Last week, we concluded a trip to visit our daughter and her husband in Bellevue, a suburb of Seattle. While there, someone actually gave up his seat to me on a bus. So, I guess it’s official: I’m old. But it’s not all bad. I got an ORCA bus pass for free. That’s right, I said free. Okay, if I lose it, it’ll cost me three bucks for a replacement, but the first one was on the house. A thirty minute ferry ride to Bainbridge Island cost just four dollars—roundtrip! Imagine that? On our flights out and back, as seniors, we were able to skip the long lines and go through TSA screening without a hitch. That was pretty good. And because I use a cane, I qualified for early boarding, which made it a lot easier to get on the plane.
Bellevue is east of Seattle, on the other side of 26-mile long Lake Washington. There are two main roads that cross the lake and carry traffic into the big city. I-90 is the more heavily traveled, and cuts across Mercer Island. The other artery is the 520, which brings commuters into the Eastlake-Westlake area, near the University of Washington. On a clear day, you can see two active volcanos from your seat on the bus going to or from Seattle. To the north is Mt. Baker, and to the south is Mt. Rainier. It is a surreal experience to ride a bus and see snow-covered volcanos on either side of you. I must have looked like a real rube to the locals, because all I did was keep pointing out the window and saying, “Look at that! Look at that!” I doubt that I would ever tire of that view.
A feature of both cities is the collection of pocket parks scattered around each one. Seems like everywhere you go there’s green space to enjoy. Our favorite is Bellevue Downtown Park, complete with its pond and waterfall, and surrounded by newly erected skyscrapers. Our daughter and her husband live less than six blocks away, which makes it an easy walk.
A word about Seattle. It is truly a beautiful city. At last count, there were at least fifty cranes working to erect skyscrapers within its confines. If you’ve never been there, you should go. Without a doubt, it’s the cleanest city I’ve ever visited. And the people are genuinely nice. The bus drivers were amazing. Every single one helped us when we struggled with using our ORCA pass, or had trouble knowing where to get off. People on the buses and at bus stops gave us directions and wished us a good day.
Of course, we did the whole “tourist thing,” including a ride to the top of the Space Needle. In addition to a wine tasting on Bainbridge Island, we also visited the Chihuly Glass exhibit and the aquarium, and even took a cruise around the Seattle Harbor. And, of course, we toured the Pike Place Market, that famous place where vendors toss fish around like Frisbees.
The flight out to Seattle from Charlotte was smooth as silk, but the return flight was anything but. We took a “red eye” out of SeaTac and, after about an hour, we ran into some heavy duty turbulence. I’ve never been afraid on a plane before, but I was on this one. I guess it was a good thing that we were flying in the dark, so I wasn’t able to see what was happening. Mercifully, the buffeting and bumping ended after about two hours—not a moment too soon.
We had a wonderful ten-day stay, highlighted by the time we got to spend with Lauren and Brad, who treated us to countless delicious meals and many hours of their precious time. They are commercial real estate developers who are changing the landscape of Seattle by converting historic apartment buildings into modern ones filled with much needed micro apartments. We hated to leave, but it was good to get home, but I must admit. We will be counting the days until we once again travel to the great Northwest and the lovely cities of Bellevue and Seattle—and, of course, our tremendously successful loved ones.
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