I (chexfan) was able to entertain my parents for a few days during their first trip to visit me since I moved to Seattle nearly two years ago. This Trip Report will be from their perspective going forward…
(This user changes perspective)
We had been trying to make it out to Seattle for some time to visit little chexy. Fares from BDL and PVD would fluctuate quite often. We had our family’s travel expert keep an eye out for us, and he was able to nail down a good fare from Hartford-Bradley on Delta through Cincinnatti.
Friday June 28
We got to the airport about 80 minutes before our flight. Having no status, the “regular” lines were bearable with a mere 8 minute check-in time. We checked two bags and headed to our gate. Departure from BDL was on time but somehow we ended up arriving late into CVG. Our connection was timed perfectly. As we approached our gate for our SEA flight boarding was just beginning. We got on the plane at the appropriate time and took our seats.
Arrival into the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport was as scheduled. Being at the back of the bus, it took us some time to get off. As we were told by lil chexy we headed toward the signs for baggage claim. We figured with all of his power and fame he would have been there to meet us at the gate, but he wasn’t. As we exited the terminal, we instantly saw our chexfan. I mean, he is so tall with strikingly amazing good looks, how could he not stick out like a sore thumb? As soon as he saw the two of us, he brushed aside the girls that were flocked around and came to greet us. He didn’t have any welcome gifts for us, but we’d let him slide on that one.
It didn’t surprise us that we were greeted to the Emerald City with rain. But seeing as it was nearly 2 am our time, it really didn’t matter. Our amazingly thoughtful son had arranged the use of some of his hard earned hotel points to take care of our hotel so we wouldn’t have to pay for a place to stay during our visit. Is he the greatest or what?
Since he was moving out of his Paradise Ranch, they were throwing a moving out party. We were invited to meet all of his friends but we politely declined blaming the fact of how late it was, when in reality we just didn’t want to be summoned back to Seattle as witnesses for a court case later on in the year!
We arrived at the Homewood Suites about 18 minutes after getting into the car at Sea-Tac. Lil chexy never stayed there before but I guess this place had come highly reccommended by his friend coconuts (sp?). He had already checked in for us, so we just went directly to our room on the 4th floor. Having never stayed at a Homewood Suites before, we were amazed at the size of the room… no suite. The kitchenette, the living room, were all unexpected. It was close to this time when I realized why lil chexy is the favorite of our three sons.
Saturday June 29: Our First Day in the Emerald
Lil chexy told us to ring him to get our Saturday started. I guess he was thinking we would sleep in a little later than we did and he didn’t expect our call at 7:45a. He managed to show up at our hotel room around 9:30 with a plate of food from the continental breakfast being served in the main area next to the lobby. After he ingested his breaky, we left the hotel and we greeted by a very sunny yet cool day. It was probably around 65 which was a complete shock to us as it had been in the 90s with high humidity in Connecticut earlier in the week. We hopped in his chexmobile and let the chauffeur drive us around.
Our first Seattle experience was a trip to Pike Place Market. As lil chexy drove around looking for a parking spot we were astonished to see how hilly Seattle was. We had read in our Lonely Planet guide book (which our wonderful son gave us earlier to prepare for the trip) that Seattle was settled on seven hills, like Rome, but the slope on these suckers was quite steep.
We parked near 1st and Stewart and walked down 1st to Pike where we turned and saw the famous Publice Market Center sign. We had an amazing time just walking around the Market seeing the quintessential Seattle things! Of course we stood in amazement of the folks throwing the fish. But the freshness and the cheap price of the flowers was what truly shocked us. We told lil chexy that he should stop here to pick up flowers before he takes any girls out. It was just so much fun to walk through tasting. The produce was so fresh and at such great prices that we had to pick up a half pound of Ranier and Chelan cherries which are impossible to find on the east coast.
After we walked around inside the market, we continued to amble outside where we wondered past the first Starbucks and stopped at Piroshky Piroshky and picked up an apple tart for nibbling along the way. We walked back up to first and headed back to the chexmobile.
Our super hosting tourguide then took us to Pioneer Square. We went and got our tickets for the 12p Underground Tour. We initially weren’t too keen on the idea of this Underground Tour, but a number of friends back home told us it was done quite well and that it was a good laugh while being quite informative. Having some time to kill, we walked around the Pioneer Square area admiring the architecture. As it approached 12p, we headed to the Underground Tour.
When the tour was over it was nearing 2p and we were all feeling a bit hungry. Lil chexy gave us some options for lunch and we settled for Mexican. He drove us a bit away from downtown to a place Gordito’s Healthy Mexican. As we walked toward the restaurant after parking we were greeted by a long line extending out the door. We were amazed, but this didn’t shock our wonderful son. We looked at the menu and made our choices. We were surprised that lil chexy didn’t order anything for lunch. When we asked him why he didn’t order anything, he replied, “I’ll be eating yours!” At the time, we didn’t understand what he meant but in a few moments we saw the gi-normous sized portions that Gordito’s served. He would definitely be 100% correct in his guess that we wouldn’t be able to eat everything by ourselves.
