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Just up the street from Pike’s Place Market and standing tall on the corner of 4th Ave and Spring street is a building that looks like a giant greenhouse on architectural steroids.

Welcome to the Seattle Central Public Library.

I usually like to dive into the history of places that peak my interest, but honestly there’s a LOT to the history of Seattle’s library. In fact, you could probably get a four year degree in Seattle Public Library History. I read at least four different summaries and the only thing I remember is that Seattle’s original public library was completely destroyed in a fire in 1901. Dark.

BUT ON TO NICER TIMES.

The Seattle Public Library is a MUST SEE during even the shortest trips to Seattle. There’s Pike’s Place Market, the Space Needle, and SPL. That’s all you need in Seattle.

You can check out my post on spending a short 6 hours in Seattle here! 

During my recent trip this summer (the only season that I dare visit the Evergreen state) I finally managed to remember my janky camera.

The architecture is immediately stunning from the outside. It’s currently ranked in the nations top 10 most beautiful public libraries, and for good reason (but you’ll see more on that as the post continues!).

As with any major city along the I-5 freeway, there’s a good amount of homeless people in Seattle. Well, at least in the summer. The library was no exception. While there were homeless people chillin around the outside, I’m personally used to it so I barely noticed. One of them even complimented my outfit so they gravy in my book. Anyways, just thought I’d point that out.

Upon first entrance, there’s a huge theater/conference room to the left. I wanted to stand at the podium and pretend I was giving a passionate speech about how the Puerto Rico recovery efforts are ridiculous and shameful at best and while we’re at it can someone take a look at Flint??? – but the librarian lady was watching me like a hawk and probably wouldn’t tolerate any of my foolishness. As I learned soon after, it’s the Microsoft Auditorium and apparently the back can expand to accommodate an additional 150 people!

The first floor is where you check in/out books and there’s also an exhibit featuring interviews and content from the Library’s social media feed – I’ll leave their social media links at the end! Plus, all of the staff had amazing recommendations!

Second floor is staff only ;/ But I’m pretty sure the only thing they do on that floor is book sorting and shipping and all that boring but necessary stuff.

The third floor is where the magic happens.

It’s called the Living Room, and it is truly where all the living happens. The library hosts tons of author’s readings, adult classes (and by that I mean genealogy, personal finance management, health forums, etc), teen groups and homework help, ESL classes and citizenship programs, cultural events (they have ballet performances here!!), and of course book clubs. The ceilings are an astonishing 50ft high and dramatic carpets decorate the floor. Light streams in from every angle and if you don’t look up in awe at how big the space is, you’re not human.

The living room also houses the small cafe and a cozy seating area. This floor has a ton of stuff. OH AND THE BOOKS. With over one million books on it’s nine thousand shelves, you could spend your entire summer vacation in this building and still not get through the entire collection. The library has four hundred free public computers, WiFi (#blessed), and a gift shop! I wasn’t feeling well that day so I was more off my game than usual and I missed the gift shop ;(

Books are books, so I didn’t take pictures of them, although now I realize that would probably be useful for writing this post. *shrug emoji*

Beyond the books lies the Red Hall Aka the Red Room. Aka the Meeting Rooms. Aka Mr. Grey would like to see you now.

The entire floor is painted aggressively bright red, and the halls curve into each other like tunnels covered in Halloween blood. This floor is mostly meeting rooms and a fancy set of bathrooms. Boeing had their own private suite (more than one actually). Rumor has it that inside the actual meeting rooms, the walls and floors are very neutral – greys, browns, and shades of beige. I can neither confirm or deny this, but if you’ve ever been inside, please comment below and dish what it’s like on the inside!

Floors 5-9 have all the computers, research resources, study areas, art installations, and the majority of the nonfiction selection. Keep going though, and you’ll see the real magic.

Take the elevator all the way to the top!

Well technically it’s not all the way at the top. It’s actually on the ninth floor. The top floor, 10, is the administration and HR floor. BUT THE NINTH FLOOR IS GORGEOUS. Even though it was a warm day (pushing high 80s) and super sunny, it wasn’t hot inside. I was a little nervous the glass would act like a magnifying glass, but it stayed cool. Another win for the library’s architecture.

