Other than our month in the Canadian Rockies, we planned on spending our summer in and around the Seattle area. Our son and his family planned on buying a home and we wanted to help. They bought a home in Puyallup, a nice family oriented town about an hour south of Seattle. The town is still reasonably affordable compared to Seattle which some fear could be the next San Francisco in terms of un-affordable real estate. We are happy they’ve left Seattle as the traffic has gone from bad to worse. There is just no day, no time when traffic does not bog down with just too many cars on too few roads. A year ago we heard a panel discussion during which we heard a local transporation official say that in order for I-5 to comfortably handle its current traffic load it would have to be 22 lanes wide in each direction!
As in much of our native Florida, the beauty of the area has been overwhelmed and diminished by its popularity. Too bad about the Seattle area but we will continue to seek out new beautiful places without the burden of having to make a living. We hope that gives us an edge.
Leavenworth WA is a cute town which has re-made itself into a German village. The architecture and everything about it is themed. We had first visited one Christmas many years ago in a heavy snow and it was un-forgetable. Summer finds the town very busy with tourists from all over hiking, rafting and enjoying the fruits of the region. We stayed in a 1000 Trails campground a little ways out of town. The local National Forest office told us about a great hike just outside of town. Icicle River Gorge trail was a great loop hike with great views. On the way to the hike we stopped at the Wenatchee Fish Hatchery, one of the largest ever built. It is very historic and still releases 1.1 million salmon each year.
Winthrop WA is a “western” themed town in the north Cascades, a long day trip from Leavenworth. Beautiful drive up the Columbia River Valley through the lovely town of Chelan. Winthrop itself has a great museum and false front buildings and wooden sidewalks in the old west style. While there we saw a Fordson tractor. Personal note: Randy went to Fordson High school in Dearborn MI. Fordson was named after Henry Ford’s tractor the “Fordson”. The H.S. sports teams were called the Tractors!
Wenatchee produces an abundance of fruit every year thanks to irrigation from the Columbia River. We had always known about their apples but this year we tasted the best Rainier cherries, Bing cherries, peaches, apricots, pears and plums. This place is a real treat for lovers of fresh fruit.
During our summer in Washington our daughter and her kids came to visit. After a day trip to the city to see the Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the Chittenden Locks we took the Washington State Ferry to Friday Harbor and San Juan Island. This is a beautiful summer trip winding thru the islands to a lovely town. We learned some of the history of the area by touring the English Camp and American Camp where the two countries nearly went to war after a pig was killed. We toured an organic farm with animals, fruits and veggies. A highlight was the Pelindaba Lavendar Farm where we tasted Lavendar ice cream and sampled many lotions, soaps and oils. Another day during the visit included a 7 mile hike high in the Cascades near Stevens Pass on the Iron Goat Trail, an old railroad right of way trail including tunnels and huge concrete structures supporting old snowsheds.
No trip to western Washington is complete without a trip to Mount Rainier. It was established as a National Park in 1899, making it one of the oldest. Rainier is over 14,000 feet tall and dominates the entire Puget Sound region. It can be seen from nearly sea level so the views are astounding. Rainier has more glaciers than all other Cascade volcanoes combined. Due to climate change the glaciers are receding but there will always be glaciers on Rainier due to its elevation. It is currently dormant but has the potential of an eruption similar to Mt. St. Helens in 1980. Puyallup is at low risk from the volcano, but not at no risk. We were lucky to visit on a sunny, clear day when the mountain was not shrouded in clouds.
Summer is a great time to enjoy western Washington. Temps are mostly very comfortable with only occasional heat waves. Recreational opportunities abound with lots of water and mountains.