Seattle from Above

520 feet high with 360 degree views of the ‘Emerald City’, the Space Needle is a Seattle landmark. This space age image was the futuristic focus of the 1962 World Fair. The tower can withstand winds of 200mph and has withstood several tremors.
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Views of the skyline and below a plane landing on the lake below.
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Gigantic Arachnids overtaking the armoury building, no not really paintings of 2 daddy long legs spiders done in the trompe l’oeil (deceive the eye) style giving the spiders the illusion of reality. Painted by Marlin Peterson.
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After a wonderful day its back on the ferry to our hotel for the night. The Seattle skyline as night draws in with the flag flying. Great end to the day.
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http://www.spaceneedle.com/home/
http://marlinpeterson.com/tag/spiders/

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Mt Rainier

Our last chance to fit in a visit to Mt Rainier, although the weather wasn’t looking good we head off to see if we can catch a glimpse of this Washington Icon standing 14,410 feet above sea level. We travelled along tree lined roads and stopped off at some lakes along the way.
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We caught these fisherman on one of the lakes, where the early morning mist creates an atmospheric scene of calm and serenity.
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Further on the reflections in this lake are wonderful with the tree stumps making it an unusual photos, one we love.
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Christine Falls, named after my sister. No not really, named after Christine Louise Van Trump one of the first two people to ascend Mt Rainier in 1889.
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Box Canyon carved by the Cowlitz River. Only a few feet wide, but 115 feet deep.
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The scenery was fantastic especially when we got a short glimpse of the snow capped Mt Rainier, a dormant volcano considered to be the most dangerous volcano in the world.
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http://www.visitrainier.com

Museum Madness

EMP is a leading edge, non profit museum with its roots in Rock ‘n’ Roll. The design unusual with the Monorail that links downtown Seattle to the center.
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Multigenerational audiences explore the galleries learning of rock icons, such as Kurt Cobain from the band Nirvana who formed in 1987. Cobain died in 1994 from a self inflicted shotgun wound during a resurface of his heroine addiction. The band sold 25 million records in the USA alone with a further 75 million worldwide making them one of the best selling bands of all time.
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Jimi Hendrix an American musician, singer, songwriter said to be one of the most influential electric guitar players in the history of popular music.
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Sky Church a state of the art concert venue with the largest indoor LED screen in the world.
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Star Trek meets Dr Who in the sci-fi icons section. Lieutenant Commander Nyota Uhuras red dress next to a dalek, just two icons amongst a whole galley full of them.
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Frodo thru the eyes of this electronic spider.
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Vince thinks he’s Neil Peart as he bangs away at the drums in the interactive section of the museum. He did much better than me, but I would still love a set of drums.
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Scary, oh yes Vince in the scream booth.
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We had a lovely few hours in the museum, learning, playing and seeing all the exhibits. A really interesting place for all ages. We would go back.

http://www.empmuseum.org
http://www.nirvana.com
http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/home

Shaun’s Encounter in The Glass Garden

Shaun the Sheep’s adventures continue in Seattle.

Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition in the Seattle Centre alongside the Space Needle. Shaun couldn’t resist a pic amongst the triffid like glass flowers out in the garden, like being back in the field.
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Snake like glass structures spring out from the ground, shaun sits atop a one of the giant glass globe.
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Shaun had a ball in the garden, good to see him back in the wild out doors.

http://www.chihuly.com/exhibitions
http://shaunthesheep.com

Chihuly, Glass Wonderland

Dale Chihuly was born in Tacoma, Washington in 1941. Dale trained as an Interior Designer before discovering glass in the 1960’s. His collections are shown in over 200 museums worldwide and we got to see his ‘Garden and Glass’ exhibition held at the Seattle Center, next to the Space Needle’ in Seattle. Eight galleries, a centrepiece glasshouse and lush garden showing the amazing art of glass blowing.
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Mille Fiori Italian for a ‘Thousand Flowers’ was inspired by his mothers garden.
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This is my favourite. I love reflections and the colours within the glass balls are wonderful.
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From inside to out, glass sculptures adorn walls, ceilings and flower beds. Balls of glass set around the garden cleverly reflect the Space Needle. A great place to visit.
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A park, fairground, arts and entertainment centre providing year round entertainment. A Monorail, the Space Needle, an International Fountain surrounded by shops and restaurants all in one place, The Seattle Center built in 1962 for the Worlds Fair. A great place to send a couple of days.

http://www.chihuly.com
http://www.seattlecenter.com

A Grave Day, Going Underground.

