Category Archives: Seattle

Seattle – no driving today

Seattle – no driving today

I said in a Facebook post today that I hadn’t fallen in love with Seattle, but that certainly didn’t prevent me from having a very good day.  I can’t actually put my finger on what makes me feel a bit lukewarm about the place, or whether it is a set of circumstances conspiring to make me feel this way. We started off the day heading downtown to book ourselves in for a Segway ride. The taxi took us through some very industrial areas towards the docks and then swung onto the seafront with its piers and entertainment areas. The Segway company was closed and the roadworks in that area, together with the rather dilapidated looking flyovers, added to a rather rundown look. We did hear that the whole area was in process of renovation and in a couple of years there will be parks and a grand seafront. So, what to do when you can’t chase around on two wheels?

We headed off to the Space Needle for a bird’s eye view of the city. The Needle has been done very well and has, very recently, had installed a revolving glass floor at a level just below the top lookout deck.  This is my 3rd ‘Tower experience’ this year (Auckland and Toronto previously) and it was just as much fun. Included in the price of the ticket was a virtual reality bungee jump from the top of the tower.  Virtual is quite good enough for me but I did welcome an opportunity to don the mask and enjoy this strange gaming world.

After lunch at the top of the Needle we strolled the exhibition area before deciding not to spend hours in one of them, so jumped on the monorail for a short and different experience. This took us within a walk of Pike Place market, and after some refreshing ginger beer we were off to marvel at the magnificent creations by the flower sellers, the fish stalls piled high with crabs, every kind of fish and seafood, including some of the largest prawns I have ever seen, and stalls with a vast range of retail opportunities! 

By this time we were wilting a little, so to give our legs a break, we went back to the piers and booked onto a harbour cruise. We were a bit lucky with the weather as the forecast rain held off and we enjoyed the views and commentary from the top deck.  I commented that the skyline was not as impressive as Toronto but we did get a glimpse of Mt Rainier, which only shows itself through the cloud on 95 days a year.  Seattle is one of the wettest places in the USA, which confirmed it would never be one of my favourites. Wet? We can show them wet!!!

Back on dry land there seemed only one way to finish – dinner at Elliott’s Oyster Restaurant. The oysters were superb, as was the clam chowder but our main course of fish left no room for anything else. Wot no ice cream?!

It’s a strange day tomorrow. We are off back to Canada. Will the USA let us out and will Canada have us back?

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

Sleepless in Seattle it is. A busy day with little down time until now. The day began with our Segway disappointment but we are not travellers to be trifled with! Plans B, C,… etc. are all ready being formed when a diversion is required.

So, onwards and upwards… literally. It is well known with family and friends that I don’t like heights. I go up them to show I won’t be frightened by them but it takes its toll. I’m not concerned about heights merely I don’t want to fall from them. Seems logical! And, that’s the key. I stress the logic for myself. Despite being 605 feet above the ground, I will not fall. It’s been tested. Other people are here. Get a Grip!

Once the tallest structure west of the Mississippi River, it is 605 ft (184 m) high, 138 ft (42 m) wide, and weighs 9,550 tons (8,660 tonnes). It is built to withstand winds of up to 200 mph (320 km/h) and earthquakes of up to 9.1 magnitude, as strong as the 1700 Cascadia earthquake. It also has 25 lightning rods.

The Space Needle has an observation deck at 520 ft (160 m) and the rotating SkyCity restaurant at 500 ft (150 m). The downtown Seattle skyline, as well as the Olympic and Cascade Mountains, Mount Rainier, Mount Baker, Elliott Bay and surrounding islands can be viewed from the top of the Needle. Photographs of the Seattle skyline often show the Space Needle prominently, above skyscrapers and Mount Rainier.

Admission paid and we’re in. The notice said ‘Your admission ticket includes complimentary bungee jump from the top of the Needle, queue here.’ Yeah, right, I thought. No!!! I saw people being strapped in and, I assumed, they would be then hoisted somehow to the top. What I hadn’t realised was this bungee jump was through virtual reality headsets. So, ‘it can’t go wrong!’ philosophy applied and I sat on the chair in the booth, headset fitted and the only instruction was, ‘Make sure you look around’. And, I did. I looked up at the sky and then at Seattle’s virtual skyline and then down to the ground. Suddenly, 3 – 2 – 1 flashed into my vision and the ground started coming closer as I descended in my virtual reality experience. And, of course, I then ‘bounced’ as would happen with a real bungee jump. Clever! I’d planted my feet firmly and my hands were holding my chair (in real reality) but neither were needed.

