A Grab Bag from America’s Back Roads – The R Things #AtoZChallenge

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

Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta
Ric’s Grill – Lethbridge, Alberta

Route 66 Soda / Route Beer – Mokena, Illinois

Route 66 “Route Beer”

Rabbit Hash, Kentucky

Welcome to Rabbit Hash, KY
Sign at Rabbit Hash Road
The Old Rabbit Hash General Store. It burned down in 2016 and had to be rebuilt.

Restroom Hiker Mural – Damascus, Virginia

Hiker painting on a restroom wall in Damascus

Other Restroom Fun – Story, Indiana; Hopland, California; San Francisco, California; Cleveland, Ohio; Cypress, Texas; Cincinnati, Ohio; Nebraska City, Nebraska; Ashland, Montana; Frenchglen, Oregon

A sign outside the restrooms at the Story Inn in Story, Indiana
The sign talking about “Weird Restrooms” at Real Goods in Hopland, CA
There were also a number of tile mosaics. This one was at the entrance to the restrooms in Golden Gate Park visitor’s center
Tavern of Little Italy Restroom is plastered with the history of Little Italy in Cleveland
Men’s Stall Door in restroom at Burger Shack in Cypress, Texas
Jungle Jim’s Restroom in Cincinnati have entrances that are deceptive. They actually lead to immaculate huge restrooms.
Men’s Restroom at Mo’s in Reedsport, Oregon
Sapp Brothers in Nebraska City, the “Cleanest Restrooms on I-29”
Restroom Door in a Convenience Store in Ashland, Montana
Sometimes even a place like this looks heavenly – the ceramic toilet is a planter. The real place is in the outhouse. Frenchglen, Oregon

Rock City – near Valier, Montana

Rock City Rd. and Dean Rd., north of Valier, MT
Sumoflam at Rock City north of Valier, Montana
Rock City, Montana

Geographical Center of North America – Rugby, North Dakota

Rugby, ND – The Geographic Center of North America
The Rugby Geographical Center of North America monument juxtaposed with the HUB Motel sign in Rugby, ND

Real Goods Store – Hopland, California

Welcome to Real Goods
A view of the Real Goods Store
Sumoflam with Solar Expert and Real Goods founder John Schaeffer

Riscky’s Steakhouse and BBQ – Fort Worth, Texas

Riscky’s Steakhouse – Ft. Worth, Texas
Riscky’s BBQ – Ft. Worth

Rudyard, Montana

Rudyard Welcome Sign
Sumoflam and Dino – near Rudyard, Montana

Ragged Falls – Algonquin National Park, Ontario

Ragged Falls in Algonquin National Park in Ontario

Rosie the Fish – Sekiu, Washington

Sekiu’s somewhat famous “Rosie” welcomes you to the town

Red Squirrel – Nebraska City, Nebraska

A red squirrel with a mouthful in Nebraska City, NE

Rising Eagle Sculpture – Bismarck, North Dakota

Rising Eagle Sculpture in Pioneer Park, Bismarck, ND

Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois

Royal Donut – Danville, Illinois

Royal Motel – Ironwood, Michigan

A Route 66 type of vintage neon sign at the Royal Motel in Ironwood, MI

Riverside, Iowa

Future Birthplace of James T. Kirk in Riverside, IA
Live Long and Prosper – Sumoflam and the Starship Riverside

Random Road – Cleveland, Ohio

Mayfield Road and Random Road, by the little park in Little Italy

Romance, Missouri

Road to Romance
Romance Baptist

Roseman Covered Bridge – Winterset, Iowa

Roseman Covered Bridge in Winterset, Iowa

Raton, New Mexico

Raton Theatre in Raton, NM
Main Street in Raton, New Mexico
El Kapp Motel in Raton, NM

Rio Brazos Dance Hall – Granbury, Texas

Rio Brazos Dance Hall – Granbury, Texas (now closed)

Roxy Theatres – Choteau, Montana; Langdon, North Dakota; Clarksdale, Mississippi; Shelby, Montana

Roxy Theatre in Choteau, Montana
ROXY Theatre in Langdon, ND
New Roxy in Clarksdale, MS
Montana Grill and Roxy Theater in Shelby, Montana

Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming

Rockpile Museum – Gillette, Wyoming

Roosters Roosters – Needville, Texas; E. Peoria, Illinois; Seymour, Missouri; Eldon, Iowa; St. Louis, Missouri; Granbury, Texas

A big metal rooster sits in front of the Jay Cafe in Needville, Texas..doesn’t look like a jay to me.
Sumoflam with the giant Rooster with a Top Hat at Carl’s Bakery in E. Peoria
Uncle Rooster’s Big Rooster on US 60 near Seymour, Missouri
Metal Rooster in McIntosh, MN
Red Rooster (looks white to me) – Red Rooster Collectibles Eldon, IA
Giant Rooster greets you at Joe’s Cafe entrance in Greg Freeman Park, St. Louis
Big Rooster in Granbury, Texas

Roadhouse Relics – Austin, Texas

Roadhouse Relics Wall Sign in Austin

Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky

Russell Flat Holiness Church – Sand Springs, Kentucky

Regent, North Dakota – Home of the Enchanted Highway

Welcome to Regent and Enchanted Highway Road Map
Enchanted Highway Gift Shop in Regent, ND – closed the day were there

Ronks, Pennsylvania

Dutch Haven Restaurant, Home of the famed Amish Shoo Fly Pie, located in Ronks, PA just down the road from Intercourse
The Outhouse Gift Shop – Ronks, PA

