Seattle and Tacoma Glass Tour

More than just the home of Starbucks, Seattle and nearby Tacoma in Washington state are a Mecca for  glass art.  In every hotel, street corner, Seattle center, and all around the Seatac area are beautiful displays of glass.  On many earlier trips I noticed the glass, but never knew the story.

On this visit to Seattle I found myself in Tacoma for 4 days and 3 nights in the middle of my Seattle visit.  I remember driving through and around Tacoma, but this was the first time that I spent more than a few hours there.  Over the course of these few days, I discovered a few things. Continue reading “Seattle and Tacoma Glass Tour”

Phoenix Skytrain

The Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport Skytrain is open!  The train currently runs between the East Economy lots to Terminal 4.  The East Economy lot station is located between Garages A and B.  There are passenger trams to take passengers and luggage directly to and from cars to the station.  There are still buses running between the Terminals.  For the employees and passengers at Terminal 4, this is a great service!  The skytrain is faster than the old buses, running more frequently, and the drop off is on the ticketing/gate level in the middle of the Terminal.

PHX Skytrain
PHX Skytrain

There is no additional charge to passengers.  The train is funded by airport revenues and passenger fees, so I plan to enjoy this service that I have already paid for.

The train is quiet (it is electric), fast, efficient, and (so far) clean!

Celebrity Theatre Phoenix

Celebrity Theatre is a great 1960’s design concert venue.  Newly built Craptastic venues like Talking Stick resort are put to further shame when compared to Celebrity, in that there really is no comparison!

Celebrity seatingI have been to many concerts at Celebrity Theatre over the last few decades (Andrew “Dice” Clay, Jimmy Eat World, Rick Springfield, Willie Nelson, to name a few and most recently Yes), and I will go to many, many more!  There are no bad seats.  The venue is “in the round” meaning that it is a circular stage that slowly rotates, and all of the seats are 70 feet or less from the stage.  The stage rotates throughout the show, so you are always facing the artist in full view.  It is nice to get up close and personal with big-time comedians and musicians at the Celebrity.

There is a private balcony, with private bar, if you want an over-the-top extravagant evening.  For the rest of us, all of the regular (non-balcony seating) is pretty darn good.  Rows 1-3 are usually the most desired, but these are folding chairs at the same level, just below the stage where the orchestra pit would be.  I prefer rows 4-7 in any of the “A” sections, they are on the incline with moderately comfortable built-in seating.

The downside?  Since it is an older venue, it is an older (read as dodgy) part of town, off the 202 freeway at 32nd street, close to Van Buren.  Yup, the same area that was famous for hookers in the 90’s.  They did a major renovation in 1995, and it is well-kept.  The 50th anniversary is December 2013 and they have another renovation planned, which I am told involves replacing the seats.

Celebrity Parking EastParking is also in the round.  They charge $5 for well lit and organized parking.  Park facing the direction of the exits for easier departure.  For some reason, it is easier to get in and out from the North side.

Other good qualities? The bathrooms are clean.  The employees are polite and courteous.  The acoustics are fantastic for perfect sounding shows.

Celcbrity BarThe downstairs bar is clean and spacious.  It is filled with Rock n Roll memorabilia of the artists that have performed at the Celebrity.   The bartenders are prompt and efficient.  I try to arrive at least 30 minutes before the show to have a drink or two downstairs and relax.

Every concert and performance at the Celebrity is a great show!

Lyndhurst Castle

I love Castles!  Gothic architecture is so enchanting, like a Fairy Tale come to Life.  I was so excited to visit Lyndhurst Mansion in New York state.  Nicknamed Lyndenhurst for the beautiful linden trees on the property, it is formally known as the Jay Gould estate for people without any imagination, named for previous Railroad tycoon owner.  For the rest of us, this country house and surrounding 67 acre park is an American mini-Castle waiting to be explored.

Front view from the road
Front view of the Lyndhurst estate from the road

porch view2

Overlooking the Hudson river, it is easy to forget how close this is to the most populous city in the United States (NYC).

Castle from rear knoll view
Castle from rear knoll view
Sunset over the Hudson
Sunset over the Hudson

I was surprised that my group were the only visitors at the time, since this treasure is free admission to the public and open from dusk until dawn daily.  While the building themselves were locked tight during our visit, we were allowed full access to explore the grounds including the outbuilding and stables.

Stables
Stables

There is a running trail along the parameter that would make for a nice romantic stroll and picnic.  The estate has plenty of quiet areas, strategically placed benches, and wonderful little details at every turn.

Porch Bench

Porch Bench

The gorgeous estate is the best of architecture, serenity, and style wrapped up in historical charm.

outbuilding sign
Outbuilding with sign

Tempe Town Lake Activities

The temperature is starting to cool off and people around metro-Phoenix can finally venture outside with less fear of catching fire, or at least it feels that hot all summer long here.  Today a friend and I took my dogs out for a walk along Tempe Town Lake, the man-made lake in the middle of bustling University town Tempe.The park around the Lake is home to many festivals and concerts, so be sure to check out upcoming events here.

I prefer to plan my own event at the Lake.  Bring a picnic basket for a fun family activity during the day, or romantic get-a-way in the evening. There are plenty of bike paths,  walkways, shade trees, and benches.  The dogs love to walk around the lake with me.  There are mountain views to the north of the lake and the park is well kept and clean.

The main attraction is the lake, and there are quite a few activities to enjoy on the water.  Today we watched people sailing, kayaking, fishing, and on paddle boards.  There is a boat rental office on the south side of the lake for small boats, hydro bikes, and kayaks.Lake or land, the sunset is worth hanging around to watch.