Monday, February 22, 2010

Northwest Highlights

We had a super time in the Pacific Northwest! I toured a bit by myself during the day and then enjoyed the evenings with Jeff. We had great meals (including local fish, authentic Greek gyros, homemade Italian pasta, fantastic steaks, and a great Indian buffet). We went dancing Tuesday night at a ballroom studio in the theater of a historic brick building. We walked the downtown, (including of course Pike Place Market), rode the Monorail, saw the Space Needle, and watched stained glassblowing.

Eating gyros near the Market

Jeff played hookie Thursday (the last morning of the conference) and we did the Underground Tour (some of Seattle's streets were built over the original turn-of-the-century sidewalks and ground floors after a devastating fire, so you can walk under the city in the preserved spaces).

Down in the belly of the city

Then we continued our history lesson with a stop at the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park (which is basically a free museum run by the National Park Service as an extension of the thousands of preserved acres in Alaska and Canada, as Seattle was the launching place of most of the gold seekers). That was fascinating! To see the physical hardship men (and a few women and children) went through in an attempt to just reach the goldfields (let alone dig to find paydirt) was staggering. This was no easy "get rich quick" scheme, that's for sure!

(As an aside, kudos to a few of the only sane, logical men around: the Canadian Mounties. They began regulating and recording the people crossing the border, ensuring law and order, collecting names and contact info to notify loved ones in case of emergency or death, requiring adequate supplies to prevent freezing or starvation, certifying homemade boats and rafts for safety before allowing them to float downstream, etc. It was serious business, as each person needed approximately one ton of supplies to survive for a year in the Yukon, and they had to carry it 33 miles over the mountain pass during one part of the journey.)

What would you do-o-o for a Klondike bar (of gold, that is)?

A trip up to the observation deck on the 76th floor of the Columbia Center (tallest building in the Pacific Northwest) yielded an excellent view of the city and mountains from almost 1,000 feet up.

Columbia Center, and Jeff surveying his domain

View of the harbor and Mt. Rainier

We rented a car Friday and drove down to Vancouver (with the sunroof open and the windows down to bask in the sunny, warm afternoon). We toured Fort Vancouver (an outpost for the Hudson Bay Trading Company in the early 1800's, another fascinating story) and the Marshall House (base housing for two years of commanding officer George C. Marshall, of the Marshall Plan fame).


We spent a lovely weekend in the company of our gracious hosts. We drove south to Salem for services and greeted many old and new friends. A game night that evening left Jeff a bit winded and sore after basketball, dodgeball, and kickball, but a radiant day spent walking at the zoo Sunday stretched out the cramps and prepared us for a red-eye flight that evening back to Huntsville. All in all, a splendid trip I can't wait to repeat; I'm just sorry it took me 30 years to make it up to such a beautiful part of the country!

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