Columbus, Ohio

11 and 12 July 2020

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Ever since we moved back to the States from our year in Australia, we’ve been looking forward to our return.  Last year we planned a 5 week trip down under for June and July of 2020, then the COVID-19 pandemic hit and all our plans went down the drain.  Unable to leave the country and unwilling to fly yet, the Great Lakes Region was an obvious missing piece in our travel history.  I had originally envisioned this to be a 2 week trip with flights in and out of Chicago, but like I said we didn’t feel comfortable flying yet, so it became a 3 week road trip.

On Day 1 of the trip, we drove from Raleigh, North Carolina to Columbus, Ohio.  We did not plan many stops along the way, the day’s goal was simply to knock out some mileage.  We did stop in Charleston, West Virginia’s capital city.  Visiting state capitals and major universities are always included in our travel plans.  This will be especially evident in the first few days of our itinerary.

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Capitol Building in Charleston, West Virginia

On Day 2, we spent the day exploring Columbus, the capital of Ohio and home to Big 10 rival Ohio State University.  Columbus is in the center of the state on the Scioto River.  Due to recent protests, 2 of 3 statues of Christopher Columbus, the town’s namesake, had been removed.  We found the last remaining near the Ohio Statehouse being protected by the State Police.  It and the Statehouse were surrounded by signs from the BLM protests.  Downtown was nice and we especially enjoyed walking through the German Village neighborhood and along the river on the Scioto Greenway.

Ohio Statehouse, Supreme Court of Ohio, BLM Protect Art, German Village, and Christopher Columbus Statue (clockwise)

In the evening, we got snacks at local favorite Buckeye Donut and walked around The Ohio State University.  And yes, it is ‘The’ Ohio State University, the official name given in 1878.  The campus was nice enough but it’s no State College, Pennsylvania.

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The Ohio State University

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Seattle, Washington

10 – 14 July 2019

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The last stop in our Pacific Northwest Trip was Seattle, our favorite of the cities. Staying near the Westlake Center and Washington State Convention Center was perfect for visiting the most popular tourist sites. Westlake Center is a 10 minute walk from the Public Market and Waterfront Area, has a Monorail station for easy access to the Space Needle, and a Link light rail station for easy access to Pioneer Square, University of Washington and SeaTac Airport. We spent three full days exploring the city and could have spent several more days… but then again, why spend more time in the city when it could be spent in the abundant beauty of the state.

Here are links to some of our favorite sites to visit:

Boeing’s Museum of Flight

Space Needle

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Museum of Pop Culture

Pike Place Market

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Seattle’s Boeing Museum of Flight

11 July 2019

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When researching our trip, the Museum of Flight stood out from its reviews. Despite the outstanding reviews, there are other aviation museums on the East Coast and we have been to the National Air and Space Museum in Washington D.C. so I considered this a rainy day back-up plan. Considering the weather in Seattle, a back-up plan seemed like a good idea.

We had excellent weather but found time to spend and I am sure glad we did. The whole family enjoyed it. We went through it in about 4 hours but if we had more time we could have easily stayed longer. Unfortunately it’s not easy to get there using public transportation. Luckily we had access to a vehicle.

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Seattle’s Space Needle

12 July 2019

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No postcard of Seattle is complete without a view of the Space Needle. An iconic observation tower, it is difficult to come to Seattle and not visit the Space Needle. Built for the 1962 World’s Fair, the tower provides scenic views across the entire city and harbor. The upper deck is open air with angled glass walls perfect for your family selfies. The lower level includes a rotating floor and sections of glass floor. The lower level used to be a restaurant. The tour guide mentioned it went out of business because the “food wasn’t too good” which we found really funny. My wife got food poisoning there in 1999 so I guess she wasn’t the only one!

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Seattle’s Chihuly Garden and Glass

12 July 2019

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Chihuly Garden and Glass is an exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s art with glass. Adjacent to the Space Needle, the exhibit is easy to access and is heavily visited. The exhibit is made up of three sections: dimly lit indoor spaces where artificial light is used to highlight the work; an outdoor garden where art is intertwined with nature; and a glasshouse with glass sculpture floating overhead. It is a fantastic display and well worth your time.

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Seattle’s Museum of Pop Culture

12 July 2019

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The Museum of Pop Culture just sounded cool and looked cool, so we went and loved it! We spent a lot more time there than we planned but everyone in the family, different ages and interests, found something they were genuinely interested.

In our first trip to Seattle in 1999 we saw the Experience Music Project Museum being built at the base of the Space Needle. EMP was founded by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft and former owner of the Seattle Seahawks and Portland Trail Blazers, and opened in 2000. The building was designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. EMP changed its name to the Museum of Pop Culture or MoPOP for short. I loved the Nirvana and Pearl Jam exhibits. Other favorites included the Horror Movie exhibit, Science Fiction exhibit and Sound Lab.

Center Piece (top left), The Terminator (top right), and Pearl Jam’s Recording Set (bottom)

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Seattle’s Pike Place Market

13 July 2019

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Pike Place Market is one of the most well-known places in Seattle. Even if you do not recognize the name, you’d recognize it as the fish market where workers toss and catch freshly caught fish. The market is a hot-spot each morning and afternoon. Fresh seafood, meats, fruits and vegetables, flowers, and crowds dominate the main level. The energy is fun to experience but we found the most interesting and unique shops on the lower levels.

A nearby stop that is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it is the Gum Wall in Post Alley near the Pike Place Market’s main entrance. Not only is it a convenient way to get down to the Waterfront area, it is a unique and possibly the least sanitary tourist spot I’ve ever been. The Gum Wall is, well, gum on a wall. The walls are filled with chewed gum stuck to the walls. Over the years it has become a tradition and favorite selfie spot.

For coffee lovers, the first Starbucks location is across the street. If you’d like to get your cup of Joe at the original, plan to wait in line for a while.

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Shake Shack Seattle

11 July 2019

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Our Shake Shack obsession continues.

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Snoqualmie Falls

10 July 2019

Snoqualmie Falls is a popular stop only 30 minutes east of Seattle. It only requires a short walk along a paved pathway. The waterfall is nice and I imagine its popularity is largely based on its easy access from Seattle. It’s worth a stop if you are in the area but I wouldn’t go too far out of your way.

Pic 2019-0710 05 Snoqualmie Falls (4) e2

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Leavenworth, Washington

10 July 2019

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Continuing along the Cascade Loop Scenic Byway, we made our way from Lake Chelan to the Town of Leavenworth. We spent about 4 hours in town and walking the trails of Waterside Park.

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Leavenworth is a charming Bavarian-style town with a mountain backdrop. If you like beer, brats and pretzels, this is the place for you. We enjoyed the shopping and eating our way up and down the streets. In Front Street Park, we listened to a street performer yodeling and playing the accordion. Leavenworth is a must stop when doing the Cascade Loop.

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