Date of trip: August 20, 2014 - August 24, 2014
We left on a Wednesday evening, got in late and found our way via subway and city bus to our hostel. Seattle downtown at night is like any other city after dark — not pleasant. Yet, we found our way to Hotel Hotel Hostel in the Fremont neighborhood. Even in the dark we liked the area. We were across the street from a Bakery, next to an Irish pub, and neighbors with a place called ‘pie’.
We were shown around the hostel quickly by the desk worker–to the kitchen, living room, rest rooms, and finally our room. OUR ROOM with a private toilet. The room was dark with only lamps as lighting but it was beautiful! The bathroom was hidden behind a sliding barn door and the walls made of weathered, red brick. It looked just like the pictures. We highly recommend the place to anyone traveling to Seattle! hotelhotel.com
In the morning we took the bus to Pike Place Market. We were blown away by the number of bikers we saw while waiting for the bus. It felt like home. However, Seattle is extremely hilly and I’m not sure how humans bike around such a place. The market was quiet with farmers, artists, and other vendors quietly setting up. As such, there were no lines for the famous piroshki’s. We happily ordered and ate our piroshki’s–Chris sweet, Ali savory–on a bench overlooking the harbor at Puget Sound.
Within the market, I found a lovely store that sold old prints like magazine covers, post cards, maps, and other goodies. MY DREAM STORE. Love me some print. After dragging me out of the store, we sought out the historical crumpet bakery. We sat and enjoyed a sweet crumpet with maple butter (mmk but really, frosting) and I enjoyed my first ever cup of coffee. WHAT?! It was great. And that was the moment. The moment I looked down and noticed how everyone in Seattle wears interesting, colorful shoes.
Our time at Pike market was really only to test how much food we could eat. After our piroshki’s and crumpets, we ate big, juicy peaches, a BBQ pork Mee Sum pastry, ginger beer, and Beecher’s mac n’ cheese. I didn’t like the Mee Sum pastry and gave it to a man sitting on the ground. Chris said he looked back after ten paces and the pastry was gone. So all is well.
At a magnificent turn of events, I happened to turn my head and look into a coffee shop only to see Alyssa Wallace, sister of my dear, dear feisty college roommate, Lindsay Wallace. Alyssa was traveling to Portland on her way to LA for a convention. Alone. Because she’s brave. After some time we left Alyssa to her coffee and laptop, as she continued to search for friendly strangers who endorse their couches to other traveling strangers. What a seemingly risky yet heartwarming concept.
After Pike Place, we walked to Olympic park, up a really steep street, found a coffee shop selling beer, saw the Space Needle, picked up our rental car, and then back home.
Back at the hotel, we changed and drove out to Green Lake, a Washington version of Lake Calhoun with many more Evergreens, many less boats.
We attempted to dine at Delancy’s Pizza upon the suggestion of one-time Seattle dwelling Bridget Ayers Looby, but the hour wait was much too long to wait in a new city. Instead, we ran off chasing the sunset at Discovery Park. We got purposefully lost within the park and stumbled upon Fort Lawton, a US army post from the early 1900’s, as well as some massive hidden homes on the cliffs overlooking Puget Sound. Not a big deal.
Back in Fremont, we enjoyed authentic enchiladas at a colorful cozy Mexican restaurant, El Camino. My authentic mole sauce–sweet and spicy– was the most delicious food. It ended much too soon. Then, of course, my little dairy fairy needed a specialty strawberry ice cream malt from our hostel neighbor.
We got up early, grabbed scones from Flying Apron Bakery and left for Snowqualmie Falls by 7:45. The DRIVE. We crossed waterways, up hills, around mountains, past lakes, and finally through huge Washington Evergreen trees until we found the falls.
We got there before anyone else! Save the man doing yoga on the platform overlooking the falls…. Oh, what a site it was.
The gift shop and cafe were not opened yet so after soaking in the view, we grabbed a map and toured the rest of Snowqualmie Park.
We drove until we found ourselves way north at the foot of a mountain at a blueberry picking farm.
On our way back into Seattle, we stopped and enjoyed a beer at Fremont Brewery before heading to Gasworks Park.
Question: What was Gasworks park used for? Answer: This 20 acre point on Lake Union was cleared in 1906 to construct a plant to manufacture gas from coal – later converted to crude oil. Import of natural gas in the 1950’s made the plant obsolete. The city acquired the site for a park in 1962.
We then toured more of Fremont, finding the Fremont Troll and of course the Theo Chocolate Factory. After Chicago style pizza dinner, we drove to the Ballard neighborhood to (1) watch sail boats pass through the Ballard Locks (but our Mpls lock is much, much larger so we were completely unamused) and (2) to find a good brewery. And we found it. Stoup Brewing. Mmmmm Belgian beer.
