Just west of the Summit at Snoqualmie Pass and surprisingly located between the separated east and west bound sides of I-90 is the South Fork of the Snoqualmie River. Nearby is the Denny Creek Campground and miles of walking trails. A good place for a little variety, river scenery, car camping, and day jaunts into the Snoqualmie Pass area.

South Fork Snoqualmie River steel bridge near Denny Creek Campground

Steel bridge over South Fork of Snoqualmie River near Denny Creek Campground



Links:
Snoqualmie River
Denny Creek Campground

Directions

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The Venetian in Las Vegas… It definitely lives up to the Las Vegas requirement for over-the-top opulence and entertainment. The interior tries to replicate the outdoor canals of Venice Italy, including gondolas guided by singing gondoliers. Shops abound, vast gambling halls abound, and fanciful sculptures attract people to explore.

The Venetian in Las Vegas with gondola on an interior canal surrounded by shops

Las Vegas Venetian gondola led through canal by singing gondolier



The Venetian Las Vegas glass flower sculptures in glass rotunda

The Venetian Las Vegas flower sculptures hanging within high glass rotunda



Links:
The Venetian
Las Vegas

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Flotation tanks are making a comeback, at least in Seattle. There are flotation tank centers popping up around the city, intriguing clients to come and explore relaxation, meditation, physical rest, and even massage alternatives. These devices go by other names too such as isolation tanks or sensory deprivation tanks, but they all refer to the same concept.

I tried Float Seattle. The atmosphere is friendly but subdued, and privacy is emphasized for separating oneself from the rest of the world. After an initial overview of the process, I was left on my own to strip down, take a shower (to remove body oils, outside shampoo, etc.), pop in some ear plugs to keep out the salt water, and then enter the chamber.

Float Seattle shower

Shower at Float Seattle is located in same private room with the flotation tank

The flotation tank has an entrance door that is stepped up to and then into the water. To maximize buoyancy, a huge amount of Epsom salt is pre-mixed with the filtered water. To minimize sensation, the water is heated to average human skin temperature (slightly cooler than the traditional 98.6 degree core temperature). An optional faint blue light can be turned on if the whole thing feels creepy or claustrophobic for beginners.

Float Seattle flotation tank door closed

Isolation tank with light-tight door closed

Float Seattle isolation tank door open

Isolation tank with door open to enter

Then I laid in the water on my back and positioned myself for comfort. Putting arms above the head was recommended, though I eventually switched to arms outstretched from my sides. It was easy to fall into rhythmic breathing, meditation, or even falling asleep if desired. The only occasionally distracting thing was the occasional very light bounce off the side of the tank caused by any slow movement within the tank. Resolving this issue would enable a more fully realized sensory deprivation tank experience. After a while the water also exerted uncomfortable “pressure” on my neck and lower head as well, which was difficult to adjust away from. But other than that, it was quite pleasantly womb-like.

Float Seattle flotation tank inside

Inside the float tank

For the first half hour, I enjoyed the meditative experience. Since I have not done much meditation and easily wander my mind into new areas, after that first half hour it became a bit harder and I was somewhat restless. Perhaps something to work up to or just limit the time to what feels right.

Then piped in instrumental music indicated it was nearing time to leave. Another follow-up shower removed the thick salt and freshened me up for the outside world.

Overall Float Seattle and the isolation tank experience was fun and recommended for anyone looking to relax or meditate in a truly specialized environment.

Links:
Float Seattle
Isolation tanks overview

Directions

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There is a small, little known park in the Shorewood community of Burien, appropriately called Shorewood Park. The park primarily consists of a forested hiking trail that meanders through a ravine. It borders Shorewood Elementary School, and has three main access points to surrounding community roads. The local Shorewood on the Sound Community Club actively maintains the property through volunteers, in association with the city of Burien. Informal plant identification signs exist along the trail, and groups gather regularly to remove invasive plant species. One end of the trail opens into a residential cul de sac that looks out over Puget Sound.

Shorewood Park Burien forest walking trail

Shorewood Park forest walking trail in Burien


Shorewood Park

Directions

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The Red Hot Chilli Pipers are a 10 member band from Scotland fronted by 3 bagpipe players and joined by guitar, bass, 4 percussionists, and a keyboardist. They play “bagrock”, which is rock ‘n roll bagpipe style. Music covers rock classics plus original renditions, moving back and forth from one to the other. In addition to the sound and the novelty, they are a spirited bunch of guys who seem to genuinely be having fun together on stage.

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers at Centerstage Theatre Knutzen Family Theatre in Federal Way

The Red Hot Chilli Pipers at Centerstage Theatre in Federal Way


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Black Violin is an intriguing group of guys who met in high school orchestra while playing classical violin. After music lessons, they listened to rap, hip-hop, and other genres while also jamming on their violins to whatever was playing on the radio. Thus the seeds of Black Violin were born. They now meld classical music with hip-hop, rhythm & blues, bluegrass, and dance music to create a toe tapping, body swaying mix.

Black Violin at Tacoma Broadway Center for the Performing Arts Pantages Theater

Black Violin in concert at Tacoma’s Pantages Theater

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High School Trail is an easy and accessible hike from a lower roadside to an upper plateau, with wetlands and forest along the way. Its path follows an old access road, so it is wide enough for walking side by side for good conversation or holding hands. Elevation gain is steady and moderate, with only small rocks along its path.

The trail can be accessed from a gravel parking lot by 2nd Avenue SE in Issaquah, located just south / behind the Issaquah High School and a block north of Front Street. After passing the wetlands behind the school, then turn right and begin heading upwards from there.

High School Trail provides a good access point into Tiger Mountain for hiking, biking, running, and walking the dogs.

High School Trail Tiger Mountain Issaquah hiking

The forest and ferns of High School Trail



Hiking High School Trail at Tiger Mountain in Issaquah

High School Trail hiking

Info:
Tiger Mountain State Forest
Trail map

Directions

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