Has Game of Thrones reached its sell-by date?

George RR Martin meme

George RR Martin finishes the Game of Thrones series. Yeah, in your wildest fantasy.

Ok, so I’m late to the party, but I just spent the last six or eight weeks (I’ve lost count) reading the 1,123-page paperback edition of George R.R. Martin’s A Dance With Dragons, book five of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, mostly because my obsessive-compulsive tendencies prevented me from abandoning the door-stopper. I wasted about half that time.

You know there’s a problem when the author has to explain himself on the first page of the book. After the dedication, itself a tome (31 names!), in what he titles a “cavil,” an obscure word meaning “trivial objection,” he nearly apologizes for what he’s about to do: give you virtual whiplash by taking you backward then forward in time and into parallel universes. Off you go, don’t get lost! Continue reading

Design for Seattle Maritime Education Center Unveiled

Artist's rendering

Artist’s rendering of planned Wagner Education Center at Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats

The Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle has unveiled its plans for a $6.6 million education center next to its 37-year-old facility at Lake Union Park. In a statement released today, CWB says the wood, steel and glass education facility, designed by award winning Seattle architect Tom Kundig of Olson Kundig Architects, recalls historic Northwest boatbuilding facilities. The education center will also serve as a modern “front door” for the museum, Lake Union Park, and the surrounding neighborhood. Construction is set to start by the end of 2013.

The design includes a dedicated youth classroom that can be converted to a sail loft, new gallery and exhibit space, and a new boat shop. The education center is the largest portion of a $9.5 million capital campaign aimed at improving CWB’s existing facilities at the south end of Lake Union. The addition will be named the Wagner Education Center after Dick and Colleen Wagner, CWB’s founders.

“This new facility will make it possible for even more people to come down to Lake Union Park and pick up a hammer or chisel or plane and find the joy when they make a boat with their own hands,” Dick Wagner said.

The CWB capital campaign has received support from the City of Seattle, King County, and Washington State, along with leadership gifts from business, individuals and private foundations totaling $6.7 million. CWB needs to raise $2.8 million to reach its goal. The design was unveiled at an annual block party for the South Lake Union neighborhood. More information about the capital campaign is available at the CWB website.

Source: Center for Wooden Boats

Big 4th Celebrations on Both Coasts

Historic boats in New York

Left to right: Lehigh Valley Barge #79, tug Pegasus, the steamship Lilac, and fireboat John J. Harvey. The schooner Pioneer from the troubled South Street Seaport Museum will be part of the North River Historic Ship Festival for the first time this year.

Many maritime museums and heritage organizations are celebrating the Fourth of July next week with fireworks and other activities, and I’d like to make note of two. In the New York area, for the fifth year in a row, the North River Historic Ship Society will host an exclusive benefit party on the rooftop of Pier 66 Maritime (a.k.a. the Frying Pan Pier) at 26th Street and the Hudson River in Manhattan. This year’s celebration is particularly poignant, given the troubles at another New York maritime heritage organization, the South Street Seaport Museum. This week, the Museum of the City of New York said it was pulling its support for the maritime museum, blaming Hurricane Sandy. Rick Spilman at the Old Salt Blog has excellent posts on the matter. The South Street Seaport Museum has one of the leading collections of large heritage vessels, and I’m praying the museum can recover from its abandonment by its major patron.

On the other side of the country, the Grays Harbor Historical Seaport Authority, which operates the brig Lady Washington and the topsail ketch Hawaiian Chieftain, currently in Ilwaco, Wash., will mark the grand opening of Seaport Landing on July 3 and 4. Last March, GHHSA purchased 24 acres of riverfront property in Aberdeen, Wash., to convert into a tourism destination and tall ship maintenance facility. Many in Aberdeen are hoping Seaport Landing will spark an economic renaissance in the city and surrounding towns, which suffer some of the highest unemployment rates in the region. The organization is just starting to plan for Seaport Landing’s future, but if all goes well, Aberdeen could have a world-class facility drawing thousands of people from around the globe. (Full disclosure: I’m communications director for GHHSA.)

What maritime celebrations or festivals will you attend this summer?

New Willapa Seaport Museum Exhibits

The Willapa Seaport Museum in Raymond, Wash., has announced the opening of a new exhibit on southwest Washington maritime history. On June 12, the museum dedicated an exhibit of the rebuilt wheelhouse of the F/V Vanshee. The exhibit honors the still-working boat, current Captain Pers Odegaard, and its long history. The museum itself is something like grandma’s attic; it’s no Smithsonian, but it’s packed with fun and interesting bric-a-brac. The museum also announced an expansion of its exhibit on the Coastal Artillery, a branch of the U.S. Army that defended Washington State in the days before aircraft.

The museum, located near South Bend, Wash., on the Willapa River is a prime example of a community museum which plays a pivotal role in keeping local memories alive and passing them to children and grandchildren. They also play an important role in bringing newcomers up to speed about their new neighborhood and attracting tourists to local businesses. I’ve also viewed them as unsung heroes of the travel and tourism industry. In some small towns, the local community museum is the best, and sometimes the only, attraction around. The museum is listed in the Fyddeye Guide to America’s Maritime History.

