Sunday, November 30, 2014

2014 Vacation, Part 4: Seattle

After our excursion to the coast, we headed north on the 101 toward Washington. The kids had to occupy themselves in the car multiple times during the vacation. They had music and audio books on their MP3 players. And snacks can help too.

As referenced in Part 1, Dick Anderson had told us about a cool place to visit along our route. Fort Clatsop was the final camp of Lewis and Clark on their journey west before heading back home. Located south of Astoria, it's been rebuilt into a national historic park. We explored the replica fort, listened to the actors dressed for the parts, and checked out the hiking trails.

We explored Astoria for the afternoon. Situated where the Columbia River meets the Pacific, the town offers some seaside attractions and an old downtown. We ate lunch at a restaurant chosen for the view. We were rewarded by diving sea birds and a seal that hung out in the waters outside the window.

We walked around on the pier jutting out into the harbor. After getting some warm drinks at a coffee shop, we found the hangout for the local sea lions.

Julia and I posed in the wind with our next destination, Washington state, in the background.

Before leaving Astoria, we had to check out a special tourist attraction: The Goonies house. The house is a private residence, but it shows up on maps and a sign informs visitors which house it is (and to be respectful). While we were checking out the exterior of the abode from the movie, there were a steady stream of people. We exchanged photo-taking favors with another group for this family shot.

We left Astoria across the nearly four-mile-long bridge over the Columbia River leading into Washington. We continued following the 101 north for a twisty, scenic drive before heading inland toward Seattle.

We were only about 90 minutes from our hotel in Seattle, but we needed a break. Olympia is the capital of Washington so we decided to stop and walk around the capital building. It was nice to get out and stretch our legs and the capital grounds were really nice. Julia is in the below picture, even if a little hard to find.

There was pretty much no one else around since it was getting well into the evening, so I had to resort to the timer on the camera to get a family shot.

My deep thoughts were about to be disturbed by a maniacal mini-me.

We caught a glimpse of Mount Rainier as we approached Seattle.

We took a harbor cruise of the Seattle downtown area of Puget Sound. It was a great way to see all angles of the city.

We made it a point to stroll through the famous Pike Place Fish Market. I was expecting the fish, but was surprised at how it was essentially a year-round farmer's market. The huge crowds of people seemed about equal parts tourists and locals picking up fresh food. We witnessed one of the famous fish-throwing incidents and got some fresh seafood of our own at one of the restaurants there.

We had less than two full days in Seattle so we ended up focusing on just the surface of what the city had to offer. The Space Needle was another tourist attraction we felt we couldn't pass up. It definitely allowed for a unique view of the city!

One of the buildings below the Space Needle has these spiders on its roof. I mentioned the spider sculptures to the worker in our elevator on the way down and she explained they are actually just painted on. I still find it hard to believe they're just paintings - shadows and all.

We flew home late in the day, so we squeezed in a trip to the Seattle Aquarium before flying back to the Twin Cities.
Finn finished eating first, so we let him wander around and check out the large tanks nearby.

The aquarium had quite a few exhibits you could touch. The sea urchins' spines would squeeze your finger when it sensed you poking around.

Riding an orca!

For some reason we were being goofy and asking each other in a silly, deep voice, "Have you seen any river otters?" So when we saw an otter bench, we had to get a picture on it.

Like all things, the vacation came to an end. It was a good one and as the kids get older, I look forward to being able to travel with them more!

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

2014 Vacation, Part 3: The Coast

Now finished with the Portland leg of our vacation, we headed ninety minutes west to give our greetings to the Pacific. We spent the day and that night in Seaside, tested the cold ocean waters, explored a tide pool, and walked the beach.

It was mid-morning when we arrived at the endless expanse of water. It was a normal, cool day on the Oregon coast. The daily fog hadn't yet been burned off by the sun.

Even though it was chilly, it's hard not to wear shorts and a t-shirt if you're going to the beach. And once clouds let the sun come through, it warmed up to nearly 70. The kids (and I) had fun getting our feet wet and dodging waves.

We took a short drive south from Seaside to Cannon Beach so we could poke around the tide pool beside Haystack Rock during low tide.

It's a popular tide pool so there were volunteers around to share information with people and make sure they don't damage the wildlife. They were helpful in explaining things like how to safely touch an anemone and how if you put certain barnacles in shade, they will slowly close up.

We saw a few giant sea stars - one hanging out on a rock and another lounging in a shallow pool.

A gull was using the exposed animals to get himself a nice meal.

Haystack Rock is also known for being in several scenes from The Goonies, including the opening car chase scene that goes onto the beach. After looking at what the tide pool had to offer, the kids decided to get themselves in the water - at least as much as the cold ocean would allow them to.

After the salty dip, the kids posed by an equally salty sea captain before we headed back to Seaside.

We had found this place (notice the sign) earlier in the day and had to come back later to eat there. Finn got a t-shirt to commemorate "his" restaurant.

We enjoyed the view from our hotel room, but the best part was opening the patio door and hearing the waves.

"Julia, which way to the beach?"

Bucket head!

Sunset frolicking in the waves.

Julia really wanted to perform her famous back float in the ocean, but it was just too cold. Finn attempted it.

And finally, contently warming up in shades.

The next morning we headed north back towards Washington and where we started the trip.