When my wife and I talked about a trip to Seattle to celebrate her graduating, and serve as a belated honeymoon, we had very little idea what it would be like. She had visited there one other time, many years ago, but remembered very little of the city. I suggested the idea of taking the train, as traveling by rail has always fascinated me. We both started getting in contact with friends that we knew in the area. My wife picked out a race for us to run while out there. Slowly, we started to piece together how we all wanted it to flow.
Some of the it didn’t come together until the final weeks, such as the trip to the coast. Even while we were in Seattle our agenda was only loosely put together, with a lot of spur of the moment stops. On our taproom walk we had to make adjustments as certain places weren’t open when we got there, or were too crowded to visit. Our running was ad hoc, with only a basic route in mind, and a general sense of how far we wanted to go.
Even when we got to the coast we kept things somewhat loose. Despite it being absolutely terrifying for me to drive 5000 feet up a mountain, it was an amazing experience, and one that neither of us had planned for. Discovering great little restaurants in small towns, made meals an adventure. Finding a Star Wars collectible shop in the last place on earth you would expect to find one was so incredibly unique and unexpected. It seemed every step of our trip was a wonderful balance of spontaneity and making sure we got to the next hotel on time.
As our trip wound down we started to reflect a bit on everything we’d seen, and how we felt about the Pacific Northwest that we had experienced. We both felt that the city of Seattle reminded us of a mash-up of Minneapolis and Duluth (just a heck of a lot bigger). The urban vibe felt very midwestern, and the harbor gave it that slightly industrial feel of the Great Lakes. The beer scene was great, and it’s obvious that much of the growth in Minneapolis is patterned after great beer towns like Seattle.
I know that some people complain about issues of homelessness when visiting places like Seattle. I’ve been in a variety of big cities in the United States, and what I’ve come to discover is that it’s really not that uncommon, except here in Minnesota. We should count ourselves lucky to not have the homelessness issues that many other big cities have. We never had more than one run-in with an individual that was awkward while in Seattle.
When we headed up the coast to La Push, we again felt very comfortable. We both felt like we were simply driving up the North Shore of Lake Superior, but with large mountains and huge trees. Our experience on the oceanfront made us realize how much we need to get back to the North Shore on a more regular basis. Even though Lake Superior isn’t an ocean, and the hills of northern Minnesota aren’t mountains, the feeling was similar. If nothing else, this experience made us realize how special some of the things we have in Minnesota are.
This isn’t to say that Seattle and the peninsula weren’t special. We saw sights there that we had never seen before. The Hoh Rain Forest was incredible, and the ocean resort was beautiful and peaceful. We know that we want to go back someday and see it all again. We’ve already talked about other things we’d want to do the next time, like visit Victoria Island. Even though it felt familiar, it was still something inspiring and one-of-a-kind, which we’ll never forget.
We’re home now, and starting to recover. The time difference is a bit of a shock the first night back, until you’ve adjusted. Laundry is done, and all the suitcases are packed away. The cats have seemingly forgiven us for leaving them for so long, and the house wasn’t destroyed by our son while we were away. It’s back to the reality of daily life, with just a hint of sadness that we’re not still traveling. There will be new adventures, and new experiences to come, each promising something different to amaze us, but also make us thankful for what we have waiting for us at home.