Tag Archives: Seattle Washington

2013 in the Rear View Mirror

2013 – A year of travels and self discovery

The end of the year always brings reflection, a habit I developed when running our business. For us, 2013 was the first full year of retirement, traveling and self discovery. With our year-end travels, we were not able to send out Christmas cards this year, so hopefully this will suffice in lieu of cards for friends that follow our blog. Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, or Happy whatever-holiday-tradition-you-follow!

Early 2013

After spending last Christmas 2012 with our boys (Cameron and Ryan), we started out 2013 by moving Cameron from Maine to Colorado. After a semester at the University of Maine, Cameron missed Colorado and wanted to spend his college years at CSU in Fort Collins, Colorado. That suited us, as Ryan was already enrolled there.

Ryan, Cameron and I flew to Maine, cleared out his dorm and made the 3 day trek from Maine to Colorado. We were packed into his Ford Mustang like sardines, sharing the backseat with half of his belongings.  Not the most comfortable ride across country, but we spent a lot of quality time talking, joking and just having fun. We rotated driving duties, so we only had to drive about 2 hours at a time — a cool way to travel. Lynn met us in Colorado and we moved Cameron into his new apartment and he enrolled in college.

After returning to Florida, I spent my time fishing and golfing on warm dry days. Fishing in the bay was great, a friend (Tom Helderlie) and I caught lots of red fish. We had plenty of cold days that brought on the first bout of boredom since I retired so I decided to start working on a new software project, discussed in my March 2013 blog.

Spring 2013

In February, Lynn and I talked about traveling again. We had an epiphany — what if we rented our condo to fund more travel. Getting the condo ready for the rental season was a bit of a chore, but by early March, it was fully rented for Spring break. So we hit the road again by visiting our boys in Colorado, then on to California. In California, we spent several days in Napa Valley, learning more about wines than ever before.

Red wines fermenting

Red wines fermenting

Then we were off to Sequoia National Park, the home of some the biggest redwoods in the  world. I was literally in awe of the size of these trees.

Huge redwoods

Huge redwoods

Sequoia National Park

Sequoia National Park

Lynn and I had seen lots of Ansel Adams photography but had never visited one his most photographed subjects — Yosemite National Park. We took the chance to take some of our photos that could never rival his.

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Yosemite National Park

Before we left for California, a friend (Craig Bromley) mentioned that we had to visit Big Sur and the Sonoma coast. We tasted wine in Sonoma, visited Big Sur, the Hearst Castle, and spent a few days in San Francisco — what a cool town.

Point Reyes National Park

Point Reyes National Park

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

Iconic Golden Gate Bridge

We ended our trip by taking in a Criss Angel show in Las Vegas.  That was my first trip Las Vegas, so we also took that time to visit the Hoover Dam.

Hoover Dam

Hoover Dam

Las Vegas

Las Vegas

After traveling for a little over a month, we returned to Florida. April and May in Florida is very nice. Warm days, cool waters, and almost no crowds. On nice days, I fished and golfed as much as I could.

Canoe

Right outside our door in Florida

On cool or rainy days, I continued to work on my new software project (aMemoryJog). I wanted to have a solid business plan and software prototype before summer and I was able to accomplish that.

Summer 2013

By the start of Summer, our condo was fully rented for the season so we jetted off on our next adventure. We decided to spend some time with our boys in Colorado, then visit the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. We saw more mountains, wildlife, lakes, streams, geysers, hot springs and mudpots than you can imagine (I almost said “than you can shake a stick at” but I visualized Lynn rolling her eyes as she read it).

Hot Springs

Hot Springs

Old Barn on Morman Row

Old Barn on Morman Row

Jenny Lake

Jenny Lake

We then made our way to Oregon — starting in central Oregon and stopping to see Crater Lake — simply spectacular. Then we headed to the coast (Cannon Beach) — we had spent a weekend here when our boys were really young, but this time we spent a week really exploring this area.

Crater Lake, Oregon

Crater Lake, Oregon

Haystack Rock -- Taken in 2013

Haystack Rock  – Cannon Beach

Oregon Coast - My favorite picture

Oregon Coast

Our journey then took us to Washington.  We started in Seabrook, Washington, a town fashioned after the movie “The Truman Show”. It is an idyllic town, reminding me of Seaside, Florida.

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Seabrook, Washington

Lynn and I briefly lived in Seattle Washington when our kids were young but never spent a full summer there. Most of you know that Seattle is miserable during the winter, autumn and spring — it rains constantly. The summer, however, is another story. So we visited the Olympic National Park then headed for Seattle for a couple of weeks. It was spectacular. We discovered a new found appreciation for Seattle’s beauty.

