25 places in Washington to see and experience before you die

25 places in Washington to see and experience before you die

  • An orca smacks the water with its fluke off Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island. Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

    An orca smacks the water with its fluke off Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island.

    An orca smacks the water with its fluke off Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island.

    Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

An orca smacks the water with its fluke off Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island.

An orca smacks the water with its fluke off Lime Kiln State Park on San Juan Island.

Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Washington has places to die for, although we can forget that during dreary, short days of the winter. But this is the season for planning adventures. Here is a baker’s two dozen, 25 places in the Evergreen State that you must see, visit, experience and sometimes exert yourself before you die.

1) Mount Constitution on Orcas Island: You can drive or hike up to the 2,409-foot summit in Moran State Park, which has a panorama to die for. Spread out below are the San Juan Islands as well as Canada’s Gulf Islands. The 10,778-foot Mount Baker looms to the east, living up to rough translation of its native name: The Great White Watcher. Olympics are dream hazy to the south.

The San Juan Islands get crowded in mid- to late summer. The “shoulder seasons” of spring and fall are the ideal time to visit. Dine well down below, and then see the Salish Sea spread out below you.

2) Palouse Falls: It’s Washington’s official state waterfall, out in semi-wilds of Eastern Washington, a little more than an hour’s drive north from Walla Walla. The waterfall is 198 feet high, its canyon sculpted by enormous floods created by the Pleistocene-era bursting of Lake Missoula. The almost unimaginable volumes of water created Eastern Washington’s coulees.

Palouse Falls State Park is popular for its remoteness. There is camping. Expect a ranger to be on hand to check your Discover Pass.

3) The Sunrise side of Mount Rainier: The north side of Tahoma is a bit less crowded than Paradise, and features epic meadow and tundra walks. Burroughs Mountain features views of the great Emmons Glacier and Little Tahoma. The 7,800-foot summit of Third Burroughs looks down a vertical half-mile at the Winthrop Glacier. You have the Willis Wall and Liberty Ridge in your face.

The easy stroll up to Mt. Fremont Lookout is a relatively easy 5.4-mile round trip, with mountain goat watching.

A tour group visits the North Head Lighthouse, which sits serenely in Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco as a Pacific Ocean Storm rages in the distance.A tour group just happened to be huddled in the North Head Light House at Cape Disappointment State Park as a storm raged off the southwest Washington coast. Photo: Jeff Larsen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Jeff Larsen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A tour group visits the North Head Lighthouse, which sits serenely in Cape Disappointment State Park near Ilwaco as a Pacific Ocean Storm rages in the distance.

A tour group just happened to be huddled in the North Head Light House at Cape Disappointment State Park as a storm raged off the southwest Washington coast.

4) Go salmon fishing at Ilwaco, hang out at Long Beach and visit Cape Disappointment State Park: Give Astoria its due, but our side of the mouth of the Columbia River is worth a stay. The lighthouse at Cape Disappointment is a premier storm watching spot. Rarely have I ever seen kids so pumped, so into it, as on a salmon fishing charter out of Ilwaco.

If you have sense enough to take a long weekend, head up to Leadbetter Point State Park at the north end of the Long Beach Peninsula. Miles of ocean beaches. A great place for the family dog to go loping into the water, and then come back and shake water all over you.

5) Take a Walla Walla wine tour: A lovely town in its own right, with parks and the Whitman College campus, Walla Walla has become a wine lover’s destination of North American renown. The author can remember days when the highlights were Woodward Canyon and L’Ecole 41 (in an old school) in Lowden just west of the city.

No more. In order to imbibe, taking a wine tour is strongly recommended. So is having a checkbook at the ready. In 2006, then-Illinois Sen. Barack Obama came out for a forum at Garfield High. Host Tom Douglas gave him a bottle of Woodward Canyon Cab to take home. The Obamas would later serve Walla Walla wine at White House state dinners.

Jerry Michalec, right, and fellow North Cascades guide Guy Cooper catch a wave in the Skagit River rapids. Photo: Mike Kane, Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Mike Kane, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Jerry Michalec, right, and fellow North Cascades guide Guy Cooper catch a wave in the Skagit River rapids.

6) Raft a Northwest river: The Wenatchee River during runoff season is an exciting, bumpy ride with Class 2 and 3 rapids. A renowned rapid, Drunkard’s Drop, is a little less exciting since a giant boulder plunked into the river eight years ago. The put-in is at Leavenworth.

A second recommendation would be the Skagit River above Marblemount, especially Dolly Parton Rapids where the river rushes between two giant boulder.

The granddaddy of spring raft jaunts is the Grande Ronde River, a multi-day trip that begins in the Wallowa Mountains of eastern Oregon and ends in Washington where the Grande Ronde joins the Snake River.

