ROAD TRIP – PART 3: WASHINGTON
Washington was a state full of dream day trips finally realised. One of the main reasons for us taking this road trip was so that we could pack in as much as possible into a short time span instead of taking multiple holidays, and boy did we fit a lot in. Especially in Washington. One of the major things we all knew we had to do was whale watching, if we didn’t see an Orca we would be coming back until we did. Another thing was visiting Treehouse Point, Dad and I love the TV show Treehouse Masters, I mean come on who wouldn’t love to own or live in a treehouse? I know I certainly wouldn’t complain at that life. Then Seattle – big, beautiful Seattle. A city that I’ve always wanted to see but never thought I’d actually get the chance to, I don’t know why I was drawn to it, a lot like I was with Portland, but I just knew I needed to experience it. So off we went on our multiple adventures across Washington State.
We started Washington on a high, 5,400ft high to be exact. Mount Rainier National Park is a must visit place, the views are insane, the drive up to Paradise is incredible and everything is well worth a visit. I can’t speak anymore highly of it. It was such an amazing day. Wherever you look, you cannot escape the mountain, it’s even visible from Seattle on a clear day, that’s how impressive it is. We had lunch with a view, in relatively warm weather, while sat in the middle of snow pile, it was the best kind of strange. Then we headed to Paradise, named because the founder of it thought it was a little slice of heavenly paradise, and I truly agree. The cabins are rustic, wooden, lodges that fit the landscape so well, yes I’m nerding out over buildings again, sorry. But they were so cute, and no one is going to complain about the view they get of Mount Rainier out the window, it’s stunning. I continued to nerd out while watching a documentary on the park’s discovery, volcanic past and various trails you can walk while in the visitor centre, yes I’m that kind of fact loving person.
John Muir, a man whose words never fail to instil some form of wanderlust in my soul, is quoted on the Mt Rainier National Park guide for a reason – because he has the most wonderful way of describing everything … “of all the fire mountains which like beacons, once blazed along the Pacific Coast, Mount Rainier is the noblest”. My favourite quote of his is actually the one most suited Rainier … “the mountains are calling and I must go”, I am deeply in love with a place I only visited for a few hours and that is perfectly alright me. John Muir gets it.
Day 13 and it was finally time to drive up to Anacortes and hop on a boat to, hopefully, see some Whales, to say I was excited was the understatement of the century. I knew that I’d probably never ever get a better chance to see Orcas again, so I was ready and raring to go. We stopped off in the cutest (slightly quiet, due to it being 9:30am) little town called La Conner and I’ve decided I am moving there and opening a cafe or bakery or shop or something, I loved it. Alongside a river, vintage stores, independent shops, whats not to love? And after tasting a Red Velvet Whoopie Pie from the local bakery, I have been dying to go back since, it was an insanely unhealthy masterpiece. Then it was onwards to Anacortes, first we explored Washington Park which has the most amazing views of the San Juan Islands and the US-Canada border was somewhere in the distance, the closest I ever got to Canada that trip (Vancouver I will be back for you, I promise!), but I’m not bitter at all clearly.
Then we boarded the new Island Adventures Explorer 5 boat (with our complimentary mugs to celebrate it) and hit the seas! No joke, it took all of about 30 minutes until the on board expert was yelling ‘ORCA’S, ORCA’S AT 3 O’CLOCK’ down the speaker system. It was amazing, I’m not ashamed to admit that I teared up a bit. Seeing an animal I never thought I would, but had always dreamed of, in person in their natural habitat was breathtaking. They were a pod of about 8-10 Transient Orca’s, which means they hunt other marine animals rather than fish, we actually just ended up following them the entire time (so about 2.5 to 3 hours, it was so worth it). The on board expert explained how it looked like they were teaching the baby orca to hunt, how to porpoise (swim through the water mimicking what a porpoise does) and how to track prey. Then the most amazing thing happened, we followed the pod on a successful hunt and saw them track, eat and celebrate their successful capture of a porpoise for dinner. Even as a vegetarian whose not a big fan of blood, guts and raw meat, I was still in awe of these creatures and their power. I could go on for days about how amazing that afternoon was and how grateful I am for the opportunity to see those beautiful animals in person. We also saw Harbour Porpoises, Bald Eagles and sunbathing Seals (hiding from the Orca’s) – nature’s beauty and magnificence knows no bounds!
