Category: Major Cities

Seattle Part 2

“Love in an elevator. Livin’ it up till I hit the ground.” Love in an ElevatorAerosmith

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I need to first start by apologizing for having not posted anything for 7 weeks! That’s quite a long time but with my move to Greensboro and the semester just starting, I’ve been busy with a full schedule. I will blog about that later. 🙂

Visiting Seattle once was great. Visiting Seattle twice…FANTASTIC! I got to see some of the things I didn’t get to see the first time around. For example, this time I was able to ride the Monorail, go on an underground tour, and go up in the Seattle Space Needle. You can do a lot of activities and still never see everything. In that respect it reminded me of DC. Then again, a lot of big cities are like this but hey, it gives people the entertainment and fun they normally wouldn’t get.

We started off in Seattle by doing, “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour”. If you ever get to go to Seattle, PLEASE visit this. It’s really worth the tour and very historic. You wouldn’t even know that there was an underground city would you? Nope. Seattle built their city ON TOP OF the original city they built. If you want more info check out: Seattle Underground City It’s just an overview of the history. It’s also wikipedia. 😉

Our super funny tour guide Clay was there to give us all the info 😉
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This is an image of what the city looked like many years ago before they built over top of it.

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Pretty neat huh? So now, the underground city is made up of tunnels and passageways.

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*wink wink*

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I think all of us really enjoyed the tour. Our tour guide made it so interesting and funny which is why I suggest doing this if/when you visit Seattle. At the gift shop, Miriam and I tried our luck at getting a fortune..unfortunately there was no fortune as Swami just took our money and started blabbering in unintelligible speech. We’re not letting it get us down.

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At this point all of us were ready for some lunch. Learning and walking really work up an appetite. We headed toward Pike Place in hopes of gathering food.

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We were successful and found a Red Robin.

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After lunch, we headed into the center of Pike Place Market so the nieces could experience that. Incase you wanted to see the original Starbucks here it is.

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If you want more information on Pike Place Market or see more videos and images, check out: Seattle Part 1 It has the guys who throw the fish and some really neat iconic things.

Pike Place took up a good chunk of time so after that we headed straight for the Space Needle! This was super exciting because it’s such a famous attraction and my mother had been there once before when she was a kid when it had first opened for public viewing! How cool right? Check it out:

Space Needle Intro

The ride up

How neat right?! I will say I did make it through but going up to the top really was a bit scary. I HATE heights (as you already know) and this was no different. Here’s a little secret *whispers* I had my eyes shut the whole time. 😉 lol

View from the top

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Now that, was awesome. I LOVE aerial views! It’s so amazing to see how tiny we are. 🙂 I just love it ❤

I was so excited to see the “Sky City” restaurant in the Space Needle. And yes! It does rotate. So while you are eating dinner you are slowly turning. It feels SO weird to walk around in it.

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How awesome is that view? We would have stayed to eat but he had to be on our way.

We decided to ride the Monorail as our last stop. This nifty robot “Monorail Man” is stationed at the exit.

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The monorail is neat because you’re several feet in the air riding this train. It’s so odd but so neat.

Check it out: Riding the Monorail

Overall, this second trip to Seattle was awesome and I’m so glad I got to spend it with my nieces. I will always cherish that time together.

Seattle Part 1

“You’re the one thing I can’t get enough of. So I’ll tell you something, this could be love because I’ve had the time of my life.” I’ve Had, The Time Of My Life Bill Medley

Seattle….it was love at first site…and boy, WHAT A SITE!

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My dad kept saying, “I’m interested to see how Heather reacts to Seattle”. Well, I can tell you I absolutely FELL IN LOVE. This is the COOLEST, most fantastic city that I’ve seen thus far! Words cannot even describe how awesome and friendly this place is. This city was meant for me!

