June 25 to July 4, 2009 - Seattle area

Photo pages
June 25-June 25 - Seattle west to Yakima Valley
June 26-June 28 - Yakima Valley
June 28-June 28 - Mount Rainier
June 29-June 30 - Olympic Peninsula
June 30-July 1 - North Seattle
June 30-July 2 - Tulalip Casino
July 2-July 2 - Seattle Zoo and Rose Garden
July 2-July 4 - Seattle area

Here is a blog of our trip to the Seattle area, June 25 to July 4, 2009.

Vacation to Western Washington State June 25 - July 4
Kathy and I went on a long vacation to the Seattle area between June 25 and July 4. We left Knoxville around 12 noon on Thursday the 25th on American Airlines. The plane was full, so we ended up not seated together. We flew into Chicago O'Hare and had a 2.5 hour layover. The weathermen said there would be thunderstorms, but luckily we had smooth flying the whole trip. The 2nd leg of the trip we were booked in separate rows, but a super nice lady at the gate ended up getting us Exit row seats....Yea! The flight was a 4.5 hour trip, so we mostly read books. We arrived in Seattle-Tacoma airport around 5:30pm, got our luggage and rented a car from Alamo for $367 for the 9 days. The agent talked me into a larger car (Mercury Marquis) that had leather and extras for an additional $100. We left the airport with a boat with "no extras". We were tired so we went to the hotel. I had found a fairly inexpensive hotel "Cedarbrook" at $139 per night including breakfast. It was listed as a corporate retreat and the property was beautiful. It was surrounded by lush landscaping, so that you could see and adjacent properties and felt like you were in the woods. We were hungry, so we went to a local restaurant "Roasters". It was a neat older restaurant. In the bar, there were dozens of bent airplane propellers and a wheel the bartender would spin to determine the drink of the hour. It landed on a $2 "Sessions" beer that was pretty good. For dinner I had fresh seafood and Kathy had a sandwich.
We went back to the hotel since it was around 7pm local, but 10pm "our" time. I decided to change rentals, so went back to the airport. I traded back down to a Chevy Malibu. It was not a full size car, but we decided to go with it anyway. Back at the room, the bed wasn't the best, but the hotel was super quiet. I woke up early, around 5am, and went down to the restaurant for breakfast and internet surfing. The breakfast was continental, but they had really good food, including a huge bowl of fresh blueberries (I ate way more than my share). After a couple of hours, Kathy finally woke up and we went so Kathy could have breakfast. We packed up and as we were getting ready to leave, we found the "free snack room", it had water, fruit, malted-milk balls, ice cream bars and more. Of course we loaded up!
We headed east out of the Seattle area toward Yakima Valley. On the way, we stopped at Snoqualmie Falls. It was a huge beautiful falls with a very nice landscaped area. There were Rhododendron bushes almost 20 feet wide and tall! And the dogwood trees were in full bloom! The trip from Seattle went up the mountains thru huge mountains with snow in the crevasses and beautiful clear lakes. Finally we got up to the plateau and the landscape went from tall pines, the rainless scrub valleys. It was around a 2 hour trip from Seattle to Yakima. This area is 3-5 mile wide valleys with mountain snow run-off streams. Most of the water is diverted to farms that line the valley floors. We stayed at the Hilton Garden Inn, downtown Yakima. Friday evening we walked to several of the downtown Wine Tasting stores - Gilbert Cellars (ok), Plaza Socievole (ok), Kana (good), Cascade Liquor (regular wine store). We good a good buzz on. The wines were typically 20-30 a bottle (outside our purchase range). The we ate at the Yakima Sports Center (Bar and Restaurant). The place looked good. I had a Clam Chowder that was excellent, then ordered Pork Chops (big portion, but I didn't like the slightly burnt flavoring). Afterward we went to bed early. Saturday we got up and headed to Johnson Orchards to pick fresh cherries (around 6 pounds). Then we spent the day traveling to Yakima Valley Wineries - Bonair (ok), Agate Field (ok), Two Mountain (ok), Horizon's Edge (ok), Portteus (ok, but good snacks). Again we got a good buzz on. On the way back we stopped at Country Garden Antiques (expensive England items), but with a beautifully landscaped grounds. We went back to the HGI and then went to dinner at "Pete's Nightclub/2nd Street Grill". I had the salmon and it came on an Alderwood Plank and the food tasted somewhat burnt.
Sunday morning we got up, ate breakfast at HGI and then got ready to leave. As we left town, we stopped to pick more cherries at "Johnson Orchard" (around 4 pounds). Then we drove west to Mount Rainier. We were going to go to Paradise Inn, but at the entrance to Stevens Canyon Road (highway 706) and Highway 123, we found out that the road was closed due to a washout. To go to Paradise we would have to travel a really long ways around, so we decided to head north along the east side of Mt. Rainier up to the Sunrise point. It was about 30 miles along a very curvy and steep road. When we got to the top (on the northeast side of Mt. Rainier), the visitor bathrooms and buildings were all closed. It was beautiful scenery in an Alpine Meadow with snow still on the ground and flowers starting to bloom. It was around 2pm when we headed back down the mountain, so we decided to go to Paradise Inn after all. The trip took us back along the east face of Mt. Rainier and then south to Packwood. Then we traveled back roads south of Mt. Rainier to the far southwest corner of the park. There we headed back east to the south face of Mt. Rainier. This was a much busier side of the