So Far

So far, we’ve

  • Flown from Chicago to Seattle
  • had breakfast, lunch, and dinner with boats
  • explored the Seattle Underground with tourons and alleged rats
  • hiked on a beautiful forested trail by a remote beach
  • had delicious beers with friends
  • had circus with bread, which is a little different than having bread and circuses.
  • avoided Seafair, but not the Seafair Pirates
  • driven to Idaho
  • hung out with family
  • walked on a rails to trails route
  • been licked by dogs
  • eaten huckleberry ice cream (me only)
  • eaten Vienna Sausages (again me only)
  • seen 2 deer
  • seen innumerable ground squirrels and chipmunks
  • driven over Moon Pass
  • eaten coconut shrimp
  • booed a villain at the mellerdrammer
  • ridden bikes through old railroad tunnels and over trestles
  • watched satellites and shooting stars
  • laughed a lot
  • seen BATS!
  • Had a slow leak BOO!
  • Gotten it fixed at least temporarily YAY!

We’ve had a wonderful trip so far.

We flew into Seattle last Friday and stayed downtown at the Silver Cloud Lake Union – of course the nav system misguided us but we eventually got there (it sits on a narrow lot between two streets, but the entrance is on Fairview, NOT Eastlake). The room was very nice, with a fridge and wet bar, and they had a good hot breakfast each morning in a really beautiful third-floor breakfast room with comfy couches and tables, overlooking the boatyards at the south end of Lake Union. The SLU Trolley (which used to be known as the S.L.U.T. until somebody pointed it out to Sound Transit) ends just a block down, in front of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (and the Residence Inn Hotel).

We hardly took the car out of the garage that weekend – the hotel van does Pickoop Andropoffs at the Seattle Center, Pike Place Market, and Pioneer Square, so we took advantage of it 2 days running. David had never been on the Seattle Underground Tour, but I had done it many years ago and wanted to see it again (somewhere at home I still have the book).

On Sunday, we went for an urban hike in Discovery Park and put in about 5 miles or so (maybe a little farther according to David’s GPS). It took a while to find parking, it was such a nice day; everybody in Seattle not at Seafair was at the park.

After that and a little break, we went downtown to meet up with Kevin and Lynn at the Central Saloon (one of my old hangouts) for some tasty beverages, before they had to take off for the Sounders game. We walked back up to Pike Place, which was closing down for the day… but I found my way back to the Pink Door! It was awesome, the look on David’s face, when I pushed the “anonymous” looking door open on Post Alley and went inside. He was like “where the HELL are you going??”

They had a circus performer doing tricks from a big ring suspended from the ceiling. The food was incredible; I had a pasta dish with prosciutto, garlic, excellent olive oil, more garlic, and mint. David had Cioppino Pink Door and pronounced it excellent.

After that we wandered back to the pickup point. JUST MISSED a van, but waited in front of the Chocolate Box shop and the cupcake-and-ice-cream place; David bought me a tin of Chocolate Tea, and we wondered about the QR code and the Post-It Note art up in the windows of the building across the street (I was really into the architecture, we really need to plan ahead next time and take a tour). The QR resolved to some kind of SEO firm.

We left Seattle in our rented Ford Escape and headed to Idaho to see my sisters (Timmy lives there, my sister Tudy was up for the week from Salt Lake) and my niece Raeanne and her kids Collin and Paige. Timmy and her hubby Frank have this great house they built up the gulch from the Interstate, but it’s remote feeling enough that you get wildlife (like the bear that visited them a few weeks back). Frank built a Bear Alarm in case it comes back; he’s got concertina wire strung along the lower level deck that leads to a Diet Coke can full of gravel outside their bedroom window on the level above. Because of the slope of their lot, both levels have decks – the living room/kitchen/bedroom level is where the “front” door is behind the house.

We hung out there in the evening the first night watching for satellites and the ISS and talking about everything… including the amazing pictures sent back from the Curiousity rover right after it landed on Mars the night before:

Mars Curiousity from StephLaberis Twitterfeed


Yeah, the Internets were fun the other night, hard to explain to my sister and brother-in-law, as they’re not that into that geeky stuff.

