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.
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.
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.
Ivar’s Fish Bar
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
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.
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.
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.
Triple XXX Rootbeer
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Northern Cascades National Park
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.
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.
In our next post, we will start heading east toward Wisconsin again checking out Glacier National Park and Worland, Wyoming.