We drove to Seattle on Monday morning. Alison had some work to complete so we didn’t leave Portland until early in the afternoon. I had one final walk through town listening to my first podcast action all week. I generally listen to two to three hours a day so it was nice to catch up, if only for about 45 minutes. We had a devil of a time getting from where our car was parked to the hotel due to the one-way streets and construction. I thought about hitting a food truck before we left, but instead we drove.
Our drive plan was to go from Portland to Mount Rainier to Seattle in one afternoon. Alison wanted to catch a ferry in Seattle around sunset, but our late start made that a difficult proposition. We said good-bye to Portland and hit the interstate.
I played some NPR while we made our way to the mountain. As is the case all over the nation, we got into rural America in no time. Once we cleared Vancouver, Washington, we were in the sticks. As we took the side roads toward the mountain, seeing the imposing peak get closer every mile, we saw fewer and fewer other cars/gas stations/anything. We stopped at a little lunch spot near the bottom of the mountain that I think is run by Sons of Anarchy. The only patrons we saw were bikers and the woman running the establishment was telling a tale of romantic woe to the silent dude sipping a Bud Lite as I interrupted to pay.
There’s one aspect of traveling that’s changed since the last time we took an extended vacation. We’re always running out of charge on our iPhones. I actually plugged my phone into a wall socket at the Sons Grille (not the actual name). For the final stretch of the trip later in the afternoon, I used both of our laptops and plugged the phones in there to have enough charge to get to town. Next time I need a car adapter.
We finished another “with fries” lunch and made it to the park entrance. I tried to make a comparison between this road and the Road to Hana (the road from the populated side of Maui to the desolate side), but it’s not entirely accurate. The road is extremely windy and as you look to the side, you see that the elevation has gone up in an alarming way. The difference between this road and the Road to Hana is that the latter is barely wide enough for two cars. The Mount Rainier road is well maintained, has lots of pull-offs and stops, and isn’t nearly as terrifying.
We got as far as the Nisqually Falls. There was no chance of us making the summit or even to a glacier. It was wild that we could not traverse the path we chose, which was a short 1.2-mile hike, because of the snow. That’s right, we saw snow on July 8. I don’t think I want to live in this part of the country. Even if you only get halfway up the mountain, make the side trip. More than once we got a full frontal view the top and we thought the sky was a green-screen concoction and Michael Bay was about to send exploding robots in our direction.
The ride down the hill is always less fun than the ride up. We made it to a gas station on fumes and I sucked enough power out of Alison’s iMac to get us to Seattle. We didn’t make it into town until around 7:30 and thanks to the fine work of local Chad Scott, we got to a sushi joint that was like the baggage carousel at an airport. Have I painted a poor picture? Actually it was cool to see the rotating food selection and take what you wanted. Alison had various states of fish and rice and I had the chicken katsu club sandwich, which was fried chicken, some kind of mustard, and three slices of no-crust white bread. It was deelish. We wandered over to a dessert joint staked out by the wife’s yelp connection and we had coconut cake and an apricot brown betty with a half bottle of zinfandel. See, the wine was half price, so we got a half-bottle which is almost more math than we can handle.
We stumbled back to the hotel and went to the Jacuzzi and met a couple of guys from the Martinique soccer team who wore too-tight boxers in place of a swimsuit, making me feel as in shape as Geno “Flabby Gerbil” Cerulli.
First full day in Seattle
We’ve finally caught up to Pacific time. I got up slightly before 8 and it was a chore to get us out of the room by 8:30. We found the car, and by the way, never rent a car for multiple days in Seattle unless you are driving out of town every day, and drove to a lot near the Space Needle. We hit the “early bird special” at the needle, which saved us a whopping eight bucks. We took the elevator and witnessed the grandeur of a structure built so Seattle could host the World’s Fair in 1962. Actually the needle was kind of a tacked-on thing that was built at the last moment and probably would cost as much as a sports stadium today. The view is breathtaking and it’s a must-see for all visitors.
After our morning sojourn, it was time for us to do our favorite vacation activity, unintentional walking. We walked to Pike Market, which was mostly downhill and reminded us of a future mostly uphill walk later in the day. We hadn’t eaten breakfast so we were starving like Seahawks fans for a Super Bowl title by the time we wandered into the crumpet joint. (Pictured below: my best “selfie” with Rachael the pig, the mascot of Pike Market.)
A crumpet joint? I’m still not sure what a crumpet is and I ate one. Alison had her salmon version and I had my ham, ricotta cheese and pesto version. We decided that for the sake of the relationship that we would split up for the next couple of hours. I was going to visit the house where Chris Johnson became CJ2k, years before he became CJFUk. My plans would get mucked up slightly thanks to the dudes from Martinique again. I can see why the Canadians are so annoyed by them.
In the next edition of Zach on Vacation, you’ll see the Titans fan visit Seahawks Field/House that Neon, I Mean Nike, Built, um, Qwest Field, or Century Link Field Presented by a Big Overhang.