A few years ago, we visited my brother Jon in the Seattle Washington area where he has made his home for a couple of decades now. It was my 3rd visit to the area and I experienced so many new things, it was as if I’d never been there before. It would be Pat’s first visit though and we had a lot of things on the agenda.
The scenery is incomparable in this Pacific Northwest city. Nestled between the Olympic and the Cascade Mountain Ranges, a stoic backdrop graces every skyline.
A strong blend of Inuit, Indian, European and Asian influence and presence create the unique ethnic culture in Seattle. It’s a mix that reflects many of the traditions and customs of that diverse population.The wildlife in the area is just as diverse. The flora and fauna abound in the many green spaces throughout the city. This rich and integrated tapestry reflects the variety of the region. This fabric forms the background of a fascinating socially, historically and naturally well-endowed area.
It is possible, in much of Seattle, to view the sea, (by way of Puget Sound) and the mountains Rainier and Baker. No wonder so many people are drawn here!
No trip to Seattle would be complete without a visit to world-famous Pike Place Market, the oldest continually operated farmers’ market in the US, where the fish mongers toss large fish back and forth above the heads of observers, in preparation for wrapping and delivery to waiting customers. It’s a new twist on “dinner and a show!”
In the open-air markets, veritable rainbows of produce create mouth-watering visual interest at stall after stall. The fruit, vegetable and flower arrangements are so artistically displayed, I was drawn to vendor after vendor. Small shops offering specialty foods and other items representing many cultures beckon shoppers, promising a mufti-faceted shopping adventure.
Craftsman representing a diversity of fields have tempting treasures for sale. Musicians, magicians and other street performers regale passers-by with splendor.
Outside, on several street corners, buskers display their own wares. A variety of music covers genres from classical and jazz, to folk, blues and reggae.
Ferries leave the docks in Seattle and arrive in Victoria Canada a mere 3 hours later. The trip takes you past interesting islands in Puget Sound and often includes an animated show of Orcas leaping alongside the boat.
There are a lot of beautiful green spaces and parks in Seattle, havens for people and wild life in the city, gorgeous gardens, places to swim, walk and picnic. Rooftop restaurants and unusual attractions like the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the Space Needle and the Science Fiction Museum help define this varied and fascinating city.
On this trip as always, the Seattle area provided us with many interesting activities. Here is a summary of our week.
Our day began when we left home at 3:30 am for the Airport. Our plane left Manchester NH at 6 am and we were on our way. We had a brief lay over in Detroit MI then continued on to Sea Tac Airport outside Seattle where we landed about 10:30am (west coast time) and rented a car. Jon met us in Seattle and Pat had his first taste (literally as we sampled food from many ethnic shops) of the Pike Place Market and waterfront districts.
After a few hours of meandering through the market place, we all headed back to Jon’s home in a small town outside Seattle and had a cookout there with some of his friends. We all swapped travel horror stories for a while and caught up on each others’ lives. Plans were made for the next day, then Jon and I spent some time in his darkroom developing some of his black and white prints that evening. Eventually, the additional 3 hours lost between East and West coast time caught up with us.
Jon and I hiked to Twin Falls and Pat went to play golf. The views from the trail were awesome and we each took several photographs.
We drove through Snohomish on the way back and spied a vintage Railroad Station that looked interesting. We made a note for future reference and returned home where Jon put some pork and chicken on his smoker over a low fire. Then we all drove to Everett and Jon worked at his bar, Balefire, for some of the afternoon and evening, while Pat and I schmoozed with the locals there. Balefire served a large variety of local micro-brews and wines.
Balefire Front Window
We returned to Jon’s home late that night and feasted on smoked meat and new red potatoes.
I’d never been to ‘The Peninsula’ on my previous trips to Washington and Pat wanted to check that area out, so on this trip, we took an inward loop to and through the peninsula. First we boarded the ferry at Edmunds and an hour or so later, landed in Kingston. From there we drove to Port Townsend, a quaint Victorian town with a lot of history on the waterfront.
Port Townsend has done a wonderful job of preserving their architecturally appealing buildings, many with gingerbread touches and several with the faded remains of early advertising still visible, adding a colorful touch. Vintage Port Townsend Architecture, Well-Preserved
We ate lunch in a retro diner on the bay and visited the local historical society before moving on.
From there we traveled through the extensive Olympic National Forest to Port Angeles where we overnighted. (And yes, we couldn’t shake the twisted version of ‘Welcome to Port Angeles’ we’d made up, that haunted us for the rest of the trip!) This is another town where the ocean stretched out before us, and the majesty of the Olympic Range and Hurricane Ridge loomed behind.
We settled in at our hotel and drove through part of the Elwah Rain Forest, to the top of the road where we had an awesome view from a lookout area. When we returned to town, we walked down to the waterfront dock area and got a feel for that part of town.
