A couple of stories will really show why we like the weather here. On one of our trips we were walking back from our anniversary dinner and the tide was coming in with a strong breeze in our face and we got a little chilled by the experience. The temperature at the time was 70 degrees. When we called back to KC to talk to family we asked what the temperature was there and the comfort index was 115. The last trip in 2008 was a little warmer than usual and a little more cloudy and rainy than usual. The weather forecaster mentioned that it was going to be hot the next day; 75 degrees, and that a new high for an overnight low could be set if the forecast of 62 degrees was met. Contrast that to KC where everybody cannot seem to wait until it is in the 80's.
There is an abundance of sightseeing opportunities in the Seattle area. No matter where you are you are a short distance to mountains or islands or the coastline. The snow line in the mountains at this time of year is about 11,000 feet so you pretty much can see snow capped mountains year round. Mount Rainier National Park is one of the most scenic areas that you will ever see. Drive along the 400 mile self-guided driving tour called the Cascade Loop from the waters of the Puget Sound in Seattle across the Cascades and the Bavarian community of Leavenworth and into the Columbia River Valley which is a high desert climate that has excellent orchards for cherries near Wenatchee. While in Wenatchee also visit the Ohme Garden which Herman & Ruth Ohme developed themselves and maintained for over 40 years. Ohme Garden sits on a vista and is an evergreen oasis in the high desert. After visiting the garden continue on the loop back into the Cascades and alpine lakes and then loop back to the Seattle area and the waters of the Puget Sound.
Right across the Possession Sound from Mukilteo is Whidbey Island where you can visit Coupeville where Practical Magic was filmed and eat the best mussels that you will ever have, the Penn Cove mussels. Langley is an artsy community on South Whidbey that takes you back to the simpler times in the Pacific Northwest. Many buildings there are on the National Registry of Historic Places and the eating establishments are top notch, especially the Fish Bowl. If you are staying at the Silvercloud, or you park your car in the nearby parking lot, you can walk onto the ferry and a bus will be there to take you directly to Langley (the Langley express) or anywhere on the island for free. A can't miss place to visit is the Deception Pass and the amazing bridge on the northern most point of Whidbey Island.
Right in Mukilteo is the Mukilteo Lighthouse (or Elliot Point Lighthouse) that is just steps away from the Silvercloud Inn. Mukilteo is a local Indian word for "good place for camping" and I find that ironic since we love this place so much and we are embarking on a lifestyle of camping across these United States. Although the lighthouse was recently turned over to the city the navigational equipment is still utilized and maintained by the Coast Guard.
The Washington State Ferry system takes you to a lot of places not accessible by car, or more convenient on the ferry. One place not to miss is the San Juan Islands. This is one of the longer ferry rides where your destination is still within the United States; depending on your departure location it can be as long as 4 hours. But along the way you will see incredible scenery and the very good possibility that your trip will include whale watching as close to 90 of these wonderful creatures ply the waters near the San Juan Islands. We drove to Anacortes and walked on to the ferry there and although we did not see any whales on this trip the scenery was worth the trip. We arrived at Friday Harbor and walked around. We ate at the Downrigger which served excellent fish sandwiches on the waterfront. We visited shops, a bakery, just sat looking at the water, all in all had a great day and then we boarded the ferry for our ride back to Anacortes.
If you are visiting downtown Seattle the first place to see is the Pike Public Market. This is a daily farmers market that has seafood and other artsy booths. This is where you can see the fish tossed from behind the counter to the buying customer, but try to catch it better than Niles Crane did in the classic Frazer episode. Near Pikes Market is the original Starbucks with the risqué logo that was toned down once Starbucks went national. There is an aquarium, maritime museum, and countless shops and restaurants along the Alaskan Way.
I struggled whether to list sightseeing first or food first because the eating in the Seattle area is probably the best in the country. During our six trips here (I was also here twice on business trips where Jo did not join me) we have had the best of the following dishes:
- clam chowder (cream based) at Ivar's (multiple locations)
- clam chowder (broth based) at Fish Bowl in Langley
- fish and chips at Ivar's (multiple locations)
- halibut at Ivar's or Arnie's in Mukilteo
- salmon at Ivar's or Arnie's in Mukilteo
- mussels; Penn Cove mussels
- fish taco at the Tin Fish in Mukilteo
- sourdough bread from the Alaskan Sour Dough Bakery on the waterfront
- cherries from an orchard near Wenatchee; be sure and try the Van and Lambert varieties in addition to the Bing and Rainier
- cookie; the gold rush from the Alaskan Sour Dough Bakery
- fudge from the Rosehill Chocolate Company in Mukilteo
- Old Spaghetti Factory (Lynnwood and Seattle)
- King Ludwig's in Leavenworth for German food
- Crab Pot in Bellevue or on the waterfront; get the Seafeast for multiple people
- Elliot Oyster on the pier
- Winslow's Way on Bainbridge Island; get the seafood wrap
- Padrino's Pizza & Pasta; free delivery-recommend the pasta bella and the baked spaghetti
- Skagit Valley; tulip festival in April
- Snoqualmie Falls; Salish Lodge has a die for expensive brunch that you can sit at the window overlooking the falls
- eat at Dahlia's Lounge
- eat at Fisherman's on the waterfront
- eat at Voula's Offshore
- eat at Cafe Nola on Bainbridge Island
- eat at Shanty Cafe on Elliot Blvd; great joint serving great homestyle breakfast and lunch since 1914
- Mount Baker
- Mount St. Helens
NOTE: See more photos from this and other places we have visited at http://www.flickr.com/photos/bobandjotravel/sets/