7) Beacon Rock State Park: The 848-foot high basalt volcanic plug was stopover point for Lewis & Clark in 1805. The park features rock climbing, a trail to the top with many switchbacks, plus boating. The Columbia River has become a renowned wind surfing center, especially Hood River upstream on the Oregon side.

Most of all, however, here is the place to appreciate where a mighty river has carved a path through a mighty mountain range, now protected as the Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area.

8) Take a sunset ride to Bainbridge on a Washington State Ferry: The author is offspring of a Brooklyn-born father who spurned the Statue of Liberty as a “tourist attraction.” We do turn our noses to attractions right under our nose. Still, old college chums, taking a trip West after kids leave the nest, rave about this experience.

Bone up on the Olympic summits that give Seattle its western skyline, e.g. Mount Washington whose visage resembles that of America’s first president.

9) National Nordic Museum: Less that two years old, already given its name by an act of Congress, the National Nordic Museum in Ballard is striking for its architecture — “structured around a linear fjord” in words of its architect — and exhibits from the heritage of five countries: Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.

Check their website for upcoming exhibits and programs. The building is marvelously full of light even on the darkest of days.

10) Cape Flattery and Neah Bay: Buy a Makah Recreation Pass and take the 3/4 mile trail down to Cape Flattery, the furthest northwest tip of the contiguous United States. An environment of pounding surf, wind-sculpted trees, constantly changing climate, plus bald eagles flying by with fish in their talons.

The Museum of the Makah Cultural and Research Center, in Neah Bay, is one of the country’s finest small museums. Its exhibits center on artifacts recovered from an Ozette Indian village archeological site near Cape Alava.

Downtown Seattle and the Columbia Tower, center, photographed on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 in Seattle.   Photo by Joshua Trujillo / Seattle Post-Intelligencer Photo: Joshua Trujillo, Seattlepi.com File Photo / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Joshua Trujillo, Seattlepi.com File Photo

Downtown Seattle and the Columbia Tower, center, photographed on Tuesday, June 12, 2007 in Seattle. Photo by Joshua Trujillo / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

11) Women’s restroom, Columbia Tower Club: This is a destination accessible only to half of our readers, but it boasts Seattle’s finest view straight out to Mount Rainier. Alpine glow at sunset adds beauty to the Liberty Ridge-Willis Wall face of the mountain.

Two male public figures have seen the view. Both President Bill Clinton and then-Sen. Al Gore had security folk make sure the restroom was empty, and then sneaked down to see “The Mountain.” (The club also has an observatory.)

12) Kettle River trail north of Republic: With the Cascades increasingly crowded, one further east destination in Northeast Washington beckons — especially during fall colors. The partially complete Kettle River Trail, along Curlew Lake and further north, is gorgeous. It’s located on an old railroad grade, along a river that meanders south from Canada, swings back north into Canada, and again crosses the border to merge with the Columbia River.

Get instructions online or in Republic. Don’t talk about gun control: The town’s police chief is running for Governor.

13) Grand Coulee: An ideal shoulder season jaunt in three steps. Visit the Dry Falls overlook and (weirdly constructed) visitor center north of Ephrata. The ice dam holding Lake Missoula burst about 13,000 years ago, unleashing an enormous volume of water over a 3.5-mile wide, 400-foot tall precipice.

Stop two is Steamboat Rock State Park in the middle of Banks Lake, a wonderful coulee-watching spot. The third stop, of course, is Grand Coulee Dam, a hallmark of the New Deal that made the desert bloom and whose power, in Woody Guthrie’s words, turned darkness to dawn. The massive third powerhouse generates electricity during cold, dark winter days when use soars.

14) North Cascades Highway-Maple Pass: The 8-mile Maple Pass loop hike takes off from a picnic area on the south side of Rainy Pass. It is vastly popular in the fall when heather turns red and needles on larch trees become gold. Go on a weekday. Glacier Peak and nearby Black Piece are centerpiece of views.

Or turn north off the highway and take four miles of easily graded Pacific Crest Trail up to Cutthroat Pass. Goats frequent the pass. Great rocks of the Northwest — Liberty Bell, Early Winters Spire and Silver Star — are close at hand. Two cautions: Bring water. If any thunderstorm is forming, be advised that it will strike Silver Star and then head your way.

15) Stehekin, North Cascades National Park complex: Take the Lady of the Lake up to remote, isolated Stehekin. Plan to stay over and explore. The National Park Service runs a shuttle bus up as far as High Bridge. The 4.4-mile Agnes Gorde trail is scenic, largely level, and ends at a noisy cataract. Or the punishing option, climbing 8,000-foot McGregor Mountain, with rattlesnakes at the bottom and a vigorous glacier at the top.

