Travel Diary

Summer Trip to Seattle

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  • Aug 29, 2014 - Seattle Visit
  • Aug 29, 2014

    Seattle trip

    A Labor Day weekend? Well, then, that means another trip to Seattle. And this time without the heartache of having an unpaid holiday. Those days are gone forever.

    I could get used to this “first class” thing. But even much better is the TSA Pre-check (well, it costs much less). The special line wasn’t open, but if you show the ticket and ask about it, they escort you up to the front. It’s almost like being a celebrity, but with fewer stalkers.

    With first class, you’re pretty much guaranteed carry-on space, so I skipped the baggage check. I sat down and had my books and movies ready to go. But for whatever reason, conversations seem to occur more readily in this seating area. I chatted with the passenger next to me for just about the entire trip. At one point, he noted that the curtain should be up to separate the classes and ensure “those” people (economy class) were not heading up to use the same restroom. I mildly agreed, but knew that I was not and never planned to actually feel so elite. The very next flight, I would be back in the back again. First Class is nice, but it’s also a bit wasteful when overdone. I treat myself on occasion, and I live with cramped knees on other flights.

    During the flight, we took the normal route and I sat in my normal window seat to get shots of SF and the bridges. We witnessed a beautiful sunset so that was a bonus. I’ve probably taken the same downtown waterfront SF shot five times now, but I continue the tradition just in case the view is drop dead spectacular one time.

    It’s usually pretty good.

    I arrived in Seattle and my friend Terry picked me up. The first stop was Dick’s Restaurant. It’s no “Shake Shack,” but the medium burger is pretty tasty. (The deluxe has too much stuff on it, which unbalances the taste for me.) And that was all I got. No fries. No shake. I just wanted a simple hamburger. Mission accomplished.

    Back at the house, I greeted Lesly and she had beer and Red Vines waiting. Ah, Seattle hospitality! Good times. We had some booze (well, I did, at least) and smoked a cigar in the yard. Yeah, good times with good friends.

    What to do, what to do...

    The first stop was to Seattle in the morning to check out another condo. It was identical to the current one, except it was the top level and included skylights! Ca’t ever go wrong with skylights.

    But it would be impossible to get a starting sale price on the unit, so that would have to wait. I at least got to check out more closely the building that my current condo is in. I even got to ride in the elevator.

    The original purpose of the trip was to see Victoria, but since Lesly and Bri had a concert to attend, the rest of us went into Seattle for Saturday.

    Our first stop would be the Seattle Aquarium. I’d see it on a to-do list and it was one thing I hadn’t done yet, so why not.

    The line was long, but we had a discount card. We were quickly at the front. Trouble is that the discount card was NOT a member card, so we should been in the long line. You know the one, wrapping around the building and disappearing into wait-forever land.  

    However, the worker explained this to us, and then let us proceed. Honest mistake. No need to get sent to the back of the line.

    Hopefully the same guy isn’t working next time. (Kidding.)

    Sure, the Seattle Aquarium isn’t huge (which is odd since Seattle is a big water city), but it’s still fun, and anytime you include sea otters, you have a winning establishment. If opera included sea otters, I may attend once again. Just putting it out there.

    I took photos of course. I took many photos. Some of the fish even smiled.

    After that, we headed to Pike’s Place. I got my mini donuts. Always like the mini donuts. Turns out that they have a flavor with bacon on it. Bacon on a donut?!? What, what?!? Alright, this isn’t new for others, but it was new for me, so just roll with it.

    I rarely buy anything else in the market. It’s fun to visit, but not so fun to drop money. Look and leave. Just look and leave. Yeah, they have a lot to buy, but what do you really “need,” aside from maple bacon donuts?

    The next stop was for the “World Famous” clam chowder. I guess they supposedly don’t get to compete in contests around the world because the chowder is just too good and wins every time. For that, they are denied entry to give others a fair chance. Okay, I now had to know what it tasted like.

