Monday, June 28, 2010

Crater Lake & the Pacific Coast of Oregon

Day 1

Got up at 7am to be ready to pick up our rental car around 8am. Thankfully, it was a beautiful, clear & sunny day with the temperature quickly climbing above 70F. Despite a minor snafu with Hertz (they ran out of cars at their downtown location and were having to transfer them from the airport location), we finally started heading south around 9am. Driving I-5 was pretty easy; I set the cruise control at the posted 65mph speed limit and zoomed along without encountering too much traffic. Shortly after Salem, we passed a convoy of logging trucks, each carrying 7 or 8 massive trees already trimmed of roots and leaves. After a quick break at a rest stop just north of Eugene, we continued on past miles of farmland (orchards, vineyards, fields of grain, some cows & sheep) until we reached the exit for Hwy 58. From there it took us another 30 minutes or so to reach the town of Oakridge where we had planned to stop for lunch. This part of the drive was particularly scenic, with a covered bridge, the Lookout Point dam & reservoir, and the Willamette River all on our left. We even caught glimpses of Diamond Peak up ahead.

I had done some research in advance and wanted to eat lunch at Brewer’s Union 180, a local authentic English pub & brewery. We arrived at 11:30 but discovered they didn’t open until noon. So after a very quick look around town (it’s a one red light kind of place), we decided to kill some time at the Corner Bar. We bellied up to the bar and joined the locals who all knew each other. The space was filled with video poker machines and other gambling paraphernalia, but they did have one tv, which was tuned to a game show. After ordering our beers (they actually had a couple of Deschutes brews on tap!), I politely asked the barmaid, a lady in her 60’s, if she could change the channel to ESPN so we could watch the soccer match. Mission accomplished, we enjoyed our drinks and watched the better part of the first half of Denmark vs. Japan.

When we finished our pints, it was time to walk over to Brewer’s Union, but not before we bought a Powerball ticket at the bar. We get a kick out of being able to buy lottery tickets at bars & restaurants in Oregon! Being a traditional English pub where you have to place your food & drink order at the bar (ie, no table service), we marched up to the Brewer’s Union taps to have a look at the selection. The barkeep was really nice and enthusiastic about their cask-conditioned beers and he let us try as many as we wanted (there were a total of 6 Brewer’s Union beers on tap plus 4 assorted guest beers). I eventually settled on their version of a Dry Irish Stout and Greg ordered a Hoppy Ale. We both ordered fish & chips, but Greg got the traditional version and I got the special which was referred to as spicy fish with sweet potato fries. We also ordered a cup of freshly made beer cheese soup to share. We took our time eating our tasty food and were back on the road around 2pm.

We kept going west on Hwy 58, gradually climbing in elevation, past lots of forested area and some snow parks. Eventually we reached Hwy 97 and started heading south, through the touristy town of Chemult, then east on 138, and finally we were at the north entrance of the park. Total drive time from Portland including a couple of 5 minute rest stops was 5.5 hours. As we had purchased an annual parks pass at Yellowstone, we did not have to pay the $10 entry fee for Crater Lake National Park. From the north entrance it was only about 15 miles to the lodge, but we stopped at virtually every pullout to take pictures as the scenery was so beautiful. There was still 10-20 feet of snow in a lot of areas, and the bright white contrast with the almost cloudless blue sky, the evergreens and the deep blue of the lake was breathtaking. At some point along the way, Greg said he was disappointed that we hadn’t seen any animals. Just as I was about to retort that we had only been in the park for 30 minutes (and what did he expect; this isn’t Yellowstone!), we came upon a deer in the middle of the road.

As it was almost exactly 4pm when we walked into the lodge, we were able to check into our room immediately. It is imperative to book accommodations months in advance as everything sells out quickly for the short summer season. We booked ours in late March and at that time there were only a few rooms still available for pretty much any weekend in June or July. We stayed in a standard room on the 4th (highest) floor of the lodge, with one queen bed and ensuite bath (tub only, no shower) and a valley view (could see all the way -- approx 40+ miles -- to the ranches of Ft Klamath from our bedroom & bathroom windows). Staying at the lodge isn’t cheap; our basic room was just over $200/night.

