Issue: November/December 2012
Seattle Center ups its culinary game.
You might not expect a gourmet meal at a food court, but a new wave of eateries at Seattle Center is bringing fresh and authentic local flavors to the facility's main dining plaza. After renovating the former Seattle Center House, now called the Seattle Center Armory, city officials brought locally born restaurants such as MOD Pizza, Eltana Wood-Fired Bagel Cafe and Skillet: Counter into spaces formerly occupied by national chains. Sure, you'll still find a Subway and Starbucks inside, but at least the latter also qualifies as a local start-up.
"Now when people come here, they have an opportunity to experience the food and wine treasures of Seattle," says Damiana Merryweather, a manager at Skillet, whose menu of comfort foods includes burgers, sandwiches and such breakfast treats as cornmeal waffles with eggs and pork belly. All feature local, responsibly grown or raised ingredients. In all, the dozen-plus vendors at the Armory—situated about halfway between KeyArena and the EMP Museum—provide casual offerings for breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and dessert. (206) 684-7200, www.seattlecenter.com/food.
Our World in Numbers
854,288Participants who grew mustaches last November in the "Movember" effort to raise awareness of men's health issues. Founded in Melbourne, Australia, in 2003—with 30 participants—the movement has gone global, raising $126.3 million in 2011 to aid charities dedicated to men's cancer initiatives.
5Approximate speed, in miles per hour, at which gray whales travel during their annual winter migration from Alaska's Bering and Chukchi seas to the waters off Baja, Mexico, passing by the Washington and Oregon coasts between mid-December and early February.
24Number of "Whale Watching Spoken Here" sites along the Oregon coast, where trained volunteers help visitors spot the cetaceans during winter watch week, Dec. 26–30.
46Number of turkeys that have received a presidential pardon since President George H.W. Bush began the tradition in 1989. Each year since, the president has "pardoned" the national turkey and an alternate, designated in case the first bird can't fulfill its duties.
771Weight, in millions of pounds, of cranberries produced in the United States in 2011, with more than half grown in Wisconsin. Oregon (36 million pounds) and Washington (11.5 million pounds) ranked fourth and fifth, respectively, among cranberry-producing states.
20Diameter, in feet, of the world's largest pumpkin pie, baked in 2010 by the New Bremen Giant Pumpkin Growers in Ohio.
Window to the Wild
South Africa's animal kingdom comes into view at Kruger National Park.
Imagine the cage doors have been thrown open to the world's largest zoo, and you'll have some idea what it's like to explore South Africa's Kruger National Park, encompassing 7,523 square miles near the border with Mozambique. Kruger is home to "The Big Five" (lions, African elephants, Cape buffalo, rhinos and leopards), and hundreds of other species, including crocodiles, hippos, zebras, giraffes, impalas and wildebeests.
The bush is lushest in December, while June and July offer the clearest views across terrain that stretches from flat, grassy grazing areas to the rock outcroppings of the Lebombo Mountains. A day pass for about $25 per person lets you navigate park roads on your own during the day; guided day or night drives, walking safaris, backpacking, and in-park accommodations are also available. For a super-luxe experience, consider splurging on Singita Lebombo Lodge, whose guides take you off-road in a private concession within the park. www.sanparks .org/parks/kruger.
Hooray For Iowa
An illustrious battleship berths in L.A.
Southern California may be best known for the film industry, its amusement parks and its sports teams, but one of its biggest new attractions sits in the harbor at San Pedro. The USS Iowa, the namesake of its class of World War II-era battleships, moved into its new home, about 25 miles south of downtown Los Angeles, over the summer and is open for tours. Nicknamed the Big Stick after it was completed in 1943, the 887-foot-long vessel transported President Roosevelt to and from the Tehran Conference in 1943 and also played a key role during the Korean War. (877) 446-9261, www.pacificbattleship.com.
Beyond the Lift Line
Alternatives to a typical day on the slopes.
A trip to a ski resort isn't just about getting from Point A to Point B on your skis or snowboard anymore. Here are great ways to go beyond the lift lines at three of our favorite Northwest resorts:
- Outside the Ropes
In Sandpoint, Idaho, Selkirk Powder Company literally picks up where Schweitzer Mountain's chairlifts leave off. The tour company, whose lodge sits just beyond the ski resort's upper reaches, provides snowcat service to 3,000 acres of barely touched terrain along a 3-mile stretch of the Selkirk Crest. (866) 464-3246, www.selkirkpowderco.com.
Dinner on the Mountain
Just outside of Vernon, B.C., Silver Star Mountain Resort sweetens the pot on resort dining with snowshoe, sleigh-ride, snowmobile and snowcat dinner tours to its on-mountain restaurants on select nights throughout the week. (800) 663-4431, www.skisilverstar.com.
Breakfast for Champions
Pre-ski is all the rage at Crystal Mountain Resort, thanks to its Sunrise Breakfasts. On weekends with fresh snow (announced each Wednesday), early birds ride the gondola (7:15–7:30 a.m.) to the Summit House restaurant for a hot breakfast, followed by a few runs on fresh tracks before the masses arrive. (888) 754-6199, www.crystalmountainresort.com.
A Manor of Time
Victoria's Oak Bay welcomes the return of a classic hotel
You don't have to be "to the manor born" to experience something of the refined life in Victoria this winter. The oceanfront Oak Bay Beach Hotel—a popular retreat since the 1930s—is scheduled to reopen Nov. 15 after a ground-up rebuild in a luxury English Manor house style, with modern touches such as floor-to-ceiling windows capitalizing on Haro Strait views. The reinvented resort, about 3 miles east of the Inner Harbour, incorporates facets of the original—such as the grand lobby fireplace—while stepping up the elegance: think solid mahogany millwork and three heated outdoor mineral pools, as well as a gas fireplace in each of the 100 hotel rooms. Need something during your stay? Just ask Jeeves: Oak Bay also offers round-the-clock butler, valet and concierge services. Make sure to tear yourself away from the Downton Abbey fantasy long enough to stroll Oak Bay's quaint village, a cluster of restaurants, cafés, shops and clothing boutiques along Oak Bay Avenue.
What Would MacGyver Do?
Some of the most useful travel accessories are likely right in your own home. As a frequent traveler, writer Cheryl-Anne Millsap has developed savvy ways to repurpose handy common items during long-distance trips:
- Comfort in a cup
I always carry packets of hot chocolate, instant soup and oatmeal. Stuck with a layover and no appetite for airport food or prices? Comfort is as close as a cup of hot water. My emergency food kit also includes a tiny folding plastic spoon that came with a cup of Icelandic skyr (yogurt) and a green "stopper" from Starbucks to make to-go cups splash-proof.
An assortment of Ziploc bags in different sizes helps maximize luggage space. I use large bags to sort, compress and store clothing and laundry. Small bags make good temporary ice bags for headaches or sprains. They also hold munchies, spices to perk up bland airline food, and tiny souvenirs such as seashells.
I snagged this idea from Pinterest: Use an empty Tic Tac dispenser to store items such as bobby pins and safety pins. Simply shake out what you need.
A little goes a long way
Forget department store samples. Spritz a cotton ball with a favorite perfume and seal it in a plastic bag. It will keep your luggage smelling nice until you're ready to rub a little on your wrists.
That's a wrap
A stretchy cloth bandage not only wraps and supports sore knees and ankles, in a pinch it can protect a wine bottle or compress luggage. I've even used one to keep a suitcase with a broken zipper from spilling its contents.