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Nearing the end…

As I look over my map of downtown Seattle and try to plan another day, I decided I’m not in the mood to plan much (I rarely do much planning). But my hotel is near the Space Needle and practically next to it is the start point of the famous Seattle Monorail. It was a novelty when it was built and is still a great way to travel between my current locale and the business/shopping area of downtown. As I also discovered, a cheap way as well. For most a one-way ticket is $2.50, for some of us its only half that!

It runs every 10 minutes so no long wait. On the outside it looks much like any subway car or the like.

Inside the seats are every which way so you can face the view that you want – front, back, looking out to the left, looking out to the right. It’s top speed is 45 mph and provides a nice smooth ride over top of the traffic.

I may lose my loyal readers now as the end point of my ride was the shopping district. Since I’m from Arizona and am now in Seattle, I wanted to shop for a decent rain coat. I have one that I bought on line. It does the job but I don’t like it. This is one of those things that I like to try on before purchasing. Well, once I started shopping I found it hard to stop… Oh well, one “shop till you drop” day in a vacation of almost 3 weeks is not so bad, is it?

When shopping made me hungry I walked about and found this little park that was filled with food trucks, picnic tables, and even a small play ground.

What a nice idea. I was, however, thinking of a beer with lunch and when I looked across the street I found the answer.

I got a Fremont Pale Ale and paired it with a half a turkey sandwich and a cup of tomato bisque.

Refreshed I went back out to see what other stores I could find. Pictures of all the stores was not taken but suffice it to say that I bought more than just my raincoat.

After returning to my room and trying to determine how I was going to get everything in my suitcase. I meandered out looking for dinner. I ended up at Petra Mediterranean where I got the Combo Kabob – chicken, lamb, beef and veggies. It was a ridiculous amount of food but so good! I could not bear to waste it so I got a to-go box (which I pretty much never do when traveling). As I walked back and started to pass a homeless person sitting up against a wall, it occurred to me that he would appreciate the kabobs so I asked and found a much better use for the leftovers. I’m glad that I had thought to ask for some plastic utensils.

I’m glad I took a day to not be overly touristy and just be.

Another good day!


The Space Needle

The Iconic Seattle Space Needle. What trip to Seattle is complete without a trip to the top?

I look up at those outside elevators and wonder if I can actually handle going up in them. Sure I can. I’m lucky to be here on a Monday in September as there are no lines to speak of. I buy my ticket at a kiosk and am waved right on through. I walk through the security point and right up to a waiting elevator. I’m the last one in so I’m right up against the glass – so not a good time to be afraid of heights. I’m not really, just a healthy respect for them. We are whisked to the top and exit to an interior space. Nothing scary here. The view is great and you can easily walk a 360 and enjoy the view. But of course walking to the outside area is well worth it. The outside “wall” or barrier is solid glass so you cannot actually fall but my first pass I walked the 360 closest to the inside wall. There were glass benches up against the exterior wall but I didn’t really want to lean up against the exterior wall too much – it slants outwards to encourage that feeling of falling.

Heights are a great equalizer – it was fun to people watch. In some couples, the woman is huddled up against the interior wall and in others it was the man. Most of the children were unaffected.

So down a flight of stairs to the level with the rotating glass floor. No longer a restaurant but there is a bar and snacks for sale.

I had a Seattle brew (Lagunitas) while up in the needle as it seemed appropriate.

Nice view, isn’t it? It was nice to be on the rotating space while chatting with folks over a beer. I can see why the restaurant was popular back in the day. Long gone but I guess they can send a lot more people through with that space reclaimed.

Of course there was the glass floor left. I have walked on glass floors before. I have not done the one at the Grand Canyon, but I did walk on the one at London Bridge. So here I am….

Or at least my size 6.5’s

I walked around a few times enjoying the view – note the monorail line running through the center of the picture.

Then headed down to explore the park at the base.

The park is called Art in Play.

It was quite elaborate with a painted maze to walk on, all kinds of thinks to climb on as well as slides and swings, none of which were conventional. The yellow posts in the background were actually a musical instrument.

Each one plays a different note. Pretty cool. [I did not notice it before, but I think that’s my wet footprint right under middle C!]

I spent most of the rest of the day just wandering about. Later I found myself back at a restaurant near the needle called Sport. I got the last seat at the bar (always sit at the bar when traveling alone). I was next to a group that were in town for a law enforcement conference and had a nice chat with a policeman from San Jose.

It was a nice end to a relaxed and not overly busy day.