If you’re staying at McGregor, get a permit to camp high on the mountain. If overnighting near Stehekin, the village is charming once the boat has departed.

A hot-air balloon swoops low over the Yakima River when several dozen of the balloons were in Prosser for the 16th annual Prosser Balloon Rally in late September.Larsen: Fortunately, the wind let up long enough for some of the hot air balloons to skim the Yakima River in Prosser. Photo: Jeff Larsen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Jeff Larsen, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

A hot-air balloon swoops low over the Yakima River when several dozen of the balloons were in Prosser for the 16th annual Prosser Balloon Rally in late September.

Larsen: Fortunately, the wind let up long enough for some of the hot air balloons to skim the Yakima River in Prosser.

16) Yakima River Canyon: The Canyon Road, between Ellensburg and Selah, is vastly popular during the summer with folks who like it hot. The road is uncrowded and drop-dead gorgeous with shades of gold during the fall. A very pleasant place to fish.

Or, in spring or fall, hike the Yakima Skyline Trail out of Selah, for lots of wildflowers (in season) and views down to the Yakima River canyon. Use Washington Trains Association description to find a tricky trailhead. Prepare for the unforgettable experience of setting up tents in a wind storm. A party member put hands on her hips and exclaimed, “Well, at least it’s not raining. The sky opened up.”

17) Northwest African American Museum: Want to know how the city and region have evolved? Here is a place to visit, not only for featured exhibits (e.g. Iconic Black Women) but a sense of the constructive agitation that changed the Puget Sound region. Occupations produced such institutions as Daybreak Star, El Centro de La Raza and the museum itself.

A key feature: The “agitators” you see pictured in the museum are veterans of many arrests and became revered civic and area leaders.

18) Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument: A great lateral blast, on May 18, 1980, turned a graceful, symmetrical 9,600-foot high volcano (“the American Fujiyama”) into an 8,300-foot peak that kind of resembles an open ended football stadium. The blast zone covered 230 square miles, and is today a study in the return of life.

Do a bit of study so you know what you are going to see. Still, nearly 40 years later, parts of the story remain moving. For instance, the David A. Johnston Cascade Volcano Observatory is named for a young USGS volcanologist working on a nearby ridge. He had time to deliver a last message — “Vancouver! Vancouver! This is it.” — before being swept away.

19) The Boeing Plant — Everett: It draws presidents (Clinton of U.S., Xi of China), House speakers (Paul Ryan) and industrial tourists from around the globe, and ought to be on locals’ must-see list. Dimensions of the place are overwhelming. The 777 is a fascinating aircraft to hear about. The workforce has done itself proud even if the company hasn’t.

The author is also fascinated at World War II weaponry at Paul Allen’s nearby Flying Heritage and Combat Armor Museum. The Soviet T-34 tank helped win World War II. The Spitfire helped Britain survive the blitz. The German Me 262 was the first jet aircraft, its development hampered by a knuckleheaded dictator.

20) Fort Casey-Ebey’s Landing: Nearby sites on central Whidbey Island. The fort is a popular camping area, next door to the Coupeville-Port Townsend ferry terminal — a great walk-on trip when the mountains are out — and site of gun emplacements once designed to protect us. Kids love this place.

Ebey’s Landing National Historical Preserve safeguards bluffs and farmlands, giving walkers views of three volcanoes: Mt. Rainier is far to the south, Glacier Peak looms to the east, and Mt. Baker to the north. The Olympics seem to rise straight out of Admiralty Inlet. Blufftops popular for marriage proposals.

21) Spokane River: Spokane is for walking. The Lilac City used a 1974 world’s fair to spruce up its riverfront into an urban park environment, while outside of town, 11,000-plus acre Riverside State Park offers a centennial trail, a museum, a natural area plus a wonderful arboretum.

In a wider sense, athletic events are Spokane’s major draw. Six thousand teams, playing in 422 courts, participate in the Spokane Hoopfest. The 44-year-0ld Bloomsday run, held in June, draws 40,000 to 50,000 participants.

22) Enchantment Lakes: You may be lucky to live long enough to win the lottery and get a permit for this supreme hiking destination in the Washington Cascades. The U.S. Forest Service strictly limits campers going into the 7,000-foot and 7,500-foot basins far above Leavenworth in the Wenatchee Range.

Get a permit, and it’s a 10-plus mile slog via the Snow Lakes trail, or a grind from the 5,500-foot Colchuck Lake up to 7,780-foot Aasgard Pass. In years before rule making, the author once spent 11 “golden weeks” — early October when larch trees turn — in the Enchantments. It was worth the exertion, although we were a dirty, loud dinner party when we got back down to Leavenworth.