We got off to kind of late start but headed toward the Bremerton Ferry. It crosses the Puget Sound and takes you directly into Seattle. Check out the video of us boarding the boat: Boarding Bremerton Ferry

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The view is just beautiful and picturesque during the entire ride.

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I mean, the water is beautiful but what can top it? Oh I don’t know, maybe Mt. Ranier! It’s hard to see it in this image but it’s so clear when you’re on the ferry looking at it.

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Oh and just to let you know, this ferry ride is a little chilly! It’s summer, but it’s chilly.

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I will tell you, riding the ferry IS the way to see Seattle for the first time. If you were thinking about driving in, DON’T! Ride the ferry because when you peer around the corner, it’s at that precise moment that you can see the city of Seattle and something happens. This amazing feeling floods over you and it feels spectacular.

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You can see the CenturyLink Field upon entering Seattle. It’s the home stadium of the Seattle Seahawks, and houses concerts along with other events.

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It is such a phenomenal view!

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We had finally arrived and my heart was pulsing with excitement and readiness. So we knew that we only had pretty much a half a day to see what we could so we started in Pike Place since that’s where you arrive at when you get off the ferry.

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The First Starbucks (est. 1971)

We had agendas, and the first one happened to be the very first Starbucks. Check out this video of some really great bluegrass musicians set up outside of Starbucks: Street Musicians

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The line was WAY too long to get in. I did purchase a couple of coffee mugs. I’m of the understanding that at one point the mugs sold in that specific Starbucks were exclusive to that store and could only be purchased at that store. Unfortunately it seems as though you can purchase the same mugs on ebay and a couple of other places on the web (probably due to people purchasing them from the store and then reselling them). It’s a bit more expensive but you can still buy them. It kind of takes the fun out of it ya know? Anyway, I was glad I purchased them and have that token memory. 🙂

Public Farmers Market

We tightly weaved in and out of the foot traffic as we made our way down the narrow isles of the market. There were TONS of people and it was a bit crowded but we ended up at the Public Farmers Market…you know, the place where they throw the fish! I apologize in advance, I didn’t realize it was turned sideways, but check out the video anyway: Farmers Market

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This video isn’t turned sideways (thank goodness) but they are throwing the fish: Throwing Fish at Farmers Market  They weren’t officially throwing fish at that moment but decided to do so for all of us tourists 🙂 That was nice. I also thought this sign was nice, “We only sell wild salmon caught by wild fishermen”. Very funny and cute!

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I can’t tell you exactly how I felt seeing this. It would be like watching a movie that you were really in to and you’ve always loved, then at some point in life you were thrust into the very movie while they were making it. It’s like you’re star struck or something. It’s hard to explain. I’m standing there watching these guys do what I’ve seen them do in T.V. shows, movies, documentaries etc. It’s just a really neat experience and I’m so happy I witnessed it.

Gum Wall

Just around the corner from the Farmers Market is the famous “Gum Wall” which has tons of pieces of chewing gum stuck to the walls.  According to Wikipedia the tradition began around 1993 when patrons of Unexpected Productions’ Seattle Theatresports stuck gum to the wall and placed coins in the gum blobs. Theater workers scraped the gum away twice, but eventually gave up after the market officials deemed the gum wall a tourist attraction around 1999. My thoughts…it’s pretty disgusting.

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Eeew. Yuk.

There are street musicians around every corner. These two were perched next to a neat mural.

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Ride the Ducks Tour

So we were definitely looking to take a tour, ESPECIALLY since this tour ride is in a bus/boat! That’s right, a bus/boat. It is a bus on land but turns into a boat when you go into the water! I was totally intrigued, so we got our tickets and hopped aboard, or whatever.

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Our driving was very entertaining (I think all of them are). There weren’t a lot of facts and history provided but it was extremely entertaining. Check out these videos: Fantastic VoyageCarly Rae Jepsen

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Dad liked it but I don’t think it was his cup of tea. 🙂 .

