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A US road trip begins

Washington State: day one

View Washington State 2017 on ToonSarah's travel map.

Off to the Pacific Northwest!

Before any of our US road trips I tend to do a lot of research and planning, identifying the main sights we would like to see and the most interesting route between them.

For this trip to Washington State, our main priorities were to visit the national parks. We are huge admirers of the US national parks system and like to get to as many as possible. We like wild coastlines, so the Olympic NP was a must, as were the San Juan islands. And I love mountain scenery, which meant that Mount Rainier and the North Cascades parks had to be added to the itinerary. Flying into and out of Seattle meant that we included a day in the city at the start and end of the journey, and from there the route came together quite easily.

Our plane at Heathrow

If we're expecting places to be busy, as we were on this trip (travelling just after the July 4th holiday), we pre-book most if not all of our accommodation. On this occasion there were also ferries to book and, to be sure we would get to go on one, a whale watching excursion.

Eventually though, the planning (which I very much enjoy) was done, and the day of departure was here. We flew direct from Heathrow to Seattle with Virgin Atlantic, on a nice new Dreamliner with relatively comfortable economy seating, good service and decent food (special mention for the paneer curry and chocolate ganache!)

The 9.5 hour flight passed relatively quickly. For the last couple of hours we had wonderful views of the landscape below - first the barren tundra of northern Canada, later the Rockies and then, as we approached Seattle, the North Cascades and finally Mount Rainier standing guard over the city.

Over northern Canada

Over the North Cascades

Over the North Cascades

Mount Rainier

Border control, baggage claim and customs all went smoothly and took much less time than on some previous visits to the States. We used the Light Rail Link to get from the airport to downtown which, once we'd found the station (a long trek through a car park) was easy, good value ($3 each) and took just 30 minutes.

Our bedroom

We alighted at University St and hauled our bags up the short steep hill to 4th Ave and our hotel, the Executive Pacific. OK, I have to be honest here - Chris hauled our bags and I plodded up behind him.

The hotel is situated right opposite the striking Central Library in the heart of downtown. I had got a fairly good deal on Booking.com so we had a king room, which was comfortable but with its décor rather faded and tired-looking. It was fine for the two nights we spent there however. We unpacked, and settled in.

In the evening, the eight hour time difference naturally started to catch up with us, but we fought the tiredness and went for dinner at the nearby Purple Café. Despite it being a wine bar though, neither of us drank wine! Chris had a beer while I stuck to a soft drink (that time difference again). Our meals were excellent - Chris's lamb sausage pizza and my spaghetti with pesto and cherry tomatoes. The two main courses and two drinks came to $50 plus service - fairly standard for Seattle.

At the Purple Café

Dinner over, it was back to the hotel for an early night in readiness for our first full day of the trip tomorrow - Seattle awaited ...

Posted by ToonSarah 11:45 Archived in USA Tagged food road_trip hotel flight seattle

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Oh, that lamb sausage pizza looks fab. Jealous here. You were lucky to see Rainier. Sometimes it is wrapped in clouds for days. It's so glorious when you can see it. Looking forward to following your fun trip.

by Beausoleil

You had me at Virgin's chocolate ganache, we had that on our flight to Atlanta. Yummmmmmm.

Fabulous view of Mount Rainier from the air, as well as the other mountains. Looking forward to the next instalment.

by Grete Howard

Good intro! Very interesting to read about a road trip with a focus, in this case the Pacific Northwest. Congrats on the planning -- it's also a big part of the fun of travel for me. :-)
Wonderful blue skies on your photos from the plane!
The pizza at the Purple Café looks gigantic! LOL

by loubess

Nice photos from the plane!

by Nemorino

That has done just what all good tasters should do - whet my appetite for the next course. Thanks for sharing Sarah.

by Yvonne

Thank you all :)

Yes, we were lucky with these views of Rainier, and indeed with the weather for most of the trip. We saw 'the mountain' (as Seattlites say) a lot :) :)

by ToonSarah

Beautiful photos from the plane. And ... I am hungry now - this looks delicious :-)

by Trekki

Thanks Ingrid :) The food there was great, but we were too tired to properly appreciate it! However, as you will read (eventually!), we went back on our final evening in Seattle :)

by ToonSarah

Made it at last .. looking forward to joining you on this roadtrip. Glad you clarified how the bags made it to the top of the hill;-)

by Wabat

Good to have you back Albert ;)

by ToonSarah

I like to plan trips as well ... I have to admit that traveling overseas I mostly join groups, but when I went to the USA, I planned the whole trip with my brother and I loved it ever since, nowadays, the trips are closer to home, but still, the planning is part of the excitement that lets you know, you are going to see new and exiting things! :)

by Ils1976

Yes, exactly so Ils - the planning is part of the excitement. Even when we use a tour company to plan some of our more distant trips, like the recent one to Indochina, I always do some research and get involved with them tailoring the trip to meet our preferences, so it still has some of that same excitement!

by ToonSarah

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