...… Roosevelt elk, which hang out in the Hoh Rain Forest. September is their mating season, when the males

Photo: ELAINE THOMPSON, AP

…… Roosevelt elk, which hang out in the Hoh Rain Forest. September is their mating season, when the males “bugle.”

23) Hoh Rain Forest, Olympic National Park: The temperate rain forests of North America have disappeared beneath loggers’ chainsaws, and the Trump Administration wants more cutting in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. Thankfully, a president in a wheelchair — Franklin D. Roosevelt — created a national park that saved cathedral forests in our state.

The Hoh is a place to savor the forest primeval, either through nature walks or on the lengthy trail that takes climbers to Mount Olympus. Watch Roosevelt Elk appear out of and disappear into the mist. Experience the silence of the place. Appreciate the fact that you own this land.

24) Hanford Reach: It’s a national monument, designated by President Clinton, the 47-mile stretch of un-dammed Columbia River that runs through the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. The monument protects the white bluffs of Hanford, major archeological sites, and spawning grounds for the fall chinook — last big wild salmon run to inhabit the Northwest’s master stream.

It’s hot, and not exactly wilderness with remains of Manhattan Project nuclear reactors along the river. Still … memories of a moment in jet boat when longtime Reach defender/advocate Rich Steele felt the current pick up at the end of the pool behind McNary Dam. Said he: “Now, THIS is a river!”

An orca, or killer whale, gives spectators an up-close profile view as it cruises near the shore of Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island. Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer / Seattle Post-Intelligencer

Photo: Renee C. Byer, Seattle Post-Intelligencer

An orca, or killer whale, gives spectators an up-close profile view as it cruises near the shore of Lime Kiln Point State Park on San Juan Island.

25) Lime Kiln Point State Park: The state park, on San Juan Island looking out at Haro Strait, was created for orca whale watching. The great marine mammals, those in our southern resident population, are endangered. Here is a place to appreciate them, and become advocates.

Accessible by small boat is another great whale watching spot, Turn Point on Stuart Island. It is part of the San Juan Islands National Monument, designed in 2013 by President Obama. It, too, looks out on Haro Strait, set to be traveled by 400 oil tankers a year if Canada competes the TransMountain Pipeline expansion and builds an oil port just east of Vancouver.

Demolition restarts on Paul Rudolph’s brutalist Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo

Demolition restarts on Paul Rudolph’s brutalist Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo

by | Jan 31, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

Demolition of Shoreline Apartments by Paul Rudolph

Demolition has started again on Paul Rudolph’s Shoreline Apartments in Buffalo, New York after it was halted two years ago when a resident refused to move off the premises.

The demolition of the 1970s brutalist housing complex began on 23 January, after work was stopped in January 2018.

Locals took to social media to voice their concern and publish live footage of the destruction, including Buffalo photographer John Hickey, who posted a series on his Twitter account.

Rudolph’s development is expected to be completely torn down by May, according to local news station WFBO, and a new 18-building complex with 166 units of housing will be built in its place.

The demolition of the Shoreline Apartments is starting today, but it’s starting a little late. It was supposed to begin at 7:30 a.m., but now could start closer to 11 a.m. The construction manager said that’s tentative @SPECNewsBuffalo pic.twitter.com/ZKDcyES9bU

— Madison Elliott (@m_elliott95) January 23, 2020

Shoreline Apartments are owned by Norstar Development, which partially demolished the complex in 2015, and built 48 new units in its place in 2017 on the north end – Niagara Square Apartments – with red brick construction.

The complex is in Buffalo’s Columbus neighbourhood close to downtown on Niagara Street, and near the Lake Erie waterfront.

When Norstar acquired the site in 2005, a little over half of Shoreline’s 426 units were occupied and most of the area was decrepit.

In January 2018 John Schmidt – the only one still living at the complex – stopped the final stage of demolition by filing a lawsuit against the destruction of the brutalist buildings with preservationist Terry Robinson.

Demolition of Shoreline Apartments by Paul Rudolph

Brutalism is a controversial architectural movement that was popular in the 1960s and 1970s, and is characterised by the use of concrete.

Rudolph’s Buffalo complex features several different buildings arranged a wave formation, with small roundabouts, grassy areas and sidewalks. It has a bush-hammered concrete construction and private terraces fronted with matching half-height walls.

Shoreline Apartments join a number of buildings in the brutalist style that have been bulldozed in recent years, such as London’s Robin Hood Gardens housing that was destroyed in 2017 and captured on video.

