The showstoppers were the two things I did not see out West. Specifically, I saw no body parts of the waitress serving joe at the eight by eight drive-thru topless coffee shop. Just in case you want an opportunity for a real morning jolt, the small nameless yellow shack is located on the east side of Highway 3 in Belfair, Washington. I passed up the prospect of seeing something maybe I didn’t really want to see that early in the morning and got my wakeup call down the road at the Sail-on-Inn Coffee Shop located in the tiny village of Allyn. In the future I am certain a different vision will surface every time I pass by a drive-in coffee shop.
On a lighter note, the most tranquil place I saw out West wasn’t one of the plethora of waterfalls located in the Columbia Gorge, but the Japanese Gardens in Portland, Oregon. Located nearby is Hoyt Arboretum, which features 11 hundred different species of trees from around the world, including redwoods and a Ginkgo tree, a living fossil that dates back 270 million years.
I finally crossed off one of the items on my bucket list. We spent an afternoon at the famous Pike Place Market in downtown Seattle. Pike Place Fish, the market’s centerpiece, is famous for the fresh flying fish that sail from behind the counter to customer’s waiting arms. They also featured shrimp the size of lobster tails and oysters so large that we had to sit down with a knife and fork in order to eat them. My wife and I shared a $5 jar and for the first time ever, we had more than we could eat.
The market also features fresh produce, antiques, jewelry, art, clothing and some of the sweetest peaches I have ever tasted. Next, I entered a smoke shop looking for a fine cigar. To my amazement, they sold no cigarettes, cigars or any tobacco products. The only smoke available came with exotic names like Dank, Demon Passion, Genie, Blaze and Blueberry Haze — guaranteed to give you a buzz. What in the world? All I wanted was nothing more exotic than a Swisher Sweet or Crooks cigar.
One of the stranger things we saw on our trip out West was pigs; not live pigs but brass pigs, iron pigs and even stump-carved pigs.
I pointed to a brass pig in downtown Seattle and asked, “Why all the pigs?”
The person answered, “I don’t know about the others you saw, but this one has a slot on top and is a large piggy bank. The donations help feed the street people.”
In the past week I saw Mt. Rainier more times (five) than I did in the entire eight weeks while stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington (four). The difference was the beautiful weather we’ve had as opposed to the daily drizzle of that February and March of 1968. Unfortunately, however, the drought has also hit this area big time and we have run into forest fire smoke in several places.
Last, but not least, from Portland to Seattle I have seen more Thai restaurants per block than you will find in Bangkok. It's hard to believe, but both cities also sport a few palm trees.
Tomorrow we board the train to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a one-day visit. Then we take an Amtrak train through the possibility of a Montana snowstorm on our way back to St. Paul. Once I see my cat and dog, I know the vacation is over.