees for 120 days. A great many including myself, were not happy with this confounding orders, frustrating many while driving tens of thousands across the nation to protest.

The Seattle crowd this time, took a more focused approach on immigration, in defense of those wronged by the new policy. The most popular chant was “Say it loud, say it clear..immigrants are welcome here,’ delivered in massive unison through the streets. The police led them around the blocks, and I think split the marching portion crowd into separate groups. A clever ploy to dwindle the crowds perhaps, as they seemed much smaller in number with less time to prepare. Still, all went well for the protesters in the thousands gathered to have their say, including Mayor Ed Murray and Governor Jay Inslee.

To where all this will lead, is foreseen. But such unity is inspiring a great hope for the troubled times ahead, that all will be okay in the end.

– Orion T

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.

– Orion 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