Seattle's Freeway Park water fall

Seattle’s Freeway Park waterfall

There’s nothing like it in the entire world, some say.  That was certainly true when the now famous Seattle Freeway water park (running water as in waterfalls) was envisioned in the mind of Jim Ellis.

Now, because of its popularity, there are many places throughout the world that has ‘copied’ the look of the Seattle “water park” better known as Freeway Park.

Jim Ellis was by many, an activist with a great deal of tenacity to get things done…the right way!

His designs and influences are felt all over the city of Seattle.  From the clean up of the entire Lake Washington back in the 1950’s , to mass transit, a great variety of in-the-city-parks, pools, and many, many more public facilities has the Jim Ellis ‘touch.’

His instrument was the “Forward Thrust” program.  He indeed, did look Forward to the future.

He helped preserve farmlands,  was responsible for the Washington State Convention and Trade Center and made the city more GREEN with his Mountains to Sound Greenway all along the I-90 freeway corridor.

Brutish design?

Brutish design?

Freeway Park Fountain

Freeway Park Fountain

Freeway Path through greenery

Freeway Path through greenery

Freeway Park A Reality

The park designs of Angela Danadjieva and Lawrence Halprin & Assoc. completed the first phase of the 5.5 acre park in 1976.

The park design is termed ‘brutalist and greenery’ suspended in air space over the I-5 freeway.

With the many irregular linked plazas that intertwine in and out of each other along with the  board-formed concrete plant containers, walls, “skyscraper” concrete “buildings” and much more, make this a very unique park in the sky.

Making it a great place to enjoy the Seattle skyline.

Separated Yet … Together 

Within the park you’ll take note of the Central Plaza, the East Plaza and the West Plaza.   All separate yet make up a cohesive “whole” of the park itself.   The type of materials that are shared throughout the park make it consistently cohesive.

Take note of the variety of water features.  These are what make the ‘separation’ of each area from the other.  Each is created to bring about differing moods as you walk, sit, enjoy your lunch or read a book in the park.

Be sure and appreciate the “Fourth” space that is incorporated into Freeway Park.  George Tsutakawa created his sculpture of the Naramore Fountain.  However many do not know that it was actually the first structure and Freeway Park was designed around it.

A “Shady Past” To The Park

Though the park now, is beautiful and safe to walk through, not too long ago it was an overgrown jungle of sorts.  As the trees and shrubs grew to maturity, they  provided many hiding places for drug pushers.

Drug use and drug selling along with the homeless made the park a place to stay away from, especially at night.

It was not until the senseless murder in broad daylight of a blind and deaf homeless woman, did the city wake up to put forth a city-wide effort to revitalize, clean up, and reactivate Freeway Park to what it is today.

Community Involvement

When the Seattle Parks and Recreation Dept. got involved, it shared its community vision which in turn, resulted in the park being better balanced between tranquility and other activities along with attractions that turned the park into a desirable place to enjoy.

The four different “places” in the park needed to be emphasized better, along with some types of anchors in the park that folks could see as they passed by and would want to investigate by stopping at the park.

With areas set up for life size games, outdoor cafes, art exhibits, and even an aviary brought people in from all over the Seattle area and beyond.

Click video below and see how Justin Sweeney and his camera enjoy the park.

Since the community involvement, the Seattle “water park” of Freeway Park has been a tremendous success story.  Why not stop in and enjoy its “brutalist architecture and greenery” designs?

Leave a comment below and be sure to share this with your friends.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel

Images by: charlesbirnbaum,freewaypark,justinsweeney

What Is Lake Chelan Washington...An Adventure!

What Is Lake Chelan Washington…An Adventure!


Lake Chelan (pronounced as :  (shee-lan) is one of those great places that once you’ve visited, you’ll be wanting to come back.  Many do, year after year.

Chelan, as the locals refer to it, is a unique community that is tourist oriented.  This is especially true in spring, summer, and autumn.

Though much activity goes on during winter (skiing mostly), it does slow down somewhat.

From Seattle To Lake Chelan

It’s a pleasant drive from Seattle eastbound on I-90.  You’ll note the steep climb as you leave Issaquah (pronounced as : (iz-ah-quaw NOT isss-ah-quaw) heading for North Bend.

Keep an eye out for “stump lake” on your right hand side as you cross over the top of the pass on your descent down the east side.  You may want to take a few photos as you pass it by.  It is unique in itself.

The time spent looking over the mountain terrain will make the time seem to fly by as you head over on your drive.  If traffic is good, then you should make it in under 3 hours easily.

What To Do In Lake Chelan

Enjoy water sports?  Then Chelan is the right place for you.  Only be aware that the lake is glacier fed.  In other words, the water is clear and COLD.

However, if you are an official Washingtonion, then you’ll get used to it very quickly.  Water skiing, jet boats, fishing, jet skis, scuba, snorkeling,  and just plain swimming, all happen on this beautiful lake.

The Water park for the kids and adults is a great alternative to the lake itself.  You’ll want to give it a look-see while you are in Chelan.

