Category Archives: Seattle

Best parks in Seattle

Seattle has some incredible parks, which is why I find it so hard to get any work when I’m visiting the Emerald City. If you have similar problems when you travel, consider meeting rooms for hire, to get your clients (and you!) away from distractions and to a quiet, conducive work space. In fact, the Warwick Hotel, just downtown, has meeting rooms available, putting you in easy reach of these parks by bus or car–or even on foot. This way, you can get your work done in a professional setting before venturing out to explore.

1. Washington Park and Arboretum

This park is expansive, covering 230 acres northeast of Downtown, so my favorite way to take it in is to combine cycling and walking. I love speeding down the Arboretum’s green hills and hiking the trails at the park’s northern end, which snake through forests and marshy islands.

There are a few hidden swimming and picnicking spots, but I also like having a snack while watching the kayakers on Lake Washington paddling through the lilypads around the I-5 overpasses.

Getting there: Rent a bike at Recycled Cycles, head across the Montlake Bridge and through the parking lot of the Museum of History and Industry. A trailhead starts here, but you’ll have to walk your bike through the marsh trails.

Avoid biking on Arboretum Drive, as you’ll snarl traffic and piss off a lot of drivers. Instead, there are paved roads throughout the park that are closed to vehicles.

Read the rest online at Matador Trips.

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Flight attendants, prepare for landing

When I fly into Sea-Tac Airport, I like to be in a window seat. I generally am an aisle-seat person because I like to stretch out and see what’s going on in the other rows and be able to stand up immediately once the plane lands.

But I make an exception for Sea-Tac. As the plane begins to descend, the almost-straight-line of the Cascade’s volcanoes come into view from above the clouds. There’s Mt. St. Helens, its once impressive dome blown half to pieces during its last eruption. There’s Mt. Baker or Mt. Adams–I get them confused–and then, unmistakably, there’s the gleaming white fist of Mt. Rainier. “The Mountain.”

I love The Mountain. I miss it when the never-ending cloud cover blocks it from view. I go to great lengths to catch a glimpse of it on clear days. I have vague aspirations to circumnavigate it on the Wonderland Trail and to climb to the top of its crater.

I’ve seen The Mountain during sunset from Queen Anne Hill. I’ve watched it puff pancake-shaped clouds like Alice’s caterpillar. I’ve watched it disappear into self-made snowstorms. But the best view of The Mountain is, undeniably, from the window seat of an airplane, flying just above its peak. It’s the best way to appreciate its hulking mass towering over the other mountains and its somewhat unassuming attitude.

I can’t think of a better way to be welcomed to the Pacific Northwest.

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The Transitory Property of Life

Today, I finished cleaning the apartment I moved out of over the weekend. I vacuumed, I swept, I dusted. I cleaned cobwebs out of forgotten corners and wiped dust off the baseboards and inefficiently placed baseboard heating units under the drafty windows. I scrubbed crud out of the shower and off the faux-wood floors in the kitchen.

And then I closed the door for the last time on the place I called home for a year, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in quite some time.

I guess I could wax poetic on how packing and cleaning and leaving that place is somehow a testament to life’s impermanence, but really all I want to do now is take a shower and sneeze out some of the dust bunnies I inhaled this morning.

I managed to squeeze in a hiking trip to the fire lookout atop Mt. Fremont, which is so close to Mt. Rainier that the mythical Mountain looks small somehow. The fire lookout there appears to still be staffed, so a peak inside showed cots and equipment and neatly arranged remnants of the spartan lifestyle of a fire lookout. In the morning the glaciers yawned blue ice and in the afternoon the sun’s glare made them glow. Mt. Rainier

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Eat your way through Seattle’s International District

With about 100 coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries, Seattle’s International District can be sensory overload for the hungry traveler. The neighborhood is stocked with cuisine from Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and more.

Click here to read the full story on Matador Nights!

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Sunday morning, life comes easy

You know you’re on the west coast when the only people awake and about at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning are the cyclists.

