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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Poll: Many Washingtonians believe in Sasquatch, UFOs

June 5, 2011

NEW — 6 a.m. June 5, 2011

Sasquatch exists — at least according to 38 percent of the respondents from the latest PEMCO Insurance Northwest Poll.

Moreover, 13 percent of respondents said they had either seen or know someone who has seen a mythical hominid.

“The Northwest is home to unique folklore, so we decided it would be fun to explore what residents think about subjects that clearly are, well, a little different,” PEMCO spokesman Jon Osterberg said in a news release announcing the poll results. “We’ve had our share of strange sightings and events in Washington, and people here apparently are open to the idea that some of it is real.”

The questions about curiosities did not stop at Sasquatch. The poll also asked Washingtonians: “Do you believe there have been sightings of UFOs — spacecraft — that truly cannot be identified by anyone?”

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Volcano Awareness Month is a reminder to prepare for disasters

May 24, 2011

Issaquah faces risk from volcanic ash amid Cascade eruption

Majestic Mount Rainier, peeping through the gap between Tiger and Squak mountains, stands as a constant reminder to prepare for emergencies.

The looming volcano, like Mount Baker to the north and Mount St. Helens to the south, is active and although geologists do not expect Mount Rainier to erupt anytime soon, emergency planners remind residents to prepare. May is Volcano Awareness Month.

“It’s one of the things where we actually have to remind people that a volcano is one of our hazards,” said Bret Heath, city Public Works Operations and emergency management director. “Everybody looks at Mount Rainier down in the valley there on a nice day and goes, ‘Ah, beautiful mountain’ — until it goes off.”

Issaquah sits outside the area under threat from Mount Rainier lahars, a debris-strewn mudflow streaming from a volcano, but volcanic ash, or tephra, could impact transportation and air quality in East King County. In the area surrounding the mountain, lahars pose a greater hazard than lava and poisonous gases.

Though lava flows might not extend more than a few miles beyond Mount Rainier National Park boundaries, lahars could reach as far north as South King County.

Heath and other emergency planners identify volcanic eruptions as a potential threat to Issaquah.

Carolyn Driedger, hydrologist and outreach coordinator at the U.S. Geological Survey Cascades Volcano Observatory in Vancouver, Wash., said numerous volcanoes in the Cascade Range remain active.

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Rebuilt First Stage Theatre readies for debut

April 5, 2011

Village Theatre plans additional offerings at downtown venue

Robb Hunt (above) shows off the finished interior of the rebuilt First Stage Theatre on March 29, as actors rehearse on the boards. By Greg Farrar

The curtain rises soon on the rebuilt First Stage Theatre in downtown Issaquah.

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Up, up and away: Evergreen State peaks challenge climbers

February 15, 2011

John Junke, a supervisor at the Issaquah REI, poses at the summit of Mount Rainier. Contributed

Mount Rainier and other Evergreen State peaks challenge climbers of all skill levels

For skiing, go to Colorado. For surfing, grab a ticket to Hawaii. For mountaineering? You don’t have to go anywhere; you’re in Washington state — a veritable Mecca of peaks that many consider one of the best climbing locales in the country.

“You could spend the rest of your life in the Olympics and Cascades and not have climbed every peak,” said 60-year-old Joe Horiskey, a longtime climbing guide with RMI Expeditions. “There are so many rarely climbed peaks out there. I’ve been climbing for decades and haven’t even scratched the North Cascades personally.”

But just because you can do Tiger Mountain or Mount Si in your sleep doesn’t mean you’re ready for the big boys. And however tempting it might be to charge up Mount Baker in hiking boots and a fleece, there’s a certain amount of training necessary to make sure you get to the summit and then home safely to brag about your adventure to friends and family.

That training is a small investment in exchange for the experience of being on top of the world, said John Junke, a climber and supervisor at the Issaquah REI. Junke vividly recalls the site of the sun cresting over the horizon early in the morning on his first Mount Rainier climb.

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Holiday means freebies for veterans and active duty personnel

November 10, 2010

NEW — 6 a.m. Nov. 10, 2010

Freebies abound for veterans and active-duty military personnel Thursday, Veterans Day.

