The weather had finally started to change and I wanted to get out for a hike before things got to hot. I mentioned this to Tracy and we ended up doing a hike with Ellie to Beacon Rock. I was thinking Silver Falls State Park to the south but because of logistics we decided that was not the best park. I was able to hike this park on my way down to see SCI so it all worked out.
The park is only 40 minutes or so from Vancouver and it is right on the highway. The parking lot and trail head are steps apart. This is a well maintained path that while steep at times, almost everyone can complete this hike. Plenty of railings to hold onto. It is interesting seeing how they engineered the trail and all the barriers. There are even a couple of footpath bridges which are really cool. Lots of bent railing speak to the ever changing mountain.
Nice hike up the side of the mount with a ton of switchbacks. Its the only reasonable way you can get up there otherwise it is to steep. Once at the top you get some great views of the valley below. The time of day we went the sun was bouncing off the water and it was bright as crap. Still an impressive hike to a really close park. Once we climbed down the mount we continued to the day use park and the boat launch along the water.
During the hike we worked up an appetite and headed to Walking Man Brewing in the near by town of Stevenson. I had been here once before many years ago when visiting. It was just like I remember. Some really good beer and creative food which was all very good. The weather was perfect so we sat outside and had lunch on the patio.
A great hike that is rather close to the house. There is another hike close by that goes up another mountain and offers even better views of the valley. I will have to try this trail next time.
Earlier this year I caught word of a giant flea market in the middle of no where Washington. The city was called Packwood and twice a year during Memorial Day and Labor Day weekend the city throws together one hell of flea market. The city doesn’t shut down but it’s population swells each weekend to unimaginable levels. Between the shear number of vendors and all the people wondering about it is a sight to behold.
Friends of Bobby and Tracy have some family land right in Packwood and each year they gather to celebrate and have fun. We were invited to join in the festivities this year and it was a blast all weekend. We camped outside and I must say the weather for me was perfect. It was breezy at times but during the night it was nice and cool. It also never rained which was awesome. Only for like a half day on Sunday was it actually sunny and warm.
As soon as we arrived one think I noticed was the communal atmosphere. All weekend everyone helped each other out. Food was the coolest thing as everyone shared what they had. No one went hungry and for the most part we all ate together which considering what coordination is needed that is pretty cool.
The flea market is a huge event. I walked for miles over three days and didn’t see everything. Not only are there vendors along the main highway but you can go down any road and find even more vendors. Most I will admit stuff is junk but if you find the right buyer it can be worth gold. I ended up not buying anything but I was amazed at all the stuff I saw over the weekend. If you are a creative person you can find that one amazing little widget here that will just make your design. I did spot two classic typewriters and thought about them for a hot minute but decided against it. That is still something I would like to own but this wasn’t the right place to make the purchase.
A big to do all weekend was corn hole. I don’t know what it was but Bobby and I played a lot of it all weekend. We would practice and practice. Get confident in our skills and challenge the same two people all weekend. I think we won one game and that was it. Still a lot of fun and we will see about a rematch next time. We talked about making our own board too. Pretty simple design and it would be a great opportunity to practice my knuckle ball.
Everything we needed was at camp and we could walk to the flea market so no reason to leave. Our only adventure out all weekend was to Mt. Raineir since we were so close. I have never been to the park and neither had the family so it made for a great day trip opportunity. Getting there we took the long way around and unfortunately it took about an hour to get into the park once we made it to the entrance. It was such a great day that everyone was coming down from Seattle causing a huge delay getting into the park.
Once we got in we hit a ranger station and found a quick but scenic hike to Carter Falls. This is a series of falls along the larger Wonderland Trail. First you cross the Nisqually River on your way up the Wonderland Trail. Its crazy seeing the river bed and its ever changing flow. I think its about a mile up the trail and there are the falls. Nothing that impressive but still a nice little hike up the mountains. It was crazy to still see snow at this elevations, around 3600′. We even had a snow ball fight……in June.
Actually some of the best scenes where on the drive down the mountain. We passed this waterfall tucked under the road which was really cool. At one point we rounded the corner for a long straight and the mountain just opened up. All weekend we couldn’t see the mountain and even now while hiking it was covered in clouds but at that moment, things where perfect. Mr. Raineir is certainly an impressive mountain.
