I like this tweet .. (Hurry up with that investigation into the collusion with Russia, Mr Mueller. There are so many reasons to impeach this President, but Russia is at the top of the list).
.. and this one. “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin or his background or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love. For love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.” – Nelson Mandela
It was really extraordinary today, to see the President of the United States shouting ‘
Excuse me, excuse me!’ repeatedly, every time as the press corps erupted with questions, while he went on and on with outrageous statements, challenges and insults (‘i like to have the facts’, ‘fake news’, ‘dishonest’).
He reiterated what he said on Saturday, blaming ‘both sides’ for the violence in Charlottesville (after he cleaned up some of it on Monday).
From today’s on-line edition of the New York Times.
Seafair weekend here in the city, a tradition since 1950 : air shows over Lake Washington, a hydroplane race, and warships at the waterfront that are open to visitors. So we went on down to the waterfront to check out the USS Michael Murphy there.
The USS Michael Murphy is an Arleigh Burke class destroyer with guided missiles, heavy artillery guns and up to three helicopters. (Seattle to Bainbridge ferry in the background). She was named in honor of Navy SEAL Lt. Michael Murphy, posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor for his heroic actions in Afghanistan on June 28, 2005. The USS Michael Murphy was commissioned in Oct 2012. The ship is ‘dressed up’ for display, with the colorful flags and pennants from the bow to the main tower and back to the stern. At sea, the flags and pennants can be used one at a time, or in combinations to send visual messages to other ships or aircraft.
This is inside one of the helicopter bays. Everyone on the ship is a firefighter. Any sailor must be able to get fully dressed in two minutes, and at the fire in five. Everything stowed on the racks is tied down, of course.
The view from the bow to the main tower. The radar equipment is behind those light patches. The main gun with the bronze cap is a MK 45 5-inch 62 caliber gun (inset picture shows it firing). The square hatches on the deck right behind the gun is where the guided missiles will come out, vertically, until it is far enough from the ship to start honing in on their targets.
This is the quarterdeck, where visitors first set foot on the ship, and are signed in to the visitor’s log (at the back). The four posts on the corners of the colorful mat, are partly made of empty shells from the 5-inch gun.
We were handed out this little pamphlet that highlights Washington State’s naval history.
We took a leisurely drive up to Port Townsend on Thursday, with stops at Nordland and Fort Flagler Historical State Park.
Nordland on Marrow Island has a great general store, with canned products from Cape Cleare, Alaska. Fort Flagler was a United States Army fort at the northern end of Marrowstone Island, established in 1897 and closed in 1953. Check out the sign on the fence that says ‘Falling can be deadly’. There’s a 50 ft sheer drop on the other side of it. (Change to ‘Falling will kill you?). Ft Flagler was home to the Seattle Youth Symphony’s Pacific Northwest Music Camp from 1958 to 1989. Today it is open for visitors and has a campground. The Port Townsend ferry is arriving from Coupeville on Whidbey Island. Haller fountain was dedicated in 1906, and Galatea the Greek sea nymph, was added in 1922.
This sharp-eyed bald eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) was sitting on a drainage pipe sticking out from a cliff at Fort Flagler. The bald eagles is the national bird of the United States, appearing on most official seals of the U.S. government. They live to about 20 years old.
Here’s the Jefferson County Courthouse in Port Townsend. The Romanesque style courthouse was designed by Seattle architect W. A. Ritchie. The Roman numerals on the base of the clock tower reads ‘MDCCCXC’, indicating that the building was constructed in 1890.
Here’s the Hastings building on 833 Water Street, constructed in 1889. It was funded by Lucinda Bingham Hastings (1826-1894), the widow of Loren Brown Hastings (1814-1881), a local dry goods merchant, turned to real estate investment after her husband’s death.
This bell tower dates back to 1890 and was in service for 50 years. It is a 75-ft tall wooden structure with a 1,500 lb bell (just visible in the top). It is the last such remaining structure of its kind in the United States (it was repaired in 2003). The original brass bell was made to ring in designated patterns that indicated the location of a fire in the city. The patterns were generated by electrical signals sent to the tower from signal boxes throughout the city.
I have always loved postage stamps, for the miniature works of art that they are.
