grandson mason

grandson mason

grandson jaxson

grandson jaxson

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

20-30JUN10 - Monroe, WA

23JUN we headed into Seattle for lunch at Salumi Salami (say that three times fast). Why drive all the way into Seattle on a weekday just for lunch? Because Salumi’s is a gastronomic destination for foodies from all over the world; & only open Tuesday to Friday, from 1100 to 1500. Turns out Salumi is owned by the father of Mario Batali (an Iron Chef on the Food TV Network). Mr Batali is a retired Boeing engineer, who decided to start a 2nd career in retirement. He went to Italy & studied traditional sausage making, came back to Seattle & opened a small shop (by small, we mean indoor seating for 12!).

So now the line for his sandwiches & salamis starts forming shortly after 1000, & grows longer thru the day. We found parking for the Toad & walked over to Salumi’s to read the menu posted on the window to see what the choices were. By doing that, we immediately had people forming up behind us to start the line! End result was we were unintentionally the first in line. Also, turns out that all the indoor seating was reserved for Chef Anthony Bourdain (from the Travel Channel) & friends. Bourdain is one of Corrie’s least favorite TV personalities, & this is the 2nd time she has run into him in our travels!

Corrie ordered a Salumi salami sandwich, Dan ordered a Salumi sausage sandwich, & we got a pound of Salumi smoked paprika salami for home. We then headed to Waterfall Park for a great outdoor lunch in Seattle’s smallest park. The park was the original location of the American Messenger Service at 2nd & Main. The park was built & donated by the company in honor of Claude Ryan & Jim Casey who started the company over a century ago. As we left the park Dan noticed a large group of individuals sitting on chairs in an alley, watching a giant screen TV. Turns out this was a temporary set up for the World Cup called “World Cup Alley”, sponsored by the Alley Art Organization of Seattle.

Trivia – what is American Messenger Service called today?

Since we had some time left on the meter, we walked about Occidental Park & the surrounding shops before heading out on a photo exploration of eccentric sites around Seattle. First stop was the “Hat & Boots”. Opened in 1954 as a Texaco station; after closing as a gas station, they have been moved to a playground & are being restored. The Hat was where the station attendant sat, & the Boots were the restrooms.

Next was the “Spite House”. In the 1920s there was a nasty divorce. The judge awarded one of the spouses the house and the other the front yard. Perhaps he thought a sale would bring the two back together? Alas, twas not to be. The spouse with the yard took the property and built a house on it to spite the other. From the front the Spite House looks perfectly ordinary, if a little old- fashioned (stucco siding, tiled roof). It's the side dimensions that make it unique. The north end is only ten feet wide, the south only five feet wide.

We then took off in search of Seattle’s Toe (note spelling) Trucks. The toe trucks are owned by Lincoln Towing, which we did find. Corrie went in to talk to someone about where were the toe trucks? The left foot truck is in the State Museum of History & Industry; one of Dan’s favorite museums as a kid & somewhere he plans on re-visiting. Lincoln Towing still has the right foot truck & uses it for parades & other events. Unfortunately, it was in the shop for service.
26-30JUN Dan was in Pueblo, CO, for another consulting job. As usual he spent his free evenings in search of “roadfood” establishments in the local area. This time he discovered “sloppers” at Gray’s Coors Tavern. A slopper is one half of a toasted hamburger bun, topped with a cheeseburger, chopped onions, chopped tomatoes, & smothered in green or red chili, served in a bowl. It was ok, but what Dan found interesting was the history of the Tavern. Dan wondered how a Tavern could use the trademarked name of Coors in their name? Turns out the Coors Brewing Co at one time decided to open taverns selling only Coors’ products. This was a very common practice in Europe, where brewers owned their own pubs or gasthouses. There were only a few Coors establishments, & Gray’s is the last surviving one.

Trivia – what is a taxi dancer?

Saturday, June 26, 2010

18/19JUN10 - Fremont, WA (aka center of the universe)

Friday afternoon we returned to our RV spot at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds in Monroe, WA. Early Saturday morning, 19JUN, we took off to the Fremont neighborhood of Seattle, for the Fremont Solstice Fair & Parade. See our BLOG from two years ago for a little background on Fremont (aka Center of the Universe).

