A journey thru Washington State. Cool Seattle, depressing Tacoma. The volcanoes of the Pacific Rim and Olympic Peninsula. High up in the snow and along beautiful beaches. And our car arrives in the US, passes US customs and gets repaired.
Bellingham, 16th September
End of our lazy life. No more a holiday from our journey. So we have to leave Vancouver Island and return to the US to pick up Prado in Tacoma.
The ferry back to the mainland. From Sydney/BC to Vancouver.
On the way a glimpse of Mount Baker – a future destination.
Then a few km south to the border. There we’re sure we’ll pass within minutes. Already a few weeks ago being allowed to stay in the US for the next 6 months – why the hell should we spend half of this time at the border now.
Ooooops – quite a few cars in front of us. 1h waiting. Then immigration. The nice gentleman has some questions: grandpa’s name, date of birth of Auntie Alice’s first boyfriend, where we have been on 13th August 2005 and other important issues to evaluate our security status. Probably he doesn’t trust his colleague already giving us earlier the 6 months permit. Evidently he could not decide what to do with us. Either our answers were too complicated, or we mixed up some of the birthdays with some of Auntie Alice’s hot dates. Who knows.
We’re asked to drive to the immigration building, park there and see another guy who will deepen the questioning. So we queue up. Together with some 100 other poor victims. 1h later we’re done – still with the 6 months in Don’s Own Country. As we had time to learn by heart all of Auntie Alice’s dates and also those of my grandma and Uncle Jonny we could immediately give the good answers. Whatever. The world is small – and the proud Democratic Republic of Congo not too far away.
On to Bellingham. Now we’ve time to visit their famous historic old town and the 1 of nearby Fairhaven.
Somehow we have the impression that the US are quite impressed by North Korea’s heroic leader Kim(chi)’s threatening. Nowhere else in the world we could admire an anti-missile defence system in such a strategic position as in front of Bellingham’s Rocket Donut Shop. Looks like the 1st result of the new America 1st policy. How impressing. And what a challenge for the Little Rocketman.
Time for a beer.
A visit to Mount Baker. Just a few km east of Bellingham. A road going up to nearly 2000m.
The further we drive up the hazier it gets. The smoke of wildfires is back.
Nearby Mt. Shuksan is still visible, …
… while Mt. Baker – the very reason for visiting – is not easy to see.
We drive down. Out of the smoke. There a pretty long hike to 1 of the glaciers of Mt. Baker.
Seattle, 19th September
We have to approach Tacoma. Today, the 17th Prado should arrive. Our customs broker estimates that the car should be released on 20th. Provided the administration does not find any irregularities and Prado will find good answers to all questions of any eventual immigration officer.
So the short drive to Seattle. We’re happy to find some accommodation in the Seattle Center – the very place where the 1962 World Exhibition took place.
In an original retro motel still cultivating the unadulterated life style of the early sixties. Despite it’s rather indecently steep prize, definitely everything remained original. The carpets telling stories of generations of guest, the faucets Monika still recognises from her mother’s telling, windows you only find on historic buildings and all rooms painted in this baby-sh.. shade of colour they loved so much in the early 60ties. Somehow a place making you immediately fall back to your teenage years.
Outside the impressive Space Needle and the buildings of 1962’s World Exhibition. Despite its age still the town’s landmark visited by many.
And the site of the famous MoPop – of course not built in the 60ties.
Finally the famous monorail. In 1962 a sensation. Nowadays looking as futuristic as James Bond’s Dr. No.
Anyway. Seattle still seems to search its identity.
Somehow we observe a certain tendency to imitate European towns. It seems especially Florence in Italy is a favourite. This is clearly proofed by the evidence on how Seattlies tried to optimize Michelangelo’s David.
There’s even more evidence. They seriously try to compete with Kopenhagen’s Mermaid. We’re wondering if the Danish are aware of this fraudulent copy of their national monument.
Finally, even Paris’ gourmet temples are no longer safe. However a visit to a nearby fast food eatery selling world famous meat dishes could not really confirm this.
Whatever. A stroll thru the town. To the piers and their big wheel, …
… on to the Pike Place Market, famous for the world’s most expensive fish: don’t worry, a minuscule shrimp cocktail you’ll get for 20$. Provided you’re ready to pay for it.
Nearby the Gum-Wall. It’s cleaning day. They make space for new gums and at the same time stone all these bacteria developing on these beautiful gums sticking on the walls.
Then the historic Pioneer Square …
… and the famous International Quarter – a rather rundown area.
On to downtown: a mix of historic buildings and not that modern new 1s.
Finally up to the 73rd floor of the Columbia Center Tower – to the Sky View Observatory. To gain the overview again.
Well, after all this excitement it’s time for a beer – of course at the Five Pint Cafe. Great bar, but don’t eat there – their cook should have been shot long time ago.
Whatever, politically they’re correct.