Olympia and Mount Ranier

I was having breakfast at the Hilton in Olympia and decided it was time to make a plan for my remaining time in the Pacific NW. I didn’t want to spend it all in Seattle so where to next? Mount Ranier!

After getting back in my car I set Eatonville as my destination as that would get me on my way and should have good views of the Mountain. Further destination could be decided then.

First, though I took a short trip through downtown Olympia on this beautiful Sunday morning. I walked around Sylvester park and took in the Old Capital Building.

Another nice look at Americana.

But then I was on the road. Having selected Eatonville that kept me on back roads. I do enjoy the scenery and the small communities that line these roadways. Shortly before getting to Eatonville I got to a great viewpoint of the mountain. Clearly Mount Ranier is a member of the Sisterhood (brotherhood) of Mountains since they have a sworn pact to remain cloaked with clouds as much as possible. This day, though, it looked more like icing that clouds.

Oooh ahhhh.

By this time, I had decided that there was no turning back – it was time to go all the way to the National Park and I was closest to the SouthWest entrance to the park. So that’s where I went.

Once in the Park, I was back into the beautiful woods of the Pacific NW. The roads were winding but well paved. My first stop was at Christine Falls.

Not a huge waterfall, but still … who doesn’t love a waterfall.? I also liked the bridge that appears to have been built (or at least faced) with local rock.

Once driving up the mountain it became difficult to get good pictures but bits and pieces to inspire.

Eventually the road I was on ended up at Paradise where the famous Pardise Inn is located. It was beginning to mist with hints of rain so I just took a walk along one of the shorter trails.

And of course Mountain View’s

And of course, the wildlife.

Yes I know I said I repel wildlife but this little guy insisted on playing tag with me while I walked, even to coming all the way up to my feet for a sniff before running off again.

It was a nice walk, and I enjoyed breathing it in. When it started to rain, I returned to my car and headed down the mountain. Of course it stopped raining almost immediately. The sun was peeping out periodically and I tried to get one more picture of the whole mountain once I was a bit always but I think my first pic was the best.

If you look carefully you can see one peak popping up through the clouds on the right.

It was a great day on the mountain. I headed on up towards Seattle stopping in the town of Auburn ready for a cold beer. I found an interesting brewery/restaurant called Geaux (pronounced go) which had New Orleans flair. Both beer and food were very good.

Strait, Lake, Rain and Ocean

The day is all about water. Water, water everywhere…

I woke in Port Angeles which is located on the Strait of Juan de Fuca. See previous blog post for picture. It was just as picturesque in the am but its time for me to be off. Headed for Olympic National Forest, west of Port Angeles on the scenic US Rte 101.

The road took me back into the beautiful forests of the Pacific NW. It wasn’t long before the winding road took me along the shores of Lake Crescent. The lake goes on and on and is beautiful from every angle.

Lake, trees, mountain and sky! Who wouldn’t be moved by a site like this? Gorgeous. Maybe add in a bit of low hanging clouds?

The drive continued along the lake for quite a bit until we reached the end of it and then it was just more beautiful forest, Olympic National Forest. As I drove along it begin to start getting misty and looking like rain. About this time I reached the town of Forks, WA. I pulled into the visitor information area just as it started to pour. So does the town name of Forks mean anything to you? Well its known first and foremost for having an average annual rainfall of 10 feet!!

Due to the pouring rain I didn’t get a picture of the rain gauge but it showed 2017 as well above average and this year showing below average – but there are 3 months to go.

So Forks has another claim to fame that will probably one day fade into obscurity unlike the rainfall. Vampires! Stephanie Meyers Twilight series of movies were filmed here.

Of course the movie filming probably boosted tourism a great deal more than the annual rainfall does. 🙂

I read the books but never saw the movies so all of the paraphernalia in the gift shop didn’t hold my attention so I braved the pouring rain and headed back out on the road.

Obviously it is something about that specific area as it was not long before I was out of the rain again. Must be fascinating to meteorologists. After a bit the road turned further south and began to parallel the Pacific Ocean shoreline. I was in the HOH reservation and the HOH Rain Forest. I began to see signs for beaches so turned off on “Beach 4”. I took the short overlook trail at first and was well rewarded with the view.

Wanting to get closer I took the trail that headed down to the short. I didn’t make it all the way to the water as the trail ended up on top of some rocks and since it was wet and I didn’t want to risk another broken ankle, decided to take my pics from the top of the rocks.

