Tree walker fun Tree Hugging Just before the cliffwalk Old Growth Tree On the Cliff Walk Tree Walk Capilano Suspention Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

If you visit Vancouver and Whistler-Blackholm, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a fun place to stop. They have three main attractions that make the entry fee worth it.

The Capilano Suspension Bridge stretches 450 feet across and 230 feet above Capilano River. Originally built in 1889 by George Grant Mackay, a Scottish civil engineer and park commissioner for Vancouver, its first incarnation was made of hemp ropes with a deck of cedar planks. In 1903, a wire cable bridge was built as a replacement. The bridge was completely rebuilt in 1956 and pretty much in the state you see it today and with repairs.

In 2004, Treetops Adventures was installed and consists of seven footbridges suspended between old-growth Douglas Fir trees on the west side of the canyon, forming a walkway up to 98 feet above the forest floor. Just a present walk for enjoying trees

In June 2011, an attraction called Cliff Walk opened and features a cantilevered and suspended walkways that jut out from the granite cliff face above Capilano River.

Apart from those heart pounding show stoppers, they have smaller “safer” attractions. Of them I really enjoyed the rain forest walk around serene ponds and tall old growth trees.

Some of the kiosks feature interesting history and stories about the park, but most are trivia bites meant to entertain children. One particular story stood out: in 2006, a 300-year-old, 46-tonne Douglas fir tree toppled during a heavy snowstorm. The tree fell across the western end of the bridge and the park had to be closed for repairs. They kept part of the tree where it fell and you can walk over it along the boardwalk trail.

The best part of course is walking over the bridge trying to steady yourself as it bounces with each step — not just your step, but also the steps of everyone else on the bridge. On that particular day, we were lucky to see a bald eagle swoop about 10 feet above the center of the bridge while we were on it. I had to call out to Sig who was staring intently at the bridge floor, “Look up! Look Up!” He turned up just in time to see the eagle fly over his head.

On the Cliff Walk, we saw more bald eagles hunting for fish in the river. That walk was particularly tough, but worth views which I’ve never experienced in my life. Now I want to go see more touristy sky walks such as Glacier Skywalk in Jasper national park, Alberta, Canada or the Grand Canyon. Even brave those old suspension bridges found in Costa Rica.

[tribulant_slideshow link=”file” post_id=”2706″]

Camano Island Drift Wood

Where Have the Games Gone?

Where have the Games Gone? Up until about a year ago (or has it been two years?) I played a lot of games. I even ran a podcast dedicated to a game. You may have noticed that my blog’s name has changed from “Anne, G4m3r W1f3ling” to “All things Anne.” So what happened? What have I been up to?

Hikes and Walks

Since October 2014, I’ve written regularly about my hikes and walks in and around Seattle with my two friends Janice and John, and of course with my husband. I know! Who new that the fun exploring in real life exceeded that of exploring in an MMO world? My husband has an aversion to roughing it in the great outdoors, and we call him Mr. 2% for various reasons. Apparently, he feels that I indulge him in nearly all of his hobbies that it would be only fair to reciprocate for mine.

My impetus for travel is two fold; the first is having friends eager and willing to join me on adventures. Secondly, I’ve found medications that relieve me of nasty allergy and asthma symptoms. Friends make for excellent motivation, entertainment and fun when wandering about ogling at nature. Combine that with being unchained from psychical restrictions, and now I have an impulse to put one foot in front of the other just to see lush vegetation, majestic views, and animals frolicking in the wild.

If you’re interested you can view my posts and pictures of our adventures.

Of course there are more reasons involved for less gaming, but I’ll save that for later blog posts.

 Saratoga Passage

Saratoga Passage


Milky Way at Yellow Stone

A Year of Doing What I Love

Since 2012, we’ve done themes instead of resolutions. My own past themes have coincided with Sig’s own themes. We had The Year of Ambition followed up by the Year of Consolidation. This year Sig’s selected a Year of Creativity. I on the other hand want to do more of what I love, hence the theme of The Year of Doing What I Love.

Now before you turn this into a some kind of adolescent joke that tweenies will giggle uncontrollably at, I’m talking about spiritual and philosophical love.

I’ve been taught that doing love was a selfless act: you do things for others out of love, even if it makes you unhappy. Lots of times, I’ve done things for others believing that helping others would make me feel good. For a time, their happiness can transpose to happiness for myself. But as time passes, I have begun to realize that the joy of others can only take me so far. Now its time I found something that is more self-sustaining.

