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Tuesday, 01 May 2018

Portland, Seattle and Vancouver: The Pacific Northwest’s Premier Road Trip - Page 2

Written by Maureen C. Bruschi
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Mt. Rainier Rules

We made a slight detour on our way to Seattle, Washington with a stop at Mt. Rainier, located at the center of Mount Rainier National Park. The enormity and magnificence of this active volcano, surrounded by stunning rivers, mountain lakes, waterfalls and wildlife was well worth the trip.

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When we left Portland temperatures were in the high 50s. As we entered Mt. Rainier National Park and began our drive up the scenic, winding road toward Mt. Rainier, temperatures dropped quickly, snow appeared and warning signs alerted us to snow avalanches, debris flows and rock falls. Paradise Jackson Visitor Center and Paradise Inn provided a close-up, panoramic view of snow-capped Mt. Rainier with several of the mountains 25 glaciers streaming down its slopes.


Seattle’s Underground, Downtown and Waterfront Rocks

A two and a half hour drive from Mt. Rainier took us to Seattle. If you’re looking for a little history and lots of laughs, head over to downtown Seattle’s Pioneer Square District. Choose from a number of underground tours that will bring you up to speed on the history of Seattle, dating back to the mid-1850s.

During that time, Seattle’s Pioneer Square was plagued by drainage issues. When a fire destroyed the area in 1889, Seattle decided to reshape the town and fix the drainage problem. The town was built one to two stories higher than the original town leaving passageways and buildings underground. Our tour guide took us through these underground passageways and tunnels, passing through buried storefronts and sidewalks. He added his own comical views on the plumbing and toilet disasters that hounded Seattle residents during the early days.

A visit to Smith Tower, Seattle’s first skyscraper, gave us spectacular 360° views of the city as well as a step back to the Roaring 20's. On our way to the elevator that carried us to the observatory deck, we passed Smith Tower’s Roaring 20's radio station, entertainment hall and switchboard room, discovering life in 1920's Seattle.

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Pike’s Place Market by the waterfront has something for everyone from handcrafted clothing, jewelry and Polish pottery to gourmet chocolates, specialty foods and flying fish in the outdoor fish market. Fish vendors’ (known as fishmongers) are well-known for their flying fish antics, always a crowd pleaser. Prior to wrapping up a customer’s fish purchase, a fishmonger tosses an entire fish through the air to another fishmonger. Chanting and chasing customers with fish are part of the fishmonger’s pranks that sends the crowd scattering.

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We caught the Washington State Ferry, housed at Pier 52, for an afternoon trip to Bainbridge Island. Downtown Bainbridge Island is filled with shops, restaurants, art galleries, museums and wine tasting rooms. From the ferry terminal, a ten minute walk takes you from one end of the town to the other. If you visit the island, don’t miss a stroll along the Waterfront Park & Trail on your way back to the ferry.

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A quick and inexpensive ride on the Seattle Center Monorail, built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair, shuttled us from 5th Avenue and Pine Street to Seattle Center. A number of key attractions are found here including the Space Needle and Chihuly Garden and Glass. Many folks visiting Seattle Center choose to simply relax and enjoy the fountains and sculptures spread out around the grounds.

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Last modified on Tuesday, 01 May 2018

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