Goth Panda

November 8, 2013

Seattle and Olympic NP June 2013: Day Four

On Tuesday morning, we drove out to the airport to pick up our rental car for the next phase of the trip: Olympic National Park. We stopped for breakfast at a highly recommended local restaurant, the Pancake Chef near the airport, although since I was still recovering I think I only had a quarter of a waffle. After that we went back into Seattle to Pike Place Market, since we really didn’t have a chance to see it the day before.

I think you are required to take a photo of this sign in Seattle.

Flowers at Pike Place Market.

Pike Place Market

I was kind of disappointed by Pike Place Market. Maybe I didn’t see the right parts of it, but it seemed like it was just a lot of overpriced, touristy shops. I was still sick, and not really in the mood to explore, however. We did see the fish get thrown around, which was fun. I had wanted to get a crumpet at the Crumpet Shop, since I had never tried one, but again I could only eat a few bites. From the little I had, it seemed really good though. I also liked the tea I got there, which had an interesting smoky flavor, but I don’t remember which one it was.

Then we started out for Olympic National Park. When I was first planning a trip to Seattle, I was thinking about combining it with Vancouver. But then I saw photos of the Hoh National Rainforest, and I rearranged my plans. We could do Vancouver on a separate trip. I wanted to see a primeval temperate rain forest, gosh darn it!

Since I wanted to see both the rainforest and the coastal sections of the park, I decided to stay in the historic Lake Quinault Lodge, which was convenient for day trips to Sol Duc and Hoh, and the beach areas. Besides, it should be apparent by now that the words “historic national park lodge” set off a Pavlovian response in my brain that basically just hands over the credit card.

We had to wait to check into our room, so we went across the road to the little mercantile shop and got some drinks, and then wandered down to the lakeshore and the firepit.

Lake Quinnault

We found out later that the lake was off limits. The lodge and lake are owned by a Native American tribe, and they were in the middle of negotiations with the National Park Service over contract terms or something, so no one was allowed to swim or boat on the lake. This was okay, because I am pretty sure the lake was freezing cold.

One of the best things about being in the Pacific Northwest in June was that it was in mid 60s every day, with absolutely no humidity, while Philadelphia was an oven of heat and humidity. Even though the whole area is a rainforest, it wasn’t humid at all. While driving to Lake Quinault, we passed through about 57 rainstorms, each of which lasted approximately 20 seconds. When it wasn’t actually raining, the weather was perfect. And it rained surprisingly little the whole time we were there. When I got off of the plane back in Philadelphia, the atmosphere felt smothering and I wanted to turn around and go right back to Washington State.

The only downside to the Lake Quinault Lodge was that there are very, very few other dining options besides the lodge restaurant. We ended up eating there several times, and the food was very good, if a little expensive. But the lodge is very much in the wilderness, and there aren’t many other choices. By the evening, I was actually feeling hungry for dinner, and I had a delicious smoked mozzarella pasta dish which I actually managed to eat a good part of. We asked the waitress about local wildlife, and she told us about a local bear who gorged on apples in a nearby former orchard. She also told us that the Native Americans believed Lake Quinault was home to a lake monster large enough to eat a cedar canoe. We did not see him, but maybe he was on strike until the contract got signed, too.

September 25, 2013

Seattle June 2013: Day Two and Three

My first night in Seattle, I woke up around midnight and I was horribly sick. I couldn’t sleep again because of it. I kept thinking the whole night that I could get it out of my system and be fine by morning. But when morning came, I still felt so terrible that I wasn’t even disappointed to not be able to go out. I managed to sleep later that morning and slept most of the rest of the day and night. It was the first time I have ever gotten sick while traveling and it was No Fun.

I had been proud that for once I hadn’t overplanned for Seattle. There were a manageable number of things I wanted to see and do, and I had given us almost three full days to do them. But now that I had lost one day, suddenly it seemed like almost everything had to be done in one day, Day Three. And the worst part was I was still getting over the illness.

We all got up early, one of the benefits of the East to West travel time change. I was still sore and tired, and it hurt to stand, walk, and breathe. But I was determined to make the most of my now one full day in Seattle. We went to Citizen Cafe for breakfast and I will take everyone’s word that it was excellent because I could barely eat a slice of their toast.

After that we went to Seattle Center for the tourist highlights. The EMP Museum was still closed, so we took a round-trip monorail ride.

On the Monorail

On the Monorail

Just so you know my prejudices in advance, I have to say that I love the Monorail, I love the Space Needle, I love all of the remnants of the 1962 World’s Fair in Seattle and the preserved in amber vision of the future they represent. I wish Philadelphia had a functioning monorail. How much more awesome would that make my commute?

We spent the morning at the EMP Museum, which was tailor-made for Mike, with exhibits on science fiction, horror movies, and fantasy in addition to the music.

EMP Gift Shop
EMP Gift Shop

Hendrix at the EMP
Hendrix on the video display

Science Fiction Exhibit

EMP Museum in the sci-fi exhibit.

Captain Kirk's chair and tribbles.

This Dalek looks a little worse for the wear

Powerpuff Girls animation cell.

