If it ain't broke, don't fix it: Pronto Cycle Share announced Monday that self-serve helmet bins will become a permanent part of its bike-sharing system. Previously, the helmet bins operated on the honor system; riders will now have to enter a code to receive a helmet. Annual Pronto users will be able to access helmets for free while 24-hour and three-day users will have to pay $2 per pass period. Pronto is the first bike-share company in North America to provide helmets at every station.
Charlotte Austin, Jenny Cunningham, Kristen Russell & Roddy Scheer
It's the perfect time to make camp. From tepees in a vineyard and charming cabins on a lake to pup tents in meadows under star-crammed skies, here you'll find camping spots for all levels of motivation, experience and outdoor passion. Read on.Lake LifePlunge into the serene outdoors at Ross Lake in North Cascades National Park Story & photos by Roddy ScheerThere isn’t a better way to disconnect from the grid and reconnect with your soul than by visiting Ross Lake in the summertime. The 20-plus-mile course of this dammed section of the Skagit River is protected as a National Recreation Area within North Cascades National Park, and is truly a tonic for the spirit. While you won’t be able to “check in” on Facebook—there’s no cell phone reception and nowhere to charge your phone—you will be able to check in on overwhelming alpine vistas, huge old-growth conifer trees, fearless wildlife uncorrupted by civilization and some of the most pristine water you’ll ever swim in or drink.The hard-won view of Ross Lake in Washington’s North CascadesOf course, no one said getting away from it all at Ross Lake was gonna be easy. First, you’ll have to obtain a (free) wilderness camping permit from the National Park Service’s Wilderness Information Center in Marblemount, which gets you exclusive rights to a specific campsite alongside Ross Lake (first come, first served; all the sites are great, but discuss with the assigning rangers how far up the lake you want to travel and whether or not you want to camp near others or on your own). Then pile back into the car and drive east on Highway 20 another 30 miles to the parking area for the Ross Dam Trail on the north side of the road. Follow the sign at the trailhead at the back of the parking lot toward Ross Dam and hike yourself and your gear down a vertiginous mile. At the bottom, look for a single telephone in a kiosk and use it to call for the water taxi to pick you up and zip you across to the dock at Ross Lake Resort, your last taste of civilization or some facsimile thereof. (An alternative route would be to catch Seattle City Light’s ferry across nearby Diablo Lake—$20 for the round trip—and then ride in a flatbed truck with your camping gear and dozens of other vacationers to Ross Lake.) When you finally reach the resort, you can rent a putt-putt motorboat, kayak or canoe to take you “uplake” to your destination. (Reserve your boat in advance with Ross Lake Resort. Motorboat, which fits four people plus camping gear, $115/day; canoe $38/day, doublekayak, $68/day. 206.386.4437; rosslakeresort.com)While getting there is an adventure, once settled in lakeside, there are many ways to pursue your bliss. Read a book in the sun to the soundtrack of lapping lake water. Hike along the lakeshore and scout for chipmunks, deer and bears. Cast a line and try to hook a rainbow trout for dinner. Skim across the lake to Skymo Creek Falls and get drenched by a 50-foot torrent of liquefied snowmelt as it sluices its way into the lake. If the weather cooperates—85-degree sunny days are the norm in July and August—keep your cool by jumping in and out of the always-refreshing water all day long. You won’t mind leaving your lattes behind when you have glacier-fed lake water to keep you alert.And if you’re really feeling inspired (and in shape), plan on making the arduous yet awesome hike up Desolation Peak to the still-inhabited fire lookout cabin once occupied by Jack Kerouac himself. Following the lead of fellow Beat writer (and Washington native) Gary Snyder, Kerouac signed on with the Forest Service to scout fires during the summer of 1956, spending 63 days drying out and wallowing in loneliness at this aerie in the clouds. Even if you’re not on a Kerouac pilgrimage, you’ll enjoy the view from the top and feel proud of yourself for completing the grueling five-mile ascent up 4,400 vertical feet. If you’re lucky, the current fire lookout will be there to greet you and regale you with tales of life on high. Be sure to pack a few fresh snacks to hand off to this lucky public servant who has probably been living off freeze-dried “MRI” meals for weeks and might consider that beat-up banana in your pack to be the nectar of the gods. While mere civilians can’t spend the night in the lookout cabin, there is a free alpine campsite nearby for those wanting the full Desolation Peak experience. (If you’re so inclined, ask for it when getting your other Ross Lake wilderness camping permits at Marblemount.)While it might not have been easy getting yourself to the shores of Ross Lake (let alone hoofing it up Desolation Peak), going home will certainly feel like the hardest part of the experience. But your fond memories of your days off the grid will only have to sustain you for a year, as you’ll surely be back next summer. Important Details:
Hike or boat in
No showers, but you have the freezing lake
Campsites with fire rings, picnic tables, vault toilets and food storage lockers; some include a boat dock
No reservations, but permits required
Family friendly, if your kids are intrepid