The glass design offers views of the city from all angles of the library and hey, it’s also a green and sustainable building! I also love that the library celebrate’s the city’s diversity! The Seattle Public Library actively supports efforts that combat prejudice, stereotyping and discrimination. I wouldn’t be surprised if the building grew legs and joined in on a community march.

Everything was so bright and angelic up there. If I had to imagine what heaven would look like, it would be something like this. Books and views. The Seattle Public Library could use a froyo stand, but they’re pretty close.

Seattle’s Public Library is definitely one of my favorite public libraries, right behind the Boston Public Library. (I tried to visit the one in NYC but it was closeddd *cry*). SPL is beautiful in the summer, but it’s also a safe haven for these next few months of rain! Grab your coziest sweater, pick up a book, and snag a nice chair by a snag a nice chair by the windows!

Remember to follow and check out Seattle Public Library on their social media accounts to keep up-to-date on all their latest !

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Do you like visiting public libraries when you travel? Which one is your favorite?

 

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Hey everyone! I know you are patiently awaiting the release of my first novel, “TW: Flatline” and I’m super excited about sharing it with all of you! It’s not quite yet out ready for order, but in the meantime, enjoy this short excerpt !

Artwork by the lovely and talented IG: spiritsupplements

Trampoline 

 

 

My mother had always been insufferable.

Even before she was a brain-dead washed out zombified version of a human, she was a vacant waste of space.

As a child, her parents simply labeled her a day dreamer. Noticing she didn’t eat bugs or pick her nose like most children, they incorrectly thought she was a shy quiet kid. They felt lucky. She was the perfectly little angel, with large brown eyes, chocolate ringlet curls, and a light sprinkle of freckles across her cheeks. There was nothing wrong with being a perfect little angel. While piles of dolls and tacky kid’s makeup palettes lay untouched in the corners of her room, she would crawl into her bed and nap after school, surrounded by all of her unnamed stuffed animals.

Thirteen was a big year for my mother. Along with the fun of puberty and moving to a nicer neighborhood, my grandparents bought her a trampoline. Nothing too fancy, but it did have those tall mesh screens around the perimeter just in case her clumsiness got the best of her. My mother’s childhood dream was to be a cheerleader (spoiler, she never made the team) and my grandparents were excited for her to finally take an interest in something other than staring off into thin air like a pet that could see ghosts.

However, instead of bouncing around the trampoline like a rabid animal, she used all of the energy in her body to hoist herself up on the trampoline then collapse onto the black jumping mat, her body rolling to the center of the trampoline.

She spent hours there, sunken in the mesh fabric.

She probably would have developed skin cancer by now if she had grown up anywhere other than Caribou, Maine.

My mother’s teenage boyfriend was named Andrew. She occasionally told stories about him whenever she had too much wine and her friends were complaining about their husbands.

She met Andrew at fifteen, when he decided to finally introduce himself. He lived in the house directly behind her, his bedroom window overlooking her backyard. My mother, despite what everyone assumed, was not shy. Andrew was.

Every day when he got home from school, he would peek out of his window and gaze at her uninhabited body, brown curls encircling her still face like a halo. Occasionally, whenever Andrew looked up from his homework to check, she would have rolled over or shifted an arm so he at least knew she was alive, even if that was all he knew about her.

Until one day she didn’t move.

It was late fall and snow had already blanketed her backyard with white. The first time Andrew had seen my mother do anything besides climbing on and off the trampoline was when she cleared her trampoline of snow. It was almost erotic. But now she hadn’t moved at all, bundled up in her knee length down jacket and bright pink mittens. If he squinted, it looked like her eyes were closed.

Andrew waited until half an hour went by, probably not the wisest decision for a first responder. His forehead was pressed against the window and his thin lips fogged the glass as he whispered for my mother to make a movement, any movement, something to assure him she wasn’t dead.

She didn’t move.

“Ah, shoot,” he violently cursed, clenching both his fists. He grabbed his beanie with the fleece ear flaps and tumbled down the stairs, a knight on the trek to save his princess. But first, “MOM!” He shouted, “Where did you put my snow boots?”

