West Seattle, Washington
Lots of questions this afternoon about a small plane that spent at least half an hour doing circles over north West Seattle – then headed over to do some loops over the Kitsap Peninsula before returning minutes ago to Boeing Field. Here’s the FlightRadar24 screengrab as it headed back in:
No answers yet about what it was doing. We tried tracing it but its most-recent commercial owner, a flight school at Boeing Field, said it was recently sold. The current registered owner appears to be a company that traces to a Seattle lawyer who is shown in the FAA database as a licensed private pilot.
8:31 PM: We’re hearing from multiple readers about an insect invasion in the Alki area. Stephanie said she went out for a walk and “was covered in” small blue aphid-type bugs. An earlier texter said they believe the bugs are smoky-winged ash aphids. So far we haven’t found history of them swarming in Seattle, but they seem to be a periodic problem in Eastern Washington – a recent report there points to this WSU website report from 2017, describing them as “hovering masses of puffy gnat-like bugs.” This time of year, the females lay eggs, and that’s the reason for the swarming.
9:47 PM: Commenters from all around the peninsula are reporting sightings, so we’ve updated the headline. We’ll be trying to track down an expert tomorrow to see if we can find out more.
For the second time this week, there’s a video/film crew shooting something off 35th SW in West Seattle. This crew is even bigger than the one that was at the Lucky 5 on Tuesday. But this crew had something in common with that one – they said it was a commercial video/photo shoot, but weren’t allowed to disclose the client. We couldn’t get further than the parking lot – but Dan sent this photo from earlier in the afternoon:
That was a smoke machine, Dan explained, adding, “They had what looked to be actor/football player doing exercises. Plus earlier a group of players in training uniforms doing group exercises.” We caught a glimpse of people in marching-band-type uniforms. Otherwise – a mystery so far.
A few people have asked about the production crew at the Lucky 5 gas station/mini-mart (35th/Henderson) earlier today. We stopped to inquire after a tip from Keith. They told us they were shooting a “commercial,” but they weren’t allowed to reveal the client because of a non-disclosure agreement. So all we can tell you is what we saw: A woman was seated in the car, a Volkswagen (with WA plates and a University Volkswagen plate frame), under the canopy. That’s scenic 35th SW in the background. Here’s a different angle, sent by Matthew:
The shoot was over and the crew gone when we went that way again abuut an hour and a half ago.
We don’t know any of the backstory on this – random cosplay? early Halloween party? – but thanks to Marc Milrod for the photo!
The photo and report are from Rosalie in Admiral:
This bike was thrown into our garden. Found this morning.
If it’s yours, email us and we’ll connect you.
Thanks for the tips! Another film/video crew was at work along Alki Avenue today, along Duwamish Head with the downtown skyline as a backdrop. Passing by, Brendan (who sent the top photo) noticed apparent performers/participants in workout clothing and wondered if it was a commercial for that type of gear. We went over to check a little while ago.
The crew was winding down when we got there but they told us it’s a commercial for Heinz Mayonnaise. No other details. (We’ll ask the company tomorrow.)
10:42 PM P.S. As implausible as “mayonnaise” sounds, perhaps it was – two commenters suggest that was likely a lie.
Recognize this bike?
This bike was left on the sidewalk in our neighborhood [Findlay/36th]. Wondering if it was stolen and left. If it belongs to someone, happy to give it to them. They can contact Dave at 206-459-0840.
So far, no turkey experts have come forward to offer opinions on whether the turkey who appeared in West Seattle recently is the same one who hung out here for a year before heading south in April 2020. So we’re not so sure about calling this one THE West Seattle Turkey. But this turkey’s newfound fans have named her anyway. Meredith, who sent the photo above, says, “We’ve decided to call her Henrietta. She’s been sleeping here for over a week so we thought she needed a name.” The turkey’s adopted area is just a bit south of the 2019-2020 sightings-rich area southeast of Admiral. Lisa D., in the short video below, described her as “neighbor turkey”:
Henrietta (or whatever you want to call her) is still drawing attention from neighborhood pets too – Alan sent this photo:
The state Fish and Wildlife Department notes that turkeys are more common in eastern Washington, but does say “small populations” pop up here west of the Cascades now and then,
Somehow we’ve wound up with three public-restroom updates this afternoon:
LINCOLN PARK BEACH RESTROOMS: The renovated restrooms toward the south end of the Lincoln Park shore are finally unlocked, reports Troy, who sent the pictorial proof. The renovation project started 10 months ago. We last followed up two weeks ago, when Parks told us the comfort station was close to reopening.
