I was looking forward to my visit to Seattle, partly because I had never been to the city, but mostly because my cousin Brad had just arrived in town for work and I’d have someone to hang out with. Exploring new places by myself is nice, but it’s always fun to meet up with a friend, enjoy some beers, and catch up on good times.
I drove north from Oregon and stopped in a coffee shop in Olympia to get a few hours of work done. Later that afternoon I followed Interstate 5 to downtown Seattle to find a place to run and shower before heading to dinner. I searched Google Maps and noticed a few green blotches on Mercer Island that looked like large parks with a few trials. That would do!
I parked the van, laced up my running shoes, and took off for an hour jaunt through the woods. After my run it was shower time. I had filled the solar shower bag, but it was overcast (go figure), so the shower was cold. Typically I find a secluded parking lot for my shower, but this time I had to park on a busy street in an upscale neighborhood. I stood there in just my running shorts, camp suds in my hair, and realized that I was that guy in a van that most people try to keep out of their neighborhoods. After a few weird looks from residents driving their Mercedes sedans, I finished my shower, got dressed, and drove back to Seattle to wait for Brad to finish work.
I met up with Brad and we headed out for dinner in a restaurant looking over Lake Washington. I told him I could crash in my van, but he had requested a room with two beds and I wasn’t about to turn down a hot shower. We grabbed a 6 pack and hung out at the hotel.
The next few days Brad went to his office while I worked from coffee shops, sat at the hotel pool, and toured downtown Seattle. I attended the Rotary Club of Seattle with my friend Kirk, checked out Pike Place Market, watched the guys throwing fish, walked past the gum wall, stood under the Space Needle, and got lost wandering the city streets.
One afternoon I stopped in to see my friends at Luna Sandals and found Barefoot Ted in the middle of a Solowheel demonstration. He showed me around the shop, fit me for some new Oso sandals, and took me for a ride around the neighborhood in his vintage rickshaw, pulling me with a Solowheel. We grabbed a beer next to the Luna factory and he was off to sell another Solowheel while Brad and I went to visit the Freemont Brewing Company.
At the end of the week Brad’s girlfriend Taylor arrived to spend the holiday weekend with him. We picked her up from the airport and went out for drinks. The next morning we had breakfast at the hotel and I said goodbye, heading east to start my journey back to Indiana.
I stared at my map. I had no real plans between Seattle and Indiana, but I had a lot of goals. My first goal was to stay away from 4 lane highways as much as possible. Highway 90 was the path of least resistance, so I choose to take Route 2 instead through the Cascade Range. It was cloudy, but driving the winding mountain road, looking up at the towering peaks disappearing into the fog, was a very welcome change from the hustle and bustle of busy downtown Seattle.
I pulled over and hiked around Deception Falls and crossed Stevens Pass, where the Pacific Crest Trail intersects the highway. That afternoon I was looking for a little more adventure and turned off of Route 2, taking a mountain road to a meadow next to the White River. I parked the van, made lunch, and sat still, watching the breeze blowing the tall grass and birds soaring above the river.
I made a strong push that afternoon and rolled into Spokane after dark. There I posted up in a Walmart parking lot and prepared to get caught up on work. The next few days I sat in coffee shops, explored Spokane, ran the trails and city streets, and even stumbled into the Pig Out In The Park festival with great food and even better live music.
After a few days in town I made my way east into Idaho and attended the Cour d’Alene Sunrise Rotary Club meeting. That day I had a project to finish for work, so I parked the van and sat in a coffee shop for 11 straight hours, ending my work day only because the baristas wanted to close up shop and go home.
The next morning I drove north through Idaho, heading to Kalispell, Montana via the scenic route. I stopped by Kootenai Falls and was wowed by the bright blue water and cascading waterfalls around gigantic rock formations. I had only been in Montana for a few hours, but I was already falling madly in love with the state.
That evening I reached Kalispell before dinner. I sat in a coffee shop and did a few more hours of work, wrapping up some projects. My next stop would be Glacier National Park. I had no plans, but something told me that I’d be staying there for awhile. I sent out a few quick emails, letting my family and clients know that I might be out of reception for a few days. I fell asleep in the Walmart parking lot, wondering if I’d get to see real life glaciers in person. Little did I know that Glacier National Park would quickly become one of my favorite places in the world.