Greetings from the “Emerald City” also known as Seattle, Washington. We have set up camp at a KOA about 14 miles south of downtown Seattle, which makes it easy to get everywhere.
I need to back up a bit…as we were leaving Cannon Beach, Oregon we discovered that our next-door neighbors at the campground had a lot in common with Dennis.
James and Fred were traveling with their wives on a 2-week RV trip from their hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia. Both gentlemen are currently with the Vancouver Police Department serving under their Chief Constable (their version of Police Chief) as military liaison officers. In addition, both served in the military and James, who is the Departmental Sergeant Major for the Vancouver PD sits on the council for the Canadian version of the ESGR….it certainly IS a small world. We wrote a small article about our encounter for our California ESGR website and it may be published on the National ESGR website in the near future.
Our trip from Oregon to Washington was nothing short of spectacular. The eastern route from Astoria to where we crossed a bridge into Longview, Washington wound along the Columbia River. We got onto Highway 5 (and all the headaches that a big city freeway has to offer) and arrived at our destination in Kent, Washington.
Our first foray (word of the day, Jen!) into the area was to downtown Seattle. We couldn’t help but hum the theme song from Frasier or reminisce about the movie, “Sleepless in Seattle”. Per some advice from some people we met at the park, we parked in a central location and walked most of the day. Our first stop was to the Space Needle. The Space Needle was built for the 1962 World’s Fair and over 2.3 million people traveled up the elevators to view the spectacular view of the Elliott Bay, Cascade and Olympic Mountain Ranges and Mount Rainier from atop the 605-foot structure. When it was built, it was the tallest structure west of the Mississippi but now it is only the 7th largest structure in Seattle.
From there we walked to Olympic Sculpture Park, a waterfront park opened in 2007 atop a former fuel storage and transfer site for the Union Oil Company. It is a zigzagging path of walkways, bike paths and seating areas interspersed with sculptures that afford gorgeous views of the Puget Sound. The park is at the northern end of the waterfront so we meandered along there to Pike Market Place. If you have ever seen or heard of this market, you need to witness it in person! It was established in 1907 and is one of the oldest continually operated public farmers' markets in the United States. The market is built on the edge of a steep hill and consists of multiple levels below the main level where the farmer’s market is located. If you go there, we highly suggest going to the main level because that is where all the action is! Have you ever seen 15-pound salmon or halibut being thrown 20-30 feet from the ice troughs by one fishmonger to be wrapped up by another? Words cannot describe the “ballet” antics of these fishmongers, it has to be seen or if you aren’t planning a trip there in the near future, look it up on You Tube. After we left the excitement of the Pike Market Place we drove over to Union Lake and discovered a gem; The Center for Wooden Boats. (CWB) The CWB is a non-profit museum dedicated to preserving and documenting the maritime history of the Pacific Northwest area of the United States. The boats were amazing examples of everything from early Indian canoes/kayaks to modern vessels, mainly rowboats and sailboats. From there we drove to an area we saw from the Space Needle, the Queen Anne neighborhood. This area is one of Seattle’s first upscale neighborhoods and affords breathtaking views of Union and Mountain Lakes, all the surrounding mountain ranges and the Sound. We drove a few miles away to Green Lake where a Triple D restaurant is located. Bizzarro Italian Café is a small, funky place that is just as the name suggests, part Twilight Zone, and part Italian Café. The building is a converted auto workshop and it is filled with antiques suspended from the ceilings and walls. It is extremely unpretentious; in fact, they encourage you to add to the décor by placing items underneath the glass tabletop covers. Dennis, being the artist he is, noted the date we visited there and some other graphics onto one of our tickets for the space needle and added it to their collection.
We also took in a Mariners baseball game one evening. The Mariners were playing the Toronto Blue Jays and apparently most of Vancouver, BC drove down to take in the game as there were more cheers for the visiting than the home team! The ballpark is along the waterfront just south of downtown Seattle and has a great baseball feel. The parts we liked the most was you could move anywhere within the stadium and “The Pen”. “The Pen” was a new area added to the ballpark this season. There were 6 or 7 unusual food concessions and the best part is you were at the same level as both bullpens and the players were constantly interacting with the fans. I have my views on how a ballpark should look and be run and let’s just say my home team is not doing too well in that area recently.
Another outing was a day trip to search out the area where my grandfather, Al Bim, had moved during WW II to work in the Navy shipyards. My mom has always told me about living in the Port Orchard/Long Lake area during the war and having to ration food and live under blackout conditions because the threat of a possible Japanese attack upon U.S. soil. We took the car on a ferry across the Sound and found the Long Lake area and then headed to Bremerton where there are still active shipyards. Where we in for a surprise…when I googled the shipyard to get an approximate address for our GPS what pops up but the aircraft carrier Dennis served on during the first Persian Gulf War. It is being mothballed, along with three other carriers and eventually, after all hazardous waste is removed, they will become artificial reefs somewhere in the United States. It was bittersweet for Dennis as he has such fond memories of his tour on the USS Independence but he was a bit sad because of the state of the carrier. We really enjoyed the aimless wanderings and on our way back we finally got a clear view of Mt. Rainier.
On our last day we visited the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks in the town of Ballard, a suburb of Seattle. The locks were completed in 1917 and have been an integral part of life and transportation on the Puget Sound ever since then. You are allowed to view the lock process and then enjoy the Botanical Gardens alongside the banks of the Washington Ship Canal. In addition, one can explore and view the fish ladders built for salmon to pass from the fresh water to the ocean and back. For those of you who are fans of the TV show “Deadliest Catch”, the spin-off show “After the Catch” was filmed at the Lock Spot Café at the entrance to the Locks.
We really enjoyed the beauty of Seattle and will be back again one day to explore more of the city. Onto new adventures in the Great Northwest!!