Wednesday/ Whidbey Island

My brother and I went out to Whidbey Island today, to go on an easy 3.5 mi hike on the western side of the island, on the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

To get from Seattle to Whidbey Island, one has to catch the ferry at Mukilteo, and then drive up north from Clinton past Coupeville (travel time comes to about 2 hrs total). There is a lagoon at the foot of a bluff, and the trail is a circle route around the lagoon.

The (unfortunate) history of Isaac Ebey, pioneer and politician whom the trail and the preserve are named after.

Lots of driftwood on the beach. On the right is Perego’s Lagoon, and the bluff.

The view towards the south, from about halfway up the bluff. Lots of wildflowers were in bloom.

Here’s a close-up of the pretty purple wildflowers.  I will have to find out what they are called.


Wednesday/ the Federal Office building

A photo from the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889. A pot of glue over a gasoline fire – in what was a woodworking shop – boiled over. That started an inferno that raged on for 12 hours, destroying 25 city blocks.

I walked by the Federal Office building on 1st Avenue in downtown Seattle today.
Whoah! I thought .. I love all the Art Deco lines and motifs at the main entrance.

I learned later that the Great Seattle Fire of June 6, 1889 actually started right there, in the basement of what was a woodworking shop.

The Federal Office Building (completed in 1933) on 1st Ave in downtown Seattle is a great example of Art Deco architecture. The facade is stepped (see insert picture), with the outer portions rising from six stories to nine stories, while the central tower reaches eleven stories in height. The tower is topped by a ziggurat (stepped pyramid) with a flagpole at its apex. [Source: Wikipedia]


Sunday/ ferry to Kingston

It is the warmest Memorial Day weekend in Seattle in decades, with temperatures up to 84 °F/ 29 °C in the city.   Late on Sunday afternoon, Bryan and I took the Edmonds-Kingston ferry out to Hansville on the Kitsap peninsula, to go and visit Paul.

Here’s where the Edmonds-Kingston ferry route is located in Puget Sound. (The blue dot on the map is our final destination Hansville, in the northern part of Kitsap County). The pictures on the right shows the ferry Walla Walla’s departure from Edmonds. The Walla Walla ferry has been in service since 1972, and was refurbished in 2005.


Sunday/ going to the beach (but not the ocean)

It’s almost summer here in the northern hemisphere, and it was a sunny and warm day (76° F/ 26°C) here in Seattle (warm for us).  I went down to Madison Park Beach.  It is not even 2 miles from my house, but admittedly: not a true beach.  It’s a grassy park with a pebbly, sandy edge on Lake Washington.

Here is the location of Madison Park Beach in Puget Sound with a picture from this afternoon. The SR 520 floating bridge is north of the I-90 floating bridge (from Saturday’s post).

Saturday/ adding trains to the I-90 floating bridge

A computer simulation of the completed rail tracks.  The east-bound train is running toward Mercer Island in Lake Washington. It will take until 2023 to make this construction a reality! Yikes.

Construction of the so-called East Lake extension of the Seattle Light Rail system is about to start.  The East Lake extension goes across one of Lake Washington’s floating bridges (the lake is too deep for a conventional bridge with pylons and spans).  Seattle is on the west of Lake Washington; Bellevue and Redmond with its Microsoft campus are on the east side.

There are several forces that will cause significant movement in the giant bridge pontoons: two 300-ton trains passing each other, water movements in the lake due to tides and stormy weather, and even the tremors of an earthquake.  So the engineering team has already spent lots of effort on coming up with a design that will accommodate the moving rail bed, so that the rail tracks will stay stable and parallel.

[From the Seattle Times] Here’s the future light rail line. There is 1 mile of floating bridge span. The train tracks will be added in next to the existing vehicle lanes on the bridge (on the existing the bridge surface).

[From the Seattle Times] And here is the engineering design that will mitigate the pontoon movements. Steel platforms and one sets of bearings below the platforms, and another set on top of it, will provide stability to the rail tracks. As a final safeguard, guard rails will also be installed for the rail tracks.

Friday/ another ‘beta’ store

It used to be that beta* versions apply only to software, but for Amazon, it applies to their physical stores as well.  The ‘beta’ version of the store is for Amazon employees only, and then when everything is working smoothly, it is opened to the public.

I found another type of Amazon beta store in Seattle’s SoDo (south of downtown) industrial district.   It’s an Amazon Fresh Pickup store.  (Amazon Fresh Delivery has been around in select cities since 2007).   The shopper selects and pays for grocery items on (Amazon Prime membership is required), reserve a time for picking it up (as little as 15 minutes later), and then go pick it up.   I guess it saves time and effort as far as the selection and check-out goes, and if you were going to drive to the regular grocery store anyway, the Amazon Fresh Pickup could definitely save some time.   If the selection is large enough to combine trips to two or three grocery stores, that would be even better. (For those picky, picky, picky shoppers that need that specific product brand or specialty items. Yes, you know who you are!).

*’Beta’ is a pre-release version of software that is given out to a group of users to try out under real conditions.

Here’s the pickup area for the new Amazon Fresh Pickup store. The store is on the left, and that is the Starbucks headquarters building in the background.   The Pickup attendant told me that this store should be open by the end of the May to the public.

Wednesday/ 1,358 days left

Just type ‘days until’ into Google search and it auto-fills ‘ ..2020 election’.   It knows.

The picture below shows a sign on a house here in Seattle – that I presumed was the number of days until the November 2020 election.

The home owner’s number is actually the number of days until the January 2021 presidential inauguration, though, which is correct!

And yes: we look forward to it.