Born in Kentucky in 1918, Rudolph studied architecture at Alabama’s Auburn University, formerly known as Alabama Polytechnic Institute, and at Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD) under Walter Gropius of the Bauhaus school.

Other brutalist buildings by Rudolph include Yale University’s architecture and art building, which is celebrated as one of the earliest known examples of the style architecture in America, and Hong Kong’s Lippo Centre.

He has completed several homes in Florida – including Walker Guest House that went up for auction on Sanibel Island and Milam Residence in Ponte Vedra Beach. He is also associated with the state’s post-war modernist architecture style, known as the Sarasota School of Architecture.

Rudolph has served as Yale University’s architecture department chair, where he taught architects Norman Foster and Richard Rogers. He died in 1997 at the age of 78.

Photography is by David Weitzel.

Australia’s fires are burning through a key part of its economy — tourism

Australia’s fires are burning through a key part of its economy — tourism

by | Jan 31, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

A two-lane road leads from Australia’s ancient limestone mountain caves in Buchan down to East Gippsland’s 90-mile strip of uninterrupted beach. It is lined with a burnt mosaic.

Along the highway’s upper elevations, which lately are traveled only by locals, police, tree fellers and repair crews, the scenery is made up of acres of 130-foot tall southern mahogany dotting the landscape, their furrowed trunks scorched black and their crowns a blend of leafy neutral grays and browns or, farther on the horizon, nothing at all.

But as the lonely path winds down to Lakes Entrance, a sleepy coastal village roughly 200 miles east of Melbourne, the scars from Australia’s bush fires suddenly disappear.

Australia fires

A galah cockatoo rests on the branch of a burned tree in the Snowy River National Park in Australia.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Gone are the scorched kangaroo and wombat road crossing signs. In their place are white box eucalyptus, fire-resistant red honeysuckle and expansive views of the blue waves rolling into Red Bluff Surfing Beach.

There are few remaining clues that Lakes Entrance was included in the story of Australia’s worst fire season ever.

Except, that is, for the lack of tourists.

“[The media] over-dramatized it,” said Charlie Grech, who owns Blue Riviera Boat Hire with his wife, Theresa. “I think they scared a lot of people too much. Like, ‘Don’t go there because you’re gonna get burned,’ sort of thing, which is not the case.”

Australia’s fires have burned through several small towns, but many untouched by the flames are also paying a steep price. Lakes Entrance’s population, for instance, normally swells from 4,800 to 30,000 during its peak tourist season from Christmas to Easter, but is only seeing a few surfers now.

According to government estimates, Australia’s $152-billion tourism industry will take a $4.5-billion hit this year because of the bush fires. The government has announced a $76-million international and domestic media blitz to counter a perception that the continent is unsafe to visit. Visitors from China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States are the country’s most frequent visitors.

Australia fires

Tourism is crucial for many rural Australian towns like Lakes Entrance and Buchan in Victoria state.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“These bush fires have dealt the biggest reputational blow to our tourism industry that it has ever faced internationally,” said Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison in announcing the tourism boosting program. “My message to anyone thinking about a holiday — from here or overseas — is that Australia’s towns and our incredible parks and beaches are open for business and they need your help.”

Though the flames never got closer than within 12 miles of Lakes Entrance, winds buried the community in thick, choking smoke and showered it with firebrands for days. About 250 miles of arterial roads in the state of Victoria have been damaged or threatened by mudslides, floods and downed trees, including the mountain roads above the waterfront town.

In previous summers, visiting the Greches’ boat rental business without a reservation would have meant a wait, but on one drizzly morning last week, their fleet of small vessels bobbed in the water unoccupied. The couple say their business is down 80%.

“We will manage but it’s going to be very tight, it’s going to be a major struggle,” Theresa said. “There will be a lot of businesses in Lakes that won’t. It depends on how high their overheads are. Whether they’ll cope, I don’t know.”

In the week since the threat to the town subsided, repeated rain showers have cleaned the air and reduced fire activity in the region.

“In the area between Lakes Entrance and Buchan, we’re moving toward the recovery side of things,” said Victoria State Response Controller Andrew Morrow. “There’s some pockets where there’s some risk of fire, but they’re not areas that are necessarily remote or present significant challenges.”

Officials have reduced the fire alert levels across Victoria’s 11 active fires to their lowest category, “Advice,” meaning there is no immediate danger. At the same time, coastal routes are gradually reopening in all but the hardest hit areas like Mallacoota, granting access to miles and miles of storefronts that are open and idle.

Regardless, the cancellations continue to roll in.