You may also want to check out the 1994 King County resolution, in which the last paragraph states:

The Artistic Republic of Fremont is hereby declared, decreed, and determined to be an Independent ImagiNation and a Mecca for those of independent minds and spirits, and is forever and fervently empowered with all the rights and privileges thereto accruing. Further, the Metropolitan King County Council plainly postulates and proclaims Fremont to be Center of the Universe, indeed, and hereby supports Fremont in its gallant endeavors to apply to the United Nations for sovereign status under international law.

Anyway the Fair & Parade are in celebration of the Summer Solstice, & we would describe them as equal parts NW hippy counter culture; French Quarter “Laissez les bon temps rouler”; & San Francisco Castro District. The street Fair has over 300 shopping booths, beer gardens, live music, an ecozone, Art Cars, street performers, & eccentric general oddities. Since the Parade didn’t start until noon we checked out the Street Fair, & a large gathering of Art Cars.

Did we tell you (or did you know) that the Parade starts with nude bicyclists??? That’s right several hundred humans of all differed shapes & sizes, in body paint, & on bikes, kick off the parade. We knew it was coming, but we figured a couple of dozen at most, boy were we wrong. From the anorexic to the obese; from the ripped to the saggy; hundreds ride their bikes not just once by you, but three times! Some of these individuals spend the rest of day wandering around Fremont dressed only in their body paint.

Then as you are standing there recovering from the bicycle parade, several clothed volunteers pass out large sticks of chalk & everyone is encouraged to enter the street & draw. Soon the entire parade route is full of children & adults drawing away.

After about 45 minutes the parade started & we were treated in no particular order to a Edderkop (Trivia - what is an edderkop?), Fremont Troll, volcano shooting stuffed animals into the air, Atheists Pirates, Pastafarians (note spelling) worshiping the Flying Spaghetti Monster, the Beatles & Yellow Submarine, Vikings hunting for Ballard, Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence, YaYa’s for TaTa’s, Forbidden Forest Bikers, & many excellent musical ensembles (samba music seemed to be the most popular).

There are opportunities throughout the Parade for “audience participation”. You can bow down to the Flying Spaghetti Monster & be blessed by His Noodly Appendages. People in red capes with white hearts called Super Huggers will give you a hug to help spread the LOVE to Seattle. There are spontaneous kick ball games during Parade stops. But our favorite was a group rolling a giant beach ball down the street. They would encourage people to run out into the middle of the street, lay down, & have the beach ball roll over them. We could do without the nude bicyclists, but the Parade was one of the best we have seen. Remember Fremont’s motto “De Libertas Quirkas” – Freedom to be Peculiar!

After six hours in the free state of Fremont it was off to Beth’s CafĂ© on Aurora Avenue, for a late lunch. Beth’s is a 24 hour greasy spoon (& we mean greasy), that has been featured on numerous food shows for their 12 egg omelets. Their wait staff is known for their tattoos & attitudes! Most wear those stick on, paper name tags with hand written expressions like “shut up”, “do you think i care?”, etc. They also will provide you with crayons & paper if you feel like being creative. The walls are covered with hundreds of these; some look like a 2 year old (or drunk) drew them, & some are excellent. Highly recommended!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

15-17JUN10 - Ashford, WA (mt rainier national park)

Tuesday, 15JUN, we decide (ie Dan decided) to head to an RV park near the Nisqually entrance to Mount Rainier National Park to sightsee & explore the park. Although the weather is forecasted to be just as bad as in Monroe, Dan’s thought is at least it will be vastly more scenic. First stop was the nearest Flying J to get propane. Unfortunately this meant driving south to Tacoma on Interstate 5, & fighting thousands of semis in the port area just to get to the Flying J. Then five miles of bumper-to-bumper traffic thru the garden spot of Spanaway (NOT!) to finally get on the scenic highway to the National Park & RV park.

After setting up camp it was off to Ashland, WA, for lunch at Whittaker’s Base Camp. Twins Jim & Lou Whittaker are world class mountaineers (Jim was the first American to summit Mt Everest) & both are Seattle institutions for training almost all Mt Rainier guides for the last forty years. As we ate lunch whenever the sun came out everyone moved their chairs outside to the sunshine, whenever the sun clouded over everyone moved back next to propane heaters.

