Sunday, December 04, 2005

An Exploration of Land and Sky

Going Lewes and Clark One Better...
I’ve put it off year after year but I could put it off no longer. I was chaffing at the bit. I had to see the Pacific Northwest.
Why? I don’t know. I had heard so many different stories…
It rained all the time…It didn’t rain. The coffee was great!
The people nice!...And who could beat the Pacific salmon, my favorite food .

So, it was time… But once you decide to make that kind of commitment, where do you go from there?

I thought I would sketch out a plan. It was like beginning a bold new venture that I knew nothing about…

I turned to the maps I had, the Internet, books and an old friend of mine who had traveled the area on business…

It helped provide a framework.

But it also gave me a little idea of how Lewes and Clark must have felt when President Jefferson told them to check it out!

The planning started off quite simple. (I was always good at the “broad brush”). We would circumscribe a rough circle. And then refine it from there.

But while that may sound easy, the truth is that the devil is in the details…. For example, where do you begin the circle; where do you end it? If you only have one working parameter—and that was the ten days we were allocating to the project, what do you include, what do you omit?

A tall challenge to be sure…

First off,. I wanted to see our friends Jeff and Jane who owned a good chunk of land on Pendar Island. Other than that, I didn’t have a clue what that meant. Where was Pendar Island? How do you get there? Where do you go from there?

Anyway, I jumped in with both feet….

What did we know?

We knew that we wanted to stop in Seattle. (During my years in the service, my best friends came from the Seattle area….so I knew there was something about the place that attracted my kind of people.)

We wanted to see Pendar….And we wanted to see Victoria on the Island of Vancouver. (Why? I am not quite sure except it seemed pretty neat with great vistas!)

Okay, we had a starting point….

In the back of my mind, I was thinking I wanted to make this doable. In other words, I didn’t want to spend all my time in the car or on a boat, but I also wanted to get the lay of the land. I also knew that in Washington, there was so much to see that it never seemed to end. My old production guy, Stu, used to fly out there every weekend on special discounted flights, and couldn’t rave enough about the place.

That was a start!...

Next, I went to my local bookstore where I knew the manager and asked her about the area. She said that she’d just come back from a whirlwind trip out there. I told her I wanted to see the Olympic Penninsula. And she said that she had done it all from top to bottom. Covered Seattle and Portland, too, in three days! Although I wanted to see all of those places, I wasn’t up to that kind of mad dash.

However, I would try to work in a piece of the Peninsula.

Then I contacted Jeff. He said that he was going out in September which would be a great time of year and invited us out. There was another anchor to the trip!

I was beginning to cook with this idea.
Okay, things were starting to shape up.
What was doable; what wasn’t?

I started to flesh out the plan…

We would spend the night at BWI and fly out first thing in the morning… Our objective: Seattle with a brief lay-over in St. Louis. Sounded like a plan.

The flight and connections went smoothly. We arrived at nightfall in the City, rented a car and drove in. Rose had arranged a hotel in the heart of the City, one of the older but respectable hotels.

Rose had also managed to extract the name of an Asian restaurant out of one of the Seattle area passengers. And off we went!

Seattle was shaping up visually at least as a great city…
Not too big; not too small. Lot’s of smiling faces on the street; lot’s of coffee cups, too, wrapped in clenched hands…

That was a positive sign! Coffee-drinkers tended to be enlightened people in my lexicon and the signs were showing positive.

We found the restaurant and it was “wow!” A beautiful place that could compete with the best in Manhattan.
And the food? Awesome. Some of the best Asian food we’ve ever tried.

This set a positive tone to our trip that never wavered.

The next morning, we went on a boat tour of the harbor. We happened to have a great tour-guide who seemed to know more about more things in Seattle then anyone. I should have talked to him before I set out but who knew?

After the tour, it was time to eat again. We had heard about Pike’s market and we thought it might be a good time to go for the tour…

It was only a short drive away, and we parked the car and started browsing around on foot. The artists and craftsmen were there in abundance…If I let myself go, I could have been decked out in new tie dyed shirts and heavy leather belt with my choice of Seattle caps. It was tempting!

We eventually found an intimate little sandwich bar across the street where everyone seemed to be having a grand time…so we plunked ourselves down. Next to me, an older chap came in and played a couple of lilting tunes on the harmonica. The staff, too, was very friendly.

I ordered a salmon sandwich and Rose ordered some stuff and a cup of Salmon chowder which I had never had before but found to be great.

I mentioned that I saw some Jewish desserts at the bakery which the store owned and the boss must have overheard me and came back with a rugalah and we began a conversation about her upcoming trip to Manhattan.

Again, another great happening!

It was time to get on the road again…

This time we headed south. The plan, as envisioned, was to get to Bremerton. Why? It was on the way to the Olympic and it was the only place where we could find rooms…

What I hadn’t realized until the week before I left was that it involved a ferry ride. As it turned out, it was quite a ferry ride, some hour or so, passing by some beautiful islands…
In the background, we even got to see the great mountain that looms all over Seattle on clear days….

There I was standing at the railing believing that I had died and gone to Heaven shooting everything in sight….

I was surprised to find that Bremerton is a little world unto its own. Why so many people? Ah, yes, it turned out it is a haven for Submariners and those who build ships.

We stayed at this nice inn on the water in the northern suburbs of Bremmerton called Silverton. The folks at check in were real friendly and we asked them where to eat since we’d been driving or traveling since lunch. They recommended a fish house a few blocks away….

I decided on fish and chips and Rose had a nice pasta dish…Of course, we topped it off with a great Belgian Beer that was new in the US but really got my attention. It was rich and creamy with a great taste and I decided I would bring some up to Jeff and Jane before we left.

We found out what Bremerton was all about from the couple behind us who were out celebrating a birthday. Since my birthday was right around the corner, it opened the door for another nice conversation with each of us promising to contact the other…

From Silverton, we traipsed north across a connecting link to the highway to Port Townsend, which was my side trip prior to our overnight destination at Port Angeles which was west across the Peninsula.

Port Townsend was one of the best decisions of the trip. There was an Art Festival going on and a Wooden Boat Festival at the same time… The street was crowded and we had to park about a mile away from town up a mountain that had us both panting by the time we climbed back up.

But the town, itself, was remarkable. It was like we had entered a time warp and found ourselves back in the fifties. A little group of musicians had come together and were playing music on the street. Eventually, several couples started dancing. What a treat! Plus, best of all, this was music from the sixties and seventies that I could still understand.

Port Townsend was a remarkable place made up of lovely Victorian houses and red brick buildings….set against a backdrop of drop dead gorgeous views of the harbor and the islands beyond…There were good restaurants and lo and behold a hot dog stand.
Now, if you know me, you know I cannot pass up a good hot dog stand. Of course, we ordered the smoked sausage with all of the works peppers and onions, etc.

After it was delivered up along with my root beer, I noticed the menu. It had something on it called the Italian Stallion that was definitely out of New Jersey. I challenged the owner and he smiled, owning up to the fact that he was from upstate New York…But I think there was a little Brooklyn in him, too.

Off again,this time to Port Angeles….

On the way, we traveled alongside Discovery Bay which accompanied us most of the way…a truly lovely sight.

Port Angeles became our debarkation point for Victoria BC.
It was raw-boned, kind of patched and frontier-like, totally at opposite polls to Port Towsend but that was to be expected. Again, we were on the Bay overlooking the channel Juan de Fuqua that connected us with Victoria in the distance…. But I’ll save that for the next installment…Politics Blog Top Sites


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