A great and fun weekend. Lots of relaxing, cigars, walking and food all weekend. Over Labor Day weekend I am going to see the Indy race here in Portland but there is talk of going up again that weekend. I won’t be able to make that but it would be a fun weekend. If you get some good weather it can be a lot of fun.
With the weather finally changing there are less excuses for not getting out. This month I have some free nights at Marriott that will expire so this weekend I booked a trip up to Olympia to burn through one of my nights. Years ago I saw a story on CBS Sunday Morning that talked about the quietest place in the continental US and since then I have made it a point to check out the spot. Now they didn’t say exactly where it was but I think its in the Hoh Rain Forest some where in Olympic National Park.
I would have much rather camped in the forest but the hotel worked out. Its only a couple hours from home but much closer then my house to the hike. The first real hike of the year and I knew I would be exhausted afterwards so closer was better. On the trail I ran into many people that where out for the weekend hiking. From the Hoh Rain Forest visitor center you can head deep into Olympic National Park. There are really only foot trails into the interior so if you want to go exploring, you better start walking.
From my house I got an early start and left just before 7am. The park is pretty deep in the interior but you are still only barely in the park. Its amazing how much of this park is not accessible by road. You really must hike if you want to get anywhere. There was certainly no shortage of 20+ mile hikes starting from here.
From the visitor center I headed down the Hoh River Trail. My time was limited and in the end I only got two hours to hike into the forest but I managed to make it to Tom’s Creek and hung out there for a while before turning back for my car. Next time I am planning on an overnight stay to really enjoy the park. It was still early afternoon when I had to head back with plenty of daylight left.
So the whole reason to come out to this park was to find some peace and quite. It was a beautiful day so I expected the trail to be busy with hikers. Despite being so hard to reach, the weather was to perfect to pass up. First off in the lower section of the trail you are walking right along the river for the most part. This provides a huge amount of noise as the water rushes over the stones and debris. This isn’t that bad but what I kept noticing was the air planes. At least this part of the park is right over a flight path which is super annoying. Even when I found a nice quite spot near Tom’s Creek to get some writing done I could hear the planes over head.
The hike itself is great. Now and again you get a cutout in the trees so you can see the river below and in the back ground are snow capped mountains. It was so crazy seeing the snow topped mountains. Coming from the mid-Atlantic you never see anything like this. I have hiked in the Shenandoah when it has snowed but that disappears just as quickly as everywhere else in Virginia. The forest was also just starting to come to life. The ferns and other leafy trees are starting to bloom. Not many flowers were blooming so not sure if I missed them all or just early. The temps on the mountains are probably in the mid 60’s so might be a little early still?
Along the trail there are also two small waterfalls. One you has a pretty good view from a small foot bridge. The second is approximately 200′ further down the trail and is much harder to see. You can hear it and that was the only reason I noticed it. The first has a pretty well defined trail to it. The second, not so much.
One thing you notice walking in the forest is the size of the trees. There are many huge trees in the forest and pictures don’t do them justice when you have no scale for reference. They really are amazing and it’s one of those things you just have to see and experience for yourself.
I had a free night at Marriott that was about to expire and I didn’t want it to go to waste. Olympia had the closest. Who knew that I would have difficulty finding a place to eat after my hike. By the time I got to the hotel and cleaned up it was almost 9pm. Not to worry, its a Saturday night in the capital city of the state of Washington. Surely something must be open. Boy I couldn’t have been more wrong. The entire city shutdown at 9pm it seems. I ended up with fast food because I couldn’t find anything else open.
Originally I planned to hit Three Magnets Brewing Co. close to the hotel but wasn’t feeling it that night. Thankfully nothing to worry about because on Sunday at 8am and start serving breakfast and beer which is awesome. I got their BLT Benedict and their Robust Porter. The place was really busy for a Sunday morning which was nice to see. I took the opportunity to sample a few beers and get some writing done. Olympia isn’t that far from home so there was no hurry to leave.
After breakfast I explored some of the city. I found some great chocolate at Encore Chocolates & Tea. They reminded me Ranger Chocolate is just down from my house. The small art supply shop Olyphant Art & Media was tiny but I found a pen case here so another score. They even had a decent record shop. Rainy Day Records didn’t have anything to deep but certainly a well rounded collection of music. They have a movie club which I thought was cool. A bunch of cheesy 70-90’s cult classics. What a good idea.
