I have not visited Seattle in quite some time although it is a quick 3 hour drive. The low Canadian dollar and Trump presidency has been a turn off. Instead, I have focused on international destinations in the last couple of years. However, my American friend who was staying in the local area, gave me ample reason to visit. We originally met in El Salvador, and immediately I felt a kindred spirit friendship since our first encounter.
My windshields wipers profusely cleared the heavy Pacific Northwest downpour as I passed various towns heading south from Vancouver, Canada to Seattle, USA. Although it was slippery (first big rain in a while), it was a blessing. The rain cleared the thick haze lingering in the air from the many devastating wild fires.
Mother Nature must like me. The gloomy grey let up allowing sunshine and blue skies to appear as I approached the outskirts of city center.
The homes and vehicles were modest, yet charming, in the artsy Fremont neighborhood. I found it interesting to learn the area is known as the “Centre of the Universe” as it’s located centrally in the Seattle, just north of downtown. That is a bold statement!
My friend had mentioned that her rental home was undergoing maintenance. A huge understatement. It was chaos upon arrival. Workers were power washing the exterior, trying to remove years of paint. Paint chips, debris, and dust were scattered everywhere, both inside and outside, and the front hallway was wet. My friend’s temporary basement suite was clean, cozy, and cute despite the dilapidated appearance of the facade.
We headed to the Saturday Ballard Art Market after some laughter and tears while munching on Trader Joe’s pita chips and goat cheese paired with an Okanagon Pinot Noir.
The Art Walk was not clearly identified. It was only halfway into our stroll that we learned there was a small map with participating retailers. Ohhhh, a treasure hunt to find the Art Walk. I assumed it would be a large open market with artisans showcasing their craft whether musical performances, cinema, and/or art. This event was understated. We entered some galleries without being greeted. Others clearly were excited to participate in the event offering wine and sparkling water. A painter in one gallery asked patrons what 3 colors created their happiness, gleefully noting it was not often she left her studio. The audience participated in her creativity as she expressed the feedback from her paint palette to brush to canvass. We hesitatingly headed into a dark basement store that replicated a museum. It housed an eclectic assortment of bowling pins, Ouija necklaces, glass eye balls, bear heads mounted on the wall, antique globes, insects frozen in amber, etc.
We faced a dilemma determining where to grab a bite and drink after our jaunt. Too many options. The restaurants (no building appeared taller than 2-stories) all looked inviting, each with charming soft lights illuminating through the windows onto candlelit dining tables. Music echoed into the streets while happy revellers bar-hopped.
We settled into Macleod’s Scottish pub known for its great scotch offerings, but disappointingly it did not offer traditional fare. No Haggis, Tatties, and Neeps on the menu. We settled on the largest fish and chips platter I have set my eyes on and grilled fish tacos. I give the restaurant kudos. The fish in my tacos was a generous serving, cooked with a lovely light tender texture served with fresh crisp garnishes. We completed one last short stroll around the quaint streets before heading home for more girly banter before calling it a night.
We got off to a late start the following morning, exactly what a lazy weekend morning should be. I was ready for Sunday Funday when we finally got out the door for the hour’s drive to Bridal Veil Falls in Snohomish County. My friend had hiked the challenging trail to Lake Serene that serves the waterfall the weekend prior. Our walk along a well-marked pathway with a slight ascent, must have been a stroll for her in comparison. I cannot be disappointed we did not make our way to Lake Serene as I declared the evening before “I did not want to physically and mentally exert myself in anyway. NO scrambling, crawling, pulling myself on chains, and/or using ladders to reach our destination.”
The robust waterfall cascaded down the granite rocks was impressive.
I had not learned my lesson from the previous weekend enjoying the luscious forest in Squamish, Canada. Why did I not wear my bikini to refresh myself in the pools of water in Mount Index? Hiking in Washington State, USA differed immensely from the tropical island waterfall trails I had visited only last month in the amazing Gulf of Thailand. The air was fresh and crisp vs humid and sticky. The pool water was clean, clear, and cool compared to murky green. The waterfall was actually a high pressured waterfall not a trickle.
I originally thought we would return to the city to eat street food at Fremont’s European-esque Sunday market. Practicing positive non-attachment, “vairagya” allows one an opportunity to be explore allowing other forms of goodness to soak in.
We spontaneously decided to drive another hour plus away to Leavenworth, America’s version of the German Swiss Alps in Central Washington.
The scenic drive through rolling hills into the valley was exquisite. The background of the Cascade Mountains were enhanced with the changing coloured leaves of autumn approaching. Our time was limited as my friend needed to work that evening.
Fuelling our depleted stomachs after a hike was number one on our agenda when we reached the charming and romantic Bavarian-styled town. My criteria was a patio pronto. We settled on the narrow balcony of Mozart’s Steakhouse, ordering an un-European-like spicy Cajun chicken sandwich accompanied with a very expensive German draft beer. The restaurant crest was officially stamped onto the burger bun! The patio was overshadowed by large umbrellas hampering our view of the Alpine buildings and streets below.
We returned to Front Street, but did not have the luxury to explore and meander leisurely through shops. I do regret not purchasing the plastic military figurines in yoga asanas in a cutest gift shop. It would have made a fun stocking stuffer for my girl. As limited as time can be, there is always time for sweets. Leavenworth’s candy shop was filled with buckets of salt water taffy and shelves of sugar bugs and chocolate.
We almost did not head down to the water, but seized the opportunity when we learned it was only a few minutes stroll from the village shops.
It would have been a huge loss in our day’s itinerary had we not walked through Waterfront Park to Wenatchee River. I was surprised how shallow the water was especially since tubing and rafting are popular summer activities. Maybe the tour groups head further out. An adventurous man completed a mountain bike trick somersaulting into the water photobombing my Instragram. Another was calmly paddle boarding in the distance. End of summer frolicking time with terrain that included rugged mountain views reflecting in the water. Stunning.
We headed back to the city as sun set behind the hills. I had planned to walk to the Fremont resto-bars for a drink while my friend analyzed work data, but I was happily depleted. Ironic that I had an itinerary that focused around the trendy Fremont neighbourhood, yet those plans turned fruitless. I purposely did not include the typical, yet fantastic Pike Street Market. It’s effortless to return.
I woke early the next day hugging my friend goodbye (we will reunite in a couple months) and grateful I was moving against weekday rush-hour traffic. I slowly headed North stopping for groceries, gas, and the Seattle Premium outlets. Despite the strong US currency against a weaker Canadian dollar there are still deals and a variety of merchandise making even day trips worthwhile.
I had forgotten about the wonders of my American neighbour, Seattle. Thank you for an amazing long weekend!