Here is a sample of my new favorites that I found browsing around on the Dutch website postbeeld.com.
Stamp set from the Netherlands celebrating favorite Dutch foods and treats. I see the city Utrecht (in the province of Utrecht) is very unhappy, though : the set omitted the region’s very popular Vockingworst, a ground liver sausage named after its inventor, and a favorite since 1891.
‘Birthday Party’ .. new 2017 stamps from Austria.
Koala (Australian Dollar AUD 1.15), red kangaroo (Swiss Frank CHF 2.00) and emu (Euro EUR 1.70) on new United Nations commemorative stamps issued in Australia in March. Very unusual for a set of stamps to have different currency denominations. I guess you have to make sure your stamp matches your sending country!
Churfirsten is a mountain range in the Canton of St. Gallen, Switzerland. The range has a limestone ridge running east to west, with the individual peaks formed by erosion. Seven peaks in the range are listed on the right. I can more or less (but not exactly) tell which the seven peaks are, going from left to right.
And here is a pair of stamps from Namibia, one of a rabbit (a wabbit, as Elmer Fudd would say), and a hare. Hares are usually larger than rabbits, with longer hind legs and longer ears.
(These images from usps.com). Finally, since it’s the first day of summer here in the north AND there is a total solar eclipse in the making for the continental United States, the USPS issued solar eclipse stamps that are printed in thermochromic ink, which means they will react to touch (the black will turn to an image of the moon, and revert back to black afterwards. How cool is that?). Of course, now I have to have these, so that I can test them with my grubby hands for myself!
The annual Fremont Summer Solstice Parade took place today, in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. Summer solstice in the Northern Hemisphere will be at 9:24 PM Pacific Time on Tuesday, June 20.
It was overcast for most of the day and so the sun wasn’t really out in full force, but hey! we know it’s there, right? Here are pictures that I took today, of the parade.
The start of the parade with the friendly sun ‘trademark’ of the Fremont Arts Council that organize the parade every year.
Look! Naked people on bicycles! The naked cyclists provide titillation for the crowds before the parade actually starts. Each year there are LOTS of cyclists, maybe a hundred or so.
Lots of sun balloons, fittingly filled with helium gas. Helium is named after the Greek god of the sun, Helios.
The Fremont bridge was closed for the duration of the parade. The bridge is a double-leaf bascule bridge that spans the Fremont Cut in Seattle, and it is actually 100 years old this year.
The giant earth balloon is a mainstay of the parade, and comes out every year. I hope it does not get too heavy for the earth-bearers by the end of the parade!
Nice hats, ladies!
A mythical sun-lizard or a sun-dragon? No motorized vehicles are allowed in the parade; it is pedal power only.
The band provided some lively marching music, with the rainbow sheaths on the trumpets a nice touch.
The Eiffel Tower (representing the Paris Climate Accord), with ‘President Trump’ fighting off the pesky ‘clean energy’ teaser with his golf club.
Here’s another President Trump, drawn by a ‘Secret Service’ agent. Some on-lookers could not resist the pink pillows, and went for it, kicking President Trump in the ‘rear’.
A beautiful parader – and a handsome man, with a red ‘lobster eye’ headband, is that what it is? 🙂 next to her – adding to the festivity with stilts, gold and red pom-poms.
Today’s drive up from Astoria to Hansville, and then driving down to Bainbridge Island for the ferry back to Seattle.
Theses elk (also called Wapiti, one of the largest in the deer family) are part of a herd in the coastal town of Gearhart. They occasionally go into the surf, and even venture onto the streets in the town.
An old art deco theater in Gearhart, now made into shops and game arcades. The gold pick-up truck supports the Seattle Seahawks (NFL football), even though the plates are from Oregon!
Here is the beach at Cannon Beach, at sunset on Wednesday. A beach-goer has a little fire going in the foreground, and Cannon Beach is famous for the giant rocks in the shallow waters.
We spotted these futuristic Tesla superchargers in a parking lot in Seaside. This station has 20 chargers, each operating at 480 volt and about 100 A of current, to provide a charge good for up to 170 miles of range in as little as 30 minutes.
Thursday morning and we are looking for a good breakfast place. We got a little wet, and ended up going back to the Pig ‘n Pancake. The smaller places all seemed full of people, and understaffed.