Following Gordito’s, lil chexy drove us to his new place near Green Lake then on to his old place at Paradise Ranch. The other Ranchers were still moving out of the house and we were quite astonished to how nice of a place they all had lived for two years. I was able to meet a few of the commune members who had just been “names” until then. They all realized how lucky they were to live with such a great person!
After our trip to visit Paradise Ranch, our most chexcellent tour guide took us through Ballard to the Hiram B. Crittenden Locks. It was such a beautiful day and the boats were everywhere waiting for their turn through the locks. At the Locks, we were quite excited to go see the fish ladder. To say that we were in awe of the amount of Sokeye running, would be an understatement. The viewing window of the ladder was filled with salmon and we were quite intrigued by watching them battle the water.
On the way out we drove through the Fremont section and stopped for a picture with The Troll. Again, Seattle didn’t fail to surprise us. Seeing the small picture and hearing stories did not prepare us for this thing. This Troll is enormous! We made the requisite picture posing and continued our way…
The time had crept close to 4:30 and we decided to go to the vigil mass at St. James Cathedral. One good thing of having children throughout the United States is the ability to visit new churches. This Cathedral was quite nice, but not one of our favorites. Oh well.
Following mass, our lil chexy dropped us off at the Homewood Suites where we could freshen up for dinner. Lil chexy did the same and came back a little after 8pm to pick us up for dinner. Our tourguide and his friend took us along Western Avenue and across the Ballard Bridge, past the Locks and into Silshole Bay to Ray’s Boathouse. All the reviews of Ray’s were very encouraging and excellent. Our lil chexy made an executive decision earlier in the day to go to the café upstairs that is less pretentious than the dining room downstairs and we couldn’t have agreed more. Our very forward thinking son had secured reservations for the four of us and we were seated almost immediately upon informing the hostess that we had arrived. We were seated along the glass facing west looking out onto the Olympic Penninsula where the sun was still up and our first sight of the Olympics or Cascades was had!
Somehow, since moving to Seattle our son has developed a taste for trying different foods. Growing up he was the pickiest child to feed, we always feared that he would never grow up to be a big boy, but we were wrong. So in phonecalls leading to our trip out to the Emerald City, he said “I’m gonna make you try sushi”. But we drew the lie at raw fish! As a compromise our adventurous son ordered the seared Ahi Tuna as an appetizer. He made us try the nearly raw fish. TO be honest, it wasn’t that bad, but still not up to our tastes. Chexy and his friend finished off the starter before the salads came. Our dinners came some time afterwards as lil chexy and his friend were on their fourth drinks. At the end of the main course, we could understand why one reviewer said, “A visit to Seattle w/o visiting Ray’s is like going to Paris and not seeing the Eiffel Tower.” It was that good!
Among the four of us, we split two desserts that were equally as tasty. We finished the meal off with some coffee, tea and appertifs and we were on our way!
Our tour guide and driver dropped us off at the hotel and we planned when and where to meet for Sunday’s touring!
Sunday June 30: Nature Day
Our Pacific Northwest Tour Guide arrived promptly and on schedule at 9am. He came in and took some light snacks from the Homewood’s Continental breakfast and we were on the Highway heading south on I-5 in a matter of minutes.
It was to be a day that would log a lot of miles on the poor chexmobile, but one that we really weren’t knowing what we were getting into. Our first destination of the day, was Mount St. Helens, the volcano which erupted on May 18, 1980. We exited onto State Road 504 and drove headed east! The drive out was initially was unexciting and to be honest, seemingly a waste of time. Then as the car began to climb, we past the signs noting the 1000 foot elevation change. We were heading into the Cascades! About 20 miles into the drive off of I-5 the road became quiet and the views became more distinct. Besides the numerous Weyerhauser signs that lined the road, the views from the car became more breathtaking… and it wasn’t even a clear day. After an hour of driving east we arrived at the Johnston Ridge Observatory at miles post 54 4800 vertical feet higher and 18 degrees cooler.
It was a fairly clear day in the immediate area, but our view was blocked by clouds 3 miles in the distance. We first walked into the visitor center and paid for 3 admissions. Before handing over the money, our brilliant and foreward thinking son pulled out his Northwest Forest Pass which gave him admission for free, saving us $3. He was very excited to also receive a special “Administrative Guest” sticker to wear instead of the orange wristbands everyone else had on.