Early the next morning, before continuing our long drive, we took the nearby Marymere Falls hiking trail through very old growth rain forest. (Our first choice, the Hurricane Ridge Trail, was closed until at least mid-May due to remaining snow depth in the area.) We followed our trail upward, crossed the imaginative Billy Goats Gruff Bridge, made from a single felled tree, and arrived at the spectacular falls at the top where the air temperature was significantly cooler.
Eventually, we hiked back down and continued our drive west.
The next leg of our journey took us past Crescent Lake, which is very scenic. We drove through, what seemed for a while, like endless miles of forest and then deforested land. Signs like ‘Don’t Drug and Drive’ and ‘Litter and You Will Pay the Price’ dotted the landscape. We saw many world record-breaking trees on our various stops, hikes and travels.
Each enormous tree seemed larger than the last! Finally, we stopped at Ruby Beach, almost the most Westerly point of the Continental US, contiguous states.
This beach was almost spooky. We walked along a trail in enveloping fog and silence, eventually terminating on a beach covered in enormous felled trees, all gone to driftwood. It was oddly like walking (and climbing) among dinosaur bones. Most of those trees on their sides were taller than myself and I couldn’t see over them without climbing over.
We could barely see through the fog beyond these tree skeletons to the water where eventually, we spied an island in the distance when the mist lifted a bit.
Eventually, the fog lifted more and the birds began to call again. It never really cleared enough for us to see any distance however. Being there felt like visiting a different planet for a while.
We hiked back to the car and continued driving, mostly southward, finally arriving at our destination; Quinault Lodge, a rustic yet elegant old inn on Lake Quinault. The fireplace in the lodge there was almost big enough to stand in, should one be so inclined. We had lunch in the dining room and then hiked a nearby trail where I spotted a rare pink trillium, something I’d never seen before. We returned to the inn settled in, then headed out again to make the most of the waning daylight. We walked as far around the perimeter of the lake as we could go as the sun sank into the water.
Our room had a balcony off the second floor, high in the trees overlooking the lake. It was like being in a tree house!
After an early breakfast at a nearby country store and café, and a drive to some local falls where we took a short hike, we began our Eastward route back to Seattle. We opted to take a more direct route than on our drive there and drove straight through, making a later ferry.
That evening, we three left from Jon’s and ventured to the Boar’s Hede Inn, a medieval manor and restaurant, located in the imagined and created shire of Camlann, within the actual town of Carnation. There we enjoyed a multi-course meal featuring mead and pasties in front of a roaring fire. We were entertained with music, stories and riddles. A very different and unusual evening!
This day, we traveled to the famous tulip fields in the Skagit Valley region, picnicking and making several stops at micro-brew destinations where Jon did business obtaining unique brews for his Balefire bar in Everett. We met some brewers and were amazed at the variety of operations where micro-brewed ales and beers were created.
Every vista through the valley was like a Dutch landscape with mountains behind. Every field was full of vibrant color. I was so amazed I forgot to take any photos!
Pat and Jon and I took the underground tour in downtown Seattle, originating in Pioneer Square and saw a bit of life as it used to be in the city. Seattle has a history of flooding and fires that proved challenging to the architecture there, not to mention the inhabitants.
Eventually, after several disasters, Seattle rebuilt upon itself, moving upwards one or two stories vertically and building predominantly in stone and brick.
Many of the lower stories, the basements and bowels, still exist and have recently been excavated. In fact, in many places, the original first and second stories, complete with ornate fronts, now lay a story or two below current street level where they functioned before the last major flood.
These have become part of the Seattle historic underground tour. I recommend this tour as a way to get a different perspective on the past lives of the city.
Before we left Seattle, we located the giant troll living under a bridge and glimpsed a marina filled with houseboats. Some of those boats actually have gardens on them!
Jon and I drove to the Franklin Falls Trail early in the morning and hiked toward some falls there. We hadn’t anticipated the over 2 feet of snow and ice still on the trail!
We trudged onward for a while following the river but after taking a fall (me naturally) we chose not to continue. We had a picnic on the way back, in the village of Snohomish, near the vintage train station, which we toured before deciding to take a ride on the railroad. Our coach was a restored 1917 railcar.
First our train drove to the North Bend Station, past a train restoration shop. We passed a lot of old train cars on the tracks waiting patiently for their chance at resurrection.
Then we went the other way and drove past the depot to the head of the powerful Snoqualmie Falls, stopping, suspended momentarily on the tracks above the ravine. What a different perspective from up here! The sound was nearly deafening.
That evening, we flew out of the Sea Tac airport at 10:30, returning the car on the way. What a fun-filled and interest-packed week we had.