Russell’s Point, Ohio

Stewart’s Drive In in Russell’s Point, Ohio
Bringing out the ice cream at Stewart’s

Roswell, New Mexico

UFOs in Roswell
More Art in Roswell, NM
Need some alien stuff? Plenty in Roswell

Rexburg, Idaho

Rexburg, ID
Rexburg LDS Temple

Rocket Rest Stop – Elkmont, Alabama

At the Rocket Rest Stop in Elkmont, AL – home of a Saturn 1B. Taken in 2005
Large Saturn Rocket at Welcome Center in Elkmont, Alabama

Ride the Ducks – Seattle, Washington

Ride the Ducks in Seattle

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame – Cleveland, Ohio

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, Cleveland
Rock and Roll Blvd. in Cleveland

Real Quiet Lane – Lexington, Kentucky

Shhh…this is a Real Quiet Lane in Lexington, KY

Red River Gorge – Slade, Kentucky

Red River Gorge near Slade, KY
Visiting Kentucky’s Red River Gorge in November 2016

Rachel the Golden Pig – Pikes Place Market – Seattle, Washington

Rachel the Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle

Redcliff, Colorado

Green Bridge near Redcliff, Colorado
Nice carved eagle in Redcliff, Colorado

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.

Books 1 & 2

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Washington State: A Day in Seattle

Flying to Seattle
Flying to Seattle

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.

Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard

Bremerton Ferry

Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal
Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal

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.

The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The grandkidz join "Grammy" on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound
The grandkidz join “Grammy” on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound

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.

A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry

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.

A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
This was a luck shot...literally a couple of feet away
This was a luck shot…literally a couple of feet away
Seattle in the distance
Seattle in the distance

 

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.

A panorama view of Seattle from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry

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.

Seattle's famed "Great Wheel"
Seattle’s famed “Great Wheel”

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.

 

 

Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle

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.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

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.

A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

CuriositytShop2Ye 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. CuriosityShop2He 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!

Seattle Waterfront

Miner's Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
Miner’s Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot...one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot…one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront

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.

Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
Orca Wall Art in Seattle
Orca Wall Art in Seattle

The “Parking Squid”

Hanging with the grandkidz on the "Parking Squid" in Seattle
Hanging with the grandkidz on the “Parking Squid” in Seattle

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.

The "Parking Squid" by Seattle artist Susan Robb
The “Parking Squid” by Seattle artist Susan Robb

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

World Spice Market in Seattle
World Spice Market in Seattle

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.

Spices line the wall at the Word Spice Market
Spices line the wall at the World Spice Market

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.

Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market in Seattle
Pike Place Market in Seattle
The Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Rachel the Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle

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.

 

Pike Place Market was packed
Pike Place Market was packed
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market

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!

Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen

Here are a few more random photos I got at Pike Place Market.  Such a unique and fun place (other than the crowds).

Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Squid at Pike Place Market
Squid at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
We've got fish at Pike Place Market
We’ve got fish at Pike Place Market
Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Extreme Habanero Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Unique Pillars
Unique Pillars

DSC_4851The 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.

Seattle Scenes

Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle

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.

Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long
Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long

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.

A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
On a building side...reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s
On a building side…a cornerstone from 1981
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Always love my Pink Elephants...this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Always love my Pink Elephants…this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn't want money... just wanted smiles
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
An Old Clock on a building
An Old Clock on a building
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky

I should note that the Hammering Man, by artist Jonathan Borofsky, is one of many artworks around Seattle.  Borofsky has installed the Hammering Man in other places around the world as well. This one is 48 feet tall and is directly in front of the Seattle Art Museum.  I have visited other works by Borofsky in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Molecule Man), in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon (“Walking to the Sky“) and the “Man With Briefcase” in Fort Worth, Texas.  I love the simple grandeur of his art and hope to see more in the future.

Kress Building in Seattle
Kress Building in Seattle

Ride the Duck in Seattle

Ride the Ducks in Seattle
Ride the Ducks in Seattle

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.

All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us...yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!
All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us…yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!

DSC_4885Throughout 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!!

Super_DUKWFirst 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)

The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

DSC_4891Our 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!!)

Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy the Pirate....ARGH
Mandy the Pirate….ARGH
Duck coming up out of Lake Union
Duck coming up out of Lake Union

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.

The Space Needle as seen from the Duck
The Space Needle as seen from the Duck

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.

Houseboats on Lake Union
Houseboats on Lake Union
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union....as seen from the Duck
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union….as seen from the Duck
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.

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.

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard

 

 

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Washington State: A Week of Travel and Variety

A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit. We made the T-shirts ourselves
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit. We made the T-shirts ourselves
Julianne and David on the Beach in Washington
Julianne and David at the Beach in Washington

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!!

The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls

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.

A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
The Seattle Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle

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.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market

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.

Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

 

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)

Ride the Duck!
Ride the Duck!

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!!

On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
Neah Bay, Washington
Neah Bay, Washington

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.

Fat Smitty's, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty’s

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.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
This seaweed looked more like a snake. Not sure what it is called...
This seaweed looked more like a snake. Not sure what it is called…

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.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset
Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset

PointDefianceZoo

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.

Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma
Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma

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.

A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
The LDS Seattle Temple
The LDS Seattle Temple

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.

On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background
On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background

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.

Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
a Cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.
A cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.

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.

Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)

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.

The Mattress Ranch "pasture" in Port Orchard
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA

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.

Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park
Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park

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!

Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP
Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP

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