After about 10 minutes poking about the Visitor Center, we went in and watched the 15 minute movie about the explosion. It was done really well and filled up our information buckets. Following that we were able to catch a quick discussion by a Park Ranger outside who tried to convey the magnitude of the Mountain Eruption. My attempt to do so would be feable so I highly recommend you to visit this on your own. We finished up our stay at St Helen’s with a quick walk around the grounds admiring the plantlife which is reclaiming its’ natural habitat.
We hopped back in the car and headed west to I-5 which we hit in a little more than an hour. Instead of heading back north to Seattle we, continued our direction in the morning and kept going south towards the Rose City of Portland. Continuing our “Day with Nature” taking the by-route near PDX and heading west on I-84 to visit Multnomah Falls.
On the drive “up the Gorge” along the Columbia River, we noticed a number of little waterfalls that lined I-84. To say we were in awe would have been an understatement as these types of things just simply aren’t found (too frequently) in New England.
When we pulled off of the freeway, we were in awe of the 620 foot waterfall. It was obvious that this was Oregon’s most visited attraction as parking was tight. Feeling good about adding to the 2million number of visitors a year, we hiked up the path to the bridge and shot some great pictures of the Falls. On the way back down, we battled the crowds getting ice cream and soft drinks to get souvenirs for the grandkids back home.
It was a little after 4pm now and we were beginning to get a bit hungry having forgone lunch en route to St. Helen’s. We started driving west toward Portland (after a nightmare trying to leave the Multnomah Falls Parking lot) when our favorite child informed us that we were going to be having dinner with some family friends in Portland who we haven’t seen in two years. We picked up two sixers of beer and some flowers and made our way to their house in Northwest Portland. A wonderful meal of grilled salmon was cooked and many drinks were had over fun conversation when the wise chexfan suggested it was time to head back to Seattle around 8:45p. It was such a good and unexpected time but we were sad to depart.
We got back to the Homewood Suites shortly before midnight and made plans for chexy to call US when we awoke on Monday morning. I guess we just wore him out during our first two days in the Pacific Northwest!
Monday July 1- Seattle Day II
We awoke to another beautiful day in Seattle. All this talk of being a gray and rainy city is just bunk in our opinion! Our amazing, astounding tour guide came to pick us up and he was quick to point out that the weather still wasn’t “beautiful”. “Nice” but not “Beautiful”. He went on to explain that the ocean layer around the city had rendered visibility of the Cascades and the Olympics to nill. But, hey, the sun was out so we were happy.
Our day began with another quick drive by tour of Queen Anne and Capital Hill. We were excited to go see the Japanese Gardens but were sadly dissappointed to find out that they were closed on Mondays. Luckily, someone was there cleaning up and after a plea of being tourists, gave us 15 minutes (which turned into almost 30) of exploring the gardens. From here we drove actoss the Montlake Cut and around the U-District.We made our way across the 520 bridge.
We were heading to Woodinville for the 1pm tour at the Red Hook Brewery. Our intelligent son chexy, found out that during the summer, they expand their tours to 3 times during the week and on the hour on the weekends.
Having received too many postcards from the Brewery we were quite excited to see what draws him there so frequently. The tour, was very informative and the beer was free-flowing! For doing the Ballard High School cheer, our lil chexy won a Red Hook hat! He was so surprised at actually winning something tangible. Usually he said, he would just get a free pint afterwards!!! Following the tour we had lunch at the restaurant and the food was uniquely good for being in a pub.
Exiting from Red Hook, we made the decision to go and visit the Chateau St. Michelle Winery which is truly just across the street. Besides the wineries in Stonington, CT we haven’t been to one since we visited Napa about 6 years ago. The three of us enjoyed the tour and tasting as we ended up bringing 6 bottles home with us.
Our lil chexy dropped us off at the Hoemwood Suites around 4p and he promised to pick us up @ 6. He needed sometime to get ready for his upcoming trip to Bangkok.
The chexmobile arrived a little after 6pm and we were off to Safeco Field to see the Mariners play the Kansas City Royals. We discussed among ourselves and realized that it had been 20+ years since we actually went to a night game. We make it a habbit of trying to make a trip up to Fenway at least twice a year and to Yankee Stadium every other year or so, but they have always been for day games. As we approached the stadium we became very excited. It’s one of the newer parks as you know and with a team doing well, the environment was a fun one to be a part of.
We took our seats in the first row of the left field bleachers about 10 minutes before the first pitch. There wasn’t anything we could complain about. The seats were great and even the ballpark hotdogs were edible! Lil chexy’s friends Qip and D6 showed up midway through the first inning and the five of us had a good time.
The Mariners were beating the Royals pretty good when we decided to leave the game in the 8th inning. We thanked our lil chexy for our third consecutive fun day in the Pacific Northwest as he dropped us off at the Homewood around 10:30pm.
