I was at a plaza with my BFF and her little girl when we spotted Santa on duty; we stopped so she could pay him a visit. I have seen many variations of Santa through the years, but there was something mesmerizing about this particular one. Everything about him was genuine from his white beard, rosy cheeks and twinkle in his eyes, to his jolly spirit. It was as if the Santa of my childhood came to life from a Rankin/Bass Production. A little while later we were having lunch and I noticed Santa at a table on his break. Covered up in a coat, he had a red lunch bag and was on his smartphone. I’d like to think he was checking his naughty and nice list the modern way. 😉
Before embarking on my road trip from Seattle to Northern Virginia I visited San Francisco, Big Sur, and Seattle for a few days…
Day 1 (San Francisco, CA) Packed A LOT in today. I had some wild encounters with some great people…
- Helped a couple from Italy who I met in the rental parking lot learn the mechanisms of driving a Mustang.
- A music fanatic — I made a quick stop at a local record store called Aquarius Records, an independent record store and the oldest record store in San Francisco. It’s known for carrying an obscure selection of psychedelia, metal, and world music — I bought a few cool CDs to expand my music horizons.
- Woman on a mission, I headed to the Jean Paul Gaultier exhibit “From the Sidewalk to the Catwalk” at the de Young Museum — I met two older women while waiting in line for more than an hour to get inside the parking garage. We walked to the museum together and then parted ways at the entrance. Next thing I know one of them comes up to me at the counter and says, “I bought your ticket dear come with us.” They turned out to be museum members. They took me in the VIP entrance with no wait!
- Arrived at Post Ranch Inn and was greeted with a glass of chilled wine!
Day 2 (Big Sur, CA) Today was all about relaxation. I had a blast playing inside and outside of my tree house. I didn’t care what the highbrow guests thought of me. After breakfast I went on a long hike and came across wild turkey and deer. I got an in-room massage that was a true indulgence. After dinner (the best overall meal I had in my life) I wandered around and explored the property one last time.
Day 3 (CA to WA) Today was all about travel. I enjoyed one last hike at Post Ranch. I drove my rental car 2.75 hours from Big Sur back to San Fran…stopping a few times along the way to take more pictures of the beautiful coastline. I got on a plane for Seattle and was greeted at the airport by my friend Melissa who drove me to her home located in the Magnolia neighborhood. We walked to a local pub for a drink and to catch up.
Day 4 (Seattle, WA) Today was all about soaking up Seattle culture. Melissa and I hopped on a bus at a stop 20 feet from her home. Love the convenience!
- Started the morning at the first Starbucks located in Pike Place and then explored all the vendors in the marketplace.
- Went to the famous gum wall — cool yet GROSS!
- Stopped for breakfast at Forte to fuel up.
- Went to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM). I had VIP access thanks to Melissa being a volunteer for the museum. Next we stopped for a quick sweet treat at Top Pot Doughnuts.
- Went to the Chihuly Garden and Glass, a long-term exhibit of spectacular, vivid and MASSIVE glass sculptures.
- Walked next door to the Space Needle. The views were amazing, but it was hooooot. This year is the 50th anniversary of the Needle. The top is currently painted “Galaxy Orange” in honor of the original color of the top. It will only be this color for a limited time and then it will be painted white again.
- Walked to the Olympic Sculpture Park (OSP) to view the ‘Encounter of Waters’ exhibit. This was a very special experience for me because Melissa was part of the team that painted the art installation. I was super PROUD to have the opportunity to see the sections she painted.
- Exhausted, we headed back to her home, but made one more stop for a photo op she swore I would enjoy … she was correct! A neighborhood gem called Ella Bailey Park revealed incredible views of downtown Seattle and faint views of Mount Rainier.
Day 5 (Seattle, WA) Today was all about taking in a few last Seattle spots. The area reminds me a lot of Vancouver. The people here are very kind and chill – whenever I was off-course walking around, someone would enthusiastically help me navigate.
- Ate breakfast in Ballard at Hattie’s Hat — there is a strong Swedish influence in the design and menu from the maritime hay days.
- Made a quick stop to see the Fremont Troll under the Aurora Bridge. The large troll is made from rebar steel and two tons of ferroconcrete with a sand base on the ground. He is gripping a VW in his left hand (I’m not sure why). You can climb the giant troll, which is fun. Unfortunately, some people have defaced him. Historically, trolls are part of Scandinavian folklore. The Fremont Troll was inspired by the folk tale ‘Billy Goat’s Gruff’.
- Walked around Pioneer Square, Seattle’s original downtown, dating back to 1852. I got some nice pics of the “century-old pergola” (a pergola is an archway in a park consisting of a framework covered with trained climbing or trailing plants – thanks Google).
- Went on the Bill Speidel Underground Tour – a 75-minute guided walking tour beneath Seattle’s sidewalks and streets. It was very informative, loaded with local history and the guides were entertaining. The tour began inside Doc Maynard’s Public House, a restored 1890s saloon, covered more than three blocks and ended in Rogues Gallery.
- Took a bus to Fremont and had dinner at revel with Melissa and her husband. The food was “Urban-style Korean comfort food”.
- Went on a 45-minute walk back to Melissa’s house — it was fun checking out the neighborhoods along the way and the exercise was a bonus. The homes throughout Seattle are cool because they are a mix of all different styles of architecture.
Next, the road trip portion of the adventure …