are about to depart on one of our greatest trips ever.
been giving it a lot of thought as I approach this diary. (Yeah…
yeah… years’ worth of thought. Go ahead. Make jokes. It’s funny.)
When we left, Terry and I were near the beginning of one of the
most unreal stretches of time we ever experienced… a stretch of
hurdles, obstacles, challenges and headaches that continued into
(and beyond) 2015. (That means for well over two years for anyone
scoring at home that doesn’t want to do the math.) And while the
scenarios and situations involved behind the scenes and within
our daily lives aren’t that important as contributors to these
travel stories, it is important to know that as we began moving
toward the airport we were in need of some great experiences.
northwest region created feelings that are difficult to describe.
There was an atmosphere of comfort from the moment we got off
the plane. It continued throughout the visit. The environment
and surroundings were stunning, brilliant and breathtakingly beautiful…
and the entire trip was filled with a sense of peace and simplicity.
It was about as perfect as one could ever hope.
One -- Saturday, August 17, 2013
thinking about some of the things I miss or don’t get to experience
or offer myself up for as we set out this morning.
no… not a bad thing. A general thing.
example? I don’t believe Terry should have to carry her own luggage
when we’re on vacation. I take my job as pack mule quite seriously.
It is a small thing. In return for my efforts, she lets me step
aside when she wants to unpack and pack. We each do our part.
Just a small thing here or there to make the other comfortable.
None of it takes away from our own enjoyment of things. (Even
though she can pack one hundred pounds of souvenirs into a bag
that only weighs fifty when being checked.)
the wandering mind is watching Terry settle in next to the window.
I absolutely love sitting next to the window on a plane. Love
it. Levels of cannot explain it love it.
don’t believe I have ever sat next to a window on any plane since
the first time she and I traveled together way back in 1997, when
she and I took Jay and Justin to Disney World.
time we’re headed off to Seattle. We’ll be staying with my sister,
Kris, for most of our trip.
flight itself is pretty routine as flying goes. In fact, considering
it’s 2013 and I’m carrying an iPod for music and my first iPhone
for entertainment, one could argue its almost old school compared
to how many others fly these days.
connection is in Denver. For some reason I notice a ton of musical
instruments in hard cases around the waiting area as we prepare
to board. Also a couple of dogs.
need to nod in the direction of some special ladies. Jackie, Natalie
and Tracy are working as the attendants on our flight, and they
are awesome. We have a few eye-roll moments with some passengers…
nothing significant enough to document here… but the three of
them handle things wonderfully and professionally, while passing
along to us that we are not mistaken for rolling our eyes.
of the funny parts about flying east to west is the time difference.
Not jet lag difference. Just plain old clock difference…
you head to an airport in Warwick with plans to head to Seattle—It’s
NOT Providence, the airport is in Warwick!—you are likely going
to be on at least two planes with a layover involved. Let’s just
say it takes six hours from the time your first plane takes off
until the final flight lands. So…
departure means a 4pm landing. But… with the time difference…
clock says a 1pm landing. Neat!
funny? Reverse it… Seattle to Providence… six hours. Check the
clock to find your 10am departure means a 7pm landing.
a six-hour experience. But in many ways it’s either a three-hour
or nine-hour flight.
has a nice, though small, apartment in the Queen Anne area of
Seattle. As we’re going to learn, it is merely blocks from some
great places. It’s also a really wonderful collection of twists
and turns to navigate judging by the way Kris is maneuvering us
from the airport to her home.
shares the place with Missoula and Fenway… a cat and a dog, both
awesome. Fenway is smothering us with hello when we arrive, but
Missoula is hiding for now.
we settle in and relax a bit, Kris is asking questions and outlining
a few things for our stay. Nothing serious or major, but a bit
on the weather… a bit on her work demands… a bit on meals… a bit
on places to see… a bit of this and a bit of that. And for tonight,
she’s got us heading out to a fabulous place, with a breathtaking
view from the outside deck.
Boathouse is amazing. (I have notes saying
we ate at the Boathouse. Checking the facts out seems to indicate
we may have eaten in the Café section of the property.)