Another ten minutes, he was knocking on the front door of her house. Another-another ten minutes, after no one answered the door, he scampered into her backyard. “Hey! Hey!” He shouted, scrambling up and onto the trampoline. “Hey!” He continued, the only word left in his flustered vocabulary. He crawled to the center, reaching out to shake her shoulder.

She snapped her head toward him, jerking away from his hand. “Who are you?”

“I—” His eyes darted between her two questioning eyes as he retracted his hand. “I’m Andrew.”

“Why are you in my backyard?” She propped herself up on her elbows, looking him over. “Andrew.”

“Well I.” He crossed his legs under him. The millions of times he had prepared this very conversation immediately evaporated from his mind. “I thought you were dead.”

Dead? Why?”

He shrugged. “Because you weren’t moving.”

She laid back down. “Huh.” My mother nodded to herself, resting her hands behind her head. “I could see that, yeah.” When Andrew didn’t respond, she glanced at him. “You can join me if you want, Andrew.”

And join her he did. Andrew dated my mother for almost two years before he too grew tired of her. He grew tired of the way she only thought about herself, withdrawing into the comfort of her trampoline rather than his arms. He grew tired of how she would sit in silence for hours, eyes glazed over while he tried to ask her what was wrong.

He grew tired of the way she laid there like a corpse the one and a half times they had sex. Andrew didn’t know exactly what to expect, sex was probably going to be weird and awkward and uncoordinated, maybe even embarrassing, but it wasn’t supposed to be like that.

Love wasn’t supposed to make him feel so worthless.

Week after week, month after month. He was tired of how she would just shut down, sometimes in the middle of a sentence, like a laptop forcing itself to sleep, unsaved documents be damned. He did everything for her, waited on her hand and foot, gave her every ounce of his emotional and physical support whenever she didn’t ask for it.

My mother gave him nothing in return. Andrew was a shy kid, but he had enough dignity to know when he was being a doormat.

Blah blah blah, they broke up and eventually my mother moved down to Boston because her parents had connections to the Dean of Admissions at BU, but not even that did much help because she couldn’t find the motivation to get out of bed the entire first semester. She dropped out in time for finals.

More boring stuff, my mother got a job at a bowling alley downtown. It somehow worked out because if she didn’t show up, her boss was usually so stoned he couldn’t tell my mother apart from the broom leaned up against the bathroom wall.

My mother would laugh about the story now, a polite laugh, as she swirled her near empty wine glass in front of her face. Her friends would join in on the laugh, asking how big Andrew’s dick was. She would shush them and they huddled closer holding up estimates on the young man’s genitals. They were laughing in the present, but my mother’s eyes were still looking up from the trampoline.

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Potato Mountain – what the heck is it?

Potato Mountain lies just on the outskirts of LA County, nestled in the San Gabriel Mountains. You guys know how much I love a good backstory. I searched far and wide for some history on this so called Potato Mountain. Like, WHERE DID IT GET THAT NAME??

I heard about this hike from a high school friend. She regularly posted bomb photos of her frequent walks up Potato Mountain with her adorable spotted puppy. Plus, it was named Potato Mountain. I was intrigued.

My sister recently picked up an interest in hiking, so about four minutes after she got home from work (she works night shift), I poured some cold water on her and stuffed her in my car.

Totally voluntary on her part.

I drove through the familiar territory of my childhood, trying to block out all those fabulous memories of high school. Potato Mountain is very close to Mt. Baldy, so if you get confused by following Google Maps and all you see are signs pointing towards Mt. Baldy, don’t be alarmed. You’re on the right track. You’ll find a small little dirt parking lot and I didn’t see any signs to pay, so it’s probably free. You might need a permit though?? I didn’t have one and didn’t experience any issues, but if you want to do things the right way, you could look into it. I read that you can get them from Pomona College for free.

Actually, I’m not even sure if this was the correct start to the trail because this bright yellow barricade blocked the entrance to the path.

If this isn’t the right entrance and you know where it actually starts, lemme know. ANYWAYS, after completely ignoring this sign, I began the hike. I passed a clearing that gave me definite ‘The Hills Have Eyes” vibes. The beginning of the hike is very shaded, but it is only flat for about five minutes. Prepare for an uphill climb.

