September 28
Had a funny flight as from Duesseldorf to Copenhagen. I flew with Scandinavian Airlines and sat in economy class where I had to buy my food. This surprised me as for a 'regular' airline this was new. From Copenhagen to Seattle I got upgraded again to business class it's (nice to have the golden 'I am three times as important as everybody else-card' ). We arrived a little bit late in Seattle but I had no difficulties in finding Monika, my friend who had flown in from Alabama where she is currently living (she's german though).

Grabbed a taxi and went to Lake Union where we had rented a small floating home. We had seen pictures of it but hadn't seen pics of our view... wow, could see the skyline and the space needle from there. It was a cozy little houseboat (will tell you about how you can shower while flushing the toilet later on... ). Monika told me I could have the bedroom on the upper floor so in the mornings I opened the curtains and from my bed I enjoyed the view.... that day we didn't do much as we arrived late in the afternoon so we just went to a bar nearby to have a glass of chardonnay and toast to a nice short vacation.

September 29
Next morning we had breakfast inside (our houseboat had a table and chairs on the upper deck but the wheather didn't allow us to go outside) and then started our first exploring tour of Seattle. I had been there 6 years ago so I knew the area. As Indian Summer had started Monika and I stopped at every red or yellow tree to take pictures. Talk about two crazy foto-ladies. Took us some time to get to downtown... 

Here are two pics of our houseboat:

And this was our view towards the skyline.

Where was I? Ah, yes, talking about the red and yellow trees... ;)

Still, in the end we managed to arrive in Downtown and went to the Pike Place Market where fish is flying (it's fun to watch when they shout 'Smoked salmon flying in' and then - woooosh - the fish is flying) and a lot of farmers food is sold. 

What I found really fascinating were the peppers which were boundled up in all colours...

Finally it was time to eat something. We passed at the bar where one of the scenes of 'Sleepless in Seattle' was made and Moniak tasted some chicken-spits and was enthusastic. I had to go to 'Taxi dogs'. :) This is a small hot dog shop and there I ate my very first hot dog 6 years ago. The hot dogs are kosher and sold with 'Sauerkraut' (I didn't want Sauerkraut though as I can eat that in germany whenever I want... :D ).

Then we walked over to the waterfront, passing the 'hammering man' in front of the Seattle Art Museum:

We didn't remain at the waterfront long because it started raining (and wouldn't stop for the next 4 days...) So after a short coffee break at Starbucks we went over to Pioneer Square

Then our legs wouldn't want to continue any longer so we took a cab back to Lake Union. There I finally learned how to flush the toilet without taking a shower... :D The thing with water closets on floating homes is that (further for being able to use 8 sheets of toilet paper only) they are not normal toilets. They work with vacuum and so you have to activate the vacuum lever. Then add some water into the closet and flush for 3 seconds. That's how it's supposed to work... what really happens is that you have to jump back fast enough when flushing as the water beginns to bubble and will splash you... [img][/img] Well, finally we had the good idea to just close the toilett cover... 

When we went over to the nearby deli to get something to eat we found it closed so we went to the nearest restaurant instead... This was 'Pasta Freska' which seemed nice enough to us. When we were seated the waitress took a chair for herself, sat down and started chatting with us. I was wondering whether she didn't want to take orders when she suddenly asked us whether we knew how they worked. We didn't so she explained us that they don't have a menue but a 5-course surprise dinner. They just ask people what they don't like and then they just have to wait what they get... sounded good enough we just didn't want 5 courses. But they agreed to bring us only three small ones for a lower price (I think the 5 courses were 25 USD). And let me tell you it was very goods. Even if in the first moment we were a little bit sceptical about the whole thing we found it rather appealing once we got used to the idea as we ate some delicious stuff which we probably would never have ordered. 

Then back to the floating home, opened a bollte of chardonnay and then watched the DVD of 'Sleepless in Seattle' (pretty original, isn't it) 

September 30
The next morning we had to get up early as we had booked a tour to Mount Rainier. It was the last one for the 2005 season as on Ocotber 1 everything closes down up there. We managed to get the first row seats which was good as it was the only spot in the bus to take pictures as it was raining hard. The more we got out of Seattle and once we were away from the highway the landscape became increasingly more beautiful. Trees got higher and there were lakes and rivers... even in the rain it was beautiful with the clouds hanging in the alleys and the mist on the lakes...

When we reached the entrance of Mount Rainier National Park we heard that we couldn't go up to the Paradise Inn as planned as there had been a landslide due to the heavy rain and the street was closed. So we had to decide whether to turn around or take whatever we could get under the circumstances. We decided on the latter option. While going up to Longmire we saw a totally flooded campground and we suddenly understood where this landslid had come from.

Longmire is just a small village but we went into the woods there to take pics of the rainforrest and moss .

Longmire had beautifully coloured trees as well.

Finally we heard that the small river which had flooded the street was neabry and we went over to the bridge where we had those impressing views:

We met two guys who told us that they had been there the day before and that 24 hours before this river had been a small creek...

We stayed for something more than one hour and then we went back to Seattle. Even if it rained hard I have to say that I found that appealing as well. Without the rain we wouldn't have been able to see those impressing spectacles of nature. If we had gone up to Paradise Inn we wouldn't have seen Mount Rainier that day anyway so I was happy with staying in Longmire too. 

Did some shopping in Seattle and were looking for a supermarket but Seattle hardly seems to have any... wonder where people are buying their food....

Went back on the boat and watched 'while you were sleeping' that evening.

October 1
The next morning we had to get up early again to take the Victoria Slipper to Friday Harbour on the San Juan Islands. From there we wanted to do our whale watching tour to see Orcas. When we left Seattle it was still raining which again was good for some spectacular views (doesn't that look like 'Apocalypse now' or something like that? ;) ).