Last thing on my list was stationary. What I found was more of a gift shop but Compass Rose had a good selection of cards. I bought a bunch of post cards and a couple note cards and got to work writing at a local coffee shop. The shop overlooked a small park. With such a beautiful day the park was alive with activity.
I really want to go back to Olympic National Park and camp next time. I loved the huge trees and the weather is pretty good for hiking out that way. With such a large park there is a lot to explore so I have a feeling it will keep me busy for a while. As for Olympia I thought that was a great little town. Sunday morning and the place was busy with activity in downtown. I have one more free night that’s about to expire……where to next?
I regularly get emails from bands with their concert schedules and will often plan trips around these tour schedules. Things started to align when I got emails from The New Mastersounds and LCD Soundsystem. The New Mastersounds where planning on hitting the pacific northwest with a show in Portland and another in Seattle. LCD Soundsystem got back together after a few years of being on hesitates and did a pretty long tour over summer and fall of 2017. For a while I have been trying to see them but my last best shot was them coming to DC after I was gone. Then I saw a show in Denver on a Saturday that wasn’t yet sold out. I compared that date to the New Mastersounds schedule and said fuck it, I’m going on vacation.
LCD Soundsystem was playing in Denver on a Saturday which is a totally doable show from Portland. A quick and cheap flight over for the weekend and back home for work on Monday. I then thought I could see the New Mastersounds mid week in Portland, travel to Seattle to see them on Friday and catch LCD on Saturday. Because I was afraid LCD would sell out I got that ticket first and then the New Mastersounds. It was at this point when I realized New Mastersounds was playing Thursday in Seattle, not Friday. Oh well that just meant an extra day off and a full day in Seattle.
My trip started coming together and this was going to be a doozy, even for me so follow along. Thursday I decided to the take Amtrak from Vancouver to Seattle. Unfortunately my train was a little late but once we got going things where great. I took an Uber to the station so I didn’t even have to worry about getting there. I splurged for a first class seat since I was only going one way. I had a nice leather seat with plenty of room. So much I could cross my legs. There was even a power outlet and decent wi-fi access as a bonus. It was a little over 3 hours to get to Seattle. Unless time is of the essence I would rather take the train to Seattle then fly. Just a better experience all around.
Thursday I didn’t have much of a plan besides seeing the show. I was hungry so started making my way towards downtown to find some food. It was pretty late in the afternoon so the city was quite. I found Blueacre Seafood. Good stuff but I thought overpriced for what I got. Good selection of beer and seafood. I found severalkick ass stationary stores and even a spot to grab a cupcake. Cupcakes Royale not nearly as good as Cupcakes Actually. Sometimes I miss the things from home. I found myself down by the water and stopped by Pike’s Place Market.
That evening I wanted something good to eat near the Neptune Theatre and found Big Time Brewing Co. for some local craft beer and food. I had a craving for tacos that night and ordered some pretty good ones. They where simple and filling and the perfect thing to fill my belly before rocking out to another night of The New Mastersounds. The beer was pretty good as well. I had the Coal Creek Porter and Skosh, both above average beers for me.
The band kicked ass again that night. Even though I just saw them two nights before in Portland it was another great show by the band. The crowd was energetic and the theater is rather spectacular. A converted single screen movie theater the place looks really good with all the art deco and classic turn of the century theater styling. Less then a thousand people can be seated in the place. No dance floor, all seat. Really nice place I would certainly see another show here.
Friday was a full day in the city so I was excited to get started. I got a decent start to the day with breakfast at the hotel before heading downtown to the Seattle Art Museum. This place was amazing. A truly great museum with all sorts of stuff in their collection. New, old, lots of western, sculptures and plenty of open spaces to get lost looking at art on the wall or in front of you. After walking around the museum I worked up an appetite and found Shawn O’Donnell’s which was pretty good. It was late afternoon and the place was dead. I was just happy they where still serving food as several other places I found where closed.