What’s your favorite community museum? (Comment below.)

Willapa Seaport Museum

The author Joe Follansbee and his wife Edith at the museum.

Maritime Heritage Council Asks Support

Arthur Foss

The tug Arthur Foss in Seattle would be included in a proposed National Maritime Heritage Area.

An association of maritime history enthusiasts and heritage organizations has called on historical societies and museums in Washington State to endorse the creation of a new national maritime heritage area. The executive committee of the Pacific Northwest Maritime Heritage Council emailed members and supporters last month asking them to submit a draft letter to non-profit boards endorsing the council’s call on Congress to create the area. The council also asked organizations to endorse a proposal in Congress to formalize the process for creating heritage areas.

The email, signed by the PNMHC executive committee, said endorsements “will show observers both in Washington State and in Washington DC the high the level of support that exists here for the proposal for a National Heritage Area focused on Washington State’s maritime history,” the email said.

National Heritage Areas are designated by Congress to highlight the historical importance of specific geographic locations in the U.S. The areas are administered by the National Park Service; most are located east of the Mississippi River. Creation of new areas has stalled in Congress due to budget constraints and confusion over the legal scope of the areas. A similar proposal to create a heritage area near the mouth of the Columbia River died after local property owners argued the law might infringe on their property rights.

A proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives, H.R. 445, National Heritage Area Act of 2013, would formally define heritage areas and set out a formal process for creating one. The PNMHC said it will base its decision whether to move forward with its lobbying efforts according to feedback from heritage groups.

Huge Sea Creatures at Museum Exhibit

Megalodon jaw

Megalodon jaw at the American Museum of Natural History

The Harbor History Museum in Gig Harbor, Wash., has welcomed a new traveling exhibit on prehistoric life in the sea. Savage Ancient Seas features more than 14 complete specimens of large prehistoric marine creatures. The exhibit reconstructs the aquatic world of the late Cretaceous period more than 70 million years ago. It is a world of huge carnivorous marine reptiles with double-hinged jaws and teeth in the middle of their palates, gigantic flesh-eating fish big enough to swallow an adult human whole, flying reptiles with three-foot skulls, and the biggest sea turtles to have ever lived.

Many of the specimens are suspended from the museum’s ceiling, while other parts of the exhibit include smaller specimens and hands-on learning stations. Large specimens include the largest aquatic reptile ever discovered, the 45-foot-long Tylosaurus. Other species include Megalodon, the largest of the sharks, and Archelon, a sea turtle whose shell was 17 feet in diameter.

The Harbor History Museum is collaborating with local marine and environmental organization Harbor WildWatch to create special exhibit programs for Savage Ancient Seas. K-12 schools are invited for special tours and hands-on workshops. Lectures, workshops, and youth programming are also available. Savage Ancient Seas is open through July 14, 2013 at the Harbor History Museum, 4121 Harborview Drive, Gig Harbor, Wash. Museum hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Seattle Exhibit on Rec Fishing

CWB at Cama Beach

Cama Beach State Park near Seattle is featured in a new exhibit on recreational fishing.

Recreational fishing is important to Puget Sound’s quality of life, as well as its economy, and Seattle’s Center for Wooden Boats has mounted a new exhibit to celebrate its history. The exhibit, titled “Fish On!”, examines a time when resorts, such as Cama Beach on Camano Island in central Puget Sound, and boathouses from Olympia to the San Juan Islands invited men, women, and children to venture on the water with a hand line, spoon, bamboo pole, and rented rowboat.

CWB’s new exhibit, which opens December 29, records the stories, preserves the small watercraft, and shares images of the “glory days” of recreational salmon fishing in the region. The story of the development of Puget Sound communities is told by exploring how people interact with the waterfront.

“Recreational salmon fishing in the early part of the last century was as much a cultural experience as a sport,” said Betsy Davis, CWB executive director. “Businesses, like boathouses, resorts, boats shops and tackle manufactures, that serviced western Washington’s love affair with salmon sportfishing drove local economies and buoyed entire communities.”

The boathouses and resorts phenomenon peaked in the late 1950s. At nearly 200 rental operations, anglers gathered not just to rent boats, but to swap lies, compare fishing rigs, and make friends. Fishing was a social experience. By the mid-1960s private boat ownership, declining fish runs, more stringent regulations and televised sporting events combined to forever change the spirit of recreational salmon fishing in Puget Sound.

The new exhibit includes historic photographs of many well-known Puget Sound resorts and boathouses, the stories of the people who ran and visited them, as well as actual boats that were used at some locations. Resort boats will be available for public rides on Seattle’s Lake Union, others will be on display or undergoing restorations in the CWB floating boat shop.

The exhibit was funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Ivar’s Seafood Restaurants. CWB currently operates historic cabins at Cama Beach State Park. The exhibit is staged at the CWB Boathouse in Seattle and continues through the fall of 2013.

Source: Center for Wooden Boats