Visiting Gas Works Park in Wallingford

Visiting Gas Works Park in Wallingford

Wallingford is a neighborhood located in North Seattle. The main drag on Wallingford is 45th street.  Filled with shops, restaurants, and coffee shops, you could spend half a day just meandering.  I visited the Gas Works Park once, and haven’t been back there for ages.  Because I was near the area, I thought I would do a quick stop.

History of the Gas Works Park

This time while standing on top of the grassy hill, I wanted to know the history of the park.  I found little history. So I called the Seattle.gov number to get some history on the park. Gas Works Park was a former site for an active gas plant that manufactured coal into gas operated by a private company.  If you want to know more history, watch this video, “10 Parks that changed America,” hosted by PBS.

The City of Seattle brought the site in 1962.  With the help of landscape architect Richard Haag the site has been recycled to a public park.  The rustic towers of the plant are still fenced off due to safety concerns.

The music man tells me that back in the day, there was a Seattle joke that “if you dropped any food in Gas Works parks, you better not eat it.” Now annual and seasonal events take place, inviting musicians and kite connoisseurs to play in the park.  Walkers, joggers, bicyclists, dog walkers roam the area to catch a good view of the skyline while getting a dose of their daily exercise.  On Fourth of July, people gather with their friends and families to see fireworks launching from the barges at Lake Union.

Gas Works Park in Wallingford

Gas Works Park in Wallingford

Getting to the park from the parking lot

Walk up the pathway that winds around the big green hill.  The cemented winding path takes you all the way up to the top.  Halfway through the hill, you can see rustic gas plant from where you stand. As you walk your way up to the top, you can see a great view of Lake Union, a decent view of the Skyline of Downtown Seattle (even on a cloudy day), a skinny view of the Space Needle.

Morning walkers visiting Gas Works Park in Wallingford

Morning walkers visiting Gas Works Park in Wallingford

 

There are couple of benches on top of the hill. You can sit there and see small to midsize boats coming in or going away.   Rowers navigate the waters, too.   Yachts and other water vessels are moored in the marina.

View of the marina at Gas Works Park in Wallingford

View of the marina at Gas Works Park in Wallingford

 

Overall, I think this is a good place to take pictures, but I wouldn’t go out of you way, if you are not already in or near Wallingford.  I would recommend other parks to go in Seattle.

If you are in Wallingford and wondering what else is there to do in Wallingford, here are few more activities:

 Go have coffee on 45th street

Pick any coffee place and go sit down and sip on your coffee.

 You can shop

A string of boutique shops line 45th street. If you are looking for funky gifts, Archie McPhee is a fun place to shop. They carry inexpensive toys that no one carries anymore in brick and mortar store.  For some,this store is walk through a memory lane.

 If you are hungry stop at a pub or a bakery

If you like Sushi there Kisaku Sushi Restaurant, If you like Pizza, there is Tutta Bella Neapolitan Pizzeria (though I like the one in Columbia City more), If you like Afghan food, there is Kabul Afghan Cuisine.  Note: my friend plays music in Kabul few nights a week.

Parking:

The park has a decent sized parking lot

Driving around Wallingford: Most likely, you would be parallel parking on the street. Some shops do have parking lots but you can only park there while you shop at the store.

Bus:

You can also take the bus from downtown Seattle. The buses do run on the weekends too, but not as frequently as they do on weekdays.

Walking:

If you are a walker, you can also walk from Gas Works to 45th street.

Tidbits: Recently when I went, there were Canadian geese poop. I guess they know where they best views are.  Please do look down where you step.

Candian Geese taking a break at Gas Works Park

Candian Geese taking a break at Gas Works Park

 

Autumn in Seattle (and all over Washington State)

Autumn in Seattle (and all over Washington State)

I love how the trees change colors in autumn in Seattle.

The autumn trees

The trees start changing around late August and early September turning soft yellow advancing to brown or to a rich orange or red color, peaking sometime in October.  It’s really hard not to see fall colors in Seattle or all over Washington.

