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Pacific Northwest Excursion - Day One

Day One - Tacoma
Day Two - Hood River
Day Three - Hood River
Day Four - Depoe Bay
Day Five - Depoe Bay
Day Six - Cannon Beach
Day Seven - Port Angeles
Day Eight - Friday Harbor
Day Nine - Orcas Island
Day Ten - Seattle


Wednesday, July 11, 2001

Our flight arrived in Seattle, Washington around 1 p.m. For once, our bags were the first up, and we went off in search of our rental car. SeaTac (Seattle Tacoma) Airport has rental cars in the parking garage adjacent to the baggage claim. While this is generally convenient, we did not find it that easy to maneuver. We have both traveled extensively and spent a lot of time in airports, but found getting to our car was not the easiest task (especially after a long flight). Thankfully, Keith had used his Hertz Gold Card and after a bit of a walk with our bags, we located our car. We had requested Neverlost, Hertz's navigation system, and it was indeed in the car. Lori spent a little time fiddling around with Neverlost, programming in where we were headed, while Keith got familiar with the car. When the system comes on, it indicates "Magellan," and since it has a female voice, we quickly nicknamed it Maggie.

We exited the airport parking lot - after some confusion (it wasn't that well marked, believe it or not), and found our way to Highway 5, headed south towards Tacoma. Lori fiddled around with the radio and after some time found a station that did traffic updates. Unfortunately, by that time, we were ready trapped in a traffic jam where we were pretty much sitting in one place. Finally we got a little more savvy and asked Maggie to give us another route to our destination. As soon as we were able, we exited the packed interstate and headed south on 99. This was full of untimed lights and lots of stop-and-go traffic, but at least we were moving. One of the many nice things about Neverlost is it counts down the miles to your destination and warns you of upcoming turns. As we neared Tacoma, Keith noticed a high bridge that appeared to be "out," and he said, "Oh no, I hope that is not where we were headed." Of course, it was. We didn't expect Maggie to know about every bit of construction work. No problem - we turned around and asked Maggie to find another route, which she did quickly and efficiently. Finally we arrived at our destination. A trip that should have taken us 30 minutes had taken us over two hours. We were sincerely hoping this was not a precursor of our upcoming road trips while in the Pacific Northwest. We pulled up in front of the extremely well-manicured grounds of The Villa, and as soon as we got out of the car, the automatic sprinkler system on the grounds turned on and sprayed us. All we could do at that point was laugh and run to the front door.

We had called our hosts (Becky and Greg) to let them know we were running late due to traffic, and had tried to give them an accurate idea of when they could expect us. Becky welcomed us at the door with a smile and showed us to our room (Caserta). The Villa is an immaculate yet relaxed mansion in the historic district of Tacoma. There are lots of windows and lots of pastels. Lori observed Becky had used one of her favorite colors - peach - on many of the walls. We have been to inns where we were afraid to touch anything, but the Villa was just the opposite. It was very welcoming and uplifting. There were beautiful hardwood floors throughout, and we were careful not to roll our luggage because we did not want to leave any marks on them. If you are a gardener or appreciate plants, you will love this place. The plantings were exquisite. We learned the Villa had been a stop on the Gardens of Tacoma tour.

Becky (one of the innkeepers) showed us around the public portion of the Villa. There is a guest fridge in the kitchen with wine, beer, soft drinks, and spring water, as well as snacks. After the harrowing drive, we relaxed with a glass of local Washington wine, then put on our bathing suits and headed out to the spa on the deck. It was a beautiful day, and we noted how scenic the surrounding area was. It was a Marquis spa for two (we have a Marquis spa at home). It was the perfect remedy for the long flight and rejuvenated us.

We were still on east coast time, so we realized that by shortly after 5, we were more than ready for dinner (it felt like 8 p.m. to us). We asked Greg for a recommendation and after speaking with him for a few minutes, figured out we wanted to go down to the waterfront to find someplace to eat there. He gave us directions (it was only a minute or two away), and we set off in search of sustenance. We chose C.I. Shenanigan's. From the outside, we initially thought it would be something like TGI Friday's, but when we went inside, we found it was much nicer. The hostess gave us a table in the back with a view over the water (we could have eaten outside, but it was bright, and we chose our table with a view instead). There was lots of wood, and we were in a huge booth in the atrium area of the restaurant. We were looking at the wine list, but when the waiter asked if Keith would like an icy cold Hefeweizen, Keith opted to try Bighorn's version. It was a local beer, icy as promised, and was very tasty. Lori settled for a glass of Hogue chardonnay. We were hungry, and ordered appetizers: thai lettuce wraps for Keith, and coconut prawns for Lori. Both were great and could have served as entrees. For his entree, Keith chose lemon grass and curry chicken (he asked them to hold the shrimp). Lori ordered the pound of Alaskan king crab legs, and it came with a big baked potato with fresh bacon, sour cream, and chives. We split the vanilla creme brulee for dessert, and Keith had a snifter of Patron Silver and Lori had her usual Sambuca on the rocks. The service was good, and the food was fresh and creative, served in a gracious atmosphere. We enjoyed our dinner.

After dinner, we walked along the water nextdoor to Ram Restaurant and Big Horn Brewing. Once inside, we headed to the bar. It was two stories high, with lots of wood and windows. We noticed something that was to remain a common denominator during our trip - Pacific Northwest architects know the scenery is a major attraction and seem to use windows as a major design factor. Some neon proclaimed this to be "Washington's Tallest Bar." Keith tried the Belgian Wit. He was also happy to see that had a good selection of sipping tequilas, including Hussong's and Del Dueno. They had a large 9-monitor tv. After a drink, we headed back to our luxurious accommodations.

Our room was painted a color that was hard to define - somewhat terracotta with white accents. There was a large, cheerful bathroom with a Jacuzzi tub in front of a picture window that overlooked part of the gorgeous garden. Our hosts had thoughtfully provided plenty of thirsty towels and bath salts, so we helped ourselves to some more wine and slipped into the Jacuzzi to unwind. The bathroom lights were on dimmers. There was a big, comfortable bed and the high-quality sheets literally felt as if they embraced us. We slipped into unconsciousness and had a restful night's sleep.


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