Australia fires

“I may have to get another full-time job,” said Ricky Grech, 24, who runs a charter fishing company in Lakes Entrance, Australia, where the tourism industry is suffering.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“I’ll probably have to get a full-time job somewhere else just to get us through this year,” said Ricky Grech, 24, who used to work as a shipbuilder but now runs his own charter fishing company off the same dock as his parents Theresa and Charlie.

Grech’s fiancee gave birth to their second son, Caleb, on Jan. 15. They and their 3-year-old son, Oliver, live with Ricky’s parents. The money the young couple had been saving to buy their own home is dwindling as they use it to stay afloat until the tourists return or Ricky lands a second job.

“This was all I’ve been doing for the past three or four years,” he said.

The Grech clan moved to Lakes Entrance from Melbourne about four years ago, to live a lifestyle they’ve only tasted there during annual summer vacations. They imagined easygoing days meeting interesting tourists capped with cool nights and oceanfront sunsets.

But their business and others will have to overcome the images that have come to define Australia — an entire continent engulfed in flames. Social media and newscasts have been saturated with video and photos of Aussies fleeing into the oceans while air tankers coat the landscape in pink retardant.

Australia is a big, dry place, only slightly smaller than the contiguous United States, and about a fifth of it is classified as desert. Of its 2.9 million square miles of land, roughly 51,000, or less than 2%, has burned.

483181-0222-FG-australia-tourism-01-CMC.jpg

The burned landscape of Snowy River National Park in southeastern Australia.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

The statistics mean little for those who have lost homes and loved ones, with the death toll rising to at least 32 last week after a U.S. air tanker crashed in New South Wales, killing all three crew members. The fires have burned enormous swaths of wildlife habitat and killed hundreds of millions of animals, with some estimates over 1 billion.

After the fires end, much of the least-damaged Australian landscape will recover. But the same can’t be said for Australia’s tourist-reliant businesses.

In Buchan, an hour’s drive into the Snowy River National Park, it isn’t just media saturation that is keeping away visitors. Within the town, the air is clear but the main road remains closed to everyone but residents and repair crews.

483181-0222-FG-australia-tourism-20-CMC.jpg

The Harper’s general store in Buchan, an hour’s drive into Snowy River National Park, is operating at a loss because of the fires, but the couple say help from the community has given them hope.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

“We all work in unison with each other,” said Sue Harper, who runs the Buchan General Store with her husband, Steve. “The roadhouse will do the fuel and coffee and hot food, and the pub will draw people in for lunch. Then they’ll come down here and buy an ice cream or snacks or lollies for the trip home.”

But these days their only customers are locals picking up their weekly groceries or stopping by the post office. Much of the refrigerated and frozen perishables the couple had purchased for the crush of summer day-trippers and overnight wilderness campers have spoiled, and the store is operating at a loss.

Asked if their business will survive, Steve looked down and shifted his feet, as if he suddenly felt weight on his shoulders.

“A few weeks ago, it was a bit difficult. We weren’t sure what we were going to do,” he said. “But as each week’s gone by, different people have come and give us a bit of help here and there. Some financial.”

The couple say the community help has given them hope. They can hold out until their fellow Aussies take their vacations, many of which were delayed by fire.

In recent weeks, Australia has been debating the government’s role: Should it spend more of the country’s money trying to reshape its image abroad — or direct more funds toward a domestic tourism campaign?

Australia fires

Wendi Perkins, 54, recently bought a seaside motel in Lakes Entrance. “I’ll just have to go month to month, ask the family for a little bit of help if I need it,” she said.

(Carolyn Cole / Los Angeles Times)

Wendi Perkins, 54, is banking on her countrymen to help see her through. A former scrap metal worker living out her dream of running a seaside motel, Perkins dropped her savings into buying Lake Entrance’s Bamboo Motor Inn last April and began subtly updating it, as she stocked up for the summer busy season.

“I’ll just have to go month to month, ask the family for a little bit of help if I need it,” she said.

Then the bush fires approached in late December, the coastal highway closed, and her plan to pay off her mortgage with the first season’s profits evaporated. Now she’s counting on the local Australia Day weekend to give her business a jump start. She said her rooms, most of which had been vacant for weeks, were booked solid with repair crews and a couple of families.

“I’m not panicking,” Perkins said, wearing a brave face. “I think people will still come back and support us. It’ll be hard, but life can be hard anyway.”

Super Bowl site Miami leads NFL in one category: player arrests

Super Bowl site Miami leads NFL in one category: player arrests

by | Jan 30, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

CLOSE

Miami has a long history of NFL players ending up in jail. Since 2000, metro Miami has seen at least 60 NFL player arrests.

