Our Time in Washington State
After spending a long weekend in Michigan (read about Michigan's hidden secrets here), we flew to Seattle and began our tour of the Northwest. Over the next two weeks, we were going to be hitting plenty of sites in Washington, Oregon and British Colombia (all of which we'll blog about in the future.) If you're planning a similar trip in the future, here are our favorite places to visit in Washington State:
This one is an obvious 'must see.' Seattle is laid-back, environmentally-conscious, and home to many world-changing corporations (like Amazon, Microsoft, Boeing, etc.) It is full of millennials, fresh fish and - quite possibly - even more Starbucks' than NYC. First and foremost, visit Pike Place Market. Here, you'll be able to best get a grasp on the vibe of Seattle. We loved wandering through the various stands, sampling fresh produce and talking to locals. By the end of our time there, we had picked up some chocolate pasta (that's right - dessert pasta. It exists.), ate the best fish and chips thanks to Jack's Fish Spot, stuck some gum onto the super-gross gum wall and watched an impromptu magic show. The original Starbucks location is directly beside Pike Place Market, but we only stopped long enough to snap a few pictures.
We did, however, linger for a while at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery and Tasting Room on Pike Street. Though I, Amanda, am not a coffee-drinker, Daniel very much enjoyed the Cold Brew Malt with Bourbon Bitters that he ordered at the gold-and-brass adorned bar. If it hadn't been nearly the end of the night, Daniel would have taken advantage of one of their best sellers: a full tasting flight with chocolate truffle pairings. On their website, the Starbucks Reserve describes itself as "a one-of-a-kind coffee shrine in our hometown that captures the past, present and future of Starbucks." While we sipped our drinks, the Starbucks' roastery process was happening via giant machinery behind glass walls all around us. Coffee beans poured through tubes and were stored and stirred in silos. Employees stood around, offering to answer any questions or explain the roastery process that is happening before your eyes. It was an experience we - especially Daniel - really enjoyed.
Another favorite location during our short time in Seattle was the Fremont Troll. If you're a lover of street art and sculpture, you won't want to miss this hidden installation! Designed for a competition focused on rehabilitating the area underneath the Fremont Bridge, the troll - inspired by the Scandinavian fairytale Three Billy Goats Gruff - is nearly 18 feet tall and very foreboding as it crushes a car with its hand. He is an interactive art installation; in fact, visitors are encouraged to climb on him and "try to poke out his one good eye (a hubcap.)"
Note: on our first night in Seattle, we grabbed ramen at Kizuki Ramen. It was absolutely delicious; so delicious that we visited again on our last night. Also note: if you're able to get down to Lake Union, take a boat tour through the neighborhoods of floating houses. It's a very interesting way of life that Daniel and I had been unaware of!
If you happen to be a woman in your mid-twenties, then it may be safe to assume that you at least read the Twilight series. Whether or not you enjoyed it, we don't have to talk about that. I - Amanda - was a 'twihard.' Let me just note, I am no longer one. I am mildly embarrassed (as we all are) of that particular high school obsession. Nevertheless, I had to visit Forks, Washington. And what a blast from the past it was! I'll admit, I was not prepared for the extent of which Forks is still capitalizing on a fad that is very much in the past. Daniel and I thought we'd just be making a quick pit stop in the (Twilight paraphernalia-filled) visitor's center and then be on our way. But after striking up a conversation with the woman behind the desk, I soon learned that Forks has a self-driving 'Twilight Tour.' You can visit the Cullen's house, Bella Swan's house, Forks High School, Dr. Cullen's hospital and even the 'treaty line' between the werewolves and the vampires. It was such a riot to drive around this tiny town and revisit all of those crazy memories of Twilight book releases and movie nights. If you enjoyed the books at one point in your life, Forks is worth a very entertaining drive through.
Mt. Saint Helens
Since the volcano's erruption in 1980, much of the devastated forest has grown back into acres and acres of young, green trees. In addition to that, the volcano is over an hour drive from the visitor's center. We believe both of these factors may have contributed to the fact that the park was almost completely empty when we visited. Nevertheless, Mt. Saint Helens is a sight to behold. The volcano is downright majestic. Huge, expansive, snow-capped and forebodingly peaceful, we could have stared at her for hours. We spent time searching for elk and pointing out the slick, rocky rivers where lava had once flowed. We took turns reading the informational bulletin boards set up around the various viewpoints. It was interesting to read about how drastically the landscape has changed - not just during the erruption, but in the 30+ years afterward. Lakes and rivers have moved, trees have never grown back in areas, and the summit has risen just barely. We spent a few hours gawking over the beauty and power in front of us, and talking about how "next time, we'll go hiking."
Olympic National Park
Though the last half of our self-dubbed 'Great American Roadtrip' was spent in a sleeper van, our night in Olympic National Park was one of the most 'off the beaten path' nights we had on the trip. We had booked an airbnb in a 'Rainforest Hut' - a small, wood-and-tin hut with a hammock and outhouse in the middle of nothing except thousands of trees. It was an exceptionally peaceful night spent sitting in our hammock and listening to the silence (we surprisingly didn't even hear bugs or crickets, only the occasional twig snapping as wildlife rustled through the underbrush.) We had decided to go "glamping" in this particular location because the Rainforest Hut was very near the Hoh Rainforest - one of the Washington State locations we knew we couldn't drive by. The next morning, after leaving our hut behind, we waited in a long cars-only line at the Hoh Rainforest entrance. When we finally arrived, the rainforest was bustling with tourists at the Hall of Mosses, but had read that it was the ideal spot for a hike. So we grabbed our camera and began the short, easy .8 mile hike. The overwhelmingly green forest was absolutely magical. Moss hung in ropes from the trees like fuzzy ivy, the trees themselves towered over us, ancient and wise. The light shone through the trees in golden rods, casting green shadows onto the greener ground. Though the hike was only .8 mile, we spent over 2 hours meandering, taking photos and taking in the magic. It was a very unique location, and one we would absolutely visit again.
Washington State is full of wonderful sites to visit, but these four were our favorite. If you've visited and loved any of these sites - or if you think we missed some that we should put on our itinerary the next time we visit the Northwest - comment below, or connect with us on Instagram!