Saturday, July 16, 2016

Elliott Avenue

Saturday night. We picked up baguettes and cheese and prosciutto and tapenade at Whole Foods and enjoyed waterfront dining on a bench below the grain elevator. It was a gorgeous evening - better than we had been promised by the weather experts.

The Helix Bridge was built by Amgen (or Immunex) back when they built their headquarters behind Elliott Bay Park - now the biotech folks have moved off to sunnier pastures, leaving their DNA-inspired pedestrian bridge and their office buildings behind. Expedia has acquired the space and has big plans to expand the campus and move in over the next few years. I suppose ten years after that, some other high tech business will take their place!

Nason Ridge

Two weeks ago, Sunday. I visited Mom while M drove Claire to airport.

Maybe it was seeing the photos J had posted earlier, or maybe it was some other inspiration, but around 3 we decided to head out. Ice cream at Dairy Queen in Cle Elum, Dinner at South in Leavenworth, and then dropped in on J and family above Lake Wenatchee.

We had never visited the cabin and this was a beautiful evening to check it out. We stayed an hour or so, then drove back over Stevens and were home by 11.

Mount Townsend

Saturday morning, two weeks ago, I got up early and headed for the Edmonds ferry. It still took a while to get to the trailhead above Quilcene, where the weather was decidedly undecided. The clouds were low and provided only brief, limited views across the valley. It was clearer on the west side of the ridge itself, which allowed a glimpse into the main part of the Olympics, but the clouds only got thicker on top and there was never any view back towards the Sound.

I suppose the rhodies that lined the trail lower down were a few weeks past their prime, but the wildflowers were all blooming higher up. The trail was great and the climb challenging, but not grueling. The hardest part was finding my way out the north way (towards Sequim Bay) given the maze of forest roads and the vintage of my maps.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Elliott Bay

It wasn't Mother's Day, but it sort of seemed like it. M's mom was in town and my mom wanted to treat M and I for our recent anniversary (25th), so we headed to Salty's for dinner and the great view back at downtown.

Afterwards, we cruised Alki Beach (us and a few thousand other folks), watching the sun head down over the Olympics (although given the time of year, it still had a way to go).

Deception Pass

A month and half ago, I came down here to North Beach late on a Friday afternoon after my work day on Whidbey had ended. And decided that if i was to have a favorite beach, maybe this one should be it (Deception Pass 2016).

So this seemed like a good place to make our second beach stop on Father's Day, after our earlier walk at Kukutali. It was a lot more crowded than my previous visit, but still a wonderful spot, once you find a parking space. We didn't stay long, but I know where to find it and I suspect I will keep coming back. It's just funny that I went so many years looking at this beach from the distance (usually the southbound side of the bridge), but not actually stopping to explore.


Father's Day. We began with brunch at the Butcher and Baker on Latona, then drove north through La Conner and out to Kukutali, which I know fairly well, but M had never visited. This is a cool spot at the north end of Skagit Bay, with a view west through Deception Pass.

I posted from here after an early visit back in 2009 (Kiket Island 2009), when State Parks and the Swinomish were still trying to work out a mutually satisfactory way to manage the site.  They now share the job. Kiket Island, now the Kukutali Preserve, was once proposed for a nuclear plant -- a nice bedrock foundation and plenty of cold water for cooling. But thanks to seismology and economics and popular opinion, that never came to be.


Springs often get particularly busy and then the posts fall behind. April and May were dedicated to progress on several house projects, so between work and moving pavers and fixing garage leaks, going through photos didn't get much attention.

But by early June, I really had made progress, and was determined that we get out. So on a Sunday morning we grabbed a bus to Husky Stadium, found our way down into the new light rail station, and rode one stop to Capital Hill. We wandered through Cal Anderson Park, where there would be a big gathering later in the day for the Orlando tragedy, and eventually ended up at the Chop Shop on Chop House Row for brunch. I guess that great restaurants and cool architectural reimaginings in chic urban neighborhoods are the upsides of more affluence than we know what to do with and housing costs going through the roof.

We walked through the Farmer's Market on our way to pick up the new street car, which we rode down to Pioneer Square. Where we played ping ping beneath the totem poles in Oocidental Square, Then it was up First Avenue to Pike Place, to mingle with the tourists just off the cruise ships. I gathered some ideas and inspiration at the NW Woodworking Gallery, then we took the bus back to Wallingford,

A nice urban adventure, a chance to check out some of Seattle's newer transit options, and a big improvement over lugging pavers home from Home Depot.

