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  • Mel TS 83 posts

    Following on from today’s chat thread with @davefl and @Ant very helpful pointers, I thought I’d start a new thread here rather than hijack the Chat. Any and all off the beaten track and on the beaten track suggestions are most appreciated!

    We’ve 2 weeks around Seattle in September next year. We’re not ones for chain hotels, and although we’ll do Seattle, aren’t really keen on cities. Outdoors stuff/wildlife is more our thing although injuries mean long hikes aren’t possible any more. On my list is San Juan Islands and whale watching ( with suitable amounts of Dramamine on boarding and much research on which company to use), Deception Pass and Whitby Island, Olympic NP, Mount Rainier NP, Cascasdes NP.

    I know we could do Portland but I’m saving that and Crater Lake/Oregon for another time.

    Thank you 🙂

    davefl 1,452 posts

    Having been to Cascades last week I’d say give it a miss unless you are box ticking as I am. There’s almost nothing to see and do unless you’re up for a very long hike, the scenic viewpoints are meh… and there’s almost no accomodation. I stayed in Marblemount and it was ok but very noisy with truck traffic passing 20 ft from your door.

    Olympic is way more accessible although very very crowded. Stay in Port Angeles. Hook and Line pub is great for food but the service sucked. Hoh Rainforest is insanely busy and there’s nowere nearby to stay unless you camp. I left Port Angeles at 7am and got to Hoh visitor centre at 9am and the car park was full and I ended up on the overflow on the road edge.

    Rainier you will need to book a timed ticket for entry unless you can stay close by and enter before 7am or after 3pm. There’s a few places to stay inc an Airbnb within a few miles of a Nisqually entrance. If you do get a time slot be aware the queue will still be crazy. I turned up at 11.45 for my 11-1pm slot and didn’t get throughthe gate until 12.50pm.

    San Juan is lovely, I was only there 1 night which is too short. Missed the whales at both observation points – I drove to one while they were at the other, and then when I drove to the 2nd, they swam up to the 1st. Also be aware you will need your passport handy when you land back on the mainland. The ferry likely has come from BC before it got to Friday Harbor and I got ripped apart by an immigration official for not having it ready (buried in the suitcase).

    Lots of good paved accessible trails at both parks but it does depend on when you go. Rainier gets up to 1100 inches of snow a year and the ADA accessible paved trails are still 4-7 feet deep with snow this late in June.

    You mentioned Sept – Make sure it’s after Labor day and things calm down a little

    Mel TS 83 posts

    @davefl this is fabulous info, thank you. Was already dubious about Cascades so glad to know not missing much if we miss it off. I was actually thinking 3 nights on San Juan to give us as much chance as possible – wildlife has a tendency to be not where I am 99% of the time!

    Ant M 82 posts

    Somewhere I didn’t get to but would love to is Treehouse point, 10-20 miles east of Seattle. The accomodation is very impressive looking treehouses in a forested area, and isnt far from Snoqualmie Falls. If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, it was filmed in that area.

    https://www.treehousepoint.com/

    masaccio 807 posts

    If you are flush with cash, a helicopter tour of Mount St Helens is spectacular. Prices vary wildly depending upon proximity to the mountain and duration of flight.

    The company we used doesn’t seem to list them anymore so I can’t recommend them, but there are plenty of choices. It was $1100 back in 2019.

    Bear in mind some helicopters seat 6 so there’s a chance you’ll be in a bit of a duff seat. We paid extra for a private tour so one of us could be up front next to the pilot.

    Mel TS 83 posts

    Somewhere I didn’t get to but would love to is Treehouse point, 10-20 miles east of Seattle. The accomodation is very impressive looking treehouses in a forested area, and isnt far from Snoqualmie Falls. If you’re a fan of Twin Peaks, it was filmed in that area.

    https://www.treehousepoint.com/

    Ooh these look fabulous thank you. I’ve also inadvertently managed to find somewhere Twilight was filmed which really doesn’t make me keen to go! ( apologies if any one is a fan)

    If you are flush with cash, a helicopter tour of Mount St Helens is spectacular. Prices vary wildly depending upon proximity to the mountain and duration of flight.
    .