A final look at the Astoria-Megler bridge on the way back. We waited a little bit to cross since one lane is closed due to the maintenance work on the bridge (where the white wrap is, on the bridge pylon).
We made our way back today, with steady rain almost all the way from Astoria to Hansville, and Seattle.
By late night a good inch of rain had been measured in the city of Seattle – quite a lot for one day in June (on average, 1.6 inches falls for all of June).
Here are pictures from Wednesday night in Oregon and from Thursday.
The drive time down to Astoria is slightly less than 4 hrs. We made stops in Shelton and on the Washington State side of the Astoria-Megler bridge, which added to the travel time.
This mural is off the main street in Shelton, a town on one of the south-western extremes of Puget Sound. It is a nod to the times when timber was transported by steam locomotives. The town still have lumber yards, but these days the transportation is done mostly by trucks.
A rain-coated boatsman outside an antique store in Shelton. Shelton gets a LOT of rain, some 62 inches per year.
This is on the Astoria–Megler Bridge: a steel cantilever-through-truss bridge that spans the Columbia River between Astoria, Oregon and Point Ellice near Megler, Washington. Construction was completed in 1966. The road surface and sidewalks are being renovated right now, and there was a short stop on the bridge. (Don’t worry, I’m in the passenger seat!).
Here’s a view from the Astoria Riverwalk, on the old wooden piers just east of the bridge. So the Pacific Ocean lies in the distance, on the other side of a bluff in the distance.
The Wet Dog Cafe Brewery is where we had a beer and something to eat. It is near Pier 11 on the Astoria Riverwalk. There is a trolley (really a train) that runs along the waterfront between 12 noon and 6 pm.
The beautiful John Jacob Astor Hotel building in downtown Astoria. Originally built in 1923, it was renovated in 1986 with 66 apartments of subsidized housing. Businesses moved into the lower floors.
The Museum of Whimsey is an art museum housed in a historic 1925 bank building that had been renovated.
Hey! Nice to see some gay pride celebration lamppost signs. I see we just missed the parade though : it was this past weekend.
We made it to Astoria with a stop or two along the way (Shelton, Dismal Nitch. There was some rain on the way here, but later in the day it cleared up.
The Astoria column was built in 1926 on Coxcomb Hill in Astoria, financed by Great Northern Railway. The 125-foot (38 m)-tall column has a 164-step spiral staircase case to the small observation deck at the top.
We arrived early enough to check into the motel, and to walk around the waterfront and downtown Astoria.
I love the bobbing buoy on the little Buoy Beer Co. truck. Pronunciation note: In South Africa we say ‘boi’ but I learned that in the USA we say ‘boo-ē’.
A map of the ship channel (dredged waterway) in the mouth of the Columbia river. There are pairs of buoys in the water and on land at different elevations, that should line up when looked at from the ship, to confirm that the vessel is in the shipping canal.
This is artwork at a little plaza that is dedicated to immigrants in downtown Astoria.
These murals are on old warehouses on the Astoria waterfront, a nod to times long gone now, from the last century.
Some of the trash cans downtown are decorated with the seafood cannery labels from long ago.
Seattle downtown’s construction frenzy shows no sign of slowing down, with 68 projects counted this spring.
Here are a few pictures from my walkabout in downtown on Sunday afternoon.
These new glass and steel buildings are in the Denny triangle. I’m looking toward Stewart Street. The tall wedge-shaped building is the Kinects Tower, slated for completion in July; 40 stories with 357 apartments. The shorter building with its tower at the back is the Tilt49 building. Those are offices in the front, with a 36-story, 368 apartment building at the back.
Close by, construction is starting on an extension of Seattle Children’s Hospital research facility, scheduled for opening in 2019.
Here’s another completed apartment tower, this one 39 stories tall, the Cirrus Tower. One bedroom apartment rentals start at $2,500 per month. Right in front of me is the construction site of Amazon III, which will be 38 stories tall when completed at the end of 2018.
(This is not a new building, but I like it). The two-story Washington Talking Book and Braille Library (WTBBL, pronounce Wuh-tah’-bull) is housed in a 1948 building in the Streamline Moderne style (a late type of the Art Deco architecture). The building started out as an auto dealership that sold Dodge and Plymouth vehicles. WTBBL moved into the building in 1983.