As Pete Nelson would say… “to the trees!” …and that’s exactly what we did. It’s clear how much I love being in forests, near trees and in general just wandering aimlessly in nature, so this was my thing. The Redwoods were incredible, but this was treehouse’s, that is The. Dream. Life. After watching Treehouse Masters and knowing we were going to Seattle which is only 20 minutes away from Treehouse Point, AKA heaven, we had to go! And I’m so happy we did. We got to tour 5 out of the 6 treehouses, walk around the B&B grounds and paddle in the river. I could’ve stayed there forever, but unfortunately we had to leave so they could clean the treehouses and get ready for the next guests, understandable really. But of course I was the last to leave, I had to make the most of my time there obviously!
There are 6 Nelson Treehouse & Supply designed and built treehouses on the ground, the first being Temple of the Blue Moon inspired by the Pantheon. Then there is Trillium, my personal favourite because of all the windows. Unfortunately we couldn’t go inside this treehouse (stupid King County planning department) but it’s still my favourite even after only seeing the outside. Bonbibi used to be a teaching treehouse where Pete would give lessons on putting up and taking down walls and now (with walls) is another B&B treehouse. Burl was designed and built for an episode of Treehouse Masters, a combination of both steel and wood, with a crow’s nest, that for obvious safety reasons cannot be accessed on the tour. Nest is a quaint house truly nestled in the trees, with gorgeous railings (yes, another design obsession of mine) and a relaxing feel. Lastly, there’s Upper Pond which sits next to the car park and also overlooks the Lodge, the pond and the rest of the grounds. It’s also the only treehouse with a ladder, not steps or a bridge, which in my mind makes it a proper house in the trees. Bonus fact: they’re in the process of designing and building a fully accessible treehouse at Treehouse Point and also Treehouse Resort & Spa is under construction, so it looks like I’ll be heading back soon!
Space may be a little deceiving and a bit of an exaggeration, but it was one out-of-this-world view of Seattle from the Space Needle. After our first two days staying in Seattle were not spent in the city itself, Day 15 was our first actual time exploring more than just places to eat. But oh my goodness we discovered some insanely good places to eat – anything on the Waterfront is good plus CJ’s Eatery (the best veggie frittata ever), Che Sara Sara and Elysian Fields – so much foodie goodness! Our first full day in Seattle was spent walking, exploring and wanting to see everything. We didn’t buy Space Needle tickets in advance, we just assumed we’d only need to see it from the ground, but that changed as soon as we realised the insane views we would get, so up we went! It’s a must do attraction if you’re ever in Seattle, I’m so glad we did it. We also walked around the Sculpture Park, Pike’s Place Market and went to the Seattle Seahawks fan shop (mostly for my brother, but we’re all fans now and we have the merch to prove it!).
Day 16, our last day, a day I hoped wouldn’t come but it did anyway, how rude of it! Suitcases in tow we headed to the Seattle Seahawks and Seattle Mariners stadium’s on yet another merchandise hunt. We were hoping for a CityLink Field stadium tour but Amazon rudely rented out the entire place for a giant picnic for its employees, I’m just bitter I didn’t get an invite. So we wandered around aimlessly for a few hours then ended up at King Street Station and Union Station – both insanely architecturally pleasing buildings (obviously I was obsessed). Then we hopped on the train to the airport and it was time to say goodbye to another amazing adventure and I place I fell in love with so quickly.
As much as I’ve tried to put into words through these 3 posts how amazingly beautiful and insanely perfect the Pacific Northwest is, it still hasn’t quite done it justice. If you ever get the chance to visit you have to, there is so much to love about it – the people, the food, the views, the national parks, the beauty and the memories you’ll make! Thank you West Coast and USA for another perfect trip, I’ll be back (sooner rather than later hopefully).
P.S. I apologise for the time it took me to write this, but I forgot how stressful the weeks leading up to and the first few weeks of university can be, and how many things I had to get ready. There will likely be more to follow on how I’m adjusting and what it feels like being back in an environment that I wasn’t necessarily that comfortable with last time around. But it will also likely take me a few months to get around to that, life is full of a lot of reading and organising at the moment!