In 2018 I will feature a random (yet alphabetical) selection of photos I have taken from my nearly 20 years of back roads travel in the United States and Canada. I may even throw in a few random shots from other trips to Japan, Mexico and the Philippines. My theme is called America’s Back Roads: A Grab Bag of Places in Pictures.
Ric’s Grill – Steak in Water Tower – Lethbridge, Alberta
Route 66 Soda / Route Beer – Mokena, Illinois
Rabbit Hash, Kentucky
Restroom Hiker Mural – Damascus, Virginia
Other Restroom Fun – Story, Indiana; Hopland, California; San Francisco, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Cypress, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Ashland, Montana; Frenchglen, Oregon
Rock City – near Valier, Montana
Geographical Center of North America – Rugby, North Dakota
Roosters Roosters – Needville, Texas; E. Peoria, Illinois; Seymour, Missouri; Eldon, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Granbury, Texas
Roadhouse Relics – Austin, Texas
Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky
Regent, North Dakota – Home of the Enchanted Highway
Russell’s Point, Ohio
Roswell, New Mexico
Rocket Rest Stop – Elkmont, Alabama
Ride the Ducks – Seattle, Washington
Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio
Real Quiet Lane – Lexington, Kentucky
Red River Gorge – Slade, Kentucky
Rachel the Golden Pig – Pikes Place Market – Seattle, Washington
If you like what you see, you may want to check out my book: Less Beaten Paths of America: Unique Town Names, available on Amazon. My second book, Less Beaten Paths of America: Quirky and Offbeat Roadside Attractions, will be available in late April or early May 2018. Click on the photo below for more details or to get a copy of the book.
After a long day of travel to Washington via Delta Airlines, first to Salt Lake City and then into Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and then a good nights rest, we had the opportunity to spend a day in Seattle with the family.
Since my daughter Amaree and her family live in Port Orchard, we had to take ferries across the Puget Sound to get to Seattle. We started with the Port Orchard Foot Ferry Service that took us from Port Orchard into Bremerton. Then we got on the Bremerton Ferry which is a much larger ferry that also carries automobile traffic and enjoyed the one hour boat ride to Seattle. We rode on the M/V Hyak, which can carry up to 2000 passengers and as many as 144 cars.
It was a beautiful day, probably in the 80s and sunny as can be. Prior to our trip Julianne and I had created T-shirts for all of the family so that we would be color coordinated and easy to find. These “safety green” T-shirts were very easy to see and it was fun throughout the day to get the comments from people.
I enjoyed sitting on the outside deck as we travel to cross the sound and loved watching the waves, the birds and other things. We got to a point where a couple of people and brought food to feed to the seagulls, who would swoop down and grab the food right out of these people’s hands. It was fun to see all of the seagulls up so close. I was able to grab some amazing photographs, some of which are posted below.
From the ferry deck we could not only see Seattle, but off in the distance we could see the beautiful cone shape of Mt. Rainier. Even in the heat of July it was covered with snow and glaciers.
As we approached Seattle, I could see the full expanse of the city and over to the south I could see the Space Needle clearly. The Seattle city scape is certainly a beautiful one.
Finally, we all arrived safely at the port and disembarked from the ferry into the crowded waterfront area of Seattle. This section of Seattle is certainly built to accommodate tourism. There is a giant Ferris wheel, called the “Seattle Great Wheel“, a couple of fun shops/museums, plenty of fun eateries, lemonade stands and much much more.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Our first stop once we hit the sidewalk was Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Julianne and I had the opportunity to visit this place a few years ago when we were in Seattle prior to taking a cruise to Alaska. But, honestly, it was much more fun with all the grandkids being able to see all of the odd things in this museum/store.
Always the sucker for oddities, the store for that craving with some of the strange creatures that they have on display along with many of the unique items that were for sale in the store.
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop got its start when Joseph Edward Standley set up his curio and souvenir shop on the waterfront in 1899. Back then Seattle was a rough ‘n’ tumble town. Even at that time, Standley’s shop presented a jumbled mix of curiosities and significant art objects. He collected and sold what came his way, but also had local Native American artists make objects to his specifications. He sold genuine Tlingit totem poles, but also replicas by carvers descended from the Vancouver Island-based Nuu-chah-nulth tribe, who were living in Seattle, and even inexpensive souvenir totem poles made in Japan. A flair for the bizarre and grotesque led him to include items such as shrunken heads from the Amazon (some of them definitely genuine, others probably not). It is certainly a must visit location if you are in this part of Seattle!
We then continued to walk towards the area where the Pike Place Market is located. Along the way we passed eateries, shops and the Great Wheel. We skipped by most of these places but did take stops for a quick break. All down the path there are cornhole games and other things that are set up for people to just stop and play and we did so.