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Next, we went up… to the top. Walked around in the fresh air gazing down at Seattle. I smiled inwardly at one building whose painted roof said what I was thinking. Down two short flights of stairs was the new revolving glass floor. Bravely stepping onto it, I watched the cogs moving this enormous platform whilst I  looked downwards. Strangely, it was difficult to work out which part was moving at first but we did it. Stepping on the moving glass was initially tentative but, almost immediately, we got blasé about it. Clearly helped by seeing one of the staff walking with a rotary cleaning machine towards us – also, of course, on the glass. Lots of photographs were taken by us and the other tourists but I then saw a guy proposing to his girlfriend, take out a ring and place it on her finger in front of us whilst we were having lunch. I spotted them later in the shop and offered my congratulations! I was probably the first to do it. Made me feel a little special. Lunch was special, too, with toasted sourdough bread, salt beef with a thousand island dip.

We had contemplated MoPOP – Museum of Pop Culture – but changed our minds. We wandered through their shop where I was reminded that one of their most famous stars was Jimi Hendrix. They now have statue of him at the Capitol building and posters, plectrums and mini-guitars, with his iconic image, were much in evidence. I’d seen where he had lived when we’d been in San Francisco so I didn’t visit the statue or anywhere else connected.

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Next, the monorail – don’t we get about a lot?!

Onto the market via a less than useful map but with help from Apple map directions. Well worth visiting. And, we had a nice ginger beer…

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Next, the cruise – don’t we get about a lot?! (I’ve said that! Chuckle!)

Our female Captain was superb and managed to reverse the boat out whilst giving us a running commentary on the cruise we were about to do. She then introduced Billy who was excellent in his lengthy, fact-filled and very well presented travelogue as we sailed round the harbour – sorry, ‘harbor’.

Next, the oysters – don’t we… (you know the rest!)

The oysters were truly the best I’ve tasted. Thank you! A very good meal which required no dessert at all.

What was next? An Uber back to the hotel with Russell who had worked in Beijing with clients in the UK and proceeded to tell me he was wanted by the Lincolnshire Police for offering to personate for a former colleague/employee’s speeding offence. I felt at this time I ought to confess my voluntary role with Lancashire Police and point out it was an offence punishable by prison. I’m not sure I believed his story, fortunately, and I gave him a small tip as well as the legal advice!

Tomorrow, a return to Canada and our last few days exploring Vancouver before we fly home. 

Finally, the oysters didn’t last long between us (4 for me and 2 for Kath – her choice!); the floor in the market was paved with… names! Presumably donors? And, look what I found in a shop window. You have to smile!

 

Finally, finally… the monorail ticket had an excellent message from Bill and Melinda Gates

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Cascade Locks to Seattle (via Multnomah Falls and Mt St Helens) – 295 miles

We had tried to visit Multnomah Falls before checking in to our hotel at Cascade Locks but had found the road closed. Some research suggested it may be one of two reasons; firstly, that the car park may have been full and they used this tactic to avoid queues on the main highway, but, secondly, last year’s major wildfire in the area caused huge swathes of hiking trails to be closed. This morning we discovered it was the latter reason, but were directed to another exit, which was right by the Falls.  What a great start to the day (well, only if you ignore breakfast of superb pancakes with maple syrup and crispy bacon).  So, to the Falls. According to Native American lore, Multnomah Falls was created to win the heart of a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe. It is said the falls are arguably ‘the granddaddy’ of the 77 waterfalls on the Oregon side of the Columbia River Gorge. At 620 feet, it is named in virtually every World Book and Almanac under the “tallest waterfalls of the world” and more than 2 million visitors stop by each year to take in the views. I know it is not Niagara but it really is beautiful and well worth the visit.

From there it was a mere 100 mile detour to visit the famous Mt St Helens volcano. I think this road trip has made us somewhat blasé about mileage and we have started thinking like Americans in terms of time rather than distance. On that basis it seemed a good idea, and so it was. I had read that it was better to ignore the Mt St Helens Visitors’ Centre and drive right up into the mountains to the Johnston Observatory with its clear view of the crater, left by the blast, and the valley which was obliterated by the lava flow. To me, the memory was clear of that fateful day in May 1980 when the conical shape of the mountain was blasted from the side and in the space of 10 minutes the area had been changed forever. But then I think that my own children would have been too young to remember so, in this case, age was an advantage…I think!!

Once I had glimpsed the mountain, the peak and the crater played a game of hide and seek, using clouds which tantalisingly moved to reveal key parts of the summit but not the entirety.  Just when one face was revealed, it disappeared as another face showed itself. We paid our $8 admission, which is really a contribution to the work which goes on into seismic research, post explosion flora, fauna and wildlife, etc, and went to see the film. Really fascinating and well worth 15 minutes. By the time we had toured the exhibitions, eaten a hot dog, espied a cheeky chipmunk trying to share visitors’ picnics, the sun was seeing off the clouds. Mt St Helens was on show! Snow featured and, in spite of the reasonably warm day at 4,000+ ft, you could appreciate that so much higher up might well be starting to look a bit wintery. I now have scores of photos at every stage of the ‘big reveal’. Truly fascinating. 