After our Ballard adventures, Chris decided on a whim to travel downtown and take the Seattle Great Wheel for a spin. I do not suggest going to this part of Seattle after dark, as it seems to be a place for bums and drunks. Nonetheless, we rode around the ferris wheel a few times and enjoyed the view. Did I mention I’m scared of heights? I didn’t know that–not until Chris wanted to stand up and have a dance party above the black waters of Puget Sound. We went home afterwards and passed out.
At 7:45am we left for Canada. On the drive there, we saw the most dense fog cloud we’d ever seen and wondered how normal it was to seemingly drive up and into the clouds. We got an early lunch at 9:45 at SUBWAY because WHO KNOWS what happens at border control and I am not a good person when I am hungry. In the end, crossing the border took 30 minutes and we were glad we ate. The woman made me nervous. She asked us a million questions back to back and never made a human facial expression. Once we were into Canada, our phones stopped working and we had to switch the speedometer from miles to Kilometers.
We got into Vancouver about an hour later and driving through the southern suburb of Richmond was confusing until I got a glimpse of the REAL Vancouver. The Vancouver that looks like a futuristic city, floating in the sky. Okay not so much but almost. To get to Grouse Mountain, we drove through Stanley Park and over the Lions Gate Bridge.
It was completely picturesque with the mountains ahead of us and forest and skyline behind us. We finally made it north to Grouse Mountain bustling with foreign languages and cars and cars and more cars. We eventually made it through the ticket line and rode to gondola slowly up the side of the mountain.
At the first stop was a nice restaurant and gift shop, with a patio overlooking the side of the mountain and southern Vancouver. Because Chris wanted to buy the most expensive tickets to get higher up the mountain, we walked north past the helicopter pad, the lumberjack performers, and people strapping up for a zip line until we got to the chairlift. Oh the chairlift! Twas the best moment of the day up until that point. The seat was so soft (it matters). I was perfectly perfect, sitting in the heat of the sun, a light breeze on my shoulders, watching behind us as the mountain fell away to the city and then the water. Huge freighters were coming and going like toy battleships in the Strait of Georgia, the body of water that separates Vancouver from Vancouver Island. Like I said, it was the best part of the day up until that point.
Once off of the chairlift, we continued walking north, up the mountain. The views continued to get better and better. Eventually we made it to the wind turbine Chris paid to enter. We stood in line for a while, wondering how such a slim thing held an elevator big enough for even six. Finally our turn, we squeezed in the little elevator, rode up, and came out the top. Now, I will say it now and probably again: I did not like it up there. Seattle and Vancouver will forever be the defining moments in my life when I faced the facts—I do not like hills and I do not like being off of the ground. I do not like it, Sam-I-am. Would you? Could you—No!
But the views I enjoyed. I snapped some photos and contently held on to the inside wall, watching a lone, middle aged man jumped up and down on the area of floor made of glass, looking around at everyone with a stupid smile on his face as if to say, “See! You fools. This is so much fun. I’m happy as pie.” Chris wanted to spend more time aboard our little glass bubble in the sky but I was ready to retire. We rode the elevator down, and again the chair lift. However, the chairlift ride was different on our return ride. For this time Christopher Timothy Chapman was talking in my ear about ‘facing my fear of heights’ by casually riding around in the sky in a helicopter. “I’ve been facing my fears all day.” “Well, keep trying?”
I knew he really, really wanted it but I wasn’t giving in until I knew he really, really, really wanted it. I continued to say ‘please not today, I’m too young’ until finally I stood up slowly, hung my head, and followed the puppy to the helicopter pad. As he spoke with the ticket booth pilot, I tried analyzing the man. He was totally without affect and told us to buy the 15 minute trip…….It was a better deal……Let’s go.
As we walked to the helicopter from the pay booth I kept looking back at all the people, the life going on behind me. I wasn’t ready to die. We stood there outside the aircraft, listening and watching as the man told us where the emergency gadgets were. Thank you. I jumped in the back but the man asked flatly why would I sit in the back when I could sit in the front? Because sir, there are less windows in the back seat, you see—fewer opportunities to see the ground as we fall from the sky. But okay fine, I moved to the front to “even out the weight distribution” and ultimately, because I wanted good photos.
We buckled in, and watched as he fiddled with the buttons and started up the engine. It took SO LONG to warm up and take off. It wasn’t too late, I kept thinking. I turned around to peak at Chris, who was making faces at me in the backseat and wiggling his butt with excitement for our take off.
The moment finally came—it came so loudly. Lifting off the ground the pilot finally came alive and started talking to us about Grouse resort and the surrounding mountains. I honestly don’t know what he was saying. I was distracted telling myself how much fun I was having. Chris and the pilot continued to comment back and forth about…stuff. At one point, we flew over hikers, tiny figures jumping and waving at us from on top of the mountain. That was perhaps my favorite photo from the whole trip. I video recorded from the beginning of the flight. And of course, of all times to run out of memory space my camera started beeping at me. I put her down and tried enjoying it all while taking a few pictures here and there.