We settled in & unpacked and I realized I was feeling the effects of the high altitude so decided to relax in the room while Greg took a short walk. By the time he came back, the dizziness/headache had given way to nausea. We had dinner reservations in the lodge’s formal restaurant (also made well in advance) at 6:30 and I hated for Greg to eat alone. But I knew I wouldn’t be able to eat a regular meal so I just sucked it up and went to the dining room with him and had a few bites of bread, mashed potatoes & root vegetables. Again, prices were steep. The average entrée is over $30.

As I was starting to feel a bit better, we decided to go for a short walk around the lodge & crater rim after dinner. What we never expected were the mosquitoes! As soon as we stepped outside, they were swarming around us and covering our clothes & bare skin. There is a lot of standing water from the snowmelt but I thought with the cooler temperatures at this altitude (7100 ft), we wouldn’t have to deal with too many bugs. I couldn’t have been more wrong! It was so bad we didn’t stay outside more than 10 minutes.

Back in our room as we were winding down for the day, I happened to look out the window and see the pink glow of the sunset and the fast-rising, almost full moon. Not wanting to miss a great photo op, I tried to cover up as much of my skin as possible and ran outside to take some pictures. The mosquitoes were still awful, but I think I got some great shots. We came back inside, took a nice hot bath, and went to bed.

Day 2

Woke up to the brightness of the sun reflecting off the snow. We slept with the windows open last night which kept the room a comfortable 70F even though it was only about 45F outside. Got dressed and took our collapsible bowls, sporks and instant oatmeal down to the Great Hall for a budget breakfast. Sat inside at a table by the window in the sunshine with a nice lake view.

After breakfast, we packed up for our hike to the base of the lake. We drove from the lodge to the Cleetwood trailhead. The trail is 1.1 miles long one way and descends over 700ft. Which is a little hard on the knees & shins going down but a butt-kicker in every other way going back up! But this is the only way to get to water level and to take the boat ride around the lake, which unfortunately for us was not scheduled to run until July 2nd. In fact, when we reached the boat dock, the U.S. Coast Guard was there inspecting the boats.

Despite having to battle swarms of mosquitoes, we thoroughly enjoyed the hike down. The surrounding cliffs (sides of the crater), some still covered in snow, were reflecting perfectly in the blue water of the lake. There is no way to describe how clear & blue this water is. You absolutely must see it for yourself! When we made it to the bottom of the trail, we took a quick look around (the trail ends just past the boat dock) and then settled onto a bench to munch on some granola bars & turkey jerky. We kept looking over the edge into the water to watch some schools of fish. Eventually the Coast Guard took the boats out and we were able to walk out onto the dock where I dipped my dusty feet into the ice cold water. After lounging on the dock for a few minutes, we summoned our strength for the hike back up. Surprisingly, it only took us about 30 minutes to get to the top, which is about the same as going down but then we were stopping for pictures every 5 minutes.

Sweaty & dusty, we returned to the lodge to clean up and fix our peanut butter & jelly sandwiches for lunch (also brought from home to save money). We were hoping to do some light hiking in the afternoon, but after stopping by the Steel Visitor’s Center, we discovered all the trails with the exception of the one we hiked this morning were still covered with snow. So we watched a short film about what it takes to clear the roads of snow every year and then another about the park’s history. Needing to kill some time before dinner and with East Rim Drive still closed for snow removal, we decided to head south out of the park and see where we ended up.

Once we exited the park, we descended through miles of national forest and then suddenly we were in a wide valley surrounded on all sides by mountains. This is serious cattle country; I can’t begin to guess how many head of cattle we saw. We continued past the town of Ft Klamath (don’t blink; you’ll miss it!) but soon decided to turn back because the next point of interest was Klamath Lake and the town of Klamath Falls which was still another 30+ miles south.

