Sunny Seattle

AmeriVespa may have left town but Seattle is still close to my heart.


Today it’s easy. I’m straight on and have a prime standing spot. Where I board, remaining on two feet is almost obligatory.

The bing-bing-bong sounds and two doors slide somewhat jerkily towards each other. I register the comforting bump of rubber kissing rubber.

Some days it’s like that. Calm, relaxed and with the added benefit of personal space. Other days it can be backpacks, shoulder bags and the occasional challenging odour. One thing’s for sure, the journey always has a hint of unpredictability about it, yet at the same time, it’s entertaining. I can easily lose myself in the heady mix of people watching and taking in the world outside.

Somewhere else in the city a failed armed forces drone pilot has been a little too heavy-handed on the joystick and I’m forced back against the glass screen. That sudden change from motionless to purposeful movement that results in people resembling stalks of wheat swaying in a breeze. The familiar hum of acceleration gives way to harsh white-noise. It’s time to take in my surroundings.

Inside it’s a mix of middle distance stare, daily papers, dominant white ear buds and the occasional ‘beats’ by Dr Dre, wrapped over a nodding head. I scan the carriage, hoping to catch sight of someone engaging with life. It’s not to be, expressionless faces and heads bowed to the gaming gods are all I see.

Outside a silver disk is still visible but is giving up its reign, being replaced by a palette of blue, white and red. Below is a trail of metal bugs, rolling along like a form of mutated caterpillar, no two parts of its long body matching.

My gaze travels along the ruled lines of roads, past houses and towers to the natural world. Rising in the distance are those captivating, sugar sprinkled mountains. My heart rate slows, my chest rises and falls at a relaxed pace. There really isn’t a better sight in the morning. I’m infused with awestruck and a sense of peace. The din that surrounds me has unconsciously been turned down from ten to two. Warmth rises from deep within me and escapes through my open mouth. All too quickly my trunk starts to strain, wanting to keep itself upright, fighting the deceleration. The failed drone pilot is busy playing with his human cargo. Bong, and a disembodied voice announces another stop. The soundtrack is paused and doors slide open. Middle distance stares and nodding heads leave for who knows where. Replacement ear buds and backpacks shuffle into the confines of the carriage. I briefly get close up and personal with a sheet of thick black polyester mounted to someone’s back until the wearer manages to turn ninety degrees. Swish, thud, sway and we’re off to the next stop.

I play the inside/outside game for a few more stops. The doors slide open and although I want to rejoin the world I’m confronted by a paparazzi like crowd blocking my path. With a deep breath I broaden the shoulders and assess whether it’s a ‘hit the ten-pins’ or a ‘parting of the seas’ morning. A pathway appears and I’m off.

This is my morning ride. Although the route is repeated, the differences can be subtle or dramatic. Today was a good day, but there are times when the world outside is grey. On those days, clouds can envelop me within the carriage as I long for the uplifting sight of those mountains. Life is more bearable when the day starts with the Lions in view.

Seaside wrap up

The excitement of Cannon Beach was obviously too much. Thoughts of activity slipped away to be replaced by thoughts of, well, nothing. Having said that the holiday culture need was satisfied by paying a visit to the Seaside museum. As with past walking tours and museum visits, a familiar pattern to the history of the town emerged.

Hardy pioneers, entrepreneurs, and fierce fires all stepped forward to take their bow. I may have to abstain from west coast culture for a while as its becoming a single story with highlights that can be swapped in and out of any of the towns or cities. The museum was actually full of informative exhibits. As Seaside is such a small place it was interesting to thumb through the old school photos. The growth of the town was very visible through the expanding grad class.

A lazy morning turned in to a slow lunch. A perfect holiday pace that continued in to the afternoon with another visit to bygone days, this time courtesy of a wander around the antiques and collectables mall. Maybe it’s an ageing thing. There’s just something comforting about unearthing artefacts from ones childhood. Simpler days. One great fund was an original Life Magazine from the actual day I was born. A must purchase if ever there was.

The day wound down with a slightly energetic walk along Seaside promenade. It’s a lot narrower than some of the marketing pics make it look, however it’s a good long walk. Combine the prom with a beach stroll and you have a great way to close off the day.