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You can purchase these little duck callers or toys at the gate and then when you get on the tour the driver tells you to quack them when he gives you the signal. It’s really silly but a lot of fun. Well eventually we were bound to go in the water. Look at this video to see it: Duck Boat Ride Also, I think I may have done a Cosby face in this. LOL

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This was the MOST entertaining ride I’ve had when touring a city or place. It was so enjoyable and the Captain was really cool. Oh yeah, also, he was on the show The Deadliest Catch in 2005! He used to be a fisherman, but it was so dangerous doing that career that he left that job and decided to stay alive and be a tour guide. He was very nice and I hope when I take Miriam (my niece) to Seattle we will get his bus again. 🙂

5 Point Cafe & Bar

We decided to wrap up the day with some good grub from a local restaurant/cafe/bar that’s pretty iconic and has some good food. This place has been here for 85 years and is the oldest running family eatery in Seattle. Some rock stars and VIPS have been thrown out of the restaurant. This is the type of restaurant that does NOT cater to anyone. They are not, “The customer is always right” kind of place. Apparently the idea is: if you act like a jerk, then you get treated like a jerk. Not to mention there is a sign located somewhere that says, “We cheat tourists-n-drunks since 1929”.  I couldn’t even tell you if they put that into play (which I’m sure they do) because I didn’t look at the tab for any discrepancies. I would venture to guess that they did so we just wont go there again. LOL Honestly I’m not interested in getting cheated. They have a cool place, and that’s nice but I’m not about to go back and get cheated, potentially a second time.

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Unfortunately we did not get to do the Space Needle tour. By the time we got around to doing it the next shuttle was going up at 10:15 p.m. and we just couldn’t stay that late. We will go up the next visit which will be in a couple of weeks with my niece. That’s why this is part 1 🙂

So for anyone who has been to Seattle, what are some other great restaurants to go to? I’d really like something local and authentic that WON’T cheat me out of my money.  What do we HAVE to do or see? We plan on doing the underground tour, Ride the Ducks, Ride the Monorail, and go up in the Space Needle. I’d like to get some feedback of any kind! Please comment below 🙂

From California to Oregon

“I got a golden ticket, I’m not gonna even pick it. I heard it, he said it, I heard it but then it went something like Visit. I wanna visit the world.” Visit311

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Well, we said our sorrowful goodbyes to Glenda, Bob, Bobby, Chad and Troy. They were so hospitable and incredibly sweet. We couldn’t thank them enough. So thank you all for extending your home and being so kind and generous. We love you 🙂 ❤

We started our journey up Hwy 101, cut through on 199 and then took the rest of the route on Hwy 5. So we basically took the coast up to Crescent City CA and then cut over and used the interstate all the way to Washington. We were really searching for time so it was easier and more efficient to take the interstate.

Going up the coast from California to Washington is not only beautiful and really amazing, but it really gives this North Carolina girl a different perspective on beauty. I can’t stress enough how different it is out here. The scenery is wonderful. It almost looks like Big Sur going up the entire coast of California!

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The sky seems to always compliment the cliffs and water creating a magnificent view of California’s coastline.

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Everything is so big that you feel so little.

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We saw this guy ride next to us. What a nifty thing he’s done with that little trailer!

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You know, there’s just miles and miles of different things to see coming up from California and into Oregon. The scenery definitely changes from golden hills to nice green trees.

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Drive-Thru Tree

Right before we decided to jump over to the interstate we decided to take a nice little detour to visit the “Drive-Thru Tree”.

“Drive-Thru Tree Park is a privately-owned grove that has been operated by the Underwood Family since 1922. Located approximately 180 miles north of the San Francisco Bay Area, the park was an ideal stopping place for overnight or week-long stays. In 1937 the Chandelier Drive-Thru Tree was added to provide a unique treat for travelers. Visitors have been taking pictures of their vehicles inside the opening ever since. With the exception of motor homes or vehicles pulling trailers most vehicles will be able to drive through the Tree. Parking is provided for larger vehicles and tour buses.” from http://drivethrutree.com

Unfortunately the van wouldn’t fit through the tree, but that didn’t stop me from getting some shots.