Back in the park, we stopped at Annie Creek Restaurant for dinner. They serve an all-you-can-eat buffet after 5pm for only $16.25 per person, half the cost of a dinner entrée at the lodge. The food was pretty good and varied enough to satisfy most palates -- a couple of soups, a salad bar, fish & chips, tofu stir fry, marsala chicken w/rice, baked pork loin w/mashed potatoes, veggie lasagna, fresh baked pizzas, some kind of carved-to-order beef, and desserts (apple & peach cobblers, assorted pieces of cake, soft serve ice cream). After about an hour feeding at the trough as my dad likes to say, we drove back to the lodge to relax and catch up on our writing. For a nightcap, we went down to the lobby and sat in front of the (gas) fireplace while drinking a beer.

Day 3

We got up just before 8am and went down to have our breakfast (oatmeal again) in the Great Hall. It was another beautiful day, not a cloud in the sky. After eating, we sat on the back porch in rocking chairs overlooking the lake and finished our complimentary coffee. Back in the room we packed up and checked out around 9:15.

Sticking to our plan to be in Roseburg by 11:30 to watch the USA’s World Cup match against Ghana, we only stopped a couple of times during the 2 hour drive west along Hwy 138. This is another scenic route with lots of turnoffs for lakes, waterfalls and rafting or fishing on the Umpqua River. We found the McMenamin’s Brewery @ Roseburg Station without too much difficulty thanks to Greg’s use of Google maps on his cell phone. It’s in a converted train depot near historic downtown Roseburg. We settled in at the bar (the only place in the restaurant where they had tv’s) and watched the disappointing match while drinking a couple of beers & eating lunch.

Since the weather was so spectacular and the rental car wasn’t due back in Portland until Sunday morning, we decided to take the scenic (and much longer) drive all the way west on Hwy 42 and up Pacific Coast Hwy 101. There is not much to see between Roseburg & Coos Bay, just a long & winding road through semi-logged forests and some farmland. In fact, when we made it to Coos Bay, we were disappointed that 101 was not right on the coast, so our first view of the ocean wasn’t until we reached the Umpqua Lighthouse another 27 miles north. We stopped to have a quick look around the small Coast Guard museum then continued north through the Oregon Dunes National Recreation Area. Again, we could only intermittently see the dunes from the road, but it looked like it would be a lot of fun to rent a dune buggy from one of the small shops along the roadside. We did stop at Jessie M. Honeyman park to climb one of the dunes and watch a few sand boarders.

The drive was much more scenic between Florence & Newport. We stopped to check out the sea lion caves but they had just closed for the day so we could only enjoy the windy view north to Heceta Head Lighthouse and south to the beaches & dunes. We stopped again at the Cape Perpetua Visitor’s Center which was also closed but the wrap-around deck offered nice ocean views. I would have loved to walk along a sandy beach but it was well past 7pm and we still had many miles ahead of us. We stopped in Newport for a drink at Rogue Brewery then crossed the bridge and ate dinner at Local Ocean Seafoods on the bay. You can read my review of our delicious meal at

By the time we finished eating it was almost 10pm and the sun had finally set but there was still a pink glow over the ocean along the horizon. We continued north to Lincoln City where we turned east on Hwy 18 and took it to 99W then up a brief stretch of I-5 to Portland. It was a pretty easy drive despite having no street lights and there wasn’t much traffic. It was totally dark so there wasn’t much to see, but I did notice we passed through more developed areas than we had earlier this spring when we drove the north coast from Astoria to Pacific City and came back on Hwy 6. We walked in our apartment at 1am, tired but glad we took the extra time to drive up the southern & central coasts.

Trip Summary

We drove 720 miles in 3 days! Compared to the 700 miles we covered over 9 days during our Yellowstone & Grand Tetons trip last month, that’s a lot of time in the car. We could have shaved off almost 200 miles by not doing the coast but we had to take advantage of the beautiful weather and we didn’t have anywhere else we had to be.

