Happy Friday, fellow Voyagers! A couple of years ago we decided not to build a big fancy-schmancy new home, and instead, opted to sell our property so that we might pursue a wider range of experiences on the Voyage. Best. Decision. Ever!!! So this Friday finds me exploring and taking in all the funky sites, soaking up the flavor of this fine city. Life truly is about collecting experiences…Not Stuff! And so, as I sit here under the Public Market sign, drinking a Pumpkin Spiced Chai (cliche, I know…but so delicious!) I’m wishing you all a weekend full of rich exploration!
This week finds us once again in the lovely city of Seattle, Washington. He’s “Encoring” and I’m “Voyaging!” Seattle has become one of our favorite cities in the Pacific Northwest, and we’ve figured out some hassle-free ways to visit, which I’d like to share.
First off, don’t rent a car! When you arrive at Sea-Tac International Airport, follow the signs to the Link Light Rail, which for $3.00/pp will take you right into downtown Seattle. Safe, clean, easy. And no paying ridiculous parking fees for overnight parking.
Get off at the Westlake Center stop. Follow the exit signs to 4th and Pine. This exit will bring you out approximately 1/2 block from The Mayflower Park Hotel.
This historic 1927 hotel in the heart of downtown has been completely renovated, and will give you a sense of old-world style at a reasonable price. You can read the hotel’s history in Seattle’s Mayflower Park Hotel: Images of America.
Have a cocktail in Oliver’s Lounge at the Mayflower. This beautiful lounge serves classic craft cocktails – Don’t even ask for something blended, but enjoy the beautiful setting and the huge windows to downtown.
You are in the heart of most things wonderful in Seattle.
From the hotel, you are just a couple blocks from Pike Street Market. It is a must see for the first time visitor. It’s not every day that you get to see young men throwing fresh fish!
Or listen to fabulous street musicians.
About halfway down the market, just before Mick’s Peppouri (which sells yummy pepper jellies) is sky bridge which will lead you to an elevator, taking you down to the parking area off of the water front. See how I did that? We are not climbing hills or stairs if possible! Once you are down at the waterfront, you can spend the entire day enjoying Seattle’s Great Wheel, Wings over Washington (lots of fun – I’d do it twice), cute little shops on the piers, and so, so much great seafood!
If you are a coffee lover, there are Starbucks on every other corner, including the original Starbucks, about halfway down the market on Pike Place.
While you are in the area, I highly recommend Bacco Cafe at the corner of 1st St. and Stewart. This cute little cafe features a delightful juice bar menu and yummy Pacific northwest fare. A perfect spot for breakfast or lunch, and one of our faves.
One block north of the Mayflower Park, on the second floor of Nordstrom, you will find the Monorail to Seattle Center. There’s a lot to see on the grounds, including one of the most recognized structures in the U.S., the Space Needle,
and even the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop) which is dedicated to the history and exploration of popular music, science fiction, and pop culture.
Walk down the Broad Street from the Space Needle and you arrive at the Olympic Sculpture Park. This outdoor sculpture garden is serene and lovely for a stroll on the waterfront.
When you are tired of shopping, and you’ve completely devoured the breathtaking waterfront, you can explore the area surrounding Lake Union just as easily. From the Mayflower Park, walk about a block up Stewart Street and take the South Lake Union Streetcar out to Lake Union. There, you can have lunch at Duke’s Seafood and Chowder, look at the marina, and watch the sailboats on the lake.
If you’re an art lover, the Seattle Art Museum is just 6 or 7 blocks from the hotel.
I’ve given you enough ideas for Seattle exploration to keep you busy for several days! There are endless eateries featuring fresh seafood. And here’s the best tip I’ve learned yet. Don’t be daunted by the steep hills when walking from the waterfront to almost everywhere. Just know and remember this…Pike Street (at the entrance to the market) is relatively flat , heading west to east. So no matter where you are, head toward Pike Street and walk east (no huffing and puffing,) then travel a couple blocks to the north to get back to the hotel. You’re welcome.
Hope I’ve inspired you to check out this wonderful city. Can’t wait to hear what you think!
