For the first time on this trip (and maybe in Jones family history), we left earlier than expected. We headed straight down to Seattle with plans to explore for a few hours and then get to Portland by around dinnertime.
Our first order of business in Seattle was to explore the Pike Place Market. We really wanted to see the famous fish throwing that inspired the FISH! Philosophy, but they weren't throwing any at the time. We later learned that they only throw the fish when people purchase one or for special occasions, like birthdays. It was, actually, my parents' 27th wedding anniversary, but I don't think throwing fish was the right way to celebrate for them. The rest of the market was how you might expect: narrow, crowded, and just annoying. It was certainly cool to see the different vendors, but the tourists (myself included) often got in the way when they stopped to take pictures of everything. But, hey, at least I got some nice shots for the blog and video.
After the market, we hopped on a "duck boat" tour, which is a boat on wheels so it can go directly from land to water and vice versa. Our tour guide was very entertaining and knowledgeable, always cracking jokes and answering any questions we might have had. We drove past the Escala building, made famous by the movie "50 Shades of Grey," and we saw the house boat featured in "Sleepless in Seattle." I also learned that there is a 1,100-square foot sovereign nation called Tui Tui within the Seattle area. The sovereign nation is populated by just two people, the couple who declared sovereignty (apparently they were under some building restrictions in the '80s). They have their own flag, postage stamps, and even a post office.
When the tour ended, we took a monorail to the Space Needle and looked around that area for a bit. We didn't go up the Needle, and the rest of the area honestly wasn't that exciting, so we shortly left for Portland.
The drive to Portland was ridiculous in two ways. One, the traffic was ridiculously slow. Two, we were able to spot three snow-topped mountains along the way (Mt. Rainier, Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Hood). Mt. St. Helens was very flat along the top, which we figured was from its last eruption in 1980. After a brief Google search, we learned that we were correct; Mt. St. Helens used to be a symmetrical cone shape on the top, but the eruption knocked off the top 1,300 feet and flattened it more to a plateau-looking shape.
Since the traffic was horrible (about an average of 10 miles per hour for about the first half of the drive), we decided to stop just outside the state border in Vancouver, Washington, for the night and explore Portland in the morning before heading to Sacramento, California.
Vancouver turned out to be the shiniest silver lining in the traffic cloud, because we ate at the coolest local restaurant we've been to on this trip so far. It's called Brickhouse, and it's a very rustic restaurant and bar with live performances from local artists. If you're ever in the area, I would definitely recommend checking it out.
Though we weren't able to get as much done today as we had hoped, it was still a very productive and great day. But, if you're a fan of "Portlandia," you can understand my excitement to visit Portland tomorrow.