Posts Tagged ‘washington’

Review of the City of Spokane: ****1/2 (Day 38)

August 25th, 2009 6 comments

As I was driving down I-90, I realized I had a craving for a small- to mid-size city. Realizing that Spokane was nearby and that I hadn’t ever spent any time there, I decided to exit the freeway and check it out.

Eh. Enough with the Yelp review. I didn’t exactly see *all* of Spokane, either, just some of Riverfront Park, which seems like it would be better named “Riverstraddle Park”, but whatever. This is the area that was the site of the 1974 World’s Fair (also: Wod Fir) (the less I watch the Simpsons, the more interesting references to the show become). I kind of liked it. It was a cool blend of small-scale Central Park and ruins from 1974 that wouldn’t have seemed out of place in 1991-93-era Mittweida or Döbeln, although the people in Spokane were considerably more pleasant and there was somewhat less coal smoke in the air.

There were also some waterfalls and a gondola ride that seemed a little unnecessary. IMHO.

spokane_riverfront-park (1)Bikeway/walkway through the park. The tower, I learned, was donated by Burlington-Northern.

spokane_squirrelUrban wildlife.

spokane_sun-dialA loving homage to the Flintstones, which had been canceled only eight years prior to the fair…

spokane_abandoned-stageNever quite recovered from that 1980 April Wine booking. I love ruins, especially recent ones.

spokane fallsUpper Spokane Falls. This is all right in the middle of downtown, btw (in case you don’t know your Spokane geography). Maybe I should’ve mentioned that.

spokane_falls-gondolaLower Spokane Falls and the purple gondola ride rolling on, defying critics who have labeled it “unncessary”.

Spokane kind of reminded me of Reno — IMHO, a good thing.


And on the Seventh Day the Heavens Cleared, And There Were Mountains (Day 36)

August 19th, 2009 Comments off

I understand that good weather isn’t Washington’s natural state, but this place is so much prettier when the sun’s out it’s ridiculous. And as someone who has waited two weeks just to get a transmission fixed, trust me, I *know* ridiculous.

The last day of the family reunion we finally got some decent weather, so we headed up to Mt. Baker, which was sort of supposed to be, like, the ever-present beacon of hope during our stay in that area. Instead it was a sort of hiss and byword that, some said, lay nearby and cloaked in clouds so that only the pure in heart could see it. I dunno. Maybe my heart just didn’t purify until Sunday. It was probably the breakfast burritos that finally did it.

nooksack falls (1)Nooksack Falls, falling.

mt bakerMt. Baker, named by Oregon Territory politicians in order to curry favor with the then-powerful International Brotherhood of Pastry Chefs.

mt shuksanAnd then if you turn around you see Mt. Shuksan, which, if one didn’t drive all the way to the top of the road, one might be inclined to think was Mt. Baker.

mt baker isolationThen if you turn *back* around, you see Mt. Baker again, only this time it’s RIGHT IN FRONT OF YOU!!! Beware Mt. Baker.

path to table mountainThe flat thing at back-left is Table Mountain. This path does not actually go there.

I feel bad that my oldest brother and his family left Saturday night and thus never got to see the pure-in-heart version of the area and instead went away believing that the North Cascades are this place you go to where you sit around houses and play Butt Man all day. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, just that it’s not entirely accurate.


Rafting the Skagit River Is Different from Rafting the Tuolumne (Day 35)

August 19th, 2009 2 comments

For example:

  • It was 55 degrees on the Skagit (vs. 103 at Yosemite).
  • The Skagit is all glacial melt. Like, in the morning it part of a glacier and a couple hours later you’re rafting on it. So the water was going to be cold regardless of air temperature.
  • On the Tuolumne I was worried about getting wet because it would increase the intensity of the sun on my skin. On the Skagit I was worried about getting wet because of hypothermia.
  • The Skagit has three rapids. Like, *three*.
  • No helmets!
  • You don’t really have to paddle ever, or turn, or know what “high-side” means.
  • The rafts don’t have toe-holds for the guys up front.
  • The most dangerous risk on the Skagit is, truly, getting whacked with a paddle by the person next to you during a boat-to-boat water fight.
  • The water on the Skagit is light green.
  • The river banks are covered with trees.
  • You really don’t *need* a water-proof case for your camera, so long as you got a dry pocket somewhere.
  • Five-year-olds can go on it, no problem.
  • Well, except for hypothermia, no problem.