Aspens, Katsura trees, and variety of maple trees can be seen as you drive on I-5 North or South, I-90 East or West or 405 North or South 520 East or west,US 2 or on residential streets.  On the sides of the road, you can see the pretty leaves, growing on think and thick branches.  Some branches even stretch out to the road, like weeping branches. Yellow, orange, or red leaves all glowing under the sun with such brillance.  Even when cloudy, the colors look happy.

The leaves on that tree made me stop and wonder

The leaves on that tree made me stop and wonder

If you want to spent more time around autumn trees, you can also walk to any number or Seattle parks to see the change of autumn.

Pictures of autumn trees

Some of these pictures were captured on a drive to Jones Park at Renton to see the salmon spawning, which happens during autumn, too.  At Jones Park, from the cemented walkway, you can see the salmon.  It’s colors change too when they return to the freshwater.  The ones in Renton I have seen turned red. The red ones were swimming against the current or holding still against the current.  They have come back from the ocean to their birthplace to mate.  In one of my salmon spawning tour I learned that the Pacific salmon only mate when they return to the freshwaters, right before they die.  Dramatic, romantic, and traumatic is what I want to say.  Their journey to the ocean from freshwater and back is a wonderful triumphant story on the few we do get back now.

If you do go visit the salmon spawning sites, try to not to scare them, as they are very vulnerable during their spawning cycle.  They stop eating once they get back into fresh water from saltwater.

I would like post some pictures of the trees changing colors that I have taken from all over Washington.

My friend took this shot

My friend took this shot

Autumn in Seattle (and all over Washington)

Autumn in Seattle (and all over Washington)

Standing under the autumn tree

Standing under the autumn tree

If you want to spent more time around autumn trees, you can also walk to any number or Seattle parks to see the change of autumn or go to one of the city gardens.

More pictures of autumn trees can be seen at Pinterest.

 

 

What do people do in Seattle when it rains?

What do people do in Seattle when it rains?

“What do people in Seattle do when it rains?” I asked a Seattilite.

“They get wet.”  Ha ha.

I learned in school that just because it rains in the Pacific Northwest that people just not go outside.  No, they get on with their lives.

Here are some activities people do in the rain:

If they are swimmers, they go swimming.

If they are bikers, they go biking.  I have seen bikers pedaling their bike pedals during  pouring downrain in Downtown Seattle and on the Burke Gilman Trail.

If they are readers, they curl up and read a good book at home.

Or, they bring their electronic device to the coffee shop to be “social” and read.

They go play darts at the taverns, watch Sea Hawks at bars, and eat a salmon burger at the pub.

They shop at upscale stores like a few flagship stores or or go bargain hunting at Goodwill or shop at kitsch stores in Wallingford or stroll through funky boutique stores in Capitol Hill or Downtown or Fremont.

Rain doesn’t stop them from getting dressed to go see a play on 5th Avenue Theater or a Paramount Theater, or any number of the other theaters that put on a good play.

They go see a classical concert at the Benaroya Hall.

If their venue of the day is to seek laughter, they go to any number of the comedy clubs in Seattle and near Seattle.

They meet up with friends in restaurants in the very many eclectic Seattle neighborhoods.

Or hang out at one of the dozens of museums.

They go to The Seattle Public Library, the central library in Downtown Seattle to admire its architecture or hear an author speak, or take their kids for book reading at their neighborhood library.

A large some stay indoors to write, attend to their garden, watch TV, or sleep.

Upwards of many go to coffee shops and order a great cup of coffee or tea, or hot chocolate.

And when it’s still raining

A few go hiking even in the rain. Can’t wait for the sun to show up in Seattle? Hate to tell you this.  There have been number of days, even the weaterman wasn’t right.  Always carry your Parka, that is your best protection from the rain from October to June.

Some go and shop for the rainy weather.  Buying jackets with hood and boots so that your feet is drenched from the water that is pouring down from your jacket.

A quite rather some stay indoors to write, watch TV, or sleep.

Uncountable number stay in and cook, like French toast with friends, families, or by themselves.

Some go to the local hardware store to buy a new door, a new window, parts of a sink to fix up their quaint homes or known as “fixer upper” to the rest of the world. .

Some take photography while friends are cooking.

They hop on a Seattle Ferry for a get away to one of the islands.

Most work, go to school, or enjoy a hobby even in the rain.

