This is a chronicle of my second annual trip to the great Northwest, one I hope to be able to repeat for years to come.
As was the case in 2006, I was hosted in Seattle by my good friend Ron and his esso, Elaine. I was also very pleased to
have the chance to hang out with my former girlfriend and current good buddy, Bex, who
now lives near Portland, Oregon. Both years, she was kind enough to pick me up at SeaTac and drive me into Seattle. I
paid for it this year, though, with three hours of shopping at IKEA.
Me and my ex, Bex. The photo, taken at arm's length by myself, isn't particularly flattering to either one of us,
but it's a nice picture anyway. I wish to say that, at 42, Bex looks better than she did when we were dating fifteen
years ago. Damn.
Ron provided refreshments. The water went untouched.
The house Ron shares with Elaine in Seattle. I pity the mailman.
Bex and I had dinner at the Madrona Pub, a comfortable and kid-friendly neighborhood place a few blocks from Ron
and Elaine's. Fortunately, we arrived at about 8:00, and all the kids were gone. It can be a bit hectic in there early
in the evening.
The next morning, Bex drove back to Portland, Ron and Elaine went to work, and I took a leisurely forty-minute
stroll to downtown Seattle.
Pioneer Square is the center of "old" Seattle. We east-coasters are as amused by the western idea of old as
Europeans are of ours.
Nevertheless, it's Seattle's heritage zone, a bit touristy, but with many interesting shops and restaurants. I spent
some time browsing the Elliott Bay Book Company.
Friday morning, we left early to board the Victoria Clipper. This is definitely the most convenient way to get
to Victoria! Not the most scenic, mind you--I missed the BC Ferries' beautiful passage through the Gulf Islands. But
I didn't miss the border crossing on the highway.
The Clipper at dock in Victoria.
We arrived in Victoria late in the morning, cleared customs, and checked into the Pacific Grand Hotel. There was
plenty of time in the afternoon for a stroll around town.
Small shops line this narrow alley away from the main commercial drag.
The next morning I took another stroll around the charming town. The weather gods were with us, for we had
uniformly sunny and pleasant weather throughout the weekend. One
cannot count on such in this normally rainy part of the world.
Victoria is, of course, the capital of British Columbia, dating to the days when sea access was more efficient than
overland travel. This is the legislative building.
Here is the other side. I have it labeled as the rear, but it's hard to say which side is meant to be the front,
except that the other side looks toward the harbor. I suppose it doesn't really matter.
An afternoon pint at Swan's really
hit the spot. I thought to tell Ron that ultraviolet light from the sun reacts with compounds in hops, creating those
distinctively skunky aromas. I took this photo instead. Art first.
The following day, Sunday, was another beautiful sunny day. Ron, Elaine, and I had breakfast at a charming little
restaurant in the James Bay neighborhood, out back of the hotel, and then enjoyed a walk about town. From a waterfront park,
we saw the Olympic Mountains in Washington looming over the Strait of Juan DeFuca.
. . .
We strolled through lovely Beacon Hill Park, where we saw, among other things, this very tall totem pole, and a
statue of Robert Burns.
I separated from Ron and Elaine and we went exploring in different directions. Eventually, I decided to hoof it
over to Spinnaker's for an afternoon pint. Then I walked back to the
Victoria Clipper's dock. Ron and Elaine arrived presently, and we sailed back to
Seattle. À la prochaine, Victoria.
Some people had to go back to work Monday morning! I got to sleep in, and spent the afternoon poking around
Seattle's famous Pike Place Market.
It's an eclectic shopping experience, with all sorts of odd things for sale...
...as well as fresh produce...
...and of course, delectable northwest seafood.
On Tuesday, the sun reappeared, and I decided that it was time to pay a visit to Seattle's most famous landmark, the
Space Needle, built for the 1962 World's Fair.
A panoramic view of Seattle and Puget Sound from the Space Needle, with Mount Rainier to the south. This was supposed
to be a 360° view, but I had a technical glitch to the southeast, so this is about 270°. I think I got the best of it,
though! > >
A telephoto look at Mount Rainier.
Two of Seattle's most recognizable landmarks.
Walking back to Ron and Elaine's, I stumbled into the Elysian Pub, one of many brewpubs in the city; Seattle is
rivaled as a beer mecca only by Portland. I called Ron, and he and Elaine met me there for dinner. It was a fitting capper
to my week in the Great Northwest. The next morning, Ron dropped me at SeaTac on his way to work in Tacoma, and I flew back
to my own reality.