The "Big One" that never got away!

The “Big One” that never got away!

Not a swimmer?  

You’ll enjoy the 4 hours boat ride of the entire lake.  Be sure and take advantage of that.  Glaciers are interesting when you get almost next to them. Remember, lots of pictures will be good memories for years to come.

You’ll also have the opportunities to enjoy the golf courses that are in the area.  Many to choose from each set in surroundings that will keep you amazed as you walk/ride through to each hole.

Lake Chelan and snow waters.

Lake Chelan and snowy waters.

Not a golfer?

Don’t forget that since this is a small community, catering to the tourist industry, you’ll find loads of interesting small shop, eateries, and interesting folks that are more than willing to help you.

On the other hand, perhaps you just enjoy getting outside and enjoying the scenery.  Then take advantage of ‘hiking the Butte’ along with friends and family members.

Be sure and take along your Nordic walking poles for a fantastic experience.

Spring-Summer-Perfect for hiking

Spring-Summer-Perfect for hiking

But where do I stay?

You’ll have lots of places to choose from.  Just to name a few of the top rental places to pick from…how about The Downtown 4 Bedroom Penthouse?  It’s located at the waterfront and mere minutes from the downtown area.

Or you can choose from the Oasis Cove with it’s 6 bedrooms that you can fill up with friends, family, or simply share the rental expense with others.  Fifeteen people would feel right at home here.

Perhaps you’ve got children in your group?  Then you’ll love the Royal View with it’s 3 bedroom, 2 baths, and plenty of room for up to 10 people.  A great, flat yard is handy for the kids to romp in.

The water is fine...come on in!

The water is fine…come on in!

But…What About The Outdoor Camping?

Follow along here and we’ll see the great camping sites and we’ll climb the “Butte of Chelan” together.  Just wait till you see the mighty Columbia River from the top of the Butte!

Have an experience you want to share?  Leave your comments below.

Written by :  Tom McDaniel Share this information

Images by: losthorizon,seattletimesnwsource,tripster710,urbanpoling

 Balloons That Rescue The Mount Rainier Climbers!

What do you think?  This is Part 2      Go back to Part 1

Mount Rainier Climbers Rescue Balloon?

Mount Rainier Climbers Rescue Balloon?

Remember when you were a kid, playing with balloons?  We got real joy out of that very simple, child’s toy.   But at the same time, we were cautioned, not to put it into our mouth.  Why?  Because of the dangers of it popping and perhaps choking on a part of the exploded balloon.  Wise advice indeed.

We know that an unwise use of a balloon can cost a child their life, but can a “balloon” save lives?   YES !  But how can Mount Rainier climbers benefit from a balloon?   Let’s take a look together.

Loss of human life can be prevented by controlling avalanches.  Specially designed “balloons” can save lives also!

Can an Avalanche Be 100% Prevented? 

That has a yes and no answer.   Yes, we can prevent loss of life…… by causing an avalanche.  How?  I am  sure that most of us have either seen in real life, movies, tv or something similar, when the ski patrol begins shooting off  rockets into the mountain sides to cause an avalanche, allowing it to slide harmlessly down the mountain. It’s a safety measure for skiers, animals, small towns, or anyone living below. Using this technique is a sure fire way to prevent skiers from the possibility of loss of life.

Unpredictable Avalanches

The Dragon on the Move

Bringing down the Dragon

Bringing down the Dragon

On the other hand, there are types of avalanches that no one can prevent or even predict.  They are as natural as rain falling on your rooftop.  Since that is true, we need to take measures to somehow, protect those in the avalanche slide area.

Deep snowfall areas are where the “white dragons” are common.  This unpredictable “creature” can suddenly come shooting down a valley that during the spring, summer and autumn, is absolutely beautiful, tempting you to build a home there.

But, because of the potential avalanche problems, housing authorities will not allow homes or towns to be built, with good reason.  A few safety measures the authorities have put in place on our nations highways and roads are different types of “overhanging shelters” and/or tunnels to assure our safe passage along these “danger zones” with a potential avalanche slide problem.  🙂

With these many safeguards in place, you may wonder how in the world could someone be caught off guard by an avalanche?   Mostly it is by those who choose to ignore the warning road and skiing signs about avalanche dangers.

Inside an avalanche snowshed tunnel

Inside an avalanche snowshed tunnel


What About The Mount Rainier Climbers? 

Many a daring skier will be drawn into the pristine powder snow, wanting to challenge nature by being the first to cut through this powdery wonderland.   But some who try, can end up losing their lives.  🙁

Way back in 1931 a research commission was set up by a group of Swiss researchers at the 8,835 foot level in the area of Weissfluhjoch,  just above the little township of Davos, Switzerland.

After a successful beginning in 1931, the year 1942 saw the development of the Swiss Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research.  Many other observatories were set up to monitor avalanche research at the same time.  These experts would scan areas for changing weather conditions that could cause sudden storms to crop up within minutes.  With many observatories monitoring weather conditions, a warning system was now in place for all who were on the mountains.