Relevant photos:

skagit river raftingSpeaking of waterproof cases — I really should’ve taken my camera out of mine.

skagit river greenAnd the color palette is a little different on the Skagit.

skagit river alyssaMore than enough manpower to get through *these* rough waters.

skagit river raftsRafts, forelorn.

I appreciated our guide telling us that, yes, he was also freezing cold. And I was a little disappointed there were no animatronic hippos on the ride.


Raingolf! (Day 33)

August 18th, 2009 1 comment

The best thing about the family reunion was how crappy the weather was. Made everything much more memorable. As the family discussed at length throughout the four days of festivities, mutual suffering breeds cameraderie like nobody’s business.

raingolf shelterIf you look closely enough, you can actually see the huddled golfers bonding!

  • Doesn’t usually rain very hard in Washington, but it did on Thursday.
  • Took us 3.5 hours to finish nine holes.
  • My waterproof jacket was spectacular.
  • My golf game was less spectacular.

And in case posts about abbreviated golf rounds have you wondering, my current hope is that I get back on the road on Saturday. Supposedly they’ll have my truck back to me on Friday. It’s *in writing* they’ll have it done Friday. Man. OTOH, the golf round was part of the originally planned trip, so you were gonna get a post like this for Day 33 regardless. Deal.


Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Taking My Parents Out to Dinner for Their Anniversary (Day 32)

August 18th, 2009 Comments off

Has the 48stateroadtrip shark-jumped? Probably. The major event on Day 32 was taking my parents out to dinner for their 50th anniversary. As exciting as that was as a participant, I don’t think it translates well into the blogosphere. But maybe, just maybe, if I were to go back in time and… no. There’s no chance.

anniversary dinnerI’d suggest something about my sister-in-law being paranoid for not wanting her face to show up on the blog, but then she’d probably have stored up some instance in which I did something paranoid, which would therefore make a hypocrite out of me. Again.

anniversary dinner boysThe boys’ side of the table. They’re not as odd as the photo makes them look — it’s mostly the lighting.

Ended up going to some Italian restaurant in Bellingham after our original plan of going to Abbotsford (Canada) was thwarted by a combination of my niece (purportedly) throwing away my sister-in-law’s passport and an eight-year period of unprecedented federal border paranoia that leaves us needing passports to visit the 51st state in the first place. As a result, sadly, no foie-gras.

  • The chicken parmesan was merely okay.
  • The lemonade required three packets of sugar before it was drinkable.
  • Everyone else seemed to have ordered much better than I did.
  • As for me, it was the first time I had to take ranitidine the whole trip long.
  • I sat at the head of the table — or maybe the foot.
  • Yes, this is the third straight food-related post.

Right. Shark-jumping.


Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Apparently There Are Salvadorans in Federal Way and They’ve Brought Food

August 16th, 2009 Comments off

Edgy headline, I know.

Just BTW, on Monday after the Olympic Peninsula I dropped my brother off at the rental car place so he could, like, get a rental car. Right next door to it was a Salvadoran restaurant that was chock full of Salvadorans. Decided to give it a try. Edgy paragraph, yes: this is J-McG Yelp review hell-quality. Let me therefore continue.

IMG00004-20090810-1810Although, granted, the rice was a little bland. I mean, there were lima beans in it.

I ordered the Pollo Guisado, but they were out of it, so I ended up with Carne Guisado. Yes, with capital letters. It rawked. I’m not a conoisseur of Salvadoran food or anything, but I liked it a lot.

  • The beef was great.
  • Sauce was excellent.
  • I loved that the waitress didn’t seem to speak any English. If it was an act: well played.

Mi Chalateca, 336th and Pacific Highway, Federal Way, Wash. Go there now.


Categories: west coast Tags: , ,

Great Hamburger #17: Red Mill in Seattle (Day 31)

August 16th, 2009 Comments off

Finally back on the hamburger trail with #17 at Red Mill in Seattle. Per the GQ List requirement, I ordered the Double Bacon Cheeseburger, which was about twice as big as I was really interested in eating. And yet I persevered.

IMG00009-20090811-1658Comes with bacon bunny at no extra charge!

IMG00010-20090811-1658The lineup. See if you can find my mom’s elbow in the photo!

My main impression was that it was a really big burger, what with the two patties and all. Red Mill is famous for their secret sauce, which is sort of a barbecue+pepper thing. It’s distinctive. I liked the burger, it was unique. I don’t think I loved it, though. But the fries were good, I got plenty full, and the creamsicle shake afterward was downright special.


Sol Duc Falls and I, Breaker of Droughts (Day 30)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

Never been to the Sol Duc part of Olympic National Park before. Now I have. Was pretty, the waterfall was unusual, and the weather was rainy.  I kind of prefer the spelling of droughth with the h at the end. Should’ve used it in the title.