Another place of interest that we did not stop at but probably would’ve enjoyed was the Seattle aquarium. That will have to be on our agenda for the next trip. We had planned to visit the aquarium in Tacoma later in the week, so we skipped this particular venue.
The “Parking Squid”
At that point you can cross the street towards Pike Place Market, and visit the rather unique parking squid. This squid sculpture was made specifically for parking in attaching your bikes which makes it a rather unique item. As always, I am always looking for unique sculptures and so we stopped for a photo opportunity with the kids and I got another photo of this.
This unique utilitarian sculpture by Seattle artist Susan Robb, was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Transportation in 2009 and installed in 2012. It was originally installed on the north side of the EMP building in Seattle Center, but was eventually moved just outside of the Pike Place Market parking garage (the Pike Street Hill Climb) across the street from the Seattle Aquarium. The structure is made from galvanized steel and is a fun addition to a walking tour.
World Spice Market
On our way up to Pike Place Market (we took the elevator instead of the Pike Street Hill Climb), we just happened upon the World Spice Market. What a fabulous little shop! If you like spices this is the place to go because they have everything.
The shop is set up more like an apothecary with jars of spices along the walls and in bottles and jars throughout the store. You can open each one and take a whiff of the spice and then you request what spices you want and in some cases they actually grind them up for you fresh.
Pike Place Market
We finally made our way to the entrance of Pike Place market and took a quick stop with Rachel the Golden Pig, which is one of the famous pieces of artwork associated with this world renowned farmers market.
Naturally, since it was the end of July and everyone is on vacation and touring Seattle, the Pike Place market was packed to the gills! To go anywhere it was bump and grind all the way.
Despite the crowds, we were able to still enjoy some of the fun things of the market including the well-known fishmongers to throw the fish across the way yell out the customers name etc.
My grandkids, especially little Charlie, being smaller, were able to weasel their way up to the front and I soon saw Charlie playing with the crawfish, which were still alive. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in and get close enough to grab a couple of good photos!
Here are a few more random photos I got at Pike Place Market. Such a unique and fun place (other than the crowds).
The Pike Place Market seems to go on forever and there is not a place to sit down anywhere along the way and so it got to be very tiring. We finally did get out of the market and walked down to a large park it did have plenty of seating.
After a brief rest, we decided that we would venture to the point where we can catch the large duck boats and Ride the Duck. even this was about a mile away and a good part of it was uphill, towards the terminus of the monorail station.
Along the way we walked by numerous shops including the origina Starbucks. Starbucks is now all over the place, but this was the first one and I have a picture showing I’ve been there! Here are a few more random scenes from our walk.
After the rather grueling walk up to the monorail station area, it was really nice to have a seat and relax for nearly an hour before our ride was to take place.
Throughout my travels, I have seen the “Ride the Ducks” boats in a few places over the years. I specifically recall seeing one Ketchikan, Alaska, but I’ve also seen them in San Francisco, Stone Mountain (Georgia) and Branson (Missouri). I had never ridden one, so I didn’t know what to expect.
After the wait, we finally were able to board our “Duck” adventure. We were in for a load of fun!!
First off, a little history about the “Ducks.” The DUKW (D-built in 1942, U-amphibious 2-ton truck, K-front wheel drive, W-rear wheel drive) was an amphibious landing craft developed by the United States Army during World War II. It was designed to deliver cargo from ships at sea directly to the shore. DUKWS are street legal to drive on the roads and are also legal to drive on water as recreational boats. (See more history here)
Our ride on the Duck was fun. We had a great driver – Captain Mandy Lifeboats. She was full of energy and pulled a few tricks out of her hat…or was it she pulled a few hats out of her tricks? She was both wacky (and even quacky!!)
Our Duck Tour took us from the Seattle Center, where the Monorail begins. We drove up along Lake Union and had some nice views from the Aurora Bridge. We then made our way INTO the lake and cruised around the lake. We saw the floating home from Sleepless in Seattle, and a few other ritzy lakeside homes, not to mention multi-million dollar yachts. We also had a great view of the skyline.
From the lake we drove back towards downtown past the Space Needle, the EMP Museum and then towards the downtown shopping area and along the waterfront. Overall the ride lasted about 90 minutes and we had a frolicking good time. There were times we all “quacked” at passersby, sang songs, had fun Disco Music and more.
What I enjoyed about this ride was the opportunity to see Seattle without all of the walking! And it gave a flavor of some of the places we can see on our next trip out there to see the family.
After the Duck Ride was over, we walked the mile or so back to the Ferry Dock to catch the ferry back to Port Orchard. We were all quite exhausted, but made it in time and enjoyed the ride back. And we were blessed with a wonderful sunset leaving its mark on Mt. Rainier. It was a splendid, though tiring, day.
