Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Seattle: Puget Sound and Pike Place Market

Seattle is situated on the west coast of Washington and is bordered by Puget Sound, an estuarine that stretches 100 miles north and south. For a nominal charge, one can ride the ferry across Puget Sound to any of the various islands on the other side. In the photo above, you can see one of the ferries that crosses the sound several times each day. Cars and other motorized vehicles are loaded on the bottom and passengers can ride in the comfortable compartments above.

A view of Seattle from the ferry. You can see the Space Needle on the left.
The Pike Place Market stretches across five blocks.

A trip to Seattle would not be complete without a visit to the Pike Place Market. Established 104 years ago, it is our nation’s oldest and largest farmer’s market. Products for sale come from all over the globe—Alaska to Zaire. Set on Seattle’s bustling waterfront, the market is a maze of hallways and tiny shops on three different levels. The most famous of these is Pike Place Fish where the men who work there have become internationally famous for throwing fish to each other, demonstrating the importance of teamwork. In addition to the shops and restaurants are the buskers—street performers who hope you will drop money into their open guitar cases after you stop to listen to their performances.

The market got its start on August 17, 1907 when eight farmers set up shop to sell directly to customers, rather than selling to stores who would jack up the prices before offering the food for sale. In a short time the farmers had sold all their produce and the market was born. Today the market spreads across nine acres.

Many residents of the downtown area do all of their grocery shopping at the Pike Place Market. Fresh fruits and vegetables are available in many of the market stalls.

Street performers make the market an exciting place to visit.

The open guitar case is an invitation to drop in a tip. Many street musicians count on the generosity of passersby.

Huge bunches of flowers are for sale for $10. The Seattle area is second only to the Netherlands in the production of tulips.

Playing a guitar and singing while keeping a hula hoop twirling takes real dexterity.

This man and his bird captured the attention of market shoppers.

This photo and the one above show the world famous Pike Place Fish Market.

More street musicians hoping for generous donations.
If you want to be a magician, this might be the shop for you.
Right among all the goods for sale is the Giant Shoe Museum.

The young woman who is seated is playing a saw. She is using a bow to make the saw sing.

An old fashioned barber shop

Duwamps (Seattle)

The Space Needle was built in 1962 as a symbol of the Seattle World's Fair. A 45-second elevator ride takes you to the top, and from this vantage point you can see for miles in every direction. It weighs 9,550 tons and rises 605 feet in the air (60 stories).
Seattle, Washington--formerly called Duwamps--is a major city and seaport in the Northwest. Named for Chief Seattle of Suquamish tribe, the area was populated by Native Americans for thousands of years before the coming of European-American settlers in the mid 1800s. By 1889, the 32-square-block settlement was well established. On June 6 of that year a fire burned Seattle to the ground. The city leaders decided to rebuild Seattle and to require that all buildings be made of bricks and stone. Today, it is a thriving metropolis. Nordstrom, UPS, and Starbucks all got their start in Seattle.

A view of Seattle from the Space Needle

Seattle is well known for its music scene. Many well known musicians and musical genres originated here, most notably Jimi Hendrix and Nirvana. It was Nirvana who put grunge rock on the map. The red building above houses the Experience Music Project dedicated to the exploration of popular music.

Roots and Branches--a 35-foot cyclone made of 600 guitars--stands in the lobby of the Experience Music Project.
Bo Didley's unique guitar

One of Jimi Hendrix's favorite outfits; he often wore it when he performed. The pants are made of velveteen.

Jimi Hendrix played this guitar at Woodstock. He used it to perform "The Star Spangled Banner".

Seattle is a tourist mecca. People from all over the world come to visit. There are many ways to see the sites. One popular one is called "Ride the Ducks" as seen in the photo above. In this type of vehicle you can tour both land and water.

Down on the waterfront sits Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, an interesting museum and retail store established in 1899. It is still run by the same family. The shop is filled with both wares for sale and unusual exhibitions. It claims to house the largest collection of shrunken heads in the world.

This is one of two mummies on display in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. The body was found in the desert and was perfectly preserved by the dry heat.
Crafts made by local natives are also on display.

After the Seattle fire of 1889, the city leaders decided to regrade the streets. Their plan was to make the streets two stories higher than they had been originally. The buildings that burned down had been constructed on filled-in tidelands, which were prone to flooding. While it took several years to achieve this, buildings were erected on the old sites but the owners knew that eventually, the lower floors of these buildings would be underground. Today, those lower floors are completely underground and have been abandoned. But you can take a walking tour of them and see the remnants of life over 100 years ago.

