Homegrown band Modest Mouse nods to hometown flavor

February 21, 2012

Modest Mouse is perhaps the most recognizable phenomenon to originate in Issaquah. (Sorry, loyal Costco members, but the mega-chain started in Seattle.)

Pacific Northwest gloom permeates Modest Mouse songs, but Issaquah receives scant attention in the lyrics.

However, band members tucked a reference to a certain local burger joint into a song. The nod is the closest the band comes to a clear-cut reference to Issaquah.

The mention appears in the song “All Nite Diner” on the “Interstate 8” EP. (The collection dropped in August 1996, a year before the album “The Lonesome Crowded West” turned the band into 1990s indie rock darlings.)

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Issaquah balloons from small town to boomtown

February 21, 2012

Most citizens did not need a decennial update from the U.S. Census Bureau to recognize Issaquah as a boomtown.

The dramatic increase in population is a recent phenomenon.

Issaquah started as a pinpoint on maps, a remote hamlet in the rough-and-tumble Washington Territory.

Even as Seattle boomed amid World War II and into the postwar era, Issaquah did not crest 4,000 people until the late 1960s.

The population growth continued at a deliberate pace until a Microsoft-powered population explosion caused Issaquah and other Eastside cities to expand as the last century barreled to a close.

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What 10 qualities set Issaquah residents apart?

February 21, 2012

Issaquah inspires a deep affection among residents past and present.

Perhaps the connection is because the city stands out among cookie-cutter Eastside suburbs. (Bummer, Redmond.)

Residents can rattle off at least a dozen reasons to love Issaquah, although even outsiders can recognize the charms. Only locals can offer a snapshot into the authentic Issaquah experience.

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2011 Summer Issaquah Living

July 2, 2011

Step off of Tiger Mountain at 1,800 feet and take flight — with a paraglider

July 2, 2011

Seattle Paragliding tandem instructor Matt Amend and owner Marc Chirico help a paraglider pilot launch from Poo Poo Point. By Caleb Heeringa

You know that dream where you’re flying — where you’re able to look down on the hustle and bustle of the earth from thousands of feet above and the problems that normally seem so big are now as small and insignificant as ants?

The dream is real for the paraglider pilots who launch off the west side of Tiger Mountain every day that it’s not raining buckets. For more than 20 years, Marc Chirico has been throwing people off the side of the mountain — with paraglider and emergency parachute attached, of course.

It’s a career that started as a hobby that started with a dream that many of us have had — to drift above it all.

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Made-in-Washington attractions deliver one-of-a-kind destinations

July 2, 2011

Greetings from Washington

Washington, land of Sasquatch and the Space Needle, is unlike any other.

Evergreen State travelers can find kitchenware fit for King Kong, celebrations dedicated to unglamorous farm commodities and roadside oddities pulled from a Ripley’s Believe It or Not! guide squirreled in corners near and far.

“Washington Curiosities” and “Washington Icons” author Harriet Baskas said geography explains at least some of the strangeness.

“You’re on the edge of the country, you’re out here and there’s still that pioneer spirit,” she said.

Summertime offers a chance to journey to out-of-the-way attractions not as obvious as Mount Rainier or Lake Chelan. Discover 10 attractions off the beaten path — but unmistakably made in Washington.

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Issaquah eateries dish up more, more, more in oversized offerings

July 2, 2011

Sunset Alehouse's The National Champ

Some meals must be confronted, in a grab-the-bull-by-the-horns style, rather than eaten.

Consider the proof: Issaquah eateries peddling a pizza as broad as a manhole cover, potatoes heaped as high as the Rockies and a gooey ice cream sundae as large as a bathtub.

Turns out that the fabled XXX Burger is not alone among belly-busting options in Issaquah. The city boasts behemoth burgers, sure, but other options abound, beyond beefy and french fried delights. Establishments revel in menu items meant to satisfy oversized appetites — and egos.

Come, gluttons and gluttons for punishment, on a grease-stained and sauce-spattered odyssey through portions the next size up from ample.

