Vassili, Salsa con Todo’s artistic director, has been performing since he was a teenager, but he was a musician and actor before he took his first salsa lesson in 2000. Since then, he has studied salsa and Afro-Cuban rumba in Columbia and Cuba. Today, along with a team of dance instructors, he shares his passion for salsa, bachata, and Argentine tango on the hand-laid dance floors of Salsa con Todo’s 1,900-square-foot studio. Salsa con Todo shares the dance floor with Kids Dance Seattle, whose instructor, Heather Bridgham, leads youngsters through creative movements and structured steps. During each class, children match their movements to the music, developing the grace and coordination they need to pillage the cookie jar unnoticed.
Wallflower Custom Framing owner Courtney Sievertson applies nearly 10 years of framing experience to every custom border she helps her clients design. She keeps her selection of more than 1,800 frames stocked with only trusted sources, gathering wrapped leather frames from saddle makers in Peru, frames with hand-carved corners and individual leafing from C&J in New York, and carbonite casings from expert makers in Cloud City. Her commitment to delivering excellent customer service often leads her out of the store after hours for consultations.
In addition to providing framing services, Courtney uses Wallflower to showcase the work of local artists in its gallery space, dubbed the Shooting Gallery.
The Salish Sea hosts one of the largest killer-whale gatherings on the planet. From its three large pods of fish-eating resident orcas to the pods of transient orcas that hunt for larger mammalian game, the Salish's waters often churn with a flurry of activity. Five Star's captains give passengers a glimpse of this underwater entertainment by charting courses through the sea's whale-filled waters atop stable catamarans outfitted with four separate viewing platforms. From these lookouts, guests may spot the black and white behemoths, as well as mink, gray, and humpback whales and other marine life. Between sightings, crews keep parties comfortable within the heated cabin by supplying them with complimentary coffee, hot chocolate, and liquefied Herman Melville novels.
For the Hanke family, it seems like Puget Sound Express has always been part of their lives. Raised in the Puget Sound his entire life, Pete Hanke honed his seafaring abilities alongside his father, Pete Sr. Together, the two started leading weeklong sailing adventures across the Pacific Northwest in 1981 and eventually started whale tours. Today, the business still remains a family affair, with grandparents, children, and grandchildren working side by side. Sherri Hanke, Pete’s wife, feels this is the company's biggest feature. "We have three generations of captains, so there is a wealth of knowledge there."
In addition to their family members, Puget Sound Express's crew is well acquainted with the area's 88 resident killer whales, which naturalists can identify based on their markings and slick leather jackets. Tours also pass into the habitats of other wildlife, often spotting humpbacks, sea birds, and bald eagles. The Hankes' most popular voyage tours the San Juan Islands, pausing at the fishing village of Friday Harbor. According to Sherri, this region is well known for its weather. "We refer to it as the Blue Hole, because it is like this circle of sunlight. It could be raining in Seattle and extremely sunny here."
The Hankes take adventure-seekers out on the M.V. Glacier Spirit, a modern, 70-seat vessel with open-air viewing decks and large windows allowing sightseers unencumbered views. Additionally, an on-board hydrophone listens in on whales' vocalizations to see which songs are currently stuck in their heads.