Showing posts with label Light Rail Seattle. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Light Rail Seattle. Show all posts

Saturday, September 14, 2013

WAWeekend: Where were you in ‘62?

That was the year -- 1962 -- when the focus in Washington State was Seattle, host city to the Century 21 Exposition (better known to this day as the Seattle’s World’s Fair).

The Fair, showcasing a new century -- then, still 38 years in the future -- ran from April 21st to October 21st and is said to have ‘put Seattle on the world map”.

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If you were willing to wait in the long lines, you probably even rode that space-age marvel, the Monorail, to the World’s Fair site. Fair creators realized that some form of transportation system would be needed to move the fair-goers (nearly 10 million people visited during the Fair’s run). The elevated Monorail was built to ease congestion on surface streets.

I remember the terror of that wait for a ride on that sleek rapid-transit contraption that my parents insisted would be fun. It seemed pretty space-age to me at the time!

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Now, just over a half century later, the Monorail’s popularity continues.  On a mid-week afternoon this summer I joined the lines of folks at Westlake Center who waited far longer than the ride itself for their turn on a nostalgic journey.

The Monorail travels about a mile, from the heart of downtown Seattle to the former Fairgrounds, now the Seattle Center, home to the iconic Space Needle, also built for the Fair, and the site's newcomer, the Dale Chihuly Garden and Glass. 

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The children in line couldn’t stand still; their excitement too great. For those of my age it was a chance to share stories and memories of those early day trips.

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The cars were as I remembered them and because I was the only one simply taking a round-trip ride, for a brief minute or two after the others had left the train, I had it all to myself!

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The view of the Space Needle from the Monorail is one of the best to be had – not to mention being up-close and personal with the EMP Museum (formerly called the Experience Music Project) created by Microsoft co-founder, Paul Allen. A portion of its exterior is pictured in the photo below.

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If you are visiting Seattle, don’t miss the Monorail. It’s a great (quick) trip into the city’s more recent history and it is still a slick way to get between the two places without the cost of seeking lots and then paying sky-high parking rates.

If You Go:

Map picture

One way tickets are $2.25 for adults, less than that for seniors (65 and older) and children. For additional admission information and hours, visit,

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Washington Wednesday: Road Trip Sips

A couple of weeks ago we focused on nibbling your way through our Evergreen State, so today we're sipping through Central Washington – legally, of course.
We love stopping in the small town of Cashmere on our road trips to Joel’s hometown, Chelan.  Its main street is simply a Norman Rockwell painting come to life.

But it wasn’t until last month that we finally followed directional signs posted throughout the town and into the orchards that surround it to the Cashmere Cider Mill.


Cider is a term used in the United States for a non-alcoholic beverage made from fruit; primarily apples.  And at the Cider Mill they have ratcheted up the art of cider making!  After the lady at the tasting counter insisted we sip one flavor, we quickly worked our way through four flavors and left  with two bottles of those we liked best -- one a traditional apple and another pear – promising them we'd be back and stock up again the next time we were in town.

Don’t let that plain warehouse of a building in the photo above deter you because they've transformed the cavernous inside into a charming store that, besides featuring their ciders, offers a tasting counter for other products and edible souvenirs galore.

DSCF1074A lush green garden area with plenty of seating borders the parking lot and makes the perfect spot to eat and drink the goodies you’ve purchased – and there's an art barn (pictured on the left) for more shopping!

For those who want to sample some of the area’s local wines, head a bit further east to the Wenatchee Valley Visitors Center, in the town of Wenatchee, where this summer a new wine tasting center opened.  For $4 you can taste wines from seven wineries and another artisan cider (this one a  hard cider – that is, one with alcohol.)

If You Go: Click the link above for hours of operation at The Cider Mill, 5420 Woodring Canyon Road, Cashmere, 509-782-3564.  Wenatchee Valley Visitors Center, 5 South Wenatchee Ave., Wenatchee, 800-572-7753.

Getting There:  Cashmere and neighboring Wenatchee are in central Washington State. Fly from Seattle to Wenatchee’s Pangborn Memorial Airport, four miles outside town.  Or take a scenic 2.5 hour drive from Seattle through Washington's Cascade Mountain range.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

On track in the Pacific Northwest

            Portland, Oregon's train station
"This is so beautiful," the man from Genoa, Italy exclaimed. "I think I have the good side." 