Bryan and I went out to Bainbridge Island on Saturday. We spotted the new Chimakum ferry at the Seattle Waterfront. The ferry will run on the Seattle-Bremerton route.
Washington State Ferries operates the largest ferry system in the United States. It runs ten routes serving 20 terminals located around Puget Sound and in the San Juan Islands. The agency maintains 22 vessels, carrying 24.2 million passengers in 2016.
The newest Washington state ferry, Chimacum, joined the fleet on Friday, April 7. It is the third Olympic Class ferry and can carry 144 cars and 1,500 passengers. The name Chimacum (CHIM-a-cum), honors the Chemakum tribe’s gathering place, which is now the present day town of Chimacum near Port Townsend.
This is a departure picture from the ferry Tacoma, on our way to Bainbridge Island. Look for a new building called The Mark in the background, just left of the tall black Columbia Tower, now nearing completion.
The view of the Seattle downtown skyline from way back. The cruise season is just getting started. There is a Holland America cruise ship just to the right of the Space Needle getting ready to set sail for Alaska.
Well, I made it to Bern after all, on my last day. My visit really was too short to check into any of the museums – including Einstein’s old house. (Reviewers on-line rate it so-so, though). Also, my stop at the Swiss Mint was disappointing : there is no store on site; they only have an on-line store. But hey – now I know what the city looks like up close, and what to come back for at another time!
Here’s the route to Bern. The city does not have a lake on its doorstep, but the Aare river flows in a wide loop around the old city of Bern.
We arrived on Platform 5 at 12.30 pm. The train is headed for Geneva. It’s darker here (than on other stations) because of the low ceilings.
The main station facade is steel and glass : very nice. The connecting street car and bus lines are at designated ‘Platforms’ A through at least X, and these are on the street corners outside the station building. It took me a little time to realize that !
Just a cute sparrow on one of the old city’s fountains. (There are house sparrows and Old World sparrows and others. This fellow must be an Old World sparrow! since Bern is part of the Old World).
Here’s a view of the Aare river from the biggest bridge across it, the one for Kirchenfeldstrasse. The city wall on the left is very old, and part of Bern that had been declared a UNESCO World Heritage site. The city was founded in 1191, and still has a lot of medieval architecture.
This is the view on top of the bridge on Kirchenfeldstrasse. The building straight ahead with the red roof is a casino. The street cars (trams) all look like the one in the picture .. but some routes are covered by buses, not street cars.
Here is the Swiss Parliament Building, called the Bundeshaus. Its construction was completed in 1902.
This is the beautiful main entrance of the Bernisches Historisches Museum. I did not go inside. Next time.
This is a high school, the Gymnasium Kirchenfeld, built in 1926 in neo-classic style. (Man. My high school did not look like this. I hope the kids are on a break, and that they will pay attention when they go back inside!).
My time in Switzerland is running out, and this morning I thought :
you cannot leave here and not see a little of the Swiss Alps!
What to do? Luckily, I ran into a great tip on-line, as for how to go about it when in Zurich, to get to the mountains (and that’s what I did) –
1. Take the train from Zürich to Arth-Goldau.
2. Take the Mt Rigi cogwheel train* up the mountain to the top.
3. Take in the scenery (and of course: take pictures).
4. Take the cogwheel train down to Vitznau.
5. Take a boat to Lucerne.
6. Walk around in Altstadt Lucerne.
7. Take the train back to Zürich.
website : ‘No other mountain railway in the Alps has a longer history than this one. The Vitznau – Rigi Kulm cogwheel railway opened in 1871, making it Europe’s first mountain railway. The journey was, and still is, an experience in itself’.
Here’s a great map that explains the route. This morning, the train from Züurich went to Zug (top left), and then on to Goldau (top right). Then I walked to the Rigi cogwheel rail network, and went Kräbel-Rigi Klösterli-Rigi Staffel- Rigi Kulm. On the way down, we went to Vitznau, to take the boat to Lucerne. (It made several shoreline stops along the way there). The Swiss Railway sells all of this in one combined ticket, completed with the little boat to indicate which part is on water! (Price : S.Fr. 131, about US$130).
