After finally acquiring a trail map for the Washington Park Arboretum, I meandered a bit more, admiring the different sections of the park before making my way back to the my starting point at the Pacific Connections section of the gardens. I sat there for 20 minutes or so enjoying the scenery while waiting for the Japanese Gardens across the street to open. Nearing admission time, I exited the arboretum and strolled towards the next item on my list of Seattle places to visit.
Typical of Japanese Gardens in most places, I entered a sanctuary that enveloped the visitor with a spirit of tranquility and invited the weary wanderer to leave their worries behind. I walked along structured garden paths admiring everything from the placement of teahouses and pagodas, to the reflecting pool and the pink water lilies. I sat near the lilies just letting the serene atmosphere take over before moving on.
It was a small garden and I spent no more than 45 minutes there but it was enough to recharge my nature senses before having another go at the city. The next day promised rain and it would be a museum day, so I was glad to have this nature moment to carry me through.
The day after our adventures through Discovery Park, my husband started his conference and I was on my own to explore Seattle. Well, not quite. On discovering that I was planning on visiting Volunteer Park, our friends decided to join me, along with their dogs. We had agreed to meet in front of one of the many coffee shops, grab a cup and walk to the park. Along the way, we stopped at a local Farmer’s Market to buy strawberries and cherries for a shared snack later on.
Once at the park, we had to dodge our way around the barriers set up for a bike race before we could ramble along the greenery. We circled a reservoir, which had a nice view of the Space Needle. After passing the reservoir, we stopped at a small pond to watch the ducklings hiding among the vegetation before continuing on. Deciding it was time for a snack, we sat on a stone ledge near the Thomas Burke Monument enjoying the garden views and the fresh fruit purchased earlier in the day.
Refreshed, we made our way to the water tower within the park, where we climbed over 100 steps to the observation floor. There were wonderful 360 degree views of Seattle, the Space Needle and the mountains beyond (at least that is what I was told since I could barely make out the mountain range and certainly no Rainer). Around the observation floor was the story of the Seattle Parks. Here I learned that Olmsted was a key factor in developing many of the green spaces in Seattle. It was a gift that the local residents still enjoy today.
Once down from the water tower, we continued meandering through Volunteer Park past the conservatory and the temporarily closed Asian Art Museum. Behind the conservatory we let the dogs run a bit before leaving the park. From there, we crossed the street to step foot in another green space which I believe was Interlaken Park. We stayed a few seconds to look at the views before calling it a day.
Our out-of-state adventure this year was to head west and explore Seattle. Before leaving on this expedition there were plenty of well-meaning acquaintances recommending things that we absolutely had to see; places such as Pike’s Market (it was okay), Pike Brew Pub (meh), and the Space Needle. Not being the kind of people who like crowds, we quickly crossed those items off our list then made our way towards the green spaces of the city. The son of one of our close friends resides in Seattle and he graciously agreed to spend some time with the “old folks”, recommending places to explore while guiding us through the transportation system. Our first stop was Discovery Park.
Discovery Park was exactly our idea of exploring a new area. Our guides led us through a number of trails within the park system that took us through several different habitats. The first portion of our hike went through a wooded section where one of our friends pointed out western sword ferns and other local vegetation which I quickly forgot.
Our meanderings eventually brought us to the information center where we picked up a trail map to better contemplate the best route to the shore. This path first went through some additional forested areas before depositing us in a field with views of the water and hazy images of the mountains beyond. Our friends proclaimed how spectacular the mountain views were on the clear days, stating that you could see Rainer, the Cascades and the Olympic Mountains from the city but we never did see them. During the course of the week our failure to see any mountains in the area became a running joke.
We crossed the meadow and a road before taking a trail towards the water. As the trail curved around up a small hill, we found a cleared area overlooking the beach below. It was here that I took my first fall, tearing the knees of my slacks and hurting my pride. Looking around, I noticed some small holes around the area (possibly from a child digging in the dirt). It was one of these holes that tripped me up and for whatever the reason I could not recover and just went down. I fell once more during this trip, with a near miss a third time, each time the result of an unevenness in the ground. The only explanation I could come up with is that when I am hiking in the woods I know the ground is uneven and therefore pay closer attention to what is happening on the ground as opposed to an area that by all appearances should have been flat (at least that is my story and I am sticking to it).
After my mishap, we continued walking by the shore until we reached the lighthouse at the western point of the park. From there we took a shuttle to one of the park entrances where we caught a bus back to town. Our two parties split up for a bit before regrouping at a local wine bar before dinner.