Sunday, March 13, 2016

Overnight In Seattle

 Recently, we decided to spend a night in a Seattle Hotel  that we had actually toured some 20 years ago...thinking we would stay there sometime during that 1996 summer.  At that time, we were relatively recently married and we were enjoying different romantic places to stay throughout the Northwest.  If I recall correctly, the places we were exploring were from a book titled "The 50 Most Romantic Places To Stay In The Northwest".  We stayed at the "Inn At Langley", "The Channel House", (in Depot Bay) "The Sorrento Hotel", (in Seattle) and the "Four Seasons River Inn" (in Leavenworth) just to name a few.

I recall that none of these places were cheap.  In fact, they were all quite exclusive and like most things, you get what you pay for!  So, when I called and booked our 1 night stay at the "Inn At The Market", a half block away from the Pike Place Market, I found myself wishing I was paying the 1996 rate!

We arrived early on a Sunday morning and were able to check in early.  We  loved the location of this place as everything that we would be visiting or doing, would be within walking distance of the hotel.  If you are spending the day in and around Pike Place or Post Alley, there is no better Hotel to stay in.  The bed was ridiculously comfortable, the room modern and spotless, and the bathroom was the nicest I had ever stepped into!   During the summer, the outside, 5th floor terrace gives a fantastic view of Pike Place and the entire Bay....looking all the way across to Alki.

 View from our room

Later that afternoon our daughter and her boyfriend met up with us and hung out.  We all enjoyed some fresh market food...clam chowder, fresh crab, some french pastry's...good stuff!  I had planned on getting over to Alki Beach around sunset, to try to capture a night skyline photo of Seattle.  It was raining, but I had never photographed Seattle from Alki and I figured since we were so close, why not take 30 minutes and get a few photos!  We got into my daughter's car and drove to Alki, where I snapped off a few photos as the cloudy skies darkened over the Emerald City.

 Seattle skyline from Alki

We then spent 20 minutes trying to decide where to have dinner.  My daughter's boyfriend, Darren, said he had heard great things about an Italian place called "The Pink Door" near our hotel.  We all agreed we should give it a try and within about 20 minutes, we were back in the area of Post Alley, and walking into the restaurant thru it's pink door!  We enjoyed a truly fantastic meal at this highly regarded Italian restaurant.  Fresh pasta, fantastic sauces, Limoncello...perfect little doughnut things with a hazelnut dipping sauce for dessert...amazing!  We congratulated Darren on his highly successful recommendation!

My daughter and her boyfriend said goodbye and headed back home, as we walked back to our Hotel room.  It had been a very pleasant day, rain or not...and we still had the next morning to shop at the Market and pick up flowers...something Sandi never leaves Pike Place without!


Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Winter "Paradise"

Driving up Mt Rainier

For some time, I had planned on taking some "winter" photos in the Cascade Mountains, and figured I would do some snowshoeing or hiking to get a less than "common" photo of Mt Rainier and the surrounding area.  When I told my wife of my plans, she said she had not been up to Mt Rainier in the winter for many years and wondered if she might tag along.  She advised me that she did not want to hike in "the cold snow", (She shivers just looking at a picture of snow) but would love to go along for the ride.  We decided to ask our daughter to come with us, and we made it a family trip!  So....snowshoeing was out!

We took our time driving through Orting and up into the Cascade Mountains where we enjoyed a sunny day and virtually dry roads all the way to the Paradise Visitors Center.  I wanted to catch Mt Rainier in the more interesting, evening light, but discovered that the road past Longmire would be closed at 5 pm!

As we made our way toward the top, we stopped and I hurriedly snapped off a few photos from a roadside Viewpoint I believe was "Glacier Vista Viewpoint"?  (Hike/climb up as high as you can opposite the view from where others simply snap pictures from...the extra 10 or 20 feet of elevation will really help your composition!)  The lighting was quite nice and the view was beautiful.  Back to the car!  Let's go!

 The drive to Paradise was a bit longer than any of us remembered (We hadn't been up there for about 15 years!) and we got to Paradise at around 4:45 pm.  I took a few more photos from an area just off the parking lot at Paradise and we took a bit of time to just enjoy the view of the majestic and snow covered Mt Rainier.

The time constraints prevented me from setting up a tripod and composing anything fancy or "unique", but Mt Rainier National Park is simply beautiful in the winter and getting a few good photos is hardly a challenge.

As the sun started to set, we headed down the mountain.  We stopped and snapped a few more photos but as we descended, we lost the glorious, snow laden branches of the Douglas Fir trees, and the otherwise heavy snow that we enjoyed at the higher altitudes.  We enjoyed the leisurely drive home and ended our day with dinner at a local sushi restaurant.

We had not been out for an extended "scenic drive" as a family for some time, and the consensus was a great day!  Below are a couple photos I took on our drive to..."Paradise"!

 Glacier Vista Viewpoint

  Paradise Visitors Center Area