Seattle, Rainier & Cascades

We spent two weeks in the Seattle area during the Fourth of July 2021 and experienced some all-time record heat recorded in the area. Since it was too hot to go out and Barb spent several days recovering from being sick, Jason worked some of those days just to lay low. Once the heat abated a little we did some driving tours through some of the national parks in the area and we made a visit to the Pacific Ocean so we can say we have been from the Florida Keys to the Pacific Northwest across the continent.

With CoVID restrictions just lifting in Seattle around June 30th, many of the sights we wanted to visit were still closed. We look forward to a re-visit of the area so we can check out those things we left undone on the map.

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Area Eats

Being in the pacific timezone meant Jason was done with work at around 2:30 PM each day, but he also shifted his schedule back an hour so he did not have to start work right at 6:00 AM either.


Yes Green Check Mark

The Grayland Wheelhouse restaurant is just a minute or two from the beach. It has amazing seafood options, claiming everything is made with locally sourced seafood. Even though much of it is deep-fried, the breading used is light and complements the meat well. We were so full after lunch we enjoyed the ferry doing some of the driving on our way back to Seattle.

Even though much of the seafood is fried on the Captain’s Plate, the Wheelhouse Restaurant in Grayland, Washington, has excellent recipes that are light and not overpowering the freshness of that local seafood.
The Wheelhouse Restaurant features Brady’s Oysters which we passed on our way from Seattle down to Westport on the ocean. The Wheelhouse assured us their seafood was all locally fresh and when you can see it this up close you tend to believe it!

Ivar’s Fish Bar

Yes Green Check Mark

Ivar’s Fish Bar has 18 “fast-casual” dining format restaurants offering locally sourced seafood. Chowders in multiple formats and seafood proteins either broiled, baked or deep-fried.

The Black Duck

Yes Green Check Mark

An after-work gathering place for the locales in Gilman Village of Issaquah. One of Barb’s favorite foods is various recipes for poutines and the duck poutine delivered a win. Jason found a local rhubarb cider very refreshing on a warm afternoon.

The Gilman Village is a collection of small businesses and restaurants in relocated late to mid-20th century buildings now converted to a quaint business district. We had some cool local rhubarb cider, good handmade pizza, and excellent duck poutine at The Black Duck and Bottle for an early evening dinner. Conversely, we had a very negative experience at the Tantalus Restaurant in the village, read our 2-star review on Google Maps.


Red X Mark

Tantalus is a “greek inspired” restaurant that disappointed both of us. Very poor service given the restaurant was basically us and another table. The food was very dry and overcooked. There were as many staff as customers and yet we had very poorly attentive service, at one point we had to go in to get a drink refill and to get our bill so we could leave.

Issaquah Cafe

Yes Green Check Mark

Absolutely a favorite that you need to check out when in the area. Issaquah Cafe is one of a half dozen restaurants owned by the same owners, this particular one was our favorite. We went back several times for breakfast as we departed the area for our day of travel. We were disappointed by their salmon cakes but otherwise very pleased by the pumpkin pancakes, traditional eggs benedicts, and the strawberry rhubarb Belgian waffles were over the top.

Issaquah Cafe, Issaquah, Washington, had some amazing “home-cooked” food and we verified it several times to ensure that we could honestly say that!

Triple XXX Rootbeer

Red X Mark

We were very disappointed with the Triple XXX Rootbeer Drive-In. Shady business practices of not charging the price on the menu and a lack of any good quality products led us to leave some pretty critical reviews on Google and calling the local police. At first, the food seemed good, but it just got worse and worse over time. Onion rings that smelled rotten, the hamburger meat seemed boiled, the rootbeer was overly sweet. Then we had the altercation with the management (owners?) over the prices we were charged.

Washington Cherries

Not a restaurant but some local yumminess. The best cherries we found anywhere were at the Estes Fruit Stand in the Chelan Valley on the Cascade Loop.

The red and golden yellow Rainier cherries were in full prime season as we arrived in the Seattle area. We really did eat about 30 bounds of these gold beauties. The Washington “Chelan” red cherries also were starting to ripen. Unfortunately, the season was extremely short and a lot of fruit was destroyed by the over 100-degree heat at this prime time.

Tall Chief RV Resort

This campground is amazing and it is on our return next time list. Most of the sites are heavily wooded and positioned well to many scenic tourist sites in the area.

Most of the RV sites at the resort have only 30-amp service, but we scored site #108 at the Tall Chief RV Resort which has a 50-amp service with water. (Requires a Thousand Trails Collection add on as it is an Encore park)

The Tall Chief RV Resort & Campground is an “Encore Park” that was accessible for two weeks “free” as part of the Thousand Trails – Trails Collection pass. We stayed here around the fourth of July weekend for a two-week period in 2021. The entire park has no sewer sites and some sites are 50-amp while all the others are 30-amp only. Sites are assigned based on a first-come-first-served self-selection method. We arrived at just the right time to get a 50-amp site that was nestled back in wood covered from the oppressive wet record-high heats.