You’ll have to use your imagination here to see the seal playing in the waves. He seemed to submerge every time I clicked the shutter. Close your eyes and I’m sure you will see him.

The rainforest was just as intriguing as the ocean so I did get some shots of that as well.

I’m pretty sure that whoever said moss grows on the North side of a tree had never been in a rainforest – the trees are coated on all sides with moss! This next pic was just pretty neat. A tree growing on a downed tree. Circle of life – plant wise.

By this time I was starving and the closest town of any size was another hour away. So time to boogie.

I arrived in Aberdeen and Yelp directed me to the Tap Room. Just my kind of place.

I had the “British Eyes Only IPA” and the flat bread pizza. Yum.

My reservation for the night was in Olympia. In spite of the good company I didn’t linger but got back on the road. Not much to say for the rest of the drive. I was out of the forest and in fairly normal town to town traffic.

I had gotten a good last minute deal at the Hilton downtown and got there without mishap. They have a bar but no restaurant but there was a good one right across the street. So I indulged in a margarita and lamb chops. I wrapped up the day with my book on the couch in my room.

Whidbey Island and Port Angeles WA

So where to today? I picked up this great map called Scenic Highways of Washington so its obviously time to put it to work. Since I hate to drive over old ground I chose scenic rte 11 down along Samish Bay and then scenic rte 26 over to Whidbey Island. These are not actually route numbers, just assigned numbers made up I assume by the makers of the map. None the less I’m back in my rental and on my way. The I-5 portion of the drive was less than memorable, but as I approached Whidbey Island there were an increasing number of signs for pull-outs for views. I finally succumbed and managed this pic.

Of course, just a tad further the pics were even better.

And of course, just on the other side of the bridge was a pull-off that allowed pedestrian access to the bridge itself and much better pictures of the water that made Whidbey an island.

That pull-out was also the started point for a number of trails so I paid up my daily pass grabbed my camera and set out for a hike.

The woods – like all of those that I had traveled during this trip were gorgeous. I started out on the perimeter trail.

What I couldn’t figure is why it was so quiet. No bird or squirrel sounds…. so then I began to imagine bears and what not. So because I was focusing on the quiet I suddenly heard several low-flying military style planes. Since I live in an Air Force town it took a few seconds to register. It’s kind of a scary sound if you don’t know if there is a military site near by. I later discovered there was a navy air site near. At the time, though, it was a bit spooky.

I continued on the perimeter trail until I got to the next mile marker. The marker for the perimeter trail had no mileage marked on it, so I didn’t know if it was a half mile trail or a ten mile trail. My fit bit said I had only gone a quarter of a mile and the marker for the summit trail indicated it was a .4 mile so I decided to give it a go. The trail was a little rougher but beautiful. I am normally a wild-life repeller but after I took this pic I took a closer look….

Is that a deer??!!!

It actually was! She even held still enough for me to zoom in and get a good look. I would guess a yearling but I am no judge. Lucky me.

I took that as a sign. Also the trail was getting rougher and I was on my own. Not wanting a broken hip or ankle, when I saw my trail upward connected with a different trail down, I took it and headed back to the trailhead. I got a great shot of the bridge from underneath while I listened to another visitor – apparently an engineer – talk about what fun it would be to blow it up?!

After I hydrated and cooled down some from my hike, I returned to my car and made my way to Oak Harbor and lunch at Flyer’s. I had a great wedge salad and an Afterburner IPA.

Taking my waiter’s suggestion I headed out for the ferry to Port Townsend. What my waiter did not say was that I should book a reservation. I had to wait for 2 ferries to come and go before I managed to get the very last spot on the third. My wildlife repellant was in effect as the ferry captain explained that the other crossings had noted a pod of Orca’s but we saw nary a one!

The arrival into Port Townsend was smooth and I planned to get a parking spot and wander around but the town was packed. Apparently they were having a wooden boat festival. That certainly explains the sight as the ferry closed in on the town!

Since I couldn’t find parking and it was starting to drizzle and get dark, I proceeded with my plan to go on to Port Angeles a bit west of Port Townsend.

I was delighted to find that The Port Angeles Inn sat up on a hill and my room was on the third floor with a harbor view. If there had been fewer clouds I probable could have seen Victoria, BC. As it was, the view was beautiful.

The weather turned to rain but I made my way to the Next Door Gastropub. Since the road to Port Angeles had passed the Dungeness Bay, I figured crab was on the menu. I had a rogue IPA and the best crab cakes of my life. The flavor of the crab was in no way buried but enhanced by the tomato chutney and shared fennel. Anything else done to enhance the flavor was pure magic! Kudos guys/gals in the kitchen!!!