USA TODAY

MIAMI — It’s been more than 20 years since Eugene Robinson was arrested the night before he played in the Super Bowl for the Atlanta Falcons. But his cautionary tale still looms large as the Kansas City Chiefs prepare to play the San Francisco 49ers at the Super Bowl Sunday in Miami Gardens.

Robinson was caught soliciting a prostitute in Miami, a city notorious for its never-ending night life, rife with bars, dance clubs, strip clubs and anything else party-goers are looking for. While both teams are expected to counsel their players about the perils of Miami’s streets and the importance of staying in their team hotels, the lure of the pulsing beats in the “Magic City” are hard to ignore. 

The Miami metro area has had by far the highest number of NFL player arrests and citations since 2000, according to a database of more than 950 such incidents compiled by USA TODAY Sports. Over that time, at least 60 active NFL players were arrested or cited in the Miami metro area, with only a third of those playing for the Miami Dolphins. The next biggest hot spots for NFL player trouble are metro Atlanta, New York, Denver and Minneapolis, each with a little more than 40. 

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Fifty-six of the 60 incidents around Miami involved African-American players. Three were Polynesian, one Hispanic, and none were white. In the NFL, team rosters since 2000 have been about 60% to 70% African-American and about 30% white, according to the Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.

Such lopsided numbers raise an issue that former players say is a major reason Miami leads the league in arrests: a long-standing pattern of racial profiling in South Florida, where many NFL players have lived. But they concede that there’s another important factor.

“Guys come down here and they lose their mind,” said Antrel Rolle, a former University of Miami All-American cornerback who went on to win a Super Bowl with the New York Giants. “The women. The free access you have wherever you want to go. They don’t know how to have just one, two, three drinks, they have six, seven, eight and they find themselves belligerent.”

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All of those possibilities will be in full bloom this week with clubs throughout the region battling to throw the biggest, loudest, craziest parties possible. Luther Campbell, the frontman of 2 Live Crew, is throwing what he’s calling the “Best (Expletive) Concert” the night before the game in North Miami. Lizzo is performing on Miami Beach, Shaquille O’Neal is hosting a concert with Pitbull and Diddy in the Wynwood neighborhood of Miami, and former Patriot Rob Gronkowski is hosting a beach bash with Diplo and Rick Ross.

Former Miami Hurricanes running back Edgerrin James is co-hosting a four-day series of concerts that will culminate with a “Stripper Bowl” the night after the game. 

“You have more athletes and celebrities who want to come to South Florida than any other place,” said Randall “Thrill” Hill, a Miami native who played receiver for the Hurricanes and Dolphins. “Why do you think the Super Bowl has been in Miami so many times?”

Race factor?

Besides the party scene, Rolle said he knows from firsthand experience that race plays a factor in the high arrest count.

Before his final year at UM, a fight broke out in the street late one night in Miami’s Coconut Grove neighborhood. Some started banging on Rolle’s SUV, which prompted a pair of white police officers to approach him.

Rolle, the son of a police chief in his hometown of Homestead, Florida, said he could tell immediately that the cops were after him and him only.

“I had a throwback NFL jersey on, a Cuban link chain, a black Yukon with black tints,” Rolle said. 

Before long, Rolle was in handcuffs at the City of Miami Police Department, where he said he heard the officers bragging about landing the “big fish.” Rolle was quickly suspended from Hurricanes football team and his status as a first-round draft pick was immediately thrown into question.

Rolle maintained he did nothing wrong and complained that the charges filed against him were flawed from the start. Among the charges were battery on a law enforcement officer and resisting an officer without violence.

“How does that make sense?” he said.

Less than a month later, prosecutors dropped all charges, his arrest was expunged and Rolle went on to become the eighth pick in the 2005 NFL Draft. Rolle said that experience showed him that he has to be extra careful to avoid scrutiny – warranted or not – from police in Miami.

“You honestly have to be scared,” he said. “I have three black children, one a black boy. My son is getting up there in age, and I’m gonna have to talk to him about the law. That’s wrong.”

For all its mystique as an international destination where different cultures seamlessly blend together, Miami remains one of the most segregated cities in America, according to Billy Corben, a documentary filmmaker.

The Miami native has detailed the city’s seedy past with “Cocaine Cowboys” and the city’s complicated sports scene in “The U” and “Screwball.” Corben says that in most of the United States blacks are still routinely treated as second-class citizens. But given that Miami-Dade County’s power structures are dominated by white people who’ve lived there for generations and Cuban-Americans who quickly established themselves economically and politically, Corben said blacks are treated more like third-class citizens.