    So even with a 40-minute line (this would become a recurring theme), we waited.

    And waited.

    At one point, an older group of four was behind us. They asked some questions, which we happily answered. But soon the oddest thing happened: they were in FRONT of us. How did this occur? Part of it was people ducking under cover because of the rain. When it subsided, I guess places got confused. They didn’t seem to notice the issue. And really, who cares? So two extra minutes before chowder--no major life change. But as it started happening with another couple, we ensured that places were remembered. Got to avoid chaos. Order must be maintained, come rain or shine.

    Finally, we reached the front and acquired chowder. The world’s best chowder, which was ...

    Absolutely ...

    Well, just all right.

    Now mind you, it wasn’t bad. It just wasn’t “I gotta go tell it on the mountain!” either. It was just a pleasant clam chowder (Campbell’s?) I don’t know. My taste buds aren’t great (I can’t even tell you 80% of the correct Jelly Belly flavors in a blind taste test), but I know what I like and love, and I only merely liked the chowder.

    I’m not saying that they don’t merit all the awards on their wall, only that they may not deserve all the awards on their wall.

    Which is different, but kind of the same.

    Next stop... more award-winning food. This time it was Serious Pie and Biscuit. To their credit, they claim the Pie first, which we did not try (and they close pretty early for the biscuits). We tried the biscuit since they allowed a final order even past closing (love good customer service).

    The biscuit was...

    Well, pretty good, but not exceptional. I mean, how do you make a biscuit outstanding. It’s a biscuit. Some flour and add .... well, other stuff, I’m sure.

    I may still go back for the Pizza. As Eastwood once said, “I gots to know!”

    Well, the “punk” says the line, but it changes nothing.

    We returned home, but as Lesly and Bri were still at the concert, we had to procure our own dinner. Indian food was the call--my call at least. Terry’s coworker said the best place was a little north of the city. Thus, Terry, Elaine, and I drove to Mill Creek (yup, they even have a cool fake mill) and dined at the Clay Pit. It was...


    Yeah, this place was where it was at--finally--and they had no awards posted all over their wall. The food was top quality, and I’ve tried many an Indian food establishment. The staff was cool and friendly. The place was clean and fancy. And again, the food was awesome. An easy repeat. I thought it just had to be a chain, but nope, not a franchise. Just a cool place to recommend to the world.

    Returning back, it was getting late, so I watched “Gravity.” In time, the girls returned home and told of a very exciting concert and turned in. I finished the movie after that and went to bed.

    On Sunday, we all packed in the van and headed south. Our destination was Portland, Oregon. I’d never been, so it was exciting to anticipate seeing the city for the first time. It’s always fun to visit the “big city” in a state, sort of like visiting London, England.

    And Portland is NOTHING like London.

    But it is nice. It’s like many large cities, although they do have a great deal more homeless and wanderers. The people do seem to take care of them, which is great, with the unfortunate side effect that it also enables people to remain in that situation--without a strong impetus to get out. It’s a tricky issue. Someone said, “Portland is where 20’somethings go to retire.” Something to ponder.

    But that ends the political perspective. The street shops were interesting and colorful. I didn’t buy anything, yet it was fun to watch the paintings, the wood carvings, the candles. Lots of trinkets to choose from. My only purchase to temporal: beer.

    We then made a reservation at one of the “best” pizza places (once again, the theme would be “best”) and went to the hotel to check in. It was a Comfort Inn. My room was cozy, though quaint. It was suitable for allowing me to rest. Nothing major. Didn’t even turn on the TV the whole time.

    Then it was back to the Pizza place. We made our reservation appointment and sat down. The pizza pies were very good and I allowed for it to be called one of the best. There was also a beer called “Nostradamus,” which was insanely powerful. I nearly stumbled out of there.

    After dinner, we traveled out to some outskirts part of town to “McMenamins Edgefield.” It’s a place where they have a small town of a sort. There are places to eat, to drink, to have a massage, and even to watch a movie. The featured event was a concert, but we had no tickets. Walking around was fun though. We didn’t do a whole lot there, but yet, I still enjoyed the odd atmosphere. It just seemed like a small utopia in a way. I may even return.