park. But it was spectacular. When we got to the lodge area, we looked at one of the rooms in the Paradise Inn. At $149 per night (for room with a double and twin bed and a tiny bathroom), we decided we like sleeping together too much to stay. We went into the new Visitor Center to look around, then headed down the mountain. We drove all the way through Tacoma, up along the west coast of Puget Sound to Bremerton, WA for a stay at the Hampton Inn. We were at first afraid the hotel was in a bad neighborhood, but eventually ended up in downtown Bremerton at the HI on the water. It was a super nice and quiet area. We ate at "Anthony's Restaurant" (www.anthonys.com). The place was almost empty, but the food was pretty good. We split a fresh Spinach and Strawberry Salad and the Alaska Halibut and Local Salmon entree. Afterwards we walked along the pier then headed back to the room to watch "The Closer", one of Kathy's favorite TV shows.
Monday morning, Kathy got up and did a run around downtown Bremerton. It was short, but she liked it. We then left town to drive to Port Angeles. We stopped in Poulsbo to check out the cute little shops along Front Street. We bought pastries at the Sluys Bakery....they were almost as good as Simma's in Wauwatosa. We also bought chocolate at Boehm's....it was not as good as Bradley's in Knoxville. Afterwards we drove to Port Gamble, but we didn't stop. We then went across the Hood Canal Bridge toward Sequim. We drove thru town, but didn't stop. We finished our Monday drive in Port Angeles and stayed overnight at the Olympic Lodge in Port Angeles. This was a very nice hotel with a golf course in the back, so the view was nice and quiet. We went to eat that evening at Michaels Seafood and Steakhouse (117 E. 1st St). Kathy had a Spinach and Strawberry salad (we thought like the one at Antony's), but it didn't seem to have strawberries. She had the Blue Cheese Burger and that was really good. I had the special seafood dinner (Halibut with blackberry reduction, Morel Mushroom and Risotto and fresh vegetables)....it wasn't very good. The downtown area is cute is many shops and restaurants. Since "Twilight" came out, the town has become semi-famous, but since it's not the main town in the book, it's a little hokey.
Tuesday we were going to take the ferry over to Victorian, B.C. for the day, but we were so tired we decided to skip it. We had breakfast at the O.L. for $7 each, not too bad. We decided to drive over to Fidalgo Island, where Terese is thinking of taking a job. We drove from Port Angeles to Port Townsend. We got to the ferry an hour early, so we had time to walk around downtown. This was a really neat area. There are 7-8 blocks of nice shops and restaurants. We didn't buy anything, but it was a really nice little town. Kathy was apprehensive about the ferry ride, so we bought her Dramamine. She took a half a pill, but I don't think it was necessary. The ferry ride was super smooth with few waves. We sat on the 2nd level deck and watched the scenery and a couple of dolphins. The ferry only took around 30 minutes to get to Keystone on Whidbey Island. We drove thru Oak Harbor (had only a small area of town) and by the Whidbey Island Naval Air Base (where Terese might work). We stopped at the bridge at Deception Pass. The bridge is really high with only a narrow strip of water between. We walked out onto the bridge and I left Kathy to cross the road to take more pictures. It wasn't until I got back to the car that I learned that Kathy has a real fear of heights (I really didn't know). She gave me a hard time about leaving her on the bridge (I'm still really sorry!). We got back in the car and drove to Anacortes. We went in a few antique shops (nothing there I don't all ready have) and then went to the Rockfish Grill & Anacortes Brewery. We had a couple of their beers (very good). Kathy had humus (really good) and I had clam chowder (okay) and Reuben (pretty good). We then walked down the street (6-7 blocks) in and out of shops. We got chocolate at the Anacortes Chocolate Factory (just okay), but they were making fresh caramel (it was very good). We then headed out of town, but stopped at Happy Donuts for donuts (pretty good) and more chocolate (just okay). We then headed toward Seattle to find a place to stay. Along the way we stopped at the Tulalip Casino for a quick gamble. I dropped $200 quickly at the Roulette wheel (gambling $10 per number for 2 spins, then $20 per number for 1 spin). Kathy and I then dropped $20 each in the slot machines.

More information to follow......

On the way back to the hotel, we stopped at the Parker Casino and found out that casinos in the Seattle don't have Roulette, Slots or Craps (we would have to go back to the Tulalip casino). So, with money burning a hole in our pockets, we headed back to the Tulalip Casino. I followed Kathy around playing the slots (they only have video screen slots - no spin wheels - sad to us). Starting with $20 I got ahead to $86, but quickly lost it all. Almost all the machines are 1 penny machines, but you can bet 1-500 units at a time, so the money goes quickly. After Kathy lost $20, we headed over to the roulette wheel and I went back to my tried and true method of betting five $5 numbers (1-3-13-24-36). I missed the first spin, but hit the 3 on the second spin to win $175. I played again and hit the 1 for another $175. Kathy walked up as I was cashing out and it put a big smile on her face. As we where heading to the Cash-Out booth, I stopped at another table, put down my regular bet and hit the 24!!! Yea!!! I cashed out with $545. So all in all we won around $150!!! So, the moral of the story is.....stick with what works.

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