Final errands, final packing, exiting to Seattle!
Train station. Car 730, Room B (Chris) and Room C (Scott). Rogie Woods is our attendant. Beds already down; room is cramped!
Forgot to bring the champagne! Spilt a bottle of wine with Scott. Went to bed. Didn't really sleep.
All day on the train!
Up just before dawn. Early stop long enough to go get coffee (for those that drink the stuff). Breakfast: Pancakes; Lunch: Angus Burger and Stone IPA; Dinner: Chicken. Observation car: Stone IPA, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale; dice games; musicians!
In Washington State!
Lost the 'O' car in Spokane (it went to Portland). Slept through Spokane stop. Slept in, skipped breakfast. Rode along the Pacific coast down to Seattle. Arrived at King Station on time.
Taxi to Hotel 1000. Able to check in early (check in officially not until 4 PM). Room 906. Lunch at Boka (hotel restaurant): Boka Burger and greyhounds. Want the #2 bus from Spring & 4th. Confusion! Finally found the right bus, got on going the wrong way. Enjoyed a long bus ride through Seattle; saw the Space Needle and ocean; chatted with bus driver (who was from LA). Rode #2 all the way around to where we started; now headed right direction (with new bus driver).
Made it to Ponder. Bought things. Rode #2 bus back to hotel (without incident). Chatted with a lady and her very small dog on bus.
Walked around (by myself) a bit; found a small store that sold beer, bought a couple six-packs. Watched Doctor Who marathon in hotel room and drank beer. And so ends the first day.
Wanted to eat at the Biscuit Bitch for breakfast, but the place was too crowded. Went kitty corner across street to Juno (restaurant for Alpine hotel); nearly empty. Wanted waffles. Got waffles! (Made'm special for me!) Also grapefruit juice from ruby grapefruits! Our server looked a little bit like Wanda Sykes.
Walked back to hotel to plan day. Decided to walk back to where we'd eaten breakfast and try the underground light rail (LINK). Did that.
LINK took us to the ballpark (Safeco Field), a block away on the east. We wanted to eat at the Pyramid Brewery Alehouse a block west of the statium. So we walked all the way around the stadium and found the place.
The Alehouse was good. To start, an order of calamari and another of rosemary-garlic fries (yum). And some fresh local seasonal beers (I started with a "Curve Ball" lager followed by a "Thunderhead" IPA). Then smoked salmon burgers (double-yum)! And more fresh local beers.
Then we walked across the street to the ballpark. It was Ken Griffey night; they were giving out Griffey replica statues to the first N-thousand. We'd decided replica statues weren't really a thing to us, and that good food and beer was more important, so we didn't expect to be among the first N-thousand. And yet, somehow we were.
Good game; Mariners won. We were sitting next to a serious Mariners fan. It was him, Scott, Chris. Which worked out. Scott enjoys the chatting; I wanted to watch the game. I was so full from dinner I didn't have a hot dog, but I did buy a Mariners hat.
Caught the LINK back to the Pioneer Square station and walked back to the hotel. Watched more of the Doctor Who marathon. (New season premieres tomorrow!)
A day on the waterfront!
Walked over to the Pike Place Market to check it out. Interesting enough; lots of variety; many things (from food to flowers) to buy. Also: lots of people; hard to walk through the place.
Ate breakfast at the Athenian. Seat with a nice view of the harbor. Had (chopped) halibut burgers. Very good, but not the way to eat halibut. (Likewise, BTW, those salmon burgers from last night.) Also had some Manny's Pale Ale (which Scott has been raving about). It's okay.
After breakfast we continued walking north and came to Herban Legands (cute name). We bought things. Then we walked west a couple of blocks to the waterfront. The elevator there wasn't working, so we took stairs down to the water level.
Everything was south of us at that point, so we walked south to the Seattle Aquarium. Which turns out to be expensive (27 dollars, I believe) without much bang for the buck. (The Aquarium was the only thing that in any way was a disappointment on the trip, and my disappointment mainly comes from having seen the Boston Aquarium and some other large ones. The Seattle one is fine for kids, but kinda puny if you've been around.)
The Seattle Great Wheel was less expensive, and I enjoyed it more. But then I like getting high and seeing the sights. (The Wheel does take you fairly high, but you can tell the Space Needle it taller.) Your ticket guarantees you three times around; once starting and stopping while the onload/offload, twice at "full speed" (such as it is). We got an extra trip around because the line wasn't terribly long.
