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We got up around 07:30 this morning and did the usual morning routine. Before checking out of the Welcome Inn in Wenatchee, we walked over towards the Riverfront Park, where our guide book said there was a produce grower's market each Thursday to Sunday from 8am to 1pm. We figured we could get some good cheap fruit and maybe some interesting photos. However, as we crossed the long footbridge (a memorial footbridge for something or other) we noticed a rather rancid smell and an unusual lack of any fresh produce market. We noticed near the end of the bridge a sewage works, from where the pungent aroma was emanating. Looking around spied no likely market within about 300 metres, so we turned tail and went back to the motel quickly.
Back in better smelling streets, Michelle dropped into a bagel store and got an "energy" bagel - with apple, dates, nuts, and multiple sorts of grains in it. We'd already packed the car, including making a couple of bagel sandwiches for lunch with the leftover Tillamook cheese and some pastrami, so we just checked out and drove off.
Our first planned stop was Ohme gardens - a large alpine garden supposed to be very beautiful, especially in spring, and just a few miles out of Wenatchee. We tried to take Alternative Route 97 north out of town, as directed by the Lonely Planet, but missed an exit on the confusing road signs and ended up on 97 proper, on the other (eastern) side of the river, without realising it. After driving a few miles in increasing suspicion, we pulled over and checked the map and discovered our error. We turned around, backtracked, and picked up the right road and the turnoff a short way along, only to find a sign indicating that the gardens were closed. D'oh!
So we backtracked again and took Route 2 west towards Seattle. The next stop was Leavenworth, a surprising Bavarian-style village in a valley overlooked by snow-capped mountain peaks. If not for the American cars, road signs, and people it would have been pretty close to an Alpine village, and even so the effect was quite amazing. We parked and wandered around the central few streets full of European styled gift shops and food places. I got a bratwurst in a bun from a place called The Best of the Wurst - it was okay, but not as good as bratwursts I've had elsewhere - like in Bavaria...
Best of the Wurst, Leavenworth
Michelle got an iced cafe latte from another place and we checked out The Australian Shop - full of tacky Aussie souvenirs plus food things like Tim Tams and Vegemite. We didn't need any supplies but it certainly reminded us of similar tourist shops back home. After exhausting the shops we wandered down to the park by the Wenatchee River for a pleasant change of pace. The sun was getting hot, out of another clear blue sky.
The woman in the coffee shop had told us we could drive up Icicle Road out of town for a good scenic drive before heading to Seattle, so we did that, driving 5 miles or so up the small valley and seeing some snow above us and a small river of impressive looking rocky rapids below. At the turnaround point I ate my cheese and pastrami bagel. Then we drive back to Leavenworth, filled up with petrol, and set out west on 2 to Seattle.
Mailboxes on Icicle Road
As we climbed up to Stevens Pass at just over 4,000 feet, the landscape became more mountainous and the snow extended right down to, and even below, road level. We stopped at the Stevens Pass Nordic Centre where people were heading off and returning from cross-country skiing trails. We took some snow photos and then headed off again, soon cresting the pass and seeing ski fields near it, with people skiing right down to the road level.
We continued on, stopping at the small town of Gold Bar for a toilet stop and to buy a bottle of lime drink for me. Then we drove right into Seattle, turning into a local road near Monroe and successfully navigating the freeways over the bridge over Washington Lake and getting our first breathtaking view of the city and the lake. It was spectacular, with the sun shimmering off the vast stretch of water, with sailboats flitting to and fro, and the gleaming city skyline in the distance on the far shore.
Seattle skyline and Mount Rainier, from the Space Needle
We managed to negotiate I-5 south for a short way and exit on the right street, after a panic as we entered on the left of about 8 lanes of traffic and had to cross to the exit on the right within about a quarter of a mile. Although on the right street, we ended up on the wrong side to where the Seattle Inn was located and unable to turn around easily. We had to pull over on a side street to figure out a way to get back to the Inn, but finally managed it, parking in the basement garage and checking in. We'd arrived in Seattle a day ahead of our original plan, and managed to get a room for three nights instead of just two. The motel lobby and lift were in the process of being renovated and looked rather run down, but our room had apparently already been modernised and was quite nice.
Space Needle by day
With some time to spare, we walked over to the nearby Space Needle and Seattle Centre, only a couple of blocks away. We bought double entry "Day and Night" tickets for the Needle and went up to see panoramic views of Seattle in the sunlight, with a beautifully clear sky. And for the first time we saw Mount Rainier in the distance, huge and looming over the city in the southeast, looking immense even though it was 95 miles away. Absolutely stunning.
Space Needle by day
We went down and checked out Seattle Centre, which turned out to house a huge food court, as well as a Children's Museum and various community services. We got burgers at a place called Quincy's, which were really good - chargrilled. Then we went back up the Space Needle to watch the sunset and get some great night photos (hopefully, assuming they turn out!).
After seeing a gorgeous sunset over Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, casting soft pink light over the city and Mt Rainier, we descended again and returned to the motel.
Space Needle by night
I went for a swim in the motel pool - the water was very warm and not clear enough to see the floor of the pool, so it was hard to swim freestyle - I swam breaststroke instead for about half an hour, dodging a small group of teenagers who were throwing a small rubber football back and forth in the pool. Then we retired to our room for the night.
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