That wrapped up a great day (except for the boring part in the ferry parking lot).

Waiting and Bellingham

So… leaving Vancouver and returning to the USA. Nothing exciting for most of the day, just a lot of waiting. After re-packing and checking out of my hotel in Vancouver, I went ahead and used up my Canadian dollars on breakfast, a meal that I frequently skip . It was just a well as I did get tied up going through the border checkpoint. For whatever reason my GPS decided to route me through the truck crossing on 15 instead of the usual car crossing on 5. I did notice signs indicating that it was 5 minutes faster on 15. Well….. for everyone that wasn’t me. I chose what appeared to be the shortest line which of course was the slowest. Fortunately I had started a book on my e-reader app on my phone so I at least got to read a couple of chapters before my turn with the crossing guards. They seemed to be really interested in why I had only spent a few days in Canada and wanted to know if I had been to Mexico recently. Hmmmm –

It was a weird crossing area, after they decided to let me leave there was a weird slalom course to get back on the highway – I guess they were trying to figure if we were high or otherwise impaired. Weird!

My GPS had odd ideas how to get to Bellingham so after it had taken me a few miles off of I-5, I switched my destination from Bellingham to the Days Inn in Bellingham. It promptly took me back to I-5 and eventually I found myself at my correct destination.

Since I had been traveling for a week already, it was paramount to find laundry facilities. Fortunately the hotel had a guest laundry. I whiled away a bunch of time during this process as the wash took an hour and then it was another hour to dry. Not the best of laundry facilities but it got the job done…. eventually.

From there I went on into Bellingham. It’s a picturesque town on the water.

It was really interesting how they seem to have removed a block here and there to make parking with shops along either side.

I had a nice stroll through town before hitting the water front.

The weather was perfect and so I engaged in even more strolling. It was fun to imagine how nice it must be to have a house up on the hillside near the marina. Nice view!

When my stomach finally reminded me that I had not had lunch and it was after 5 already, I chose to have dinner right there on the waterfront at the Loft at Latitude forty eight five. I went for the fish and chips paired with Bastard Kat IPA from Kulshan brewery.

Then headed back to motel to work on an interesting plan for the next few days.

BC rte 99 to Whistler

Vancouver to Whistler, home of the 2010 Winter Olympics

Seemed like a great idea to me. I unlocked the cage in the parkade (aka parking garage) and took my rental out for a drive along British Columbia rate 99. Getting out of the city was straightforward although the traffic seemed pretty heavy.

It wasn’t long before the scenery moved from urban to rural and totally gorgeous. The mountains, trees, water, sky and snow collaborated to make this an incredible drive. Of course most of the pullouts for the view were on the wrong side of the road so I did the best that I could to view and not run off the road. I figured that staying on the road was more important than the view but I gawked whenever I could and made mental notes of where the good overlooks were for my return trip.

I followed the signs to the Olympic Village but was disappointed to arrive at the gates where a big “Closed” sign resided. Well shoot! I started back to BC 99 but was able to get one really good picture before heading on into the village of Whistler.

Whistler is a relatively typical ski village with lots of ski shops, eateries, rental apartments and inns. Also like most of these ski villages plenty of warm weather sports shops with mountain bikes to buy or rent. And of course the view was awesome! I couldn’t help but imagine how cool it would be to be sipping on hot chocolate and watch the skiers shushing down the slopes.

It was warmer than I expected so I left my sweater in the car and set about to wander. It is a huge ski village so it wasn’t long before I was totally lost. I found a nice eatery with a patio and enjoyed my lunch while looking up at the slopes. Afterwards I browsed the shops and picked up a few souvenirs.

Then I had to figure out where the car was! I didn’t take too many wrong turns and eventually found my way to the parking garage that was near the library and was soon back on my way to Vancouver.

Remembering the pullouts, I found this one, which didn’t have nearly the view that I had hoped for but …

The next one was better

And better

It was getting on in the afternoon by then and the view was to the West so the sun made good shots a bit difficult but still it was beautiful.

I made it back to Vancouver without any hitches and put my rental back in its cage. [The hotel had a caged in area of the parkade for hotel guests.]

After cleaning up some, I decided to try one of the hotel’s venue for dinner and ended up at the Red Card sports bar. I had plank grilled salmon paired with the Fat Tug IPA.