Food was delicious, and we enjoyed our meals. But it is the views
that create the biggest impression, and they are fantastic. Puget
Sound. The Olympic Mountains. Honestly… there are simply not a
lot of places where seaplanes are landing while you enjoy your
started out with calamari and chowder. (Both were really good.)
Kris went with shrimp for dinner, Terry had a crab and shrimp
cake, and I played the odd choice by selecting a burger.
the drive home, Kris decides to bring us around to some local
curiosities. (Mainly around the Fremont community.) We head over
to see the Troll Under the Bridge, out near the Aurora Bridge.
We stop at the Lenin statue. And we check out the bus stop display
(officially called the “Waiting for the Interurban” group). Give
a moment to look into these points of interest, because the stories
are almost as cool as the statues.
plays drop-off and pickup when she needs to so that we can step
out and get some pictures at our stops. The reality is that there
is art of some type in virtually every direction, in every sightline.
little item noted… bike lanes. Lots and lot of bike lanes.
home. Busy day coming up tomorrow, with one of the greatest items
ever found at any restaurant waiting to be served.
Two -- Sunday, August 18, 2013
always amazed when I have a chance to write these journals.
of it is when I get to go back, read them, and stir up wonderful
moments. Yes, I enjoy sharing them. I hope readers smile and have
some fun as well. But if you told me when I began the first one
that there would be absolutely nothing else to them except that
five years… ten years… more years down the road I’d be able to
look things over and relive some fantastic days, I could never
have imagined at that time how terrific that would be.
part is the strange details I pick up and have in my notes. Terry
and I singing a theme song for a reality TV show we created featuring
Ellen and Richard. A game of shuffleboard with Jay and Justin
in San Clemente, California. Generations of family visiting Disney
World in matching t-shirts. Details that might otherwise be lost
to time (and diminished memory).
brings pondering shower heads… forgotten jokes that remain forgotten…
and the most brilliantly beautiful pie ever made. We start in
have never been able to figure out low shower heads. Why were
they installed so low? Why? Was it something designed on purpose?
Is this shower the moment where a few projects reached their end,
and the length of pipe remaining was about six-inches shorter
than expected so the plumber just made do with it? Was it done
to save money? Were the blueprints drawn by someone that stood
don’t know. But Kris has a really low shower head, and it’s in
a fixed position, and it’s annoying.
decided today will basically be a national park day, but we’re
not sure which direction to drive. We go over to a local REI store
to stop by the ranger station and get some information. (Yes…
the flagship store.) The plans are arranged for Mount Rainier
and Mount St. Helens.
the margin of my notes, it says “Aurora joke”. I wish I knew why.
The joke isn’t included. Doesn’t matter right now… we need to
pick up Fenway and get on the road.
stop at Smarty Pants to eat. I have the Ms. Piggy. Terry orders
a turkey club with avocado. Kris gets eggs benedict. According
to what I have written down, the chili was spicy and the hash
browns were fabulous.
get caught up talking and playing on the drive. This is the west
coast, which brings on a completely different version of the license
plate game. (Mainly caused by what constitutes the majority of
local plates when you are just about always playing in the northeast
and now find yourself in Washington.) And we haven’t seen Kris
in person for quite some time until we arrived yesterday. And…
we miss our exit.
not bad though. We’re only off by one exit.
destination right now is the Johnston Ridge Observatory. We plan
on taking in the view of Mount St. Helens from there… but right
now a different view is catching our eyes.
don’t look right.
kind of hard to explain… they’re basically so perfect, they’re
come across some signs that seem to explain the phenomenon. It
would appear that the trees in question are noble fir that were
planted in 1983. I could be wrong about the specifics there, but
the signs are all over. Noble fir… Douglas fir… planted and harvested…
planted and fertilized… 1982 and 1986… even a blast zone sign.
what I have been able to learn since our trip, the trees appear
to be part of the revival and recovery of the wilderness since
the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens. And that eruption is the
blast zone reference in the sign. According to some reports, the
region continues to stun and amaze scientist in many ways, such
as the trees growing at a rate far more rapid than other area
forests (which includes local commercial-based tree farms).