After a déjà vu final day it was time to head back north. The weather was turning and the Megler Bridge across the Columbia had an air of mystery about it as the far side was shrouded in mist. Once back in Washington, Dismal Nitch provided the perfect photo opportunity for an end of holiday snap.1308-Seaside-06

To spice up the drive home, lets face it, who wants to sit on I5 when there are alternatives, we decided to head across country to Bremerton and take the ferry to Seattle. Excellent choice.

The Puget Sound was a millpond, the sun was shining and the sights coming in to Seattle were sumptuous.

1308-Seaside-20So that was it. An Oregon coast break. As wonderful as living in the Lower Mainland is there’s something very special about walking mile long, almost deserted beaches. The beaches absolutely lived up to their reputation of being stunning. I’m certain that I’ll be beside the seaside again.

Namesake beach

It would be wrong. Travelling to the Oregon coast and not visiting Cannon Beach would be unthinkable. So, a day at namesake beach it was.

1308-Seaside-03I’d ridden around Cannon Beach on my first motorcycle road trip in 2010. Back then I was on a tight schedule and couldn’t spare the time to stop. It felt good to be able to put that right. The strange thing was that the town area was nothing like what I thought I remembered. It would appear that I was suffering from bikers delusion. In 2010, Cannon Beach was early on day two of a six day excursion. I guess places simply blended together, and so in 2013 I was greeted by an unfamiliar town.

Although still very much a tourist-centric town, Cannon Beach seems to have set out its stall as providing a more ‘upscale’ experience than Seaside, at least in the town area. If you’re just looking for access to a great beach there’s nothing to choose. Oregon schools had returned for the new year so I have no idea how busy the beaches can get in summer. At the tail end of August, although not deserted, there w as plenty of space.

1308-Seaside-04Cannon Beach can also differentiate itself through the presence of the large Haystack Rock which certainly adds character to the area. The rock reminded me of the even larger beachside giant at Morrow Bay in California. I’d spent a wonderful afternoon in Morrow with my young family back in 2000, cue melancholy moment.The town area of Cannon Beach has none of the Seaside amusements, prefering to focus on the arts to persuade its visitors to part with their cash (or maybe to part with their credit card is more appropriate). So within a short drive one can have two very different holiday experiences.

It was back to Seaside for the evening meal and a walk along the promenade. The simple joys of walking and observing reminded me that this holiday was about relaxing. I wasn’t fussed about what the towns offered, the beaches were great to stroll along. The beaches provide the perfect place to let work related stresses get blown away.

1308-Seaside-07A spectacular, melt in to the ocean sunset viewed from the Lewis and Clark commemorative statue rounds off a very agreeable day.


The two sides of Seaside

The receptionist at the hotel in Olympia seemed very underwhelmed when we mentioned that Seaside was the next destination. Her advice was to make sure we took in Cannon Beach. Later on it would become clear what her advice was based upon.

1308-Seaside-05After another roadworks littered drive, Seaside! Seaside has made its claim to fame as the end of the Lewis and Clark trail. It seems that the claim is stretching things slightly as the expedition stopped at Fort Clatsop and sent a working party to what is now Seaside to produce salt to preserve food for the journey back east. I’m not going to call out Seaside on a technicality.

First impressions? Accommodation excellent, beach amazing. Time to explore some more. The short walk in to town turned up a local cafe and what appeared to be a rather interesting antiques hall. More about that later. Walking back to the suite, the second side of Seaside surfaced.

The walk west along Broadway became a walk back in time. It was seaside in the more English style, compete with arcades. The only missing piece was the ‘Kiss me quick’ hat. So from the very European (Dutch/Belgian coast) beach to a very British seaside experience all within the space of a few hundred metres. I’m guessing that the hotel receptionist in Olympia has been exposed to ‘Kiss me quick’ Seaside and not the great beach. My preference is undoubtably the sandy Seaside, one of multi-mile beach, constant crashing of waves, rolling dunes and wide open space rather than the more manufactured Seaside. 1308-Seaside-02The pont is that there’s a choice. Although the town is small, the Pacific frontage is wide and deep enabling those that prefer their downtime to involve nothing more than nature to get exactly that. Want dodgems? No problem, Seaside can do that too.

Dinner was taken in the rather fine Pacific Way Cafe in the adjoining town of Gearhart. Well worth the short drive both for the food and taking in yet another stretch of super sandy, lightly populated beach.

The holiday was shaping up well in terms of offering mental downtime.

This was a great view to end the day.