My older brother visited me. He had visited me before, so he had already been to the usual tourist spots.
So I thought, “What is something neither one of us had done before?”
The ferris wheel!
We went to the Seattle Great Wheel. It was everything I thought it would be, which is… not that great. There are better views of Puget Sound from some downtown condos. But a ferris wheel is a ferris wheel. What could shake off this ennui? Animatronic velociraptors and dragons that spit fire.
I did the Grouse Grind with S., a trail up Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver, BC. The trail is 1.8 miles, 2800 ft. elevation gain, and is nicknamed “Mother Nature’s Stairmaster.” Though the Grouse Grind goes up through a forest, the trail is by no mean’s natural; it is well-groomed with hundreds of wooden stairs.
Most tourists take the gondola up the mountain. Since the Grouse Grind is steep and there are a fair number of runners on the trail, no one is allowed to go down, only up.
At the top of Grouse Mountain, there were a number of tourist activities. There were photo opportunities by totem poles, birdwatching, helitours.
We watched a scripted comedic lumberjack show. Two lumberjacks competed with each other in axe throwing, log running in the water, wood carving, climbing up poles. I was really impressed by their skills. They were able to get a bullseye every time they tossed their axes. With spurs on their feet, they were able to climb up and down a wooden pole in twenty seconds.
There was a grizzly bear. A ranger explained that they weren’t holding the bear in captivity like a zoo; this was a temporary measure for the bear’s safety because of the fire danger.
After lunch, we took the gondola down. It was so much faster than our hike up!
I was driving down Denny Way, when suddenly, a man bolted in front of my car. I immediately floored the brake and came to a stop a few meters away from him. The man furiously waved a bulb of garlic at a Metro bus window. His jeans sagged and did not fully cover his butt crack. I dared not drive forwards to close the distance or honk at him.
Then the man ripped off a clove from the garlic bulb and plopped the clove into his mouth raw, without peeling off the skin. The man continued to make eye contact with the bus window, chewing the garlic with large, exaggerated bites. His face while masticating was of smug malice. He must have been making a point to someone on the bus. In hindsight, it would have actually been an amazing feat to recognize someone sitting on the bus, because the bus windows are tinted and the bus is barreling down the road.
Eventually, the bus drove off, and the man sauntered out of my lane back onto the sidewalk.
Based on my anecdotal sample size of one, there are more crazy people in Seattle now than in previous years.
I’ve found over 50 geocaches now. I enjoy taking walks, and geocaching gave direction to those walks. But now it’s time to retire this hobby and do more running and tennis. And with that, here are the most recent finds.
In Pioneer Square, in between buildings, there is a waterfall garden park to honor Seattle as the birthplace of the UPS. I found this magnetic tin on the outer gate.
Near CenturyLink field, a magnetic key case geocache was placed under the metal divider.
By the Sheraton in downtown Seattle, there is a sculpture called Urban Garden. There’s a giant watering tin that pours water over the sculpture’s flowers. While searching for the geocache, I got rained on by the watering tin. There is a glass panel in the flower pot of the sculpture that lets you see into the sculpture. You can see the computer that controls the sculpture’s movements. It turned out that the geocache was on a nearby parking sign.
While waiting for brunch, I found this geocache under a sign for a Mexican restaurant in Kirkland.
By the Microsoft campus, there is a trail through the wetlands. There is an amphitheater in the middle of the wetlands, a bunch of wooden benches by the water. There is a geocache underneath one of the informational signs.
Along the 520 bike trail, under a random pine three, a tupperware geocache was hidden.
In Mercerdale Park on Mercer Island, there is a geocache hidden under one of the grates.
There was a geocache hidden at Roanoke Landing on Mercer Island, essentially a small road that leads to private driveways.
To the left, there are shrubs where the geocache is hidden.
The geocache was a container with an X on top.
In Robert E. McCormick Park in Bellevue, there is a tupperware geocache next to a tree.
In a neighborhood in Factoria, in a forest, there is a tree with a geocache hidden under the plant debris.
Also in that neighborhood, there was a beer bottle geocache hidden in a pine tree. To add camouflage, pine leaves were taped to the bottle.
My final contribution is a geocache full of knickknacks I’ve accumulated over the years. The trinkets serve no pragmatic purpose to me, but I’m sure a child would be happy to get a Batgirl toy or My Little Pony.
This is not the end of geocaching for me. In the future, I’m sure I will be stuck in some mall or neighborhood against my will, and then I will whip out my phone and start hunting.
I hiked to Goldmyer Hot Springs, a 9-mile round trip hike. The hike itself was easy; there was hardly any elevation gain. The drive there, however, was another story. The road was full of rocks and huge potholes. A high clearance SUV is absolutely required to drive over the teeth-clattering road. It took more than 30 minutes of careful maneuvering to make it to the trailhead. Thankfully, J’s friend is an excellent driver.
The hike started at the Dingford Creek trailhead. A few minutes in, we passed by a raging waterfall, at its peak flow from the melting winter snowfall.
Throughout the hike, there were deep puddles on the trail. Some puddles spanned the entire width of the trail. The puddles were clearly a year-round obstacle, not just present because of the rain. We walked along worn paths that branched from the main trail, circled around the puddles through vegetation, then rejoined the main trail.
When we arrived at the springs, we checked in with the two caretakers. The caretakers said their roles were filled by volunteers, and that they needed volunteers for June. I pondered what a brief stint would be like as a caretaker, isolated in a cabin (with satellite dish!) in the middle of the woods. There was no cell phone signal, but there were hummingbirds flying to and from the cabin’s feeders, their flaps making a loud hum like that of a winged insect times ten.
Only twenty people are allowed to visit the springs each day. I had actually been trying to visit the springs for a couple years now, but weekends are always fully booked the week of. Luckily, J’s friends booked months in advance.
The springs were small and delightful, with only the faintest smell of sulfur. The springs consisted of three hot pools. The top pool was in a cavern that could very well have fit all twenty people, albeit uncomfortably. The top pool flowed into a middle pool that was shallow and could fit three people. The middle pool flowed into the lowest pool, which could fit about five people. The water was hottest in the deepest part of the top pool cavern, then the water cooled as it flowed outwards and downwards to the lower pools. There was also a separate, freezing pool.
I enjoyed the visit. Having to hike 4.5 miles in the rain certainly made the springs more rewarding. I would go back, if only I could get a permit!