Summer adventure wrap-up

Total miles flew: 6,032 (PVD-SEA & home)
Total miles driven: 1,940 (Pomfret-Moncton, NB to Pomfret to Lubec, ME to Pomfret)
+ driving around WA (522)
= 2,462 total miles driven!

Miles hiked: 25+

I have hundreds of great pictures, memories, ideas/sketches for new music, in addition to being totally relaxed and ready to get back to work!

Seattle: day 5

After a fitful night’s sleep, I was up early again to hit the city. The beds were comfy, but the top bunk was too hot for me! In any event, it was a good excuse to get up early and head out. I made it down to the waterfront and caught the 9am ferry out to Banbridge Island. This quaint little island town was very touristy, with lots of shops on main street. The entire main street was closed to cars, as they were reworking everything…pavement, pipes, sidewalks…it was a mess. Not much must go on here if they can completely shut down main street on a Tuesday morning!

Macchiato #1: Blackbird Bakery, Bainbridge Island. Good presentation, extra fluffy foam, beans a bit bitter. The apricot danish was delicious though!

I only spent an hour on the island, then headed back to the city. I had a lovely chat with some local residents on the ferry. We were swapping travel stories for the 25 minutes ride. I had finished up writing my postcards at the bakery and now needed to find a post office. While en route, I decided to find a barber on the way and get a haircut and a shave as well! I walked all the way up to 5th street (one thing I learned is that mathematically, Seattle has more hills than San Francisco. It originally had 7, but the city leaders decided there were too many and washed one down into the sound in the early 1900s!). The first hairdressers didn’t do shaves, so I though I would keep looking. On the first floor of that building though was the post office, so I sent my cards on their ways.

After a quick lunch at a burrito bar, I headed back to the hostel to get my coupon for my underground tour, and pick up the bear mace I wanted to return. I hopped a bus to the northern part of the city and arrived at the REI main campus. What a cool store! Think L.L. Bean on steroids. There was no home section, but there was an 80′ indoor climbing wall and an outdoor mountain bike test track. The lot was covered in spruce trees, so you really felt you were venturing into a hilly woodland and then this massive store was rising up out of the wilderness!

I left REI after making $50 of returns and walked back into the city center, as I had heard there was a good place to get a cut and shave on the way. I found Weldon Barber and stopped in. They had an opening in an hour, so I kept walking to the Café D’arte, another espresso bar I had heard about.

Macchiato #2: Caffé D’arte. Delicious, and a side of chocolate!

While walking there I realized that I was right near the monorail, which I could take to the EMP museum, and it was only $2.50! Hooray for affordable public transportation. I also realized I wouldn’t be able to make it to the Underground museum and the EMP with the time that I had remaining in the day! Everything in Seattle tends to close pretty early, which was really annoying. I mean, bars were open late, but none of the other more touristy attractions were. This will have to be another thing to see on a return trip some day.

My shave was wonderful…hot towels and all. The vibe of Weldon Barber reminded me of Coccozo in Saratoga, the old gentlemen’s salon I got to attend in college, though the wine and cigars for customers was noticeably absent. About an hour and $60 later, I felt like a new man and headed back into the city. I grabbed a quick espresso and hopped the monorail to the Experience Music Project & Sci Fi Museum.

A note, it was cool taking the monorail. Zooming through the city at 45mph from the 3rd story was neat, but the monorail connects the space needle and the downtown high-end mall…it doesn’t get more touristy than that!

EMP is a cool idea for a museum. The are devoted to pop culture, encompassing movies, TV, and music. There were great exhibits on Nirvana & Hendrix (both locals), the new Battle Star Galactica series, and the technology behind Avatar. But the coolest wing had to be the sound lab. There were stations set up giving people the experience of playing instruments, and even getting some beginner lessons. There were guitar, bass, drum, keyboard, and vocal rooms. Additionally, there were stations to mix stems from commercial recordings, virtually spin records, jam rooms for multiple instrumentalists to play together, and a massive stage to perform and record on. I could have used some of that gear at my school!

By this point I was hungry, and as it turned out one of the best rated sushi restaurants in the city was right next to the hostel. This is the kind of place the locals go to. The service and food were incredible! I ate a ton of sushi! Full of food, I stopped in a the hostel to nail down travel details for the morning. I had some new roommates who also happened to be heading to the airport in the morning, so we agreed to make sure each other was up for the 4:30am cab ride to the airport. The were heading home to the Alabama & Tennessee after a post-undergrad trip to Alaska and then Seattle. Alaska is on my bucket list for someday, and I was super jealous of their adventure.