There’s a bit of a hurdle for me on this particular theme: What is it do I exactly love doing? I know what I do not like. I also know what I kind of like doing, what makes me feel satisfied, and what entertains me. But I’m not sure about what I could be doing that fills me with love, or better yet what fills me with self-love while I’m doing it.

This is where themes are so much better than resolutions: with a theme, its okay if the first (or second or even third, or the n-th) thing I pick won’t be the thing I love doing. Either way it will be a step in the right direction, because having tried is better than having done nothing at all. From that, I can pick up what I have learned about myself and keep moving forward. Where as a resolution is a “success or fail” box with no room for growth or change.

So here it is, my theme for the year of 2015: A Year of (Finding and) Doing What I Love

Kolstrand Building

Ballard: Chippy’s Fish & Drink

The Kolstrand Building was owned by the Kolstrand Marine Supply Company for almost 80 years. Built in the early 1900’s it’s a historic landmark in neighborhood and now home to three very fine bars serving some of the tastiest foods in Ballard.

On a Friday night, we made our way to The Walrus and the Carpenter for dinner, but get road-blocked with a 90 minute waiting list. Checked in at Staple and Fancy, but wandered out to Chippy’s Fish & Drink, one of many Ethan Stowell restaurants and bars.

First, I have to say I like a place that sports a fish phone and ample octopus decoration. I really like the batter on their fish, but it’s sad that their chips are so mundane; it seems to be a curse on Seattle seafood bars. Chef April Bloomfield needs to come to Seattle and teach everyone how to make proper chips. Also, for a sea side town, you would think that decent fried fish would come at a decent price. Nope. None. Nada. Expect to pay $15 minimum for your fish and chips, but if you drink like a fish you probably won’t notice the price at all. Chippy’s is a full bar and stocked heavily with scotch, wines, ciders, cocktails and 50 beers found in draughts, bottles and cans.

Thankfully as of November 2014, Chippy’s is now hosting happy hour from 5-6p Monday through Friday. Snacks go for $5. Fried oyster sandwiches and all selections of fish and chips for $8 apiece. Cheap drinks like Rainier and Tecate for $2 as well as a selection of NW brews and ciders for $3. Ahoy matey!


[slideshow link=”file” ids=”2638,2639,2640″]

burning microwave

Farewell Microwave

Dearest Microwave,

You lasted for 11 years. Faithfully you heated leftover curries, even when we forgot to cover it with plastic wrap and made explosive messes. You boiled water when our kettle broke. You’ve popped many a popcorn. You even disinfected my dish-washing sponges.

When your internal light failed to turn on, I looked the other way; I could warm foods in the dark. After all your table still turned and you told me the time each morning.

But then one cold Autumn day, instead of heating my hot coco, you smoked fine grey wafts of ozone. Out of fear of fire, we quickly unplugged you and left you that way for a day. We thought you were gone and made plans for your burial.

We soon realized we still needed your venting abilities when cooking on the stove top. We plugged you right back in. We believed it was hopeless, but we had to try. You turned on and devotedly sucked heated air and cooking smoke away. We tried heating a burrito with you: beeping and booping as we punched in time and power. But afterwards, you only left us with a frozen brick.

And now we must replace you with a new microwave. Thank you for your hard work and years of service. Rest in Peace my friend.

Seattle Chinese Garden

The Seattle Chinese Garden when finished will be one of the largest Chinese gardens outside of China. The site features a panoramic view of downtown Seattle, Washington, Elliott Bay and the Cascade Mountains, including Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier. The five-acre ridge-top garden will showcase numerous pavilions intermingled with lotus ponds, a rushing stream, and groves of pine, maple, and bamboo.

As of this year one court, one pavilion, a dedication wall and a carp statue are completed. It takes about ten minutes to tour the whole place.

Valley of the Dolls

Normally I find dolls kind of creepy, but raggedy cloth dolls I find cute and adorable. I think it’s because I had raggedy Ann and Andy dolls as a little girl.