The ferry trip was three hours and the further away we got from Seattle the better the weather...

Only two days ago I detected that from the boat I was able to take a pic of a seal with a fish in it's mouth. 

When we arrived in Friday Harbour the sun was shining. We just let some people off the boat and then started the whale watching trip. To be honest I have to say that I would never have expected to see so MANY orcas. We practically just had to point the camera at the water and then wait until an orca showed up. I haven't counted them but my guess would be that we have seen about 20 travelling in groups of 1-3. The crew of the Victoria Clipper is pretty knowledgeable and explained a lot of things. I will at least post one pic here of one of the orcas who was spy-hopping (even orcas need to know what's going on outside the water... )

After about two hours we went back to Friday Harbour where we had another two hours to visit the village. Of course we went to the Whale Museum where I adopted an orca (my godson is called 'Wavebreaker' ;) ) which is only a symbolical gesture of course. And when we went back towards the harbour we saw the second rainbow for the day...

It was so beautiful that all people around us stopped walking and took pictures....

The trip back to Seattle was uneventful as we were tired and stayed inside...
That evening we ate at the 'Rock Salt' Restaurant with view to Lake Union. Monika drank two Margaritas as outside we had seen that there was an advertisement that it was 'happy hour' (only that they had forgotten to add that happy hour is valid only at the bar and not at the tables... :( ) Food was good though.

October 2
Sunday morning was time to sleep a little longer as we had to be at the Space Needle only at 10 am to meet  Don and Randa. Boy, what a pleasure to meet those two again!!!! When we went up to the Space Needle it wasn't yet raining so hard so we caught a glimpse of the surrounding mountains. 

Of course we had a pic to proof that we were all there (for those who know me: I took the pic that's why I am not on it... ;) - for those who don't know me I might put a pic of me at the end of the report.. :D ).

When it started to rain heavily we went down and drover over to Alki point. 

There are some nice houses over there. This one together with it's equally flower covered neighbouring house did impress me a lot! You can't see it good but at the loser left at the bottom there is a 'doggie bar' (the yellow stuff).

Would have been nice to stay a little bit longer in Alki Point but it rained too much to do anything there. So Don drove us to Fremont where we went to Hale's - a brewery. At the bar they have at least a hundred beer mugs hanging at the top and all have names on them. I was told that you can buy those mugs there and then whenever you go there you can drink from your own mug. And there are events of the 'mug club' where all the mug owners come together at the brewery. 

Food at Hale's was really good. As I had 'Eggs Benedict' for the first time in Washington State of course I had to eat it there again.. :)

Rain stopped a little bit when we went outside which was good to take a couple of pics and then we took the direction of the Snoqualmie Falls. Going there we had to cross one of the floating bridges on Lake Washington:

When we arrived at the falls we got carried away again with the beautiful colour of the trees in Indian Summer (as an excuse I placed Donny, Randa and Monika in front of them... :D )


Then we arrived at the falls.

I have to say that nature around the falls was magnificent again:

There is rain forest as well. Donny took us to Tokul Creek where he usually goes fishing and there we saw all the mosses on the trees:

I liked that little house too... (looks like a restroom for fishermen :D )

Then we went to watch the salmon which goes up the river at this time of the year.

This guy was waiting for a snack...

Yes, and when we went back to Seattle we had the idea to go up to Queen Ann Hill for a last look at the skyline... this is how it first looked:

Then you can see it coming... a rain-cloud which made our hands freeze as the rain was really cold....

Looking to the right we had this view:

All this was already beautiful but what followed was really spectacular. We went to the front of Queen Ann Hill which faces the Olympic National Park and while we were there we suddenly saw the rainbow starting to appear:

So we went back to the place where we had been before and had this spectacular view of the rainbow .... 

People came up from Downtown Seattle just to see this rainbow (one guy told me he had jumped in his car after having received a call from a friend in Alki Point). When the rainbow disappearead after about ten minutes we went back to the point facing the Olympic National Park. And what we saw there was this...

After that we showed Donny and Randa our floating home. While we were looking out of the window and I was telling them that we had a kajak and a dinghy we could use (but were too afraid too because we would land in the water whichever we took...) the dinghy was so full of water that it just sank.... well, we didn't want to use it anyway...

Monday October 3
And here is the last for the first time the sun was shining we had breakfest outside at the upper deck of the Heart and Sol. And yeah, that's me... ;)

We had to leave the boat at 11 am so we took our time and enjoyed as much time on the boat as possible. Once we had 'parked' our suitcases at the office of the guy who had rented us the boat we took a cap to the Space Needle again. It was great up there with the sun shining and we stayed up there for over an hour. One of the last looks at Lake Union...

When we came down on our way to the MonoRail I captured this view of the Space Needle:

Went to Pike Place Market again after having done the trip with the MonoRail....

We wanted to take pics while fish were flying but unfortunately people were just watching and not very much in buying mood... Monika had another one of her chicken-stuff and I another hot dog... finally it was time to go get our stuff and go to the airport... 

We had a great time and even if it was only a short trip I don't regret having done it. I relaxed a lot in these few day (which is partly due to the fact that my blackberry with which I read my business-emails didn't work in Seattle ) and immensely enjoyed the nature in the Washington State. On my orcas pictures I detected a lot of details I hadn't seen before today (playing orca-children and stuff like that) so I will put up that page probably tomorrow. I am a whale-person and so happy we were so lucky to see so many of them... :)

Thanks to Donny and Randa to have spent sunday with us, we had a great time!!!