It's raining in Seattle

It’s raining in Seattle

If you are new in town, get out and go and explore. Are you going to let the rain stop you?

What is your favorite thing to do in Seattle when it rains?

 

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Today, I am writing about the best coffeeshops in Seattle and around Washington.  I am hesistant to used the word best sometimes because best is a subjective term.

All the different types of coffee shops

Some people love the coffee shops that play Indie music.  Others like coffee shops that caters organic goods.  In the vincinity of Seattle and outside of Seattle,  you can find a dozen type of theme filled coffe shops: movie theme based,  writer’s coffee shops, art decor coffee shops.   Some of the coffee shops I had been to try to personalize their cafe, like you are visting a friend’s house, or someone’s living room.  And, if you don’t have the patience to go in to order coffee, you can go through a drive through, pulling up to a litte cute coffee java hut.

By saying all  that I think it is best to use the word favorite. Everyone has a favorite coffee house that they like to go to. Me,  included. These days mostly it’s the mom and pop places, though every once in a while I still go hang out at that coffee place that changed my love for coffee.

If you are new in town, Seattle is broken down to neighborhoods.  You will find that the more proximate the neigbohood is to  near to  Downtown Seattle, the more coffee houses that neigborhood has. There are a few exceptions.  The east side to is broken down similiary by neighborhood, and they to have amassed a collection of coffee houses.  What I have found though was that every neighborhood that I had visited in Seattle or outskirts of Seattle had at least one wonderful place to go and drink coffee.  Just ask the locals.

Here is a list of some and I will add to the list.

Coffee shops in Seattle

Downtown Seattle: Which street? would be the question. In the heart of downtown, there are so many but one is all I get.  Seattle Coffee Works

Downtwon Seattle in the financial district: Joelle’s Espresso Cafe (keep in mind they are only open during the weekdays since they cater to the 7 to 5 working crowd.

Belltown: Uptown Expresso

Magnolia: Caffe Appassionato Coffee

Upper Queen Ann: El Diablo Coffee

Lower Queen Ann: Caffe Ladro

Capitol Hill: Starbucks

Fremont: Milstead and Co

Pioneer Square: Cafe Vita

Wallngword: Zoka Coffee Roaster and Tea Company

If you have a favorite let me know. Maybe I haven’t tried it.

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Visiting Seattle coffee houses

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

At my old workplace, one of my coworker/friend invited me to downstairs to have coffee with her on our break. It was a chilly winter day. Our office was in downtown in Seattle in one of the tall buildings. Two famous coffee shops competed with each other on two different floors inside the tall building.

There were dozens of Ma and Pa coffee shops in the building, too.  Actually when I think of it, there are practically five or six coffee houses in Downtown Seattle in one block.  Sometimes, two of the same kind of coffee houses are just a block apart. However, my friend most preferred the coffee with the Mermaid Logo.  She did go to the competitors when her regular barista was not in making coffee.

This was around the time; I just started learning about specialty coffee. Staring at the menu, I was slightly intimidated as far as what to order in the long line that was moving efficiently fast.  Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle, you have to learn the verincular of coffee procurement.   “I want a tall, um, to go, ahm.”  I told my freind to go ahead and order and I will order after her.

My friend was an expert at coffee ordering.  She introduced me to “two pumps of white chocolate mocha with 2% milk, with extra whipped cream and extra hot to go.” I ordered what she had with just one pump and just a small amount of whipped cream.  With that drink, my life changed.  I started actively seeking out coffee houses.  The white chocolate mocha replaced the occasional mocha I ordered on Fridays, and on cold, dark, and rainy days.

I then upgraded or downgraded depending on how you look at it, changing my request to a tall 2% vanilla latte. Being that it is Seattle, you can practically customize your coffee any way you want it. Sometimes, it is fun to hear people’s requests as I wait to order my coffee or waiting for my coffee to be whipped out on the counter.

Shortly afterwards, my brother introduced to me a wet cappuccino. I didn’t switch the taste of the vanilla to give it up for steamed milk in a cute cup.  Although I could had probably asked for vanilla in my cappuccino, I never did.