We camped out by the rain forest. Started raining during the night some time — which you sort of expect in a rain forest, I guess. Drove out of there and tried — nearly failed — to get breakfast in Forks. We were, though, able to verify that the town’s economy is still mostly Twilight-based. If only the author had visited before writing the books. So lame.

The hike up to Sol Duc falls was only 0.9 miles from the trailhead, well within tourist range, even with the rain. But on the plus side, it was the first time all trip I got to break out my rain gear, which is really good at keeping rain out. Which you’d think would be true of all rain gear, but alas.

hwy 101 in the rainHighway 101 at 12:11:16 on August 10th.

sol duc fallsSol Duc Falls, with impressive triple-cascade action!

sol duc falls bridgeYou know it’s a tourist when he’s carrying a golf umbrella onto the trail.

crescent lake cloudsAnd then the loch ness monster came and ate our car.

I guess they’d had a long droughth up here. And it’s not that hard for me to look back at my 106-degree Yosemite photos and think about the two averaging out.


Hoh Rain Forest and Five Mile Island (Day 29)

August 11th, 2009 4 comments

With the truck still laid up, my dad was kind enough to let my brother and me borrow his Jeep and head out to Olympic National Park, which we now know was almost named Elk National Park. We didn’t see any elk or Greek gods while we were there, though. Maybe they should have gone with Option C.

I wanted to do this hike along the Hoh River in the Hoh Rain Forest, supposedly the greatest example of a temperate rain forest on earth. There were no toucans in the rain forest or three-toed sloths. Just a lot of trees and moss. Some rain. Went on it with my brother and three nephews with the goal being Five Mile Island (10 miles round-trip if you can believe it).

The rain forest is probably cooler than these pictures make it look, although I had fun trying to re-correct the colors in the photos to match my perception of reality.

rain forest realityAnd then the fairies came and performed a merry jig.

hoh rain forest mossStill not sure whether the trees like having the mosses and ferns growing on them.

hoh rain forest moss 2This one, for instance, seems a little irritated. Or maybe I’m reading too much into it.

hoh rain forest sam rickSam and Rick negotiate a deceptively difficult portion of trail.

rain forest cut logWhat the trail looks like. Sort of. Depending on your monitor.

mineral creek fallsMineral Creek Falls

hoh river trail stream crossingA treacherous stream crossing.

hoh river bridgeWe found troll scats under this bridge.

hoh rain forest treeAnd then we saw a tree!

five mile islandThe Hoh River at Five Mile Island. Sadly, we witnessed no nuclear melt downs — heck, we couldn’t even find the containment facility (although that might have just been more evidence of failsafes working as designed).

five mile island and meProof I was there.

Only one of my nephews (Ammon) and zero of my brothers made it to the island, and not without getting eaten alive by deerflies first, which only added to the richness of the experience — for both of us, really. Plus I got to use my first-aid kit for something. Finally.


And Then Everything Fell Apart (Day 26, Part 2)

August 8th, 2009 Comments off

After St. Helens, started driving back to my parents’ house. Got to Olympia, trying to accelerate uphill on the 5 and the engine just revved, nothing else. Had enough speed and space to get over to the shoulder where it became clear that the transmission wasn’t, like, working.

And it’s still not.

truck parked on shoulderBut on the plus side, at least my hazard lights work!

Fortunately I have AAA, so it got towed for free. Turns out that the transmission coolant line burst, which caused the failure. Cheap enough to replace the line, but it also turned out (I found out today) that the transmission burned up in the meantime. I’ll call around and get some more estimates on Monday, but the AAMCO place quoted me about $2K, assuming they don’t find any more problems once they get going on it.

The cost sucks, obviously, but I’m mostly just down on not knowing when they’re going to have it fixed and not having any way of influencing, well, anything. Was supposed to be at the family reunion up here through Sunday anyway, so maybe it all gets done by then and it’ll be almost like nothing ever happened. Then again, they could “find” more problems during the work they’re doing and… who knows? Meanwhile, I’m stranded at my parents’ house. It’s a good place to be stranded, no doubt, but I guess I’m just used to having my fate in my own hands.

Oh, and there are no rental cars available in the Seattle area until Monday, at which point they’re $65/day (?!). And the screen I brought on the trip for my XBox has cracked and therefore useless.

I dunno. Maybe I’ll head out to the Olympics tomorrow with my brother and nephews (if I can find a car to borrow), or maybe not.


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