Sounding Off About Seattle
Happy Father's Day to any dads reading this! Especially our fantastic fathers, Tom and Bob!
Our last stop, for now, on our tour of the west coast was the Seattle area. The stop served a dual purpose for both touring and scouting a potential new home base in life.
Seattle was a lot of fun and we had a great guide in Lenny! We pulled into camp in Federal Way, just south of Seattle, on Tuesday afternoon. The park at which we stayed was OK, but served as a good home base for exploring the area. After unhitching we headed into the city for tacos and some beer with Lenny. We then met up with some of Lenny's friends and went to a super funny comedy show. From there we hit up a couple bars. We played a game of three person pool which Lenny won and then became a race to the bottom for Ryan and me as we struggled to make any shots. We even met another Lenny and the guys had some late night burgers.
At the recommendation of several people we started Wednesday at the Pike Place Market in Seattle, one of the country's oldest, continuously operating public farmers markets. It's a multi-level mix of merchants selling fresh fish, baked goods, clothing, glass, produce, and everything else you can imagine. We also saw the very first Starbucks. The market was bustling with tourists and locals alike and I opted for some organic cherries.
After walking around the market and fueling up with some lunch, we drove around the city to get a feel for different neighborhoods. We generally made our way to the Microsoft headquarters in the suburbs to check it out as well. A sprawling campus of glistening glass buildings, it was much larger than either of us imagined.
Heading farther out of Seattle, our next stop was to see the Snoqualmie Falls and the lodge perched at their edge that served as the exterior shot for the lodge in Twin Peaks. We went back to Seattle for dinner, finally settling on a vegetarian hotdog restaurant that doubles as a cyber cafe (of course!). After some planning and internetting, we retired for the evening, exhausted from the previous late night.
Thursday was for the homeland: Canada! Ryan had neither been to Canada nor had he ever crossed an international border by land, so we remedied both. I, of course, picked the slow lane crossing the border in both directions. We spent our time in Vancouver walking Stanley Park, exploring the neighborhoods (we loved West End), speculating about their strange flashing traffic lights, admiring the metric, and avoiding anything where we might need Canadian dollars. The trip was very nostalgic for me with even the most unassuming things triggering a memory of my grandparents or a trip we had made when is was younger. It was a long day with a lot of driving, so we headed home afterward, but not before trying our first Taco Time. I'm partial to the veggie taco.
After running some errands, we drove back to Seattle for a Hawaiian dinner and some karaoke with Lenny and crew. The Kona Kitchen is an authentic, family owned and operated restaurant and bar. Not only is it a great place, but one of the owners is the man who played the bad guy in the Karate Kid! He even served Ryan our first round of beer! As two karaoke nonparticipants, we had a fantastic time and met some great people.
Saturday began our trip eastward, ultimately landing in Cincinnati, Ohio, for a wedding, but not before a quick stop in Batavia where we will see Ryan's parents and trade out items we have learned we do not need for those we get plenty of use out of. We are particularly excited for the new solar panel that is waiting for us. We currently have a 5 watt trickle charger, but after we ran our camper battery dry in the Olympic Peninsula, it just hasn't been able to get the charge all the way up, especially with Washington's thick cloud cover. We have been camping since Monday without electric and it's just fine, but electricity is our most limiting factor. Our new solar panel should be a sea change for us.
As we make our way back east, we will have a few long days of driving. Last night was our first night camping in a Walmart parking lot. Glamorous, I know, but free, abundant, and easy is hard to beat. Tonight we should make it just southeast of Billings, Montana, for a stay at a KOA (Kampgrounds of America) which we have successfully avoided up until now, but it's slim pickings and we need showers, some electricity, and the internet is a bonus.
Montana is absolutely beautiful and much greener and hillier than I remember. It's definitely a different way of life, though, as clearly demonstrated by the advertisement we saw today for the Testicle Festival. As in, the food. Chicago, all your bacon, beef, and oyster festivals ain't got nothing on Montana.
We've made a note to come back to Montana and spend more time exploring those hills, but for now it's Batavia or bust!