Back to reality

A relaxed breakfast, final wander around the town and on the road. Time to head for home.

1308-Winthrop-01The traffic was certainly heavier than Friday. Driving felt more pressured, I had to keep up, the pace was faster. Consequently, the ride back through the Cascades was not as enjoyable. However, the horizontal relaxed state returned at he first pit stop. At the western side of the mountain range you’ll find the North Cascades Visitor Centre and whether one is entering or leaving the range, it’s worth stopping off. The exhibits, 3D map, film show and short hikes are informative and restorative. We followed a trail to a viewing point and were totally awestruck. The Picket Range, some ten miles in the distance appeared like painted scenery in and old movie. Breathtaking and yet so tranquil. The impromptu stop had certainly restored the sense of serenity that the weekend had instilled.

A final zip up I5 and the long weekend was over. Winthrop can be a great escape in the summer. Yes, it’s touristy, but if one puts aside that view and maybe treats the town as somewhere to lodge whilst taking in the surrounding beauty , the place makes sense.

1308-Winthrop-04Although good things can come to an end, the great thing about living in the Pacific Northwest is that the good thing can be revisited easily, it’s not a one off, holiday experience. Not only that but there are also many more ‘good things ‘ just waiting to be explored. One of the aims of relocation was to change my quality of life. Some might say that an 8000+ mile change wasn’t needed to do that. In my case, swapping the built environment of Europe for the outstanding natural environment of Cascadia has been worth every mile.


Winthrop weekend day 2

Soporific or chilled. A fine line maybe. In the morning I’d probably side with the former. The afternoon was more the latter.

1308-Winthrop-02Winthrop plays host to the Shafer Historical Museum. The mainly outdoor attraction is filled with artifacts from the age of giants. Large, mechanical farming and mining equipment was scattered throughout the museum grounds and neatly provided interest whilst walking to the buildings. The early years of Winthrop are neatly captured here and with entry by donation, it was well worth the visit. One thing certainly struck me and that was despite making things from alternative materials, smaller and more efficient, a lot of appliances, tools and transport we use now aren’t really too different from what was on offer a century ago.

1308-Winthrop-03The temperature was certainly rising and despite the forecast of showers, nothing remotely wet turned up. The pace was so laid back that soporific was definitely the feeling for the morning.

The afternoon was spent relaxing at Pearrygin State Park a wonderful place to stop, break out a book and just let the afternoon drift away. The park is a campsite and I’d guess a pretty popular day attraction as well. Water sports and just being horizontal appeared to be the most popular activities.

An easy evening, walking around town, which doesn’t take long, dining and more walking. There was a bar with live music but I didn’t venture in – far too active for this stay.

I stayed at the Duck Brand Hotel. It’s really well situated but offered compact and spartan accommodation. However if the prerequisites for overnight shelter are clean room, reasonable bed and a hot shower, the Duck Brand hits the spot. The price is pretty standard for Winthrop and doesn’t really represent good value for money as there’s no breakfast included. So, for an overnight or two, the place is fine. Anything more and I’d look elsewhere.

Another day done and the mini road trip was checking the boxes.


Seattle short stay – Space Needle

There are spectacular views, really showcasing the surrounding area, not just the city.

Despite living in BC for five years and having toured down south, I’d never visited Seattle. I’ve ridden past the city and even seen the Sounders play the Whitecaps, however, I’d not trodden the Seattle tourist trail. That was about to change. It was time to sample the the home of Grunge and Starbucks.

Although this was a midweek trip, the wait at the border was far longer than expected, who on earth was travelling to the US at 12pm on a Wednesday. One thing worth mentioning here is that even though the wait times haven’t improved, the border crossing experience has. Since taking dual citizenship earlier in the year and investing in Canadian passports, getting in to the US has become a relative breeze. No more long line up in the office to obtain a ninety day visitors visa (green card). No more finger prints and photo’s. No more forgetting to return the green card upon expiry (I’ve received a stern talking to in the past when an expired card has been found in my UK passport). Being Engladian/Canglish sure has its benefits.

Once in the land of the free it’s an easy ride down I5 to Seattle. Interestingly, the northbound lanes were pretty busy. It was the day after the Presidential elections and I couldn’t help wondering if those Republicans that threatened to quit the country if the result didn’t go their way were actually making good on their promise. Maybe not.

The motel for the stay was around 15-20 minutes outside the downtown core on the edge of Washington University. Another find, the Silver Cloud Inn provided a reasonable sized room and good breakfast at half the price of downtown accommodation.

The first port of call the next day was to be Seattle Center and the iconic Space Needle.

The weather gods were playing nicely and it was a chilly but clear morning. Having found early bird parking, which is well worth the early start for, it was a short walk to the Space Needle. Although not totally dominating the sky line, the structure was clearly visible and rather at odds with the usual high tower squareness that predominates.

The Space Needle was erected for the 1962 World Fair and the artist that sketched the design, Edward Carlson, was inspired by the Stuttgart Tower. World Fairs should have a large central structure, and the Space Needle was to be Seattle’s statement.

There’s a CityPass ‘combo’ ticket offered that is valid for six attractions and it’s worth while going for if you intend to visit at least four of the six places. There wasn’t enough time on this trip to make use of the offer, so the $20 entrance it was. In to the lift (elevator)and wow, it moved. The 520 ft from ground to observation platform were covered in around 30 seconds. The city suddenly comes in to view and starts to shrink beneath you as the lift powers up the outside of the structure.

Once at the top it’s possible to walk 360 degrees around the platform, inside and outside. There are spectacular views, really showcasing the surrounding area, not just the city. The Olympics, the Cascades, Puget Sound, the ferries criss-crossing the Sound, spectacular.

The Space Needle does have a revolving restaurant, but it wasn’t on my agenda. Although it could be said that entry is a bit pricy, to me it was worth while to get a sense of the city’s location. This was a good start to the visit. Next stop ground level and the EMP.