Since then I moved away from that building, landing myself in another in a building. But no matter where you go in Seattle, you can’t escape a coffee house with in half mile. When I say half a mile, I am being extremely conservative.

With the new location, I ventured out to try the local coffee shops in Seattle.  During weekends, I would venture out further away from Seattle and when I went out for out of town for weekend trips.

If you are new to the coffee world, or just visiting to Seattle/ Seattle area,  you could say “tall, to here, latte, single shot.”  But that doesn’t jive with the common tongue of coffee ordering in Seattle. Even if you do order like that; the baristas here still will work with you to get your coffee right. If you really want to learn some basic lingos, here is a quick basic guide on  how to order speciality coffee in Seattle.

Ordering coffee in Seattle and outskirts of Seattle

First, there are three types of coffee, I have seen in most places. There is regular coffee like drip coffee, there is expresso (pronounced espresso), and then there is specialty coffee.

  • Drip coffee is coffee at its basic, which is hot water poured over coffee ground manually or by machine.
  • Expresso is steam that has been forced at high pressure through coffee grounds, made with an expresso machine. (To me, it has strong, intense coffee flavor).
  • Specialty coffee is usually shot(s) of expresso, milk, and adding syrup and toppings to your caffeinated or decaffeinated drink based on your taste. It is more like a dessert than coffee.

Similarities of drip and specialty coffee:

  • They both come in two forms: either caffeinated or decaffeinated.
  • For both types of coffee you would need to know the size of cup you want your beverage.

Drip and specialty coffee sizes come in the following:

  • Short (8 fluid ounces), extra small.  (Typically, this is not on the menu, but you can request it)
  • Tall (12 ounces)
  • Grande (16 ounces)
  • Venti (20 ounces)
  • Trenta (31 Ounces)

When ordering at Starbucks, you order with the description of the size. Ex.  “I would like to order a Grande Macchiato to go.”

In the ma and pa stores, they usually go by cup ounces.

 Expresso comes in shots

  • 1 shot
  • 2 shots
  • 3 shots or however many you like

Expresso shots can be drank by itself or you can fancy it up. Couple of my friends I had been out with like to drink it like a shot. There are many ways to prepare expresso adding double shots and topping it with whipped cream for example.  Or you can order shots of expresso with just boiling hot water poured over, know as an Americano.

When ordering specialty coffee, keep in mind

For Starbucks, a 12-ounce latte comes with one shot of expresso.  For the Ma and Pa coffee houses that I had been, they typically serve 2 shots in a tall latte.  If you are in a ma and pa stores, and if you only want shot of expresso in your specialty coffee, you can say something like, “I would like to have a single shot, 12 ounce latte, whole milk, please”

Temperature

  • Extra hot
  • Warm
  • Cold

Milk

  • Whole
  • 2%
  • 1%
  • Breve
  • Soy
  • Almond

Syrups

  • Vanilla
  • Raspberry
  • Hazelnut
  • White chocolate
  • House made
  • Seasonal syrups

Example: “I would like a grande with 2 pumps of white chocolate and no whipped cream.”  Most places I had gone to comes with whipped cream on their white chocolate.  If you don’t want the whipped cream you have to specifically say that at the time you order.

Toppings

  • Whipped cream
  • Spices
  • Chocolate
  • Coffee bean

Temperature

  • Extra hot
  • Warm
  • Cold

Foam

  • No foam
  • Thin or light foam
  • Heavy foam

*Note: For most specialty coffees such as your mochas and lattes and cappuccinos:

  • Milk is steamed
  • A minimum of one shot of espresso comes with your specialty coffee. You can change the amount of espresso.
  • A thin layer of foam is topped. You can also request to have no foam or more or less foam.

By saying that a cappuccino is a beverage with equal parts of espresso, milk, and foam.  A wet cappuccino has more steamed milk than foam.  A dry cappuccino has more foam. You can sprinkle cinnamon and add sugar for a different taste.

Where are you going to drink your specialty coffee?

I would like a tall latte for “for here cup.”  For here means you would like to drink it at the coffee house with one of their cups, preferably the coffee mug.

“To go” means that you would get served in a to go cup, unless you brought your own coffee mug/cup.

