Saturday, October 29, 2011

Seattle Public Library

We headed downtown to check out the main branch of the Seattle Public Library. We had seen that it was quite an amazing feat in a very cool TED Talk (video below).

The library was built in the manner of form follows function, an apparent oddity in the architectural world (which from an engineering prospective is mind blowing). It was designed through a collaborative effort of architects and engineers with the goal of enduring practicality as the future importance of the book as a form of media is unknown!

Watch the first 9.5 minutes of the video to learn all about it. If your getting bored, skip to the 2.5 minute mark and watch through minute 9.5, where they show you the library. I recommend the whole video though.

(Click the "Full Screen" button in the bottom right corner, so you can actually see the video)

In a unique, but no-brainer fashion, the Dewey Decimal system is arranged linearly, and then coiled into a spiral to fit inside the building! It is really very fascinating when you think of how the simplicity of this idea has eluded us for so long!

The library was beautiful and I am considering going there to do some work sometime.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Indoor Climbing

Our friends Michelle and Derek took us to an indoor climbing gym. They have been climbing for a while and actually met at a climbing gym and are now engaged. We have never been climbing, and we thought it would be great to give it a try. Needless to say it was awesome. It is interesting how climbing makes you sore in the strangest places: fingers, hands, forearms, and back. We have achy muscles in places where we didn’t even know we have muscles, but it was really fun, and clearly something we would like to get into. 

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Wild Mushroom Show

We saw this poster for the Wild Mushroom Show, and thought it would be a wild thing to see. It is one of the largest and most complete wild mushroom exhibits in the United States. The 48th annual wild mushroom show put on by the Puget Sound Mycological Society. About 30 members of the PSMS collected all of the hundreds of mushrooms varieties seen at the show from within a "cars drive" of Seattle.

There were more mushrooms than you can shake a stick at, presentations, cooking demonstrations, mushroom identification, and more fungi nerds than one room can handle. It was really interesting and very popular; an estimated 2,500 people came to the show.

Click me for a larger version.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fresh Hops Season

This Saturday we went to the local Hokie watering hole, The People’s Pub, to catch the VT vs. Wake Forest game with a collection of local Hokie imports, including our good friend Carolyn who came down from Vancouver, BC to join us.  We enjoyed the camaraderie as well as the delicious German cuisine and famous fried pickles. We met some new friends who happened not to be Hokies, but were there only because their bar was overflowing.

Which brings me to the point of this post… Their bar, The Noble Fir, was overflowing because it is Fresh Hop Season and they were hosting the “Fresh Hop Throwdown - Oregon vs. Washington”, a smorgasbord showcasing 15 regional fresh hop beers. Fresh hop, or wet hop beer means the beer is brewed from hops that are still wet (within 24 hours of harvesting) whereas beer is normally brewed from stored and dried hops. It basically means that the bitterness, flavor, and aroma are more pronounced, or a fresher brew.

Unbeknownst to us, Washington is one of the top hop producers in the world! Quite surprising to a couple of hop enthusiasts who know a good IPA when they taste one. Right here in our backyard the PNW is the Napa Valley of hops! It now makes quite a bit of sense that there are so many microbrews in the PNW; more varieties than you can anticipate tasting. Portland having more breweries per capita than any other US city. 

So, interestingly the seasonal beer of the area is the whatever permutation of fresh hop beer each brewery comes up with. There is a craft beer store a few blocks from our house, Chucks Hop Shop - “Land of a Thousand Beers,” which by itself limits the distance we would ever need to venture for a new taste experience, to a mere 3 blocks, and has enough selection to occupy an eternity. We have our first growler, from Chucks Hop Shop, so we can partake in tasting the season and the region.

Friday, October 14, 2011


We had a busy weekend, and it all started in Fremont.

It occurred to us that we haven’t really done any exploring of the many different neighborhoods of Seattle, so we decided to venture out and see the sights.

There is a nearby neighborhood named Fremont that sounded interesting, so we thought we would start there. We grabbed some fantastic Cuban sandwiches at Paseo Carribean, browsed a vintage shop, and hit up a bar and a coffee shop.

For no apparent reason, Fremont is home to several quirky pieces of art, which we checked out. There is Statue of Lenin (no real meaning, just random), a rocket, and a large sculpture, The Fremont Troll, under the Fremont Bridge, among others. Note the real VW Bug in the Troll's hand.

It was a fun evening and Fremont is a cool place, but it was not nearly as interesting or eccentric as the guidebook made it out to be. The guidebook is almost 10 years old, which might as well be an eon in Pacific Northwest terms. From what we have gathered, neighborhoods evolve fairly rapidly here, and in Portland. Every neighborhood in the PNW seems to “up-and-coming,” and many areas where you would not have stepped into a decade ago, are now the most thriving. From talking to many people, much of Portland was quite sketchy only 10 years ago, which explains why it is so hip right now, and probably will be old news in another decade.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

We finally got out and went on a hike

Tess knew a former co-worker from Gillies lived out here with her fiancé. Their names are Michelle and Derek and they have a dog named Colby. We went on a hiking trip to Heather Lake in the Snoqualmie National Forest with Derek and Colby. It was a moderate hike through a nice green, mossy forest, that ends at a beautiful crystal clear mountain lake contained within the cliffs of a picturesque mountain.

We enjoyed the beautiful day of hiking and Sagan has a new dog friend!

My pictures do not do it justice, so see this link for better photos, which Derek took on a different trip to Heather Lake.

Parks in our Neighborhood

We have been spending some time visiting nearby parks. Our house is kind of centrally located among several great parks (within 2 miles of our house is a beach, a forest, and a lake, among other parks). Seattle really has spectacular parks. From playgrounds to forests to beaches, all of them are clean, organized, well kept, and generally impressive.

Here are some of the neat ones we have visited. I suggest following some of the links below, to see fantastic panoramic and aerial views on the respective Wikipedia pages.

Gasworks Park is an old industrial facility that the city absorbed, revamped, and opened to the public in 1975. It is an interesting and fun place to visit with a great view of the city. 

Carkeek Park is 216 acre forest with a small century-old orchard, trails for walking biking and hiking, and a beach at the end. This park is quite close and a good place to take the dog for a walk.

Greenlake is a 260 acre freshwater lake and park where you can do all kinds of activities including swimming and various boating, kayaking, canoeing etc. We haven’t done any of that yet.

Golden Gardens is beach-front park on the Puget Sound with trails and a wetland area. The beach has volleyball courts, fire pits, etc. From the beach, looking out across the water, there are views of the Olympic Mountains. It is quite a strange thing to be on a beach and have towering mountains in the distance instead of the endless void of the ocean. But it is fairly awesome.

Kerry Park is not close to our house, but it is the quintessential view of Seattle. From this tiny park on a hill in the Queen Anne District, you can see just about everything: the best view of downtown Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background (on a good day), the shipyards, Elliott Bay, the West Seattle peninsula, and Bainbridge Island

Our new place

I have fallen behind again on keeping people up to date. I wanted to share our new place, since no one will probably make it out here to visit (although we hope you do!).

The place we ended up in is a SMALL “Bungalow” in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle. Which is basically where we originally wanted to end up, based on a recommendation from our prior roommates in Portland. The place fits all of the criteria we originally set: location, affordable, our own house, yard, and fenced yard (bonus!). So we really have been enjoying living here. And Sagan likes the freedom of his yard.

Our landlord has an uncanny resemblance to Ralph Furley from Three’s Company. He is very nice and seems to be a great landlord and neighbor (he lives next door).

Ralph Furley

Map of Seattle showing our location

Our new couch


Home office


Front door

Backyard with the "greenhouse"