After the Wheel, we continued south to Eliot's Oyster House. We started with calamari. Scott was for more Manny's, but I was on a greyhound kick. I had a clam chowder that was wonderful; Scott had oysters (which he claimed were wonderful). Shoulda had grilled salmon (what was I thinking?), but I went for the fresh seared halibut. Which was quite good, no mistake, but I shoulda had grilled salmon.
Our final stop going south was the ferry terminal. We wanted to take as many forms of transportation as possible, and a ferry ride met that requirement. It was also a pretty nice way to take a cheap harbor cruise. Eight bucks round trip to Bremerton, about an hour boat ride each way. And there's a little galley that sells munchies. And beer! So it was a most enjoyable evening boat ride.
On the Bremerton end, we were told we could walk out, turn around, and get in line to re-board. Or we could walk a a block to the Navy Museum. As it turned out, the ferry gal working the offload intuited we planned to reboard and let us hang out with her on the dock. Once everyone was off, we just walked right back on. (So many little details went so nicely on this trip. We found out later that the Navy Museum closed at 5 PM, so checking it out would have been pointless.)
The trip out was in the light; the trip back in the night. It was cool to see the lights of Seattle as we approached.
The ferry loads from a level more than a story above the water level. As it happens, there's a pedestrian walkway from that level, and right at the ferry, that took us to 1st street without having to go up or down. (There's a lot of up or down in Seattle!) So, at the end of a long walking day, it was level ground all the way to the hotel. Score!
And double score! I'd assumed I'd miss the Doctor Who new season premiere but would catch it ondemand when I got back. As it turned out, we got back to the hotel only shortly after the episode began! (Extra good luck for me, since, for whatever reason, they're not making the new season of Doctor Who available in ondemand!)
This trip just keeps getting better and better!
So the idea Sunday was to take a down day to recover from all the walking. We figured to just hang out in the hotel, catch breakfast in the hotel, watch TV, enjoy the day, and order a local pizza delivered for dinner. As luck had it things went according to plan… sorta… except much better!
Wandering down to the hotel restaurant (Boka), we discovered they were doing an Easter Brunch. And, oh, my, what a brunch! There was a waffle station (they had me at waffles) and a salad station. Also fresh bagels and cream cheese, fruit, and juice.
Back in the room we decided that the day required beer. Our options were seeking out a place that sold it to go, or just seeking out a place that sold it, period (we'd wrap ourselves around it). Ultimately we decided we could handle a 4.5 block walk to Pike Brewing. The plan was to have a few beers and then buy some to bring back when we ordered pizza.
As it turns out, we pretty much closed Pike Brewing. And had our pizza there; it was really delicious. (So was the crab bisque.) We started with a sampler flight; followed that with another (sampling 12 four-ounce beers in all). Then we moved on to "full-sized samplers" (i.e. pints, but different each time). This allowed us to more fully explore the beers we'd identified from the samplers as "especially tasty."
We stayed until closing because the bar tender turned out to be a serious Mariners fan and had the game on. So we watched another Rangers @ Mariners game with another Mariners fan while drinking really good beer and eating pizza. Can this trip get any better?
Our last full day!
We tried the Biscuit Bitch again, and this time our timing was good. So was breakfast! I had the "Cheesy Pork n' Bitch" — seriously delicious; seriously filling!
Right outside the Biscuit Bitch we caught the #21 bus and took that down to Diego Pellicer. Where we bought things. (As with Ponder on Thursday, the bus dropped us off and picked us up within a block of the place.) We took the #21 bus back to downtown, past our original stop, past our hotel, to where we could catch the monorail to the Space Needle.
The monorail runs between Seattle Westlake Center to Seattle Center (aka Space Needle park). It, and the Space Needle itself, are all that remain of 1962 World's Fair. (Riding the monorail also checked off another mode of public transport!)
The Space Needle Observation deck is 520 feet above ground. It offers a pretty nice view of Seattle, although it's no longer the highest observation point in the city. (That honor now belongs to the Columbia Building.) On the other hand, the Space Needle is one of the USA's (if not the world's) iconic landmarks. It's absolutely must see if you're in Seattle. (And it is worth it.) ((The Wikipedia article about it is worth reading, too.))
Plus they serve Pike Brewing's Space Needle IPA, which is a quite tasty IPA (it was in the second sampler Sunday night).
The Observation deck doesn't revolve (unless you drink too much), although the restaurant one level down (500') does, once per hour. (As an engineering aside: driven by a single 1+ HP motor.) The lack of revolution resulted in a nice time chatting with two young gals, one of whom wondered out loud if the deck was revolving. Answering that question turned into yet another nice chat session with people we encountered.
