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Week 31: Ending 6/15/2003
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 25, 2003 5:28 pm    Post subject: Week 31: Ending 6/15/2003 Reply with quote

Week 31: Ending June 15, 2003:

Montana has its own version of “Pedro” on I-90, Lincoln’s 10,000 Silver $ Restaurant, Casino, Gift Shop, Motel and RV Park. Its billboards are not as numerous nor quite as clever as Pedro’s, but they did draw us in for a look-see and breakfast. Definitely worth a stop if one is in the area: decent food, very clean restrooms and very friendly staff. The RV Park located behind the motel has 30 amp hookups for about 28 plus picnic tables AND it is FREE. Wish we had known. Exit 16 on I-90, on the west-bound side of the highway, near Haugan.

On the road to Idaho via I-90 and into Washington State. The Lake Couer d’Alene area in Idaho looks absolutely beautiful. No wonder all the Spokane RV parks state that they are close to Lake Couer d’Alene.

Joan picks the highest-rated RV Park in Washington State, Alderwood RV Park, about 10 miles north of Spokane, through downtown. Not a fun drive, but there is no Interstate which travels north/south of the city. Alderwood is landscaped beautifully, but is tightly built with narrow pads between the flora. Luckily, we do not put out our awning to hang out outside. There is no room to do so. The owner said the park was built in the 80s before the event of slideouts of any kind. They have the land to build more big-rig friendly sites, but the county has not been helpful.

Weather forecast is for rain, so we decide to stay another day rather than travel. Early afternoon, we get hit by a severe thunderstorm and hail. The storm subsides and we head south to run some errands and to visit the Spokane Humane Society. It is a large facility and pretty full.

So long to Spokane, on to Oregon. This part of our trip is very desert-looking and unexpected. I-90 West to Rte 395 South to I-84 West. (Hmm, are we back in New England? I-90 to I-84 is the Mass. Pike to exit 9 to Conn. and New York!) We decide to drive pass Pendleton and shoot for Portland, OR. Very windy, twisty route following the Columbia River. We are about 40 miles from Portland and we decide to look for a campground now. Luckily, Exit 35 offers Ainsworth State Park Campground. A welcome relief and an oasis. Beautiful woods, long, wide sites with full hookups for $16 per night. We settle in, cook up some burgers and walk around the campground. Quite a few campfires are roaring away, elsewhere in the park and we have a stash of firewood which we have been itching to use. Ron builds a good fire which lasts until after midnight.

Joan is feeling under the weather and Ron did not sleep well, so we sleep in and get up late. We finally head out around 5 pm to tour Portland. After fueling up the Tahoe and ourselves, we get downtown around 6 pm. Our first stop, Books, is in a very seedy-looking section of town. Although we had intended to spend some time browsing and buying, we bypass the books and head back towards the riverfront.

Portland seems like a pretty city, surprisingly hilly and, at least the sections we walked through, surprisingly quiet. Restaurants were open along the waterfront but most of the shops were closed for the day. The adjacent business district and residential neighborhoods we walked through were quiet and uncrowded, with a few pedestrians and a few more vehicles. A pleasant evening on the town, albeit a bit sedate even for our tastes.

It has been raining for most of the late evening into this morning. We wait for the rain to subside, which allows us to catch up on our sleep a little more. Just outside of Portland, the sun came out and continued to play hide and seek throughout the day as we drove north to Seattle.

We generally make reservations at a campground the day we are gong to arrive. However, we realize we need to receive mail around 10 pm Thursday night and we need an address to which it can be mailed. One of the few campgrounds in Seattle to offer site availability online is Maple Grove RV Park. It is located in Everett, WA, about 25 miles north of Seattle. We made our reservations the night before and they confirm them via phone today. We are about 60 miles away, it’s 2 pm, we have to stop at Camping World and Sam’s Club (for 2 items and 1 item, respectively): we should be there before the office closes at 6 pm.

At 6:30 pm, we pull into Maple Grove RV Park! We spent longer at Camping World than we had expected, but the primary culprit is Seattle traffic! I-5 is worse than Rte 128 or the Southeast Expressway! Luckily, the owner is just putting up a note for us on the office door when we arrive. We are able to change to change our reservation to a pull-through site and settle in for the night.

Maple Grove is brand-new, open only 11 months. The sites are tight, but nicely landscaped and the owner Tony is very helpful. Our mail package arrives by 11 am and we finally get in the Tahoe to see Seattle.

We luck out and find parking right on the waterfront not far from Pike Place Market. We are looking forward to seeing flying fish! Pretty waterfront, much livelier than Boston’s and people seem to have better access to actually be on the waterfront than in Boston, even though Seattle has a major highway infrastructure separating its financial district from the waterfront, just like in Boston.

Seattle is built on a series of hills. There are stairs everywhere, predominately oriented east to west down to the waterfront. We have to walk UP a gazillion stairs to get to Pike Place Market, Seattle’s version of Haymarket and Quincy Market rolled into one. We keep seeing signs for elevators to the market, which we ignore, until about 100 steps, we cry uncle and take the elevator five flights to street level.

Pike Place Market is definitely an experience. We had forgotten that it is Saturday, and the aisles are jam-packed with people, produce, foodstuffs and crafts. The market is most famous for its fresh fish booths. There are vendors both inside and outside the booths, joking and teasing customers and prospects. When a customer chooses a fish, or crabs, or whatever, the outside vendor picks it up from the display ice, shouts and hurls it to a waiting person behind the counter.

After capturing the flying fish on video, we leave the market to explore the rest of the city.
Click here to see some shots of the Market

The waterfront beckons us for lunch, so down the stairs we go. Most of the seafood restaurant menus seem to focus on fried and battered fare, so we opt to dine at Red Robin, a West Coast chain casual restaurant. The view is terrific: on a deck just yards away from the loading dock for a small harbor cruise line. The food is good, but incredibly pricey: $8.95 for a guacamole burger. Now we know where Carl’s Jr. gets their tagline: the $6 gourmet burger without the $6 price.

Physically and mentally nourished, we commence walking, this time towards Pioneer Square, the birthplace of Seattle. Seattle was originally located 12 feet below where it is now (although with all the stairs, who can tell?!) An underground tour begins in Pioneer Square t explore its deeper origins. The weather is so glorious that we continue our own tour above ground. Pioneer Square is similar to the old Harvard Square with neat specialty shops, old architecture and, peculiar to Seattle, lots of antique rug shops.

We wind our way back to our truck on the waterfront via University Avenue. At the top and very bottom of the Avenue, it is a regular, hilly street. In between it is a series of landscaped plazas and stairs, with buildings of varied sizes and materials bordering it on either side. We count 108 stairs on our descent. A very interesting city!

We sign up for another night’s stay. A fellow camper and former native of the area recommends Arnie’s Restaurant for great, but pricey, seafood and great views. In search of both, we drive to Mukilteo Beach, about 15 minutes west of Everett. The food is good, although small portions. The view and the service are disappointing. Around the corner, however, we find a great town beach and park which makes up for it. Families are crowded round a multitude of picnic tables and grills, celebrating Father’s Day or just the gorgeous day along the beach. A multitude of kites soar in the wind from a large grassy field. We had noticed them from the patio at Arnie’s and thought for sure that a kite store must be near-by, due to the number of stunt kites flying. In reality, it is simply kite enthusiasts, enjoying the breeze, as do we.

We top off the day catching the film “Bruce Almighty” at a nearby cinema. A good way to end the day in the Pacific Northwest, commonly known as God’s Country in the West.

Last edited by Ron on Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:10 pm; edited 3 times in total
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 11, 2003 12:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

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