Here’s the scene in Goldau, the little town at the foot of the mountain where one takes the Rigi cogwheel train.
This the Rigi Kulm at the top of the mountain. It’s quite an engineering feat, to carve out a track that steep, and build an electrified mountainside railway system to drive a set of train cars up some 1,000 m to the top (3,000 ft). It’s a little difficult to see in this picture, but there is a single geared track line in between the two regular, smooth tracks, that cogwheel gears on the train cars fit into.
The last part is a 5 minute walk to the very top where the antenna tower is. This cute sign indicates that there is a steep way for the young ones (young’uns), and an easier way for the older folks! (The people in the picture are taking the steep route. It’s easy! It’s paved, and almost all the snow has melted. The ski season ended March 12).
Here’s Swisscom’s radio and TV antenna at the top of the mountain. It’s 96 m (314 ft) high, and the bottom part of the antenna pole is 3.6 m (11.8 ft) in diameter. The tower was built in two years and started operating in 1998.
Here’s Zugsee (Lake Zug). The town on the left of the picture is Zug.
A more dramatic view, looking out east from Zug. I will update this text to point out what those peaks at the top right are! Each one has a name. (I have to match my picture with a profile on one of the display boards!).
Our passenger ferry boat’s name was Gotthard (the name of the town at the start of the Gotthard Base Tunnel). We have just stepped off the boat after its arrival at the quayside in Lucerne.
I did make it out to Basel today, but stayed only for four hours or so, using the street cars to get around to where I wanted to go. Basel is a stone’s throw away from Germany, and from France. I heard a lot of French on the street cars.
Here’s the route to Basel, from Oerlikon station in the north of Zurich. That’s the train on the inset picture, and the platform sign says we depart at 10.01 am for the Swiss Federal Railway Station at Basel; the 1’s and 2’s indicate the cars with 1st class & 2nd class seating, and which sections on the platform they will stop at. The train only stops for a minute or two! Do NOT be a whole 5 minutes away from where you need to be, when that train comes in and stops!
Here’s the main entrance of Basel SBB railway station. It has operated since 1854 but was rebuilt in 1860 and again in 1907, with another major upgrade in 2003.
This is Marktplatz with its eye-catching red Town Hall (Rathaus).
The little plaza inside the the town hall. The inscription in the middle at the bottom reads ‘Freiheit is über silver und gold’ – (The value of) Freedom is more than that of silver and gold.
The Les Trios Rois (The Three Kings) hotel with the symbol of basel on the left : a black crosier (a hooked staff carried by a bishop as a symbol of pastoral office).
Here’s the mighty Rhine River that flows through Basel. I am standing on the Mittlere Brücke (Middle Bridge). The south is to my left and north is to my right. Germany is just a few miles away to the north. Also, as I’m looking west, and can probably see some of France in the distance.
This is Spalenvorstadt (Spalen suburb) with Spalentor (the Gate of Spalen) at the end of the street. The gate was part of the ancient city walls of Basel, dating back to the 1400s.
Here’s Spalentor from the other side.
Here’s another ancient city gate; this one is called The Gate of Saint Alban. The gate was originally constricted in 1230, but mostly destroyed by an earthquake in 1356. Reconstruction was completed in 1374. The gate even survived a planned demolition 1869.
These buildings line Barfüsserplatz. I took the picture from the steps of the Barfüsserkirche (Barfüsser church).
The Elisabethenkirche (church) was built from 1857–1864, and is the best known neo- Gothic building in Switzerland (Source: Wikipedia).
I did my short round cruise on
Zürichsee* today. It was nice enough .. no fairy-tale castles to behold from the lake, just the Lindt & Sprüngli Chocolate Factory. The other highlight of my day (believe it or not, and don’t laugh) was my visit to the Zürich main post office. I had to stop myself from buying one each of all the beautiful stamps they had for sale.
*German for Lake Zürich – and
meer is actually sea! Here is a little table.
Zürichsee Lake Zurich
Rotes Meer Red Sea
Atlantischer Ozean Atlantic Ocean
Golf von Mexiko Gulf of Mexico
Here’s our 300-person passenger ferry Uetliberg, named for a mountain near Zürich. The vessel is 42m (138 ft) long and 7 m (23 ft) wide and has been in service since 1999.