Then it was off to Elbe, Wa, for a walkabout. There really isn’t a town of Elbe anymore; now it is old train cars alongside the highway some used for a motel, & some used for restaurants. Off to the side we discovered the small historic Evangelische Lutherische Kirche. The docent made the mistake of offering to let us ring the church bell, Corrie jumped right on the offer & rang it several times!

On the way back to the RV we discover the “Ex-Nihilo Sculpture Park” (aka Recycled Spirits of Iron) created by Dan Klennert. This is an open air art exhibit very similar to the one we stumbled across east of Marquette, MI, on 29SEP09. It was definitely intriguing & beautiful, as well as inspirational!

Wednesday morning in spite of the constant lite drizzle (or liquid sunshine as Dan calls it) we headed to the Nisqually entrance of Mount Rainier National Park in the Toad. Our first stop in the park was the Longmire Wilderness Visitor Center where the Longmire family had a “Medical Springs” resort back in the 1890s. Now there is a small museum about the Park, & the National Park Inn where we had coffee & snackies.

We then continued eastbound on the park road to Paradise with a stop to view Christine Falls. Arriving at Paradise the lite rain had turned to snow. Dan was hoping Corrie would see the alpine flowers that Rainier is famous for, but he didn’t realize they don’t come out until the snow pack is gone (ie early July, or even August)! So we toured the new Senator Henry M Jackson Visitor Center, where we viewed a great 20 minute film on the Park. Then we checked out the Paradise Inn built in early 1900s in what the Park Service calls the “rustic style”. A very beautiful building! On our return to camp on the same road, we stopped at Narada Falls to finish an excellent day.

Thursday morning, 17JUN, we got an early start so Dan could drive Forest Service Road 52 between Ashford & Packwood, WA, to re-enter the Park on the eastside at Ohanapecosh (don’t ask us how to say it). This is alternate & beautiful road that allows you to get to the east side of the park without retracing our drive of yesterday on the Park road via Longmire & Paradise.

Upon entering the park on the east side we stopped at the Ohanapecash Visitor Center & learned about the NOV06 floods & mudslides when 18 inches of rain fell in 36 hours. The flooding & slides did extensive damage to the park & roads; some of which is still be repaired. We did enjoy better weather than yesterday because we are now in “rain shadow” of Rainier.

From the Ohanapecosh we went to the “Grove of the Patriarchs” trail. (Question – why not the Grove of the Matriarchs?) The trail takes you into an area where 1000 year old cedars & firs still survive. It is not as spectacular as the redwoods or sequoias of California, but definitely stunning & worthwhile to visit!

As we traveled back westward towards Paradise & Longmire we stopped to view Falls Creek, Nickel Creek, & Box Canyon. Box Creek was an unexpected natural wonder. It is a very narrow gorge anywhere from 115 to 170 feet deep, cut by Cowlitz River out of sheer rock. We are talking no more than 10 feet wide, & rock walls that are worn smooth by the river. Unfortunately as we headed west back to Paradise we left the protection of the rain shadow & were back to mist & drizzle.

We then left the park & headed to the “official” Curator’s office for the Park. Why? Because back in 1978 Dan actually summated Mt Rainer with four friends & he remembered that he signed some sort of log book at the top for the 50% who accomplish the task out of all those that try. After asking some of the Park Rangers where one could view the old books, we finally learned of the Curator.

But first the back-story:

>>>Back in 1978 a friend & CG coworker of Dan’s, Mike Wensman, asked Dan & another friend & CG coworker, Rich Prince, if they wanted to climb Mt Rainer on 4th July weekend with Mike, his wife Pat, & brother Joe? This was probably an offer Mike still regrets to this day! Rich & Dan said yes & asked what they needed to do to get ready? Mike gave them a list of equipment they needed to rent or buy (ie climbing boots, crampons, ice ax, light weight tent, light weight sleeping bag, freeze dried food, etc, etc, etc). The intention was to take several days to hike/climb to the summit & if lucky, see the distant fireworks in Tacoma, Seattle, etc, from the top of Rainier.

