The Smith clan made our first trip to the West/Left Coast these past two weeks, and coming out of it, I think of wanting to go back, if not sooner than later. I think the four of us thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I found parts- if not much- of our trip hypnotically satisfying. We flew into Seattle, rented a car, and based ourselves in Bellevue due to hotel availability. Although the hotel wasn't as centrally placed, it allowed us, in a way, to "enter" the city, with the Bellevue/Evergreen Point floating bridge as our conduit to the city proper, tying the 'burbs of Bellevue with downtown by means of Lake Washington and the environs of "UDub", the U. of Washington.

Based on our discussions at the end of the entire trip, the Seattle experience seemed to hold the greatest sway with the other three members of the family for different reasons. For the good wife, time spent with a good college friend (and her husband and son) grounded Seattle as a home and not just a tourist area. The boys had the opportunity to see Rooney score a hat trick in ManU's demolition of the Sounders. The Sounder crowd, even through the pounding (0-1 at the half, though), represented. It's no shock that the Sounders have by far the highest attendance of any MLS club.

Just a few of the memories of the Seattle area include: fresh home-prepared salmon, homes perched over water, the "mothership" REI homestore, water+clouds+breeze+grey+sun, hills, clement summer weather, Kurt Cobain Park (for us GenX grunge fans), long-ago friends, "Christmas Trees", recycling at every turn, vagrants/"transients", water. Following are some pics of the many I took.

Experience Music Project, Paul Allen's physical tone-poem to Jimi Hendrix. This portion, strongly alluding to the Guggenheim Bilbao, actually comprises the attached science fiction museum.

Lots of lavender and explosive flora in such temperate climes. 

Need any into? We entered the EMP  in heavy, grey skies, but 

Towards Lake Washington Union Bay from S.N.

Olympic Sculpture Park

After a day of doing downtown, we hopped in the car for the short drive to Qwest Field, home of the Seahawks and Sounders, for a Sounders/ManU friendly, a game which framed how we planned the opening of the trip. Our 2.3m short trip became an amazing 1.5hr slog along the waterfront. It's understandable that there would be traffic issues, but about halfway there we became trapped on a road where a right turn landed us on a ferry or in the water and ALL the left turns were illegal. Curses! It did give me an opportunity to see Seattle bike culture with the many commuters leaving work. One required piece of kit for Seattle is an Ortlieb, with rack panniers (my choice) but also backpacks, of which I saw many. Looking at the map it seems that most were headed to the Elliott Bay Trail, which is the only flat patch of riding in a city of incredible hills, and way north to the neighborhoods.

We arrived in plenty of time for the game (parking $30: Cha-Ching!) and had a great time watching Rooney score a ridiculous hat trick, all in the second half. Actually the score was 1-0 ManU in the first with Sounders starters and a full squad of ManU in the back 6. Once ManU's offensive starters came in, mixed with sketchy Sounders substitutions, the bloodbath commenced. It was much fun, though, and one of the highlights of the boys' vacation.

Sounders fans are damn loud and seemingly knowledgeable. That said, almost the entire upper deck was a sea red ManU red. My boys represented the green and blue, though.

Our third day we took a boat to the San Juan islands, in this case to Friday Harbor on San Juan Island. Before taking in the town we took a 2.5hr "whale watching" tour during which we found orca and harbor seals (no greys, wrong time of year). then had another couple hours on the island for lunch and beating about. The wife and I decided that an overnight trip to the San Juans was/is necessary if another trip to the NW ensues.
Two youngish bike tourists at Friday Harbor. I saw several other obvious tourists in this general area too.  I happened to read a post of Lopez Island bike camping from VeloDirt right before we went. It's a magical area.

Ferry culture was quite new to me. They seem completely essential to the entire NW. At one point we were going to take the car via Anacortes to an island but decided on the day trip instead. 

Friday Harbor alley

return island. I have *hundreds* of water shots.
Orca. If you enlargen it, you can see his "eye patch" or whatever it's called.

Friday Harbor calm

Deception Point bridge. It connects parks so on the return we saw a large group of Japanese tourists climbing around below the road. I also have a lame pic of a very tiny bald eagle. It's not impressive, but it is a pic of a live bald eagle.

Sun and Shadow

Seattle with a sailboat race in the foreground. Quaint, isn't it?

The next day we spent with friends. First we took a hike down through Schmitz park to Alki beach in West Seattle.  The boys loved clambering around on the trails. It's good to stretch the legs. We were pretty casual on the beach, what with the frozen water! After our hike we ate at a cool, little Mexican joint up on the main drag, which was very reminiscent of our B'town Rd. here in the 'Ville. Funky! Later we met with an old high-school friend whom I hadn't seen literally in 20 years. We went to another part of the city, in this case Seward  Park overlooking Lake Washington, before eating a meal in- I think- Leschi. Part of what made our Seattle portion successful was our opportunity to see so many of the neighborhoods of the city, whether on our own or with our amiable hosts. A special four days indeed.
Funky modern homes down along the beach. Another was more interesting, but the pic is blurry.

Alki Beach, with numerous bikes on the bike trail to our right.

Seward park  light, water and grass.

REI, the "Mothership" downtown. 

More REI with maple


Apertome said…
It looks incredible ... I gotta get out there someday! Thanks for the photos and writeup.
Anonymous said…
*saddle patch, is what the Orca marking is called...mgns

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