The ride back down the mountains and on to Seattle was smooth, albeit with rather more traffic than our travels over the last 10 days or so. Tomorrow is under discussion, but with a general plan to make a full day of sightseeing. Legs to be shortened by much walking, methinks!

Carolyn’s Curios & Curiosities

I try to do the research elements for my bits of the blog. It’s always ‘a challenge’ for me trying to predict what Kath is going to include in her section of the blog as we tend to write them concurrently. However, this evening, Kath has finished hers and I’ve just jotted down notes. I’ll try not to be repetitive. 

Finding things out is always interesting for me. Whatever it is. But, what happens when, with the legendary story of Multnomah Falls, you get conflicting stories. The Falls’ website talks of a “a young princess who wanted a hidden place to bathe.” whilst Wikipedia suggests, “the waterfall was formed after a young woman sacrificed herself to the Great Spirit to save Multnomah village from a plague by jumping from the cliff, and the Multnomah peoples were saved. After her death, water began to flow from above the cliff, creating the waterfall.” Now then. What to believe?! It really doesn’t matter, does it? Just looking at the Falls and marvelling at the geological reasons for its existence is enough. 

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Now, onto ‘our’ volcano. Kath and I both remember the 1980 explosion being shown on television and the cloud of smoke and ash seemed to be around for a long time.

Mount St. Helens is most notorious for its major 1980 eruption, the deadliest and most economically destructive volcanic event in the history of the United States. Fifty-seven people were killed; 250 homes, 47 bridges, 15 miles (24 km) of railways, and 185 miles (298 km) of highway were destroyed. A massive debris avalanche triggered by an earthquake measuring 5.1 on the Richter scale caused an eruption that reduced the elevation of the mountain’s summit from 9,677 ft (2,950 m) to 8,363 ft (2,549 m), leaving a 1 mile (1.6 km) wide horseshoe-shaped crater. The debris avalanche was up to 0.7 cubic miles (2.9 km3) in volume. The Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument was created to preserve the volcano and allow for its aftermath to be scientifically studied.

Mount St. Helens takes its English name not from any religious icon but from the British diplomat Lord St Helens, a friend of explorer George Vancouver who made a survey of the area in the late 18th century and, of course, after whom, the city of Vancouver was named. 

It’s also called Louwala-Clough (also known as Lawetlat’la to the indigenous Cowlitz people, and Loowit to the Klickitat)  Klikitat is said to derive from a Chinookan word meaning “beyond,” in reference to the Rocky Mountains. The Klickitat, however, call themselves Qwû’lh-hwai-pûm or χwálχwaypam, meaning “prairie people” (X̣ʷáɬx̣ʷaypam)

Fascinating? Not especially but the mountain volcano certainly is! Kath talked about trying to find the correct shot of it with as few clouds as possible. We went up to about 4000 feet looking all the way up; spent an hour or so at the top but, despite waiting that time (albeit not idly!), we saw it most clearly on the way down.

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The Johnston Ridge Observatory is sited where volcanologist David A. Johnstone was camping on the day (18 May 1980) the eruption took place. He radioed the news but, as he was doing it, the lateral explosion killed him and his body has never been found. The Observatory was opened in 1993.

Another ‘fascinating’ note (for me, anyway) is that Mt. St. Helens is the youngest volcano here being only 300000 years old! Fundamentalists read carefully!

Silly comment next… as we drove towards Seattle, we came to a town called Puyallup. Love its name! ‘Puyallup’ means “the generous people.” However, my mind worked on ‘Poo! Y’all up?!’ #sorry

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Now a serious bit. As we walked from the hotel in Georgetown to find somewhere to eat, we walked past Georgetown Records which has a phenomenal stock of vinyl – LPs, EPs and the odd Single. Now, for those too young to know, LP means Long Play  and are now called ‘Albums’. They have about 30 minutes music on each side and are played on a turntable at 33 1/3 rpm (revolutions per minute). EPs (Extended Play) have about 10 minutes each side at 45 rpm. So many memories and it was surprising seeing some of the prices now being charged for these collectors’ items. (My own collection at home needs some research, I think.)

But, that wasn’t the reason for the mention. This poster on their door drew my eye and I had to say ‘Thank you’ to them. Needless to say, I didn’t need their reassurance and offer of safety but I know many who would welcome it.

 

And the meal? We wandered into the quirky bar/restaurant ‘9lb Hammer’ and, being Brits, ordered Fish and Chips which came with an excellent coleslaw and a far from poor tartar sauce. All washed down with a Coors Light. Great bar with pinball machines and ‘interesting decor! Fun. We also noticed the beer mats for R-town! ‘Rainbow town’ or just ‘our town’? Again, fun!

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