With no real plan I just kept walking around the city and getting further and further into south Seattle, a new place to explorer for me. Its mostly a warehouse district that appears to be going through a transition at the moment. Seapine Brewing Co. was an awesome find out here in the hinter lands. A huge traditional brewing operation in my opinion. Lots of tables and high tops in the front with the bar covering the brewing operations in the back of the warehouse. The Hefeweizen and Mosaic Pale both received above average ratings. A great selection and I would definitely come back here to try their other offerings. No food but I can live with that. After a great day in Seattle it was time to make the long walk back to the hotel for a good nights rest. Saturday was going to be a rather busy day for me.
I had a late morning flight from SEA to DEN which would get me to Denver with plenty of time to check into the hotel, bum around for a bit and then head to the show in Broomfield. That was the only problem was the show was in Broomfield and it ended up being a nightmare getting to and from on public transit. Everyone is trying to be green and it just overloaded the system that night around the venue. I eventually gave up taking the bus and got an Uber instead. Coming back I almost didn’t make it onto the bus. Another thing that ticked me off was my room wasn’t ready in time. I got to the hotel and dropped by stuff off but I had to come back later to actually check in.
Denver has no lack of breweries but because of time constraints I ended up going back to Wynkoop Brewing Co. I knew they had food and good beer from one of my other visits to Denver. They didn’t disappoint then and not this time either. I had some wonderfully filling food and good beer to get me ready for the LCD show. They was some weird DJ that opened and he sucked. My ticket was in the general admission seating at the back of the venue. The place didn’t sell out and while the floor was sell out it was pretty empty all night. I felt disconnected from the show I was so far way from the stage, honestly it was kind weird sitting there watching the show. The ticket was already expensive but I should have upgraded for a closer view.
Two hours after they took the state I was out the door trying to make it back to downtown. There where so many people and so few buses. I almost didn’t make it and really didn’t want to pay $60 for an Uber if I didn’t have to. Eventually I got back to the hotel after a long day and crashed. My adventure wasn’t over just yet, I still had to get home. I had a late afternoon flight combined with a late check out which was perfect. I got some breakfast and then wrote letters while watching Sunday Morning. Next I headed to Commons Park for one last cigar before my flight.
In the end I used cars, bus, train, plain, metro, light rail and walked a ridiculous amount of miles. Even for me this was one for the books. That night when I got home I didn’t do anything but grab some food and go to bed. Monday was going to come early and I wasn’t prepared. I forgot to take my mandatory vacation after my vacation.
The New Mastersounds
Thursday, November 9th 2017
Neptune Theatre – Seattle, WA
Kung Fu opened
Set 1 starts at 10:21pm
Set over at 11:47pm house lights
Encore at 11:48pm
House lights at 11:59pm
Saturday, November 11th 2017
1STBANK Center – Denver, CO
Set 1 starts at 9:16pm
1. Oh Baby
2. Daft Punk is Playing at My House
3. I Can Chang
4. Call the Police
5. Get Innocuous!
6. You Wanted a Hit >
9. Someone Great
10. Change Yr Mind
11. Tonight >
12. Home >
13. I Want Your Love
14. New York, I Love You But You’re Bringing Me Down
Set over at 10:41pm
Literally a piss break.
Set 2 starts at 10:47pm
1. Yr City’s a Sucker
2. Dance Yourself Clean
3. All My Friends
House lights at 11:11pm
Before I start my new job I have been taking the opportunity to do some cool stuff when I am not putting my apartment together. On Thursday I had an opportunity to do some four wheeling with Bobby in Gifford Pinchot National Forest. He and a buddy are doing a memorial hike Saturday and wanted to run up the trail in their trucks to make sure it was clear. If any maintenance needed to be done they wanted to do it Thursday and not on Saturday with a bunch of people in their cars. Some of the hikers were starting at the bottom of the trail but others were going to be ferried to the top in Bobby’s truck. With nothing else to do I tagged along for the ride.
First time this far north in Washington and it was something else. It took about an hour to get to the trail head and then what seemed like thirty minutes to the top of the road. Bobby kept saying I could get my car up it but at a certain point you really needed four wheel drive. I haven’t been wheeling in years and it was fun. Let me tell you I utilized the oh shit bar often, trying not to bump my head.
Once at the top we putzed around for a few minutes and did part of the hike to get a better view. The weather was really good and from the parking lot we could see the top of Mount St. Helens. We went further up the trail and eventually we could see Mount St. Helens, Mount Baker, and Mount Adams which was really cool. None of us were ready to finish the hike but it was great getting out before the weather turns real crappy.