A few days in Washington State

Mystic of Holyhead (successor to Lynn Rival)
Rachel and Paul Chandler
Sat 28 Sep 2019 17:48
With summer almost over in the UK - but hurricanes still a risk in the Caribbean - we left Mystic in the boatyard and flew to Seattle for a six-week exploration of the Western USA in the fall.

View from our first Airbnb rural retreat - in the USA school buses have a STOP sign which swings out from the side.

We arrived in the morning, tired after a ten-hour flight via Houston and picked up our hire car at the airport.  From there we drove to our Airbnb on the Kitsap peninsula, crossing Puget Sound via the Tacoma Narrows bridge (famous for it's predecessor that collapsed spectacularly soon after opening in 1940).  It was only when we got unpacked that we realised the "upgrade" we'd been sold on our hire car actually meant we'd be paying over twice what we'd budgeted for.  The following morning we returned to the airport to get the car we ordered, kicking ourselves for being tricked by an industry we know to be unscrupulous.

Puget sound - our base was just below the purple 'you are here' symbol

The reason we'd chosen to stay west of Seattle was not just to be away from the big city but also to be closer to the Olympic Peninsula - just 20 minutes drive away across Hood Sound.  The weather forecast was mixed and we were lucky to have a clear day for visiting the Olympic National Park.  At the Visitors Center we bought our "America the beautiful" pass.  At $80 it's a bargain as it gives entry for a private car and occupants into all US National Parks (and so-called National Monuments)  for a year.  We intended to get our money's worth!

The Olympic National Park is a vast wilderness centred around Mount Olympus.  Unless you are into serious hiking the best access is in the north, via Hurricane Ridge and then a dirt track to Obstruction Point.  From there we hiked a couple of miles to Elk Peak for panoramic views of the area, seeing plenty of chipmunks but keeping an eye out for marmots.  Apparently they have a habit of stowing away under parked cars, sometimes eating through the hoses. 

No pets.  Check.  No weapons.  Check.  Car parked.  Check.

Almost 124 degrees west of Greenwich, Obstruction Point was a personal milestone, being the furthest west we've ever travelled. 

A mini glacier.  Not polystyrene, honestly.

Mount Olympus

Badger valley

A reminder of what we might have encountered

The next day we drove across Bainbridge Island, parked and took the passenger ferry to Seattle.  It was cloudy so we didn't have a hope of seeing it at it's best but still took the lift to the top of the Columbia Center for a panoramic view of the city.  Afterwards we walked to a very busy Pike Place Market, but generally the center was surprisingly quiet.

Seattle overview

Pike Place Market fish stall

'Hammering man' outside Seattle Art Museum

Farewell, Seattle