The inset shows our 1h 40 min circular trip at the top of the Lake. Some really nice houses are visible from the water. It was a beautiful day, but it’s still very early in the season so only a few paddleboarders, kayakers and sailboats were around.
I hopped off at the last stop in the boat cruise, at Willishofen, where I found this giant Lindt Milk Chocolate Gold Bunny at a gas station with a superette. Stores have tiny, regular and giant 1 kg Lindt chocolate bunnies for sale (the 1 kg ones go for SFr. 50 / US$50).
Here’s the Zurich Main Post Office building on Kasernenstrasse 97 ..
.. with fine old mosaic tiles on the bottom entrances still intact. But take a look at the blue and red letters visible in the lobby inside. Google has set up shop in the building as well.
Here’s my little set of Swiss stamps I bought – just for fun. The bicycle stamps celebrate the 200 year anniversary of the invention of the bicycle (in 1817 by the German Baron Karl von Drais). The flower and butterfly stamps feature a fine laser-cut perforation so that the exact shapes can stay intact. In the middle is a set of three stamps that gives a nod to the Gotthard Base Tunnel for which construction was completed in 2016.
This is just a cute jewelry store window display, for jewelry for kids (note that mom or dad would have to be prepared to splurge several hundred SFr.). The display has it all though : castle, princess in distress, knight in shiny armor and the dragon (the dragon looks a little sad – aw).
1 (and I) have had sunny, spring-y weather since Tuesday (but I see our luck is going to run out on Saturday, with a cold front that will bring rain as well). I plan to go on a quicky boat cruise on Lake Zürich tomorrow. Today I took a break from walking all over the city, and – among other things – took care of some laundry at a laundromat on the northern outskirts of the city. The streets are quiet there and it was nice to get away from the all the people in Old Town. (It’s actually not too crowded just yet. I’m sure once summer is here, there will be five times more people).
1A person from Zürich/ that lives in Zürich
Here’s my post-card picture of the Zurich skyline from Wednesday night. This is looking north while on the bridge at Burkliplatz.
Newsboard inside Zurich Main Station. It’s 6.40 pm and the temperature outside is still a decent 12°C/ 54°F, down from a high of 18°C/ 64°F (Zurich is in the north on the map).
Also at Zurich Main Station, this worker made some heads turn while he was wheeling around this display case marionette.
I finally studied my Zurich street car (tram) map properly – so that I did not have to log 7 miles of walking again on Wednesday! The day’s ‘mission’ also was to get a full set of Swiss Franc coins (I love shiny coins), and just to track down a few other places I could not get to on Tuesday.
This is a little square called Paradeplatz. The building on the left is filled with Credit Suisse offices, and the building on the right has a Hermes store at the ground floor, and a beautiful golden balcony rail at the top.
Here’s the entrance to the Swiss National Bank building. They did not sell Swiss coin sets (and the Swiss Mint is in Bern), but the teller was nice enough to change my 20 Franc note into relatively new coins of each denomination.
Here’s a few Swiss Franc banknotes and the Swiss Franc coins. The Swiss Franc (SFr.) is just about on par with the US dollar, in value. There is also a SFr. 200 and SFr. 1,000 note. (Would love to get my grubby paws on a stash of SFr. 1,000s to admire! – but my last name is not Rockefeller). The SFr. 50 bill is new, the first of the 9th series of Swiss notes, and said to be the world’s most secure note, with 18 security features. There is no Swiss ‘penny’. (Should the US Federal Reserve take notes? Do away with the US penny, and maybe with the US dollar note as well?).
There seems to be a chocolate store on every block in the city of Zurich. This one sells a dozen different kinds of ‘schokolade spröde’ (chocolate sheets). The light brown one in the middle has almonds in.
Can life get possibly any sweeter than this little tray of chocolate, custard and jam cookies? This is from the fancy Jelmoli department store on Bahnhofstrasse.
The museum for the day that I wanted to go to was the Museum für Gestaltung (Museum of Design), but it unfortunately it was closed for renovation until May. These posters are from the little park across from the Museum.
All the street cars (trams) I have seen here in Zurich look like these ones .. two to four cars are connected, and they come by every 10 minutes. Motor cars seem to stay mostly out of the tram lanes, but on occasion they do use it.