After the Space Needle we checked out the Chihuly Glass Garden, which is right next door. This was interesting and worth seeing, although it's not really my thing. (Truth be told, my mind was still on those two gals we'd been chatting with.) But as 'things you can do with glass' goes, definitely impressive. Lots of tubes and globes, but some very interesting techniques.
It rained a bit around this time. I had my rain jacket, Scott had his umbrella, so no problems, and it was about the only rain we got. (There had been some that first day during our #2 bus adventure.) Seriously. The weather in Seattle was part of the fantastic trip!
Later we took the monorail back to the Westlake Station and walked a couple blocks to catch the bus back to the hotel. It had been a full day, so it looked like maybe this was the night to order a pizza… But we done pizza, and there was still grilled fish to find and consume…
So we opted to walk two blocks down to the waterfront and have dinner at Ivar's Acres of Clams. Because: Grilled Halibut. Wrapped in bacon! Oh, yeah.
Ivar's, like Elliot's on Saturday, is upscale, elegant, and usually busy. The trick, a favorite of mine, is to go off-hours when it's still upscale and elegant, but much less busy. I think we were the last party to arrive for (a late) dinner, and the place was nearly empty. (At Elliot's, we'd arrived between lunch and dinner and, again, got seated immediately.)
After dinner, full of halibut and beer, it was just a short two block, slightly uphill, walk back to the hotel. And so ended our last full day in Seattle.
Final fun in Seattle; exit to Minnesota!
Checkout was at 11 AM, but our train didn't leave until 4:40 PM, so we decided to pack in some more fun. We left our bags with the hotel, caught the #62 bus right outside the hotel, and let it take us uphill the two grueling blocks from 1st to 3rd. (It was literally get on at one stop, get off at the very next a few blocks later.) Up on 3rd we caught the #2 bus (going the right way this time) back to Ponder. (Where we bought things. Six days, four dispenseries. Not bad.)
Caught the #2 back to downtown and rode it past our hotel (and our bags) up to Pike Place Market area. Walked a couple of blocks to Pike Place Market and found some fresh bagels (at a fresh bagel kiosk). Even easier: found some fresh smoked salmon to put on the bagels. Also found a place to sit down and eat our bagel and lox.
Turned out our breakfast spot was half a block from Pike Brewing, and what better way to kill time until lunch than with a few beers? Scott bought a Pike Brewing tee-shirt and a Pike Brewing goblet to compliment the one the bar tender let him swipe Sunday night. Also, I ran out to a bottle shop a block away and bought two bottles of champagne for the train trip.
Around 2-ish we wandered down to the waterfront and located The Crab Pot. Where we proceeded to vanquish 1.5 pounds of three kinds of crab. Each. (We each had 1.5 pounds, I mean.) And, why not, long island ice teas.
Once we'd finished and were wrapping up dessert, our server (Adaline) called a taxi for us, and after a few moments we walked out, waited a few minutes, and here comes our cab. We went back to the hotel to pick up our bags (couldn't find the baggage claim they'd given us, but they remembered us, so no worries).
Finally, we arrived at the train station just in time to walk right through the place and onto our train. Car 830, Room A (Chris) and Room E (Scott). Joann is our attendant (she was really nice). Disconnected rooms, so no opening of the connecting door this time.
Joann found me two ice buckets and ice for my champagne, so those chilled while we trained out of Seattle and back up the coast. For dinner I had the Chicken Fettacini Carbone, which was okay. (Yeah, just okay.) And after dinner Scott and I had champagne to toast to a very successful trip!
Then I pretty much passed out on the bench seat. Didn't call for Joann to put down the bed. (Kinda didn't want to. The bed takes over the room; no floor space left at all! I like room to move around.)
Another full day on the train.
I skipped breakfast because I had a bagel left over from yesterday (I'd bought three). Pity I had no lox. (And as far as meals that day: Another Angus Burger for lunch, the Seared Shrimp for dinner.)
Many Stone IPAs in the Observation car. (No Sierra Nevada Pale Ale's left on the train. How did that happen, I wonder?)
The 'watching the view' part of train travel is awesome. So is the service and friendliness. (The cramped conditions, much less awesome.)
Sleeping on the bench worked out, so I did it again Wednesday night.
Turned out the part of the train from Portland (which joined us in Spokane) was three hours late due to conflicts with freight trains. (Scheduling conflicts, not, like, impact conflicts, I hasten to add.) That lateness remained pretty much throughout the trip, although they did somehow make up about an hour on the final leg.
Once back in Saint Paul, we (both sadly and gladly) left the train and returned to our respective cities.
Thus ends a damn near perfect vacation!