This post is part two of my spring travels post-Salt Lake City. After the trip to the Northeast, my next adventure was a weekend in Washington (state #35 for me)…
The weekend started with a flight into SeaTac airport and my first car rental ever. The airport was rather navigable, in my opinion, and I found Enterprise to be a great service to choose for a first-time car renter (although $200 would normally have been hefty for a single weekend if I hadn’t been desperate). I drove a blue Hyundai Elantra for the weekend, and I must say that I thoroughly enjoyed it after the first 20 minutes of adjusting. I left the airport with relative smoothness and headed north, delayed only by a cool drawbridge before arriving in downtown Seattle. I stopped by the Pike Place Market (because you pretty much have to in Seattle and definitely should) and picked up some cherries and dates after perusing most of the market. I didn’t really have the budget or resources to buy and use fish, so I settled for fresh fruit. I also would have liked to try Turkish Delight, but the restaurant’s hours didn’t match my schedule. If you are grabbing lunch in the Market, I strongly recommend Michou Deli; I had a dangerously delicious chicken sandwich with fresh toppings and smooth aioli.
After touring the Market, I headed north through the city and went to the Seattle Arboretum. The Japanese Garden at the entrance (featured below) was a treat in and of itself, and the Arboretum beyond that was more than I could have seen in a single day. I lost myself throughout the miles of trails and trees; that’s really the only descriptive phrase I can think of at the moment. It was truly so amazing that I am speechless to describe its elegance. One thought I can clearly form is that magnolias are probably my new favorite trees. I don’t know that I had ever seen any before, but being surrounded by a forest of flowers above my head was truly heavenly.
After my time at the Arboretum, I passed over and through the Cascades of Wenatchee National Forest to reach my KOA in Leavenworth, WA. The drive was stunning the whole way, with mountains, rivers, and waterfalls at every twist and turn (just take a look!). Washington may be my favorite state now, although the nearly-$3-per-gallon fuel and NASCAR-style drivers were definitely downsides to the journey.
I ate dinner at a seafood restaurant in the Bavarian-style town of Leavenworth, which is interesting despite being super cliché and gimmicky. I tried sleeping in my tent on Friday night, but since I had packed so light for my flight, I was unable to stay warm enough and woke up for the day at 4:00 Saturday morning. I drove the short distance from Leavenworth to Wenatchee and caught an hour of sleep in the car before my big day. I also stopped long enough to put a pin for Waverly, IA, in the world map at a local fruit farm, and I was surprised to find that pins were there from all over Europe and Central America. Fruit farms and orchards lined much of the highway space between Wenatchee and Leavenworth, so I had to find a scenic shot to share as well.
On Saturday, I attended a writing conference at Wenatchee Valley Junior College called Write on the River. This, of course, stands for the beautiful Wenatchee River, from which I plucked some shiny rocks for my friends back home. The conference covered topics on poetry and nonfiction, and even though I was more pumped about Washington than I was about the conference, it was a wonderful experience. I have to give massive thanks and credit to Dr. Amy Nolan at Wartburg College, as she used the funds from our literary magazine (The Castle) to help me attend the conference. Without her boost, I probably would not have made it out to Washington so early in my life. If anyone wants to hear more about the conference, feel free to shoot me a message!
After the conference, I headed back to my campsite and explored the nature a little bit. I had hoped to get in a run and possibly swim in the river, but I didn’t find much for trails, and the rocky shore and rapids of the river would likely have massacred my body without anyone knowing how I’d died. As a result, I headed back to my car and charged my phone while reading. I managed to finish Ready Player One, and I strongly recommend it to anyone who likes science fiction and/or nerdy dystopian novels. It was the perfect read for where I’m at in life, and it made for a lovely night.
I caught some z’s in the car that night, and I headed out at about 6:30 a.m. Sunday for my final Pacific Northwest adventures. I took I-90 this time, in order to see some different sights than before. The mountains still loomed at me as I left the Wenatchee Valley, and I found the whole drive to be fascinating. I spontaneously turned off at Snoqualmie Falls, and boy am I glad I did! The Falls were perhaps not the most interactive tourist attraction ever, but any natural creation that makes its own rainbow is a winner in my book. I explored the trails a little bit too, and then I hit the road, to try and hit Tiger Mountain State Park before my flight home.
It turned out that Tiger Mountain is an extended hike that takes hours for a round-trip summit. Trying to do it without a map or a clue in a little over an hour proved unsuccessful, and I turned back partway up the path. No one can say I didn’t give it the ol’ college try though!
I returned the car without much hassle (other than the $2.95/gallon fuel I had to put in the car), and my flight with Alaska Airlines brought my home in time for late supper.