eruption took approximately 1,400-feet off of the top of Mount
St. Helens. It roared across the land, toppling just about anything
and everything in its path. If you want an estimate of that path,
just consider these numbers… evidently some winds were measured
at more than 300 miles per hour, and some temperatures soared
about 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
the area, there are evidently three forests that are utilized
for structure and measurements. One is effectively run by Mother
Nature. A second was set up by the federal government. And the
third was established by a logging company. So you have the results
provided by the natural environment, some with federal protection,
and some from commercialized efforts.
idea I have come across is that the stunning visuals we are being
treated to are a result of the cultivation of the trees, and that
this is the area run by the logging company. The trimming, pruning,
growth and such being used to prep these trees for the future
also produces a steady growth pattern resulting in what can best
be described as blurred vision. It is quite an optical illusion.
some quality time looking around, we get back in the car and head
toward Paradise… or more accurately, the Paradise area at Mount
Rainier. And what a drive.
you want to see some of the most intimidating, awesome, fascinating,
beautiful trees in the world, here they are. It is a gorgeously
mysterious road, with some twists and some straightaways, and
these trees simply stretch out along the edges. They block out
the sky and wrap you in their quirky magnificence. Some quick
looking about revealed they may be old-growth Douglas fir trees
that thrive around Mount Rainier.
the fog building up has different ideas about our visit than we
do… it’s getting thicker and seems to be spreading along our path.
Eventually we have little choice but to turn back.
the drive away, we have the chance to look at Christine Falls.
And this amazing viewpoint is basically presented as just a roadside
attraction. No question… jokes aside… this is Paradise Road in
more than just name.
getting a bit hungry now, and pull over at the Copper Creek Inn.
It is one of the greatest happy accidents Terry or I have ever
experienced on any trip.
did no set out for the Copper
Creek Inn. We just happened to see it.
meals? Pretty basic. Terry enjoyed a beef stew. Kris chose trout.
I had a delicious chicken sandwich served on focaccia bread. Good
stuff. Sandy took care of us during our visit, and she was really
nice and attentive.
the moment we stepped inside the door though, there was this pie
on display. Slices of pie. Whole pies. Waitresses carrying trays
of pie… plates on the counter… pie a la mode. You couldn’t escape
the fact that this pie was just all over.
the Copper Creek Inn is famous… and I do mean very well known,
famous… for its blackberry pie. To say it can be enjoyed hot from
the oven is an insult to the phrasing “hot from the oven”, since
it is brought out tauntingly, blisteringly, gorgeously hot and
fresh from the oven. I am certain it quite literally could not
arrive at your table any faster or more directly out of the oven
than it already does.
a lovely scoop of ice cream on the side.
going to share something. It’s not something I am particularly
proud of. It’s not a perfect something to explain how incredible
this pie is. But it’s our something. And it’s true.
ordered slices of pie after finishing our dinners. Terry excused
herself to head off to the ladies’ room, with the pie being placed
on our table before she could have even entered the restroom.
I was so literally floored by this marvel of perfection that I
finished mine and pulled Terry’s plate over to me. It was irresistible.
I waved to Sandy, ordered another fresh piece for Terry, and dove
Terry returned to the table, Sandy was arriving with another blackberry
pie a la mode for her. I tried to explain that I had to eat her
original slice, as it was so hot the ice cream was melting. I
didn’t want her to have pie a la soup. And she almost bought it…
until she took her first taste and realized why I could not turn
away from temptation.
have lots of dining establishments that I would recommend to people.
I have literally eaten in places around the world. There are only
two absolute musts. Yes… yes… I have several I would highly recommend
and tell you not to miss. I may have even labeled a few as must-do
locations. But only two would I feel badly for you if you decided
not to enjoy them during your visit nearby.
Wilkes’ Dining Room in Savannah, Georgia,
is the only restaurant that I would place in this rarified air.
blackberry pie at the restaurant of the Copper Creek Inn might
just be the only specific food.