Monday, June 15, 2015

Visit to Seattle

20 years ago Gerry and I drove from Maryland to Alaska and back along the West coast, including Seattle, WA.  At that time we had a 30ft Flair motorhome and didn't have a tow car behind us.  We wanted to see Seattle and decided to drive the motorhome downtown not knowing the streets were so narrow and steep.  At one intersection Gerry said to turn right.  I did so and proceeded down 4 blocks of a very steep hill toward the Puget Sound and the docks.  Whoa Nelly.  A quick shift down a few gears and avoiding cars, bikes and pedestrians and we made it to the bottom.  This time we took the car.

Seattle skyline

I have to admit we didn't spend a lot of time in Seattle since there were so many streets closed due to construction and no parking except in high priced lots.  We did drive around for a couple hours and wound up down on the docks.  At one point we saw a sign for harbor access and turned down the road.  Not much of an access at the end of the road but we did manage to get some photos.

The Old Rainier brewery is just off the freeway and since traffic was so slow Gerry managed to snap a photo of it.  However, it is not a brewery any longer but they lease office space and host events there.  The plant is also home to the  Tully's Coffee headquarters, Bartholomew Winery, Red Soul Motorcycle Fabrications, as well as artist lofts, band practice spaces, and a recording studio.  I would have preferred it stayed a brewery and serve more people.

The Old Rainier brewery building

 The following restaurant advertisement caught our eye and Gerry took this photo.  If you read the lower left hand side of the logo, you should be able to figure out why we took the photo.

One can't visit Seattle without taking time to view the Space Needle.  Here is some trivia information about the Space Needle:

 The Space Needle’s top, an aircraft warning beacon, reaches 605 feet.
  • The Observation Deck is at 520 feet.
  • The SkyCity Restaurant revolves at 500 feet.
  • The SkyLine Banquet Facility hosts events at 100 feet.
  • The Pavilion entrance and SpaceBase Retail Shop are at the ground level.
  • Space Needle’s concrete foundation goes 30 feet underground.
  • To balance its 605 foot structure, the Space Needle’s concrete foundation had to be 30 feet deep because its base was limited to a 120 by 120 foot area, due to size constraints of the lot it was purchased on.
  • The 120′ x 120′ lot the Space Needle was built on was formerly owned by the city of Seattle, then sold to investors for $75,000 in 1961.
  • Purchased in 1961, the Space Needle was given a record-breaking goal of being built in a little over a year, to be featured at the opening of the World’s Fair. When construction was successfully finished in 400 days, US Steel dubbed the Space Needle “The 400 Day Wonder.”
  • There are 848 steps from the bottom of the basement to the top of the Observation Deck.
  • During the construction of the Space Needle, it took 467 cement trucks less than 12 hours to fill the foundation hole (30 feet deep and 120 feet across). This was the largest continuous concrete pour ever attempted in the West.
  • When the Space Needle was built in 1962, it was the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.
  • The foundation weighs 5,850 tons and there are 250 tons of reinforcing steel alone (i.e., rebar) in the foundation. The Needle structure weighs 3,700 tons.
  • The center of gravity for the Space Needle is 5 feet above the ground.
  • The Space Needle is fastened to its foundation with 72 bolts, each 30 feet in length.
  • The Space Needle sways approximately 1 inch for every 10 mph of wind. It was built to withstand a wind velocity of 200 miles per hour, doubling the 1962 building code requirements. When winds around the Needle reach high speeds, 35 mph or higher, the elevators are designed to reduce their traveling speed to 5 mph for safety reasons. During the 1993 Inaugural Day storm, wind gusts reached 90 mph and the top house was closed for an hour and a half.
  • On a hot day the Space Needle expands about one inch.
  • 25 lightning rods (24 actual rods, plus the tower) are on the roof of the Needle to withstand lightning strikes.
  • The diameter of the halo is 138 feet.
  • The diameter of the SkyCity Restaurant is 94.5 feet.
  • The Space Needle had the second revolving restaurant in the world. The first one was in the Ala Moana shopping mall in Hawaii. There are now hundreds of turntable structures throughout the world.
  • The entire Space Needle saucer does not rotate, only a 14-foot ring next to the windows rotates on the SkyCity restaurant level.
  • The restaurant turntable revolves on a track and wheel system that weighs roughly 125 tons, borrowed from railroad technology. All it takes to make the turntable revolve is a 1½ horsepower motor (originally it was a 1 hp motor).
  • The SkyLine level, at 100 feet, was built in 1982.
  • The original nickname of the Space Needle was “The Space Cage.” The original name of the restaurant was “Eye of the Needle.”
  • From the time of its construction, the Space Needle has always had a light atop the structure. The most recent version is the Legacy Light, first illuminated on New Year’s Eve 1999/2000.
  • The Space Needle was built in 1962 for a mere $4.5 million dollars. In 2000, the Space Needle completed a $20 million revitalization. The project included construction of the Pavilion Level, SpaceBase retail store, SkyCity restaurant, Deck overhaul, exterior lighting additions, installation of the Legacy Light, exterior painting and more.
  • On April 21, 1999, the Space Needle’s 37th birthday, the City’s Landmarks Preservation Board named it an official City of Seattle Landmark. In its Report on Designation, the Landmarks Preservation Board wrote, “The Space Needle marks a point in history of the City of Seattle and represents American aspirations towards technological prowess. [It] embodies in its form and construction the era’s belief in commerce, technology and progress.”