Chill Out If your camping fantasy features big sky views, a glass (or two) of Cabernet Sauvignon, the promise of a for-real bed come nightfall and more than a dash of hipster style, Chillville Walla Walla is your place. This one-year-old “campground,” counterintuitively located on the edge of the Walla Walla Airport, is home to three vintage Airstream campers tricked out with linens, dishware and big shade-giving trees, and a shared barbecue/party area and petanque courts. This is a good jumping off spot for hiking, biking and horseback riding, golf and winery tours, or maybe just lazy walks (it’s a half-hour walk to downtown and an even shorter saunter to the Walla Walla Winery Incubators and Burwood Brewing). Open March to November 2015, weather permitting. Kick back outside your fully loaded Chillville trailer in Walla Walla; photo by zibby wilderTrailers $135–$165/night. “Sweets” trailer is pet-friendly. Also two campsites are available for BYO Airstreamers. Loaner bikes available with reservations. 202.810.3460; chillvillewallawalla.comCrush CampingThe perfectly descriptive (if a bit shopworn) term “glamping” evokes images of dripping chandeliers suspended from safari-tent ceilings, luxurious throws draped over brass beds, and starlit nights dining alfresco. Add delicious wines to the mix, and perhaps you have “wamping”—winery camping, the luxe-loving oenophile’s alternative. Stretch the definition of camping in a deluxe tepee (with alfresco tubs) at Bed and Breakfast in Zillah, Washington; photo eric sinesIf you like a few creatures with your comforts, you’ll love glamping at Cherry Wood Bed Breakfast and Barn, a real working farm in the heart of Washington’s wine country. Here, a luxe 22-foot tepee will be your home base for exploring the dozens of nearby Rattlesnake Hills wineries. Each tepee offers a soft queen-size bed, barbecue grill and mini fridge, water closet and open-air shower. Go wine tasting by horseback ($245/person; visits two wineries) or hop on a high-end hayride ($150/person; visits four wineries). April–October; starting at $225. Zillah, 3271 Roza Drive; 509.829.3500; cherrywoodbbandb.com Indoorsy types will adore the canvas-sided “desert yurts” at Cave B Estate Winery & Resort in the Columbia River Gorge. These tents are anything but rustic, replete with comforts such as air conditioning, leather couches, private bath, mini fridge and a skylight for stargazing. In the vineyard—and just a short walk from the winery, spa and pool—is the ultimate camping amenity: a restaurant that serves three meals a day (no cooking required!). April–October; starting at $179/night. Quincy, 344 Silica Road NW; 509.787.8000; cavebinn.com K.R. Stay among the vines in luxury yurts at Cave B Winery in Quincy, Washington; Courtesy of Cave B
Instagram Inspiration is a new column on Seattlemag.com that explores our favorite Instagram themes each week.
While the Seattle weather taunts us with bouts of sun followed by venegful rainstorms, it has us dreaming of tropical escapes and far-off adventures. Delicate wisteria-covered walls in London, dusky Brazilian streets cast in a golden glow and crystal blue waters of French harbors make us want to hop on the next plane and not look back. We hope these shots inspire you to keep saving for that dream vacation or even just that weekend getaway.
“I’m sitting here with a busted ankle thanks to a karaoke injury last night,” says Mel Eslyn. The Seattle-based filmmaker is in LA, keeping her foot elevated and speaking via a spotty Skype connection. She’s mid-shoot for a film she’s producing called MF, the directorial debut of Robert Schwartzman, brother of Jason (Rushmore) and cousin to various Coppolas. Eslyn explains that it’s a comedy grounded by some heavy drama, then summarizes it Hollywood style: “It’s like The Graduate meets Loverboy—both the 1980s Patrick Dempsey movie and the ’80s band.”
Three cheers for Mariners pitcher Felix Hernandez, who nabbed his 2,000th strikeout during Sunday's game against the Oakland A's. King Felix is the fourth-youngest player to reach the exciting milestone, according to the Associated Press.
Brady Olson, the North Thurston High School teacher who tackled a student gunman last week, will throw out the first pitch at the Mariner’s game tonight. MyNorthwest.com reports, “the 16-year old shooter is believed to have been trying to commit suicide by cop when Olson saved his life by tackling him, as well as the lives of other students.” Olson will be honored at the game tonight for his bravery.
Must RunThe Color Run Takes Over the Seattle CenterSunday (5/10, 8 a.m.) Pop on a white shirt and prepare to be pelted with puffs of color (aka dyed cornstarch) during this popular 5K, which is less about speed and more about turning Technicolor. Starts and ends at Seattle Center.
Hold on to your mess kits: Seattle magazine is going to summer camp. In early June, I'll pack up my sleeping bag and bug spray and head into the wilderness to spend three days at Camp Rahh!, an all-inclusive camp experience for grown-ups (if the website photos are to be believed, these are grown-ups of the millennial persuasion). The catch? I must surrender any electronics, alcohol, credit cards, methods of time-telling or illegal substances and be one with my fellow humans.
Living with volcanoes in your backyard breeds a certain nonchalance; our prominent peaks make for inspiring vistas and weather gauges, sure, but unless they’re actively rumbling, we rarely think about their explosive potential.
Someone set fire to a Little Free Library on 53rd Street and 8th Avenue NE and the preschool kids who used the library were angry, King 5 News reports. After drawing pictures to express their anger and sadness and posting them to the mini book holder's charred remains, the children are now working with the school to design a new one.
In our bi-monthly Seattlemag.com column, Knute Berger--who writes regularly for Seattle Magazine and Crosscut.com and is a frequent pundit on KUOW--takes an in-depth look at some of the highly topical and sometimes polarizing issues in our city.