The pool was offline most of the time we were here. The laundry room has credit card payments onboard. The showers and restrooms are antique but clean. The limestone rock on the road was very dusty.

New creatures in the Pacific Northwest, this little guy helped out at the dump station. He climbed out of the tree via the branch on this electrical box, based on the trails this is a daily occurrence for it.

Mount Rainier

Barb has been to Seattle numerous times to visit family when growing up but never had seen Mount Rainier (14,411 ft) was clear as it was the day that we were there. We had picked up the tip that with Mount Rainier you need to attempt it as soon as you arrived at the area and to be flexible with your schedule because it rarely comes out to be seen. On the other days, it is likely to be obscured by clouds.

We were blessed to see Mount Rainier on the day we picked. This was the only time we had clear skies like this, from this point forward our skies would be smoke-filled and hazy.

On the day we decided to make the over 1-hour travel to seemly nowhere we found it completely visible with only a very slight haze in the air. This is another park with a primary highway through with a number of scenic views pull-off locations. We found a turnout with an excellent view of the mountain to grab some selfies of ourselves and the Jeep. The rivers in the valleys were raging because of the snowmelt from nearby peaks melting at record speeds.

It was over 100 degrees on the day we visited Mount Rainier, so we popped out for a quick selfie, enjoyed the view and headed back to the comfort of the A/C in the Jeep.

Crystal Mountain is just outside the national park on the northwest side and we saw from the road signs there was a tramway. We drove up to the Crystal Mountain Resort to check it out more and the tramway there is identical to the Disney Skyliner system in Orlando. Unfortunately, the cost to the top seemed a bit outrageous and our reluctance to pay was confirmed when the resort lost power. Seeing the gondolas swinging stopped on the line in the breeze on a superhot day was not something we were interested in. So we retreated back toward Seattle for the afternoon. We did notice that they have RV parking with electrical hookups here, with only one of the dozens of spots available. Granted it is just the edge of a parking lot sort of camping, it is still easy to access to the national park.

You might have noticed the graphics we have added to the Jeep in previous blog posts. Kind of cool to visit the Pacific Northwest area that has inspired their design.

Pacific Ocean

A cool day on the Pacific ocean, with breezes coming at under 50 degrees at the same time it was almost 100 up in Seattle. The Grayland Beach Oba State Park Drive On Access was an awesome way to experience the “other” coast. We have indeed been from one end of the country to the other now!

We had to complete our transcontinental travel across the United States as part of Our Next Chapter adventure, having traveled now as far Northwest as Seattle and as far Southeast as Key West, Florida. When we are on the coast we try to find the best hole-in-the-wall seafood place as we can, and the Grayland Wheelhouse did not fail us. They serve locally farmed oysters and other well-prepared seafood.

The fresh local seafood was very prominently cooked to perfection in the seafood fettucini at the Wheelhouse Restaurant in Grayland, Washington, just a minute from the beach access.
Rubi takes a ride on the ferry up Puget Sound and across Elliot Bay to downtown Seattle.
When you leave driving up to the ferry captain, you have some time to be silly.
The classic downtown Seattle view from the ferry.

Northern Cascades National Park

Overlooking the Kangaroo Ridge and the Early Winters Spires South from the Washington Pass Overlook Site which had a great ADA accessible trail to the overlook.

One of the prettiest drives in Washington is the North Cascades National Park (NCNP) which is Northeast of downtown Seattle. About 90-minute drive to the west entry and visitor center, you then can drive up and through the park stopping at a number of pull-off locations. We continued through the park, stopping at a couple of the pull-offs and ultimately culminating at the Washington Pass area.

Jason and Barb at the Washington Pass Overlook Site in front of the Early Winters Spires.

We decided that we would continue from this location to go east and down around the park on the east side. We grossly underestimated the time it would take, but are very happy we did it. It was a long day, about 12 hours total from door to door going up to, across, and back down the backside of the park.

We had lunch in the historic little “old West” town of Winthrop and continued down through the cherry and apple orchards of the Eastern side of the mountains. We had not realized that Washington produce was mostly farmed on the hot aired side of the mountains with irrigation being the primary source of water. We stopped at the Estes Fruitstand and got some of the best cherries we had our entire time in the Pacific Northwest.

On our “return to this” map, we have added the little German town of Leavenworth, Washington. We have been through a number of these sort of “German transplants to America” sort of towns, but this one seemed to do it a little better than the others. We will for sure be spending more time in the Pacific Northwest and this will be one town we will want to stop for a while.

On the East side of the Northern Cascades National Park in Winthrop, Washington. It may still have a seedy history with cowgirl tarts still frequenting the boardwalks outside the Old Schoolhouse Brewery.


In our next post, we will start heading east toward Wisconsin again checking out Glacier National Park and Worland, Wyoming.