Getting around in Seattle

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Another un-Seattle-like weather day. 78 and sunny

After two nice walks in the neighborhood with our dog Dundee, we rewarded ourselves with an outing.

We visisted 2 breweries in Ballard. The microbreweries there have collaborated and offer prizes when customers get their “beer passport” filled up. Today we visited our 5th and 6th ones, so got our passport stamped, and redeemed our prizes.

Parking is almost impossible, even on a Wednesday afternoon. (Why aren’t these people at work?) Rental bikes are very popular. They are solar-powered to help riders manage the hills. They cost $.15/minute. You see the bikes everywhere. Riders pick them up, and then leave them whereever they stop.

A lot of people don’t bother with car ownership, which certainly makes sense. You also see these rental cars scattered on the streets.

We have also seen homeless villages – some tent groups, tiny cabins, and ancient RVs – just parked (forever) on side streets.

We explored Ballard a bit, going as far west as we could, arriving at a very popular beach. Then, back to the fishermen’s terminal where we had eaten lunch yesterday. We bought some seafood for dinners. This is Seattle’s popular Dungeness Crabs.

DINNER: Grilled halibut (purchased today at the fish market) with some rice and salad. Really good. Halibut is my favorite fish, I think.

A Day on the Water

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Incredibly warm. Breaking temperature records. High 78. Sunny. Is this Seattle???

Our homeowner is a yoga instructor and has a yoga studio in the basement. George uses it daily for stretching…

We packed Dundee up in the car and drove about 5 miles to a beautiful, urban lake called Green Lake. Due to the spectacular weather, it was packed with walkers. We did the 3+ mile hike around the lake.

Dundee behaved quite well around the other dogs. Just as we were ending the trek, he plopped down on the path as if to say “That’s enough”. We enticed him back to the car with dog treats.

After dropping him back at home to rest, we went to nearby Fishermen’s Terminal, at the suggestion of one of my faithful blog readers. It is both a yacht basin as well as a working fishermen harbor.

We enjoyed a grilled wild salmon lunch with this view in front of us. George began his meal with a local oyster…

We stopped in Ballard, also nearby, at another microbrewery. We are trying to get our brewery “passport” filled out so we can redeem a prize! 🙂

DINNER: Chicken parmesan. Using part of the leftover rotisserie chicken, I added sauteed onions and bell peppers, sprinkled on parmesan, then baked it all. Side was the last of the brussels sprouts, charred, then baked also with a little parmesan and a sprinkle of balsamic vinegar.

Spring has sprung!

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Weather-breaking highs – in low 70s and sunny

The flowers, shrubs, and trees are popping out with the spring warmth. These are some photos from one of our walks today.

A house near ours with yellow pansies lining pathways

Lots of hyacinths, daffodils, and other flowers I cannot identify

This is one of my favorite houses along the avenue facing Puget Sound.

We can see the beautiful downtown skyline on our walks

Rosemary grows like a weed here. In this house, an entire wall of rosemary grows among the rocks.

This shrub has become a tunnel along the sidewalk

DINNER: We walked 3 blocks to the Village Pub in our village for half-priced burger night. Friendly, local place….and a good burger!

I could live here….

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Record-breaking warm (70) and sunny

We enjoyed this beautiful day at home. George spent most of the day watching a golf tournament, and I cozied up with a good book.

The day included 4 walks with Dundee. I wanted the exercise, which I certainly get on these walks, struggling up hills like this…

The neighorhood reminds me of the lovely homes around Lake Calhoun in Minneapolis..on steroids. We are fascinated by the unique shrubbery each house has.

Many of the homes date back from the 1950s. Small bungalows have either been torn town to build bigger, more ostentatious homes, or stripped down to their foundations and rebuilt with 3 or 4 stories, to capture the views.

And views they certainly have! This photo was taken between two of these houses..

It doesn’t seem real, almost floating in the distance.

George joined me for a walk to the village. Only 3 blocks away, it has everything one needs….grocery store, post office, restaurants, pharmacy, hardware, etc as well as bus stops to the city. And, of course, at least 5 coffee shops, including Starbucks as well as small, local cafes…

The only problem living here is Seattle real estate prices. I would love to find this type of walkable community somewhere. Anyone have any suggestions?

DINNER: Gyoza — small Asian wontons filled with shrimp. Side was rice, and more asparagus, this time with an Asian flavor.

