Cancel among Covid19?

May flower
Red Rhody

How to start? The season for tour guiding begins with the cruise ships, conventions, and sunny days in Seattle. I have absolutely no tour season this year. I’m staying home in the central district trying re-invent what a guide does without meeting people.

I’m going to write from behind a mask! I’m hoping for creative ideas for being in the world safely. The stops, and sights on a walking tour are certain to be more isolated, but as we open-up, people will walk. And they’ll enjoy being outside, and I can be a part of that in a different way.

For example, rhododendron and wisteria blooms are full this week! Seattle University campus (E. Madison at 12th Ave., or the Columbia St. entrance at Broadway), has lovely garden beds, and towering rhodys. In the Arboretum, (UW Botanic Gardens) Rhododendron Glen and Azalea Way are making a mighty display. Both destinations allow one to walk in view of other folks who are 6 feet away.

This summer, I’ll continue with Best Guide Seattle ideas that allow safe distancing, and the simple pleasure of the city’s environments. We’ll be okay. Wash yer hands!


The Season begins

Last evening, I was downtown enjoying the singing groups on Pine Street as part of the Figgy Pudding celebration that raises money for the Pike Place Market Senior Center. The streets were crowded and happy with song, some traditional and some inventive. It’s was a silly start to the holiday season, and a well-attended event.

The next day, I was reminded of the story of Juan Diego meeting the Lady on Mount Tepeyac. The miracle of the roses in the tilma, and the impression of the image of Mary lead to the conversion of millions to Christianity in the Americas. Our Lady of Guadalupe is the patron saint of Mexico, and the procession-celebration moves from St. Mary’s Church in the Central District, to St. James Cathedral on First Hill in Seattle. The procession is a smaller event, but is a gem of culture and a celebration of joy in the city.

Procession on 12th Ave near Seattle University 2019

Skyviewing, and reviewing

This is my second summer at Skyview Observatory, and most of the original team has left the company.  It’s been a challenge, and like any new enterprise, it helps to have realistic goals with respect to the location.

In short, we are not in a tourist area of NYC. As a city, we were founded by people who didn’t fit into the mentality or sensibility of the east coast in general. That’s not say we can’t make money, but we have a local style that plays a long game, rewarding employers that get involved with the community and become part of the culture. That means inviting people in, inviting locals to gather, and inviting groups that create events as community-builders. Does anyone remember that kind of company?

People return to places where memories are made. The free-admission evening to celebrate Pride in June comes to mind. It was a great party, with drag queen bingo, and lots of fun cocktails. I believe it also was our most successful attendance and sales date on record.

Earlier in the spring, our venue was used for the Big Climb (annual fundraiser for leukemia) but didn’t have any involvement in hosting. That was a shame. Why not be partners with this community cause?  I remember thinking, “we should be part of this.”

After a year, with its ups and downs, I do enjoy being part of this place. We have a lot of tourists and locals who love looking out the windows! Our mountains and waterways are fantastic; not to be taken for granted, but also not to be exclusive. When you’re up here, you’re with us, and being in the sky is memorable, but the joy comes in meeting people from all over the world, and sharing the day, or evening.

Hope to see you soon and Thanks for reading from Margaret, Best Guide Seattle

In the Sky

Greetings from Skyview Observatory! I continue to refer to myself as a tour guide, while my location has changed to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center in downtown Seattle.


As a Skyview Ambassador, I’ve shared the city sights with many visitors as we stroll the 360 degree view above the 4th and Cherry St. entrance.  I’m organizing different ways to contribute to the observatory experience as an employee, and continue to develop tours while discovering new places in the city.

Thirty-three thousand tech jobs were added to our economy in the last year, and that means newcomers, and adventurous people continue to move here. Growth is change, and change should include interesting contributions, and also protections for places and activities we love. Our challenge is in determining how to allow both. Who decides? What are our values? Did someone complain seriously about rowing crews yelling during early morning practice on Lake Union? That was joke, right?

Next up: Best Guide Seattle is launching a customized tour mapping service, and like many great ideas, the details and development are nearly formed. Stand by for more information next spring. This new project will be creative, flexible, and interesting–just like Seattle weather in October!

Thanks for reading, from Margaret at Best Guide Seattle


In the streets

Cal Anderson Park on Capitol Hill was the gathering point for the second Women’s March in Seattle. The turn-out was fantastically upbeat with friends gathering on a cold morning. What are all the signs about? Why go on a march through downtown?

