Category Archives: Washington state

Tips on flying Southwest out of Des Moines

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Founded March 16, 1967

As word comes from today’s DMRegister that there’ s talk of trying to expand the selection of direct Southwest flights out of Des Moines (Orlando and St. Louis but no promises and would happen, at the earliest next summer), I’ve been thinking about advice I’d give to people flying Southwest out of DSM right now – based on my first trial run earlier this month. And here it is:

– Although Southwest offers no fee to check your luggage (how refreshing), I am glad I didn’t check mine because if I had I wouldn’t have been able to switch flights in Las Vegas at the last minute after my LAX flight was delayed and I hopped aboard a Burbank flight. Or so I gather. The first question the counter agent asked me after I inquired about switching was whether I’d checked my luggage. I hadn’t and miraculously I was en route to Burbank minutes later. When I got to Burbank, I received another update on my original LAX flight. It still hadn’t left Vegas, delayed over 2 hours and counting…

– Paying the extra $12 or so to get priority boarding was definitely worth it!! Otherwise it is essential to check in as close as possible to exactly 24 hours before flight time so you get a good position in line, preferably A group or failing that B group but NOT C group. Those folks get the middle seats and there’s less likelihood, if the plane is booked, of getting an overhead spot to stow their luggage. The one flight I didn’t take and pay the extra $12 I got an A44 number in line – not bad. And I ended up with a good aisle seat close to the front of the plane (so I could exit quickly and make my connection).

– Speaking of connections, in Las Vegas my flight arrived in the C terminal and I had to haul a** to make my connecting flight in the B terminal, which seemed like miles away (with only a few moveable walkways). The slot machines strewed in the corridors didn’t help as I had knots of people to get around while dragging my suitcase. I don’t know if this is always the case on the DSM-Vegas-LA flight. (The one I took was at noon on a Friday out of DSM.)

– My connection at Chicago’s Midway was much much better – the Seattle-Midway flight landed in a gate only three gates away from the Midway-Des Moines flight. Yippee!! (This was on the 2:30 Wednesday flight from Seattle to Midway and the 9:30 pm flight from midway to dsm.)

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Filed under airfare, Chicago, Des Moines, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Seattle

Pine-pike Corridor, Seattle art museum, Pike Place market

I had a few hours to explore some of Seattle’s relatively new hopping neighborhoods on a grey but warm (50s) and never rainy day. The Pine Pike Corridor is about a 20 minute walk from the downtown waterfront and you have to cross that annoying freeway that cuts up the city. Someone told me Seattle is going to have its own big dig akin to Boston’s to put that highway underground.

Many of the shops weren’t open until 10 or even 11 a.m. But I enjoyed wallowing away some time at Odd Fellows, a quintessential Seattle spot with lots of exposed brick and scuffed wood and tin and the like. (see photo below) I had an excellent cappuccino and just ate an incredible cookie, with chocolate chips, caramel chips and walnuts, purchased at Odd Fellows. Also browsed in the famous Elliot Bay Books which apparently moved to the corridor about a year ago. I also stopped by the well known restaurant Sitka and Spruce (owned by the same chef as the place we enjoyed last night, Bar Sajor). I got a sandwich at the take out counter from a nice young guy who hails from Cedar Rapids, Iowa. (Small world).

I ended up taking the light rail from the Westlake stop right near Pike Place Market to Sea Tac airport. Took about a half hour longer than my inbound cab ride (about 1 hour) but much cheaper $2.75 vs $46. Live and learn. I should have guessed progressive Seattle would have reasonably priced mass transit to the airport! Before I left I picked up some bagels at Pike Market Bagels which had passed muster at breakfast and some satsumas from the market. Now bumping along in the air above the Rockies en route to Chicago and after that, home. Great trip!

