Saturday, August 30, 2014

8/30 - Exploring Seattle Area

I have visited Seattle several times since 1959, so when my cousin Beth asked me what we wanted to do here, I told her I had already seen Pike Place Market and the Space Needle several times, and to take us somewhere I didn't know about. I also mentioned I had never  been on any of the Puget Sound Islands. So today, we explored new stuff!

We started off with a great breakfast -- chipotle/maple syrup bacon and eggs custom made to our preferences. Then Jim and I hopped into the car with Beth, picked up Aunt Jean, and headed to Bainbridge Island, where Beth and her family had lived for 10 years while my Uncle Bill was a Lutheran minister there. We took a car ferry over and got a tour of the island, and just really enjoyed this pretty wild-looking space in reasonable commute distance to Seattle. We drove past their old house and the church and the schools Beth went to, the water-front park they camped at, and just generally got a sense of why Bainbridge Island might be a great place to live if you worked in Seattle.

Then we drove over the bridge to the mainland (but connected from the south, so the ferry was still the best way to get back) and went to Poulsbo, a Norwegian-ancestry village on the sound. We had lunch there and explored the shops (naturally, I found earrings I couldn't live without) and bought bakery at Beth's favorite place. Jim ate his danish right away, but I am saving mine for breakfast tomorrow.

After more sightseeing of the wilds of the area, we took the ferry back home to the mainland and dropped off Aunt Jean before heading back to Beth's home. Unfortunately, I forgot to bring my camera, and my cell phone ran thru its battery in record time, so I have no photos of the lush green (primarily fir trees) of the island and surrounding areas, but it felt really refreshing. I love where we live in Marin, in part because it is so much greener than most of the bay area, but this was totally greenery heaven!

8/29 - Drive to Seattle

Today was another drive day - about 6.5 hours from Bend to Seattle. Lots of RVs and trailers on the road because it is the start of the Labor Day weekend, and lots of 2-lane roads on the way to the Portland area. We were just glad we were going north, because traffic going south, especially around Seattle and Tacoma, was WAY worse going south. Apparently no one in the area goes to Canada on vacation, they all head towards Oregon. It was an uneventful drive with some lovely views of Mt. Hood and Mt. Jefferson along the way.

The highlight of the day, however, was the 'cousin party' that Beth had arranged for us. We are staying with cousin Beth for a few days while we are in Seattle, and she invited the Seattle cousins and their spouses and her mom over for the evening. I really enjoy my Seattle relatives, but living 800 miles away, I don't get to see them much, so this was a great treat.

The last time we were all together was a party several years ago to be sure our generation had all met each other before our parents started passing away. This is one of the downsides of having families spread around several states -- Wisconsin, Montana, Washington, and California -- making it tough to stay in close touch while we were growing up. But the funny thing is, we all seem to have a great time together, and tonight was no exception. The added bonus this evening was that some of the grown children of my cousins joined the party too and they were just as fun and interesting as their parents.

Now all we have to do is convince them to visit us in Mill Valley, tho the house will not hold more than a few at a time!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

8/28 - On the Road Again

We started out today on a dual adventure -- a road trip from coast to coast to visit relatives, friends and national parks paired with a tour of Morocco (this part was Jim's idea -- we're already nearly halfway there when we get to New Jersey, it will be lots cheaper to go to Morocco from there than California, right???).

Today we drove toward Seattle, a two day trip, and stopped in Bend, Oregon to stay with my cousin Anna, who recently retired here. Her husband is still working back near Seattle so she acquired two foreign exchange students for the year, who made us dinner. Jessica from Italy made lasagna, and Julia from Finland made pavlova -- both were terrific -- students AND food. We walked in the neighborhood after dinner and caught a glimpse of the river that runs through a canyon near Anna's home.
The Deschutes River near Anna's home

Jessica, lasagna maker extraordinaire, above the river

We were desperate to move our feet after 8 hours in a car. I suppose that the car stuff will get easier as we get more used to it. The really good news is that the car gets better mileage on the highway than its predecessor, despite the EPA estimates that were quite a bit worse.

Tomorrow takes us to Seattle for a few days, touching base with more cousins plus a couple aunts and an uncle.