Top of the World, Ma!

The title refers to the simple fact that today is as far north as I’m going, I am on the return leg now.

This is a slightly different format to how I’ve been posting. You’ll get the text here, pretty much edited from the notes I’ve been making as the day has progressed. The photos will come later, so please check back.

I’m in Portland tonight. A lot of miles covered, a really interesting day, but the Red Sox lost.

[The best of the photos from the day are now up on Flickr]

Welcome to Safeco Field

I’ll put the break in here, the rest follows…

Another  07:00 start, but this morning I did need my alarm. Unlike other mornings, I also needed the early start as I knew I had a lot of ground to cover.

I wasn’t the only vehicle on the Astoria Bridge as I crossed in to Washington, but I had to look hard to see vehicles in the distance ahead & behind. Once back on land, I saw only a handful of moving vehicles for the next couple of hours. Good!

Astoria Bridge

There is a more direct route, turning right off the bridge but I went left, sticking with the 101 (by now relegated to just a State Road). I did take the “101 Alternate” to cut off a corner. For quite a while, this section of road skirts the estuary of the Bear River but tide is out, so the view was largely just a muddy expanse. 

Pacific Coast Scenic Byway

I have had a Love/Hate relationship with the radio for all this road trip. It has been off more than on. There’s always a classic rock station somewhere (including, as I found out later, one appropriately broadcasting from Castle Rock, WA in I5!). The peril of being on the move, however, is that all stations quickly fade away. The car does have a satellite radio, but I’m not inclined to take out the requisite subscription.  I used to love American radio, but now I can’t believe they still have “a better music mix”, the “no repeat workday” and competitions involving “the phrase that pays”. Even Steve Wright has evolved his show since those days (a bit)!  [I wanted to note from yesterday]

An hour in and I reached South Bend. After a few obligatory pics of its more pleasing aspects, a gas station breakfast was in order – coffee in go cup, muffin and a diet Mountain Dew to last the drive ! Half an hour later I left the 101 & for the first time needed to start navigating! Rt.107 took me to Rt.  12 at Montesano where the sun came out. That was pretty much an end to my country byway driving as US12 is a freeway. 

South Bend


I got off at McCleary for gas…

Cheema Market, McCleary 8.554 gal @2.985 = $25.57 odo 13978. 

Here I noted that I was 80 miles from Safeco Field and four hours to game time (13:10). So instead of returning straight to Rt. 12, I took Rt.  108, another pleasant country road, to rejoin my friend the 101 as it returned south after its big loop around Olympic National Park.

Before too long I arrived at Olympia so turned off and found the Capital Mall – which had a SBs that was open. The rest of the mall opened at 11:00. I spent the time selecting & uploading photos from previous days. If you haven’t seen them already, check out the links I’ve added on the respective blog entries. 

Capital Mall

As it approached mall opening time, the SBs queue was out the door and it was time for me to go. I chose a route through the centre of Olyimpia and stopped to take a photo of the Washington State Capitol across the river.

Washington State Capitol

The 150 mile drive along a busy I5 took a bit longer than I anticipated and I have to say was a little hairy at times. History records I made it without contact with another vehicle (just!).

I arrived in Seattle around 12:20 and eventually found a queue for a parking garage. $40 lighter (cash only, which wiped out my wallet), I parked up on level 4 and … Well I’m not going to labour the point about queueing, it was half hour to first pitch, what did I expect!? The cheapest ticket left was $39 in the third tier, but I got a spectacular, if crowded/cramped, view along the right field line. 

I reached my seat just as the Mariners took the field.  For various reasons I didn’t manage to get my head in the game. The same could also be said of the Red Sox offense, as it turned out.

Safeco Field

In the 4th Inning I got to witness my first video review on a call of Rickie Weeks being out at First. The Sox got benefit of the doubt which didn’t please the crowd. Got to say it looked out to me on the video screen frame-by-frame replay. 

Decision Time

The comical grounds crew dance routine to Uptown Funk at second base got the crowd guffawing. I can’t believe this was the first time they’d done it, but there seemed genuine surprise and delight among the many Mariners fans around me. 

I happened to be taking a picture at 14:26 which turned out to be Brad Miller’s HR in the 5th. (I noted that so I can pick it out later!)

About to be Outta Here...

I spent more time than I perhaps ought to have done thinking about my options for tonight. I was extremely conscious of these stats….

  • 819 miles back to SFO. 
  • 664 miles to Chico for Tues night.

The Museum of Flight is an attractive idea (I glimpsed it from the Interstate on the way in and saw a Boeing liveried Dreamliner). However, it really demands longer than I’m prepared to give it if I go tomorrow. And what to do here after the game? It’s only ten miles or so from Safeco Field but I don’t see an obvious choice of where to stop – other than in the city which I’m a bit unsure about – especially with the car. (As it turned out, the relevant exit from I5 had signs for several Lodgings. But. )

On balance, I decided to blitz the 170 miles down I5 to Portland immediately after the game (well, once I got out of the garage!) and find a motel there. It’ll be a lightning visit to Seattle, but in truth it was always going to be so. 

Game action


I left the park during the bottom of the 8th, missing Seattle’s final two runs (Sox lost 5-0!!). Car park was quite painless, though a lot of people were leaving. I’d have been out non-stop but for I90 East being down from four lanes to one & tailing back to the ball park. 

About half way to Portland at 17:30 I dropped into a Rest Area & booked a hotel. I explored various options but in the end decided to release Marriott from my boycott and booked the Residence Inn at “Downtown/Lloyd Center” on the east site of town. Easy to get to and there looks to be a lot happening in the neighbourhood.

It was 18:45 by the time I got there and checked in. I dropped the bags & my thoughts immediately turned  to dinner (I hadn’t contributed to the Mariners further by purchasing food at the ballpark – though there had been a lot of choice).  Looked at the map – plenty of options. This caught my eye… which is a little over half a mile’s walk away. I passed several other possibilities but stuck with my plan. Glorious evening. The walk took me through Sullivan’s Gulch, a charming residential area with some attractive old houses. 

Sullvan's Gulch

Everyone seems to be sitting out, but I’ve had enough sun so am glad to have the bar more or less to myself. I had:-

  • Laurelwood – Tree Hugger Porter (5.6%) (good old imperial pint!)
  • Deschutes – Mirror Pond Ale (5.0%)

Given the fact that all I’d had to eat since the burger et al in the Fort George Brewery, 24hrs previously, was a gas station muffin, by ‘eck was I ready for dinner! 

The Rose & Thistle  is straight out of Portlandia – and I do mean that as a compliment. It is staffed entirely by twenty-something ladies, all of whom were very friendly and welcoming. Several of them seemed to be  in competition as to who could display most of their body art? Welcome to Portland.

After eating I walked back along Broadway to the Broadway Grill & Brewery. Yep, shades of “identikit brewing”, but they’re proud of what they do. I had the Pacific Porter (6.75% – didn’t taste that strong though?). Not sure I have the stamina for a session but there are several I’d have a go at. It had looked packed when I walked by earlier but by 20:30 but for me and one other guy at the bar it was deserted. The bartender said it had been quiet all night, so it must’ve been deceptive earlier with everyone outside enjoying the sun.

Back to the room and here we are…

Residence Inn

 [Odo = 13878 – 14233]

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