Tacoma, 21st September
Tomorrow Prado should be released at the Port of Tacoma. So we drive the few km to the South. A motel in the suburbs of Tacoma. Not far from the Toyota Service Center as this will be Prado’s 1st destination.
The city of Tacoma is definitely something special for those who have travelled a real long time, who have seen all must-have-seen-sights you would like to see or not and who have visited each corner in every country because they know they would never have the courage to visit these places again.
Being in Tacoma – what a relief. A town without the slightest potential for any sightseeing. A place wherever you go there’s nothing to do or to see. Indeed a place without any activities for the odd tourist. Even nightlife is dead. The numerous bars are infested by gangs and dealers, the few gorgeous lounges have closed before opening.
Fortunately getting Prado out of customs keeps us busy. They need the keys for the looked bags in the car. Agricultural Department wants to know what we hide there. Later we learn that eventually it was not the idea of the agric. guys, but customs suspecting us to smuggle some of North Korean Kim’s nukes. Who knows?
2 days later and after numerous exchanges with Gwen, our customs broker, we get the message that the car is out. We pay all the fees – a modest 600$ for all kind of bureaucratic and sea freight induced fees and taxes. In the port we find Prado impatiently waiting for us.
A short visit to the customs office. They greet us with great enthusiasm; tell us that yesterday it took them a long time to admire all our stickers. Then they stamp the all-important document allowing Prado to enter Donny’s Own Country. Well, we’re happy that it did not take them an additional 2 days to read all the stickers. Anyway we discovered that they did a real serious job: they ploughed the whole car. No idea what they expected to find. Whatever, some more greetings from Congo.
Now Prado needs a car doctor. For quite a while we know that the breaks are not good any more. Fortunately we know that Toyota of Tacoma has all the necessary spare parts because earlier they firmly confirmed us this fact. So we drive there. They note what to do and promise to inform us the same evening when we’ll get back Prado.
To shorten the long story: Despite their confirmation that all spares are available in the US we have to order most of them in France. No problem, after a few days and a number of calls between midnight and sunrise the Frenchies send us the whole lot. On 30th September we’re back on the road – now with Prado.
Enumclaw, 24th September
Anyway, we want to visit a few places in Washington State. So 1st of all to Mount Rainier. The 4th tallest mountain in the US. 1 of the major adventure playgrounds in the area. We stay in nearby Eatonville. A small town, not much happening, at least a decent watering hole.
The next day up to Mount Rainier. We drive to Paradise – a name simple s that. There we’re already in the snow. The 1st this year. So logically for going up higher: the Skyline Trail. A medium long trail with some nice views on the mountain …
… and its glaciers, …
… on the way some wildlife in a hurry to prepare for hibernation.
Further up the track gets smaller and steeper.
Later on to 1 of the famous spots to see Mount Rainier: Reflection Lake.
The next day, after Paradise to Sunrise. Another place to drive up near the mountain. As it’s a weekend we definitely don’t feel lonely.
The Mount Fremont Lookout Trail. Not a real challenge; more of a stroll with beautiful views.
In the evening to Enumclaw. A small town north of Mount Rainier. Just a place to stay overnight and enjoy a couple of beers in the local pub to recover from beautiful Mount Rainier.
Port Angeles, 26th September
There are still a few days for Prado’s spare parts to arrive. So time for a visit to the Olympic Peninsula with its eponymous national park.
To Port Townsend with its historic buildings …
… and another great bar.
Then further along the coast to the west of the peninsula.
On the way a visit to the Dungeness Spit – with 11km the world’s longest sand spit. Interesting to visit for a while, but too boring to walk all the way out.
Forks, 27th September
On, the long way to the westernmost point of the US below 48°: west of the village of Neah, to Cape Flattery.
Then on to 1 of the nicest beaches at Washington’s Pacific Coast: Shi Shi. A hike thru the forest. A trail partly improved, partly simply muddy.
But finally the beach with its famous rock formations.
Olympic National Park has much more to offer: Hoh – the Hall of Moss Trail. A kind of fairy forest. Trees covered with thick layers of moss. Reminds us largely to Ruwenzori’s mountain forests in Uganda.
Another awesome beach: Rialto – Hole in the Wall – the very last 1 we visit in the National Park.
A lot of fascinating life in the tide pools …
… and finally the famous hole in the wall.
Olympia, 29th September
After all this, we have to drive back towards Tacoma. The parcel with Prado’s spare parts will soon be delivered at Toyota’s.
On the way a visit to Washington’s proud state capital Olympia – a rather sleepy village.
But with 1 of the classiest pubs we’ve seen so far.
Then on to Tacoma. On 30th finally all repairs have been done. And we’re on the road again.
Prado looks like newly born. Let’s hope despite its age Prado will not forget too quickly its rejuvenation.
And that’s it for today. More adventures from Donny’s Own Country soon in our next post.