Friday/ the tulips are out

Friday was a beautiful sunny day in the city (66 °F/ 19 °C).
I finally see tulips blooming here in my neighborhood .. Seattle’s chilly winter weather meant that flowers, especially ones from bulbs like tulips and daffodils, are blooming a bit later than in past years.

Bright red tulips here on my block.

My Japanese maple is budding with beautiful colors in its new leaves.


Sunday/ Amazon construction update

The city of Seattle had a decent Sunday (with sun!), and I used the opportunity to go check out the progress on the Amazon biospheres.   There is also a third Amazon tower building for which construction had started in the fall of 2016, with its completion scheduled for some time in 2018.

The three biospheres all have complete outer shells, but there is still work needed on the inside. What must surely be the city’s smallest dog park, is in the lower right of the picture : an enclosure barely bigger than my sitting room. Just behind the white containers on the left of the picture, is the foundation of Amazon Tower III, slated for completion in 2018.

Here is an artistic rendering of the three Amazon Towers. From left to right : Amazon I is the set of buildings with the red & green; Amazon II is the blue one to the right of the biospheres, and Tower III is the one on the far right, still under construction (37 floors). © Magnusson Klemencic Associates

This is the view on the north-facing side of Amazon II. There is an Amazon Go grocery concept store* on the far corner (where the yellow paneling ends) – but the store is not yet open to the public. *There are no check-out lines. The store uses technology to detect when a shopper takes an item from the shelf, and then syncs the data to the shopper’s smart phone.

Tuesday/ Bertha sees daylight

Yay! The tunnel boring machine called Bertha, digging the State Route 99 tunnel under the city to replace Seattle’s Alaskan Way Viaduct, emerged today into the sunlight.  The tunnel is 1.7 miles (2.7 km) long.  Digging started four years ago in April 2013, but came to a halt in December 2013 when damage to the the main bearing was sustained.  It would be two years, until December 2015, before digging could resume.

So .. now the tunnel is dug, but it will still take until early 2019 before the current above-ground section of State Route 99 can be moved below ground, by using the tunnel.

The moment the tunneling machine broke into the end wall. What happens next? Well, the braces in the disassembly pit will be removed, the tunneling machine pushed forward so that the cutter head can be removed. then the rest of the machine will be taken back through the tunnel to the starting point. (The crane that can lift the very heavy machinery, is located).

Sunday/ Puget Sound low tide

We had some sun on Sunday, and even though it was not warm! (50 °F/ 10 °C), it was still nice to get outside.  My friends Bill & Dave and I took their dogs to the beach at the edge of Puget Sound between Golden Gardens, and Carkeek Park.

1. The main picture shows the edge of Puget Sound looking southwest, more or less where the bubble no 10 is on the map.   2.  I’m no crap expert, but I think this is a dungeness crab we ran into on the beach.   3.  Just out of curiosity, I looked up the rules for catching crab on the Washington State Dept of Fisheries and Wildlife.  When the season is open, there is a limit of 5 adult males.  (For area 10 the season is closed right now).

Saturday/ (I don’t like) April Fools’ Day

It turns out ‘fake news’ goes back a long way – in the case of fake news regarding the collapse of the Space Needle, all the way back to April Fools’ Day in 1989.   Local TV station King5 reports that an April Fools’ Day joke that year, was taken as seriously real news, in spite of a bold ‘APRIL FOOLS DAY’ caption on the fake picture that was aired.   So many people called 911 that the local 911 system was shut down.  The story made national headlines, and jokesters John Keister and Steve Wilson that put the footage together (including a hysterical ‘eyewitness’) had to apologize on air.

Fake news from April 1, 1989 : that the Space Needle had collapsed. (No such thing happened).

Wednesday/ can confirm: sun in Seattle

This February and March have been the wettest in at least a century here in the Pacific Northwest.  So when the sun came out today, our local TV station tweeted this tongue-in-cheek picture of a sun-lit downtown Seattle.  And as I walked into my kitchen late afternoon to start with dinner, I thought Whoah! The sun is so bright!

Thursday/ lots of rain

We have has a lot of rain (in addition to the snow), this February in the Seattle area.
From the Seattle Times : With 7.84 inches of rain for the month by 6 a.m. Thursday, February is the sixth-wettest. Wednesday was a record-setter all by itself, with 1.63 inches of rain, drowning the daily record of 0.94 inches set in 1970.
At this rate, all Seattle needs is an additional 1.28 inches to float right to the top, breaking the record for the month set in 1961, said Dustin Guy, meteorologist for the National Weather Service in Seattle.

The rain had stopped and it was a beautiful day outside on Thursday, with the air scrubbed clean from the rain, and mild temperatures ( 52 °F/ 11°C).

Check out this interesting map showing the ‘rain shadow’ here in Puget Sound. The Olympic Mountains on the Olympic Peninsula form a barrier against the moist air and precipitation that comes in from a south westerly direction from Hawaii. In some places none of the rain make it to the other side of the peninsula. I guess here in the city we’re a little in between. We get some of the rain but not nearly as much as the Olympic Peninsula.

Monday/ Mr Blue Sky

The snow stopped early afternoon on Monday, and Mr Blue Sky* came out.  I scraped the steps and the path to my front door clean, if only for the mailman that comes up to the mail box on the porch (to fill it with junk mail every day).

*A reference to the 1977 song from Electric Light Orchestra

Hey – I see blue sky from my front porch. The temperature warmed up just enough this afternoon to melt the thin layer of snow and ice left on the clean-scraped sections of the path and sidewalk. The rest of the snow will melt in the next two or three days, I think.