    After that, we headed back to town for ice cream. Yup, another long line for highly recommended ice cream. They had a lot of unique flavors and most were a little eccentric for my taste, but I did enjoy my cinnamon and snickerdoodle cone. I got the smallest one. I like great taste; I don’t like great calories.

    We returned to the hotel after that. I crashed pretty fast. It had been a long day. And I had been drinking some. No trouble sleeping until 6:30am.

    On Monday, we woke up early and headed to the free breakfast. It was nearly identical to the Quality Inn breakfasts that I used to enjoy when commuting to Vacaville. I even made my time-tested Belgian waffle. Ah, memories. I even forgot to use the no-stick stray before adding the batter. It will just never change.

    Then we drove east for a while. The view was outstanding and the weather was even better than that with no overcast skies, but rather spotted clouds and a bright eager sun. After about 20 miles, we reached the falls parking lot, which was closed.

    Come again?!?

    All that journeying and to arrive during perfect weather and the lot was closed?!?

    Well, that didn’t seem logical. We drove farther and then took the parallel back road, which led to a lot which was fully open. Ah, I was quite pleased then. Plenty of parking too. Again, this was around 8am.  The falls were not far. In fact, they were about a 1-minute walk from the lot. I didn’t expect that. I guess when you see things in photos, it’s impossible to gauge the distance. Well, I did have an idea after checking the Google satellite views. Yeah, it’s close to the highway. I could probably have walked on my hands and reached the vantage point.

    I nearly raced up to the falls (on my feet). There were some people but not too many. I started shooting. Luckily, the people there didn’t linger long. If you want great shots, you have to go early or late. Otherwise, either people or dull lighting will ruin your photos.  But I managed to get a few great shots. A couple of us hiked up to the main bridge and I got a few more shots, looking up and down. I even lingered there a bit until I realized I was one of those people ruining other people’s shots. I’d become my own worst enemy.

    Soon we went back down and drove onward. More and more people were arriving at that point. There was another cool waterfall just a few miles down the road, so we stopped to visit that one. More great photos. And one could practically touch these falls, which meant for a wet camera if one wasn’t careful. I couldn’t allow that.

    We then returned to Portland and parked near Voodoo Doughnuts. The line was long, but hey, these were great donuts. Totally worth the wait.

    But it was indeed a long wait. In time, we got to order from a whole arrangement of wild donuts--many with candy on top! And they did taste pretty darn good. It was worth the wait for the fun experience.

    After the sugar treat, it was time to return to Seattle. Another few hours on the road, and we were soon in Bellevue again. Since there was some free time, Terry, Lesly and I went on a jog around the neighborhood. I was worried about being out of shade in terms of jogging, but managed to do pretty well--and this was after some vodka drinking even. Maybe that’s the secret.

    For dinner, we returned to what we knew was insanely good: Clay Pit Indian Food!

    Dinner was great. Soon, the clock on the wall (phone) indicated that it was time to return home. I got driven to the airport and said farewell. Again, TSA check made it fast, and I was soon boarding the plane.

    And soon waiting.

    Our plane had some issues. Apparently too much fuel. They had to take some out. I almost pictured someone with a hose and sucking out the gas with a garden hose siphon.

    We waited a long time in the hot airplane. It was miserable. I was also no longer in first class, so I was hot AND cramped, and in my new tighter jeans (ah, forethought, or lack of it). In time, they handed out cups of water--yeah, it was that bad. Finally, they had us get off the plane. We weren’t even sure we could fly out that night.

    After another hour at the gate, we did get to re-board. And 1.5 hours after the original time, we left Seattle.

    The flight was uneventful. I watched “Divergent,” which I had rented days before. It ended just in time. At Oakland airport, I was dead tired, but drove home successfully.

    Another great trip completed!