After our beautiful vacation and stay at the Borneo lodge which you can find on borneoecotours.com/borneo-rainforest-lodge, my wife and I had the opportunity to fly to Seattle at the end of July for a nice week (actually 9 days) of fun with our family out there. Over the next couple of weeks I will have a few posts about our adventures, but wanted to provide a brief preview of what we experienced: Beaches, Mountains, Sights, Sounds, Eats and Quirky fun!!
Day 1: We took a ferry from Bremerton, WA and then spent a full day walking around parts of Seattle…then took a Duck ride.
The ferry is followed by hungry seagulls who would swoop down and eat from people’s hands. I got some amazing closeups of the birds.
Once we arrived in Seattle, our sea legs turned into walking legs as we visited the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Pike Place Market, walked along the boardwalk, rode the Ducks, saw the Space Needle and more.
There were street musicians everywhere, lots of fish in Pike Place Market and a general atmosphere of fun in spectacular beautiful (but a bit hot) weather.
Of course, a visit to Seattle is not complete without muscling your way through the massively crowded Pike Place Market (even on weekdays). Famous for its fish mongers, there are a plethora of other goods there for perusing and partaking.
It was fun watching all of the people, but there is no place to stop for a sit down break and the market goes on forever and forever. One could really take a full day just visiting each merchant and seeing what they offer. But, probably better to go when school is in session.
One of the more unique tours of the city are the Duck Tours. We rode the Duck for fun. The drivers are a riot and the open air drive around the time and in a lake were really fun (not to mention the wonderful respite from all of the walking)
The Duck Tour does provide a fun sample of Seattle. I will have much more about Seattle in an a future post. Seattle is a fun place!!
After a “Recovery Day,” we were back on the road on Day 3 heading north to Neah Bay, which is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Julianne stayed back in Port Orchard as we traveled the road along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway. Honestly, there may be a Strait, but the road ALONG the Strait is ANYTHING but straight. A crooked windy road to Neah Bay.
As it was a long and winding road, literally, we did stop along the way for lunch at one of those quirky eateries. Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, WA is a real kick! Indeed, the outside wooden art is a drawing card, but the real fun is when you walk inside and see the thousands of dollar bills plastered everywhere. They claim to have over $10,000 in there. I’ll have a special post just about this place.
The drive up US Route 101 along Olympic National Park and then along the Strait on WA 112 is very scenic. Mt. Olympus can be seen along with other rugged northern Cascade peaks. The Pacific Ocean scenes at Neah Bay are fabulous…and the beach is sandy. And there is all sots of strange looking seaweed up there.
We took US 101 home along Olympic National Park and made our way back eventually getting to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset.
Day 4 had us going down to Tacoma with the family and some of the Matthews family too. We visited Point Defiance Zoo…a smaller zoo, but with some great animals.
I enjoyed watching the otter roll around and it was also a blast watching the kids feed the budgies.
We saw tigers, an elephant, seals, a polar bear, etc. I’ll have a post about the zoo coming up too. I love the flowers, the animals and the joy on the kids’ faces.
After a nice trip to the zoo, we returned to Port Orchard and the adults all took another ferry across to Seattle (with the car this time) to visit the Seattle Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Another beautiful building…built in 1978. It is always nice to attend the temple, where we did baptisms for the dead and spent a nice evening away from the kids.
The ferry ride this time was also amazing as there were some spectacular views of the glacier covered Mt. Rainier.
Day 5 was another rest day. We took a visit to a regional park along the coast and Julianne and I sat there and watched the boats while the kids hiked. It was nice to chillax as the next day would be a big one.
Our next to last day was a visit to the spectacular Mt. Rainier National Park. This is certainly one of America’s great mountain peaks. At 14,400 feet it towers above the landscape and can be seen everywhere on a clear day. It reminded me of Mt. Fuji in Japan, which I lived at the base of for 5 months in 1978.
Along the way to Mt. Rainier we stopped at a fun place for lunch in the small scenic town of Greenwater.
The Naches Tavern has a nice menu, walls with dollar bills all over it, lots of old implements and a GIANT Bigfoot wood carving. More about this on the Mt. Rainier post in a couple of weeks.
Of course, I can’t avoid the quirky places on a trip like this and the Mattress Ranch in Port Orchard is udderly mooving with dozens of cows, bulls, chickens, lambs, rams, etc. Port Orchard also has a bay complete with old US Navy destroyers and the town has some fun wall murals.
I am excited to share the details of our long trip to Washington over the next couple of weeks. Hopefully those that read it will get some fun inspiration for their own trip to Washington!