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The City of Gardens

3 Aug

The former limestone quarry!

Victoria has been nicknamed the city of gardens, and it is well deserved.  The climate here must be perfect for flowers and fruit!  Today was spent exploring some of the beautiful garden spots in the city.  It is our last full day in Victoria and we’ve enjoyed it so much!  What a beautiful place!  I was surprised to learn that the climate here is cool and dry in the summer (which we have marveled at after the heat in Kentucky) but that the winters are mild as well.  They don’t get a lot of snow here and it only dips below freezing a couple of times in winter.  The cherry trees here (and they are everywhere) begin to bloom in January and with the blackberries still blooming now and not fully in until the end of August or September, it makes for a very long growing season.  I would guess that there’s probably something in bloom about anytime you visit here.

Our last full day in Victoria was spent taking in some beautiful sights.  We tried to use every bit of our time wisely in order to get every thing  checked off of our must see list, but it is so beautiful here, we could easily have enjoyed more time.  We ate breakfast at a little place near the hotel that was run by a Viatnamese couple (but the food was American) they were very friendly and once we were done, we set out to catch a bus to Butchart Gardens.  Butchart is one of the top tourist attractions here and it is beautiful.  In the early 1900s, Jenny Butchart, the wife of a man who made his living mining limestone, converted a left-over limestone quarry of his into the beautiful gardens they are today.  They are breathtaking.  We took lots of pictures as we strolled through the different areas.

Hundreds and hundreds of roses in full bloom!

After walking through all the gardens and taking lots of pictures, we caught the bus back to our hotel, and decided to eat lunch at Nauticul Nellie’s.  I had a really good fish taco and Jimmy had prawns and fries.  We are trying to get our fill of the excellent seafood in this area before we are gone.

After we ate our lunch, we walked over the Market Square where we had seen a local farmer’s market advertised for today.  This one wasn’t as big as the one on Bainbridge Island, but we bought some wonderful truffles from a lady at a booth full of her handmade chocolates, and we bought a box of blackberries and raspberries to take back to our room for an evening snack.  They were huge, and I could hardly wait to try them.

After lunch, we took a long walk up the hill from our hotel to Craigdarroch Castle.  It has an interesting history and was a delight to tour all 4 floors.  The home was built in 1890 for a coal baron (Robert Duinsmuir) and was full of stained glass windows, intricate woodwork, and Victorian-era furnishings.  Robert, however never lived in it.  He passed away before it was completed.  He left his vast wealth to his wife (despite what he’d told his two sons) and the sensational court battle that followed was headline news back in the day.  His wife lived in the house with her daughters until her death in 1908.  Since then, it has housed a military hospital, a college, a school board, and a conservatory of music.  Interestingly, at one point in time, the owners tried to sell parcels of land from the vast acreage surrounding the castle with very little success, so it was decided that the parcels of land be disposed of by lottery.  One lucky winner received (in a drawing) the parcel of land  that held the castle.

view from the top floor of the castle

After the castle tour, we walked a short distance to Government House.  It is the official residence of the lieutenant governor of British Columbia.  It is also the place that the queen stays when she visits Victoria.  We weren’t allowed to tour the house since there was an event going on.    We walked around the grounds though and took lots of pictures of the beautiful gardens.

By this time, we had walked quite a few miles, so we stopped at the first bus stop we could find and hopped on a bus back to the hotel.  The bus drivers are very friendly here and very helpful.  Also, quite a bargain.  Our round trip fares out to Butchart cost us 2.25 each, and it was about an hour ride round trip.  Of course they are an even bigger bargain in Seattle since they are free in the large downtown zone were we stayed.

Once we got off the bus, we decided our legs had rested enough to take a walk around the upper bay.  We hadn’t explored this section very much so we were anxious to explore it.  The walk was about 2 miles, and once we crossed the big wooden tresstle at the end of the bay, we were on the opposite side where we were able to catch one of those cute little water taxi’s.

The wooden walkway on the banks of the upper harbor

the long trestle across the upper harbor

upper harbor

We walked down the little dock that was a taxi stop and the sign instructed us to call the number listed.  We did, and they said they’d send one right out to get us.  In about 5 minutes, a friendly little driver welcomed us aboard and narrated our ride back with local history and points of interest.  We even got to see our first harbor seals swimming near the taxi.  It was a real neat way to travel and gave us a different perspective of the city from the water.

