Posts Tagged With: Seattle

Packing Up


In the last 7 years we have moved 7 times. Some of the moves have been across the country. Some moves have been across town. Sometimes Claire has completely handled the move when I had to go ahead to start a new job.   Claire is a packing and organizing machine! This time we had the luxury of (1) being retired, and (2) doing the move together. Still, moving is always stressful.

We started packing things a couple of weeks before the actual move. Every once in a while Claire would disappear into some other part of the house and when I tracked her down I would find her quietly wrapping and boxing possessions. When the professional crew showed up all they had to pack were dishes, TV sets, and a few odds and ends. I like to think that we are not materialistic. It seems like we don’t really have that much “stuff.” But when you start packing it and moving it, it seems like an overwhelming job.

When the moving crew showed up, I thought it would be a half-day job to load the truck. The last item didn’t go into the truck until nearly 8pm. Big “thanks” to Matt and Deb who let us stay at their apartment in the city for our last two nights in Seattle. After the moving truck left, we needed a day to clean the house, and then the following morning Claire did a final walk through with the landlord’s representative. We have always been proud of the fact that we have left every home we rented in as-good-or-better shape than we found it. By the way, if you are in the market for a really nice home in Kirkland Washington here is the listing for the house.  Note: some of the listing pictures are our furniture while some are older with the owner’s furniture …


Claire and the driver get things organized …


Big truck! Our possessions only took 1/3 of the truck. Our stuff travelled with the stuff of two other families…


Every room was packed and ready to go by the time the crew arrived.


We used the garage as a staging area.


The same day a driver showed up to pick up Claire’s car. The dude seemed a little “sketchy” but hey! The car did eventually show up in Michigan.


The Big Green Egg cleaned up and ready to travel. Crossing my fingers it survives unlike the “original” Egg that we moved up from Texas…


Driving the Harley onto the truck was fun!


Final Seattle sunset from Matt & Deb’s apartment…

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Wallace Falls


My daughter and her family love hiking, so we decided to take them to one of our favorite spots in the area, Wallace Falls. We hiked the falls a few months ago with the Alexes, but enjoyed it so much we were happy to go back.

This time we only went to the middle falls (there are lower, middle, and upper destinations) but hiking with little ones is certainly more arduous. The kids did great, and only the adults were huffing and puffing on some of the longer uphill climbs …


A great photo op is always a good reason to take a break …


Big sister isn’t the only one who is ready for a photo op …


Poopah and Meemaw are ready to go!


Everyone is ready to go!


The view from the lower falls shows us our next destination …


Everyone is still feeling good!


Poopah and Meemaw are breaking trail …


The middle falls…


Another photo op!


Ready for the hike back down …

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The Woodland Park Zoo

When the grandkids come to visit you have an excuse to do all those “childish” things you really wanted to do anyway. So we headed out to visit the Woodland Park Zoo with our own little monkeys.

At first it was a bit like the beginning of Jurassic Park. All we were seeing were empty paddocks where the animals should have been. We were beginning to think the only animals were the ones in the brochure, but as we worked our way back into the zoo, which is much larger than it appears on the map, we started to encounter all kinds of furry and scaly creatures.

A zoo is a bit like Christmas; it can only fully be experienced through the eyes of children. It certainly turned out to be a half-day well spent. We could have easily spent the whole day, but Poopah and Meemaw started to “poop out.”






A dragon!


Taming the dragon …




The elephants were shy …


The orangutan impersonating a homeless person …


How cute is this!?!?!


And it gets EVEN cuter!


No zoo is complete without the petting zoo!

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Seattle Waterfront

Our daughter and her family had a chance to visit us before we leave Seattle. While there are some aspects of Seattle that make living here a pain in the rear, it is a wonderful place to visit (as long as you come in July, August, or September.) The last time our daughter was here it was December when the clouds were so low and the fog so thick I don’t think she believed us that there were beautiful mountains and water views.