As a Hendrix fan, well Vince is, we couldn’t help but take a slight diversion to Renton on our way to Seattle to see Jimi Hendrick’s memorial. Hendrix, a musician, singer, songwriter had a short career but widely regarded as one of the most influential electric guitarist’s. His memorial is visited by hundreds of fans every year, who go there to pay homage to this rock legend.
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Not to far away lies the grave of Bruce Lee and his son, Brandon. Not quite the Jimi Hendriix show piece, just a simple headstone. Martial Artist turned actor. A short but influential 33 years, before his tragic death. Even less for his son also an actor/martial artist who died at 28 an accident with a revolver during a film shoot.
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On the brighter side we got to see Seattle from below the city. From a restored 1890’s Saloon in Pioneer Square, our tour begins. The great fire in 1889 saw Pioneer Square burn to the ground, The city was previously built on soggy mudflats. When the city was rebuilt it was agreed that stone or brick would be used and retaining walls eight feet high where put up. First floor building’s became basements as the city was rebuilt. With the gold rush in the 1890’s Pioneer Square became popular but not necessary with desirable people. Today we get to see a glimpse of this time. Bare brick wall’s with archways, old timber, the odd chair or bath lays scattered around.
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From underground a brief glimpse of city life thru the vault light also known as the sidewalk lights set into the pavements. Originally used from the 1840 as deck lights on ships, to allow light below deck. They look quite pretty from above ground.
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Outside in the alley way, this building just reminded me of the movies and all those scenes when you see actors escaping down the fire escape. Just like in West Side Story.
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http://www.jimihendrix.com/us/home
http://www.jimihendrixmemorial.com/index.html
http://www.brucelee.com
https://www.undergroundtour.com

Mt St Helens

While in Washington State we took a day to go and visit Mt St Helens an active stratovolcano that erupted in May 1980 destroying 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles of railways and 185 miles of highway. The plume of volcanic ash reached 80,000 feet into the air and ash was deposited in 11 US States and 5 Canadian provinces. Snow, Ice and several entire Glaciers melted. The volcano now has a large crater in its north side, not that we got to see it as anything was covered in a thick and visibility fog.
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We did get to see the damage caused to the land during the 1980 eruption. Nature is still reclaiming the land.
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Over the years there have been reports of an Ape like creature spotted around Mt St Helens, Bigfoot a bit like the Loch Ness Monster. Lots of could be sightings, but nothing definite. Couldn’t resist a photo with the giant himself only this one don’t move.
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Now you can’t go to America and not have a Denny’s. Cooked breakfast and pancakes which I thought would be small, well they were a little bigger than expected and you shouldn’t waste food, so I did my best and thoroughly enjoyed. Yay for maple and pancakes.
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Yellowstone National Park 2

Breakfast done we head back to Yellowstone via the North Entrance. Mammoth is Yellowstone’s Head Quarters and has some amazing geothermal Hot Spring Terraces, where boiling hot water cascades over like a waterfall and collects in smaller pools. A mountain of Calcium Carbonate stretches out against a backdrop of mountains, just a few dead trees stand upon its surface. Quite strange.
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Bison of Yelowstone are considered special having roamed the land since prehistoric times. Males can weigh up to 2,000 pounds (900kg) and run 35mph. Wolves, Mountain Lions and Grizzly Bears are their main predators and can kill an adult. I think I prefer them in the distance, don’t seem quite so big as when they are beside your car and give you a look to say ‘back away’. I was scared taking pics as he seemed to get really close, but what a magnificent beast. Not one we would want to argue with.
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We made our way to Hayden Valley where we came across this Coyote ambling along the open vista. Coyotes weigh around 30-40lbs and their colouring ranges from Grey to Tan with some red tinges. They live for around 6 yrs and can hunt either alone or in packs. Would have been great to come across a pack but seeing one was cool.
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We headed onto Old Faithful via Lake Village that sits on the shoreline of the largest lake in Yellowstone. The lake is 7,732ft above sea level covering 136 square miles. A lovely pic by Vincent where lake meets sky.
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We joined the throes of tourists waiting for ‘Old Faithful’ to blow. She erupts every 75 minutes and spits boiling hot water high into the air for about 3 minutes. We felt this whole area was very commercialised when there are far more interesting and less touristy areas around the park.
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‘Great Fountain Geyser’ on ‘Firehole Lake Drive’ we came across this on our way out of the park and was a great find, great reflections.
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We had a great two days exploring as much of the park as we could in the time we had. An extraordinary place that we have to go back to and do at a slower pace.