(example of possible side path)

The main trail has many deviations and side paths, so I feel like this is a hike that can be explored over and over. I took a small detour at the beginning of the hike, following the sound of the babbling stream nearby. My sister was hungry though, so we didn’t sit around for too long. Back in 2002, a huge fire wiped out these foothills. I enjoyed experiencing green slowly retaking the mountains.

The first stretch is definitely the hardest, however hikers of all ages (teen and above though) took on the challenge. If you have problematic knees, I might advise using a walking stick of some sort since most of it very uphill. If you’re in otherwise mostly decent health though, you should be fine.

What to bring on this hike

  • water – I didn’t and thought I would die
  • a hat for shade – I wore a beanie. No help
  • doggie bags (if you bring a dog, I didn’t see any baggies on the trail)

Although the beginning of the hike is lined with trees, once you begin the hill, you’re exposed to the elements. The hike is about five miles round trip and probably won’t take longer than 2 hours unless you plan a full on photoshoot.  My sister and I spent a good chunk of the beginning planning out her 5 year plan and debating the best items on the Taco Bell menu. About halfway to the top, the road forks as you approach this sign from the back. Take a sharp left (follow the arrow) to continue up the mountain to the peak.

Directly after passing the sign, a vantage point presents itself. It is a great place for a pitstop. I was insanely sweaty at this point and unfortunately wore a light grey shirt. Excellent planning on my point, as usual. Wear sunscreen because the sun is relentless on this hike.

Going back to the fire that overtook these mountains nearly 15 years ago, officials determined it was started by an overheated parked car.  It took a full 10 days to contain the fire, but only after it had already consumed 4,192 acres of Angeles National Forest. But just like the dream chasing inhabitants of Southern California, these mountains are resilient.

After a short break, the incline continues. As you climb higher, the impressive Mt. Baldy stands tall behind you. I have only a few Mt. Baldy stories. My family was not an outdoor family by any means. What I do know about Mt. Baldy (and the surrounding hills) is that it is full of wildlife. There are bears, big horn sheep, coyotes, raccoons, deer, bobcats, and even foxes. Supposedly. The biggest animal I had ever seen while hiking was a lizard. I have seen mountain lions in my friend’s backyard and raccoons at the McDonald’s drive thru down the street, so they must be hanging out in these mountains somewhere.

In the winter, the higher elevation mountains are usually snow capped.

The top is a lot closer than it looks.

Once you finally get to the top, a concrete water tank provides a great resting spot to take in the sights of the Pomona Valley down below. The elevation isn’t the highest, so don’t expect the freshest air quality. Oh who am I kidding, if you’re in SoCal you shouldn’t expect that anyway. Kick your legs over the edge of the tank and pretend this wasn’t the most exercise you’ve had in three months. There are tons of photo ops from the top, but I mostly just took in the view.

From the top, a couple different mountains appear in the distance:  Saddleback down in the OC, the two tallest mountains in Southern California to the east, the San Gabriels to the west, and, of course, Mt. Baldy to the north, the third highest mountain in Southern California. Apparently on a clear day you can even see the Pacific Ocean. If you’re REALLY lucky, Catalina Island is visible on the horizon as well.

We arrived at the top a little after 12pm, so all the smart hikers had already left the summit and the unbearable sun. But that just meant we had the whole place to ourselves. My sister and I tried to spot our house and the high school and that corner where our grandmother almost accidentally picked up a prostitute.  We didn’t find any of them, but it was fun nonetheless.

So why is this place called Potato Mountain?

There are potatoes at the top of the mountain. But no, not potato plants. Just potatoes. People bring regular ol’ potatoes to the top of the mountain and then leave them there. Hikers draw faces on their potatoes and write quotes, lyrics, and wishes in Sharpie.

I looked everywhere for the story behind the potatoes, but I found nothing. Not even Jeeves had an answer for me (shoutout to all the millennials who remember that search engine lol). I couldn’t find who started the tradition or the significance of the potato. Also, who cleans up all the potatoes? What happens to them?? Red paint kind of spelled out POTATOE on the water tank. The letters faded though. If you squint, you can almost see the letters near the bottom potatoes in the picture.