This time the weather was perfect, and our first outing was to the downtown waterfront. Everyone loves the market, and even though we have been there dozens of times, we always enjoy poking around the nooks and crannies and always seem to find something new. From there we headed down to the waterfront were we toured the Aquarium, which the grandkids loved. We even rode the Ferris Wheel, which we had on our “before we leave Seattle bucket list.”


Everyone loves the market!


The grandkids loved the aquarium


Who wouldn’t want to pet a starfish …


Our granddaughter making friends everywhere she goes …


We said we wanted to ride the ferris wheel before we leave


The “artsy” shot …


Great views of the city and the waterfront from the top!




After lunch we had to ride the carousel.


Heading back up to the market


No trip to Seattle is complete without a visit to the yucky “Gum Wall.”

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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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Le Pichet “Vive la différence!”

Our original intention for this blog was to share our experiences eating at all the great restaurants in Seattle.  Two years ago we went through all the online review sites and compiled a list of what appeared, by consensus, to be the best places to dine in the Seattle area.  As a matter of fact, we published our “hit list” on one of our very first blog entries.  As we wrap up our final sixty days in the area, we are going to make a concerted effort to get to most, if not all, of the places we have not yet visited.

So, during our bus adventure into the city yesterday, we had lunch at Le Pichet.  This little French joint comes out on most everyone’s lists of top Seattle restaurants.  I have to admit going into this that while I love all kinds of dining experiences; French cuisine is not one of my favorites. My limited experiences have had the following similarities: First of all, French restaurants usually feel a bit “pretentious.”  The attitude that comes across is that they are doing me a favor by feeding me, and I am generally unworthy of their consideration.  Second, I rarely understand the menu, or even the explanation of the menu.  Third, I rarely know what I have ordered until it is served, and even then I am unsure.  Finally, most of what I have tasted seems rather bland.  To each his own!  Vive la différence! It’s all good!

Claire appreciates French cuisine much more than I.  She took French language in school, and thankfully she generally held my hand through the experience.  We ordered from the lunch menu (Le Déjeuner.)  I also ordered a glass of wine so that I would feel less intimidated by the wait staff.  Frankly I can’t tell you what we ordered.  Claire actually did the ordering for us.  What she ordered for herself translated to “Two eggs broiled with ham and gruyère.”  What she ordered for me was essentially a sampler plate of thinly sliced sausages, and liver pate. It was tasty.  Not, “WOW” tasty, but tasty.  Claire seemed to enjoy her eggs and ham, and of course the bread they served was fantastic.  Surprisingly the prices were very reasonable, especially for Seattle.

In no way is this intended as a review of Le Pichet.  It is obviously a wonderful restaurant for those who truly love French food.  I am happy I went there for the experience, plus I get to check one restaurant off our bucket list!  Vive la différence!

An intimate little spot

Claire enjoying her eggs and ham

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Making Peace with the 255

When people ask me about Seattle, I have said “its I nice place to visit, but you wouldn’t want to live here.”  The biggest reason that Seattle has not been my favorite place to live is the population density and traffic.  Seattle is the city with the fourth worst traffic in the nation, and worse yet it is moving up the list faster than any other city.  It is hard to go almost anywhere here without spending part of the trip sitting in traffic.  For example last night we went to dinner at a restaurant in our little town of Kirkland.  The restaurant is on 6.5 miles from our house, and it took over 30 minutes to drive there!

Because there are more people than roads, and because it is difficult to build more roads given the geography, the Seattle area struggles to figure out transit solutions.  The mass transit system is a patchwork of largely disconnected systems.  But, there are more busses on the road here than any place I have seen in the world.  As a driver, this can be frustrating as there are times when the roads are so clogged with busses, there is no place to drive.

One particular bus that we have been dodging for the past two years is the 255.  The 255 runs from Kirkland (where we live) to downtown Seattle and back.  As we commute back and forth we encounter the dreaded 255 seemingly at every turn.  It cuts us off down town.  It blocks us from leaving our neighborhood.  It gets in front of us on the floating bridge, and just generally slows us down.  I have cursed the 255 more times than Claire would care to count.