This Sunday there was an organized ride through some of Seattle’s most picturesque neighborhoods, so even though the 55 miles turned out to be pretty lonely without a riding buddy, I found myself slowing down through the parks and tree-lined streets. The ride started at Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay near downtown, with sailboats and the Olympics on the horizon. The air was light and cool and I could almost feel the Pacific Ocean on my skin.

Seattle never ceases to amaze me. Between the neighborhoods perched on hilltops overlooking Mt. Rainier to the lakes and the Sound and the islands and the deep green urban parks that feel like  a wilder elsewhere, this ride was the perfect way to spend one of my last weekends here.

My leaving is starting to feel more palpable. In less than three weeks I’ll leave the place I’ve spent a year of my life exploring. I go between excitement for a new beginning in yet another place and sadness at the end of summer–and my time–here.

Salmon know instinctively the route to their birthplace. Maybe there’s some internal compass in me, too, pointing the way even while the current runs against me. We’ll see what happens next.

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Indian summer

My pictures never fail to disappoint. Perhaps it’s because I’m a crappy photographer, which is probably true, but looking back on the photos I’ve taken over the last several months here just don’t do the scenery justice. They don’t convey the sheer expanse of the vistas or the sense of accomplishment at earning them after miles of hard hiking.

Case in point: the pictures of the backpacking trip I took this weekend to Spider Meadow in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The trail is relatively flat for the first 7.5 miles, before climbing about 1,000 feet for the last half mile to a knob at the foot of a glacier. I camped in the back of the cirque rimmed with red mountains next to a stream rushing down from the melting ice. At night I drank hot tea and watched shooting stars streak across a smudge of the Milky Way. Sublime.

It was unseasonably warm this past weekend–temps were in the high 80s even as the leaves slowly start to lose their green. The end of this adventure–this year in Seattle–is close but it’s not palpable yet so I’m ignoring it. No packing, no preparations…just living and hoping the sunshine sticks around, too.

mountains beyond mountains

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Looking down for miles through high still air

Last week, my college room mate moved into my living room.

I live in a small, overpriced Seattle apartment with inadequate closet space, so we’re being a bit adventurous here. Hopefully we won’t kill each other before she finds a permanent living situation.

We’ve been doing all sorts of best friend things since she got here after driving across the country with her sister. Happy hour, ice cream, cooking, shopping…it all makes me miss college, except for that whole 10-page-paper-due-on-Monday thing.P1010282

Fire lookouts have fascinated me since high school, back when I read entirely too much obscure Jack Kerouac literature. Back then, I used to think spending an entire season in a spartan cabin on top of a mountain with no human contact for months seemed like a fine idea. I’ve since developed more refined ideas on vacation, but visiting one of Washington’s fire lookouts on a day hike seemed doable. I haven’t read the Beats in years, but their poems and musings, especially about wild America, stuck with me. So it worked out great that our hike on Saturday was to a fire lookout on top of Mt. Pilchuck in the Cascades.

Turns out this was a pretty tough hike, accessible some 7 miles down a primitive forest service road–oops. The guidebook failed to mention that part.

P1010284It also failed to mention the enormous boulders we’d have to scale to get to the ladder that led to the fire lookout. It was crowded, which is what happens on hikes less than 2 hours from Seattle on sunny weekend days, and meant that we had to perch uncomfortably on the lower rocks while those above us descended. Some people had their dogs with them, which is ridiculous because dogs can do a lot of things but they aren’t great at scrambling over boulders.

The view from the top was amazing. Fog and clouds obscured some of the peaks, but mostly we had a 360-degree view of the Cascades, the Olympics, Mt. Rainier, the valley below, and Puget Sound.

Here is a poem written at a fire lookout by one of my favorite poets, Gary Snyder.

Mid-August at Sourdough Mountain Lookout

Down valley a smoke haze
Three days heat, after five days rain
Pitch glows on the fir-cones
Across rocks and meadows
Swarms of new flies.

I cannot remember things I once read
A few friends, but they are in cities.
Drinking cold snow-water from a tin cup
Looking down for miles
Through high still air.

-Gary Snyder

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