We were aboard Amtrak's Cascades traveling between Portland, Oregon and Seattle,Washington, passing through a part of southwestern Washington that I had always considered 'somewhat boring'. 

           Crossing the Columbia River
I had met the Italian  in Portland's train station while we waited in a long line for seat assignments. Having completed the business portion of his Pacific Northwest trip he was traveling by a train to the area's largest cities: Portland, Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.  He asked for  recommendations on what he should see; I ticked off the usual tourist sites as we inched our way towards the counter.

We'd chatted again as I made my way to the dining car for coffee. Back in my seat, I thought about his enthusiastic declaration and realized that I was guilty of traveling a familiar route, close to home and simply taking it for granted.

I decided it was time to really pay attention to my trip; I pulled out my notebook and made note of my discoveries:

*  Winlock, Washington, just south of Tacoma, home of the World's Largest Egg - the conductor announced it but unfortunately a freight train kept us from seeing it. It is 12-feet long and weighs 1,200 lbs - no joke; follow the link I provided above.
*  Speaking of Tacoma, if you pay attention as the train eases into the station from the south, you will go under the Chihuly Bridge of Glass with its Crystal Towers gleaming above you.
*  Passed a town I don't think I'd ever paid attention to before called Bucoda but its been around since the 1870's when it served as home to the first Territorial State Prison. 
*  A profusion of blooms filled acres of flower gardens along a portion of our route making me wonder if they were the Hmong Gardens I read so often about in newspapers; the ones that had suffered from our strange northwest weather this year.
* And then there was Mount Rainier, at 14,411 feet (4,392m) the highest mountain in Washington State. In the late afternoon sun it beauty was so striking that other passengers roused themselves from napping to take a look.

Majestic Mount Rainier from the train
Wish I could tell the Italian visitor that -- thanks to my brief encounter with him -- I won't ever take this trip for granted again.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

See Seattle on the Cheap - Ride Metro

Rick Steves, the 'Europe-on-the-cheap' travel guru, wrote so convincingly in his Paris guidebook that we were persuaded several years ago to tour the City of Light by public bus. His guidebook promise of cheap and simple rang true. I've been sold on sightseeing by public transport ever since.

Using that same cheap and easy approach I did an article a while back for the Seattle Times that featured local tourist destinations that can easily -- and more importantly, cheaply -- be reached by using our King County Metro bus system.

The underground bus stations in Seattle are so attractive that each is worth a stop just to see the artwork that has been built into the station design. These bright, well-lit, spacious stations are nothing like the dark, narrow tunnels that we've sometimes found ourselves in that lead us to the depths under London or Paris. Click the "Bus Tunnel" link for details of the artwork.

The Westlake Center station in the heart of Seattle is less than six blocks of Pike Place Public Market. Pioneer Square is the stop nearest one of the city's popular tourist destinations - where the city got its start and the International District stop puts a rider at the entry gate to what was once called our Chinatown.

To read about my destinations and tips for using the bus. . .

Sunday, February 28, 2010

Ridin' the Rail to Seatac Airport

Getting to Seatac Airport from downtown Seattle has been easier -- and cheaper -- since the Airport light rail station opened in December. Operated by Sound Transit Link Light Rail takes you from Westlake Center in downtown Seattle to the airport in 37 minutes. There are 10 stations along the route including stops in the International District, Pioneer Square and at the Stadium.

One-way adult fares are $2.50 and youth ages 6 -18 are $2. (Keep your ticket handy to show to a Fare Inspector on board). Tickets can be purchased from vending machines at the station that work much like automated bank teller or parking ticket machines.

Passengers need only walk from the airport staion along a covered, lighted, level walkway on the mezzanine level to the terminal. At Westlake Center's transit hub connections can be made to buses. Or most hotels are within a few blocks of the station.

After arriving home from Hawaii, we took a taxi home, slightly over 20 miles from the airport and the fare with tip was $61. Next time using Light Rail and connecting to the Metro bus, the cost per person will be $4.50 or $9 for the trip.


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