Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Washington Friends and Seattle

The plan was to head out of Oregon and up to Seattle for the last two days before our flight. Come Saturday morning, 8 days into the holiday, we were getting a little jaded.

After a solid week of hotel breakfasts, (so the usual self serve of waffles, scrambled egg, cereal, yogurts, toast and pastries....) we needed a change, so we took ourselves to Slappy Cakes. This little cafe had griddles built into each table on which you made your own pancakes. You ordered your choices of batter which came in squeezy bottles, extra fixings to cook into it and toppings if desired.

None of us had ever cooked American style pancakes before (I don't like them in theory, but the lemon poppyseed batter converted me), and we had a ridiculous amount of fun with it. Crazy batter/fixing combinations, a buttermilk pancake with a chocolate batter smiley face, a bite size pancake with a single chocolate chip on the centre.... This is something more restaurants should do!
Flipping buttermilk with chocolate chips.

From there, we left Portland and Oregon for Washington. As it happened, my husband and I each had a friend en route to Seattle, so rather than sight seeing, our plans revolved around meeting other people. First up was a play date with an old, old online friend of mine who lived in Vancouver and had kids of her own. We had arranged to meet in Esther Shore Park, only to discover that there was some massive market going on that had taken over the entire park.

However, all we really needed was the playground and as it happened, there was a family craft tent set up next to it, so once the kids had run off their first burst of energy, they moved into the tent to make their own sculptures out of various odds and ends. For my kids at least the opportunity to sit down and focus on something creative was a welcome change of pace. For my friend and I, it was great both to meet for the first time and to see our kids playing and working together.

My husband's friend was an old colleague who had retired to Olympia, so we went there for lunch. Afterwards, we took a stroll past the Capitol building and along the docks to another playground so we could chat while the kids played. Olympia seemed a really lovely place from our brief glimpse... Then again, it was a perfect weather day, so perhaps that isn't the best time to judge!


Olympia's Capitol Building and splashpad.
 Despite the traveling, it was a pleasantly low-key morning, making for an entirely unhurried journey to Seattle.

Our time in Seattle suffered a little from coming at the end of our trip, so we were tired of doing touristy things. I had done my usual research but found it hard to muster up enthusiasm. Still, the Space Needle was the obvious, and I had discovered that there was a pretty amazing playground all but right next to it, so that was where we took ourselves.

Once we had purchased tickets to go up the Space Needle, the playground was the easy waiting spot. Our kids were captivated by the sight of it: crazy climbing structures leading to two long slides. There was also a massive labyrinth painted on the ground and a couple of other features but my daughter's favourite was a roundabout of the old-fashioned pile the kids on kind that usually don't pass safety policies these days.
Child heaven

We had dinner at a food court, then got in line for the Needle. I think I enjoyed the queue more that the time we spent on the observation deck, since they had signs explaining the planning and building of the Needle which held even the kids' attention. The observation deck was noisy and crowded, as these things always are, and I was too tired to enjoy it. They did have some fun touch screens inside that let you 'navigate' some famous Seattle landmarks, which the kids got a kick out of.
Looking out over Seattle

Mt Rainier

My husband had managed a good deal on a nicer hotel than our usual standard, and this resulted in us all sleeping in until 7am. (We had been waking at 6am if not earlier.) However, breakfast was not included, so once showered and dressed we walked to The French Bakery in an ornate office building where we all indulged in crepes and took a few pastries with us for snacks.
We love a good pastry.

It was a Sunday, so we took ourselves to the Center for Wooden Boats where free rides were offered on Sundays on a first come, first served basis. However, we were running late for the 10am sign up, and it was immediately apparent from the line of people that we weren't going to make the cut.

We were wandering around the dock looking at the boats and fish and watching seaplanes come in when my husband heard talk of an ice cream boat. After asking around, we found the ice cream cruise which left on the other side of the Center for Innovation. This took us around Lake Union, showing us such landmarks as Chihuly's glass studio and the house from Sleepless in Seattle, plus it served ice cream below decks. We all approved.
The Gasworks Park

Chihuly's Studio

Floating Houses
Ice cream served here.

Afterwards, we weren't really hungry enough for lunch, so instead we went to Pike Place market and nibbled our way through the free samples. It was National Pride Day, so lots of people were in town for the parade, which also meant lots of closed roads and difficult traffic. But a lot of fun rainbow displays too. The Space Needle sported a rainbow flag and when we visited the first ever Starbucks (had to be done!) that was sporting its own rainbow decor.
Space Needle with Pride Flag

Pride Starbucks-style

(While sitting in traffic on the way home, we also saw policemen handcuffing somebody. The kids were fascinated and speculation about why the man was being arrested led to us having the Drugs talk. As per usual, I was woefully unprepared for the topic as it came up.)

We could have done more, but we didn't really want to. Instead we went back to the hotel and enjoyed the pool, then visited a nearby mall with a Lego store. For dinner that night, we gave the kids the choice of driving to a restaurant or simply grabbing Panda Express. Panda Express won, and it wasn't close.

They went to bed early, we watched the Game of Thrones finale on an iPad, and the following morning, we all slept until 7:30, and barely had time for another visit to the French Bakery on our way out of town.

Seattle had a ton more to offer that we could have sampled, but there comes a point in every holiday where you have to stop and breathe, and we had reached it. However, it was a beautiful city to take that pause in.

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