Seattle – Part Three!

Hello again!

Welcome back to Seattle, where after the fun of the aquarium we decided to double down on Nature and visit one of the many state parks in the area…


Washington State, especially around the Seattle area, has a whole bunch of spectacular forest. Not just any forest though, but Old Growth Forest! This is basically what it sounds like… very old forest that has been undisturbed for a long time, so is massive and has lots of rare plant growth.

We started our Nature exploring with Squak State Park, and what we thought was a nice short four mile hike…

The forest itself was beautiful, and there was almost no-one around which made it even better. As with all things American it was also very big!

Tall tree time!
Even taller tree time!!

The whole hike was supposed to be about a four mile round trip, which we thought would take us about three hours if we were going slow. It certainly helped for Rob and I that we were once again back near sea level, where walking is a much easier task! Mum too was in her element:

Pro-hiking tip, always carry a stick

We walked for about two hours whilst going uphill the whole time, which suggested that perhaps we were not as quick at walking as we thought we were. The humidity was also an exciting challenge, and something that us Mountain people had completely forgot about! Feeling good, we decided to risk getting attacked by bears by sitting down and having a lovely sandwich break. Possible bear attacks are another advantage of Old Growth Forest 😉

My lovely family, seen here hoping a bear will attack me for their amusement…

Full of sandwiches, on we went!


The whole hike really was stunning, although all in all it ended up taking us about six hours and was most definitely not four miles! A lot of US hiking trails only list the one way distance as their overall distance, especially on there and back trails, so it’s very possible that the map reader (…me) made a very understandable error there.

Despite my shenanigans, we did eventually make it back to the car 🙂


After our fun with the forest we decided to continue our nature theme the next day, but with much less walking about. We booked in to do the thing that I was extremely excited about… Whale Watching!!

Specifically, Orca/ Killer Whale watching! We booked in with one of the local tour groups, put on all our warm clothes, and gripped our cameras tight. To see the whales we actually had to go quite far out to sea, and even briefly cross into Canadian waters. Fortunately while some whale tours offer smaller boats so that you can get really close to the killer whales, we opted for one of the big, comfortable boats and the reduced chance of getting eaten.


This meant that we ended up having a few comfortable few hours boat trip out to the San Juan islands, and got to do some top quality bird watching on the way! And yes, I like bird watching now. Pity me. But at least I got some good photos out of it 🙂



I probably would’ve got more photos, but about an hour into the trip the fog descended! It was actually very beautiful, although did obviously have a pretty detrimental effect on visibility…


Pictured: Birds?

The picture above was literally as far out as we could see in any direction for almost an hour, which did make us start to worry about our whale watching chances. Fortunately once we got a little further out it cleared up again, and then all we needed to worry about was how much ocean there was. It sounds silly, but seriously – so much ocean.

Now pictured: Whales?

You can see a few ships in the picture above, and we ended up doing what is done in most nature watching tours… follow the other ships until they find something. Fortunately we didn’t have to wait long!!


Very exciting times! There was a whole pod swimming along together, and I got somehow even more excited once I spotted the baby whale ❤

Do you see him??
Seen here blowing water! Aiiiee!! ❤ ❤ ❤

It’s actually a miracle that we didn’t capsize the boat – the whales could stay underwater for a few minutes at a time, so when they disappeared everyone would run around the top of a boat in a panic trying to figure out where they were, and then run over to the same side once they were spotted again. So freaking cool!

After a half hour watching the wales we stopped off at a port called Friday harbor for a quick spot of food and some sightseeing…



Then back to the boat!

On the long way back towards Seattle we were treated to even more delights, including some seagulls, cormorants and extremely sleepy looking fur seals:



As well as this, more whales! Or possibly the same whales coming to eat the fur seals, it was hard to tell.


Whatever the case these whales were definitely more lively than the ones we’d seen before. You can see the whale above blowing water, plus one of them treated us to some breaching! This is where the whales jump out of the water nose first, for reasons that are not at all clear to me. Here he is just leaving the water…

Whale zoomed

At which point I decided the two thousand photos that I had of whales/ empty ocean would be enough, and instead focused on shouting “DID YOU SEE THOSE WHALES??” at literally anyone who came close to me.

Well played, Nature. Well played.


More soon! Xx

Seattle – Part Two!

Hi All!

Sorry for the delay since the last post, we were having too much fun in Seattle to keep up with blogging so ended up leaving you hanging. That is about to be rectified though with a flurry of new blogs, and no more than half of my 3,000 holiday pictures… promise!

So, back to Seattle and on to day two where we started our day by visiting the famous Aquarium. The Seattle Aquarium is at Pier 59 on the waterfront, and integrates the waterfront into it’s displays. It’s famous for it’s great exhibits, as well as being a big promoter of Marine conservation.

