Friday afternoon came quicker than expected. I had just switched my hours at the bank from 40 to 30 per week and my Friday shift only went until 3:30pm as a result. I looked out the large windows in the bank and saw Joey in his new blue Trail Blazer waiting in the tow-away zone to pick me up. I hustled outside and hopped in, grinning from ear to ear as my coworkers gave me sidelong jealous stares. Delilah’s wet nose poked at my elbow from the backseat so I leaned around to scratch behind her ear and she lay down satisfied with the attention.
Joey raced us home and we piled the car up with our camping gear and headed back downtown to pick up Tom from work one hour later. The drive up to Olympic National Park was going to be long so we couldn’t burn any daylight on the way there if we wanted to set up for the night easily. Tom had picked out a camp site in the Hoh Rainforest and we pointed our GPS that way.
The ride down was serene. Stress from the rushed morning and afternoon melted away as the highway stretched out in front of us. The sun hung low in the sky and we listened to music on the radio until we were out of range for anything but Church channels and then switched to a book on tape reading of Alice in Wonderland. Delilah mostly slept or rolled on her back and pawed at me to scratch her belly.
Night began creeping onto the scene and it was unclear whether or not we would make it to the camp site with time to set up so we settled for a closer spot that caught our eye from the road. We finished setting up and making a fire just after the last hazy light faded from the sky. We settled up by a campfire and Delilah defended us from any unexpected advance by the only other camper at the site and her two dogs.
Soon though, the long day caught up to us and sleepy heads sought pillows. Joey and I went to lay down in our tent and Tom took Delilah with him to cuddle with for the night.
The next day was mostly a driving day with several scenery stops and hiking breaks. Delilah hopped in and out of the car ungracefully before a backdrop of mountainous greenery. Olympic National Park is a unique place because it is made up of three different temperate zones: mountain, coastal and rainforest. We began our day on the coast wandering up and down the shore line while Delilah happily played tag with the retreating tide. A ranger was slated to join us on the beach and lead some sort of talk so we hung around to see what it was all about. It turned out to be aimed at a younger crowd so we made our way to the back for the group and slipped off to the car. We spent the rest of the day making our way around Hurricane Ridge in the Rainforest region of the park over to the mountainous part.
The day came full circle and soon it was time to set up camp again before the last of the day’s light disappeared. On a whim we plugged the apartment into the GPS and when we realized we would get there by 1am or so we decided to call it a trip and go home.
48 contiguous states later we pulled into the parking lot at our Apartment and silently trudged in through the early morning dark. As I began to drift off to sleep that night thoughts of my next big adventure began to dance in my head…
Getting a job once we got out to Portland was a high priority for obvious reasons but having a job sure does put a damper on having fun. Due to schedule and budget restraints we decided to leave for Seattle on Saturday morning rather than Friday after work. Friday night we got ourselves ready and hashed out a loose plan for the weekend, which included going to see the Space Needle, eating Dim Sum for brunch, and then a return trip through Mount Rainier National Park at the end of the weekend.
Saturday morning we packed up the car with our stuff and our dog and rolled out to finish up day 99. First things first after the long drive to the city, we checked into our dog friendly room at the Seattle Pacific Hotel then it was out to explore.
It was about lunch time so we headed over to the Public Market to check out the offerings. The market was a large several storied building on each side of the street with an open area for food stands as well as clothing and trinket shops spread throughout. We wandered for awhile until finally settling on Jack’s Fish and Chip Spot for a delicious greasy portion of the namesake fish and chips and a bowl of chowder. On the way out of the market Joey caught me eyeing up a stand that was brimming with beautiful bouquets and stopped over to buy me one.
We headed back to the Seattle Pacific to drop off my flowers (which I unceremoniously shoved into a Styrofoam cup) then took Delilah out to wander around by the Space Needle. On the way there we ended up walking past the SFM which is a loud exciting looking building that was too expensive to go inside, besides which we had the dog. Also along the way we came across several Duck Tours making a lot of noise and looking silly. We wandered past a Peruvian Flute Band, a carnival and some large red art right before we got to the base of the Space Needle. It was a very happening scene.
While we stood starring up at the Space Needle I pictured it’s silhouette on our logo. The three of us agreed to head to the top the next morning and satisfied ourselves today with pictures from the bottom. We had skipped going to the top of the Sears Tower back in Chicago due to the horrendous multitudes of long lengths of lines and I had it in the back of my head that Joey was a little bummed about it; I knew I was. As a result I think the two of us sort of silently out voted Tom and determined early on that we were in fact going to the top of the Space Needle once we arrived in Seattle. Tom didn’t object. For the moment, however, we continued on through the Olympic Sculpture Park by the waterfront to look at more large arts that lay scattered across the hillside.
Somehow or another we had settled on a place called the Crab Pot for dinner so after working up an appetite by walking all over the city (and first stopping to drop off the dog) we headed over to eat. What a feast! The table had a piece of butchers paper on it and each place was set with a mallet so you knew this was going to be amazing. We ordered a bucket of seafood and veggies to be poured out onto the butchers paper and ate until we could hardly breathe. We managed to get ourselves back to our hotel and slept soundly until top- of- the- Space- Needle day (aka Sunday).
We hopped in line and waited- not a terribly long time- until we got to the top. It was everything you would expect out of being very high up in the air on a large structure. It was windy, looking over the edge was thrilling, the building swayed a little bit under you making you just that little bit nervous and there was a gift shop.
We took the elevators back down after getting our fill of the scenery far down below and headed to the New Hong Kong restaurant for Dim Sum. I had never had Dim Sum so didn’t know what to expect. We were lead to a seat and a woman with a cart full of food looked like she might want to get by me so instead of sitting I stood squeezed against the table to make room for her to pass. She just looked at me though and I felt sort of awkward so I sat down and she rushed right over with her cart. “You want some more", she asked me? Joey said yes so she started offering him different dishes and he kept saying yes until after awhile we had a bunch of little containers on our table and decided it would be best to start eating and see how far we could get before taking more. Ladies with carts kept coming by our table asking if we wanted more and after the first lady we mostly said no unless something looked really crazy. After what didn’t seem like that long of a time I felt really full and looked up at the boys who were sitting with hands across their stomachs looking sweaty and uncomfortable. We decided it was a good time to pay the check and leave Seattle behind us.
On our way back to our Portland home we passed through Mount Rainer National Park. The views were amazing and we got out a few times for photo ops and quick walks. Tom snapped a really great series of pictures where Delilah sniffs out the perfect spot in front of the park sign and leaves everyone a stinky gift.
We arrived back home late Sunday with work looming ahead of us early on Monday but we felt accomplished in coming one stop closer to finishing our great American journey.
Until next time, America.