>>>On the appointed day we all met in the parking lot at Paradise in the National Park & registered to climb the mountain. The Wensmans had all done this several times & at least knew what they were doing. Rich & Dan were first timers & didn’t know it, but were way out of their league. They then shouldered their packs & hiked up hill from Paradise (5400 ft) to Camp Muir (10,200 ft). At this point Dan realized this was not just a day hike!!!

>>>Camp Muir is basically the last large flat area where large groups can pitch their tents & camp before climbing to the summit. There is even a stone “lodge” full of wooden bunk beds, where the first arrivals can claim a spot for their sleeping bags. It was here that Mike & Joe tried to teach Rich & Dan what to do if they should fall on the mountain. Since we would all be tied together it is in everyone’s best interest not to fall; & if you do, know how to “arrest” yourself so you don’t pull everyone into a crevasse!!!

>>>At about 0200 in the morning the commercial guides start taking their large groups from Camp Muir straight to the top. They leave so early because the sun hasn’t loosened the snow yet (ie reduced avalanche risk), & they want everything done in one day so they can make more money. We left later at around 0400 because we were spending the night at some narrow ledge at around 12,500 ft (Dan says the term narrow is generous).

>>>Even though we only climbed 2500 ft, the reduced oxygen content was kicking Dan & Rich’s butts big time. It was during the portion of the climb when one of rookies (ie it wasn’t Dan) fell & we learned the value of knowing how to arrest one’s self. Thankfully Joe, Pat & Mike did it correctly, while Dan was trying to figure out was going on as he got jerked off his feet! As we sat there recovering from the close call, we started to get pelted by rocks & small boulders from above (ie potential avalanche!). NOTE – back then almost no one wore climbing helmets! Mike yelled that we needed get out of there NOW, & we covered the next 100 yards of vertical in a sprint.

>>>The morning of 03JUL78 we awoke to discover that Pat was suffering from severe altitude sickness. To her credit she agreed to climb to the top but not spend the night. So we left most of gear on the ledge, took day packs, & headed to the top. Dan was hoping someone would steal his gear, so he didn’t have to pack it out.

>>>We made it to the top without any incidents, but it turns out that you are not truly at the top. You then have hike across the bowl to the other side to stand on the true top at Columbia Crest (14,410 ft). Since all the Wensmans had done this several times before, they decided to take a break & wait for Rich & Dan to hike across to the true summit (if they wanted to).

>>>So Dan & Rich hiked over to the true crest, where there was a log book to write your thoughts on the accomplishment. Dan made an entry in the log book, then pulled his favorite Rainier ball cap out of his day back & donned it, & then he reached into his day back & pulled out a 16 ounce can of Rainier beer! So somewhere in our photo albums in storage is a picture of Dan on top of Mount Rainier, wearing a Rainier beer ball cap, & enjoying 16 ounces of mountain freshness! (see previous BLOG entry for Dan’s affinity for Rainier Beer & its mountain freshness)

Anyway, we found the Curator’s office & discovered the log books are in the National Archives, but the Park “curator” had microfiche copies. Turns out the microfiche records had been made over ten years ago, somewhat in a “hurry” & the cross reference system wasn’t the best. Dan couldn’t remember if the year was 78 or 79, but the Curator found 78 first. Dan scanned through 2JUL to 4JUL with no luck, but remembered that the Curator said to check out several days on either side, because the pages were not always scanned in chronological order. So as he backtracked into June there it was his entry for 03JUL! His entry said:

“3 July 78 – Beautiful weather, hard climb. First time, I don’t think I will let myself be talked into this again, but well worth the effort.”

Funny thing is Dan listed everyone in the climbing party correctly, but called Rich Prince, Rick Prince? Must have been the altitude, he is sure it couldn’t have been the beer!

That night we had an excellent dinner at the Copper Creek Inn; where they specialize in dishes sauced in blackberries, not to mention fresh blackberry pie!

It was a great three days, even though we never saw Mount Rainier! Remember as Mickey Rooney said when confronting the elusive wild MFR – Pop its top! Pop its top!