In calm seas off the west side of San Juan Island, my kayak bobs gently in a kelp bed. In the water about a quarter-mile distance from me, orcas mill and frolic, most likely hunting their favorite chinook salmon. I drop my hydrophone (an underwater microphone) into the water to listen to their distinct calls.A low clanging—whang, whang, whang—fills my headphones. It is the steady and overpowering sound of a cargo ship, one of the regular features of underwater life in the San Juan Islands’ Haro Strait.
Along the western shore of San Juan Island, across Haro Strait, the view that most people observe when the killer whales are present is generally a placid one: The only noises are the sounds of the currents rushing, the “koosh” of the whales as they surface and blow plumes into the air—although at times, the calm is broken by the engines of the boats, sometimes 30 vessels at a time, that come crowding around the whales to get a close look at them. If there are large ships in view, they are mostly distant and seem almost silent as they glide past.
Acclaimed director John Langs has a long history of working in the Seattle theater world, and in 2012, he moved here permanently to become ACT Theatre’s associate artistic director. This month, he directs one of Seattle’s most beloved and madcap theater traditions, 14/48: The World’s Quickest Theater Festival (1/10–1/18; acttheatre.org).LOCATION: Langs’ office at ACT Theatre downtownLANGS’ DRINK: Bulleit rye *No actual coffee consumed
MUST SEEStunning Glaciers Are Disappearing Before Our Very Eyes(Through 3/2) — Take a weekend drive to Bellingham, where the Whatcom Museum’s gorgeous Lightcatcher building hosts Vanishing Ice: Alpine and Polar Landscapes in Art 1775-2012, featuring astonishing photos and paintings of melting glaciers.
[trains]Mud Bath Commuters using Sound Transit’s Sounder north line in Everett during the 2012–2013 winter are forced to secure alternate transportation 122 times due to mudslides, rocks and other debris blocking the tracks. [tunnel]Tunnel Vision
Brangien Davis, Bond Huberman, John Levesque, Lauren Mang, Allison Austin Scheff and Lisa Wogan
Before we rush blithely into the new year, we take a moment to consider the year that was, pressing the replay button on the best and worst of Seattle in 2013. Read on for all the memorable moments. What's In and What's Out in Seattle FoodYear in Photos: The Most Amazing Photos of 2013
Must OgleMartin Schoeller’s Larger than Life Portraits at the EMP Museum(Through 2/16, times vary) — In Close-Up, photographer Martin Schoeller shares his stunning, large-scale, full-face shots of celebs and regular folks alike.
Must DineWhere to Dine Out During the HolidaysThe holidays are here, family is in town—celebrate at one of these special-occasion spots.
The best thing about Seattle winter is that unlike frostier cities such as, say, Chicago, you can actually sit outdoors at night without freezing your face off. The experience is even better if you’re sitting next to a toasty fire pit with a drink in hand—and, of course, if it isn’t raining. Several (but not enough!) local restaurants have clued in to the prehistoric appeal of a fire pit, and to the fact that it tends to lure diners like moths to a you-know-what.
“Jane Fonda hugged me.” Columbia City–based writer, performer and activist Lindy West still can’t quite believe she got a squeeze from one of her idols, but there is video evidence from the Women’s Media Awards, held in October in New York City.
Seattle promises New Year’s Eve celebrations aplenty, everything from classy multi-coursed feasts to fireworks to sparkling parties brimming with bubbly and live music. Slip on your finest party shoes, grab a noise-maker and prep the vocal chords for a little “Auld Lang Syne,” then opt for one of these festive neighborhood NYE events.
MUST GLUGSun Liquor’s Exquisite Eggnog (Plus a Recipe to Make Your Own)Sneak out on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day (starting at 7 p.m.) to sip the delicious made-from-scratch eggnog at Capitol Hill’s Sun Liquor. Or make your own with this surefire recipe.
Seattle should start the new year by looking back in order to look forward. One hundred and fifty years ago, our sawmill town on Elliott Bay saw events that portended huge changes. In May 1864, a “cargo of brides” called the Mercer Girls arrived as potential mates for the male settlers, so the city could become self-propagating. In October of that year, Western Union—the Comcast of its time—brought the telegraph to Seattle, connecting us with the newly wired world.