I know it's been a few days but it's taken a bit of time to get our bearings. I never ever realized Seattle is as big as it is. I love a city, heaven knows, but I think Emerald City might be just a hair too much. And, no. I am not going up in the Space Needle.
Nevertheless, to catch everyone up. We did arrive in Seattle on ... Friday. Yes, it was Friday. A short jaunt up from Portland on the Cascades, Amtrak's "commuter service" between the two cities. We had a nice ride in business class with a good view of the Nisqually Reach Aquatic Reserve as we traveled. I saw an eagle, a seal, and the really astonishingly clean water of the Reserve before Tacoma.
Looks from the Washington Department of Transportation website that they might be working on a bypass around this area to eliminate conflicts with freight. We were lucky; this was one section of the trip where we encountered no delays at all.
And really the trip was bright and clear in spite of this photo. Some bridge somewhere.
The real fun definitely began when we got into King Street Station and wandered out into the city. I mean, really. We were complete and utter rubes. We shuffled our way to the Chinatown station for the Link Rail and then basically just stood there mystified by the whole chaotic scene. Mind you, it was right around lunchtime on a sunny Friday so there were people just everywhere. Eventually Bill asked a young transit cop to help us figure out how to buy a damned ticket. Then he practically had to take us by the hand and lead us to the elevator. Sad, really.
We eventually got to the station we needed and then trudged up the hill to Hertz for our rental car. That I arranged in August. Only to find a sign on the Hertz rental place in the Hilton that they were having "a system error" and we were to go to one five blocks away. The Hilton doorman said that actually no one's ever there. And, you guessed it, the whole shooting match was messed up. Hertz had no cars. Literally. A car rental company with "no inventory."
Michael, the poor sod left to contend with us, started calling every Hertz outlet in Seattle (as more customers came in from Hilton reservations) and eventually Enterprise as well. By then, I was on my cell making a reservation with Enterprise myself. Half an hour later, Will from Enterprise came to pick us up in a silver Nissan Rogue (that I now love). When we got back to the Enterprise office to do the paperwork, he strolled in and announced, "Got another Hertz rescue!"
NEVER rent from Hertz. The only reason I did on this trip was that Amtrak Guest Rewards was offering a bonus points promotion. They better refund my prepaid money or there will be blood.
Anyway, off we drove (with a few wrong turns) in the craziness that is a Seattle drive and made our way to The Bird's Perch, our AirBnB for the next five days. It's fine. Not quite the accessible paradise I hoped but good enough certainly. Actually, the only real complaint we have is that Bill has nowhere to sit. The couch is way too low and the only chairs are fragile little things. But the shower is lovely, there is a garage and a washer and dryer, and a gas fireplace.
And it's reasonably convenient for getting around, although yesterday our goal was to head down to catch the Bainbridge Island ferry, cross the Sound, and rendezvous with Bill's old friends Jeff and Denise Riley. They were coming down from Port Hadlock where they have lived for several years. We headed for the University of Washington Link station (Huskies were off losing to the Ducks in what must have been an exciting game) only to find there is no permitted parking at the station. Not even for poor helpless cripples on a Saturday when there's nothing going on. Kind of ridiculous.
So we decided we would just drive down to Seattle, park somewhere and take the ferry. Well, I plugged it into the old Google maps app and the next thing you know we are driving the Rogue onto the ferry. So a quick call to Jeff elicited the suggestion that we just drive over and pick them up and head up to Port Townsend for lunch instead.
Port Townsend is nothing short of spectacular. More Victorian architecture and cool little shops than one person can stand. I need to go back. All we did was eat and then drive around a bit but as usual we were out of time. Hey, I had to stop for coffee on the way up after that long arduous (okay, 35-minute) ferry ride.
Because, really, my OTHER complaint about our digs is a Keurig coffee machine. Ugh. Why would anyone have one of those things?
This morning Bill suggested - since I spent all day yesterday gasping every time we caught sight of Mount Baker or Mount Rainier - that instead of our original plan for the Pike Place Market today we head out to drive around Rainier. So we did. We never made it around, unfortunately. We got waylaid by the road up to Sunrise Lodge in the National Park (now closed for the season). It's a wow.
I wish we could have continued the loop to Paradise Inn (also closed for the season). Next time.
Does anyone doubt the need to care for these incredible public spaces? We spent $30 to drive up that highway to the Sunrise. Worth every damned cent.
In the end, we will probably make the trip downtown (NOT up the Space Needle) before we leave on Wednesday afternoon. We shall see!
The Great Allegheny Passage Companion