    This sounds great, I’m nowhere near flush with cash, but am easily tempted so off now to have a look

    davefl 1,452 posts

    After 2 days in Seattle and witnessing drug deals going down and the desperate scenes of people shooting up heroin within 2 blocks of the Kimpton on 2nd, I would say it’s not for those of a nervous disposition. I consider myself well travelled but never seen anything like this in a wealthy downtown area.

    Sandgrounder 27 posts

    Yep, I’ve given up staying downtown in Seattle (or Portland for that matter), I find Bellvue to be much more comfortable and an easy commute to whatever you want to see. There is an excellent explanation of the reason for the difference on Reddit:

    ‘Bellevue does not have homeless camps in its parks because Bellevue voters don’t want homeless camps in their parks. They vote for people who will enact policies that result in not having homeless camps in parks.

    On the other hand, by their actions Seattle voters show that they do want homeless camps in their parks. They elect leaders who enact policies which result in homeless camps in parks.’

    Naturally the discussion descended into a political slanging match afterwards, as things often do on that platform.

    Mel TS 83 posts

    After 2 days in Seattle and witnessing drug deals going down and the desperate scenes of people shooting up heroin within 2 blocks of the Kimpton on 2nd, I would say it’s not for those of a nervous disposition. I consider myself well travelled but never seen anything like this in a wealthy downtown area.

    Yep, I’ve given up staying downtown in Seattle (or Portland for that matter), I find Bellvue to be much more comfortable and an easy commute to whatever you want to see..

    We stayed in downtown San Fransisco a few years ago. That was enough. Always now look at ‘commuter distance’ places to stay.

    Man of Kent 90 posts

    We were in the PNW (as the locals call it) last October. Had originally planned to stay at The Fairmont in Seattle but after reading quite a bit on the situation there we rented an AirB&B on Bainbridge Island, we could walk to the ferry and then it was a pleasant 30 minute scenic ride into the city. I’ll give you some more info later from our trip.

    Man of Kent 90 posts

    AS I mentioned above here is some further info. Seattle in October 2023 was good for a couple of days sightseeing. We haven’t been to any US cities post-Covid so not sure how the East Coast Cities are fairing but Seattle was the first US city that we felt we wouldn’t rush back to. There was a lot of homelessness and open drug taking on the streets and a number of shops and restaurants are boarded up – the State and Federal Governments just don’t seem to have a solution. It seemed like there just weren’t many people there – we were in the Financial / Business district and there just wasn’t the buzz of people coming out to coffee / sandwich shops that you get in other cities – I guess most people are WFH there still.

    Despite this we walked everywhere during the day and felt safe and we weren’t approached by anyone. We stayed on Bainbridge Island and took the ferry into the city so we weren’t there at night. The Chihuly Garden and Glass Exhibit was the highlight for us. The Space Needle wasn’t crowded at all and we went straight to the top. The Museum of Pop Culture is near the Space Needle but was closed the day we were there – so check opening times before you go as it was previously open every day – a victim of the post-covid slump I guess.

    If you get over to Bainbridge Island worth seeking out Pia the Peacekeeper Troll by Thomas Dambo. https://thomasdambo.com/

    We drove the coast road through Olympic Park coming North from Cannon Beach. First stop was the Quinault Rain Forest Ranger Station where there were a couple of flat short hikes if that’s appropriate for you. On the Northern section there is a road off to Sol Duc – a few miles in are some Salmon Cascades and as you are going in September you may be able to see the salmon leaping up the waterfall and cascades. Any of the Ranger Stations should be able to tell you if the salmon are running. I think it’s Forks where Twilight was filmed, it didn’t interest us and there didn’t seem to be much else there. We stayed in Port Angeles at The Olympic Lodge which was good for a couple of nights (although I seem to recall it was very brown) we ate at 929 Woodfire Grill. We drove up to Hurricane Ridge and then hiked up to the peak of Hurricane Hill for some great views as far as Victoria in Canada. It’s quite strenuous and at nearly 6,000 ft you need to pace yourself – injuries allowing well worth it – the path is paved some of the way and in good condition. Note the Ranger Station burned down there last summer so only toilet facilities available.

