Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Franklin Falls

This post has something in common with the previous one - a major Interstate Highway going over the top. In the previous entry, it was I-5 and the the Ship Canal Bridge. In this one, it is the westbound lanes of I-90, just west of Snoqualmie Pass.

This was last Saturday morning. The road (at least for me) ended at a big pile of snow a mile or so below the Denny Creek Campground, which added a little time to the relatively short hike. The walking was on dirty, packed, end-of-season snow - but maybe still a couple feet of it all the way to the falls.  I had the place to myself (8:30 in the morning), although I passed a few folks walking in as I headed back out.

This is a neat little area - just above Exit 47 and tucked into the valley between (but out of site of) the eastbound and westbound lanes of I-90. Most of the time, the creek is noisy enough to drown out the traffic, but occasionally a loud truck would be a reminder that this is just a particularly wide, well-forested median strip.

The 70' fall was full, but the big snow pile at the bottom of the avalanche chute right next to the falls was just as impressive. If you look up, you can see the highway.

My last trip to Franklin Falls was 6 years ago and I never got to the falls. It was my last adventure in my red Subaru, which almost ended up spending the winter stuck in the snow below the pass (Denny Creek: November 2011).

My scheme this trip (albeit a dubious one) was to get back to town in time to catch the Men's and Women's Eights in the UW - Cal race in the Montlake Cut. But I ended up spending any extra time I had stuck in traffic due to the weekend lane closures on westbound I-90 across the lake. I was still home shortly after 11, leaving plenty of time to visit Home Depot and do house chores.

Lake Union

We were trying to figure out if we had ever come here to Ivar's without guests in tow. I suspect we did end up here for dinner with D a few times over the years, but usually this was our go-to place when visitors were in town and the weather was nice. Depending on the visitors and the occasion, we might end up eating inside the Salmon House, but usually we were eating on the barge, watching the University Bridge go up and down for sailboats and big yachts.

This place is always noisy, with I-5 up above, but the place still maintains sort of an iconic status. I'm not sure what goes on these days in the old boathouse next door (no pictures). For decades it was where the Pocock's built rowing shells and then later it became Dal Chihuly's studio, but I'm not sure what happens there now.

St. Edwards Park

It was nice to have a Sunday and break in the weather. We probably hadn't been to St. Edwards since D was a kid - maybe not even then. We walked the loop down to the lake and back, ending up at the Grotto and the lawn where folks were having Easter picnics and looking for Easter eggs.

I guess WA State Parks is trying to figure out what do with the old building. It's probably a more difficult lodging concession for Parks to oversee than renting out lighthouses or beach cabins or yurts.

Sunday, April 09, 2017


On Monday, we stopped in Cannon Beach again, where we found a really nice piece of glasswork at Dragonfire and I filled up my coffee cup at the Sleepy Monk. Then we did the two hour drive to Portland.

This trip we tried out The Inn at Northrup Station in northwest Portland. It's colorful and whimsical and pretty perfect for us (thought walls are a bit thin). Big bowls of saltwater taffy and Starbursts in the common area. Free street car tickets - the street car goes right past. And free parking - which is a big plus compared with most city center options. It was a short walk up to 23rd and an easy street car into the Pearl District and downtown.

We had dinner one night at Paley's Place (right next door) and the next at Andina (always great, and packed). We had breakfast at Gravy Tuesday morning and at Jam on Hawthorne on Wednesday. We never really needed lunch, though I picked up a couple of donuts at Blue Star on the way out of town.

Between the eating and the coffee, we walked up into the creek above MacLeay Park and then drove up to the Pittock Mansion. Of course, we spent an evening at Powell's. M added to her list of books to check out from the library. I just bought more books. My favorite spot this trip was Dragonfly Coffee, on Thurman, which just felt like the perfect neighborhood coffee house. I was there twice.

Cannon Beach

We spent as much time in Cannon Beach as we did in Seaside itself. It's an easy 10-15 minute drive up and over the hill and it opened up a whole bunch of restaurant and coffee shop options. On Sunday, we had breakfast at The Lazy Susan and dinner later that day at Sweet Basil's. But on Saturday, we stuck to coffee (Insomnia and The Sleepy Monk) while we worked our way south from one beach to the next.

We went as far south as Hug Point State Park, where we scooted around the point between waves in order to get to the waterfall.