The water taxi stop

After all that walking, we went back to the hotel to get cleaned up for dinner, and walked over to one of the downtown restaurants called Ric’s.  Jimmy got seafood again and I settled on a big delicious salad.  After we ate, we went across the street to a chocolate store called Roger’s that has been part of Victoria since the 1800’s  We bought some chocolate, then headed back to the hotel room to eat our berries and watch the Olympics.  We enjoyed every part of our day, and tomorrow we head back to Seattle with beautiful memories of our time in Victoria!


Tea for Two…For Thirty-One Years!

1 Aug

Wow!  Thirty-one years!  Time sure gets away!  What an awesome blessing and a testimony of God’s goodness to be married to this man, my high school sweetheart and best friend for all these years.  We had an amazing day together.  When we travel, Jimmy does all the research concerning lodging and restaurants.  I plan the site-seeing, but he looks at all the options available for hotels and restaurants, then plans our day around our meals. Lol!  And he does an excellent job!  It’s always a surprise and a treat for me to see what he’s come up with.

We started the morning with breakfast at Willie’s Bakery and Cafe,  It was a nice walk from our hotel.  We had a good breakfast and then took a walk of the area.  We’d picked up some self guided walking tour brochures the night before at the visitor center, and we decided to get a couple of those walks out of the way before our guided tour of the Empress Hotel.

The walks took us to some very interesting places in the city.  We enjoyed Chinatown (the oldest one in Canada) and some of the other historic sites along the route.  We walked down some little alleys in Chinatown that were filled with interesting little shops.  It was a delight!

Fan Tan Alley in Chinatown

When we finished with the walking tour, we hurried back to the Empress Hotel where we had signed up for a guided tour of the hotel.  We really enjoyed learning more about the history of the hotel and seeing some of the places that are typically off limits.  Our guide was George, and he was very entertaining and knowledgeable.  The tour took about an hour and a half, and we learned a little about some of the famous people that had visited (Queen Elizabeth has visited 7 times) and some of the earlier royals as well.  It was a favorite place for Bob Hope (who always stayed in the same room)  and the Nixons spent their honeymoon here.

This is where Queen Elizabeth sat when she dined in the Empress Room

Our guide George, leading the way

I found out on our tour, that these very unusual trees are weeping Sequoia’s. We’ve seen others in the local parks. Very unusual!

The original entrance to the hotel

We also learned on our tour that the ivy that covers the hotel is not the original.  It was found that the original English Ivy did a number on the mortar, so it was all removed with the exception of a small area at the very center of the hotel.  All of the rest of the ivy was replaced with Boston ivy, which is much easier on the mortar.

We finished the tour and headed back to our hotel room to change clothes for our appointment for afternoon tea in the tea lobby.  We really should adopt this practice in the US!  It is such fun!  What an enjoyable way to spend an afternoon.  We had a table for two with a beautiful view of the inner harbor.

Fresh blueberries and cream were brought out first

Then the tray of tea sandwiches, scones, and desserts arrived

It was a wonderful treat on our special day!  We changed back into our walking clothes after tea, and toured the Royal British Museum.  They had a very interesting special exhibit of photos from the Royal family.  We spent a good deal of time there, then decided to walk along a trail near the coast.  We took lots of pictures and saw some absolutely gorgeous scenery.  It is just beautiful here.  The weather is cool, but sunny.  It starts off in the mid to upper 50’s in the mornings, but reaches mid to upper 60’s in the afternoons.  What a refreshing switch from the heat and humidity we left at home (and will soon return to).

This shot shows how very clear the water is here.

A section of our walk that took us through a large park right in the center of town

Part of the path that leads down to the water. The trail is up on a bluff above the water.

After our walk, we headed back to the hotel to get changed for dinner.  Jimmy had made reservations in the Empress room for our anniversary dinner.  It was so special!  The food and the service were outstanding, and when we finished our meal, they brought us out desserts with a special little sign that said happy anniversary and they each had a lighted candle.  What a great day we had!

