Monthly Archives: July 2014

Sunrise on Rainier

One of the great things about being retired is that you can schedule your activities around the weather, if you choose to.  We have wanted to take a trip up to Sunrise on Mount Rainier.  A couple of years ago, when we were living in Olympia, we did a Harley ride up to Paradise, which is on the other side of the mountain.  We wanted to do this trip on the Harley too, so we needed some good riding weather to make it fun.  Tuesday of this week was predicted to be sunny and warm, so we set our sights on that day for the trip.

The weatherman was right because Tuesday morning was warm and the sun was shining.  We headed out with minimal leathers, and we should have put on some sunscreen.  Once we cleared through Enumclaw, the traffic melted away and the roads were open.  The views were scenic all the way up the mountain, and we stopped at a few great places along the way and shot pictures.

Once we reached the Sunrise Center, we changed into hiking shoes and did a little scouting around, and then had lunch at the snack bar.  Even though the views were spectacular at Sunrise, Rainier is most impressive from a distance when you really get a sense of how much taller it is than anything around it.  As I look at the photos now, none to justice to the breathtaking views.  This is definitely  a place you need to see for yourself.

Claire’s view from the back seat.

Panoramic view from Sunrise Point.

So many great places to stop and take in the scenery.

Made it to the stop (at least as far as the road goes.) You have to go on foot from here.

A little hiking…

Claire’s ready to get back on the road!

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The Seattle Underground Tour

Our days in Seattle continue to count down and we still have many items on our bucket list!  On Monday of this week, we rode the trusty 255 bus into the city and experienced the legendary Seattle Underground Tour.

After learning more about the very beginnings of this city, I understand more the culture here that sometimes drives us crazy.  From the tour, we learned that the Denny family settled in Seattle and chose to build the town on a mud flat at the edge of the Puget Sound.  I suspect the local Native Americans got a big chuckle out of that. It apparently did not occur to them that the tides would cause the town to flood on a regular basis, and in the true spirit of Seattle once they learned this, they refused to change the decision.  The comedy of egos, mismanagement, and corruption that marked the early history of the city seem very similar to what we have observed in local Seattle politics since we arrived here a few years ago.  The 520 bridge project, the tunnel under Seattle, and lack of traffic planning are just some of the current projects that make us shake our heads as hundred of millions of taxpayer dollars are wasted.

Anyhoo, we learned on the tour that the entire commercial district burned down in 1889 and rather than take the opportunity to move the commercial district off the mudflat, someone came up with the great idea to fill it in with dirt from the hill that led up to the residential area on the hill.  But the shop keepers didn’t want to wait for the fill, so the rebuilt their businesses on the original mud flat.  The city proceeded to bring in the fill and essentially created city streets that were 15-40 feet above all the buildings!  So, the front of the building and the sidewalks were well below the streets behind giant stone retaining walls.  To cross the street you had to climb a ladder, scurry across the street, and then climb down another ladder.  It is ironic that nobody died in the Great Seattle Fire of 1889, but nearly 20 people died years later falling off the ladders as they tried to cross the streets.

The next step in this weird evolution was the creation new sidewalks at the level of the roads, which essentially created a two-tier sidewalk system.  Unfortunately the lower sidewalk system became overrun with rats and was condemned when bubonic plague started to break out.  So, the tour takes you around a few blocks of Pioneer square, through the old sidewalks and lower levels of the buildings.  Claire and I were glad we did this before leaving town, and as I said it gave us new insights into the Seattle psyche.

After the tour, we walked up 1st Avenue and stopped at Von’s Gustobistro for drinks and some people watching on the sidewalk.  From there we made our way to the Pike Place Market where we had dinner reservations at the Steelhead Diner.  The Steelhead Diner was on our original list of restaurants to try.  Ironically the entire motif of the restaurant is trout and trout fishing, and they did not have a single trout on the menu!

Claire had the black cod.  I had the morels and pasta.  Both were good.  Neither was great.  Check one more restaurant off our list…

Right across the street from the Underground Tour is the oldest restaurant in Seattle.

The tour starts with a very entertaining talk/comedy routine before you go subterranean.

Heading below ground.

A lot of gross and entertaining stories about how the crappers didn’t work because the town was below sea level. When the tide came in, a geyser of sewage could blow you off the throne!

A lot of old junk below ground.

Parts from an old pumping station

A lot of old signs in the Underground.

A photo of Chief Seattle. I’ll bet he laughed his ass off at the stupid settlers …

Quick stop at Von’s

The Steelhead Diner.

Claire’s after dinner ice-cream as we walk back to the bus stop.

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4th of July in Kirkland

July is our last month in Seattle.   Last year on the 4th of July we were in Michigan and purchased our waterfront property in Traverse City. One year later we are on “final approach” to being in Michigan and beginning to build our home!

We decided to stay in our little town of Kirkland for the holiday. In the morning, I did food prep, baking a blueberry-cranberry pie and making potato salad. Around noon we walked the 2 ½ miles into town just in time to catch the 4th of July parades. The first parade was the “kids parade.” Unlike what Claire and I were familiar with when our kids were growing up, here in Kirkland all the parents walk with the kids. There were over a thousand parents and kids packed between the curbs as they walked the parade route. Claire’s comment was “This is not a parade. This is a crowd of people walking down the street,” which I must say I had to agree with.

Following the kid’s parade was the “real” parade, which was typical of small town parades. It was mostly veterans riding in classic cars, little league teams riding in truck beds, local politicians carrying self-promotional signs and “glad handing”, and groups marching to push some issue (eg. gun control.) We stood along the waterfront, and watched the festivities for over a half hour. The parade itself went on for well over and hour! About half way through, we headed over to Hector’s and had lunch while we watched the second half from a distance.

After lunch, we walked back up the hill to our house and spent the rest of the day relaxing. We grilled up lamb-veal burgers on the Big Green Egg, and had a traditional July 4th meal of burgers, corn-on-the-cob, potato salad, watermelon, and blueberry-cranberry pie. The plan was to walk back down to town to catch the 10pm fireworks. After our 4th of July feast and few drinks, the walk back to town seemed daunting, so we chose to watch the fireworks from our deck. Even that plan didn’t work out for me as I fell asleep before 10pm, so Claire was forced to wrap herself in a blanket and watch the fireworks alone. She tells me they were quite spectacular as she could see four different displays at the same time!

All in all it was a fine, relaxing day. We are really looking forward to celebrating in Michigan next year, and with any luck we will be doing it from our new lakefront home!

Our American flag which flies from our front porch every day!

Potato salad just like mom used to make …

My own blueberry-cranberry pie recipe.

Headed down to the Kirkland waterfront for the festivities.

Parade or crowd walking down the street … You decide.

Time for the parade!

Real American heroes.

Politicians doing what they do best … Ugh!

Submarine vets on Harleys!

More submarine veterans!

Good, clean, American fun …

Back home with veal-lamb burgers on the BGE!

I imagine this is what the fireworks looked like …

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