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Tourist at dusk in Seattle – Olympic sculpture park, bar Sajor, seatown

Because I spent most of my day in a conference room, I had to restrict my exploration of Seattle to the near dusk hours. So today at 4 pm I rushed out to see the Olympic Sculpture Park, about a 25 minute walk from my hotel. Fortunately I got there at about 4:45 because the park suddenly closed at 5 pm. Which I gather it does daily. the Des Moines sculpture park never closes. And it’s not entirely clear how it closes since its open air but I dutifully, albeit reluctantly left at five. You can’t best the setting, overlooking the Bay. Just spectacular. ( below is the view from the fifth floor balcony of the inn at the market)

The last time I was in Seattle, on my honeymoon 23 years ago I don’t remember much about downtown except for the Pike Place Market. We stayed in a more residential area in a b&b. But this trip I have loved staying downtown, right by the market actually at the Inn at the Market. There are tons of things to do and see down here and I am really sad to leave tomorrow. I went to an excellent restaurant tonight, Bar Sajor, and a less great restaurant last might, Seatown, last night. Also a cute. Little breakfast place, The Crumpet Shop near my hotel. I hope its not another 25 years until I return!

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Washington state travels – a little more

Okay, I’ve dug out my journal from 1990 (#20…and fun fact, I just finished #53 last night)  to unearth a few more suggestions for E’s trip to San Juan Islands, Seattle et. al.  Most of the places still appear to be around (and several now have elaborate websites, of course.) Now I REALLY want to go return!

Here they are:

– In Seattle, (on night one of honeymoon) we stayed at the Salisbury B&B in quiet neighborhood at Aloha and 16th Streets.  (Capital Hill)

visited Pike Street Public Market, at Ivar’s Clams (oysters best), walked around Pioneer Square, browsed at Elliot Books; ate at posh Canlis restaurant (courtesy of Uncle Tom, who touted its fresh salmon)

– Anacortes – stayed at another charming B&B, The Channel House (in the “honeymoon suite” no less, only room available) before  taking ferry to San Juan Islands.

– Orcas Island: Stayed at Orcas Hotel,cheerful old hotel, greets you right when get off the ferry; Stopped at craft cooperative/good lunch at Cafe Olga (in Olga, Wa) cool place and has cabins for lodging! Might be called The Doe Bay Resort (hippie dippie is how I described it, with clothing-optional mineral baths, yurts., got new owners in 2002); really lied the old fashioned Rosario Resort (including a free lecture, slide show, musical presentation about the island’s history.) Main part of resort is an old mansion. Dinner we ate at The Bungalow (jumbo shrimp scampi on squid pasta and our waitress turned out to be a hitchhiker we’d picked up earlier in the day. small world, Orcas.) Hiked 2-3 miles around Cascade Lake in Moran State Park in the drizzle; got lost, flagged down a passing car and got a lift; drove to top of Mt. Constitution (great view). Ate dinner at La Famiglia Ristorante, homey Italian.

San Juan Island/Friday harbor: rented mopeds to tour island; romantic Olympic Light b&b (reminded me a bit of the Hamptons w/mountains and w/out flashy mansions/people;  later found out that’s where one of owners is from); Dinner at The Duck Soup Inn – food ok but atmosphere lovely; explored American Camp National Park – spectacular; went to a neat old resort Roche Harbour and organic farm nearby.

I have some other stuff on Port Townsend, other parts if you need E! x0x,b

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where to stay on Orcas and San Juan Islands

We stayed at the Orcas Hotel, which was sweet. (the info is from the san juan islands website)

Orcas Hotel

Orcas Hotel
  • 18 Orcas Hill Road
  • Orcas, WA  98280
  • Phone: (360) 376-4300
  • Tollfree: 888-672-2792

The Orcas Hotel in the San Juan Islands has been welcoming guests since 1904. The island landmark occupies a place of honor on the National Register of Historic Places. Surrounded by a classic English garden filled with an abundance of fragrant flowers, superb herbs and arbors of…more

And we visited Rosario Resort & Spa/Moran Mansion – which is definitely worth a visit.!