St. Patrick’s Day Parade

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Sunny and warmish. High 60

When we take Dundee for walks, we explore this area, full of beautiful houses and views of Seattle’s skyline, the Sound, and the mountains. This morning, I took him by myself, and of course, got lost. I just kept walking until I hit the water (Puget Sound), then got my bearings.

After the morning rituals, we caught the bus from our village to downtown Seattle. Much better than driving and paying high parking lot fees! As a senior, we can each ride for $1. We got off at Pike Street, home of the famous market. Since St. Patrick’s Day falls on Sunday, they have switched it to “St. Patrick’s Weekend”. Today was the day of the parade, and we disembarked from the bus right when it was starting…

There were lots of high school marching bands, and even some bagpiper bands…

And pirates….

And dogs – Irish wolfhounds and Irish setters…

Afterwards, we found an Irish pub for a late lunch of corned beef, and a Guinness, of course

We took the bus to Ballard, to check out another brewery there. Due to St. Patrick’s Day party-makers, the breweries had long lines coming out of their doors. We didn’t stick around too long, and took the bus back home. It is a very good transit system.

DINNER: Shrimp with sauteed vegetables over ramen. More of the grilled asparagus that we had last night. (It was buy one, get one free, so we will be eating a lot of it!)

Beautiful Mount Rainier

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Unseasonably warm. High low 60s. Sunny

We awoke to a beautiful view of Mount Rainier right from our dining room window! It almost seems surreal.

We hung around the house, mostly researching the bus system. We want to take it to downtown Seattle for a St. Patrick’s Day parade tomorrow. Then, a short trip to Whole Foods to stock up.

We gave our dog Dundee his requisite walks, enjoying the weather and beautiful views of the mountains and water.

Then, we went to check out another brewery. This one is a micro-brewery — a small brewery with a tap room. (No food.) Very minimalistic and ultra-modern. It was full of techies who obviously have money to spend on good beers. George tried their winter ale, and I had my usual IPA.

DINNER: Rotisserie chicken and vegetables. We bought some beautiful tender, small asparagus. I am reading the follow-up book of Under the Tuscan Sun, in which the author spends a lot of time describing food and providing recipes. I just happened to read her opinion about asparagus today. She says the best way to cook the spears is to drizzle them with olive oil, and bake with salt and pepper. So, that is what we did, and they turned out beautifully. The homeowners had also left some brussels sprouts, so we seared them on top of the stove, then baked them with asiago cheese. Quite gourmet!

First days in Seattle

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, Washington

WEATHER: Warm (for Seattle). Highs about 60, mostly sunny

Another early morning….we took the homeowners to the airport at 5:00 AM. They are spending 10 days in Yucatan, Mexico while we take care of their dog and home.

Our dog, Dundee, requires quite a bit of walking due to a leg injury from when he was a puppy. If he doesn’t walk, his leg gets stiff. So, we took several walks today. First was to the local grocery store in the village. It is so nice to be able to walk to most places.

Lunch at home, using up the homeowners’ delicious pumpkin soup, and a baguette from the French bakery in town.

Afterwards, Dundee took a nap….

and so did master George….

George did some research about breweries in the area…….There are tons! We drove to nearby Ballard, where there are 11 breweries within a one-mile radius. We found a cute nautical pub with good happy hour prices. George had a Christmas ale, and I had an IPA called a ship-show. (Try saying that fast!)

Then, another long walk around the neighborhood. As we were walking along the bluff, this hang-glider dropped down near us…

We could see the Olympian Mountains across the bay and lots of ferries going to and from Bainbridge Island.

For dinner, we walked down to the village to a new sushi bar. Quite good and very popular! We shared a sushi platter and some warming miso soup.

Seattle, Here We Come!

LOCATION: Housesitting in Seattle, WA

WEATHER: Hot in Texas, very pleasant in Seattle – high 50s and sunny

Our kind neighbor drove us to our local airport for a 7:00 AM flight. We arrived, nice and early, only to be informed that the flight was delayed for an hour. Since we had a tight connection in Houston, I spoke to a customer service agent and arranged a back-up flight. Not too much was available – either full planes or limited transfers due to weather. The Denver airport was closed due to a storm so that eliminated a lot of the options. The best he could find was for us to fly to Washington, DC, then to Seattle, arriving at about 8:30 PM. Wow!

