one of the best trips Terry and I have taken. We saw whales… visited
multiple national parks… and truly got all around Seattle and
portions of the northwest. Plus, we got to spend some time with
my sister, Kris.
remember years ago… perhaps twenty-four or twenty-five… a friend
of mine and I were discussing something and the state of Washington
came up. He told me at the time that if I moved there for any
length of time I’d likely never come back. Having now been to
the great northwest, I fully understand what he meant.
something indescribably fantastic about it. Something that just
immediately feels comfortable and reassuring and right.
not saying it’s the greatest place on the planet. I’m not saying
it’s the most exciting. However, if you were looking for a place
where you could just kick back, disconnect from your worries and
stresses, and fill your lungs with a great big relaxing breath
of fresh air, this should be the place you look at.
and I were joined throughout our journey by my sister, Kris. She
was a terrific hostess, and a fantastic guide.
get to it… The Best of Seattle…
were your favorite things from the trip?
A lot. In fact, virtually every event from every day could be
parks we visited were amazing. The incredibly diverse Olympic
National Park is brilliant and stunning and
a whole bunch of positive adjectives that haven’t been created
yet. But you can’t just go with that…
first trip out to Mount Rainier (which also included Mount St.
Helens) introduced us to the GREATEST
PIE IN THE WORLD! (That would be the blackberry pie at the Copper
Creek Inn Restaurant.)
drove along the coast one day, which pretty much meant having
the Strait of Juan de Fuca immediately next to the road (and us).
That same trip included staying in the area of the Makah Tribe
and Cape Flattery.
Juan Island and Friday Harbor… awesome!
was just a fantastic experience. There is a feeling… an atmosphere…
that surrounds Seattle, and it is something I haven’t experienced
or felt in many other places. (Perhaps only Australia in 2003.)
Even the things that were so obviously tourist driven had an authenticity
and genuine appeal. There are shops in Key West that sell the
same Christmas ornaments you’ll find in Savanah or in San Diego.
The only thing that changes between Florida and Georgia and California
is the spelling of the city’s name on a surfboard being held by
Santa. The same theory can be applied to most places. But not
Seattle. It felt amazingly familiar, even though it was so obviously
unique and new.
whole trip was just great. And I’m not sure if any one thing wasn’t
Place Market is a definite for me.
also loved the mountains. Started early in our trip with Mount
St. Helens and Mount Rainier. The National Parks we visited were
were your favorite things in Seattle?
got to give it to Pike Place Market for the overall experience.
It was everything I hoped it might be and so much more. Just a
terrific afternoon for our time there, and I could easily envision
spending several days exploring it and still not seeing everything.
There was something new and different and exciting in every direction.
It was food… it was local vendors… it was street performers… it
was… the list just keeps going.
5 Spot. Loved, loved, loved it. Great
food. Friendly staff. And phenomenal gingerbread waffles during
the time we were there.
Wow. Craving one of their sandwiches just typing their name. (Bob’s
note: The Paseo’s we visited… the legendary Paseo’s… is no more.)
a tip of the cap goes to The
Pink Door. Great restaurant.
Pike Place Market.
were your favorite things in the San Juan Islands?
I’m tempted to just say “San Juan Island” and leave it as a single,
overall, beginning-to-end experience. From the moment we boarded
the ferry on the way out to the time we got off after returning,
the entire trip was really great.
think the afternoon boat trip… where we saw Minke whales and Steller
sea lions, and had a wonderful time… is part of the confusion
in answering, because we didn’t see any orcas. And what I mean
by that is simply that seeing killer whales likely would have
been the highlight of this part of our west coast journey. As
such… not encountering them means you can bring the level of excitement
down a notch or three for the boat ride (from tremendous down
to really, really good)… everything we did was a lot of fun.
Harbor was great. Enjoyed several shops, a few restaurants, and
even took in a movie at the neighborhood theater.
around the island was easy and wonderful. It featured sites like
Point and Lime
Kiln lighthouses. And then there’s Pelindaba
Lavender Farm… Krystal
Acres Alpaca Farm… and so many other small
and intriguing places to check out.
The whale watch. Even though we didn’t see any orcas, it was still
a great day.
were your favorite things from the National Parks?
Another tough one. Very tough.
going to go with the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park.
The beauty and, simply put, stunning sights found there are breathtaking.