ALKI BEACH RESTROOM REBUILD: Two weeks ago we also looked into why this project had gone idle:
The construction of a new building at 57th/Alki started more than five months ago. The problem here: They were waiting for structural steel so they could add the roof and other elements. As our photo from this afternoon shows, that work is under way. The estimated completion date: End of this month.
JUNCTION PORTABLE TOILET: Seven months after fire destroyed a city-funded portable toilet in the 44th/Alaska spot that’s had one for more than 20 years, a new one has been installed, with a handwashing station too:
Pre-fire, this site did not have a handwashing station (though the short-lived one a block east in Junction Plaza Park did). Concurrently, we noticed the portable toilet and handwashing station that used to be in the Salvation Army parking lot in South Delridge are now gone. We have followup questions out to the city and will update with whatever we hear back.
ADDED: From SPU’s Sabrina Register: “In May 2020, the City partnered with The Salvation Army to site a hygiene station on their property on 16th SW. After careful consideration, the nonprofit decided that the unstaffed hygiene station did not align with its outreach goals for people experiencing homelessness and the hygiene station was removed. The Salvation Army continues to work with us to provide hygiene services and resources that better align with its goals. The City hygiene team will evaluate potential new sites across the City to replace sites that have been closed.”
When our hotline (206-293-6302, 24/7) got texts/calls this morning wondering about “a large group of soldiers” on Alki, we headed out to look. Here’s who we found:
That’s Lt. Stokes from the Washington National Guard unit based at Boeing Field. She said they go to various areas for group runs/walks and decided this time to head for not-so-far Alki Beach. (A Guard spokesperson tells us “physical training … is routine for all Guardsmen.”)
Two sightings in local parks, abandoned items that might have been stolen:
The photo is from Dave, one of multiple readers who’ve reported seeing those abandoned bags on a bench in Lincoln Park, where they’ve reportedly been for several days. Dave says the bench is “near the north end of the upper level of Lincoln Park, facing the water. Meantime, in Schmitz Park:
Theo sent the photo and reported seeing the bike “at the dead end of Hinds at the east end of Schmitz Park.”
For smaller, less-likely-stolen-and-dumped lost/found items, see this section of the WSB Community Forums.
Utility-pole art and poetry turns up around West Seattle fairly often; thanks to all the anonymous creators who take the time to make it happen. This caught our attention while we were walking in Gatewood this week. While at first it might seem amusing – “lost mind” in the spirit of “lost pet” – it also holds a serious message. Check in with neighbors, friends, family – sometimes this “almost over but not over” pandemic period seems more unsettling than the pre-vaccine “hunker down” days. And if you need someone to talk to – the state set up Washington Listens as part of the pandemic response.
Kathy sent the photo and question. Maybe you know the answer?
Saw this fabulous salt-and-barnacle-encrusted bike on a walk yesterday near the water taxi dock. Would love to know the story behind it – I assume some divers brought it up and left it as urban art….
Consulting the official state Living With Wildlife page about bobcats – it’s not out of the realm of possibilities. Or maybe a hybrid cat?
Three months since Christmas, but if you drive past 35th/Myrtle after dark, you’ll notice that Our Lady of Guadalupe‘s big tree – the highest-elevation Christmas tree in the city – is still awash in light. Today OLG asked us to share this explanation with you:
OUR LADY OF GUADALUPE CHURCH IS KEEPING THE LIGHTS ON! As many of you can see, we have kept our Christmas lights up on the our large spruce tree in front of the church as a sign of hope not only in the midst of a pandemic but also as a beacon of light to the injustice of racism. Let us all strive to be a light to all we meet!