“So you have a level of policing on the African-American community that is disproportionate to the rest of the county’s population,” Corben said. “Maybe you could get away with certain shenanigans in Las Vegas. But here, if you’re an African-American, particularly an African-American male, if you’re driving a nice car through a nice neighborhood, odds are you’re going to get pulled over.”

‘Difficult for outsiders to understand’

Of the 60 NFL player incidents in Miami, 21 originated with traffic stops, which is common for NFL player arrests in all cities. In the Miami cases whose resolutions could be determined, about a third ended up with dropped charges or acquittals, a rate that is on par for NFL criminal cases in other cities. The rest resulted in punishment or diversion programs.

That was the case for former Dolphins and Cincinnati Bengals running back Mark Walton, a Miami native who was arrested four times last year alone. He pleaded no contest to a misdemeanor weapons charge to settle three of those cases.

But other arrests raise questions. Ty Law, who won three Super Bowls for the New England Patriots, was arrested on Miami Beach in 2004 after police pulled him over in a Rolls Royce due to an alleged lane violation. He was also charged with failure to obey a police officer, but all charges were later dropped. Law’s attorney at the time said it was a classic case of “driving while black.”

Fred Taylor, the former Jacksonville Jaguars running back, was forced out of a car at gunpoint by officers outside a Miami Beach nightclub in 2008. He was accused of being uncooperative during a search, but those charges were also dropped.

A similar scene played out in 2017 for Robby Anderson, the New York Jets receiver, who was arrested at the Rolling Loud music festival and accused of fighting with security staff and police. Those charges were later dropped.

In 2018, a study conducted by the University of Miami and the ACLU found that black residents of Miami-Dade County are arrested far more frequently than their white and Hispanic neighbors. The study found that even though blacks make up 18% of the county’s population, they account for 38% of arrests.

The U.S. Justice Department has gotten involved, too, launching an investigation in 2013 after City of Miami police officers shot seven young black men during an eight-month period between 2010 and 2011. That investigation resulted in a 2016 agreement between Justice and the City of Miami to appoint a federal monitor to oversee reforms to the department.

“It’s difficult for outsiders to understand that dynamic,” Corben said. Rather than the proverbial melting pot, he says Miami is “more akin to a TV dinner where the peas sometimes fall into the mashed potatoes.”

Law enforcement officials in South Florida say accusations of systemic racism are false.

City of Miami police officials did not respond to multiple requests for comment. However, Miami Beach Police Department Officer Ernesto Rodriguez said the agency has purposefully hired a multicultural force to better respond to the broad cross-section of tourists who flood the barrier island. For example, the city’s population is only 4% black, but its 400-officer police force is 14% black. 

The city of Miami Beach has fewer than 100,000 residents, but Rodriguez said the island can be inundated by more than 200,000 tourists on any given night. And with many of them looking to experience the South Beach lifestyle they see on TV, Rodriguez said it shouldn’t come as a surprise that many end up in jail.

“We stand by the arrests all of our officers make, whether they’re a sports figure, a celebrity or Joe Citizen,” he said. “We’re the party capital, so a lot of times when these sports players come down here, they’re here to have a good time. It happens to anybody. Sometimes people exceed their limits, and that’s when they get into trouble.”

Follow reporter Brent Schrotenboer @Schrotenboer. E-mail: bschrotenb@usatoday.com

1 dead, several injured in crash involving Holy Cross rowing team in Florida

1 dead, several injured in crash involving Holy Cross rowing team in Florida

by | Jan 30, 2020 | Worldwide Beach News & Updates

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Vero Beach police and Indian RIver County Fire Rescue responded to a crash at the base of the Barber Bridge Jan. 15, 2020.

Treasure Coast Newspapers

VERO BEACH, Fla. — A 20-year-old member of a Massachusetts college rowing team died in a crash Wednesday morning in Vero Beach.

The College of the Holy Cross identified the woman as Grace Rett of Uxbridge, Massachusetts. Rett was a sophomore at the college in Worcester, Massachusetts.

Thirteen people were injured in the crash, and at least seven were taken to Lawnwood Regional Medical Center & Heart Institute, according to Vero Beach Police Chief David Currey. He said those at Lawnwood were in serious but stable condition, while others with less severe injuries had been released.

Currey said police were in the “very preliminary” stages of the investigation but so far, there are no charges, and alcohol was not considered a factor.

He said it is believed the team’s van pulled into the path of a truck as it turned. He said it was believed both motorists had solid green lights at the time of the crash. The truck was traveling north and struck the van in the front right passenger side.

Currey said Rett was sitting in the front passenger seat and was wearing a seat belt.

There were 20 members of the team in two vans making their way to practice for a mid-winter training camp. The second van, carrying coaching staff and support, was behind the one involved in the crash.

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