Our salads

My risotto with local vegetables and a jumbo prawn

Jimmy’s steak

Jimmy’s dessert

My dessert

Right after sunset, I headed back out to take some pictures at night.  Many of the buildings are lit at night, including the Parliament buildings.  The lighting was  installed  all along the outline of the building  to celebrate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee in 1897.  They are still on today and this is the year of Queen Elizabeth’s Diamond Jubilee.  These photos were taken at about 9:45 pm, and you can see that it is not completely dark.  What a beautiful way to end this beautiful day.

The inner harbor at night

The inner harbor

The Empress Hotel at night

The Parliament Buildings, all lit up at night

Oh Canada!

31 Jul

Today was the day for us to head to the great frontier of Canada!  We got up a little earlier than usual, had a bowl of oatmeal and coffee at the bistro downstairs in our hotel and arranged for a cab to pick us up at 7:00 am for the ride to Pier 66, where we  boarded the Victoria Clipper.  The Clipper is a high speed catamaran.

I was surprised to learn that they considered high speed to be 35 mph (or 30 knots.)  The trip out to Victoria took 2 hours and 45 minutes.  (Glad we chose the high speed version!)  It was very overcast and a little misty once we got out onto the water, more typical of what I imagined the weather out here would resemble.  While we were in Seattle,it didn’t rain on us at all the whole time we were there.

We were within site of shoreline at all times through the duration of the trip.  The ride was fairly smooth and neither one of us had any problem at all with sea-sickness.  The little girl that sat behind us was not so lucky however…let’s just say I thought her parents should have run her to the bathroom at the first hint something was amiss, but no, they didn’t!

As we approached Victoria, the clouds began to clear and the sun came out.  It was cooler in Victoria than it had been in Seattle this week.  It was around 60 degrees when we arrived, but there was a swift cool breeze off of the water that made the temperatures feel cooler than they were.

We made it through customs with no problem, the customs officer asked us the usual questions and one question I thought was somewhat odd.  She wanted to know if either one of us was carrying any pepper spray or mace.  (Do we look like we carry pepper spray and mace?)  We both chuckled and said no, and she released us to go on our way.

Victoria is a beautiful town.  We were anxious to see some of the area, but walked to the hotel first to check our bags since the room wasn’t ready yet.  The first thing we did, was to walk down to the waterfront to find a waterside “shed” called Red Fish, Blue Fish.  (I can’t really use the word restaurant to describe it, maybe food stand would be more appropriate)  Someone had told Jimmy about this place and he was anxious to try their halibut.  It’s a little dockside shack on a pier, but we knew we’d found it when we saw the line of people waiting to order.

The line we had to wait in to place or order

It’s all outside seating (and it was cold and windy).  The dock had a long wooden counter with stools overlooking the water and then there were other short stools for sitting.  Everyone just bellied up to the bar with their food, sitting beside complete strangers.  It was a neat experience and we are always anxious to try the places that locals frequent.  You can usually find some really good food that way.  This place was no exception, no wonder people willingly waited in that line!

We stood in the ordering line for about 45 minutes, then had another short wait to get our food.  Jimmy ordered the fish and chips (halibut) and I ordered a bay scallop fish taco (no fish, just scallops, slaw, a sweet onion relish and I don’t know what else)  It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten.  I would seriously stand in that line again for another.  I just ordered one, but I was soon wishing I’d ordered two!

While we were standing in line to order, the hotel called and said our room was ready, so after we ate, we headed back over there to get settled into our room.  We were delighted to find we had a great inner harbor view from our room!

We went back out again, and stopped at the little information center to pick up maps of the area, and some other information. We then walked the waterfront trail over to Fisherman’s Wharf where there’s a small community (33) of floating homes.  They are so unique and adorable.  They are not houseboats (the difference being that houseboats have motors and these do not)  These are homes that are moored to the dock with ropes.  People live on them and they float on the water.  Notice the cute little water taxi in the photo below.  There is a taxi stand right on the dock, and you can catch the water taxi (called H2O taxi to many little stops along the waterfront)

An adorable little floating home. It looked like a little dollhouse.

Taking pictures of floating homes!