I loved seeing Crater Lake with the snow still on the ground. The payoff was we couldn’t drive all the way around the lake as Rim Drive was still closed for snow removal from the Cleetwood Trail parking lot to Steel Information Center & Park Headquarters. Also, only Cleetwood Trail was open for hiking; all the other trails were still covered with snow. Despite the extremely rewarding hike down Cleetwood Trail to the tour boat landing, the boats were not yet in service (tours scheduled to start July 2nd). Thus, our activities were limited to the one strenuous hike, stopping at the overlooks along the western portion of Rim Drive, checking out the Rim Village & Steel Visitor Centers, and hanging out around the lodge. In addition, the mosquitoes were a complete nuisance pretty much everywhere, day & night. Applying some repellent (DEET or similar) did seem to help avoid bites, but did not diminish the swarming which makes it very hard to enjoy being outside for very long.

I would definitely like to visit Crater Lake again, as it makes a nice 2-4 day trip from Portland or could be incorporated in a driving tour of the northwest National Parks. But I would probably wait a bit later in the year, maybe even late August or early September when the snow is gone but the weather is still good enough for hiking & other activities. It would still be critical to make lodging reservations far in advance.

Pictures probably don’t do the scenery justice, but I have posted some on Facebook and here:

Crater Lake & Coast 24-26JUN10

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Revised RTW Itinerary

Some days I feel like I'm making significant progress on the trip planning, other days it's like I'm hitting a wall. Upon reevaluating our itinerary over this past weekend, Greg & I realized (not for the first time) that we would be in the Middle East region over the Christmas holiday. We don't have an issue with this per se, except that December is high tourist season and prices for some of the activities we want to do (like the Nile River cruise) are at a premium. In addition, we also discovered that if we keep our Kenya & Tanzania safari in November/December, then prices will be much lower than during September/October. The trade-off is the weather, as November marks the start of the short rains. Again, we don't mind this, as long as it doesn't impede our ability to travel from park to park and see all the animals.

The only way we found that we could rearrange our itinerary to account for both issues mentioned above, plus considering that we had already lengthened our trip by approximately 6 weeks to give us more downtime and factor in more travel days (thus counting one full day every time we get on a plane, even if the flight only takes a couple of hours), was to "stop" the first part of our trip in Hong Kong and from there fly to Turkey and then make our way south. Then we would backtrack from South Africa to Southeast Asia, where we can spend a leisurely & hopefully inexpensive Christmas & New Year's on a beach somewhere.

So here is the latest version of our Round-the-World itinerary. It is definitely still a work in progress (we have not bought a single plane ticket!). But we are much closer to booking our East Africa safari (thanks to one of my flight attendant friends) which will mark a critical turning point in our trip planning as it will lock in the dates for that portion of our trip and free us up to focus on everything before & after.

As always, your suggestions & feedback are greatly appreciated!!!

01AUG 3 in transit BNA-ATL-LAX-SYD
03AUG 5 Australia - Sydney
09AUG 3 Australia - Cairns
13AUG 3 Australia - Darwin
17AUG 3 Australia - Adelaide
21AUG 2 Australia - Melbourne
24AUG 14 New Zealand - self driving tour from North to South Island
08SEP 4 South Korea - Seoul
13SEP 3 Japan - Tokyo
17SEP 5 Japan - Kyoto & Hiroshima
23SEP 5 China - Beijing & The Great Wall
29SEP 14 China - Yangtze cruise Chongqing-Yichang, Guilin, Soochow, Xian
13OCT 5 China - Hong Kong
18OCT 10 Turkey - Istanbul, Cappadochia, Pamukkale, Antalya, etc.
29OCT 3 Jordan - Amman, Jerash, Petra, Wadi Rum
02NOV 5 Israel - Jerusalem, Dead Sea
08NOV 10 Egypt - Cairo, Luxor, Nile cruise, Abu Simbel
19NOV 14 Kenya & Tanzania safari
04DEC 7 South Africa - Cape Town, Garden Route
12DEC 25 Vietnam - Hanoi, Ha Long Bay, Mekong Delta
Laos - Louang Prabang, Vientiane
Cambodia - Phnom Penh, Angkor, beach break
07JAN 13 India - Kerala: Kochi, Trivandrum
21JAN 9 India - Delhi, Agra, Varanasi
01FEB 21 Italy - Venice, Milan, Florence, Rome, Naples, Palermo, Sardinia
23FEB 7 Spain - Barcelona, Madrid
02MAR 7 Morocco - Marrakesh, Fes, Tangier, Rabat
10MAR 1 in transit RAK-MAD-ATL-BNA