Ruby Beach

Ruby Beach

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Kestner Homestead Trail

Space Needle

Space Needle

Seatle

Seattle

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

We then journeyed to Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.  There we explored the city and saw Butchart Gardens — probably the most beautiful gardens we had seen. Victoria is a cool town with lots of history. We learned more about Canada than we ever did in school.

Butchart Gardens

Butchart Gardens

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Victoria, British Columbia, Canada

Leaving Victoria, we headed for a 3 week trip to Vancouver, British Columbia and Whistler. Vancouver is a really cool town, probably one of the coolest towns I’ve ever visited. It is trendy, has lots of great restaurants, is a waterfront community, and has tons of biking and hiking trails. The city looks similar to Hong Kong, with high rise apartments and condos on each block. Stanley Park is an incredible park — reminds me of Central Park in New York.

Vancouver Canada

Vancouver BC Canada

Whistler Canada

Whistler BC Canada

It was also here that I started experimenting with meditation. It really helps calm the mind, I highly recommend it if you have not tried it. I also accomplished a challenging hike called “The Grind“.  It is a 2,800 foot mountain climb that is nicknamed “Nature’s StairMaster“.  I summited in just over 1.5 hours and found a new confidence by completing it.  After finishing this hike, I pledged to train for a 50-mile bike ride upon our return to Florida.

Warning: Not for Wimps!

Warning: Not for Wimps!

The final leg of our Summer trip took us to Alaska. We spent 2 weeks cruising Alaska and visiting Mount McKinley. We visited Ketchikan, Juneau, Skagway, Glacier Bay, and then onto a land tour in Denali National Park. During this time, we visited breweries, took a helicopter ride up to mountain glacier, rode a dog sled across a glacier, and visited the iconic Glacier Bay — watching glaciers as they crashed into the sea.

Glacier Bay

Glacier Bay

Landscapes

Alaska Landscapes

Fall 2013

Returning from over 3 months of Summer travel, we made our way back to Florida.  This was mid-August and the weather was hot and humid.  There were still crowds during some weeks and some weeks were quiet.  It was a great time to catch up with our Florida friends, share dinners and play golf.

Rosemary Beach, Florida

Rosemary Beach, Florida

At the same time, I decided to begin working on my next challenge — training for a half century bike ride (50 miles).   After 6 weeks of training, I accomplished my goal and lost 1o pounds during the process. I also became passionate about bike riding and am still riding each week.

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Training for a Half Century

October and November were more mild with some really beautiful days. We spent weekends watching Bama kick butt in the SEC (until Auburn humbled us) and with the usual ups and downs of watching Dallas Cowboys football. Our boys came to Florida for Fall break and we spent Thanksgiving with the Miller family. My brother and his wife graciously had the entire family over for an incredible meal. Thanks Chris and Danielle!

Also during this time, I committed myself to finishing the first phase of my new software project and before we left for our next set of travels, I had accomplished that goal and blogged about it in early December.

End of 2013

We are spending December and January in Colorado with our boys. In fact, we rented a place in Fort Collins so that we can spend more time there in 2014. It is surprising how much we missed Colorado since we moved almost 2 years ago. Upon returning, we’ve been eating in our favorite restaurants, biking the Fort Collins trails and learning our way around the city. We plan to get some ski days in during January.

Our journey to Colorado started rough. We decided to leave a day early because there was a huge snow storm coming to Arkansas and Oklahoma.  On our first day, our car broke down in Birmingham, so we spent 2 days waiting for parts and getting it fixed. On the third day we made our way to Arkansas where it started sleeting. The next day was spent trudging through the snow storm, slowly making our way through Arkansas, Oklahoma and Kansas. White knuckle driving for a day, but we made it through the storm the next day and it was smooth sailing after that.

As I sit writing this blog, it is December 22.  The snow is falling outside, it is cold, and the boys, Lynn and I will be having dinner together tonight followed by playing board games.  What a wonderful life.

18 Fun Things to do In Sunny Seattle Washington (Part 3 of 3)

Visiting Seattle Washington (Part 3)

This is the final installment of a 3 series blog that discusses 18 fun things we found to do in Seattle Washington.  If you missed the prior blogs, you can access them below:

2 Weeks Ago: 

Argosy Locks Cruise, Duck Tour, Snoqualmie Casino Ziggy Marley Concert, Around Seattle, Chateau St. Michelle
Blog:
 http://wp.me/p2z3sU-fh

Last Week:

Ballard Locks,Space Needle, Experience Music Museum, Gas Works Park, Snoqualmie Falls, Starbucks
Blog:
 http://wp.me/p2z3sU-gp

This Week:

Seattle Art Museum, Theo Chocolate Factory, Seattle Aquarium, Mt. Rainier Railway, Underground Tour.