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imageThere’s a place for people to have picnics and enjoy the scenery on the property so it’s a really nice little stop off when driving up the coast. I enjoyed it.

Bad Experiences

Every traveling story MUST have a bad experience right? LOL We decided that we would stop in Arcata California and spend the night. I looked online and did some research on moderately priced hotels with good reviews and found a Quality Inn that seemed reasonable. We have stayed at Quality Inn’s before so we thought this would be satisfactory. It was quite late when we arrived so we were EXHAUSTED when we checked in. Upon opening the door to the room, there was a very musty odor, almost a pet and cigarette smell that hit immediately. I disregarded this as I’m not that picky and a lot of places smelled odd anyway. So we walked in and set our stuff down on the bed. I noticed there were four pillows on the bed, but non of them were standard sized pillows. They looked like they were for a child. So I called the front desk clerk and said they must have put the wrong pillows on the bed because they weren’t a standard size. He said that was the only pillow size they had and there was nothing he could do about that. So, that was okay. It had to be right?

I collapsed onto the end of the bed and mom says, “Are you going to check for bed bugs?”. I immediately pulled up the sheet and was disgusted by the soiled stains on the end of the mattress. There were no bed bugs but what I DID find, when I moved the sheet back were what looked to be blood stains on the sheet!

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After getting attitude from the desk clerk I felt like I would pretty much have to deal with it. I decided the best thing to do was to not look around anymore. I would just go to sleep and be done with it.

When we woke up, THAT’S when everything came into the light.

The carpet:

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The walls:

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The bathroom:

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Enough said. I really don’t need to discuss it further. However, I did leave a pretty nasty note for the manager. I also emailed corporate headquarters. I did receive an email back from them and they told me they would contact the manager of that hotel and have that person contact me in 72 hours. I have yet to receive a call or an email and it has been 5 days. I’m not very good at math but I think we’ve passed the time frame for the manager to call. Anyway…we were happy to be on our way and decided to enjoy the rest of the journey.

Driving Up the Coast

Driving up the Pacific Coast isn’t all beaches and cliffs, there are times where you come through mountainous terrain.

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I do have to say that I went through a mini panic attack to get this image. I had to step down on the edge a little bit to get the angle. At first it wasn’t too bad at all and my body wasn’t freaking out or my mind. As soon as I got the shot and went to step up I immediately froze. I realized where I was and how high up I was and everything in my body suddenly stopped and shut off, as if it were in survival mode. I didn’t know what to do. Clearly this step up wasn’t terrible because all I had to do was make a couple of steps and I would have been in the clear. It was a little steep but to someone without a fear of heights this would have been a piece of cake. When you’re afraid, like I was, your brain works in a different way. I felt as if I would certainly fall if I took a step up, or gravity would pull me backwards and I would be supper for this beautiful little river. I knew I couldn’t stand there forever, so I mustered the courage and slowly climbed up the steep edge and landed successfully on flat ground. I survived! Yay!

 

Oregon

We arrived in Oregon and…I fell in LOVE! I could, quite possibly, live here. The scenery is SO gorgeous! Everything turned from golden hills to luscious greenery! Everything looked so alive and thriving! Flowers popped up everywhere along the road. Daisies and Hemlock are plentiful along the road and on the sides of hills. Even though Hemlock is poisonous, I think it’s beautiful.

We found a Holiday Inn Express in Roseburg Oregon that seemed to be nice so we decided to stay there for the evening and it was FANTASTIC! We told them what had happened to us with the Quality Inn so they gave us the nicest room with the best view. And it really was the best view!