Occasionally during our commutes we would joke that “one day we should ride the 255 into the city.”  Well, we never got around to riding the 255 until yesterday.  After doing our online research on riding the bus, we walked about a half-mile from our house to the bus stop.  Within 10 minutes we were in the belly of the beast as we boarded the dreaded 255.

Turns out it was a pleasant way to get into the city!  Even with half a dozen stops, it only took 30 minutes to get downtown.  And, we learned there is a whole underground transit system under Seattle.  The busses and the light rails share the infrastructure and it appears to be a relatively efficient system.  We got off at the last stop, which is the International District downtown.

We have never visited this district before, so strolled around seeing what there is to see.  If you have been to “China Town” or “Little Italy” in other cities, you would find this area is Seattle pretty disappointing.  Not much here other than small shops and restaurants catering to the large and diverse Asian community here.

From there we wondered through the Pioneer Square district, which we have visited many times and ended up in our favorite area of Seattle, the Pike Place Market.  We love the market even though it is crazy crowded with tourists most days, especially during the summer.

After strolling the market and having lunch at Le Pichet (a French restaurant we have always wanted to try,) we headed back to the underground bus depot.  The ride back to Kirkland was quick since we got out of the city before the rush hour.  We feel good that we made peace with the 255 before leaving Seattle, and will probably ride the bus a few more times while we are here.

Lunch at Le Pichet

Harley Guitar Art

Everyone else on the bus glued to their smart phones

Happy Bus Riders

The International District

Waiting for the 255

Underground Transit

Balloon Man

Throw that Fish!

Love the Market!

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During our last two months here in Seattle, we are trying to do a number of things we never got around to doing while we were working.  However, we also have work to do to prepare for our move back to Michigan.  So, not every day can we spend all day being tourists in our own city.  Yesterday, we spent the morning doing “chores” and then made our very first purchase from Craig’s List.

Moving across the country is an expensive proposition (think tens of thousands of dollars) and we have done it a number of times.  One of the things that can get expensive is all the boxes you need.  Our consultant from the moving company suggested we look on Craig’s List for boxes.  Claire did.   We drove less than a half hour from our house and loaded up the pickup with boxes, bubble wrap, Styrofoam peanuts, and other packing materials.  $65 in cash and the transaction was complete!

The final resting place of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon.

The final resting place of Bruce Lee and his son Brandon.

In the afternoon, we made the pilgrimage to the gravesite of Bruce and Brandon Lee.  My son and I were huge Bruce Lee fans, and I suspect the influence of people like Bruce Lee is the reason my son went on to get in karate black belt.  The Lake View Cemetery is a spectacularly beautiful place.  The trees and shrubs rival a botanical garden, and the ornate headstones are works of art.

The Lee gravesites are simple and beautiful, and we are glad we took the time to pay our respects before leaving Seattle.

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The Seattle Sixty

We admit it; we suck as bloggers… Two years ago when we moved to Seattle we created a blog to share our experiences in “dining and what-not.”  We saw our time living and working in downtown Seattle as a great adventure we wanted to share with our friends and family.  We started with great enthusiasm, and almost immediately we lost steam (see our blog post “If our blog were a goldfish, it would have died.”)  While we were going, doing, and seeing, it became “work” to sit down and write about it.  But, with renewed commitment we re-launched the blog and that lasted for another couple of months.

As I sit and write this post today, we have not made a post to the blog in 15 months.  As I said, we suck as bloggers.  But alas, it is a whole new ballgame!  We just retired from our corporate jobs here in Seattle!  An now we have a new opportunity which I am calling “the Seattle 60.”  We have 60 days here in Seattle before we move back to the Midwest; 60 days with no jobs and no responsibilities; 60 days to do all the things we have always wanted to do here in the Pacific Northwest.

Our Seattle Bucket List

Our Seattle Bucket List

Speaking of new ballgame, today is day #1 of the 60 and we are heading to Safeco Field to see our Detroit Tigers play the Seattle Mariners. Watch this space for REGULAR posts as we share our last 60 days in Seattle (we really mean it this time.)

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