One of the first exhibits that we saw were the frankly amazing Giant Pacific Octopuses (Octopi?), which were charmingly named Taco and Umbrella. Umbrella was pretty standard as far as octopuses go, whereas Taco was a complete lunatic.

This guy…

Apparently he’d only been in the aquarium for a few days, and he spend the whole time we were watching him shooting around his tank like a maniac.

To start with he fired himself at some children who were watching, and actually managed to get a few tentacles out of the water at one point:


After that he fired himself around the tank a little more, then stopped to take a break that mostly involved puffing himself up and changing colours:


Whoa, Taco!

He stayed still for almost a minute changing from white to red and back again, before resuming his shooting around. Apparently the Octopuses will turn white or mottled when they’re resting or trying to blend into the rocks, getting more red the more engaged they are. I’m not sure what it means when they turn spiky, but that’s what Taco did next:


The Octopuses are one of the first things that you come to in the aquarium, but we probably spend a good half hour standing watching him. Finally we managed to drag ourselves away to the other exhibits, which were made up of slightly calmer animals.

They had a great group of Harbor seals and Fur Seals, both of which had wonderful views out to Puget Sound from their cages. A lot of the aquarium is actually outside connected by piers, so it’s very scenic throughout.


You can see that the walkway in the picture above is cement, as is most of the aquarium. It gives the whole thing a really nice industrial feel, which I loved!

About halfway around the aquarium we reached what might be the most famous exhibit – the Sea Otters! I confess that I lost my mind a little bit when I saw them, they are so damn cute. Many children were pushed out of the way, and many pictures were taken. We were lucky enough to get a Dad Top Tip from my father, which is to visit the aquarium early in the morning – since the animals hadn’t seen much happening overnight they were pretty interested in the first guests of the day. Here is a Sea Otter checking us out:

Oh hai! ❤

They’re actually bigger than I thought they’d be, they were about four feet in length including the tails so about twice the size of the River Otters that you usually see in aquariums. When they weren’t checking us out they spend some time lying on their backs and relaxing, which was so freaking cute:


I love them ❤

After those guys we moved on to the River Otters, who were considerably harder to photograph! One stopped and looked at me for a minute just to tease me, and then shot off just as I was taking the picture…

“Mwa-ha-ha, blog this”

Still,, at least I tried!

After spending another hour wandering around, at least half of which was devoted to spending more time watching Taco, we headed out to walk a little further along the waterfront. The whole area is very pretty, and actually not that dissimilar to an English waterfront:

Complete with Ferris wheel!

Rob, Uncle Chris and I then spend some time playing the various games that were along the front while the rest of the family stopped off for cake. This included a very energetic game of table tennis, hindered only slightly by the damaged ping ping ball:


We also checked out the arcade and had a great time at the only-slightly-terrifying shooting gallery:


We all got high scores despite the fact that the bear thing is clearly haunted, and at one point moved to look directly at Rob…

Nightmare Fuel

Eventually we regrouped, and got ready for the treat that Auntie Mary had planned for us for the afternoon – a food tour of Pike Place Market! We’re all pretty keen on our food, and the tour looked frankly awesome.

The meeting place for the tour was one of the famous features of Pike Place Market – the Gum Wall! Yes, this is exactly what it sounds like:


The Gum Wall has gradually built up over time – the wall is outside the Market Theater, and so people waiting in line used to take their gum out, place it on the wall and stick a coin to it. This apparently was quite pretty, but had the problem that people kept sneaking in and stealing all the coins… This is how it ended up just being a gum wall, which was voted the second germiest tourist attraction in 2009! We were told that the theater workers have tried a few times to take the gum down, but it always gets replaced quite quickly. We were not willing to touch the wall in order to add gum of our own, but we did see a few people who were brave/ foolish enough!

After this not very appetising start to the food tour, our excellent host Danny showed us around the area. We tried an excellent mix of food, highlights of which were the freshly cooked donuts, the Filipino longganisa sausage, the Greek yogurt from Ellanos, the Chukka Cherries and Etta’s Crab Cakes. These were just a few of many tasty samples though, and after two hours we were starting to struggle! We also learned more about the ethos behind the farmers market. The idea is to get food directly from the producers, and that the food follow the ‘FLOSS’ guidelines – Fresh, Local, Organic, Seasonal and Sustainable.

Here we are eagerly waiting for our award winning Clam Chowder sample, spoons in hand!


At the end of all this excitement we managed to fit in a tiny bit of dinner, then home for movies and early bedtimes!

More soon 🙂