As you walk underground, you can see the original lower levels of buildings that no longer are used. Above ground, the buildings are still in use.
An old abandoned bathroom in the underground.

This old metal bathtub is in a sad state of decay. Try to imagine what it once looked like. 

New trends take hold in Seattle, and one of the latest is the working man's kilt. Unlike the kilts of Scotland, these are made of sturdy material and have pockets for tools. Each kilt costs between $200 and $750. It is common to see men in Seattle wearing these. Would you wear one?

Sunday, May 22, 2011


This river of ice flows slowly as it makes its way to the sea.
In the Juneau area, there are about thirty glaciers, huge rivers of solid ice that flow about one to ten feet per day. They stretch over 15,000 square miles. How quickly a glacier moves is dependent on three main factors—temperature, thickness of the ice, and the slope of the land. As the glaciers flow, they displace soil, rocks, and other debris. Once a glacier reaches the open water of the ocean, calving occurs. This is when huge ice chunks break off and fall into the sea creating icebergs, which can spend years floating about before finally melting.

Glaciers form from falling snow, which gets packed down into huge rivers of ice. They comprise 10% of the earth’s surface. When they flow, they do so as a unit. Glaciers move when an accumulation of ice is about 200 feet thick. Glaciers can be as small as a car or as large as a small country. As they move, glaciers carve out the land. Such is the case with the Great Lakes, which were formed during the last Ice Age as glaciers slowly gouged the earth.

Glaciers are of great importance. They contribute huge volumes of freshwater to both land and maritime environments. The glaciers in Southeastern Canada discharge almost twice as much freshwater as the Mississippi River. In addition, their steady movement grinds mountains in fine particles providing essential nutrients that form the basis of the food web: nitrogen, phosphorus, and organic carbon.

One of the largest glaciers in Juneau is the Mendenhall. Scientists have studied it continuously since 1948. While some glaciers in the Juneau area are advancing, most, like the Mendenhall Glacier, are receding. Over the past many years this glacier has receded two miles. Other glaciers that are receding are doing so at the rate of about two feet per day.

Human activity is greatly impacting the glaciers. Global warming is a serious problem—so much so that scientists predict that within 100 years, glacier ice melt with cause the oceans to rise dramatically, perhaps as much as 20 feet. Of course, this means that all coastal areas will be flooded. Will this affect where you live?
This glacier is massive. I saw a black bear sitting nearby and it looked like the head of a pin in comparison to the huge glacier.

Here you see the glacier calving. This is when huge chunks break off and fall into the sea.
This glacier is black. As it moved, it picked up dirt, rocks, and other debris.
The Margerie Glacier

Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Tlingit: The Water Way of Life

For 12,000 years the Tlingit (Klin-kit) people have resided in Southeastern Alaska along the shores of the coastline. Their homeland encompasses the temperate rainforest where the weather is much milder than in Northern parts of the state. The Tlingit relied on the easily obtained abundant seafood. They used canoes for transportation, and killed seals for food and fur.

The language of the Tlingit has existed in written form for only 100 years, so the regalia they wore and the artwork they created have told their stories for thousands of years. The colorful regalia was used for ceremonies and also served as a means of identification.

Tlingit art can be seen everywhere in Southeastern Alaska.
Their stylized art forms are used for decorations.
Many ads use Tlingit artwork as part of their advertising.
The Tlingit are the people who created totem poles. The poles were not used for worship, but rather to tell their history. While American students have always had books from which to learn history, the Tlingit used totem poles as a means of sharing their stories.

Look at the various pictures of totem poles. How are they different? How are they alike? What stories do you think they tell?

Native peoples who cared deeply for the earth, the Tlinglit lived by three simple rules:
1.   Do not waste anything.
2.   Work together harmoniously.
3.   Take only what you need.
These rules would be good for all of us to follow today as we continue to use up Earth’s dwindling resources.

After thousands of years living in harmony with each other and nature—as happened with most native tribes across North America—
eventually Western cultures arrived, changing forever how the Tlingit live. After the United States purchased Alaska from Russia, the government began imposing Western ideals on the Tlingit who were forced off their ancestral lands. Alaska is filled with great riches—gold and other valuable natural resources—and Western leaders wanted them. To gain access to these rich natural resources, the Tlingit were displaced and their lands were seized. Later, when Alaska became the 49th state in 1959, the American government again forced the natives to move promising to provide the Tlingit with citizenship. But the price was high. The Tlingit were expected to give up their language and their cultural identity. For many, this price was simply too high.

Today there are only about 800 Tlingit still living in Southeastern Alaska. As with many other native tribes, for many reasons their numbers have dwindled.