Brown Bear Car Wash offers free tunnel car washes to veterans and active-duty service personnel. Find the local Brown Bear outlets at 22121 S.E. 56th St. in Issaquah, and 3050 228 Ave. S.E. in Sammamish. In order to receive the offer, veterans and service members should identify themselves to the wash attendant in order to receive a free wash.

“This program is designed to show our support and gives us a unique opportunity to say thank you to people who sacrifice for our freedom,” Brown Bear President Victor Odermat said.

Dick’s Drive-In Restaurants offers free hamburgers and cheeseburgers to veterans and active military personnel.

Veterans and service members who military identification or wear their military uniform can receive a free hamburger or cheeseburger at every Dick’s Drive-In Restaurant. Find a complete list of restaurants here.

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Enter trail photography for chance to win prizes

October 5, 2010

The Washington Trails Association is holding its eighth annual Northwest Exposure photo contest. Photographers who capture award-winning photos from Washington’s trails have a chance to win a tour of Mount Rainier with a naturalist guide, a Snoqualmie snowshoe trek or a Woodinville wine tour with EverGreen Escapes.

Photographers can also win Lowepro camera bags and photography books.

The contest has five main entries: wild landscapes, flora and fauna, hikers in action, families on trail and offbeat photos. Photographers can submit one photo per entry.

The first, second and third place winners for each category will receive prizes, as well as have their art featured in the January/February issue of Washington Trails magazine. The grand prize photo will be featured on the cover.

Submit photos here by Oct. 17. The Northwest Exposure photo contest link is on the left side of the page.

Register to vote in November election by Monday

September 30, 2010

NEW — 8 a.m. Sept. 30, 2010

In order to vote in the November election, Washington residents must register to vote by Monday.

To register, a person must be a U.S. citizen, a Washington resident, at least 18 by Election Day and not under the authority of the state Department of Corrections.

Voters do not have to register by political party or declare political party membership in order to vote in primary or general elections.

Find a full list of requirements and registration forms at King County Elections.

Issaquah voters will decide legislative, judicial and congressional races in the Nov. 2 election, plus a measure to raise the county sales tax rate.

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Conservation corps plays important role in maintaining trails, streams

September 21, 2010

Members turn corps stint into eco-centric jobs

Jenn Woodham (foreground) and James Evangelisti, Washington Conservation Corps members, add fencing along Taylor Creek south of Issaquah. By Warren Kagarise

The teams maintaining the trails on state and King County lands near Issaquah often include members of the Washington Conservation Corps — a fresh-out-of-college bunch eager to earn experience in the environmental field.

Like the New Deal-era Civilian Conservation Corps, the 21st-century equivalent enlists young adults to tackle habitat and infrastructure projects.

“There are a lot of good public works projects that they’re doing out there,” state Department of Ecology spokesman Curt Hart said.

Members from far-flung corners of the United States populate the program. Some recruits, unable to land a job in a sour economy, turned to the program to burnish their résumés and earn a steady paycheck. Other members brought a background in environmental studies to the role. Many expressed a desire to learn about life in the Pacific Northwest.

In addition to trail projects, crews yank invasive plants from public lands, plant native flora and restore creek habitat.

Washington Conservation Corps teams conducted trail maintenance on Tiger Mountain in the past year. Earlier projects included habitat restoration along Issaquah Creek.

Members also race to disaster-stricken areas to render assistance.

“Come rain, floods, shine, fires, they’re there,” Hart said.

In April, the state Department of Ecology dispatched 30 Washington Conservation Corps members and supervisors to clean up debris and set up shelters after a tornado tore through Yazoo City, Miss.

For residents in the aftermath of a natural disaster, “our WCC crews may be the first government people these people see,” Hart said.

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Learn about Northwest noir at the library

September 21, 2010

Susan Olds

The wild Pacific Northwest can pull at any artist’s imagination, whether that artist is a painter, writer, photographer or unsuspecting hiker.

The region’s gloomy winters, dense forests, rugged mountains and deep Puget Sound act as an ideal backdrop for mysteries, thrillers, UFO sightings and legends. Ask any “Twin Peaks” fan who has visited the Snoqualmie Valley, or any “Twilight” reader who has journeyed to Forks to see the setting of the novels detailing the lives of vampires and werewolves.

North Bend art historian Susan Olds will present “Northwest Noir: Mysteries, Legends and Landscapes” at 7 p.m. Sept. 28 at Issaquah Library, 10 W. Sunset Way. Read more

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