While visiting the north shore of Lake Tahoe, we had the opportunity to take a guided tour of the Thunderbird Lodge. This property was built in 1936 as the private residence of George Whittell. George Whittell originally purchased 40,000 acres on the east shore of Lake Tahoe and possessed 26 miles of its shoreline. It seems that George was quite a colorful character, and developed a love of wild animals, booze, poker and women. He built a separate enclosure for his pet Sumatran elephant, Mingo, and kept a full grown lion, Bill, as a pet.
His Thunderbird Lodge home is fascinating to tour, primarily because of its situation among enormous granite boulders on the property, along with its 600-foot underground tunnel which connects his boathouse to the residence.
During the home’s construction, Whittell hired Native American boys to construct a series of intricate stone paths, which later became known as “the Dragon’s Tail.”
Whittell summered at Thunderbird, and while there commissioned the building of Lake Tahoe’s most recognizable speedboat, The Thunderbird. It’s mahogany hull and huge twin V-12 engines are currently in restoration in Incline Village, and will be returned to the Lodge in the near future.
While Whittell’s original plan was to build a resort and condominium complex, along with a ski resort, his later lifestyle altered those plans. He became more and more reclusive and his privacy was highly valued. Ultimately, he sold off vast pieces of his property to the Nevada State Parks Department and other agencies. After his death, Wall Street maven Jack Dreyfus purchased the remaining estate and ultimately sold most of it to the U.S Forest service.
It is the result of George Whittell’s reclusive nature that the eastern shore of Lake Tahoe remains largely undeveloped today. Hubs and I were fascinated by the careful siting of the original home, and the use of materials to marry the residence to its site. If you happen to visit the Lake Tahoe area, it’s worth it to take a tour of this historical home.
Hubs and I have traveled to a conference last week at Lake Tahoe. Not the Lake Tahoe that everyone thinks about when they say they are going to Tahoe. That would be the community of South Lake Tahoe that sits right on the Nevada-California border.
This conference was at the north shore of Lake Tahoe at Incline Village. While it is still as exorbitant and expensive as the other Tahoe, it does not have quite the level of commercialism that reigns supreme on the south shore.
While we were there, the weather fluctuated from sunny and calm, to downright windy, and even included some snow flurries. When it’s windy like that, the lake looks more like the ocean than an inland lake at 6200 feet.
Our stay brought us to the Hyatt Regency Lake Tahoe Resort, Spa and Casino in Incline Village, NV. We were greeted by these three bears and a glass of champagne. What could be bad about that?
And the resort has all of the high end amenities you’d expect of a Four Diamond Resort. Heated pools and hot tubs, fancy schmancy spa, fire pit, gift shop and sports shop, and several restaurants and cafes where I spent too much money and ate too much. And because you are in Nevada, you can also indulge in games of chance in a well-appointed casino, um, and have a cocktail or two (or three) in one of several lounge areas.
I’d have to say that if you are going to hang out with a spouse at a conference, overall, this was not a bad place at which to do it!
When you explore St. Kitts, especially if you arrive via cruise ship, the first thing you encounter is the monkey peddlers. Here’s the warning: They will want to take your picture (Their monkeys, your camera). Not a bad thing, a guy’s gotta make a living, right…but if you want to hold a monkey, as I did, be sure to negotiate your terms in advance!
As you wander into town, away from the cruise terminal, you will come across Independence Park. Notice the old stone buildings, where slaves were once held prior to being sold in the slave trade. And if you are lucky, like we were, beautiful bougainvillea will be in bloom.
Across from the park sits the Immaculate Conception Co Cathedral Catholic Church. This cool and stately church, flanked by palms at the front entrance, welcomes all travelers and is beautiful in its simplicity.
Also on the park is the Gallery Café, a gem not to be missed. Enjoy the art, but be sure to wander all the way to the back, for a brunch snack and a little rest in the quaint garden seating area.
If you get an opportunity, hire someone to take you up to Romney Manor (originally owned by Thomas Jefferson’s great, great, great grandfather) and now the site of Caribelle Batik. If you are a fabric hound, as I am, watching these talented women draw in hot wax is not to be missed!
We barely scratched the surface of St. Kitts. After meeting some of her warm, friendly people, I can only hope that we get the opportunity to return someday!
