Saturday, June 23, 2012

Day 9 and 10

Thursday, June 21

Quiet drive to the border until we made a slight error in lane judgement and somehow cut in front of the hour long wait in the very very long line of vehicles waiting to enter the United States. The US Homeland Security Police were none too happy about this either! We had the privilege of visiting the lovely inside facility of the Peace Arch Border Crossing at Blaine, Wa. Our documents were closely scrutinized and our vehicle searched by very stern faced deadly serious officials sporting many lethal weapons on their belts. By the time we left, we still were ahead of the pack and saved a good 30 minute wait in line. We do NOT recommend you do the same!

We drove the scenic route via Hwy 2 heading up to Deception Falls. A slight detour led us to the Washington State Salmon Hatchery facilities just past the town of Startup. We parked and strolled around, not seeing a single worker. We went into the lab, walked through rooms, went back outside and peered into vast tanks of fingerlings (baby fish) and still no one arrived. Lovely bathrooms inside so we enjoyed a classy bathroom stop. We viewed the info boards and admired the paintings of the salmon life cycles and still not a soul around. After all, who is going to steal a fish? Trusting folks these Washingtonians.

Fingerling Tanks at the Salmon Hatchery

On down the road, past the town of Gold Bar we found Deception Falls. Oh the rushing waters, the sound, the truly icy cold spray! You really have to go to Mount Baker Snoqualmie National Forest . Check out our video on YouTube to get the full effect of motion and sound.

Deception Falls

We stopped for dinner at the World Famous Sultan Bakery. This fine eatery is known for homemade food and we enjoyed plenty of it. We were served a roast turkey dinner and roast pork dinner with all the trimmings on plates the size of a spare tire. These things were enormous! There was at least 5 pounds of red skinned mashed potatoes plopped onto each plate. We had worked up quite an appetite battling those Falls so the 8,000 calories were quickly consumed.

We drove through terrible traffic and saw lots of big smash 'em up accidents until we safely reached our destination, the Grand Hyatt Seattle and was it ever Grand! This one night stay was Susan's first win that started the whole ball rolling on this trip idea. Parking is a huge issue in Seattle and we paid dearly to park overnight in a public park garage. $30! Can you believe it? We did get breakfast added for free as an upgrade - valued at $50. The hotel and rooms were truly elegant and luxurious especially the bathroom. It was the size of a small apartment. We ended our fun day squeaky clean and pampered.

Friday June 22, 2012

We reluctantly left our elegant surroundings and headed south to Portland. We decided to take a scenic detour to view Mount Rainier by driving a long loop that took more than four hours to slowly drive around the base of the mountain going west to east and finishing around the south. Cold and rainy and cold and lots of rain (did I mention that it's really cold and rainy in the PNW in June??) made a decided impact on the visibility. Honestly, we couldn't see a danged thing. The clouds were low enough to touch the road and obscured most of the scenery. We did see waterfalls and a lot of enormous trees but never did see Mount Rainier or Mount St. Helens. It's pretty hard to miss this close up but we managed it! The cold wet weather kept the sane away so we had very little company all day. It was actually pretty neat.

Mount Rainier National Park

This whole trip, we have seen almost no wildlife. No road kill at all other than one raccoon the entire trip. The only animals we have seen are livestock in fields and pastures, dogs in the city on leashes being walked by their owners and a couple of common ordinary birds. Very odd especially since I see wildlife all day long in Florida. Guess the animals are smart enough to stay in their warm nests and dens and let the idiot tourists play out in the rain and cold. We drove over 250 miles and arrived safely in Portland, wet, cold and tired but in a good way. Hello Portland!

We found our eclectic Bohemian vintage industrial style Boutique hotel called The Ace Hotel. Portland is super casual and laid back compared to Seattle and Vancouver. There is a totally different vibe here. As we drove in to find our hotel, we looked up to see a tall large man wearing a dress. Then a man strolled by with the worst looking toupe ever made. Typical Portland; colorful and funky!

We like our hotel. It is unlike anything we have ever found - fun and interesting. As I write this on a cold and rainy Saturday morning, I am enjoying Stumptown Piramide coffee made with a French Press. We have local delicacies from the Farmers Market for breakfast like smoked trout, delicate cheeses, wonderful breads and fresh fruits. Oh my! It is worth flying out here just for the amazing food.

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