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Fremont’s Lenin statue traces journey from Slovakia — and Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The statue of Vladimir Lenin casts a steely gaze along a street in Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood. By Greg Farrar

In Seattle’s Fremont neighborhood and, for a time in Issaquah, Vladimir Lenin, so reviled and revered throughout the 20th century, is just the dictator next door.

The reason a bronze Lenin statue came to rest in Fremont, the self-styled center of the universe, is almost as convoluted as a Cold War potboiler. The statue’s circuitous route led from Slovakia to Issaquah after a local man, Lewis Carpenter, chanced upon the statue in the former Soviet satellite state.

Overnight, after the Iron Curtain collapsed, residents discarded such Soviet propaganda symbols by the cartful.

Communism in Eastern Europe imploded not long before Carpenter, a business and English instructor at a nearby university, discovered the toppled statue in a Poprad, Slovakia, storage yard. Inside the hollow statue, a homeless man had set up camp.

The less-than-enamored Slovaks planned to melt down the statue for benches, but the college instructor offered another idea — purchasing the statue as a landmark — and cash.

So, after dropping $13,000 and slicing through red tape, Carpenter owned the statue. The transoceanic shipment to Washington cost another $40,000.

Carpenter, a colorful character and self-described playboy, could not resist the irony inherent in displaying Lenin in the Soviet Union’s archnemesis. Soon, however, tragedy caused the plan to screech to a halt.

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20 reasons to ♥ Issaquah

July 2, 2011

The spectacular landscape is a reason to love Issaquah. By Connor Lee

Discover 20 reasons to love Issaquah, from the highest Tiger Mountain peak to the Lake Sammamish shoreline, and much more in between. The community includes icons and traits not found anywhere else, all in a postcard-perfect setting. The unique qualities — Issa-qualities? — start at the city’s name and extend into every nook and neighborhood. (The lineup is not arranged in a particular order, because ranking the city’s pre-eminent qualities seems so unfair.)

Salmon Days

The annual salmon-centric celebration is stitched into the city’s fabric. Salmon Days serves as a last hurrah before autumn, a touchstone for old-timers and a magnet for tourists. The street fair consistently ranks among the top destinations in the Evergreen State and, for a time last year, as the best festival on earth — in the $250,000-to-$749,000 budget category, anyway.

Issaquah Alps

The majestic title for the forested peaks surrounding the city, the Issaquah Alps, is a catchall term for Cougar, Squak and Tiger mountains. (Credit the late mountaineer and conservationist Harvey Manning for the sobriquet.) The setting is a playground for outdoors enthusiasts. Trails — some official and others less so — for hikers, bikers and equestrians crisscross the mountains, like haphazard tic-tac-toe patterns.

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Lake Sammamish is ultimate summertime destination

July 2, 2011

Kyle Ritland, working for his mother Barbara Gronseth, of Issaquah Paddle Sports, takes inventory on Sunset Beach of the paddle boats, canoes and paddleboards, and kayaks for one, two or three passengers. By Greg Farrar

The crystalline lake is much more than a swimming hole

It has a sunken forest, great blue and green herons, and canoes dipping up and down in the waves. At seven miles in length, Lake Sammamish is a refuge and an entertainment spot for boaters seeking solitude or a good time.

Whether on a motorboat or in a kayak, or balancing on a paddleboard or a Ski-Doo, outdoor enthusiasts flock to Lake Sammamish for its views, wildlife and watery expanse.

Boat owners can purchase a $7 daily watercraft-launching permit at the park if they choose to use Lake Sammamish State Park as their take-off point.

Teresa Eneix, of Marysville, took her boat out on the water with her family on a warm day June 5 to go “droll cruising,” a term she defined while laughing as “looking at all the neat houses that we could never afford.”

She said she spotted a brace of ducks and a gaggle of geese, but the best part was that boaters don’t use Lake Sammamish as much as Lake Washington, meaning the water is less choppy.

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