Batik photo credit: Caribelle Batik, St. Kitts
While exploring the heart of St. Kitts, the hubs and I were fortunate to discover this little beauty. Always attracted by the pastel colors of the Caribbean buildings, add the two words “gallery” and “cafe”, and I’m so there.
Anyone who allows the street dog to snooze in the middle of the gallery floor is alright in my book. And Leah Cameron-Blake is just that type of person, and her Gallery Cafe is oh, so special. Open Mon. – Saturday, 10:00 – 4:00, the sign says: Sometimes a bit earlier, sometimes a bit later. (What’s not to love about that!) The lovely art offerings left me trying to figure out how to get them into my suitcase or ship some home. But when we ventured a little deeper inside, we discovered a cozy cafe counter, and a cool inviting outdoor seating area.
On top of that was our freshly made caramelized onion and goat cheese quiche, the pastry crust of which was so flaky and tender, it crumbled under my fork. And when Ms. Cameron-Blake brought out about a half dozen grapefruits and freshly squeezed them, hubs was in heaven, and, it was then that we knew this place was one of those hidden gems we seek when we travel.
I asked her permission to link to her Facebook page, but no one paid me for this endorsement. I just like to share the discoveries that delight us!
I recently posted this over on Encore Wanderings, but as I read through it again, felt how strongly it applies to the Encore Voyage and retirement in general…or, well, meaningful living in general!
A while ago, I had lunch with a good friend who recently returned from completing the nearly 500-mile pilgrimage along the Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain. In the course of the afternoon she shared her many experiences from the Camino. She told of blisters and pouring rain, of sleeping in rooms filled with snoring strangers, of not speaking the language yet learning how to order a beer. She told us about carrying stones from home, representing her burdens, and her opportunity to lay down those burdens at a cross along the way. She shared the struggle of a middle aged woman walking 8-12 miles per day, up and down hills, over the Pyrenees Mountains. She shared photos of centuries old churches, of stunning scenery and of quaint villages.
My friend was walking on behalf of those with autoimmune diseases, and carried with her a list of prayers which she burned at Finisterre (The ‘End of the World’). She started out with a true purpose in her heart – that she would walk the entire Way of St. James as a spiritual pilgrimage.
But what she learned along the way, and shared with the rest of us, struck a particularly meaningful chord:
- The Camino will provide– This saying is frequently heard on the Camino de Santiago. Along the trail, pilgrims find they always have enough. The true blessing is in discovering how little is really needed. When you carry everything you own on your back for six weeks, you quickly figure out what’s important. It’s not all of the “stuff” we accumulate in our normal daily lives. So how much “stuff” are we carrying that we truly don’t need?
- The relationships are the important thing – Along the Camino, my friend met travelers from all around the world. They shared meals and wine, stories and hardships. What she learned is that we are all the same – people everywhere work hard, play hard, have health issues, daily struggles, and families they love…and she will forever treasure those relationships formed in their commonality. Perhaps we should all pay more attention to investing in those soul-enhancing relationships!
- The sense of accomplishment –Once you have walked nearly 500 miles in all types of weather and terrain, there is very little you can’t do! I found myself thinking about the things in my life that give me that sense of accomplishment. Maybe the message is that we should all have something to strive for, something that challenges us in some way. It doesn’t have to be a trek through a foreign country. But the world is full of new things to create, do and try and we owe it to ourselves to stretch our potential!
- The strength of the human body –I asked my friend how she felt walking up the steps at the Cathedral of Santiago de Compostela. She told me that she felt complete joy, and was amazed with what her body could do! She started the first day of her journey gasping for air as she climbed steep hills. She finished the Camino feeling more fit than ever before. The human body and spirit have incredible resiliency when tested.
- “One Day, One Adventure” –As she neared the end of her journey, a fellow pilgrim shared this motto with my friend. It could mean that we should live in the present, not wishing for the future or pining for the past. It could be the acknowledgment that we have limited time on this earth, and that we should make every moment count.
As our afternoon drew to a close, I found that I was deeply touched by how my friend’s insights from the Camino apply to our Encore Voyage. Our longings for a minimalist way of life were proven valid by the few items she carried in her pack. Her accomplishment of that 500-mile journey, with its resulting fitness and friendships, confirms for me the things that are truly important in our retirement. One Day…One Adventure for me means living