Don’t forget the sunscreen – or the rain gear!

Here’s hoping you’ll need the sunscreen. Whether it is a destination lake, a stroll along a creek or an adventurous climb, there are lots of places nearby where you can let the city noise fall to the trailside and sleep in your own bed by nightfall. How do you locate the day hike that fits your style?

Day Hike! Mount Rainier – The visitor centers may be crowded, but a short distance down a trail you just might find yourself alone in a field of wildflowers. This guidebook provides nice trail descriptions, maps and pictures of features you might see along the way.

Day Hiking Central Cascades – This little book packs in a lot of great hikes near Seattle. The “Hikes at a Glance” grid at the beginning helps you compare trail features, distances, difficulty ratings and much more.

Hiking Washington’s Alpine Lakes Wilderness – There are some breathtaking hikes in the Alpine Lakes wilderness. I’ve found that they tend to be steep. If you are looking for more strenuous trails with rewarding destinations, this has some great ones. There are a couple shorter jaunts in the book too.

For a selection of less vigorous walks, try Take A Walk: 110 Walks within 30 Minutes of Seattle and the Greater Puget Sound. It features some city trails and a few lowland hikes.

Trail conditions change, roads wash out and trees come down. In addition to the books, I like to consult a website like Washington Trails Association where people post their trip reports.

Of course, I’ve gotten many a good recommendation at the ranger station. They even have one inside the Seattle REI. Before you go, it is a good idea to see if the trailhead requires a permit.

Got any other suggestions of how you locate a good day hike?

A Couple Fun Recipes

When I put on the apron I am truly at the mercy of the cookbook. I’m no chef, but I can follow a recipe reasonably well and I do enjoy the process. Here are a few recipes that helped me keep dinner at home and made me look good. 

Spaghetti alla Carbonara – The New Best Recipe (p. 251-252). Gotta’ love the bacon pasta! I used to look for this number on Italian restaurant menus because I loved the dish, but could never get it to turn out right. This particular version changed everything, and the bacon pasta now makes a regular appearance in our mealtime repertoire.

My Perfect Chicken – Naked Chef (p. 120). Jamie Oliver calls it perfect, but I like to call this one “Frankenstein’s chicken” because it is sewn together at the end. The delightful flavor of citrus goes all through the chicken. It can be challenging to get the spices up under the skin, but it is worth the effort.

Potato and Mushroom Gratin – Nigella Express: Good Food, Fast (p. 39). This creamy gratin has a lovely garlic and mushroom flavor. It could be an inexpensive side dish, or great as the main course. If you don’t care for mushrooms (like my kids), leave them out! It turns out just fine without them. Try the Mustard and Pork Chops (p. 11) recipe in this book also. It goes well with a side of fresh asparagus.

Sotero Photograph Collection

The Seattle Public Library has a number of interesting visual collections. One example is the Sotero photograph collection, which offers a window into the world of African Americans in uniform during the World War II era. Marjorie Sotero collected these photographs during her time as a director of the African American Servicemen’s Clubs at Seattle’s Fort Lawton and Camp George Jordan.

Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 80-G-23326
"Pin-up girls at NAS Seattle, Spring Formal Dance" Courtesy National Archives, photo no. 80-G-23326. African Americans During World War II # 247

Marjorie described how these local service clubs were used in a 1985 interview: “this was their home away from home, and this was like their living room where they could come after their day’s work was done and sit down and do the things a man liked to do, sit and smoke, and write [a] letter, and listen to music. And maybe in the evening there would be some kind of entertainment that the directors of the club would plan.”

Many of the images in the collection capture military personnel busy enjoying their time off: a group takes a break from bobbing for apples to smile for the camera, fishermen in uniform line up to display their catch of the day, a bride descends a staircase and a group of pie eating contestants smile through whipping cream beards. One intriguing image Continue reading “Sotero Photograph Collection”

LINK to the Library: A Spring Tour

Looking for an indoor/outdoor adventure on a spring afternoon?  How about a tour of libraries that are walkable from light rail stations? 

Check out the smooth ride on the LINK light rail, step outside to take in some spring greenery, and then retreat into some engaging library spaces to explore the collections.  Depending on the day, you might be able to take in a free library event along the way.

The libraries below are all near light rail stations – though some are closer than others.   Click on the links below to view the library hours and the calendar of events at each location.   Light rail Continue reading “LINK to the Library: A Spring Tour”

What’s in the Aviation Room?


When you think of Seattle as the birthplace of the Boeing Company, it might not come as a huge surprise that the Central Library has a Special Collection of historical materials on aviation.  In fact, the Aviation Room originated with a startup gift from the Boeing Company in 1928.

Items in this room range from rare to commonplace, but taken together they represent a treasure-trove for the historical aviation buff.  The collection covers many aspects aeronautical history: balloons, airplane manufacturers, engines, local airlines, airports, rockets, and much more.  You’ll find back-issues of periodicals like Flying and Aviation which feature fascinating period articles about aviators and machines alike.  However, as a historical collection, you won’t find the latest and greatest technologies represented here.

Just to give you a taste of some other things you can find in the Aviation room, below are some highlights:

“The war in the air; being the story of the part played in the great AirRaidMapwar by the Royal Air Force” This set of books chronicles the role of aviation in World War I.  They provide detailed descriptions of the technology of the day and tell the story of how it was used during World War I.  Included are sets of route maps showing German air raids on England.

“First American reports of the Wright Brothers flight, 1904-1905”

Quite curious at first take, this box contains seven copies of a bee-keeping magazine called “Gleanings in Bee Culture” from 1904-1905.  Alongside bee-keeping articles on “putting swarms back” author A.I. Root describes the Wright brothers’ first flights in Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.  “The machine was made something after the fashion of a box kite.  A gasoline engine moved propeller wheels that pulled it against the wind.” (p. 241)  Root’s entries are the first published account of the historic flights.  Incidentally, NOVA has a nice article about A. I. Root and his place in history:

Autobiography of Robert Hutchings Goddard, father of the space age

Goddard was a rocket propulsion pioneer who laid the groundwork in mathematics and engineering that made the achievement of space flight possible. A teeny-tiny book (at a mere 2.9 inches in height – this is no exaggeration!) about a great figure in history.

Some items in this collection have the intriguing stamp; “Interdepartmental Committee for the Acquisition of Foreign Publications,” (a branch of the OSS). These had been purchased from newsagents in neutral countries during WWII.

What do we mean by “Special Collection?”  In the case of the Aviation Room, this is a unique group of items that are made available for researchers today and also for future generations.  This means that none of these particular items can be checked out.  However, if you are looking for an aviation book to take home and read — do not fear — not all of the library’s aviation books are in the Aviation Room.  In some cases you will find duplicate copies, or books on the same topic, at Central or branch libraries that can be checked out.

The Aviation Room collection is found in the “Maffei Family Aviation Room” at the Central Library.  If you are coming to use the materials from the Aviation Room, come to the Seattle Room during open hours. For aviation materials in the general collection, come to the 7th floor Business, Science and Technology desk. *

If this post appeals to you, we hope you will visit us.

                                  ~ Jay L,  Central Library

[* adapted 3/10/14 to reflect current access procedures]