Once we finished our walk, we headed back to the center of town and did a quick tour of the Parliament buildings.  They were very interesting and we were able to see many old photos of royalty when they visited those same buildings.  They are still used when Parliament is in session in Victoria.

The main entrance to the Empress Hotel. I have to find out more about these very unusual trees in the front. .

Inner Harbor

We saw sea planes land and take off every few minutes as we walked along the waterfront today. It’s a common way to travel here!

We ate dinner at a place right across the street from our hotel.  We were really hungry by this time and were delighted to find that the food was delicious.  Jimmy ordered fish of some type and a lobster tail, I ordered lobster ravioli with scallops.  We both splurged on dessert.  He got a caramel almond bread pudding and I tried the ganache crepe which was filled with triple chocolate ice cream.  I really hope we can get in some walking miles tomorrow!

Sunday Boat Tour and Dinner above the City

30 Jul

We got up on Sunday morning and headed to Starbucks for breakfast.  Not because that’s the only place we want to eat, but because that’s the only place that is open when we start our day.  Surprisingly, at least in the area near our hotel, the other breakfast places don’t open til 8:00 am, so it was Starbucks once again this morning.  After breakfast, we caught a bus over to the Bell Tower area and attended the City Church.  It is always gratifying to be with other believers in other cities.  It helps make you feel more at home!  The Bell Tower campus is a satellite church from the main campus of City Church, but today, Judah Smith (the lead pastor of the main church) spoke at the Bell Tower campus, so that was a treat for us.  We thoroughly enjoyed the service and the message was excellent.  After church, we walked down to the waterfront to get a bite to eat and once again found a restaurant out on the pier.  There was a huge cruise ship (the Norwegian Pearl) docked right behind the restaurant, loading on its cargo for an Alaskan cruise.

When we finished lunch, we walked on down to Pier 55 and boarded a tour boat for a cruise around the bay in front of Seattle, up through the shipping channel, through the locks and into  Lake Union.  We really enjoyed this waterfront view of the city, and learned some interesting history along the way.  The cruise lasted for 2 1/2 hours.

We passed under this drawbridge then up to the locks

The International Fountain near the Space Needle

Once we disembarked from the boat, we took a short bus ride to the Space Needle.  We walked around that area for awhile to kill a little time before our dinner reservations.  We had originally taken a 9:45 pm reservation for dinner at the space needle restaurant because that was the only time available.  While we were on the cruise, Jimmy called to see if they’d had a cancellation and after a couple of different attempts, they told us that something had just opened up at the 5:30 pm time slot. We were delighted!  We eagerly jumped at the chance to eat earlier, because we knew we’d be able to see more of the city at that time of day, and we were already getting hungry.

I think I grinned through the entire meal. It was such a neat experience!

View from the restaurant

Prawn and melon appetizer

House salad- apples, blue cheese, huckleberries, and a huckleberry dressing

My entree, scallops, spinach and zucchini-bacon pancakes. Amazing!

Jimmy’s entree-salmon on top of spinach and tri-color new potatoes

Dessert and coffee- warm chocolate cake with vanilla bean ice cream. An awesome way to end an awesome day!

When we left the restaurant, we rode the monorail out of Olympic park and to the shopping district.  We looked around there for a while, then caught the train back to our hotel.  Another very full, enjoyable day!  Tomorrow we get up early, pull out the passports and head to Victoria, Vancouver Island, BC.

An Island Adventure

29 Jul

On Saturday, we decided to explore some of the surrounding countryside.  We got up, grabbed a quick breakfast at Starbucks (where else when you’re in Seattle?) and headed down to the waterfront to catch the ferry over to Bainbridge Island.  The ride across Elliott Bay took about 35 minutes, and the cost was a bargain at about $7.00 for the round trip fare.  There are a number of ferries that criss-cross the waters of Elliott Bay, Pugent Sound, and points beyond, because there are 292 islands in the area, with Bainbridge being the largest.  So as you can imagine, there are always ferries coming and going.   The ferry we rode was huge.  I don’t think you can tell just how big it was from the pictures.  It carried automobiles, bikes, and motorcycles as well as pedestrians.  The trip was extremely smooth and scenic.  Once we arrived at Bainbridge Island, they allowed those on bicycles to exit first, then the cars and the pedestrians.

