From the Space Needle to White Salmon

Saturday 29th of December 2007 I woke up with a hell of a hangover. I really had no-one to blame but myself – well, myself and those bastards at the Pike Brewing Co for making such delicious beer.

Space NeedleLuckily the rain was holding off long enough for us to head out and see the Space Needle once we’d indulged in the free breakfast from those lovely people at the Travelodge. It was exactly gourmet food or anything but it was included in the price and the coffee was pretty good.

We arrived at the Needle before most other tourists. There was no-one in the queue when we got there and the lift was fairly empty when we headed up to the top. The Space Needle was built in the 1960s and must have been one hell of an achievement at the time. These days the CN Tower is taller and has a better view (in my opinion anyway) but you really do have to head up to the 520′ viewing platform and have a look out at the city of Seattle.

Seattle

The tall buildings have been kept to a minimum but they still look rather lovely nestled among the hills. This something that Seattle has over the very flat Toronto – some nice rolling hills around the city and some magnificent mountains behind. The clouds were rather low in the sky so the big mountains were hiding. You can nearly see Mount Rainier in the background in the photo above and Mount Baker can be seen in a different direction – if the weather holds up.

The wind was a little brisk that day and it went right through you up at the top of the Needle. We didn’t hang around all day but we did spend a little time admiring the view. It’s quite spectacular. I did a cute shot in the reflection of the windows back over downtown:

Bloody Tourists!

After a while we ventured back down the lift and across to the EMP, the Experience Music Project. We didn’t have time to head in there but I did take the time to walk around and take some shots. It’s an incredible building! I loved the reflections in the curvy sides but it was a shame that the sun wasn’t out.

EMP

After a delicious lunch at the waterfront (and an argument with some arsehole of a parking attendant) we headed on our way towards Portland. We weren’t going to stop in Portland but it was interesting to see it on the way past. It’s a very industrial city by the looks of it and I’ve had liked to have spent a few hours wandering around taking photos. Sadly, time was limited and it was pissing down with rain again. What is it with the Pacific North West and the rain? I thought we had it bad in the UK.

We were heading, ultimately, so see James’ cousin in a gorgeous small town in Washington State called White Salmon. It was dark when we got there but it looked beautiful – exactly how you’d imagine small-town America to be. It’s nestled on the Columbia River right on the Washington/Oregon border. James’ cousin Steve lives with his wife about 12 miles away up a very snowy mountain. It took us about 25 minutes to get there and I was glad that we had 4-wheel drive. It was snowing like buggery!

When we got to their house they were not even there! Their house is at about 2,200 feet and, of course, there’s no mobile reception. Their dog, Solomon, was there but apparently he didn’t have the keys to let us in out of the cold. We waited for a bit but decided that we’d go see Steve’s mother and father who lived further down the mountain and closer to civilisation. On the way back down the mountain we thought we saw Steve and Miraya heading up. We weren’t sure though so we kept going until we got some mobile reception. We telephoned back up to the house and Miraya was there, so off we went back up again. Steve, apparently, was on the way back down the mountain to find us.

We got back up the mountain again and was greeted by the excitable Solomon and the lovely Miraya, who has to be one of the nicest people I have ever met. Steve turned up after a few minutes and we soon headed back down the mountain once again (after a few drinks!) to get a meal at a local pizza restaurant.

Steve and Miraya were such excellent hosts and lovely people. Steve had built their house on his own, just about, over a period of eight years and it’s set in a wonderful 20 acres of land in the most beautiful place you could imagine! We couldn’t see very much of it, what with the snow and darkness, so we left the exploration until the Sunday. In the meantime we had a really good time getting to know each other and generally diminishing Steve’s alcohol reserves.