The United States has seven mountains named after everyone’s favorite starch. Even Canada has a Potato Mountain. Do all these mountains have the potato tradition? Who has the authority to name mountains? Do potatoes attract mountain lions? Who spells potato as potatoe? So many questions. So little time. And so many potatoes.

I neglected to bring my own potato, so I borrowed someone else’s for a picture. I also forgot a Sharpie.

This isn’t a TOTALLY INSTAGRAM WORTHY HIKE – there aren’t any waterfalls or base camps or light rays filtering through a canyon. If you don’t live in Southern California, it isn’t a must climb. But it was peaceful.

Be careful on the way down. It was steep coming up and it will still be steep going down. My sister, bless her heart, ran down the whole way but almost rolled her ankle. The good news is that the way down is a lot easier. After you leave, the Claremont village is only 15 minutes away. The village is a great place for an after-hike snack. My sister and I opted for a nap after, which was equally as refreshing.

What do you think came first: The name or the potato tradition?

 

P.S. Let me know if you find out the story behind the mountain name, I’m insanely curious and probably won’t have another good night’s sleep until I find out.

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Guano Point is a classic story of  nature’s tendency to laugh at human greed.

Guano Point is one of the stops on the Grand Canyon West tour. It offers insane views of the canyon, and literally ZERO barriers. You could just fall right off. People actually DO fall into the Grand Canyon to their deaths every now and then, but I don’t think there have been any accidents at Guano Point. Probably.

The story of Guano Point starts a few decades ago. In the 1930s, a young man decided to go for a nice little boat ride down the Granite Gorge, just minding his own business, when he noticed a hole in one of the canyon walls. That man’s name was Harold Carpenter. He estimated the hole was maybe, 600 feet above the water, and he was curious. He should probably investigate. Why not, right?

Three days of climbing later, he finally reached the hole.

As it turned out, the hole was a giant cave and it was filled with guano. Aka bat poop. Guano is crazy rich in nitrates and phosphates, which is a main component in fertilizer. A mining engineer even estimated that there was at least 100,000 tons of guano in the cave. Surely that would net at least $12-15 million. That guano was gold.

Several companies attempted mining Guano Point, most of them unsuccessful.

Attempt #1: Extraction via tramway. That seemed simple enough.  The plan was to build a tramway from the cave entrance to a barge dock below. Easy! The small company immediately went bankrupt from construction expenses due to barges sinking and tram motor repairs. Well. They tried.

Attempt #2: Extraction via plane.  The King-Finn Fertilizer Company pursued this, building a landing strip on one of the sandbars a little upstream from the cave. They used the tramway that had previously built to haul guano out of the cave. Then they loaded the guano onto boats in the water. The boats would then float down the river to the airstrip and the guano would then be loaded into the airplane and sent off. However, this turned out to be mega expensive and rivers – crazy enough – are prone to changing water levels which would – and did – cover the airstrip. Well. They tried.

Attempt #3: In 1957,  the U.S. Guano Corporation bought the rights to the cave and began formulating plans to extract all that delicious guano from the cave. It was time to bring in the big guns. Their plan was to build a tram from the cave alllll the way to the other side of the canyon, 7,500 feet (2300 m) across at a whopping $3.5 million dollars. 30,000 feet (9100 m) of steel cable was used to haul up the cable cart from the mine. It was a pretty big deal, engineering wise.

The construction project took 14 months. After a couple of expensive misadventures (breaking a clutch lever, dropping 10.000 feet/3m of cable into the canyon, 20.000 feet/6m of cable wearing out, the replacement cable also wearing out, etc.) the company all but completely drained the mine of resources by 1959.

Less than two years to drain an entire cave of guano? How?? Well, they were able to excavate it so quickly because the cave only contained 1,000 tons instead of 100,000. The rest of the cave was useless limestone deposits.