    Stopped in Port Townsend on our way to Bainbridge Island which has quite a few historic buildings and a couple of Historic B&Bs if you like staying in those.

    Ant M 82 posts

    After 2 days in Seattle and witnessing drug deals going down and the desperate scenes of people shooting up heroin within 2 blocks of the Kimpton on 2nd, I would say it’s not for those of a nervous disposition. I consider myself well travelled but never seen anything like this in a wealthy downtown area.

    I take it you havent been to Manchester then? Last time I was there, I’d been in the city less than 5 minutes and saw junkies shooting up in a phonebox in the city centre.

    davefl 1,452 posts

    After 2 days in Seattle and witnessing drug deals going down and the desperate scenes of people shooting up heroin within 2 blocks of the Kimpton on 2nd, I would say it’s not for those of a nervous disposition. I consider myself well travelled but never seen anything like this in a wealthy downtown area.

    I take it you havent been to Manchester then? Last time I was there, I’d been in the city less than 5 minutes and saw junkies shooting up in a phonebox in the city centre.

    Ummmm.. I’ve lived in Manchester for 98% of my life and still do unfortunately. Never seen anything like I did in Seattle.

    Drug of choice in Man for the homeless is Spice. Zombies on every corner.

    davefl 1,452 posts

    @Man of Kent June 2024 everything in downtown was packed. Queues down the street for popular restaurants, hotels virtually sold out and prices off the scale.

    peterH 13 posts

    When in Seattle the cities aquarium is excellent and well worth a visit – believe it’s recently also been renovated or extended too.

    Admittedly not in the US, but I did half day whale watching cruise with Prince of Whales from Victoria, and thought they were superb with level of information and detail provided, and just all round a great experience with plenty of whales and other wildlife. I’d also say if you get the chance to go on a seaplane then do it, as the views are spectactular.

    Ant M 82 posts

    Ummmm.. I’ve lived in Manchester for 98% of my life and still do unfortunately. Never seen anything like I did in Seattle.

    Drug of choice in Man for the homeless is Spice. Zombies on every corner.

    It’s interesting how different peoples experiences can be. I had 4 nights in seattle in May, staying a block away from where you are and saw no drug use and only a small amount of homeless despite doing a lot of walking, yet in Manchester in April I saw hard drug use plus all the spice zombies. On other trips to Manchester however I’ve seen little drug problems – like Seattle it seems to vary.

    Man of Kent 90 posts

    @Man of Kent June 2024 everything in downtown was packed. Queues down the street for popular restaurants, hotels virtually sold out and prices off the scale.

    Thanks for the update, good to hear that people are coming back. Just need to get the pricing under control now!

    Mel TS 83 posts

    @Man of Kent , This is really helpful thank you so much.

    And @peterH a seaplane sounds like a good idea too!

    peterH 13 posts

    @Mel TS I flew with Harbor Air from Vancouver to Victoria (and back) as part of a package for a day trip including whale watching (with Prince of Whales). I believe the advantage in going on a tour from Victoria is that you’re closer to the areas that the whales inhabit and so spend less time transiting.

    I can see Kenmore Air out of Seattle (Lake Washington) do a similar package. Victoria is lovely to wander round and the seaplane experience is fun (I was fortunate to have perfect weather and the views are still some of the most memorable from any holiday).

    Mel TS 83 posts

    @Mel TS I flew with Harbor Air from Vancouver to Victoria (and back) as part of a package for a day trip including whale watching (with Prince of Whales). I believe the advantage in going on a tour from Victoria is that you’re closer to the areas that the whales inhabit and so spend less time transiting.

    I can see Kenmore Air out of Seattle (Lake Washington) do a similar package. Victoria is lovely to wander round and the seaplane experience is fun (I was fortunate to have perfect weather and the views are still some of the most memorable from any holiday).

    This is sounding more and more appealing.

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