After the ride, we landed, crawled out of the helicopter, and walked through the crowd like celebrities. It was the best part of the day (you know, like, once I was on the ground again). We rode down the gondola, still high from what just happened, and drove away for our next adventure. We found ourselves parked and walking around Gastown, the oldest district in the city of Vancouver.
It was a lovely place. We drank some delicious beer at the Lamplight Pub and then drove to Sunset Beach Park and watched loads of people playing street hockey, chess, scrabble, badminton, and other yard/beach games.
Vancouver was very beautiful. The streets wide and clean and the buildings tall. We couldn’t believe how many shops and restaurants there were—endless. Also endless: hedges. Along the main drag were some insane homes bordered with hedges, “hedges, hedges, hedges! Who trims all the hedges?” Chris asked. We started our drive back to Seattle around 6:30p, tired and full up on Canada.
On our way back, we couldn’t help but stop at Lake Samish in Washington. We spotted it from the highway and it was much too pretty to not venture to. A family was just getting off the lake as we found the landing and beach.
Last image of the day: seeing a man, living in his orange, retro Volkswagen, grilling out in the parking lot next to the lake. Don’t get any ideas, Chris.
Best part of the day:
Chris and Ali both agreed: The helicopter ride
On our last morning, we woke up early, packed up (or perhaps we did this the night before as we usually do), and left Hotel Hotel Hostel for the last time. We drove downtown, found a place to park, and found the ferry port. It was a foggy morning with the clouds closing in around the skyline. Thank you, Fog, for such lovely photos.
We boarded the ferry to Bainbridge Island with little waiting. The city was still quiet and few people were onboard. During the 30-minute ride, we found brochures for a brewery and distillery.
The best part of the ferry was standing on deck and watching it dock.
The boat slows in speed and as it nears the dock, fitting in between huge wooden pillars, it reverses and creates a bubbly whirlpool in the water. After attaching the front of the ferry to the dock, the doors beneath you open and bicyclists and motorists file out and drive away onto the island.
We walked off the ferry and found ourselves on a quant little island, the main street still sleeping Saturday away. Few things were open besides some breakfast joints and a coffee shop. We stopped by the Blackbird café to grab some pastries and caffeine and sat out on the patio. We found ourselves walking towards the water and finding a pier. Sitting on the end of a dock for a while we asked ourselves, “what’s next?”
The problem, you see: the distillery and brewery were not in walking distance. We tinkered around a craft shop and asked the owner if she knew the best way to get to our butts in front of a beer or whiskey. She was incredibly helpful, making phone-calls to other stores and eventually a taxi service (that she found in an actual phone book). She talked with us until our taxi showed. I forget much of what she said but the gist (1) She loved her community there on Bainbridge Island, however, it was incredibly expensive, and (2) though we needed a taxi, she was glad we didn’t drive—ferrying back to the city on a Sunday evening takes close to 3 hours due to the traffic of weekenders returning to the city.
Our taxi driver finally showed up and drove us to a neighborhood strip mall where the booze was. Yet, the distillery was dead. The fine young lady at the counter asked if we needed anything. We wanted the whiskey. It was gone. Sold out in March? How long was the wait? Oh, a year or two…
To the brewery! (We walked across the parking lot to a dead brewery). We ordered a short beer, sat on the patio, and along with another couple, took turns looking into a telescope at the sea hawk nest high up across the street. We taxied back to the main drag, looked for some cheap art (yea right) and went back to the ferry. We were hoping to get back to Seattle and find my old roommate, Katie Kimm for lunch. On the ferry back, we had a couple take our photo with the skyline behind us (But of course).
We were ready to head back to Fremont, catch some flea market action and some grub but my phone had other ideas. She decided to stay back on the Ferry and give me a heart attack. I noticed she was missing when we left the ferry terminal and ran back through the crowd and even got to the boat but she was already snatched up.
Oh, I felt sick. How does one feel so sick after losing a cell phone? It wasn’t a child, a pet, a championship or a gold metal. It wasn’t hard earned or irreplaceable. I spoke with a very kind ‘Denise’ behind the customer service counter, leaving her Katie’s phone number since I’ve not memorized a phone number since 8th grade, I guess.
I had spent so much time trying to find my phone that I had to ditch on my Katie Kimm and wasn’t happy about it—I wanted to share one last piece of Seattle with her. Instead, we headed to the airport, solemn and tired (well, at least me). Once we made it to our terminal, we used the free Internet (Bless you, Seattle-Tacoma) and Find My Phone to track her down. As I sat there in my chair, I watched her–a little green dot–traveling back and forth across Puget Sound. She was in SO MUCH TROUBLE. As for my happy ending—we landed in MPLS that night and turned Chris’ phone on to find a nice message from the ferry people saying my silly purple phone was with Denise at customer service and would be mailed home in the next couple of days. Thanks Seattle! (Mrs. Denise recently received a nice Adam Turman post card thanking her for her free hospitality).
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