In a small deserted village nestled deep in the valleys of Shikoku Island, Japan, resides Nagoro: The Valley of the Dolls. Once a bustling center with a big dam hydro-power company and hundreds of inhabitants, this now empty village is home to hundreds of raggedy dolls. Sadly the residents moved to bigger cities over the years searching for better jobs, leaving the village now abandoned permanently. Today, Nagoro has only 37 living inhabitants, and of course, many times more dolls. Artist Ayano Tsukimi is the creator of some 350+ life-size dolls who populate the empty village, each one representing a former villager.


Giant Red Velvet Mites

Thanks to The Oatmeal, I learned that Giant Red Velvet Mites (Trombidium Grandissimum) are real. They are called Bhir-buti in Hindi, which translates to “Rain’s Insect”. They live in soil and semi-desert areas of Northern India and spend most of their time hiding until the rain softens the soil for them to come out. T. grandissimum is one the largest known mites and can reach a size of around half an inch or so. The Giant Red Velvet Mite is exposed to hundreds of bacteria, worms, bugs and fungi on a daily basis and secretes anti-fungal oil. The mites circulatory fluid, hemolymph (a kind of bug blood) is also anti-fungal. Its poisonous nature would explain why its deep bright red; to ward off any predators. Its fuzzy body would also make it distasteful to any creature that dare make the mite its prey.

Botanical Glass

Four months is a long time to go without blogging, but I decided to say something about art.  I rarely talk about art mostly because art hardly moves me.  I do however admire technique and skill.  Jason Gamrath is a master glassblower based in Seattle who has that skill. With glass he creates enormous detailed orchids and carnivorous flowers to help people appreciate the minute details of the plant kingdom.


Theo Kitchen Chocolate Holding Tanks Theo Chocolate Factory Building Theo Chocolate Mill & Mix

Theo Chocolate Factory

On Valentine’s Day, I took Sig to Theo Chocolate for a tour of their factory at 3400 Phinney Avenue North in the Seattle Fremont Neighborhood. For a $7 tour, you get a quaint history lecture, a tour of their factory floor, chocolate samples and a modest 10% discount at their confectioners counter. You also get hair nets, which you must wear for obvious health reasons. If you have a beard net you must also wear a beard net.

The Building

Theo Chocolate was founded in 2005 in a historic brick building in the Fremont neighborhood in Seattle. The building was built in 1905 and it has housed an interesting array of tenants. It sheltered Seattle’s electric trolley fleet until 1941. After being a transportation hub, the building housed painters and artists in the later part of the 20th century. Then Redhook Brewery in 1989 moved in and opened an adjoining pub called the Trolleyman. You can learn more about the building’s history by taking the Fremont Historical Society’s walking tour.

The Chocolate

According to their presentation, Theo Chocolates gets their name from the scientific name of the cacao tree: Theobroma cacao. Theobroma means “God Food” – theos for “god” and broma for “food”. They did have a small cacao tree, but there is a better specimen on display at the UW Botany Greenhouse which actually flowers when in season. Or you can visit Hawaii’s Big Island or Kauai Island for tours of cacao plantations.

Theo is the first roaster of organic and fair trade cocoa, from “bean-to-bar” as they put it. Fermented beans sourced from Costa Rica, Madagascar, Venezuela, the Dominican Republic, Peru, Ecuador, and the Congo travel all the way to this Seattle factory. On one factory floor they sort, roast, mill, mix, conche, mold and package.

The air in the factory has a biting chocolate smell, mostly coming from the acetic acid. Tanks of chocolate paste is conched, or gently ground for smoothness, and heated to over 70ºC. Conching refines flavors and drives off the acetic acid produced during cocoa bean fermentation. There are more floral (South America) or earthy dark (Africa) smells depending on where the beans come from

In the Confection Kitchen, they make all kinds of sweets and even offer classes on how to make truffles, toffee, caramels and really anything you want to learn about making chocolate treats.

Dr. Chocolate: Better Science Through Chocolate

Andy McShea COO of Theo Chocolate is also known as Doc Choc, and his personal motto is “Better Science Through Chocolate.” He had no prior chocolate experience before joining Theo, but he knows how to develop an assay and focused on the quantitative analysis of cocoa. For on-site experiments, he has a small research space at the chocolate factory, behind a door marked “super-secret chocolate laboratory.” He’s worked with collaborators from Seattle to Cleveland to Manchester, England. This international chocolate team has developed chromatography and mass spectrometry methods that generate profiles of the volatile compounds released by fermented cocoa beans. The goals are to find biomarker compounds and specific chemical profiles that indicate bean quality, and possibly country of origin.