We can cross another thing off our our Pacific Northwest bucket list…we went to Seattle! After weeks of endless rain, Mother Nature finally bestowed some sun and warmth on us and we took advantage with a road trip. Snickers and I took off after work on Thursday armed with snacks and podcasts for the three hour drive to meet Matt in the Emerald City. The sky was clear, which made for some magnificent views of all the big mountains: Mt. Hood, Mt. Saint Helen’s, and Mt. Rainier. Those views made sitting in Portland traffic a little more bearable.
We made it to Bellevue just outside of Seattle before dark and met Matt at the hotel. We chose to stay in Bellevue Thursday night to save a couple buck on hotel and parking since we both had to work on Friday. We wandered around downtown Bellevue Thursday night and Friday afternoon in search of food and parks and found some surprisingly good options – Mediterranean and smoothie/sandwich shop. Matt and Snickers even ran around under the cherry blossoms at a local park at lunch.
Finally work ended and we could head into the city. Since the weather was so nice – 65 and sunny…hallelujah! – our first stop was at gas works park. The park was the former site of Seattle Gas Light Company’s gasification plant and contains remnants of the only remaining coal gasification plant in the US! Cool! Here is Matt moodily displaying some of the equipment. [Matt- this was the Gas Works Park just north of the city, and an awesome place to explore on a sunny day!]
They had lots of equipment around that you could touch, which they’ve since painted and turned into a children’s play area. We didn’t really see any children playing, but it’s apparently also a good spot for teenagers to take very suggestive photos. [Matt here- yeah, that was weird, but we don’t want to judge in a new city! And I had fun playing Acrobat on whatever that yellow thing was- I found out I am really good at climbing!] We mostly enjoyed walking around until we wore ourselves out and needed some sustenance. We went to Din Tai Fung for some dumplings and stuffed ourselves silly. This place was good! If you’re in the mood for potstickers, dumplings, and wontons I’d highly recommend a stop here. [Matt here- it’s the only location in the US and it’s easily worth a stop, it’s fast and hearty.]
Most of our time in Seattle involved walking aimlessly around the city. We were able to walk all along the waterfront – though they were doing a lot of construction so we weren’t able to walk along the actual water – and caught the sunset over Olympic National Park across the Puget Sound.
We strolled through Pike Place market Saturday morning and witnessed some fish throwing and rows upon rows of fresh tulips. Nothing screams springtime quite like tulips. We stopped at a couple of places in the market to grab some breakfast; Russian piroshky’s at Piroshky Piroshky and coffee at Seattle Coffee Works.
The weather was still cooperating on Saturday so we took advantage and put some miles on our sneakers. First stop was Volunteer park, an Olmsted park right in the middle of the city. It was reminiscent of Cherokee Park in Louisville, and we loved it. There was an old water tower that you could walk up and had amazing 360 degree views of the city as well as a conservatory which was filled with plants galore. They even had an original wading pool that’s like the 1900s equivalent of the modern splash pad. We loved it; it was probably our favorite stop of the trip.
We continued our adventure down to the water after stopping at Portage Bay for brunch and a beer. It wouldn’t be a trip to Seattle without a stop at the Space Needle. We took our obligatory photo, but skipped going up because of the long line and also…we just didn’t feel like it. It was right next to the sculpture garden so we checked that out on the way back to the hotel.
Our dogs were barking (figuratively, not literally. Snickers doesn’t bark 🙂 ) so a nap was in order. [Matt- that was about 12 miles of urban hiking by my FitBit estimates!] We were able to drag ourselves out of the hotel once more for pizza and beer. Everyone has time for pizza and beer. Our brewery of choice was Rooftop Brewing, which had a nice outdoor area that was covered and heated for the cool night. The beer was great and we had a couple of pints while waiting for our pizza to be delivered from the local chain Pagliacci. [Matt- the beer really hit the spot and Rooftop is in a quiet area near the river, just outside the main hipster part of town, and the pizza had some fresh, local ingredients that really nourished.]
Sunday we planned to hike around Mt. Rainier since the weather had be so great all weekend. [Matt here- we started Sunday with a quick trip to the ultra-premium (expensive, hipster) donut shop, General Porpoise (awesome name!). Only 4 kinds of donuts, all filled with some delicious goos, but at $4 a donut, you’ll want to choose carefully and avoid the marmalade!]
Unfortunately, this is the PNW so good weather doesn’t last forever. It was so overcast and rainy that we couldn’t even see the mountain. Whomp whomp. We didn’t let that stop us from hiking, though. The original plan was to hit up a 6-ish mile trail on the north side of the mountain then circumnavigate around the eastern side on the way home. What we failed to research was that they close the mountain passes in the winter and don’t open until they feel like it, which is maybe sometime in May. Luckily the trail we planned to hike was before the closer to at least we got to hike. It was right near Crystal Mountain Ski Resort so we even got to see some snow! The hike was moderate and climbed up to waterfall before looping back to the parking lot.
[Matt here- We tried to take the 410 and 123 to circumnavigate Mount Rainier on our way back to Portland; however, we made it as far as Crystal Mountain Ski Resort before we ran into road closed barriers. Apparently the pass closes between Nov and April-May or, as the local shop keeper we asked said “whenever they get around to opening it.” — Thanks, shop keep. We were so close to Mount Rainier, but the clouds that day made it impossible to see! We’ll have to try to get some shots of that 14k ft splendor some other time.]
We had a long drive back to Portland since Matt decided to take the scenic route. This also led to a bout of carsickness on my part, but we made it back in one piece.