So, on to the stuff tourists come to see ...
With restored spirits and energy level we wandered over to Waterfall Garden Park, then explored Pioneer Square, where we admired the bust of Chief Seattle and the totem poles, before continuing along busy 3rd Street lined by retail stores and restaurants.
Lunch at a deli across the street from the market was tomato soup and a roasted vegetable sandwich. A view of the waterfront and the local Pike's IPA added to the feeling of indulgence.
So we hopped back to Pike's market for the enticing chanterelles we'd seen earlier. A few more purchases, including fresh pasta, and we were all set for our evening of relaxation. The trudge back (a mistake – we should've taken the bus, but wanted to work off the food we'd eaten!) was long, sweaty, and for the first half of the way we were pretty much dodging homeless bums and offers of marijuana. We resolved to stick with public transportation in the next days.
The evening didn't turn out as expected. Even though the apartment had a proper kitchen, there was NO STOVE! We couldn't believe it. After all, wasn't the point of a proper kitchen the ability to cook meals? The wine was excellent, compounding our disappointment of not being able to enjoy it with our chanterelles and pasta.
Dined at a nearby Vietnamese restaurant called Moonlight Café. A modest place with a full vegetarian menu. The vegetable pho and orange veggie chicken turned out to be exceptional, with lots of flavor and a decent selection of fresh, crunchy vegetables.
This was a prelude to Seattle's sophisticated food scene.
Day 2 – Birthday: Took in Seattle's main tourist attractions; and ended the day with an extravagant, indulgent meal at a top restaurant.
Wish I didn't have to acknowledge birthdays anymore, as they come quicker and quicker, and I lose track of how old I really am!! Started the day with strong Seattle coffee and pastry across the street from the Space Needle, then joined the crowds on the vertical jolt to the top. Spent a good hour taking in the views from all angles from the top of the Space Needle. Another gray day meant blurry mountain views. Where the heck is this Mount Rainier everyone talks about? We weren't disappointed though. All those curvy inlets and sounds and lakes and of course, the skyscrapers gave us plenty photo opportunities.
At ground level we headed next door to the Chihuly Glass and Garden museum. What an astounding display of blown glass sculpture! In dreamlike awe we floated through the museum, the stunning glasshouse, and into the garden where the marriage of brightly colored glass shapes and graceful plants seemed unexpectedly compatible in a wild, nontraditional way. Dale Chihuly sure is a genius with glass.
Crossed over to the outdoor sculpture park along the waterfront where quirky works of art made for an entertaining stroll toward the city center. At Pike's Place had a light lunch of cheese and tomato on a crumpet half at The Crumpet Shop. Necessary to prepare ourselves for the day's big event – a multi course dinner at the famous and very posh Canlis Restaurant.
Definitely a memorable birthday.
Day 3 A drive to Snoqualmie Falls and the Cascades
Delicious pie; mediocre coffee.
From I-90 we took the scenic 202 past Redmond, where Microsoft is based, and stopped at The Commons in Woodinville for dinner. This little town, just minutes out of Seattle, is famous for its concentration of wineries and farm to table gourmet restaurants. Our meal of roasted tomato soup, fresh baked pretzel, fries, and a veggie dish consisting of lentils, grains, and an assortment of vegetables was divine. Couldn't imagine a better way to end a most enjoyable day.
Day 4 Further afield - a drive out to Mount Rainer
... to sustain us through a 3 mile stretch of the Pacific Crest Trail in the Mount Rainier National Park. Immersed in sublime scenery the whole time – glimmering lakes, subalpine meadows, forests, and of course, Mount Rainier, at 14, 410 feet, the attention hogger. At one point we were able to see Mount Adams in the distance. Two exhilarating hours of pure mountain air, under a clear blue sky, the air temperature blissful in that late summer way. The hike itself was easy - a lot of the trail shaded by lanky pines, and only a 1,000 feet elevation gain.
On the drive back we yielded to a bakery's tempting selection of fruit pies which had a "homemade" look about them. We were on a mission to find huckleberry pie, but we had to settle for a "jumble berry" pie. Quite decent it was too.
As we headed back to the car for the drive to the airport I reflected on what a segregated city this is. Seattle is really a city of neighborhoods, each with its distinct character.
From the airplane back home we had incredible views of Mount Rainier, Mount St. Helens, Mt. Hood, and the Columbia River Gorge.