We spent the last four days visiting, going to Melodramas, soaking in the rooftop hot tub at the Silver Mountain Resort, walking on bike paths with family, riding on bike paths with just the two of us, and generally having a ball. I highly recommend the Trail of the Hiawatha mountain bike path! But also recommend that you either bring your own bikes, or rent from a bike shop in town rather than from the bike shop up at Lookout Pass Ski Resort, which is the concessionaire for the trail access. The bikes we rented were in need of a little TLC – my front wheel was out of true and had to be swapped out by a friendly trail marshall about 2 miles down the trail from the East Portal tunnel.

As you ride, you go through several spooky (and cold!) tunnels and over several high trestles. David and I almost got run down by a deer in one long tunnel, which kept getting spooked by bikes and reversing direction. I heard it coming with this “galumphy galumphy” noise in the dark ahead of me; suddenly my dim headlight illuminated something that was all hooves, knee joints, and terrified eyes and ears before it executed a mid-air pirouette and went back up the trail to daylight. The tunnels were inky dark (did I mention cold) and headlamps would be handy, as the lights they rent to you are okay but not really that bright.

Gosh, it was FUN, though. Even with my creaky, rattling bike it was fun. It’s a steady 2% downgrade for 15 miles, so you have to pedal to have any kind of speed, but it’s easy pedaling. A series of old buses run shuttle schedules from the bottom of the trail back up to the WEST portal of the first long tunnel – you have to ride back up through the tunnel to the parking lot at the EAST portal, but the grade was level at that point and no problem. I had a nice skunk tail when I was done, but I also won the trivia contest that Sheri the bus driver did, so I got FREE ice cream (but also bought 2 nice T-shirts to commemorate our ride).

We would definitely do that again – it was busy even on a Thursday, so get there early in the day and to avoid delays, check your equipment with a test ride if you rent.

We’re leaving for the “third half” of our vacation in Glacier National Park. We’re about to pack up and go – after a short delay caused by 2 (TWO) nails in our rear left tire. Slow leak, we called Avis, they sent a guy from local operator Nicholson’s to get us on the spare, and David got it fixed for free at Les Schwab. So we’re good to go – time to button up and see what happens next.

We’ll be in Glacier at Grouse Mountain Lodge for a bit less than a week, then on Amtrak to go home to Glenview, IL. Should be interesting, as delays are expected due to summer heat and the usual “slow freight” backups. Better pictures to follow, too. Here’s what I took on the iPhone in the meantime.

Boatyard across from the Silver Cloud Lake Union Hotel – from the third-floor patio off the breakfast room

More boats, also seaplanes, from the deck of Chandler’s Crabhouse

Walked in Discovery Park along the North Beach and Hidden Valley trails

QR code in downtown Seattle across from the Chocolate Box

My sister Tudy hangs out in the hammock on our sister Timmy’s deck – great view down the gulch toward the Silver Valley in Idaho

Sunset watching – this cloud looked like a phoenix chasing other birds. “I’ll save you!” said the little bird chasing it.

Used to be the railway station, it got moved when the freeway came in; the rail line was converted as rails to trails years ago.

We had a blast at the Mellerdrammer. Especially as the plot of the play revolved around some other “Baker Girls.”

Piano in the Rose Mary Pit – in memory of long-time accompanist Rose Mary, who was also a friend of my sister Timmy’s

A lady named Kathleen got pulled onstage for a little number. She was handed a parasol and twirled like a pro.

We rented bikes from Lookout Pass Ski Area and rode 15 miles on the Trail of the Hiawatha

The Trail of the Hiawatha follows the former route of the Chicago, Milwaukee, and St Paul railroad, also known as the Milwaukee Road. The passenger line was called the Hiawatha and was famous for views like this – in the nighttime!

Near the end of our ride – all told about 2 1/2 hours of PURE FUN. David looks back up the trail from the last high trestle and considers riding back UP. We had shuttle bus tickets…

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One thought on “So Far

  1. I’m so happy you are having such a “suckie” vacation! Love you lots – Hope all goes well in Glacier! Hope you get to see a lot of meteors!!! Next time bring Shelly!!!! I think he would love it. Loves to all.

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