On our last day near Seattle, we mounted the motorcycle and headed east, toward the Cascade mountains. Several folks had recommended visiting the Bavarian village of Leavenworth, so we undertook the scenic 2 hour (each way) journey to check it out.
On the way, we stopped by the lovely Snoqualmie Falls, one of the most popular and tallest in Washington State. A view above the falls is accessed by a short walk from the parking area. A steep half mile trail takes you to a viewpoint of the bottom of the falls. One tip if you go – park across the road from the visitor center. Visitor center parking is $7 for 0-2 hours, while the parking lot across the road is free! A pedestrian bridge connects the two lots.
The town of Leavenworth is charming. It reminds me somewhat of Gatlinburg, but smaller and classier. Instead of moonshine and air gun shops, Leavenworth has a plethora of wine tasting rooms, German-themed restaurants and shops. It even has a Nutcracker museum. We enjoyed a delicious lunch, tasted cheese (and bought some), then tasted wine (and bought some), before heading back. The weather was absolutely beautiful, as was the scenery. A lovely day trip!
Seattle has been one of our favorite cities so far. Getting downtown via express bus was stress-free, and there was just so much to see there. The vibe was laid back, family-friendly, and fun. That’s not to say the city is perfect – it was moderately expensive, as larger cities seem to be. Rush hour traffic getting in and out of the city can get really stacked up. There is also a significant, and visible, homeless population. As housing prices have risen, more have been forced to the streets. It’s an ongoing and complex problem in most larger cities that is most difficult to solve. But Seattle seems to take a kinder, gentler approach than San Francisco — whereas San Fran routinely tears down tent cities and forces the homeless to move around, Seattle seems to permit encampments as long as they aren’t in the way. We even observed a downtown Starbucks giving free coffee to homeless people and allowing them to clean up in their restroom. The Starbucks wasn’t overrun by homeless, we just observed a couple of people entering, one at time, unobtrusively and respectfully. The Starbucks personnel greeted them by name, so this was obviously a standing practice. That’s compassion in action.
We will definitely return and stay longer in the future, but it was time for us to move on. Now we are officially as far away from our starting point as we can be in the lower 48. From our campground in Ferndale, WA a few miles south of the Canadian border, Pembroke Pines Florida lies 3400 miles away. We will stay here four weeks, allowing ample time to explore the area. We have whale watching, the San Juan islands, Vancouver, two national parks – so much to explore!
This will also be the longest stay at any one place since we launched last November. The last few weeks have been more like “vacation mode”, as we’ve been constantly on the go to maximize our experiences during our short one-week stays. Finally we can settle in for a while, and take things a bit slower. Will we get bored after 2 weeks? Or will we like the slower pace? We’ll let you know!