A world wide monitoring system is now in place in many countries.

BEWARE !   Clear one minute, snowstorm the next !

BEWARE ! Clear one minute, snowstorm the next !

Even with all this sophisticated equipment (much updated since 1942) a sudden storm can show up,  dump snow into an area where it normally would not be, thereby creating the perfect setting for an avalanche.  These are areas formerly known as  “safe zones” from avalanches.

 Moving the Dragon ! 

Now, here is a little bit of an interesting  tid-bit.  According to these same experts who study avalanches, the human voice or the sound of airplanes DO NOT provoke  avalanches!  Many, in times past, thought that the human voice (such as a woman’s scream) or perhaps a rifle shot,  would cause the snow to come crashing down.

Causes for avalanches? NO !

Causes for avalanches?
NO !

Avalanche Detours

Going back a number of years when people began to build in areas that were prone to avalanches, they would set up a type of “road block” to the sliding snow.  Early on, they would plant trees of a great variety.  The townsfolk would be more than willing to maintain the natural snow deterrent.  They are called ” ban forests.”  These natural barriers (or “bans” of protection)  were required to be very dense and include tall trees, small shrubs, low growing trees along with a variety of  bushes. This type of barrier is considered to be the most effective.

More modern techniques have been made of metal barriers that are firmly set into the ground with concrete anchors during the spring and summer months.  These “breakaway zones” are the first in the line of defense, after which comes the natural barrier of trees.  The metal barriers can be up to 12 feet high.  However, because of the tremendous expense, this type of deterrent, though very effective, are a small township’s last consideration.

The “V” Mounds

On the other hand, local authorities can use dirt.  They build huge berms of dirt with plenty of rocks within,  piling this at the foot of the slopes.  This type of berm works quite effectively.  Others have built mounds   of dirt  into the shape of a giant ” V ” with the point facing uphill.  That makes for a good way to split the avalanche into two sections, thereby, going on either side of  townships.

These V mounds can be 6 feet thick or more, with each leg of the V being up to 3 or 4 hundred feet in length!

Swim With The Snow

But what about rescue operations?  Regardless if we are experienced in skiing or not, any of us can be caught in an unexpected avalanche.   We should never ignore the warning signs posted in avalanche prone areas.

If you do find yourself caught in a sudden avalanche, do not panic.  What is needed is to move as if you are swimming in water.  Use the same type of strokes and try and keep your head above the surface.   If you do find yourself buried, your swimming strokes have more than likely,  kept you near the surface, making it more easier for rescuers to find you.

A Few More Things You Should Know

When you find your forward movements slowing with the sliding snow, cover your nose and mouth with one hand while the other is pointing upwards.  Perhaps your hand  may be above the snow surface where it can be seen by rescuers.  Keeping your nose and mouth covered assures that you will be able to breath and at the same time, have warmed air going into your lungs.

Another word of advice is to try and fill your lungs with air.  In this way, you will make yourself as “large” as possible, assuring breathing space and chest movement as you breath.  Remember, snow packs together after a rather short time period, making it difficult to get air into your lungs.

Balloons To The Rescue!

Many now carry electronic devices that send out signals so they can be located.  This aids in a speedy rescue.  There is also, a rather new device on the market for safety in avalanche prone areas.  It is a type of balloon that is inflated if you are caught in sliding snow.  It acts much like a flotation device in a swimming pool or ocean.  It will automatically carry you to the top of the snow,  allowing the “victim” to dig themselves out.

ABS "balloon"  rescue bag.

ABS “balloon” rescue bag.

Saint Bernard’s And Their Barrel Of Brandy

For  many centuries though , the faithful rescue dog has the top place of honor for rescues.  The Saint Bernard was considered to be the most sturdy of them all.  It has the strength and stamina, along with being able to withstand the freezing winds, and being able to move through the deep snow.

These amazing dogs can find their way around in blizzard conditions, when men could not tell which way to go.  These faithful “keepers of men” are hypersensitive to sounds, scents, and movement of humans buried in the snow.  They have quite literally, saved hundreds if not thousands of lives.  However, as popular as the belief is, the Saint Bernard DID NOT carry a keg of brandy under their collar when they are working on a rescue mission.   Many a picture portrays them as such.  Sorry, but it just was not so.  🙁

How most people visualize the Saint Bernard rescue dog

How most people visualize the Saint Bernard rescue dog

Today, the Saint Bernard is still the champion of rescuing buried people.  However, they are now being aided by German Shepherd rescue dogs, along with many other types of specially trained dogs.  These trained dogs are amazing while performing their rescue skills.  Thanks to them, people are still being rescued from the snow that slides.   These “White Dragons of Death”.

Even though the we have seen  the ‘thing that flies without wings, hits without hands, and sees without eyes’, it still commands our deep respect and awe as we enjoy the natural beauty of  creation.

Beware!  The White Dragon !

Continue with Mount Rainier Climbers Conclusion

White Dragon

White Dragon

Go back to part 1

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