Trippy Seattle - Daytrippin' Picture Annex

So, the pictures are getting a bit out of hand. Here, then, I'm placing pictures that are outside of Seattle. The world is my oyster after all - but I'll limit my snarky stabs to places within an hour or two of the fair burg. I am a Satellite Seattlite in the end; Seattle's just my epicenter.

SAN JUANS Your task is to figure out where this photo was taken. I'm waiting! Okay, so it's on Lopez Island, but where exactly? It doesn't matter. No, there's not much doing on the San Juan Islands, but if you want a bite to eat as you putz about, Friday Harbor on San Juan Island is the place to hop off the ferry. Lopez is the easiest for cycling; Orcas has unquestionably the best view from atop Mt. Constitution.

NEAH BAY The corner of the Olympic Peninsula, on the Makah Reservation. Yes, the same Makahs who took up whale hunting again using a cannon, a torpedo, or a howitzer. I forget which. Anyway, here the San Juan Straits meet the Pacific Ocean and it's always rough and rumbling, the waters a-churning as they smash on the rocks. The famous beaches of Shi Shi and Ozette are just a little to the south of here.

DECEPTION PASS STONES Who cares about stones? Well, I guess I do. The better ones are found more so on the north side of Deception Pass. It's well worth a walk along the beaches to check out just how amazing the colors of the stones are. They kinda litter the place in a good way. Now set them down and just leave them there! Yeah, I know there're a lot of them, but... come on!

DECEPTION PASS BRIDGE This bridge spans the narrows of Deception Pass. Actually there are two bridges here, one after the other, and there's often a traffic jam in the sun of a summer weekend. That's because everyone wants to slow down and have a look down, Down, DOWN. But might I suggest that you get out of your car or leave your bike PAST the bridge, then walk over and look from the sidewalk instead? Them thar nasty undercurrents exert a lot of force through this channel year-round.

OLYMPIA TAKE 1 The capital of the fair state of Washington lies just down the road (I-5) to the South. A sleepy burg for so long, nowadays it's... still a sleepy burg. But a bit bigger and hipper slowly but surely. One nice consequence of that is that there are good places to get a cup of joe in the tidy downtown area; there's even a farmer's market toward the waterfront most days, too. And, oh yes, there's a fair amount of classic, D.C.-reminiscent architecture in the numerous government buildings up on the shining hill.

OLYMPIA TAKE 2 I won't be the one to promote what's hip - I'm certainly not - but I do find the number of wall murals found in such a small town pretty cool. And, like I said just above, the cafe scene isn't bad at all. My favorite such wall mural, by the way, should be pretty obvious - but it'll take the superhero in you to stroll about town and find it. It's worth it - go ahead!

OH LITTLE TOWN OF LEAVENWORTH Somehow there's a Bavarian Village in the Cascades, found over the mountains from Seattle, reached via I-90 (& U.S.-97) or simply heading west on U.S.-2 from Everett. This formerly dying logging town took inspiration from a reborn phony Danish town some local heard about (Solvang, California), eventually leading to the creation of this madness starting back in 1965. And the tourists have been coming for their wurst and Oktoberfest ever since. The real secret, however - and it's not one for long to any outdoorsman in the Pacific Northwest - is that the town sits smack dab against the Alpine Wilderness of the Cascade Mountains. So think of hiking, biking, rock-climbing, rafting, floating, and more as the real attractions. Spectacular in all regards. THEN go eat your schnitzel, pretzel, and apfelstrudel.

PORTLAND Here's a little secret: You know that Northwest place you've been looking for, that progressive 'ville with its green sh*t together, cutting edgedness, and all that? Yeah, it's down the Pacific Coast a bit, plus inland to boat: Portland. You mighta guessed that. It's not that Seattle doesn't offer more variety of almost everything, or have more interesting topography and all that. It's just that when Portland does it of late, it seems to happen earlier and maybe even better these days. For my legs, too, it has a much more walkable, pause-worthy downtown. So check out the fantastic street food offerings, then get on your bike over to Stumptown Coffee. Stick your nose into Powell's Books, tromp around Washington Park, walk the river, then wander Chinatown and The Pearl District and environs to check out the architecture - it's all good. Or better, even. And it's just under four hours away by Amtrak's comfy Cascades route. (Or three by car, but you lose points if you round trip it from Seattle in such a fashion. Holier, greener than thou points, that is, and THAT counts for a lot on the west side of the Cascades for some.)

SNOQUALMIE FALLS, TOWN, AND NORTH BEND If you haven't seen a large waterfall before - but not one quite on the scale of Niagara, Iguazu, or Victoria's - then Snoqualmie Falls is for you. Take a gander at the falls and have a picnic right there with it in view, or stop in at the Salish Lodge which towers above the drop. Then motor over to nearby Snoqualmie town to check out the railroad relics lined up against the road. The rail station in town is a museum, plus it's hard to pass up a huge log contained in a cage. I wonder when it's going to escape? Complete your mission by heading just a few more miles down the road to oldtown North Bend. If that massive rock-mountain right next door called Mt Si doesn't call you to hike along the way, nothing will. But that's probably best done on a weekday if you don't plan on saying "Hi!," "Hey-yah!," and "Hello!" to your fellow hikers every minute.

TACOMA Poor, poor Tacoma. That's the word up in Seattle, anyway. Ask a Tacoman (that's TaCOMan, not TAcoman), though - and they'll have none of it. Not without reason, either, at least if you ignore the paper mill smell that floats over the town from time to time. That's what has hung "The Tacoma Aroma" label not-so-hapless T-Town like a scarlet letter for years. T'ain't fair t'at all! Especially not when you notice the green soup in the sky is thicker when you approach Seattle from the south on I-5. No, it isn't fair at all, not with Commencement Bay, Point Defiance and the quick access to Vashon Island from downtown. Plus there's a host of interesting architecture otherwise in the downtown area: The University of Washington in Tacoma, for my money at least, far outdoes its main counterpart up in Seattle in terms of hip, retro architecture. Just across the street from it, too, are a trio of museums (Tacoma Art Museum, Washington State Museum of History, Museum Of Glass) that have as much street presence as do they worthy innards. No, Tacoma isn't Seattle - and it doesn't have to be. It could sure use some more good coffee shops, though. I need my fix!

TACOMA'S GLASS CONUNDRUM Everyone's got an opinion about Dale Chihuly, it seems. Genius, credit-stealer of his underlings, shill. Who knows? But he is from Tacoma and the stuff he - or his many disciples - has produced is omnipresent in the downtown area. Which is fine. Yeah, it caused a hubbub to have some of his stuff take over the former Fun Forest spot in the Seattle Center, but in Tacoma he's likely only seen as a blessing. As for his work, I'll only say that it's indeed beautiful if lacking soul somehow. What exactly does it say? Well, apparently nothing, but it's a pretty nothing at that.

TACOMA'S STADIUM HIGH You don't see too many high schools this elaborate, although there are certainly other candidates out there - usually at most one per city that had a heyday. What sets Stadium High apart, however, is its, well, stadium. See, if the game gets boring, there's always that view to fixate on to keep things in some sort of improper perspective.

Could there be more? Of course there'll be more, you cretin! I just need to stick the guilty parties into the mix. Stay tuned for shots and more endless blather about Anacortes, the Methow Valley, the Olympic Peninsula and more.

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