For Seattlites, it’s about not being quiet about the broken promises to DACA kids,  the continued lack of equal pay,  or the effort to take away women’s choices in their healthcare benefits.  The lack of educational funding and the ignorance it represents, the border wall and the fear that it represents, the Trump presidency and the patriarchy it represents, these are painful disappointments, but the signs in Seattle are voices asking for rights that many haven’t received, the promises unfulfilled–signs for Black Lives Matter, signs to stop discrimination, to stop profiling, and to stop criminalizing poverty.

This year, it’s also about the MeToo movement, where we hear from women speaking-up when men have over-stepped the line of decency in the workplace and in relationships. Does that remind you of someone in the oval office?

From here, we have to learn from each other, vote for improving each other’s chances at equal rights, and support each other’s humanity.  A Seattle rally is a glorious sight, as well as a celebration in free speech–the kind that makes me smile:


Smoke in sunshine

This summer is wrapping up with warm temperatures combined with a smokey haze. It’s happened before, lasting a day or two, but this time, smoke has been our weather for more than a week. Wildfires from British Columbia through Idaho are blamed for our pewter colored sky and orange sunsets.  We await the stronger breezes that will carry it away, but it keeps replacing itself.  Under the strange dry grayness,  I still wear my sunscreen, and enjoy a good tour-calendar while looking forward to August events like:  Shakespeare in the park by Greenstage, and Wooden O,  the neighborhood farmers markets, and art walks, the Out to Lunch concert series in downtown parks, and outdoor concerts and movies at the Mural at the Seattle Center.

The new Marketfront over Western Ave. at the Pike Place Market adds great views of Elliott Bay from the upper pavilion level.  The market charms in the fence line display names and messages from supporters of the Market foundation.

Marketfront / Pike Place Market

A brew pub, and restaurants on the lower level make a great gather spot for larger groups to meet.

After Highway 99 viaduct structure comes down, this area likely will have access to the waterfront too.

Looking ahead, I’m going to Oregon along with about a million other adventurers to witness the Solar Eclipse! More later, and thank you for reading, From Margaret at Best Guide Seattle


Denny Park differences

I have to admit, the last time I’d walked through Denny Park with tour guests, I had to look back to make sure nobody was following us. We’d been among pan-handlers the length of the diagonal walkway.  Then, I had to look ahead cautiously to decide which gritty construction site we’d be passing on our way downtown.IMG_0034

The improvements to Denny Park recently were celebrated, but I didn’t notice much added except the bright chairs and tables. In fact, many improvements were to irrigation and drainage, and lighting and pathways. These are important updates, and certainly worth doing, but I think my expectations were too high.

This is the oldest park in Seattle. The land was donated by David Denny, one of the founding-family members, and became the city’s cemetery. And like most cemeteries, it was oIMG_0029n the edge of the town which grew from Pioneer Square.

The land regrades changed the park dimensions over the years, and the folks buried there now rest at Lakeview cemetery on Capitol Hill, but Denny park remains a treasured green space with many plants, and tall trees.

The modern park has a better walk-through area, and an off-leash dog park, and  children’s play area. I imagine that the labyrinth walk could bring a sense of relaxation as much as quietly sitting under the boughs of the old trees.



The basketball courts across the street added to the feeling of community space, but they are not likely to stay under the push for vertical development.  This little square of green will have to do.






I hope some historical notes will be added to the park, as well as some art that will remind us where we are. Not the art of glass spheres and contrived plazas for the corporate neighbors, but the kind of art that says people live, and play here.  Denny Park can be the place that reminds us that we are better people on-foot than when we’re in our cars, and affirm that a big, tall tree in a fast-moving city can feel like an old friend.                            Thank you for reading, from Margaret at Best Guide Seattle




Yes, you May

“How many months of rain, and tea drinking, and head colds, can we take?”  I asked myself.  It was a long stretch from winter to spring but we made it! February had five “dry” days, March had three, and April had four, according to the 4/26 Seattle weather blog. That was about the time I caught the worst cold yet; the kind that leads to antibiotics, and an inhaler. I missed Easter, and cancelled two tour dates, but I’m excited to welcome a new season with sunshine, and great events.