Pulling away from Seattle

Once we were out into the bay, the wind picked up and since it was about 58 degrees, we sat inside for part of the trip

Bikes were allowed to exit first, then cars.

Once we docked at Bainbridge Island, we headed up the hill to the downtown area. The walk was beautiful.  A wooded trail took us through wild blackberries, (which don’t ripen until August here) and clusters of plants that we thought might be blueberries.  Once we got into town, I asked the first person I thought might know if the plants we saw were blueberries.  We found a group of three ladies that were master gardeners manning a booth at the farmers market.  I described to them what I’d seen walking into town and they said that the plant was called Salal. They pulled out a book and showed me a picture of it.   This particular plant grows wild all over the island and though they are edible, they are not blueberries.  She said they are still tart at this time of the year, but in October,when they are fully ripe, then they are very tasty.

Along the walk into town

Bainbridge is a cute little town with a main street lined with little shops and restaurants.  We stopped in at the visitor information center and talked to a very helpful volunteer who gave us a map of the walking paths on the island.  We decided to explore the shops and the farmer’s market first.  The business district was an easy walk from end to end and only took about ten minutes to see it all.  We really liked the farmer’s market.  The weather must be just about perfect here for growing because I’d never seen such beautiful vegetables and flowers.  We bought some cookies for later and enjoyed mingling among the locals and seeing all the beautiful produce.

I had to take a picture of this tree because it was so unusual. I guess alot of folks think the same thing, because it had a tag hanging off of a lower branch telling about it. I’m thinking its owners grew tired of answering the same question over and over. It is called a monkey puzzle tree and is native to the Andes Mountains. Needless to say, it’s the only one in the area.

Bainbridge Island Community Church

We thoroughly enjoyed the farmers market.  One of the surprising things that we’ve noticed while in this area, is that there are no flies!  We’ve eaten outdoors for lunch every day since we’ve been here, and have not been bothered by any kind of bug.  There were no bugs at the farmer’s market.  They were able to put their breads, cookies, etc. in baskets out in the open and leave them uncovered.  It was much different than at home!

When we were through there, we walked down to the waterfront where the trail began.  Part of the trail took us along the shoreline, through beautiful neighborhood areas with little seaside cottages, through parks and past historic buildings.  I probably took close to one hundred pictures or more.  It was just beautiful!  I’ve included just a sampling of pictures below.

Madrone tree. There are lots of these on the island.

Steps up to the mailbox from a downhill front yard

This portion of the trail went right through these front yards. The bay is to the left, with homes to the right. It was gorgeous here!

I’m the keeper of the map!

Jimmy is the keeper of the cookies!

This hike was about 2 miles in length, and it ended back in town where we started.  By then it was noon, so we decided to eat lunch then walk the other path we wanted to explore.  We found a place right on the main street through town called the Streamliner Diner.  We noticed it had a good crowd when we came into town and a line of people waiting to be seated.  We weren’t sure if we could get seated or not since it was right at the busy time for lunch, but there was no wait and we were able to sit outside at the corner table.  The food was delicious!  Jimmy ordered the BLTA (bacon, lettuce, tomato, avocado) with hashbrowns (apparently one of their signature sides) and a cup of chili.  (It was still in the low 60’s)  I ordered a spinach salad that was topped with carmelized bacon (one of the best ways I’ve ever eaten bacon!) toasted walnuts, apples, etc.  It was really good!

After we ate, we hiked the other trail that went in the opposite direction from the town center.  This trail took us through a marsh and back out to the waterfront.  It was about a mile and a half in length.

Through the marsh. Wide boards had been laid down since it was mud and water on both sides.

An old boat, left on the shore years ago.

We followed the trail back to where it started at the ferry station, bought a cup of coffee and ate our cookies as we waited for the ferry to arrive.  We thoroughly enjoyed our visit to Bainbridge Island!

Coffee and cookie break before boarding the ferry back to Seattle

Once we arrived back in Seattle, we caught a bus to a waterfront park where the Seattle Art Museum has a sculpture garden.  We walked through the sculptures and took some more pictures.