Tuesday July 2- Seattle Day III
Chexy called us around 8:30 explaining that he would need some time to get ready for his trip and to locate his passport which got misplaced during his recent move. In the meantime we were itching to get outside b/c today HAD to be a “beautiful” day as the Olympics were popping out to us from our bedroom window!
We made the 10 minute walk up to Seattle Center and ambled around there taking in the tourist activities and checking out the Space Needle gift store. As we were making our way back to the hotel, we saw the chexmobile pull up. Perfect timing. Our lil chexy is so smart he knew exactly when we were going to arrive back at the hotel!
He had a grin on his face from ear to ear and greeted us with “Now, this is a beautiful day!” And it was. We hopped in the car and made our way across the I-90 bridge. As we got on the bridge, our knowledgeable son said, “Now get ready for this…” At that moment, all 14,410 feet of Mount Ranier popped out of nowhere with perfect clarity. Our mouths dropped as we were not expecting such a large mountain so close to the city.
We continued our drive out past Issaquah to our first destination of Snoqualmie Falls. Now this waterfall wasn’t as picturesque as Multnomah Falls in Oregon, but this was a definitely more impressive waterfall purely in terms of the magnitude and amount of the water going through!
On our way out from the Falls, we made our way through North Bend, past Mount Si and back heading west on I-90 returning to Seattle. Another amazing view of Ranier was captured. Our lil chexy next took us to Discovery Park. With a location on Magnolia right on Puget Sound, a nice breeze greeted us at it started to warm up shortly before mid-day. After 30 minutes or so of walking around, we decided we were hungry. We agreed to try some Thai food which chexy had been raving about for some time.
We arrived back in Fremont for lunch at Kwanjai, which looked nothing more than a shack. Our lil chexy gave us the lecture of not judging the place based on it’s looks but rather the price and taste of the food. He sure was right! Whatever he ordered for us, it sure tasted quite yummy and we became instant fans of Thai cuisine!
From lunch we again drove through Ballard along the same way we went to Ray’s. We actually drove past our Saturday dining spot and ended up at the Golden Gardens Park and Beach right on Puget sound. Here, we simply strolled along the sidewalks lining the beach out to the point. It was some good excersize to burn off the Thai food we had for lunch!
The temperature had been warming up all day and it was the hottest of our stay in Seattle. After, Golden Gardens we made our way back to the Homewood Suites. We parked the car and the three of us walked up to Seattle Center. We stopped at a Starbucks on the way and we got a tasty coffee drink to cool us off. We approached the Space Needle and joined the queue to go up to the observation deck. It took us about 15 minutes to reach the ticket counter where we purchased three tickets.
We had been itching to get to the top of the Space Needle since our arrival into Seattle. However, our smart lil chexy kept pushing it off. He just knew a better, clearer day would come to us. And it did. The view from the top of the Space Needle was incredible and I am glad that we really pushed the visit back until the weather was as clear as it was! Ranier was visible as were the Cascades and the Olympics. It was a great way to close our Seattle Sightseeing.
On the way out of the Space Needle, we spent some time at the gift shop but didn’t buy anything. It was approaching 4:30 noa as we walked back down to the Homewood Suites. We thanked our lil chexy for another great day of sightseeing, and he promised to pick us up around 7:30 for dinner.
Since chexy was so kind and generous in being our personal chauffeur on our trip as well as taking care of our hotel with his hard earned points and miles, we offered to take he and his friends out for pizza and beer on our last evening in Seattle. We arrived at Zeke’s Pizza on Phinney Ridge around 7:45 and a couple of the commune members from Paradise Ranch were there waiting for us. The pizza was quite tasty and the beer was good as we enjoyed our last night in Seattle with our son and his best (non-FlyerTalking) friends!
Following dinner we were dropped off at the Homewood Suites where we arranged w/ chexy for the morning’s pickup to head to the airport!
Wednesday July 3- Time to Go Home
We weren’t scheduled to leave Seattle until 8:30am. However we decided we could kill time at the airport if we left early w/ our lil chexy as his flight to Bangkok left an hour and a half before ours.
Our pick up was prompt and on time. The drive to the airport was quick and uneventful. We parked in his long-term spot at Ajax and the courtesy shuttle took us to checkin. We decided since we had enough time to get off w/ chexy at his stop. As it was time for our lil chexy to head off to the North Terminal, we said our goodbyes. We thanked our lil chexy for a wonderful time in the Pacific Northwest. We truly had an amazing time and it was after our stay why we realised why chexfan loves living in Seattle so much!
To finish out our trip, our check-in, security wait
and flights to CVG and BDL were uneventful. It was good to make it back
home to Connecticut, but we think we miss the Pacific Northwest already!
We’re already planning our next trip!