Details finalized, I headed back to the waterfront one last time to take some sunset photos. I wouldn’t exactly call this trip relaxing, as I pushed myself pretty hard. However, I saw a ton of cool stuff. My time in Olympic was rejuvenating. It was just so different from everything else I usually do…it never hurts to get a little dirty for a few days. It make you realize what is really important in your daily life. Seeing Seattle was exciting as well. It is certainly a cool city…everyone is so laid back and nice. People actually stopped for you at cross walks! Now, however, it is time to start getting ready for the new school year…here we go!

Olympic Nat’l Park-Seattle: day 4

This morning started like all the others during my days in Olympic: up at 6:30, make coffee and breakfast, clean up campsite, pack…however, today had a little more extensive packing, as I was getting ready to leave the mountains and head back into civilization.  However, I could not leave the Park without one more tour.

I left the Sol Duc river valley by 8am and headed east.  After circling Crescent Lake one more time, one comes upon the Elwha river and valley.  The Park Service is undertaking a major project to remove the two dams on the river, reverting it back to a natural state.  I was hoping to see the dam while it was still in existence, since it won’t be here the “next” time I make it to the Olympic peninsula. However, the road was closed and I couldn’t get up there.

So I headed back out and turned back to Hurricane Ridge for one last view of the mountains. For fun I cut across River Road, through the heart of the mountains.  This narrow dirt road bypassed Port Angeles completely, and connected directly with the park road.  It was a foggy, dusty journey through farmland, homesteads, and timber company land.  After about 30 minutes of driving, I reached the road and started climbing.

Today there was a fair amount of cloud cover, which made for some dramatic vistas and pictures of the lowlands.  I didn’t stop too frequently, as I had a mission (to be on the road by 11:30 to make it back to SeaTac and return my rental car!).  I made it to the visitors center and continued on to the Hurricane Hill parking area.  I set of on the hike, hoping it wasn’t too long (and missing the mileage sign).  This paved path headed through alpine meadows and scrubby forests…nothing like the western rain forests!  Right as I summitted, my camera died, which was probably just as well!  I booked it back to the parking area, as it was getting late.  When I got back I saw that the hike had been 1.8 miles.  If I had known that, I probably wouldn’t have done the 40 minute hike.  In the end, I was glad I did…and it only set me about 15 minutes behind schedule!

After an uneventful 2 hr drive (one drive-through latte later) I made it through Tacoma and to the airport.  Though I was bummed to have to rent a car, in the end, I’m glad I did.  I saw a ton of cool things in the park…just wait till I get home and can download my pictures!

After about 45 minutes on the train I made it to Seattle, and then a 6 block walk later I was at the hostel.  They were playing Nirvana while I walked in…good sign.  Free wi-fi, computer room, reading room, continental breakfast…I think
I’m going to like this place.

I took a quick shower, dropped off my stuff, said hi to two of my 3 roommates, and headed into the city!  First stop, 360 Local for a burger (delicious) and a beer (too light).  The bartender was a friendly Seattle native who recommended the Smith Tower to me.  As it was billed as “cheaper and cooler” than the Space Needle, I was sold!

I meandered my way there, strolling the waterfront, having an ok espresso at the FIRST Starbucks, and checking some ferry prices.  I think I’m going to try to catch the 9am ferry across Puget Sound and back to start my day right!  Finally, I made it to Smith Tower, a 1914 building.  The observatory was on the 35th floor and offered panoramic views of down town and the rest of Seattle…including the Space Needle.  The ceiling was carved mahogany and inlaid Chinese tile.  Very cool!  There is a 36th & 37th floor…originally holding the water tank for the building and a small caretaker apartment.  However, it was renovated in the mid-nineties, the tank was removed, and now the penthouse is owned by a young couple!  I am frankly jealous of these two, and I wonder how they snagged such a great spot!

Afterwards I wandered a little more.  I wanted to wait for sunset to head back to the waterfront and take some shots, so I stopped in a local brew pub and tried the sampler.  Nothing impressed me frankly, and then it was 8:30 and time for sunset!

The views from the harbor were beautiful.  From the Olympic Mountains in the distance, the luxury apartments behind me, and the industrial machinery of the port to the south, it was a scene of great contrasts!  There were a bunch of people out strolling and taking in the sights…Seattle has the wide streets of a western city and a nice mix of old and new buildings.  There weren’t many people out earlier, which I found surprising, but a lot more made it out in the evening.

So, the ambitious plan for tomorrow: ferry ride, espresso tour, Sci Fi/Rock&Roll museum, REI (return bear mace), espresso tour, Seattle Underground tour, espresso tour?, dinner, and figure out how to get to the airport at 5am on Wednesday.  It will be a full day, but I should get some good sleep tonight!

ps: pictures at Flickr