We ended this very full day with dinner at Wild Ginger, a restaurant that has excellent Asian food.  We were so tired at the end of the day.  We estimated that we probably walked 12 miles or so, and when we got up from dinner, we had stiffened up and looked like a couple of old folks hobbling out of the restaurant, but it was fun and we had a very enjoyable day.

Seattle Underground

28 Jul

Early morning at the Market, Elliott Bay in the background

We began our day with an early morning trip back to Pike Place Market.  The delivery trucks were already busy unloading their goods and vendors were busy restocking their stalls for the day.  There was no crowd at all this time of day, and we really enjoyed being in this area and having it all to ourselves.  We made a stop at the original Starbucks for coffee, which is right across the street from Pike Place Market.

They only served coffee at this Starbucks, so we had to walk on down the block to find breakfast. Speaking of Starbucks, there is practically one on every corner.  Honestly, there are so many I decided to Google it to see just how many there are.  424 in the city of Seattle!  They all seemed to be doing just fine, guess the cool weather helps.

We found a little shop called Three Sisters Bakery, and bought our breakfast.

Notice my lens cap in relation to the shrimp. They were huge!

After we finished our breakfast of  bagels and muffins, we headed over to Pioneer Square (the oldest part of Seattle) and took the Underground tour.  This tour  took us under the streets to old Seattle  that had been covered up by the “new” street level after the great Seattle fire of 1889.  The old streets and sidewalks lie under the present day streets in this old section of town. We were able to see old buildings covered over and everything we saw was just as it had been left when they raised the level of the street and sidewalks.  When we entered a building to go down to the underground, it was actually the second floor window (made into a door) that we entered through.  Everything had been brought up one story higher, so therefore the groundfloor levels had become basement level, and the second floors had become groundfloor level.   It was very interesting.  When they raised the level of the streets, as the poured the new sidewalks, they installed “skylights” of purple glass squares placed into a grid.  This allowed some light to reach the original streets and sidewalks below. We noticed several skylights as we walked the streets in the last couple of days.  The underground wasn’t wasted space.    The businesses above used the underground for storage.  Extra inventory, such as flour, rice, beans, etc. was stored there by the various businesses above. However,  that practice had to be discontinued because the rat population down there grew so large, it caused an outbreak of bubonic plague.  The solution for that little problem was to hire children to go down there and kill the rats.  The city would pay 5 cents for every rat a child killed.  Those 12 years old and under were the only ones allowed to earn money in this way.  To prove they’d really killed the rat, they were required to  bring in the rat tail as proof.  (And my kids complain about doing little odd jobs around the house for extra money!)

While we were in the area, we stopped at the waterfall and took some pictures of the area. (the waterfall is not a natural feature, it was built by the employees of UPS on the site of where the company got its start) It’s a beautiful oasis right in the center of the city.

The famous totem pole that was stolen from the Indians. Seattle ended up paying them for it years after the fact.

The underground tour took about an hour and a half, so after that, we headed back down to the waterfront to try out another seafood place.

Jimmy had picked out a restaurant at one of the piers called the Crab Pot.  We sat at a table  outside, and by this time, it had warmed up to about 65 degrees. ( The morning began at 58 degrees)  Today was overcast all day and reminded me alot of the weather in London.  It didn’t rain though, but I guess because I was thinking of London, I ordered hot tea with lunch.  It was nice to sit outside overlooking the water to eat.  We had grilled scallops and clam chowder for appetizers, and I had clams and fries and Jimmy ordered something called “Crab, crab, crab”  It consisted of 3 types of crab, (King crab, snow crab, and Dungeness).  The waiter covered our table with a big piece of butcher paper, then brought out a wooden plank and a wooden hammer and sat it in front of each of us.  At that point, I was a little worried I had mis-ordered.  I certainly didn’t want to have to crack open clam shells to get my lunch!  But we found out he just assumed we were going to share.  (Jimmy tends to order amounts of food ample for two people, then eats it all himself! Lol.)  He brought our order out to us and sat a nice basket of clams and fries in front of me.  Jimmy’s meal came in a big stainless steel bowl that the waiter dumped out on the butcher paper right between us.  The crabs were cooked with red potatoes and corn on the cob.

After lunch, we walked up the harbor steps to a bus stop where we caught a bus out to Boeing Field.