Ecola State Park

Saturday, now two weeks ago, turned out nicer than we had expected and we spent the day exploring. We began in Seaside with a long walk into town and back, but then got in the car and worked our way down through Cannon Beach as far as Hug Point.

Indian Beach is at the end of a winding landslide-prone road in Ecola State Park, on the south side of Tillamook Head. It seemed crowded, though probably not what it would have been on a warm summer weekend. A few folks were learning to surf and a lot of folks were just milling around in their fleece. M waited patiently while I wandered off the to far end of the beach to check out the landslides and the basalt cliffs and other beach stuff.


We spent spring break at the beach - or at least a few days of it. Enough to enjoy a few breaks in the otherwise gray and damp weather.

We stayed in Seaside, but spent our time pretty evenly split between there and Cannon Beach, which is just a few miles down the road on the other side of Tillamook Head. The two towns are a study in contrasts, driven by geography and demographics (which are rarely independent). Seaside seems to be more your typical middle-class beach town, able to handle large crowds with big hotels and arcades and t-shirts. Cannon Beach is more about smaller hotels and rental houses and galleries. Our experience generally confirmed that Cannon Beach had foodier food options.

Our hotel (condos) was right on the beach at the south end of Seaside and had a great view of the waves and the surfers.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lincon Park

We spent a few hours on a sunny Sunday walking around West Seattle. After exploring the Dragonfly on lower Longfellow Creek, we drove down towards Fauntleroy and Lincoln Park. We parked high on the hill and then walked down through Solstice Park and then through the north end of Lincoln Park all the way to the beach.

The north beach was in the shade but the south beach was sunny -- and crowded, at least for the last day of winter. But then we had to pay the price for our long walk down the hill -- it seemed like an awful long way back up the Thistle Stairs to California Avenue SW.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Longfellow Creek

Longfellow Creek drains the eastern portions of West Seattle. The western side drains straight to the Sound, while Longfellow flows to the tide flats below Pigeon Point, or it once did, since now it must follow a pretty tortuous path out to the Duwamish. But upstream the neighborhoods have been hard at work restoring the creek and building trails and parks.

The Dragonfly Pavillion is a wonderful piece of public art - a metal sculpture perched over a larger concrete rimmed garden also shaped like a dragonfly. And it looks down over the valley of the creek - the section between the West Seattle Golf Course and the Nucor Steel Plant. But you'd never know, walking along the trail and across the Salmon Bone Bridge among the trees.

Both the dragonfly and the bridge are by Lorna Jordan.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Seattle Waterfront

The upgrade of Seattle's waterfront is well underway. The seawall construction has been working its way north - it's now complete from the south end north past the aquarium and the activity is centered on Piers 62/63. This is one of my favorite spots in Seattle - sort of a big open deck looking out on the Sound and the Olympics - although it was completely closed off for the construction and one of these pictures shows it. I think they're planning to capitalize on this space when the larger waterfront project happens in a few years.

South of the aquarium, the viaduct still dominates the waterfront, but Bertha will emerge later this spring (we hope) near Seattle Center, and once the new tunnel is done, the viaduct will be history. That will set the stage for the re-imagined waterfront. There will still be a major boulevard, but I think folks will be amazed how much nicer the area will be with the concrete edifice removed.

There's already some neat work going on to open up the side of the Market that faces the water - and a lot more stuff to come. Although I suppose it will still be many years.

Sculpture Park

It's been a gray winter - grayer and damper than usual. But the first Saturday of March was nice and after my first cup of coffee, I headed down to the waterfront. I hadn't visited the Sculpture Park in a long time and it was a great reminder of what a neat space it is.

After a long walk along the waterfront itself (next post), I walked up through the Pike Place Market and back on 1st Avenue. My second cup of coffee of the day was at Drip City, where I had parked my car. I was home by noon.

Thornton Creek

Another post from that gray Saturday at the end of February.

Much of northeast Seattle used to drain through Thornton Creek. Much of it still does, though Seattle's stormwater system probably takes a bulk of the flow. The creek, which has two main branches and a couple of much smaller tributaries, winds through neighborhoods, small parks, and backyards on its way from its headwaters west of I-5 down to Lake Washington at Matthews Beach.

Sometime I'll explore it a little more systematically, but so far my visits have been pretty scattered. I think I'm getting to know the access points pretty well, but I keep discovering new things.

These pictures include the underside of the 15th Avenue bridge - just east of Northgate - and the recently restored Kingfisher Natural Area just above Lake City Way. These are all on the south branch of Thornton Creek.