I was amazed and impressed by the convenience of everything at
the parks. All of them. The views were spectacular. And any time
we had questions or needed help, it was right there.
also want to mention two things. First up… REI. Kris brought us
there. I had heard of the company before and had visited the stores,
but Kris had a membership. And the information they provided was
The Makah Tribe and Cape Flattery. We stopped for pizza at a place
on the Makah Indian Reservation. During our meal, we were talking
to a few people and they couldn’t have been friendlier or more
accommodating. We were there around the time they hold their annual
celebrations for Makah Days, and everyone was inviting us to be
there and enjoy it. If we didn’t have plans for the Hoh Rainforest,
they would have talked us into it.
dinner that night, we went out the walking trail on Cape Flattery,
which leads to the end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca and the start
of the Pacific Ocean. Beautiful walk. I would return to the Makah
Reservation and Cape Flattery in a heartbeat. Nice thought from
Krissie on this one.
were you most impressed by on the trip?
The list of what I wasn’t impressed by would be shorter.
National Parks continue to impress. This time though… it was more
than the parks… every place we went was staggeringly beautiful
and vastly different. Sometimes you see things on television,
like a killer whale swimming near a tree-lined coast, and if you
aren’t familiar with the setting it can almost seem unreal. Well…
everything is like that in the Great Northwest. Friday Harbor…
the Strait of Juan de Fuca… Hoh Rainforest… and the list is seemingly
was impressive. Immediately and incredibly wonderful. It was an
experience I have seldom had while travelling, where things just
seem perfectly fine, all the time.
Fenway! What a great dog.
place to eat (overall)?
Three places… The Pink Door, 5 Spot, and Paseo.
can’t pick between them. Don’t ask me to try. Each one was brilliant.
The Pink Door.
place to eat (inexpensive)?
I’m going to go with Paseo as the overall answer here, because
those sandwiches were just so awesome.
said… 5 Spot was a great place too. And, I could easily see myself
wandering into 5 Spot several times each week and never getting
tired of it.
This is a tough one because every time I try to think of a way
to describe it, I think of an example that doesn’t work. For instance,
I was thinking that the place seemed franchise-free. Kind of an
“All Washington State” application of calling something all natural.
Everything you encountered was uniquely a part of the northwest.
then I would read a note about stopping at a Starbucks.
that concept works, especially in the old thought of the exception
proving the rule.
many times when you travel, you end up seeing the same stuff over
and over and over again. I mentioned one item a moment ago… Santa
as a Christmas ornament, holding a surfboard, with the name of
the city in script along the board… what a great souvenir. That
is, until you see the same darn ornament in Tampa, Cocoa Beach,
Fort Lauderdale, Key West, San Diego… and on it goes.
this doesn’t happen all the time. There are astoundingly unique
shops and restaurants everywhere you travel. And, there are also
times when the familiar sign of a national chain can be exactly
what you need at some moment during a trip.
me, the biggest surprise was how fantastic and free of the mass
produced the region was. From what I saw, Pike Place has nothing
but Washington State vendors, artisans, and crafters.
Out near Mount St. Helens they have different areas of forest
marked off. Basically it involves the volcanic eruption and new
growth. Well… the way these trees grew was unbelievable. It almost
looked out of focus, as if you needed a special pair of 3D glasses
or something to see it properly.
sticking with that idea… the huge trees as we were approaching
Mount Rainier… the moss in the Hoh River… the natural beauty was
know, I never thought of this before, so I found it interesting
This is kind of a funny question, because the things that stand
out to me as unique and interesting weren’t really surprising
at all. Example? Coffee.
and around Seattle they don’t just love their coffee. They don’t
just treasure their coffee. To paraphrase Sheldon – People in
Seattle love their mothers… their feelings for their coffee are
their feelings about coffee are roughly fifteen stages and seven-five
billion light years beyond what would reportedly set off a swarm
of locusts and thunderstorm of frogs.
knew this long before we left for Seattle.
yet I still found it interesting that every parking lot… every
corner… every space between two trees… had a four-foot by six-foot
shack with a drive-thru window. Most had about a dozen coffee
pots running. Many had girls in bikinis (or some other form of
dress that had less material than a bikini).
I got nothin’ for this. Kris did a great job planning things for
us and showing us around. Every day and every place seemed to
hold new treasures. I can’t just list the entire trip.
I had to recommend something that a person had to do, regardless
of expense, I would say…
San Juan Island. Stay in Friday Harbor or Snug Harbor… do a whale
watch… spend a few days.