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Getting to this point (and going forward)

Since adding the countdown ticker to the blog, I’m finally starting to deal with the reality that our RTW trip starts in only 6 weeks! How is it that I quit my job last September and am only now (for the past 2 months anyway) spending approximately 7 hours per day working on the trip???

Even though I was honest with Greg about my plans to travel around the world when we got together in February 2009, I highly doubted he would join me. After all, our relationship was in its infancy and he wasn’t too keen on quitting his job without having another one lined up. I had originally planned to start the trip well before the end of last year, but as my relationship with Greg progressed and we had many long discussions about the possibilities for our future together, I came to the conclusion that it might be worth waiting a bit longer to see how things turned out. We made the most of our time and traveled around the U.S. “sampling” cities where we might want to live when we are ready to settle down together. Of course, in order to get the most out of this experience, I have spent a lot of time researching, writing about and exploring the locations we chose (New York City since I was already living there, Seattle, Honolulu, Portland). The RTW trip was always in the back of my mind, but during those months it also took a backseat to everything else.

After a tough Christmas season (great time spent with friends & family but challenging because Greg & I were at a crossroads in our relationship), we decided to come out here (to Portland) to have some time to figure things out. We continued with our twice weekly “school” sessions, which is just our moniker for setting aside time to focus on each other & our relationship. The biggest issue was whether or not Greg would quit his job and thus be able to travel around the world with me. I don’t think either one of us expected our relationship to survive intact if I went without him, and I wasn’t willing to postpone my (almost) lifelong dream any longer.

Finally, near the end of March, we reached a critical turning point. Greg made his decision and then we made a joint decision. We both love Portland and, knowing we had about 4 months to go before we would leave on our RTW trip, we decided to spend the majority of it here, where we could start focusing on the planning but spend our leisure time drinking craft beer, eating at great restaurants, and enjoying the mild weather & beautiful scenery. We also planned a wonderful vacation to Yellowstone National Park and a few shorter side trips.

So that’s why these past couple of months have been intense. Lots of planning & coordinating to make this trip work for both of us. The Portland Central Library has been my go-to offline source for travel guides & literature. Living walking distance to REI has been a godsend! I even found a travel health clinic a couple of blocks from our apartment (but was shocked, no, APPALLED, by the total cost of all our vaccines no matter where we got them). Our building has a gym, which is perfect for getting us in great shape for all the walking and carrying of 30+lb backpacks that we’ll be doing. Another bonus, Portland has an extensive food cart scene, which is a great way to prepare our palates for some of the cuisines we’ll experience on the road.

Greg & I now have daily trip planning meetings to update each other on any work completed on our assigned tasks. I set up this massive spreadsheet with over 20 tabs with titles like “Itinerary, Visas, Vaccines, Insurance, Transport” and also country-specific information. But I have been particularly stressed lately with the transport part of the trip. About 1 week ago, I sent our itinerary to AirTreks with some notes about which portions we were planning to do by bus, train, car or boat. The quoted fare in Coach came to about $6600 per person!!! And that doesn’t include our trans-Pacific or trans-Atlantic flights, for which we plan to fly standby on Delta using my mom’s passes. I had priced out the itinerary myself before contacting AirTreks and come up with a similar number, so I shouldn’t have been so shocked, but it’s still A LOT of money! And when you factor in a 2-week safari in Eastern Africa (about $5000pp) then budget an average of $40/nt pp for accommodations (although we do plan to couch surf or stay in private rooms in hostels as often as feasible), and $35/day for food & drink & miscellaneous expenses (must try all the local beers!), it looks like we could easily blow through about $25,000 PER PERSON in only 6 months.