I’ve been suggesting that my guests conclude their upcoming tour-day at the Seattle Center so that they’ll have ample time to visit the Terracotta Warriors of the First Emperor exhibit at the Pacific Science Center.  The history and artifacts are well-presented with guests walking among the ancient soldiers, and learning about China’s first ruler. His obsession to build his tomb and have it guarded by an army for eternity is a fantastic story.  The army was discovered in 1974, while the actual tomb remains buried.  Only two U.S. cities (Seattle and Philadelphia) will host the exhibit this year. See it in Seattle until Sept. 4th, 2017.

Northwest Folklife is this weekend (May 26-28) at the Seattle Center, and the three-day  party of acoustic, folk, and ethnic music and dance is one I’ve enjoyed as a participant, and as an audience member.  The rumor is that it’s the last one! If they don’t make the donation goal, there’s no money for 2018. Suggested: $10 per person, each day. That is such a great deal, and you can donate through the website too.

Last but not least, the Seattle Art Museum is hosting a greatly anticipated exhibit by ultra-pop artist Yayoi Kusama called Infinity Mirrors this summer. General tickets go on sale May 30th (exhibit runs June 30 to Sept 10).

Let me know if you have visitors coming to Seattle this summer, and Thank you for reading, from Margaret, Best Guide Seattle



2017, A toast to the New Year

Your Best Guide is returning after a refreshing off-season with new ideas for enjoying the city of Seattle. Among the great changes to our skyline, the expanded light-rail and streetcar helps one visit new places without a car. I look forward to writing more about that in future posts.

Winter continued with spectacular frosty times in the city and even though it’s cold and damp, it’s perfect for annual celebrations, art exhibits, and books.



The Lunar New Year, Sat. Jan 28, celebrates the Year of the Rooster with traditional firecrackers, and dragon and lion dances. More entertainment, including martial arts displays, is planned for Sunday Jan. 29 at Hing Hay Park on Maynard Ave. in Seattle’s Chinatown.

Also in mid-Jan, The Seattle Art Museum is going to feature a Jacob Lawrence collection to honor the 100 years since his birth. “The Migration Series” had some pieces displayed at the MoMA in New York, and more are coming from the Phillips collection in Washington D.C. so that the 60 original panels can be seen together. Jacob Lawrence was a teacher at University of Washington in the 70s and 80s, and a campus art gallery is named for him.

Then in February, we have one of my favorite events, the annual Search for Meaning book festival, hosted by Seattle University, at 12th Ave. and E. Columbia St. This event offers new perspectives about living, and it features a variety of authors, and presenters with amazing experiences and stories to share. This year it’s on Sat., Feb 25 and Sun, Feb 26th.

Thank you for reading, and Happy New Year!  from Margaret, Best Guide Seattle






South Lake Union

Park in progress during August


What a joy to go to S. Lake Union on a warm day! The breeze over the water is just enough to gently help the children, each in an 8 ft. El Toro, as they learn to sail. West of the  MOHAI (Museum of History and Industry) brave swimmers jump in the blue water and pop out again to bask in the August sunshine. Of course, I have my ballcap on to shade away the bright rays. I never thought I’d see people swim in this lake, but on a 90 degree day it looks inviting.

The nearby neighborhood has changed more quickly than other Seattle areas. With Amazon’s presence, and the sudden population of their twenties, streets and sidewalks are jammed at work day’s end. I’m guessing many workers are experiencing their first jobs out of college, and first time living in Seattle. It’s a youthful bunch to be sure, but not always considerate of others who may not be employed by almighty A-maz. “Stop walking three across; people, we’re not at the mall!” Seriously, I do appreciate Amazon for funding the 4th of July fireworks. The S. Lake Union venue for the Wooden Boat festival, and fireworks viewing is a favorite summer event.

Other highlights on the lake are the seaplanes landing and taking off, the old ships moored behind the MOHAI, and the Center for Wooden Boats which is constructing a large new center in what was once a surface parking lot.

The history of lake has moved far past the mills, coal barges, and gasworks while keeping some of the ship building, mooring, and maritime business among the people enjoying new bike trails, lake walks, kayaks, houseboats, seaplanes, and the sail-slapping joy of the Tues evening “Duck Dodge” regatta, (season ends Sept 6th). If you’ve never seen it, look down from the slow traffic of I-5, and remind yourself of why this lake is an urban gem.