I’ll go with San Juan Island and a whale watch. Even though they
warn you it can be hit or miss, the entire day was terrific.
remember in one of these columns… maybe it was in Las Vegas… Bob
was talking about our trip to a restaurant, and he noted that
when things don’t go perfectly and yet you are already anticipating
a return the moment you leave the table, you know you had a fabulous
meal. Same idea here.
went out on Legacy Charters out of Snug Harbor. While waiting
for the boat, we were checking out the resort and thinking about
how great it would be to stay there on a future trip. And after
we got off the boat, we were ready to get back on and set off
I had to recommend something but expense did matter (so go cheaper),
I would say…
Pike Place Market.
head in and you’ll find the people-watching alone is phenomenal.
Beyond that though… a wide range of things to look at, and most
of the items are not at all expensive.
Check out most of the daily tour entries for this trip and other
answers. Most of the things we did were either free or really
inexpensive for admission costs.
of the national parks were worth the drive. The entire trip was
just phenomenal natural beauty. I also enjoyed driving around
San Juan Island.
that impressed me the most in Seattle…
There’s a part of me that wants to say Mount Rainier. Just so
visible. It was there in just about every scenic view.
than that though… the trip itself was brilliant. Pick a day and
the things we did were wonderful. So, everything was impressive.
The people… the food… the shops… the sights. Everything.
I had to pick just one thing though… I’d go with Pike Place. That
is the one thing that I thoroughly enjoyed, crave visiting again,
and know I didn’t fully experience.
Just everything. It was so laid back and casual.
that impressed me the most outside of Seattle…
Well… how do you say everything? And I mean that because I simply
cannot figure out how to separate the islands, parks, mountains,
rainforest, walking trails, and on and on and on. The state of
Washington is a real treasure, and we loved every corner.
pressed… I’ll say the Makah Tribe. Out of nowhere they made a
lasting impression on us. The people we met were personable and
friendly. There really isn’t anything I could pinpoint that Yelp
or TripAdvisor might offer about the Makah that you would find
particularly useful. Oh, they likely would tell you marvelous
things about the natural beauty that surrounds the tribal land.
Just not sure they would cover the tribe in depth. The people
we met and spoke with were simply world class.
The National Parks.
that impressed me the most…
I need to mention Kris, because we more or less just faced in
a direction, set off, and found what we were looking for day after
day. From visual sites to delicious food, expected landmarks to
hidden treasures, she led us to anything and everything we could
have hoped to find.
that, I’ll just say people in general. Everyone was friendly and
Krissie wins here! What a fabulous tour guide for us. Everything
was simply perfect.
that impressed me the most…
Not sure what to say here. From the parks to the sightseeing,
it was all pretty spectacular.
going to go with Pike Place though. I find myself time and again
thinking about the musicians performing there, wishing we had
more time to just wander around, and truly believing that I missed
a funny way of thinking about it… the whale watch. I know what
we missed there… killer whales. I know why I want to go back…
to see killer whales. I would easily and happily do plenty of
things on San Juan Island again (and again). But I can identify
specifically and without doubt in one word… orcas… what I missed.
about Pike Place was enjoyable, and what we missed is a mind-boggling
mystery worthy of a treasure hunt.
The whale watch.
I’m really glad we included…
Well… geez… all of it.
said… I present to you… the blackberry pie at the Copper Creek
Again… the whale watch. I want to go back to Seattle, and especially
include some time on San Juan Island.
I wish we had done…
Seen orcas. To this day, any time I see something… say from Legacy
Charters on Facebook… I remember our trip and wanting to experience
I’m blank on this one. We got to everything I wanted to do.
from this experience…
There is pretty much… quite literally… no bad way to design a
trip to the Pacific Northwest. And, equally, no perfect way to
see everything. Leave time for wandering around aimlessly… go
with a list of specifics to build on.
Seattle was impressive and I loved it. I’m going to go with San
Juan Island here, and recommend that you explore the whole island.
Get on a boat and go out for a whale watch… even if you don’t
see orcas, the natural surroundings are incredible. We saw a bald
eagle perched at the top of a tree. Drive around the island… to
the alpacas and the lavender farm. Grab a takeout lunch someplace
and head to one of the lighthouses for a picnic.
this will be set up as a best of column, but you should always
warn people about the bad, so here is something I think we need
I got nothing.
was a brilliant trip… end to end… thanks to the wonderful people
of Seattle and all the places we went, the incredible beauty of
the region, and the efforts of Krissie.
You may not see whales.