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We were so happy to have a CLEAN room and CLEAN sheets and a CLEAN bathroom to occupy! That may have been the most restful sleep I have had on this entire trip thus far. So thank you Holiday Inn Express for providing a wonderful comfort for us. Everyone was so hospitable and friendly, we couldn’t have asked for more. And the only way to top off a great night of sleep was with a great cup of coffee the next morning!

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I’m in love with Dutch Brothers Coffee. We don’t have them on the east coast so I suppose I will get my fill while I’m here!

We decided that we would just take the interstate all the way to WA so we could arrive sooner. My sister and nieces were VERY ready to see us so and we were ready as well. So we booked it. I caught a glimpse of the city of Portland.

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If we had more time I would have liked to go into the city and explore but we were hungry and in a hurry! We stopped to eat lunch and what better place than, “Bannings Restaurant Pie House” in Portland. I’ve never been to a little place like this but have always seen them in movies. It was a really neat little diner :).

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Did I mention that in the state of Oregon you do not pump your own gas?! They have gas station attendants to pump it for you! This guy was of such an attendant and posed nicely for me.

imageI thought that was the neatest and also craziest thing! But you know, it’s cool just like Oregon and I could DEFINITELY have seen myself living there. It’s such a beautiful place (what I saw) and I now know why everyone talks about it so fondly and are interested in living there.

I might be in the business of moving there. Anyone want to be roommates? 😉

The City by the Bay

 “We’re looking for such different things, it is insane but we wouldn’t want to be the same.” Weightless311

Golden Gate Bridge

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Now that it’s getting down to crunch time, my stomach is twisting around in knots and I’m absolutely about to jump out of my skin! I know it sounds really bad but the closer I get to the end of this semester, the sooner I want it to get here so I can be gone! I shouldn’t rush my life away and I really try to take each day at a time and be thankful but it’s really difficult to to do that when you’re getting ready to go to the West Coast for the first time! I really feel like I’m about to explode! We have exactly 3 weeks and 5 days until we take off so naturally I’m beginning my research of tourist destinations!

San Francisco is our first BIG hit when we get to California. Minus our arriving in Sacramento and driving to Penryn where my cousins live, our first tourist-y place to visit is, “The City by the Bay”. You know, I never knew San Francisco had so many nicknames! They include:

  • Baghdad by the Bay
  • The City
  • The City by the Bay
  • The City That Knows How (archaic)
  • Everybody’s Favorite City
  • Fog City
  • Frisco
  • Golden City
  • The Golden Gate City
  • San Fran
  • Shaky Town

Though I have read of several sites that say locals do not like the nickname, “San Fran”. Haha I don’t know why this is but I suppose we’ll find out. I’ve looked into booking a guided tour by bus and those prices seem quite reasonable. It was around $24.99 for the bus tour that includes stops at: The Golden Gate Bridge, Haight Ashbury, Lombard Street and several other places. I’m also wanting to go to Marin Headlands which seems like a great place to a get an image.

In the midst of researching touristy places to visit, I tend to feel self conscious about actually being, “touristy”. Part of the reason why my adventures in the past have been so poorly documented was due mainly in part to the sheer embarrassment of looking like a, “Tourist”. I tried to blend in as much as I could but if you think about it, if you’re not from there, you stick out like a sore thumb anyway right? If you’re a tourist, it doesn’t take a camera to differentiate you from locals; looking around at every object and taking in the entirety of this new experience proves that you must be a tourist or either a completely strung out weirdo! A local doesn’t examine it’s surroundings with curiosity and wonderment because he/she lives it everyday and has seen it already. Our touristic tendencies come out in our body motions and facial expressions. That just made me think about how funny that visual really is when you imagine it. But I’m not going to let that stop me from really experiencing everything and having memories of it later. Plus, everyone takes pictures all the time now anyway right?

So here’s what I’d like to know: Are there any other recommendations for San Francisco that we should check out? What are some recommended restaurants? Is there a coffee shop or market that we absolutely must go to?