I was born and raised in western Washington. I hadn’t been back in a couple of decades. My parents had moved away so I never had the need to visit them in Washington. I never went back period. But I always wanted to, so when the Pacific Northwest was on my radar for the summer of 2015, I knew I had to make a return to western Washington.
Staying with My Cousin
My first cousin on my father’s side was kind enough to let me park my house on the side of hers. She had a 30 amp power outlet for me to plug into and no pesky HOA rules to prevent such blight. Plus she got to see me daily, and I her – so it was a win, win all the way around! 🙂
I hadn’t seen cousin Jennie for years. Too many years. I had never met her husband or her children. Two weeks I stayed here. Two weeks where I bonded with my cousin and her family, as well as my aunt and uncle. Two weeks to explore a part of the world I hadn’t been in for over half my life. Two weeks to be stationary.
Side bar: I learned that my cousin’s kids are my first cousin’s once removed. I called them my second cousins and was quickly corrected by my mother, who has a degree in anthropology and understands this stuff. Who knew this genealogy stuff could be so complicated?
Side bar #2: I have “fond” memories of the crappy weather in western Washington. Memories of a few good weather months in the summer then a whole lotta gray, overcast, rainy days the rest of the year. I have been told it isn’t so much that way these days. Global warming, or something like that. But I think western Washington heard me bad mouthing its weather all these years and greeted me with total crap the second I crested Snoqualmie Pass on I-90 and entered western Washington. I immediately was in the clouds. And it was rainy. Just as I remembered western Washington. Gray and rainy. And it was this way until I arrived at my cousin’s. Then it stopped. And was beautiful the rest of my stay. Just a little welcome back and then a little in my face with the good weather. Who knew Washington had a sense of humor?
I arrived Saturday just in time to catch a Seattle Mariners baseball game with my cousin. They played the Toronto Blue Jays, which is weird because I work for a Toronto based company. The Mariners lost 6-8 but the game was enjoyable nonetheless. Lots of Blue Jays fans, who came from the Vancouver area, I suppose.
Pike Place Market
No trip to Seattle would be complete without a stop at Pike Place Market, which is one of the oldest continually operating farmers markets in the US. Everyone has heard of this place, right? It’s where the fish mongers throw around the fish you are buying. Gimmicky but definitely memorable.
I actually went to Pike Place twice – once with my cousin and her kids and once to meet a co-worker. Both times I took the Link light rail from near the south end of the line (one stop before Sea-Tac airport) to the Westlake station, which is at the north end of the line. I have never lived in a city with light rail, so being able to take it was definitely a novelty and saved me the aggravation of driving in Seattle traffic. Which sucks. Big time!
Pike Place Market is pretty neat, but very crowded. It is also huge, being spread out over multiple buildings with multiple floors over several blocks. Huge! The main arcade is the most popular area and is where the fish fly. If you go down into the 5 floors below the main arcade, things get less crowded. This is the home of some unique retail shops. If you are into those things.
Plenty of great restaurants are spread throughout the buildings. Produce and flower stands, bakeries, cafes, and coffee shops can be found. Including the original Starbucks location. Where you can stand in the long line, if you wish. I didn’t wish. Oh, and don’t forget the gum wall. Unfortunately as I am typing this, the gum wall is being cleaned of the 20 years worth of deposits so things are going to have to start over there.
Pike Place Market has a great view of Elliott Bay and Puget Sound. Seafair was going on when I was in town, which meant Fleet Week was happening. There were a couple of Canadian Navy vessels parked in front of Pike Place and sailors could be seen all over town.
After Pike Place, my cousin(s) and I headed over to Seattle Center which is the home of the Space Needle. Seattle Center (and the Space Needle) were built for the 1962 World’s Fair and is a 74-acre piece of land with a lot of touristy things. We took the Seattle Center Monorail from Pike Place to Seattle Center, making full use of the public transit options in Seattle. Beats the heck out of driving!
We walked around Seattle Center for a bit, grabbed a bit to eat and then went to join a Duck tour.
Keeping the theme of doing touristy things in Seattle, we decided to take a Duck tour. A Duck is a World War II amphibious troop transport vehicle that is now used to take tourists on a land and water tour. Many cities have Duck tours, so if you have a desire to take one, you don’t necessarily have to travel to Seattle. Unless you want to, of course.
Our 90 minute tour took us through the streets of Seattle where our captain filled us in on local history and landmarks, then took us down a boat ramp and into the water of Lake Union. We saw Seattle’s famous floating houses and caught a glimpse of the Blue Angels practicing for their Seafair performance.
While I am glad I took a Duck tour, I am not feeling compelled to do it again. It’s one of those once in a lifetime kinda things. Quack, quack.
Mount Rainier National Park
One evening we took a quick drive into Mount Rainier National Park. Mount Rainier is the highest peak in Washington and is very present when you look to the southeast from Seattle.
We poked our nose into the park and found a turnoff that offered a great view of Mount Rainier. So we stopped and took a selfie. Naturally.
REI has their flagship store in Seattle. I needed to go to REI and was in Seattle, so it made sense to check out the flagship store. It is a gorgeous building, inside and out. But it didn’t “wow” me like I thought it would. Not sure what I was expecting, but I didn’t walk away completely amazed. And I thought I would. Oh well, at least I got my shopping done.