Starting up the Harbor Steps

At the top of the Harbor Steps looking down toward Elliott Bay

There, we toured the Museum of Flight and really enjoyed it.  We were able to walk through Airforce One and the Concorde, and see a large gallery of World War I and II fighter planes.  I actually enjoyed this very much.  I wasn’t sure if I would, but I thought Jimmy would really like it.  Since he is so good natured about all the stuff I drag him to see, I figured it was the least I could do, but I ended up enjoying it just as much as he did.

Cockpit of a “Blackbird”

Mr. President steps off of Airforce One

After the museum, we caught a bus back to our hotel, changed clothes and went to dinner.  We ate at a steak place a couple of blocks from our hotel.  Jimmy ordered a bone in rib-eye, which would barely fit on the platter they served it on.  It looked like a tomahawk with the long bone sticking out!

It was a great meal, and we ended with ice cream.  Jimmy ordered a tangerine sorbet in a almond sugar shell and I ordered homemade maple ice cream. We walked back to our hotel just in time to watch the opening ceremony for the London Olympics.

Hello Pacific Northwest!

26 Jul

Today began early!  We had an early flight out of Nashville so our day started at 3:30 a.m., and since Seattle is 2 hours behind our usual time, we were ready for bed at 5:00 p.m. local time after such a long day!  Our goal is to at least stay awake until 8:00 p.m.

It was a beautiful day for flying.  Very few clouds and a great view most of the way.  I was really surprised at how dry and brown large sections of the country are as a result of the drought.  Seeing it with my own eyes really made me realize the scope of this very dry season and the effect it will have on the farmers.

An unexpected treat was that we flew right over Yellowstone National Park, and since it was so clear today, we had a great “bird’s eye” view.  Just beyond Yellowstone, we could see the Grand Tetons and then Mt. St. Helen’s as we made our approach to Seattle

We landed at Sea-Tac International Airport around noon local time.  The outside temperature was 68 degrees, with a brilliant blue sky and not a cloud to be seen anywhere.  What a change from the 104 degrees we came from!

We had no problem at all maneuvering through the airport, grabbing our luggage and hopping aboard the Link Light Rail for the train ride into Seattle.  It was a bargain at only $2.75 per ticket.  We exited the train at the Pioneer Square station and walked 1/2 block to our hotel.

As soon as we checked in, we went right back out to find seafood!  We had eaten breakfast on the plane, but hadn’t had lunch and it was about 2:00 p.m. local time by then (which was 4:00 p.m. according to our stomachs)  We walked down to the waterfront (an easy walk from our hotel) and settled on Elliot’s Oyster House (even though neither one of us eats oysters).  But Elliot’s isn’t just about oysters, they had other fresh seafood on their menu and proudly let us know that it was all wild-caught not farm raised.  The restaurant sits on a pier and we were able to eat at an outdoor table overlooking the waterfront of Elliot Bay.

We tried the crabcakes and the house salads, which were both very good.  Jimmy had the salmon for his meal and I had an heirloom tomato, fresh mozzarella and shrimp salad.  (I know that’s a little weird; a side salad followed by an entree salad, ok very weird, but it was really good!)

After we finished our meal, we walked on down the waterfront and then climbed a long flight of stairs up to Pike Place Market.  We needed the exercise after our meal, and those stairs did the trick.  I didn’t realize Seattle was so hilly.  

We spent some time looking at all of the food stalls, and even though we’d just eaten, it all looked wonderful.  Fresh produce, artisan cheeses, handmade pastas,  freshly caught seafood, fresh flowers and every imaginable fresh fruit and vegetables, all laid out tantalizingly waiting to be eaten!  We bought a pound of Mt. Rainier cherries and a box of fresh raspberries and decided that would be our dinner.

Pike Place Market has been a Seattle landmark since 1907.  It looks like a step back in time.  The market was started as a way to cut out the middle man between farmer or fisherman, and the consumer.  Our plan is to go back first thing in the morning (6 a.m. or so) and browse through the stalls to find our breakfast.  I’d also love to get more pictures in less crowded conditions.

Wow, it’s already 8:15 p.m. here, past my bedtime!  Better turn in!