Inkling of Seattle

What might be called "the international headquarters of Inkling Books" is a modest 1920s-era Seattle apartment that's stuffed with books and the Mac mini that Inkling's one and only doer-of-everything (me) uses for writing and editing. It is located near the University of Washington from which you can sometimes see snow-capped Mount Rainier. Five blocks away is the world-class Woodland Park Zoo. Unfortunately, we're a little too far away to hear the lions roar or the monkeys chattering.

Inkling is also a short walk from Green Lake, which is Seattle's modest equivalent of NYC's Central Park. In this photo, we are just to the left of the tall building on the upper right skyline. The tiny blimp on the far right skyline is a recently repainted 1950s-era air-raid siren, a sort of defacto historic landmark. Fortunately, it no longer works. From its size, it must have been very, very loud.

Via the Internet, you can view beautiful but often rainy Seattle from the top of our famous Space Needle, here shown in one of it's more exuberant moments and here with Mount Rainier in the background. It was built for the 1962 World's Fair and since then Seattle has enjoyed doing interesting things with its one-of-a-kind attraction. At Christmas, for instance, it becomes a very tall Christmas tree. (Just don't let the ill-tempered grenches at the ACLU know about that.)

And if you visit Seattle, be sure and see the Museum of Flight, the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks, the busiest boat locks on the West Coast and colorful Pike Place Market. And if you'd like to see whales, our most celebrated local wildlife, and have a day to spare at the right time of year, check out groups such as San Juan Safaris and Great Orca Adventures.

From downtown, you might also want to take a round trip as a walk-on passenger on either the Seattle-to-Bremerton or the Seattle-to-Bambridge Island ferries. It only costs about $6.50 and will get you onto Puget Sound for much less than a tour boat. Go in the late afternoon, and you can see the sun set behind the mountains when westbound and, when you return after dark, the city's skyline will be lighting up. You might even buy a carry-out meal at one of the many eateries on the waterfront and have a picnic on board. Ivars at Pier 54 is a popular Seattle choice

Seattle, the home of REI, is particularly great if you're into serious mountain climbing. East of Seattle is the Cascade mountain range, whose best known mountain is Mount Rainier. It's 14,410-feet-high and is the only mountain in the lower 48-states with an extensive glacier system. There are numerous routes to the top. Some are only a little more difficult than a long and demanding hike, although they require that you be in good condition and climb with experienced climbers or guides. There are also routes to challenge even the most experienced climber, and numerous day hikes in the summer and snow activities in the winter. If you'd like to make the climb, there's more information here and here.

Just remember that Mount Rainier is very physically demanding. If you're not in very good shape, you're not likely to enjoy the climb. Whatever route you take, you'll be going up and down roughly 10,000 feet. When I climbed with two other guys, it took 20 hours of continuous climbing, up and down without stopping for more than a few minutes. I was in excellent condition, but as I came down I found myself promising that I would never climb again. (Two weeks later, I was making an attempt on the 11,138-foot Little Tahoma, a side peak to Mount Rainier.) As I told an almost too-eager Japanese friend, "Imagine yourself going up and down the stairwell in one of Seattle's taller skyscrapers 16 times in one day. It's that much effort." Of course, when climbing the scenery is much better than the inside of a stairwell. That's what makes it worthwhile, that and being able to tell your friends, "I climbed to the top of that."