#engineers

The movie Edge of Eternity was filmed at the site in 1959. They closed the unprofitable mine in 1960. Then, a few months after closing, a U.S Air Force jet illegally hot-dogging (I learned a new word today) down the canyon  clipped the mining cable with it’s wing, permanently disabling the tram. The pilot survived the crash, but not sure if he survived after his boss found out. The cave eventually became part of Grand Canyon National Park in 1975.

History lesson over.

I took a sneak peak inside the remnants of the old tram pulley. It was super cool but also kinda eerie, standing in the bones of an old mining tool. They even had a few signs up from when the tram was operational.

At least they cared about the workers. What a great place to work.

Inside the lift offered even closer views of the canyon facing the river. Just on the other side of the river was the cave, but like the excellent blogger I am, I didn’t take a picture of the ACTUAL cave lol. Anyways, the sun was starting to set, so the rest of my pictures from inside the tram lift were too dark to be recognizable. Oh well, guess you’ll have to visit for yourself!

So what are your thoughts on Guano Point? Would you want to visit? Also, do you think they still use guano in fertilizer???

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I have been to Seattle many times, but for some reason or another, I had never visited the Gum Wall.

If you have never heard of Seattle’s Gum Wall, let me fill you in. It is an alley with gum covered walls. That’s the general overview.

How to get there: The easiest and most efficient way is to GPS the gum wall. If you want to do it the not easy and efficient way, the wall is located in Post Alley at the very South end of Pike Place Market. It’s actually the wall of the Market Theater. If you’re already exploring Pike Place Market, it’s an easy addition to your sight seeing (You can check out my post for things to do in Seattle here).

What to expect: Gum. Lots of gum.

Before I get into my utter disgust of this wall, let’s go into a little bit of the gum wall’s backstory! Y’all know I love a good backstory. So the tradition of leaving gum on the walls of Post Alley began in the early 1990s when attendees of the theater stuck gum on the wall while they were waiting in the box office line. They also apparently stuck coins in the gum, but I don’t really understand why they would do that.

The theater workers tried scraping the gum off the walls, but they couldn’t keep up. Eventually, they gave up. I don’t blame them. The city named the gum wall a tourist attraction in 1999. If you can’t beat em, join em.

Gum covers the entire alley in every nook and cranny. The wall grew, and in some spots, the gum was 15 inches thick.

Seattle’s Gum Wall is the second germiest tourist attraction in the entire world, second only to the Blarney Stone in Ireland ( You know, the one everyone makes out with?). It absolutely skeeved me out. I had been to a gum wall before, in San Luis Obisbo, California, and I took one step inside that alley and I wanted to puke. So naturally, I decided to finally visit the one in Seattle. It was more or less the same, but ten times bigger. Apparently, Seattle’s gum wall is crazy popular for wedding shoots.

Why? I will never know.

I didn’t get any good pictures because I couldn’t stand still. The gum was everywhere and my hair was like a magnet inviting all of it to latch on. The gum even covered the electrical boxes on the outside of the buildings. People have to access those, man! Can you imagine being the unfortunate worker that has to maintain these buildings? Bleh.

Apparently, the city was pretty grossed out as well. After more than twenty years of gum sticking, the city decided to clean the wall for the first time in 2015. The Pike Place Market Preservation and Development Authority stated it was to prevent further erosion on the bricks. It took the cleaning crew 130 hours of power cleaning to scrape off over two thousand pounds of gum. If you want to see a time lapse of the cleaning, check it out here.

But then, of course, the visitors immediately began to re-gum the wall right after. Some of the first additions were actually memorials to the deadly Paris attacks. So all of my pictures in this posts are AFTER the cleaning. This is just a year and a half of gum. Try to imagine this, but multiplied by twenty years. Well, you could imagine, or you could just google it. It’s insane.

The alley is crazy long too, but I didn’t have the stomach to walk more than a few feet inside. Weirdly enough, people also put their business cards onto the wall. I also don’t understand this. Why would someone look close enough to read a business card?

I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact more than a ton of gum is sitting somewhere in a landfill. Or does it go to compost? What happens to gum when it’s thrown away? Is it biodegradable? After cigarette butts, chewing gum is second most common form of litter. So many questions, so much more gum.

Have you ever been to a gum wall? What do you think of them? And what would you do if people started a gum wall on the exterior of your business?

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