The Elevators

  • The Space Needle elevators weigh 14,000 pounds each with a capacity of 4,500 pounds. The counter-weight weighs 40 percent more than the elevator fully loaded.
  • Each elevator carries 25 people.
  • Each elevator has seven cables total, even though one cable is strong enough to hold the entire weight of the elevator.
  • Space Needle elevators are equipped with a governor brake that would lock the elevator on the tracks in case all seven cables broke.
  • Two of the Space Needle elevators are high speed and can travel at a rate of 10 mph, or 800 feet per minute. Actual travel time from the ground level to the top-house is 43 seconds. Under high wind conditions these high-speed passenger elevators are slowed to 5 mph. The third elevator, primarily used for freight but occasionally used to carry passengers, only travels at 5 mph, or 400 feet per minute.
  • The elevators that travel 10 mph are equal to the speed in which a raindrop falls to earth. In fact, a snowflake falls at 3 mph, so in an elevator during a snowstorm, it appears to be snowing upwards.
  • The last elevator arrived the day before the 1962 World’s Fair opened.

Gerry managed to capture the huge ferris wheel on the dock area along with Safeco & the Century Link stadiums.  The Mariners baseball team plays at Safeco and Century Link is the home field for the Seattle Seahawks.  The area around the stadiums is very confusing and I can't imagine driving down to the games during rush hour and then finding a place to park.  I know it is possible since the teams are well supported.

Since it was getting close to the evening rush hour, we decided to head out and avoid some of the traffic.  Our drive back to the campground took us close (35 miles away) to Mr. Rainier and it was beautiful sticking up there for all to see. 

 We made good time returning until we got on RT 167 South and it was like a parking lot.  Stop and go for miles and very slow going so we decided to stop for dinner and let the traffic ease up.  Not knowing the area we checked Yelp and a local Russian deli/market had good reviews.  It wasn't like we expected but since we were there, we gave it a try.  

I ordered a bowl of Borsch soup.  Hot borsch, the kind most popular in the majority of cultures, is a hearty soup. It is almost always made with a beef or pork broth. It usually contains heavy starchy vegetables including potatoes and beets, but may also contain carrots, cabbage and peppers.

We also tried the potato salad (great), tilapia, chicken balls, egg plant and two different breads, one filled with beef and potatoes, the other with sweet cheese & raisins.  Everything was good and we both especially enjoyed the borsch.

All the goods in the store were labeled in Russian and the deli had English translations with them.   It was obvious that most of their patrons were Russians and everyone looked at us like, what are you doing here.  Are you lost?  It was interesting to check out but once was enough.

I had intended to pick up a few geocaches while we were in the area and was within 200 ft of one when the battery on the Delorme Gps gave out.  Not to be deterred, I charged the battery overnight and went out the next morning to find the cache.  Always nice to add a new state to where we have found geocaches.

That was our day, how was yours?  


  1. Seattle is not one of our favorite cities. We found it NOT to be as beautiful as some lead us to believe.
    Boy, did you get lucky with the Mr. Rainier photo. We never saw it the entire time we were there.

  2. I've decided that we will probably never visit a big city (except Phoenix for doctors) again. I just hate all the traffic and people and noise. I remember going to the Needle back in the 60's with my folks. And then again when I had a class in Seattle for work. That will have to do for me. Big fire down at Kearney - threatening the town. So very hot and dry and gusty winds.