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this visit, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seattle.asp

Seattle Art Museum

The Seattle Art Museum (SAM) showcases modern art, sculpture, Greek and tribal artifacts, and topical themes (it was Japanese Fashion the week we were there).  I am no art aficionado, but the modern art was akin to pieces our kids made in grade school.   It seems if you slap watercolor on notebook paper, they will call it art and frame it nicely for the SAM.  When you walk into the SAM, you will see about 4 or 5 Ford Tauruses hanging above.  Art?  Not sure I buy that.

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

Seattle Art Museum

The Greek artifacts were very interesting, many of the carvings and sculpture date back to B.C.   I also enjoyed the vertigo art.  The SAM is a good place to visit on a rainy day but if it is sunny out, I would much rather be taking in a hike.

Theo Chocolate Factory

The Theo Chocolate Factory was a fun tour, especially if you have a penchant for cocoa.  They have been around since 2005 was the first to lay rights to being a fully organic and fair trade shop.  Being fair trade compliant, independent companies ensure that their cocoa suppliers in Ecuador, Peru and the Congo pay their employees well and are not using under aged labor.  You will pay a little more because their costs of doing business is higher, but many people will agree it is worth the extra cost.

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Theo Chocolate Factory

Theo Chocolate Factory

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Theo Chocolate Factory

Theo Chocolate Factory

Our tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly.  She explained how the beans are shipped to this factory and roasted.  Once roasted, the shell is taken off, ground, mixed with sugar and liquified into chocolate.   You get to sample a lot of chocolate, so come hungry!

Seattle Aquarium

The Seattle Aquarium is a good way to spend a few hours.  It is wise to purchase the City Pass because it gives you a pretty good deal (43% savings) on the Aquarium, Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Museum of Flight, and Experience Music Museum.  After visiting other larger aquariums (Chicago and Baltimore), this one was not as impressive, but I love sea life so it was still fun.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Mt. Rainier Railway

If you’ve never been on an old train or if you have kids, this is the ride for you.   Lynn and I have been on countless trains with our kids, so it was a bit boring for us.   The train ride starts at the base of Mount Rainier, so the drive to the station offered up some great views of Mount Rainier.  The train ride is about 30 minutes up to a Train Museum and 30 minutes back.  The scenery along the ride was a little disappointing.  I was hoping to see great views of Mount Rainier, you only get about a 5 second view.  Other than that, you are looking at  unimpressive trees and small streams.  The museum is also mundane, not a ton to see here.

If you are really into trains, I could see it being really interesting for you.   Lynn and I took a train to Machu Picchu last year, so this paled in comparison to that.  If we had it to do again, we would have just purchased a day tour of Mount Rainier.

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Church at the Train Station

Church at the Train Station

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Mount Rainier Scenic Railway

Train Museum

Train Museum

Mount Rainier

Mount Rainier

Underground Tour

The Underground Tour is very popular, you need to get there about 2 hours ahead of time to purchase a ticket.  A new tour starts every hour and it is crowded.  I had high expectations for this tour but left a bit disappointed.  In the late 1800’s Seattle burned to the ground by an accidental fire.  Since all buildings were made of wood, there was no hope of saving any buildings.

Once they decided to rebuild Seattle, they concluded that all buildings had to be brick (smart move) to prevent it from happening again in the future.  To rebuild, they wanted to take their time to properly zone all the areas of the city and to ensure that they had a great drainage and sewage system.

To do it properly, they decided to build huge retaining walls that spanned from 10 to 35 feet high.  Businesses did not want to wait 7 years for the retaining walls to be built, so they got approval to begin building immediately.  But they had to agree to build all their buildings at least 3 stories, understanding that once the retaining walls were in place, the first (and maybe second) floors would be underground.   They agreed and construction began.

Once the retaining walls were finished, the city was essentially built on top of the first story of the new businesses. This created an interesting underground section of the city that can still be seen today.   There really is nothing that compelling about how it looks today, it looks like a bunch of dingy basements.

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

Underground Tour

I hope you enjoyed learning about places we visited in Seattle and hope you get a chance to visit it in person some day.

18 Fun Things to do In Sunny Seattle Washington (Part 1 of 3)

Visiting Seattle (Part 1)

Yep, you read the title right: “Sunny Seattle“.  Sound like an oxymoron?  It’s true, almost every day we spent here over the past 2.5 weeks has been beautifully sunny.  It’s not always so.  We lived here in 1997/1998 and experienced the daily drizzle until we could not take it anymore — that’s why we moved to Colorado.