It’s not St. Patrick’s Day for us without a trip to 41st SW north of Admiral Way to check on whether the mysterious green stripe has been renewed for another year. And yes, it has.
We say “renewed” because last year, someone noted that it is visible year-round, and voiced skepticism that it had actually been repainted. So we went by yesterday too for a pre-St. Patrick’s Day frame of reference. Verdict: Definitely refreshed in the past ~20 hours!
From the WSB inbox, two more tales of welcome surprises:
MYSTERY MUG: The photo and report are from Robin:
About two weeks ago, this completely fantastic mug was left on the hood of my truck outside my home between 4 and 10 PM. I questioned friends and neighbors, but no one has yet fessed up to leaving it for me, so I wanted to thank whoever did. I live right on the Duwamish bike trail, so maybe it was someone traveling by the house who happen to see my unicorn sticker on the truck and thought I would enjoy it? I do, and I wanted to thank to thank my Anonymous secret Santa!
THESE ROCKS ROCK: The photos and report are from JD:
Someone is leaving beautiful hand-painted rocks in random flowerbeds around West Seattle. These were spotted in beds on Alki Ave. What a sweet surprise!
In the early weeks of the pandemic, we received so many reports of neighborhood joy – bears in windows, chalk art on sidewalk, signs in yards – glad to see it’s still happening a year later!
The photo is from Gretchen, co-proprietor of Admiral District restaurant Circa. She emailed us today to say, “Got to work today and someone had painted our 3 huge recycle, compost & garbage bins in their bright, fresh, original colors. They’d been tagged with graffiti many times and looked terrible. No idea who did this, if it was the city or an amazing Good Samaritan??? Did it happen anywhere else?” Since Seattle Public Utilities crews do indeed do some painting over graffiti vandalism, we asked SPU spokesperson Sabrina Register if that includes solid-waste containers. She replied, “Our contractors will paint out graffiti or replace the dumpster entirely. They do this on a rotating basis throughout the City.” (Contractors = Waste Management and Recology.)
Recognize this bicycle? Andy found it “stuffed under the trees on the corner of 45th and Hemlock Way. Still has a lock on it. It’s awfully nice and I’d hate to just leave it out there, so I figured I’d bring it in my garage for now.” Andy has checked the serial number with police, and they said it hasn’t been reported as stolen; he’s going to turn it in to them if possible but for now is circulating the photo in case the owner is in West Seattle and just hasn’t reported it yet. If it’s yours, contact us and we’ll connect you.
Looking across Elliott Bay from Seacrest tonight, T-Mobile Park was the brightest sign of the Inauguration Eve vigil, coast to coast, in memory of the 400,000+ people lost to COVID-19. Some lit candles at home – Steve sent this photo:
Steve wrote, “In honor of all those who have lost their life to the Covid-19 virus … and the hope of a better time ahead. I think the sign says it all.”
Finally, fiddler Dawn Hepburn with the National Anthem, for an audience who truly knows the pandemic pain:
Dawn explains that this was “Zoom ‘virtual volunteering’ for Providence Mt. St. Vincent. I play familiar tunes for the residents with dementia. For today, the eve of the Presidential inauguration, I played ‘The Star-Spangled Banner,’ lyrics by Francis Scott Key and music by John Stafford Smith. Kudos to Suzanne Gollhofer, Activity Program Supervisor, who set this up and is working so hard to keep the residents enriched. I hope this video encourages everyone to reach out with love, how we can, where we can.”
P.S. Tomorrow’s official schedule is here.
Two more bicycles found by readers:
Above is the bicycle John found in The Junction: “Abandoned bicycle left in the street on 46th Ave SW between Alaska and Oregon. This one is pretty beat up, looks to be a ’70s Schwinn painted several times. Might be a White Bike (white paint on frame and rims).” If it might be yours, let us know and we’ll connect you. Below is a bike Theo spotted:
Says Theo: “Not sure if it’s that a child forgot their bike or it was stolen/abandoned, but it seems like someone would care about missing this bike. At Lafayette playground near the west gate.” Again, since bicycles are less likely to be simply lost/misplaced than stolen/dumped, we publish these reports here in the main news stream, but most other lost/found items are posted here.