Busy Times, and the end of the Trip

I can’t believe it has been over a month since my last post. Much has happened since then, and I have been largely non-stop since my return from America. September was a busy month, with a lot going on. I should probably recap the end of my holiday first, before I forget everything.

America, continued

Originally, we had planned to drive down to California and stay for a few days, but as the trip went on, it began to become increasingly unrealistic. The drive itself would take up a day, and recovering from it would take time too. Instead, we spent a few days camping at the coast which was really enjoyable, exploring Honeyman state park, Florence, Newport, Tillamook, and everywhere in between. The sand dunes at Honeyman state park are unbelievable. If you ignored the trees at the edges, it would be easily mistaken for a desert. I also had my first real experience with oysters, which will be my last for some time. They are truly an acquired taste. I did find a pearl though, albeit a tiny tiny pearl of about 2mm in diameter. Tillamook Cheese Factory is also a favourite place of mine, as they produce some good ice cream. Not the best though. The best of this trip was in an ice cream parlour in Florence, where I had salted caramel ice cream. They also sold expensive fudge which I would be less inclined to buy – some of it may have been flavoured by windex. Not terribly traditional. Keith and Joanna spotted the (rather rude) guy behind the counter cleaning an upper shelf in the fudge counter with no regard for where the spray was going. So while the ice cream was good, it may not pass the next health inspection…

Dunes in Honeyman State Park
Dunes in Honeyman State Park

One of our last days was spent exploring Seattle, including the locks and Salmon ladder, the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibition, Pike’s Place market, and the rather surprisingly excellent Von’s. It also happened to be an incredibly horrible day as predicted, and we spent most of the morning sheltered inside the Salmon ladder viewing room, and a small diner, eating clam chowder. Like most big cities, Seattle isn’t a cheap place to be a tourist, and going to some of the more popular attractions like the Space Needle and Experience Music Project (EMP) will set you back about $20 a ticket. The Space Needle is one of those things many people have to do, but actually falls below par when it comes to actual ratings and reviews. Is it worth $20 to wait in line for a long time, go to the top of a tower (which is not the tallest building any longer) and look around at the world below? Considering the Columbia Centre is taller, cheaper, and in a better location with a seemingly better view, that would be my choice.

The Troll under the bridge, in Seattle. I almost forgot about this!
The Troll under the bridge, in Seattle. I almost forgot about this!

But we were only there for the day, and wanted to do something a bit more memorable than simply gawking at the tiny ant people below. Having sprung up just before my trip last year, Dale Chihuly’s Garden and Glass exhibition is now the highest rated attraction on Trip Advisor. Chihuly is an American glass sculptor and entrepreneur (he certainly knows how to sell things, from the looks of his gift shop) originally from Tacoma in Washington, but studied both in the states and Venice. I had never seen glass work like it. Quite spectacular. Entire rooms filled with some rather wonderfully coloured and shaped creations ranging from the sea, to forests of what appeared to be flamingos, to shells and boats filled to the brim with every shape imaginable. It’s hard to describe, but most definitely worth the visit. One his projects, the glasshouse, failed to inspire me though, and some of his work was rather repetitive, including his chandeliers. His other pieces were the ones that interested me.

One of my favourite small pieces. Photograph: Brian Douglas
One of my favourite small pieces. Photograph by Brian Douglas

By the time we left Garden and Glass, which had a rather nice garden surrounding the main hall, it was almost 3 pm, and our time was running out. The next priority was Pike’s Place market, and food. Hang on, something is missing from this post. I almost forgot about Kerry Park! How could I forget about the most memorable view of the city, and one of my favourite places. It wasn’t quite as stunning this time, as the weather had been nasty earlier, and though it was starting to clear, the view had not. It was a shame that Mount Rainier was not visible, but it was still worth seeing for the classic Seattle skyline. Now back to the market.

Like every normal person, he is preparing to throw a fish
Like every normal person, he is preparing to throw a fish

This is what Pike’s Place is famous for – throwing fish. Normally throwing fish is frowned upon, particularly in public, but the United States is a strange place. I was aware that people went to see the fish being thrown about for a laugh, but I didn’t quite realise how big it is. These guys have been doing this for years now, and are world famous. The owner, John Yokohama, decided they needed to become world famous, and turned the business from an unassuming fish stand into the place to see in Seattle. They even do motivational “Flying Fish” seminars! The novelty does wear off after seeing a couple being thrown about, but it is impressive considering the size of some of the salmon they are throwing. It’s all a bit mad, but good fun. The market is interesting but there are so many people milling about that it becomes hard to walk around and enjoy it.

Imagine there wasn't a shadow there (shame), this was some incredibly photogenic food
Imagine there wasn’t a shadow there (shame), this was some incredibly photogenic food

Our last stop, after desperately searching for good reasonably priced places to eat, was Von’s Gustobistro. Mum picked out the place which had some very good happy hour prices, and I have to admit that I wasn’t inspired initially. It sounded like pub or bar food, which isn’t the best traditionally, but we went in anyway. I’m glad we did. The food was fantastic! It turned out that they were famous for sourdough pizzas, or frics as they call them, and hamburgers which they make themselves. I got a bacon lardon and apple pizza, with french roquefort and cranberries, which was delicious. And only $7.50, which was entirely unexpected for Seattle. They are also into craft beers and carry a massive selection of spirits. It’s the first place I’ve seen who gave dad a sample glass of the beer he was planning on getting, just to make sure he actually liked it. If you are looking somewhere to eat in Seattle, and can hit them between 4 and 6 pm for happy hour, then definitely go for Von’s. They even have a book explaining their heritage and all about sourdough. It was what got me interested in sourdough, which I am now learning about the hard way.

That’s about it for now. I just needed to write something, and wrap up the trip. After Seattle, we had a few days of doing last minute things, and Keith slaughtered some ducks, but that was pretty much the end of the trip. And somehow, unbeknownst to me, I lost my space pen. Damn, I did like that pen.

2 responses to “Busy Times, and the end of the Trip”

  1. You lost your space pen? Did you lose it here or Ireland? Let me know and I will keep my eyes peeled for it. You also left your totally awesome canning jar mug. I am saving it in the cupboard for your next trip.

    1. I lost it over there, but I think it must have slipped out of my pocket in a store because I couldn’t find it anywhere in the house. Thanks for the thought. I know! I was bummed out too, but it can be something to look forward to next time 🙂

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