Tuesday, March 10, 2009

RIP: The P-I?

This project has completely fizzled as my family has been fixated on the murky view of our future. I've been up a few times, even shared the experience with one of my favorite kids, Apollo, a 3-year-old who can see the Needle from his bedroom.

I will likely get back on board as the ax falls on the newspaper, where my husband has worked for the last two years. I'm not going to get too sappy, but he has spent many years in the print world and is looking to go in a completely different direction -- possibly a teaching degree? -- but change is gut-wrenching, especially when you're not ready for it. Join the club, right?

When people talk to me about the end of the P-I, they invariably ask: What's to become of the Globe? It's really as much a part of the city skyline as the Space Needle, a neon beacon that signals the tireless quest for the truth. I've worked in many newsrooms, but have never seen such a scrappy crew as the P-I team. What will become of all these journalists? I cannot even fathom. 

Here's an open invitation to any and all P-I-ers: Let me treat you to a trip to the top. Maybe the air up there will offer an inspiration. Mike Lewis -- author of "Under the Needle" -- is going to take me up on this invite this week.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Kinda hard to see in this pic, but the P-I globe has got a letter out on its iconic neon sign. It says "I's in the P-I." Somehow, I don't imagine it's going to get fixed in this current state, teetering on the brink of folding.

It was a lovely evening to be up top, nice sunset, no breeze. 

Rode up with a bunch of macho-looking dudes who refused to come and stand by the window of the elevator. Fraidy cats! Then, on the way down, someone asked the elevator attendant how she could stand right by the doors. People... really?

I used to be afraid of heights and here's how I cured myself: I was in Chamonix in the French Alps and I rode on this gondola to some crazy high overlook. Had to take two different cars, actually. 

On the way down, I forced myself to stand in the front and live through it. It was terrifying, but after that, I've not had that sinking feeling. Sounds stupid simple, but it worked.

Anybody afraid of heights want to go up and shoot the Needle with me? I'll cure you!

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Read all about it in the P-I

Click HERE for a link to the story I wrote for the P-I's Getaways section.

Went up for a quick trip tonight, and our elevator operator, Heather, dropped a little knowledge. But only after I requested the speel. She said the Needle was as tall as 1,450 tall lattes. That's some good trivia.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

First time up: Ted Barnwell

Took my buddy Ted up to the top last week and he loved it. Just amazing how many people I talk to who haven't been up in years, or ever.

Anybody want to take a ride? I've got a free ticket. Just say so.

Tonight, on my way downtown for dinner, I stopped and made a quick trip up and back. It was cool to watch the fog roll in from the east, a strand of it winding over the top of Queen Anne, making the old high school glow.

There was only a few other brave souls out there on the deck tonight, it was dang cold. But beautiful. What a thrilling sight, this gorgeous skyline. Only wish I had a better camera to capture the magic. 

Monday, January 19, 2009

Returning to the scene...

Absolutely stunning sunset Sunday, the Space Needle packed with out-of-towners here for the holiday weekend. This view from the top is worth $16, right?

I had not been up in more than a week, thus blowing my goal of visiting the landmark every day in 2009. But life got in the way.

While I was up top with a friend on Jan. 8, I got a call from my husband, saying he had some bad news. I thought he was going to say he would be late for dinner, but instead he said the P-I was rumored to be going out of business. He works there, and I freelance for the newspaper, so this news -- confirmed the next day -- hit like a punch in the stomach. 

As we deal with the shock and grief of this sad situation, I couldn't help associate the bad news with the place I first heard it. But that's so unfair.

It took a few days and the rare appearance of the sun to pull me out of the funk and back up the elevator (which takes 41 seconds to go 520 feet to the Observation Deck). Drinking in the incredible city skyline, I couldn't help feeling: Everything's going to be all right.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

So much fun to share with a friend

Another soggy Seattle day, major flooding south of the city, the Observation Deck closed again.

But my friend Diane agree to take the trip up top. She hadn't been in years and was a good sport about the dramatic conditions. And by that, I mean the distance down. She was ribbing the elevator operators about accidents, etc. 

I'm not quite a regular yet, but there are a couple sharp staffers who have noticed my frequent visits. Seven down, 358 days to go.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Oh Mandy!

... You kissed me and stopped me from shaking.

Yep, Barry Manilow was playing up top the Space Needle, as the gusty winds swayed the 600-foot structure. The thing was rocking like a ship on a stormy sea. Fewer than a dozen people braved the conditions.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Not quite a haiku

The Needle pierces a concrete gray sky
Wind threading through its deck
Yet I am warmed by the metal marvel

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Snowing, blowing

It's so easy to love The Space Needle when it's bluebird skies and sunny, but it takes true commitment to go up when the weather outside is frightful.

The perks to braving the elements?

Solo elevator ride to the top. 

Few others on the Observation Deck. 

The chance to see snow blowing sideways at 520 feet. Damn cool.

One of the staff asked me today: "Weren't you just here yesterday?" Give the guy a gold star! And I'll be back tomorrow.

Saturday, January 3, 2009

Mad cool @ night!

The Observation Deck is nearly empty after 9, my better half saying: "Why don't they have a bar up here?" 

I asked about the plumbing and the "tour guide" had no answers for me, but Linnea was the absolute top elevator operator so far, even dropping a little knowledge about the giant octopus living in Puget Sound. Good stuff!

It's colder up top, and the kids up top push the envelope, hopping up on the rails to get pics. 

Friday, January 2, 2009

Beauty Day!

What a gorgeous sunset today!

This was a Chamber of Commerce kind of day, the Observation Deck swarming with tourists. I've yet to be blown away by the elevator operators, though. I know they're making the same speech over and over and over again, but put a little personality into the speel. 

On the way down, it's even more lame. They just ask if there are any questions. Yesterday, I asked what's the question you're asked most often and the young woman pictured above answered: "How many times do you go up and down a day?" So, how many times? A lot, she said. Hmmm. Don't you think she might have counted at least one day? Just to help pass the time? Sheesh.

Thursday, January 1, 2009

The misty view from the top

Steady drizzle and limited visibility meant short lines on the first day of the year. I bought an annual sunset pass for $59, which means I can ride to the top after 4 in the winter, 6 in the summer.

When I went to buy the pass, I walked up to the line that said it was for annual passholders, but the officious cashier sent me to the back of the line. Meow. When I got back up to the window, I tried to explain that, but she was having none of it. Totally passive aggressive, so I asked her name. She turned up the heat and ran to get her supervisor. Why do people like this think they should be in customer service?

Maybe I'd be cranky, too, if I had to wear those goofy outfits.

Happy New Year!

The fireworks were spectacular last night, despite the rain. Watching it was the perfect way to kick off The SPACE NEEDLE project.

It's a simple mission that might sound a little crazy/obsessive: Go up in the Space Needle every day in 2009. Everyday, I'll ride 41 seconds to the top, snap some shots, learn a few things. (Did you know the red elevator was used mostly for staff? It has one of the best views of the city skyline.

Why? I love the Space Needle. Have ever since I was a kid. It's Seattle's Graceland. The Effiel Tower on Puget Sound. Way cooler than the Golden Gate Bridge don't you think? So retro cool. 

Want to come along for the ride?