According to locals, Seattle doesn’t take itself too seriously, which is remarkable really when you consider it’s perfect mix of nature and urban sophistication. This is an exciting and unpretentious city where you can feast on the spectacularly fresh bounty of the Pacific northwest, be passionate about coffee at Starbucks Reserve Roastery watching coffee mixologists work their magic, awe over Dreamliner production in the world’s largest building at Boeing, chat with producers and artisans at the historic Pike Place Market, admire excitingly curated artworks at the Seattle Art Museum (the building itself a masterpiece), take a day hike through Washington State’s evergreen beauty, explore ways to tackle some of the world’s problems at Bill and Melinda Gates Discovery Centre, spot one of the 75 resident killer whales on a whale watching tour around the San Juan Islands or merely gather and chat at any one of the swanky bars showcasing the best of regional creations.
A Savour Seattle Booze’n Bites tour helps you navigate the myriad choices in this food-centric city which, despite being settled by Methodist teetotallers and once boasting a pontoon in the middle of Puget Sound for clandestine drinking, has a refreshing ‘anything-goes’ attitude. Starting with ginger beer and whisky at Rachel’s, there are blood-orange margaritas with jalapeño infused salt served with slow-roasted sirloin tip tacos to try at San Patricio, vodka and triplesec lemongrass martinis paired with shrimp roll at The Martini Bar, Diller Daiquiris with a hint of cinnamon infused lime juice (slight lightheadedness eased with the accompanying Mufaletta sandwiches) at The Diller Bar and finally Kilt Lifter beer and pretzels made from brewing by-products at Pike Brewing Co.
Friendly, artistic, dynamic and surrounded by magnificent landscape, a Seattle sojourn should be a definite on your wandering wish-list.
Everybody loves the chance to unplug and get up close and personal with the real outdoors, the pristine wildernesses where seasons can change every hour and hiking trails meander through an alpine wonderland, but it’s the chance to combine this with a perfect road trip that makes it the ideal release from the madding world.
The Cascade Loop north of Seattle is a wonderful drive taking you from Puget Sound’s glistening waters, through a patchwork of fruit trees growing on Colombia River’s rich river flats (roadside stalls offering the best of their freshly picked sweetness), past Methow Valley farmlands and into charming towns like the Wild West-restored Winthrop (where a round of putt-putt and an ice-cream is perfect after a day of hiking, kayaking or fishing) and Leavenworth, whose Bavarian themed buildings sit perfectly below surrounding snow-capped mountains. Eventually you reach North Cascades National Park, whose beauty is astonishing despite it being remarkably lesser known than other parks.
Less than three hours from Seattle, it contains over 200,000 acres of old growth forest, 500 lakes and ponds, 300 glaciers, endless waterfalls which cascade down mountains even in the height of summer and a multitude of hiking trails. Everywhere the views are magnificent and the names evocative; Diablo Lake, Thunder Knob, Pyramid Peak, Rainy Lake, Cutthroat Lake, Liberty Bell, but if you really feel a vertical challenge is in order, take the Hart’s Pass Rd, rated one of the world’s most dangerous, and enjoy views into the heart of the North Cascades at Slate Peak Lookout.
This area is magical, the real-time panoramas better than any technological imagery available, and after a few days of hiking I thought I’d seen it all. My last night revealed yet another treasure though as the waxing moon and setting sun sat in the sky together, the scattered clouds over blue skies releasing gossamer raindrops that glowed golden in the sun’s rays, every season appearing to hint of its existence at the same time. Life’s natural bounty really.
Words & photographs by Angela Terrell