Monday, April 25, 2016


I always suspected that the fact that we all ended up in Seattle was a plan hatched by Dad in the early 1950s. Dad was introduced to Seattle in 1934, during a brief visit when his father was looking for work. He returned in 1943 to rivet B-17s, until he was old enough to enlist. He enrolled at Michigan State under the GI Bill, but transferred to UW, where he graduated in 1949. He went to Berkeley for his Masters, then came back to work in Seattle for a couple of years. He hiked in the Cascades and played golf at the UW course along the Montlake Cut (now Health Sciences, I think). But then he headed east to work in NY, where he met Mom and got his PhD.

He and Mom got married in New York City while Dad was at Columbia. They honeymooned in Europe and brought back a VW bug. And then Dad got a job at Bowdoin in 1957 and they spent the next 35 years in Brunswick.  I arrived in 1958 and Jane showed up a couple of years later. Somewhere in between Jane and me, they moved into 75 Federal, where they lived until 1992, when they moved back to Seattle.

Dad's time at Bowdoin is nicely summarized in the Bowdoin Daily Sun.

Every couple of summers in the 1960s and 1970s, Dad led us on long car-camping trips to the Rockies and the Pacific Northwest. We visited Seattle. We took the ferries, we camped at Sunrise, we visited Lake Quinault. We couldn't help but notice the attraction this place had for him, but I'm not sure we realized that he was busy planting seeds.

I'm sure the early exposure to Seattle contributed to me ending up here for grad school in 1983, where I immediately met Michele. Jane dabbled with Seattle about that same time before seeking adventures in NYC and San Francisco. But in 1991, she and Rob also moved back to Seattle.

We knew Mom and Dad were contemplating retiring to Seattle. They checked out real estate on their visits and we knew they had their eyes set on something that might offer a glimpse of Mount Rainier. In 1992, both fully retired, they sold the house in Brunswick and headed to Seattle for good.

They found a house that took care of itself, unlike the wonderful, but high maintenance, place back in Maine. It had enough room to accommodate Dad's post-retirement hobbies - his 1934 Buick and his 1940 Chevy. And his other hobby, too. He re-created the western railroad landscape in HO in the basement - laying track around two large rooms and building an impressive inventory of the Milwaukee Road, Union Pacific, Santa Fe, Great Northern, Burlington, and more. He and mom went to train meets and to old car shows. He won ribbons. They drove the old Chevy down to Burgermaster for lunch. They drove down to Edmonds to watch the trains along Puget Sound.

They were in Seattle when Devon and Leigh and Will were born and they watched them grow up. They served pancakes on Sunday mornings and hosted our family birthdays. We did family trips to Mount Rainier, to Puget Sound, and we all celebrated their 50th Anniversary in Jasper (not Seattle, but another place that Dad introduced us to early on).

In the last few years, Dad began to slow down. Eventually Mom had to take the keys away from him and take over the taxes. But it seems like every day they could, they drove down to McDonalds and picked up their chicken sandwiches and their coffee, then parked at the lake and watched the mountain, and the kite surfers, and the ducks. The routine only faltered in the last few weeks, when Dad's mobility ratcheted down another notch.

This past fall, Jane and I took Mom and Dad downtown and up to the roof deck of the Russell Investments Building, so he could look out over Puget Sound and a Seattle that had changed immensely from when he first visited with his family during the depression. I think he appreciated it - at least in the moment.

Dad first visited Seattle in the midst of the depression, when he was nine. He kept coming back, for work, for college, on vacations with his young family, and later, to visit his grown children. But I think his plan all along was to come back for good, once he assured that the rest of us would already be here. Dad died on April 10th, but he left Jane and Mom and me in a pretty good place.

Sunday, April 17, 2016


The Salish Sea Conference alternates back and forth every two years between Vancouver and Seattle. This year we were back in Vancouver, for three days of ecology, restoration, and even a little bit of geology (but not much). As an interdisciplinary regional conference, it's a great chance to talk with folks that I don't get to see as often as I probably should. Of course, one result is to come away with an impossibly long list of good ideas and things to check into -- impossibly long.

These meetings are always pretty hectic, but a few of us got away late one day for an evening in West Vancouver, where we checked out a beach project and had a great dinner. The meeting didn't wind up, for me, at least, until almost 4 on Friday, but that still left me time to explore the beaches in Kitsilano and to shop at MEC on the way out of the city.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Art Institute

Our first day in Chicago was crystal clear and was mainly spent outdoors, looking up at the buildings. But our second was gray and we spent the middle of the day at the Art Institute of Chicago, catching up on our art and winding up with sore ankles. It's amazing how much more tiring it can be to wander museums than to walk all day outside. We need to figure out how to do this in smaller doses.

The big exhibit was built around Van Gogh's bedroom - three versions of which were on display, including the one that actually lives in Chicago. But there was also other stuff by Van Gogh and a lot of material to provide context.

Of course, there was plenty of other material to look at, from Seurat to O'Keefe.