The lingo of ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

You could order your coffee any way you like.  Typically the ordering of the speciality coffee starts with the size of the cup, amount of espresso, then you customize the rest.    If you are in ma and pa shop, your order would be something along the lines of “I would like to have a single shot, 12 ounce vanilla latte, whole milk with whipped cream, extra hot, for here cup.”

If you are in Starbucks you could say the same but their lingo is tall, grande and venti.  You could practice, “I would like to have a tall vanilla latte, with two shots with whole milk topped with whipped cream, extra hot, in a for here cup.”

Enjoy your latte, mocha, cappuccino, or what pleases your coffee tongue.

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

Ordering speciality coffee in Seattle

 

 

 

Finding a good single cup coffee maker for home

Finding a good single cup coffee maker for home

Living in the Pacific Northwest,makes me drink coffee more. After drinking many many cups of lattes and coffees from the great coffee houses, I had been wanting to make the perfect cup of coffee on my own

Making coffee looks easier than it is when the barista makes it for you.

Is finding a good single cup coffee maker for home that hard?

I did not realize what was all involved in making an aromatic, smooth, delightful cup of coffee.  Trying to make coffee for yourself requires research, especially if you are starting from zero.

I did some intense research on the Internet with some respected product review sources, asked a few friends of mine for tips, and off I went shopping to go get a coffee maker.

Off to thedepartment store I went because I had my 20% coupon.  With excitement I arrived and asked the lady in the department for help to find me the “best” coffee maker. I put best in quotation marks because I am finding as I do research “best” is really a subjective term when it comes to taste.

The lady who saw me knew I was serious about making my cup of Joe . She didn’t think she could handle that question herself.  She told me she was going to go and get me the “coffee connoisseur,”  And the head of that department happened to be the coffee connoisseur.

The coffee connoisseur happened to be man who was passionate about drinking coffee more than I.  We talked for few minutes about making the “best” coffee in the morning.  He said he drank three or four cups of coffee and drank through out the day.  I was more of one or two cups kind of coffee drinker.

Secrets to making good coffee

We exchanged some ideas about making good coffee.   It was a good thing that I did research about making coffee before I went to the store because I was able to keep up with him, sort of.

Of the primary importance is the coffee beans.

Then there is the question about bean roasting.  He added the type of coffee grinder that I should own one day if I am as a serious drinker as he was.

He confessed that he had tried several of the coffeemakers himself.  Of those that he tried, he was not quite satisfied until he found the one. I told him my criteria for the coffeemaker were just a few.

“Few is plenty,” he said.

I would like to have a stainless steel coffee maker.  The coffee maker should have a bursting aroma when it makes coffee. Finally, the coffee should not have burnt taste.

“Doable,” he said.

Shopping for a good single cup coffee maker for home

After we looked and reviewed several pieces of coffee makers that they kept in the store, he took me over to the corner and recommended the Capresso.  He said he has been drinking coffee from that for the many years and he considers it “the wall street of the coffeemaker.”

I still had many questions and he seemed to have answer for all. He even told me that Capresso even has an 800# for me to call in with questions. So, I told him I was going to take it home.

Functions I like of the coffee maker:

It makes good cup of coffee. The aroma is released as it squirts last the drop from machine to the cup.

A few things that I had to overlook: The temperature is not hot as I would I like. When I called the 800#, they recommended to me that I can warm up the stainless steel.  I didn’t mind doing that on the days I was off.  That would be an extra stop on those days, I would be running out of the house.  Also, they suggested that If I make 6 to 8 cups versus just 3 cups, my coffee would be a little hotter. That was great idea, if I were having a party.  Most days, I only needed two cups maximum.

When I learned that I have to change filters, pretty regularly even if I was only making one or two cups a day, I did more research.

As I did more research about filters, it led me to do more research.  I told one of my friends about my coffee issue.  My friend mentioned Melitta pour over cup, which I end up switching over to.

What I like about the Melitta is that is a simple, porcelain, and affordable and reusable “coffee machine.”

For the Melitta I need to buy the regular paper coffee filters. I bought the non-bleached filters and it makes me feel good to know that they are biodegradable.

Ready for coffee?

Ready for coffee?