But we vowed we would come back to Seattle in the summer and experience what the locals refer to as their “8 weeks of bliss”.  And bliss it was.  This town has so much to offer and so many things to do.   In fact, there is so much to do, I could not cover it all in one blog (without you going totally glassy-eyed).    So I will break this blog into 3 parts, covering different fun things to do if you ever get up this way.  I put them in order of enjoyment (most fun first).

If you would like to see a slide show of pictures from this visit, click here: http://www.webetripping.com/Gallery_USA_WA_Seattle.asp

Argosy Locks Cruise

This was a really fun boat tour.  It starts out in Lake Union with tons of boats on the water enjoying the day.  I love boating (we have a Searay 220 Select), so this was tailor-made for me.

It is really cool to see the planes land on Lake Union.  You can catch tours on these to the San Juan islands.

Planes leave several times daily

Planes leave several times daily

The Amazing Race has filmed footage in Gas Works park in 2 different seasons (Amazing Race 3 and 10), you can see why. It is a great place to relax and sports spectacular views of the city skyline.

Gas Works Park

Gas Works Park

Seattle view from Lake Union

Seattle view from Lake Union

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If you are a fan of “The Deadliest Catch“, you will recognize the ship below, the ship named Wizard.  It spends its summers here too.

The Wizard

The Wizard

Once you leave Lake Union, you go through the Ballard Locks.  It separates Lake Union from the Puget Sound.  I will do a separate blog on the locks, but it was fun having the tour boat go into the lock, watch the water rise and then exit out into the sound.

As you exit the locks, you encounter draw bridges before getting out into the open Puget Sound, where you are rewarded with great views of the lighthouse and the Seattle skyline.

Seattle Skyline

Seattle Skyline

Alki Light House

Light House

Duck Tour

No tour of Seattle is complete without getting on the Duck!   This is a really upbeat and fun tour that not only educates you on the area but also allows you to go from land to water all on the same tour.  It takes you around town showing you the sites but ends up in Lake Union, giving you an up close encounter with the floating homes of Lake Union.

Snoqualmie Casino – Ziggy Marley Concert

This casino is east of Seattle, just outside of the famous Snoqualmie Falls.  We stumbled on to the casino after visiting the falls and found that Ziggy Marley was performing there a few days later.  Luckily, they still had a few seats left so we snapped them up.  We decided to come a little early to avoid traffic and crowds and had time to waste.  Lynn put $1 in the penny slots and won enough money from that $1 to pay for our Ziggy Marley tickets!  We cashed out and enjoyed the show.  The concert was amazing, it started out with Eric Burdon — the lead singer of War.  He put on a really great show, I had forgotten how many songs I knew as he began his set.  His voice was spot on, he has not lost a step.

Many of you know that I am a big fan of Ziggy and Bob Marley.  Ziggy not only sang his popular hits, but also about 3 of Bob’s songs.  And he did his Dad proud, his mix of the songs were fresh and sounded incredible.   My favorite songs Ziggy played were “Justice”, “Tomorrow People”, “True to Myself”, and “Look Who’s Dancing”.

Museum of Flight

We spent about 4 or 5 hours in this museum and could have spent longer. It has planes from all stages of aviation and includes an exhibit from the space age, complete with rovers and other space vehicles.   We also boarded the Presidential Plane, that is probably the only chance I will have to do that!

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Museum of Flight

Presidential Plane

Presidential Plane

They also had a flight simulator that I was able to pilot.  A guy from Chicago volunteered to be my gunman as I piloted the combat airplane to shoot down the enemy planes.  It felt pretty realistic, I was able to make the plane do 360’s and 180’s — that was so much fun!  The second picture below shows us upside down as I maneuvered a 360.

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Flight simulator

Around Seattle

There is so much to do in Seattle, just browsing around town.  We saw the fish mongers throwing around fish at Pike Market, visited the Gum Wall, spent time with Rachel the pig, saw Alki Beach, hiked Discovery Park to the lighthouse, hung out at the Sculpture Garden, and stopped by the Pacific Science Center.  By the way, we saw Superman in iMax at the Pacific Science Center, great place to see a 3D movie.

Check out the slide show below.  If you want to navigate the pictures manually, hover over the picture and click the forward or back buttons.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

Chateau St. Michelle

If you’ve had Riesling wine at any restaurant, you have probably tasted the wines of Chateau St. Michelle.  We decided to visit the winery and join a tour.  The grounds are impressive, the tour was good and we were surprised to learn that they have concerts all summer long.  The Steve Miller Band (no pun intended) was performing here the weekend we visited.  If you get a chance to stop by this winery, it is definitely worth the trip.

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Chateau St. Michelle

Well, that covers 6 of the fun things we did during our trip. Over the coming weeks, I will continue detailing our time in Seattle with a total of 18 spots to see if you visit.