Wednesday, January 18, 2023

The Final Hours...

The final hours in Seattle were fun, low voltage and relaxing. Jess and I have learned not to plan minute by minute and having everything laid out but, rather, by watching the weather and determining how bad weather might negatively impact when we wanted to do.

So, the last day had us in Seattle, scoping out Pike's Place Fish Market. Pike's Place was first opened on November 30, 1907 and has continued to be a mainstay of societal Seattle for over 100 years:

The view of Pike's Place from Puget Sound...

The far more popular view of the market from the street...


The first thing we had to do was park and,truth be told, there's plenty of that. Unless you get there early in the morning, though, you're not like to get street parking and will have to opt for one of the many garages in the area. We were there on a Tuesday, so the obvious caveat here is that I have no idea how crowded the garages get on the weekends.

On a Tuesday afternoon? They ain't bad!

Just make sure you make a note of where you park. It's easy to get lost.

We don't really do a lot of shopping here, and we definitely slip into "tourist mode", either. But it's a great place to spend an afternoon wandering, and maybe grabbing a cocktail or a beer somewhere. It's also a great "people watching" spot, and there's never a shortage of subjects to photograph. The whole place is a like a great big sightseeing trip that you can go on while sitting on a park bench with a coffee:

Truth be told, I can't recall a single trip I've ever made to Seattle which didn't include a visit to Pike's Place. It's like going to New York City and not going to go the Empire State Building or Rockefeller Plaza to see the Christmas Tree during the holidays. It just doesn't happen. It truly is one of those things that has to happen.

The next day, Wednesday, was my day of departure (late in the evening, but, still) so we just hung around the apartment watching Netflix, Amazon, Paramount, etc. It turned out to be the perfect ending to a perfect trip which I definitely hope to make again...

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Northern State Hospital...

One thing I love to photograph is abandoned buildings. They're gritty and cold, and they leave you imaging what they were like when they weren't abandoned. One such place is Northern State Hospital in Sedro-Woolley, Washington, a little over an hour north of Seattle.

The drive is uneventful; and, for the most part, all along I-5. And, on a clear day, you might even be able to spy Mount Rainier:

"The mountain is out" is often heard from the locals when you can see Rainier...

Northern State Hospital first opened in 1912, and was once the largest facility for the mentally ill in Washington state. At its peak, it housed over 2,700 patients. Northern State Hospital fell victim to the changing perceptions of mental hospitals in the 1970's, though, and it closed its doors in 1976 after the state legislature cut off funding. While many building are still in use (and off limits) for job corps and drug rehabilitation services, the remaining grounds and buildings are open as a recreation area.

When we arrived, the surrounding area looked like any municipal park you would find anywhere. As we walked from the parking lot, down a path and up a hill, however, things changed.


Our first glimpse of what was once Northern State Hospital...


There were a number of building on the site and, as you might imagine, the vast majority of them were abandoned and in varying states of disrepair:

To be perfectly honest, there were some building I refused to go into. They just looked like they were waiting to fall down an, frankly, I didn't want to be inside them when they did.

One thing you always seem to see at abandoned sites is graffiti. Some of it is sparse and  simple, still more could almost be considered, given its environment, ornate. But graffiti abounds in abandoned places, and Northern State Hospital was no different:

What I found the most striking was the vivid colors against the drab grey of the ancient cinder blocks. Add to that the fact that the ceiling and roofs were long gone, and it really does make for some cool photographs. with those vivid colors now displayed beneath the green canopy of the surrounding woods, as well.

And, if you want a creepy place to take pictures of your friends, abandoned mental hospitals are good locales:

This is my daughter, Jess, walking through one of the graffiti-ridden, broken down, partially collapsed  buildings at Northern State Hospital in Sedros-Woolley...


Oh, and the other thing about abandoned mental hospitals? You just never know what kind of off the wall creepy stuff you'll find. Apparently, here at Northern State Hospital, the "creepy stuff" tends to be dolls. really, really creepy dolls:


After spending about an hour and a half or so walking through these dilapidated buildings, we decided to head over to another part of the hospital where most of the buildings are pretty much intact. Most are padlocked and no longer in use, and there's no such thing as a window that isn't broken:



Unfortunately, none of the buildings in this area were accessible. All we could do was shoot from the outside. That's fine, I suppose, but you just don't get photographs with the same character as when you can actually walk among the broken glass and shattered floor tiles. Be that as it may, though, we made due until deciding we would call it a day.

It dawned on us that we hadn't eaten since breakfast, so we found ourselves a barbeque joint call Double Barrel BBQ:



Now, living in northeastern Florida, good BBQ is easy to come by. Sometimes it seems like you cant swing a dead cat without hitting another great eatery. For whatever reason, I guess I just never thought that quality barbeque would be found in the pacific northwest.

Yet, there it was:

Cornbread with butter, smoked turkey, brisket (can I get a "Hell, yeah!"?), mac & cheese, and cole slaw, all washed down with a tasty sweet tea. It was outstanding and 100% legit:

At this point, it was getting dark and it was clearly time to head back to Seattle. Thankfully, I wasn't driving, so I was able to get a good nap in during the trip.

Our last outing of the day would come the next day, both local and iconic...

Tuesday, December 20, 2022

Chateau Ste. Michelle...

It's no big secret that I enjoy a nice glass of wind on occasion. I'm a red wine guy; primarily a nice Merlot or a Cabernet Sauvignon. And, when that glass of wine is poured on the property of the winery that made it, all the better.

My daughter and I made the 45 minute drive from Seattle to Woodinville to visit the vineyards of Chateau Ste. Michelle. I've had their wines here in Florida but, like I said, there's something special about enjoying a glass on the grounds of the vineyard which made it:

Chateau Ste. Michelle was built on the 1912 estate of Seattle lumber baron Frederick Stimson, and dates back to the repeal of prohibition. A more modern French chateau was added in 1976:


We decided to do their wine tasting and, at $25 per person, it's not a bad deal at all. The thing I enjoyed most about it was that the wines we'd be tasting were wines that were available nowhere else. As much wine as this winery ships throughout the country, these were to be featured and sold only here.


I know I said I'm a red wine guy, but this Chardonnay was really good...

The winery also features a concert venue, and the estate itself is quite expansive. We took the time to explore the grounds for  little while, but before too long decided to hit the road and move on to other things.

One of the things I like to do when I travel is cruise Craig's List. I look mainly for camera gear (it's easy to carry home) and, every so often, I get lucky. This trip would prove to be somewhat fruitful.

I found a camera that I was interested in, and we arranged to meet at the seller's house that afternoon. For $60 I was able to procure a Canon FP SLR from 1964, in very nice condition:

It seems to work perfectly, but unfortunately the one roll I've put through it wasn't fed onto the take-up reel properly, so nothing was exposed. I'll have to try again with some of the film I bought that day. One of the nice things about it is that, since it doesn't have a light meter (I can use an iPhone app for that), it doesn't require a battery.

When I get a roll of film through it successfully I'll send it to my daughter who'll process it for me, and then I'll be able to get some pictures from it posted.

The next day we opted, once again, to veg out in the apartment and relax. My daughter is self-employed, so she needed to do some things on that front and, quite frankly, I don;t mind getting some extra rest!

The Final Hours...

The final hours in Seattle were fun, low voltage and relaxing. Jess and I have learned not to plan minute by minute and having everything la...