Rosario Resort & Spa/Moran Mansion
  • 1400 Rosario Road
  • Eastsound, WA  98245
  • Phone: (360) 376-2222
  • Tollfree: (800) 562-8820
The historic Moran Mansion is the centerpiece for this 30-acre resort and marina located on the shores of Cascade Bay. 23 guestrooms and suites, some with gas fireplaces, offer comfortable accommodations and spectacular views of the water and forested mountains of Orcas…more

On San Juan Island we stayed here. (magical setting). wow this makes me want to return!

Olympic Lights Bed & Breakfast

Olympic Lights Bed & Breakfast
Sunny and restored 1895 Victorian farm house with panoramic views of the sea and Olympic Mountain range. Four bedrooms with private baths, full breakfast included….more
And here’s suggestions from my friend Denise who has been there recently: ’d recommend making an effort to get on a smaller boat and visit/picnic/wander some of the smaller islands, if at all possible.  SO beautiful, and such a different experience than even the most quaint of the villages.  Also, there are sea kayaking excursions around some of the islands that are really great – that was one of our favorite days!  So fun to see seals lounging & all the birds from sea level.  

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San Juan Islands/seattle

My stepdaughter is looking for travel tips for a trip to Seattle and the San Juan Islands in late June. Lucky her! We went there for our honeymoon almost exactly 21 years ago so my memory is a little rusty but I will pull out my trusty journal and find some stuff for her. I do remember that we took the ferry from Anacortes – a more “real” town that we really liked -to the main island and stayed at Friday Harbor. Then we went to another island.(I must ask my friend Denise for tips since she was there recently.)

Other places we visited and liked a lot during our trip: Victoria on Vancouver Island, Port Townsend (land of Dungeness Crab and where Officer and a Gentleman was filmed), and the Olympic National Park and the Hoh Rain forest (and Indian reservation there) and Forks, WA (where Spotted Owl vs. loggers battle was brewing)  and Concrete, Washington (where the novel/film “This Boys Life” is set) and the lodge at Snoqualmie Falls where the  tv show “Twin Peaks” (which was a cult fad in 1990) was filmed. We also went to the indian reservation near the Hoh Rain Forest in the most northwest corner of the 48 contiguous states. (fun fact….)

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Seattle: report from

D just returned from a business trip to Seattle (where I last visited 20 years ago during our honeymoon). He didn’t get that much time to explore (given the biz obligations and the persistent albeit unsurprising rain) but offers a few suggestions about hotels, dining and sightseeing:

– He stayed at the Seattle Hilton – which was “fine but sort of disjointed in design with the lobby on the 14th floor and rooms just above. Appeared to be offices below.”  Also you had to put your room key in the elevator control panel to gain entry to the floor where you room was and if you weren’t fast enough on the draw you had to go all the way to the top (perhaps 40 floors) and come back down.  Ultra-secure but a hassle.

– On the dining front, beyond the many catered affairs,  D reports eating well at The Ale House downtown near the Pike Street Market, a “very solid” brew pub with fresh seafood” (good mahi mahi and crab cakes made with the local Dungeness crab) and range of local beers (Alaskan Amber was good.) Also dined at “Purple Cafe” downtown, on tuna (the local stuff, not the kind in a can, needless to say),  a selection of local cheeses and  a mini steak frites appetizer.

– Sightseeing suggestions: Don’t miss the stunning new Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas. (D didn’t have a chance to go in but the library was impressive from the outside) and the Columbia Club on the top of the Bank of America building with a fantastic view of Puget Sound. Club may be private….Another great view was atop of the Seattle Hilton where you could watch the ferries arrive.

P.S. I apologize if some of you looked on this blog and found the exciting entry “Test” with nothing following. And then later found this entry gone. I was indeed testing to see if the functions to subscribe to this blog by RSS or via email work – alas they don’t seem to work for anyone but me. ugh. So I’ll be working on that….Another option is to get this via google alert, if you’d like to try.

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