http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com

Yellowstone National Park 1

Car hired we hit the road to spend a couple of days in Yellowstone National Park. The roads in USA are good to drive but very long and never ending a bit more interesting than the long roads we travelled in Australia.
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A ten hour journey with a time change and we finally arrive in West Yellowstone to find no hotels rooms, well one the most expensive with 3 double beds and bear skins on the walls at least we would get a good nights sleep. During a walk to find breakfast we come across the Bison statue below, one of a few painted dotted around the street, with scenes of USA.
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At last we get to enter the park which is approx 28,000 square miles and can be found in Wyoming, Montana and Idaho. Yellowstone was inhabited by Native Americans for over 11,000 years until it became the first National Park in the world in 1872. In peak summer it is staffed by 3,500 employees, with an additional 800 park staff. We don’t get far before the traffic builds up and we come across a herd of Elk. There are approx 10-20,000 in 6-7 herds found in the park during summer. The male weighs 700 pounds and the female 500 pounds. Food for the Wolves, Bears and Mountain Lions as well as the scavengers such as the Bald Eagle and Coyotes. The Elk in our picture decided to just stand in the middle to the road and give us the eye. Kinda thought who’s looking at who.
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One half of the worlds Active Geysers are found in Yellowstone alongside Hot Springs, Fumaroles and Mudpots. Yellowstone has anything from 1,000 to 3,000 earthquakes a year, most unfelt. In 1985 it had 3,000 earthquakes in 3 months alone. The Geothermals create an environment I imagine you would find on Mars. I could spend years just watching, observing these strange but beautiful natural phenomena. From Steaming ground, to exploding mud, to colourful pools of bubbling boiling water a never ending, continually changing environment. Absolutely wonderful.
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Everyone who visits Yellowstone wants to see a bear and we were not disappointed. We decided to head along the Lamar Valley and just turned a corner and there in front of was this beautiful Black Bear, smaller than the Grizzly Black Bears weigh 210-315 pounds for the male and 135-200 for the female. Black Bears eat rodents, insects, young Elk, pine nuts and grasses. We didn’t get great pics as we weren’t prepared with camera in hand and she moved off so quickly. Further down the road at Fishing Bridge we were to get a sighting of a Grizzly, larger than the Black Bear and with a hump on his upper back, the Grizzly weighs in at 200-700 pounds for the male and 200-400 pounds for the females. The Grizzly can run 45 mph, climb trees and has a lifespan of 30 years. This one we came across had just been back to a kill it had buried in the trees and you smelt that before you saw the bear. Felt so privileged to have see not just a Black Bear but a Grizzly as well and on day 1, wow what a day.
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Between 1980 and 2011, 43 people were injured by bears. That sounds a lot but when you think 90 Million people have visited during that time, if you are sensible and follow the rules then it is a wonderful place to see nature in its rightful place, The Wild.

We left the park and had to drive for an hour to find somewhere to stay and found a ‘Super 8’ at Livingstone and welcome bed after a long but amazing day.

http://www.yellowstonenationalpark.com
http://www.super8.com/hotels/montana/livingston/super-8-livingston/hotel-overview

We Are Family

Tired and with depleted funds we had to make a decision that instead of 8 weeks zig zagging across the USA, we decided to cut down to 2 weeks just so we could visit Vince’s cousin’s in Seattle. We checked in to the Clover Island Hotel and within the hour Cousin Debbie had arrived and with an extra surprise Cousin Jamalee! We stayed at the hotel for dinner and chatted for hours until it was time for the girls to depart as both and work the next day.
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Jamalee runs an Antique shop in Kennewick, a little maze of rooms filled with all kinds of curios. Drawers filled with items old and new. I could have spent days just wondering around it opening draws and cupboards.
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Debbie’s lovely home with her rescue dog Beau. Debbie does a mean breakfast of bacon, maple sausages eggs and waffles.
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Here we are at Jamalee’s after dinner, Shaun, Jamelee, Debbie and I. It was nice to catch up with them and look at old photo’s. Shame we didn’t have a lot of time to spend with them but hope to get back one day.
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http://www.tripadvisor.co.uk/Hotel_Review-g58536-d268334-Reviews-Clover_Island_Inn_Kennewick-Kennewick_Tri_Cities_Washington.html