Yes, we have both saved up that much money and earmarked it for this trip, along with additional funds for what we call “reentry” which will allow us to move to the West Coast, find a decent apartment, furnish it, and take time to find jobs we love. But I really, really want to go to South America for a few months after we touch base in the U.S. after the first portion of the trip. And the possibility of continuing on depends completely on our overall financial situation by the time next February rolls around. Maybe it’s time to start asking for donations or find a sponsor??? :)

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Three Days in Seattle

After living in Seattle for a full month last August (and enjoying our time there immensely), we decided to revisit our 2nd city (Portland being our 1st city) for a quick weekend trip. We had originally planned to rent a car and drive up to Mount Rainier, spend one night at Paradise Lodge, then continue on to Seattle. That was before I had to have both big toes cut on. Two weeks after the surgery I’m just now able to walk halfway normally in my modified tennis shoes, although not comfortably and not for great distances. So we cancelled the rental car and Mt Rainier portion of the trip and purchased tickets on Amtrak. I had Amtrak Guest Rewards points that I accumulated while living in the Northeast, so I cashed those in for two round-trip business class tickets from Portland to Seattle.

Thursday 03JUN

We left Portland at 8:30 this morning. It’s just a 10 minute walk from our apartment to Union Station which is super convenient but means we hear the trains at all hours of the day & night. We enjoyed the three and a half hour ride north through some pretty scenery (lots of farmland & water) but got delayed over an hour en route due to a bridge inspection. We passed some of the time watching the featured movie Invictus and drinking an alcoholic beverage from the café car (business class passengers are given $3 coupons towards any purchase, but a bottle of beer costs $5.75 to start with!). We finally arrived in Seattle at 1pm.

We had already planned to have lunch in the International District and had scouted out some places on We initially were going to try Thai Curry Simple as it was closest to King Street Station, but it was packed when we arrived so we continued on to Pho Bac. There we enjoyed some delicious pho (Vietnamese rice noodles) before catching a bus to our hotel, the Grand Hyatt.

When researching accommodations for this trip, we had expected to save money by staying in a private room at a hostel. However, the room rates at the nicest downtown hostels were almost $100/night. Ditto for the budget hotel chains. I decided to take a chance and bid $100 for a 5-star hotel on Priceline and the Grand Hyatt accepted my offer. It is a 30-story tower in the heart of the shopping district and walking distance to pretty much anywhere downtown including Pike Place Market and Seattle Center. I had called the hotel in advance to request an ADA room (to make it easier to take a shower due to my toe surgery) but when we checked in around 3pm, the only ADA room available at the time had not been cleaned. Instead, the receptionist offered us a standard king-bed room on the 22nd floor facing the bay, which we gladly accepted.

Once settled, we realized it was too late to head out to any other neighborhoods, so we decided to have a few beers at Tap House Grill, a block from the hotel (see my review at While perusing Where magazine in our hotel room, I had discovered that the Seattle Art Museum is free on the first Thursday of every month. We hadn’t visited SAM during our stay last August, so we headed there for what Greg & I like to call “speed museum.” The idea being, once you have been to enough museums throughout the world, everything starts to look the same. Instead of spending hours standing & staring at all the exhibits, it is much more enjoyable to NOT pick up a map or guide and just wander around only looking at the things that catch your eye for some reason or another. At SAM, I particularly enjoyed KURT (the Kurt Cobain exhibit), the Andy Warhol self-portraits in drag, the Imogen Cunningham photographs, and the Nick Cave sweater suits.