We touched down in Houston at 9:00, and our connecting flight was scheduled to close its doors for boarding at 9:20. Of course, we were at the back of the plane, and it seemed to take forever to disembark. I told George I would run ahead and see if they would hold the plane. Unfortunately, our connecting flight was on a different concourse, requiring a long walk, then a skytrain, then another walk. I ran and ran, and was quite winded. I arrived as they were closing the doors. I said George was right behind me. We waited and waited. No George. The gate agent apologized but said they could hold the flight only one more minute. Finally, George appeared. I was afraid that he had had another heart attack running through the airport, but he had gone to the wrong gate!!! We plopped in our seats, and off we went for a 4-hour flight to Seattle.

We flew over green pastures, then fields covered with snow, and finally snowy mountains. We flew right over Mt Ranier.

Our homeowner picked us up and helped us get oriented. They live in an area of Seattle called Magnolia, beautifully situated on a bluff overlooking Puget Sound.

We stopped in Magnolia Village, a cute area within walking distance of our house, full of cute shops and restaurants. We had a croissant (late lunch) at a French bakery.

Then, on to home where we met Dundee, our charge for the next week.

We walked back to Magnolia Village for dinner at a very popular Greek restaurant. We shared a gyro. Early to bed, due to the time zone difference, and the fact that we would get up early tomorrow to take the homeowners to the airport.

To the Rodeo!

LOCATION: In our tiny house in Mission, TX

WEATHER: Hot (85) and sunny

We had a really busy day on Saturday – 3 line dancing classes and 2 water aerobics classes. Then, our community had its annual progressive dinner party. We stopped at 5 different houses for what was supposed to be small bites, but turned in to huge portions. The margarita “wagon” roamed the streets in search of thirsty walkers. Then, in the evening we attended a performance of a guy who played the piano and sang. It was quite good – songs from Elton John, Billy Joel, etc.

So, today, a different form of entertainment – the rodeo! It was at the fairgrounds of a town about 25 miles from here. All I can say is WOW! First we walked around the area, full of horrible food like funnel cakes, fried onions, etc.

Lots of people were riding the rides and eating and eating. We looked at the animal section – some goats were being judged.

The rodeo was quite interesting. It started with introductions of all the cowboys

Then, we watched the cowboys rope and wrestle the steers. It was a contest to see which team could do it the fastest. Here is a steer coming out of the gate…

Then, small (age 3 or so) children rode sheep for something called Mutton Bustin’. The goal was to hang on to the wool as long as possible. There were a lot of tears – either frustration or pain.

The sheep were glad to get away…

Besides the fast food, Budweiser was doing a good business. Here is Cowboy George enjoying (NOT) a Bud..

When we returned home, we immediately showered. Hot, sweaty, and dirty were we.

DINNER: Trying to eat up leftovers, we finished up some scallops in a garlic, white wine sauce. Mixed in some lima beans and capers. Salad was a nice, ripe tomato with leaves from my fast-growing basil plant.

No fish for us!

CAMPGROUND: Bayview RV Park

LOCATION: Port Mansfield, TX – on the Gulf of Mexico, about an hour by boat north of South Padre Island

WEATHER: Like summer! Hot (85) and sunny

There are hundreds of deer roaming the town. I think there are more deer than people! This guy wanted to check out our Airstream this morning.

We checked out about 4 fishing holes for George. There are several public piers here. He fished and fished and fished, but didn’t catch anything.

For lunch, we went to a BBQ joint that is quite famous. We heard that lots of people drive from the Valley to have a BBQ lunch here. It is especially popular among motorcyclists who come here for a day trip. We shared a huge smoked brisket burger. It came with pickled okra, peppers, and pickles. All really good.

Then, back to fishing. Still no luck. Here are our 2 different methods of fishing…

We stopped back by the fishing tournament to see what the pros caught. Again, huge trout and redfish. One guy caught a 9.5 pound trout, some kind of record.

We had made various plans for dinner. Plan A was to catch a nice fish to grill. That didn’t work. Plan B was for some kind fisherman to give or sell us one of his fish. No luck there. Plan C was to buy a fish. We found out there are no fish shops (or any shops) here. Without any other plans, we bought some bait shrimp! They were still alive, so obviously fresh. However, they were quite small.

DINNER: Shrimp cocktail with margaritas. Not too shabby. Main course was shrimp fried rice with sauteed shrimp, onions, and lime juice. Side was a salad. What is that saying about making lemonade out of lemons….