Mike in the Scream Booth
Mike in the Scream Booth. My own effort in the Scream Booth was sadly marred by laughing.

Boris Karloff in the Horror Hedge Maze
Frankenstein haunts the horror movie maze

We had lunch at the Space Needle, and of all the touristy things we did in Seattle, this was one of the most enjoyable. It was expensive, but the food was good and the views were incredible. I could only eat a few bites since solid food was still not appealing to me, but my highlight was a cherry Italian soda. I think we did more than two revolutions during the meal, so we saw the city from all sides. The photo below looks like a movie screen, but it was that beautiful of a day.

View from the Space Needle

The floor revolved but the windows stayed still, and another diner posted a note that we all slowly revolved past. She was here with her daughter for her daughter’s 16th birthday, it said.

After lunch, we went up to the observation deck and walked around it before coming back down to visit the Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum.

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum

Chihuly Garden and Glass Museum. #seattle

The museum was compact and photogenic, which was good since I needed plenty of spots to rest. Mike spent a lot of the time taking photos of his dad posed so that the huge glass sculptures were coming out of the top of his head.

In the late afternoon, we took an Underground Tour, which disappointed me but it might just have been because I wasn’t fully recovered and there wasn’t any place to take rest stops. I enjoyed seeing the sidewalk skylights from underneath and hearing about the historical details. I think that, growing up on the East Coast, I got a very East Coast-centric history education and I don’t know enough about the history of the West Coast. I think if I had been feeling better I would have enjoyed it more.

We walked up to the Pike Brewery for dinner, and then walked around Pike Place Market, but almost everything had closed for the night. Mike and his dad then went back for the car to pick us up, while we rested outside of the Starbucks on the corner, which gave us plenty of time to observe the panhandlers and street people in the neighborhood. One passed the time repeatedly attacking a street sign. It was strange, but I never felt threatened by the Seattle street people, although I did think some of them could have used more psychiatric drugs than they were currently receiving.

We tried to go up to the Noble Fir for some local cider varieties, but we didn’t realize they were closed on Mondays. So we ended up back at the hotel pretty early, and I fell asleep immediately, still trying to get over my illness.

September 23, 2013

Seattle June 2013: Day One

I can’t believe it has been three months since our Seattle trip, and I haven’t posted a thing about it.

The day before we left, it poured rain in Philadelphia and I had two job interviews. I joked in them both that I was going to Seattle the next day to escape the rain, and it turned out to be true. We had beautiful weather in Seattle, and only a few, brief rainy periods.

I was in the middle seat on the flight, and the man next to me was the father of a family, the rest of them across the aisle. He spent the whole flight reading either the Bible or a Bible-related study guide, but we did have one conversation. He asked where we were going, and told me that he and his family were on their first family vacation, to Alaska. His kids were teenagers, and I felt sorry for them. I didn’t travel as a kid, either, except to visit family.

While I waited for Mike at the baggage claim, I played the “Who Is From Seattle?” game in my head, looking at the other passengers. I pointed out one guy that I had guessed correctly to Mike. His girlfriend had come to meet him and welcomed him home. Mike said he didn’t count because he was bearded and wearing a flannel shirt and hiking boots, and “that was like shooting fish in a barrel.”

The flight descends over the Cascades and the mountains always seemed close in Seattle. The air was fresh and green, and even though the ocean was just as close, it was the mountains that seemed to make the most impact.


We took a taxi into the city from the airport and my first impression of it was of its modern aesthetic of glass and concrete, which seemed influenced by Scandinavian and Asian design. It seemed like a city where design mattered. Our taxi driver was Indian and silent until we had almost arrived at the hotel. Then he pointed out the window. “Space Needle,” he said. “Yes!” I agreed, laughing. It was there, hard to miss and instantly recognizable. He also pointed out the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation as we passed it. I asked him if Bill was in residence that day – is there a flag they fly like at palaces to let you know? – but he didn’t know.

We stayed at the Maxwell Hotel near Seattle Center and I highly recommend it. We dropped off our luggage and went out to get lunch. On the way, we passed the Space Needle but I was shy of taking photos of it. I felt almost instantly comfortable in Seattle. It is definitely a city I think I could live in, and I didn’t want to out myself as a tourist, I guess.

Space Needle, Monorail, and the EMP

And – spoilers – it was at lunch that I think I got food poisoned, but I might just have picked up the nasty bug in some other way. I felt indigestion symptoms all afternoon, but it wasn’t until that night that it got really bad. In the meantime, we went back to the hotel and took a nap, waiting for Mike’s parents to arrive. I hadn’t had much sleep the night before, worrying about the job interviews and the upcoming trip, and I was exhausted.

When his parents got there, we went to the Lost Lake Cafe for dinner and then to Elliott Bay Bookstore, which had both a cafe and a large number of visiting dogs, which means their health codes must be much different from the ours on the East Coast, where this would not be allowed. I have only been to San Francisco before this, but I think I remember that there too.

Elliott Bay Book Company

Staff recommendations at Elliott Bay Book Company.
Sign of an independent bookstore: Staff Recommendations shelves.

I think you are required to take a photo of this sign in Seattle.

I think you are required to take a photo of this sign in Seattle.