By then my feet were really starting to hurt and it was time for dinner anyway. We walked down to the waterfront to Pier 57 for our SeaFeast at The Crab Pot (again, read my review on Yelp). Our seafood craving satiated, we walked back to the hotel and called it a night.

Friday 04JUN

After a good night’s rest, we got ready and were out the door by 10:15am. It had rained overnight, but luckily was just overcast that morning. We had to walk about 7 blocks to catch a direct bus to Fremont where we planned to have brunch and then do an art & beer crawl that afternoon.

We started out at Roxy’s Diner where we had a delicious breakfast and our first alcoholic beverage of the day, a bakon bloody mary. Fueled up for some legwork, we followed the Fremont Walking Map to see all of the art installations in the neighborhood. After about an hour of walking, we were ready for our first beers at Brouwer’s Café. Serving over 60 beers on tap, the café is a great stop for any beer lover. I hear their food is also very good, but we were still stuffed from brunch at Roxy’s. We each enjoyed a pint and after chatting with the bartender a bit, we continued northwest to Hale’s Ales. They have a nice, open brewery set up with informative signs as to the purpose of each tank in the brewing process. We bellied up to the bar and each enjoyed 3 tasting glasses of Hale’s beers. Continuing our walk into Ballard, we stopped at Maritime Brewery & the Jolly Roger pub. Again, we each had a pint of beer. Buzzed and ready for some oysters at Elliott’s, we caught a bus back into downtown.

We had hoped to arrive at Elliott’s by 3pm to catch the first “session” of oyster happy hour when the oysters are only $0.50 each. But with all the beer drinking & ground we covered in Fremont, we didn’t arrive until 5pm (when oysters are $1.50 each). Still, we ordered a dozen each and pints of beer to go with them. After enjoying our oysters, we walked to Elysian Fields to meet one of Greg’s old coworkers and have more beer & food. We had tickets to that night’s Mariners v Angels game at Safeco Field, but weren’t worried about getting there before the first pitch. We hung out & chatted with Jessica for awhile, then walked to the park for the ballgame. To make it an authentic experience, we even bought a bag of roasted peanuts from one of the street vendors and enjoyed those and yes, more beer! while watching the game. The Mariners lost and Greg was disappointed to find out on Wednesday (2 days before the game) that Ken Griffey, Jr was retiring (as that was part of the reason he wanted to go to the game -- to see him play).

We caught Sound Transit back to Westlake Center and walked the remaining few blocks to the hotel where we quickly called it a night.

Saturday 05JUN

After sleeping in this morning, we packed our bags but left them in our room while we ventured down to Pike Place Market for breakfast and browsing. Based on an article in Seattle Magazine, we had Nova lox bagel sandwiches at Market Bagels. The market was super crowded -- it was a beautiful, sunny & warm day. But we enjoyed having a look at the fresh seafood, vegetables, flowers and other goodies for sale. Of course, the people & animal watching is pretty great, too!

With my feet still tired from all the walking the day before, we headed back up to the Grand Hyatt to collect our bags and check out. Then we took a bus to the International District and from there walked to Pyramid Alehouse. There were a lot of people in the area as both the Mariners & Sounders had games that afternoon/evening. We made ourselves at home at the brewery, drinking, taking advantage of free wifi, and eventually eating some lunch/dinner before making our way back to King Street Station. We arrived just in time to start boarding business class and we went ahead and settled into our comfy leather seats for the ride home. Again, we enjoyed the scenery and an adult beverage during the 3 ½ hour trip but opted not to listen to the audio for the featured movie Alice in Wonderland.

We actually arrived at Union Station in Portland about 10 minutes early and were back at the apartment just after 9pm. It was a great weekend trip and was particularly nice for me to get out of the apartment for a few days after being cooped up for almost 2 weeks due to my toe(s) surgery. Of course, I was paying for it with some achy feet & legs, but it was totally worth it!

Seattle 03-05JUN10