There is more to Seattle than rainy days and Starbucks! Actually, this was my first visit, and I was soaked in scorching temperatures and blue skies. No rain for me. My choice of hotel was the MarQueen Hotel in the Queen Anne neighborhood. Very cozy and I realized I could walk to lots of attractions from my hotel. Seattle is a great start location for a road trip in the Pacific Northwest, but before I took off, I spent some time exploring this charming city also known as the Emerald City.
Although it’s a tourist magnet, you really want to get your feet here for the exceptional view of the Seattle skyline. I walked to Kerrry Park twice, first to do some daylight filming, and the second time for sunset and evening photos. If you want a good spot for tripod photography, don’t show up too late.
I can be picky about which museums to visit, but this one, the Museum of Pop Culture, caught my attention for two reasons. The exhibition about Nirvana and the contemporary MARVEL: Universe of Super Heroes exhibition both made me stay for hours. I also got to take a bunch of photos. The museum building is a weird architectural masterpiece, so you’ll probably want to take photos of the outside as well.
The Space Needle
The Space Needle is a fascinating landmark, but I chose not to visit the inside to tour the open-air deck. Instead, I took my time to explore the area around the Space Needle. As you move around you get so many cool views of it. The weather was wonderful, and the park area hosted a variety of summer activities, so I’m glad I spent some time here.
I walked the streets of Seattle’s downtown without a specific goal in mind. I knew about some obvious attractions, but I ended up in the fairly new Amazon Go store on 7th Ave, so I decided to see what all the fuss was about. Basically, Amazon has made shopping a bit easier with its grab and go concept. I got myself a lunch and sat at the lawn next to The Spheres. I like the laid-back vibe in this part of downtown.
Being an outdoorsy kinda guy, I had to visit the REI Seattle flagship store while in town. I spent nearly two hours and too much money, but this is a must-see store with its parklike setting, waterfalls, hiking trails and even a giant climbing wall.
I’m sure there will be a next time, and then I will do the official Space Needle tour. I will also take my time to explore more of the downtown area including the Pike Place Market. Maybe I’ll ride with the Seattle Center Monorail and get on one of the Washington State Ferries to a nearby island.
Keep putting one foot in front of the other. That’s basically what I did during my 3-day climb to the summit of Mount Baker. It wasn’t as easy as it sounds though. I had to find plenty of strength and concentration to conquer this majestic mountain.
With breathtaking views of endless snow-capped peaks, Mount Baker is the perfect introduction to mountaineering, and getting to the summit was an accomplishment that I never thought I would be able to do.
Mount Baker is the third-highest mountain in the state of Washington and the most heavily glaciated peak in the North Cascades. Not a place for solo adventure. Therefore, I signed up for a group climb with the renowned Alpine Ascents International. That way I also learned about roped glacier travel, proper clothing, crampon use, ice axe positioning, and self-arrest techniques. Skilled and highly experienced guides made it a rewarding adventure.
What amazed me the most was the beauty of the crevasses, totally wow!
Our pace was moderate, and the summit climb took us 6 hours from Sandy Camp on day two. The guides told us to appreciate the extraordinary sunny skies and warm temperatures. It could have been stormy, rainy weather, maybe even with a snowstorm – but we were fortunate to have splendid conditions.
Another cool feature of this journey was the steaming Sherman Crater at 9,800 ft. You can actually stand on the rim and look deep down to where you do not want to plunge.
So why did this climb take strength and concentration? My backpack was pretty heavy, maybe because I brought more stuff than the other guys. Elevation, heavy backpack, and some steep icy sections, some 30 to 45 degrees – it was beyond tough. What amazed me the most was the beauty of the crevasses, totally wow! This was definitely a scenic and extremely rewarding mountaineering experience.
- Location: Washington, Cascade Range – Mount Baker Wilderness
- Elevation: 10,781 ft., (3,286 m)
- Mountain type: Stratovolcano, last eruption in 1880
- Glaciers: 12 active glaciers, 7 which have areas greater than 2.5 km2 (620 acres)
- Route: Park Butte Trail, Railroad Grade Trail, Sandy Camp, Easton Glacier, Roman Wall, Grant Peak (the official name of the small mound at the summit of Mt. Baker)
- Guides: Alpine Ascents International
To my fellow climbers in the group, thanks a mil for the photos :)
I love the open road; you can go wherever you want. Every year I roam the roads of USA – the perfect country for road trips. I hike, eat and explore whatever sparks my interest. I stay at small town motels, big city hotels and campgrounds as well. This year, Denver will be my start location. It’s perfectly located in the middle of the country.
On my list so far:
- Mount Yale, Colorado
- Telluride’s Via Ferrata, Colorado
- El Diente Peak and Mount Wilson, Colorado
- Million Dollar Highway, Colorado
- Sandia Crest, New Mexico
- Guadalupe Peak, Texas
- Big Bend National Park, Texas
- San Antonio and Houston, Texas
Now it’s time to connect the dots. I considered extending my trip to Memphis, Tennessee, but I could not find any good flight connections to match this, so Houston will be my end location.
I still find charm in paper maps and often bring some on my trips. But before going, I like to explore Google Maps. I know it is extreme nerdy, but I want to see every corner of the U.S.
Some might ask why travel around the globe to see what seems to be an ordinary small town in the middle of Nevada-nowhere.
Why not? I’m curious! On a side note, I’ve had one of my best burgers in the totally unknown city of Paisley (population 237) in Southern Oregon at the Homestead Café. Sadly it’s gone now because of a fire in 2018.
Elements that go into my 2019 road trip planning:
This summer I found myself hiking a wonder! Smith Rock State Park is located in central Oregon’s High Desert and is the perfect stop-over for anyone on a road trip in the Beaver State. What amazed me the most was the sheer cliffs and the reddish-orange hue, but I was also surprised by the overwhelming crowds. Smith Rock has been labeled as one of the “Seven Wonders” of Oregon. As a consequence, don’t expect any kind of solitude, unless you start early in the day. For that reason, I postponed a hike to the next day. Besides, it’s a good idea to start early before the real heat sets in.
I decided to hike the Misery Ridge Loop which includes the Misery Ridge Trail to the summit and from there down the Mesa Verde Trail to the River Trail and back to the trailhead – a wonderful 4 miles round trip. The route is mostly easy to moderate although some sections are characterized as most difficult. There’s not a lot of shade on this hike. Instead, you’re getting plenty of scenic views of the Crooked River Canyon below and in the distance some of the major Oregon’s Cascade peaks, including Three Sisters and Mount Bachelor. Don’t forget to look up during your hike. You’ll probably notice several daring rock climbers with ropes and nerves of steel. Also, when you get to Monkey Face, a giant, self-standing pillar, it becomes clear why Smith Rock is a world famous climbing site. I’m sure Monkey Face is one of those must-do climbs for rock climbers.
You can reach Smith Rock State Park with just a 30 minutes’ drive from Bend.
When going on a road trip, I always plan to bring as little as possible, but almost every time I end up with max load. Maybe it’s because I’m bringing my stuff all the way from Denmark to the U.S., and I can’t live without my camera and hiking gear as this is what I love to do when traveling: snapping photos and hiking amazing trails. All together it adds up in weight and volume, but it’s worth it. Actually, I love packing and always find ways to make it work, even with an ice axe, helmet, tent, pad, tripod and a bunch of camera lenses.