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Washington advice -- Mount Baker? Mount Ranier?

Washington advice -- Mount Baker? Mount Ranier?

Old Dec 9th, 2008, 07:25 AM
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Washington advice -- Mount Baker? Mount Ranier?

In June we will be leaving Vancouver on Friday morning (driving). We then have until Sunday night to get to Seattle Airport to spend the night for an early Monday morning departure.
We will be doing some of Olympic National Park on our way up, and have done that before. But we've never been to Mount Baker or Mount Ranier areas. Any suggestions? We're looking to spend under $150 a night -- and it is a weekend, so that may be an issue (although Paradise Lodge at Ranier is available for $145). And one of us isn't really able to do a lot -- like hiking. So we're mainly looking for a laid back scenic area to just hand out for a couple days. I had thought about the San Juans, which we've only touched on before, but accomodations on a weekend in June seem out of sight, and maybe not worth the complications of ferries, etc. And of course, we could just go spend a couple days in Seattle, which is always nice, but trying to do something a little different.
Any suggestions?
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 08:05 AM
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Depending on snow levels this year and when in June you're traveling, there may still be lots of snow up at Paradise, and the road to Sunrise may not be open yet. If you're not hikers then that may not matter but I'm not sure what you'd do for a couple days up there if you're not hiking, especially if you can't drive up to Sunrise for the views. Same with Mt Baker--once you've driven up there to look at the views, there's not a lot to occupy your time, I'd say.

I wouldn't try to go to the San Juans on a Friday or come back on a Sunday so I would agree about skipping them this time--although perhaps you could change the order of your trip so that you go there first and do ONP at the end of your trip if that avoids a weekend? If you do go, Cascade Harbor Inn on Orcas Island is a good moderate choice for lodging.

You might consider the Bellingham area or Whidbey Island. From either you could do a day trip up to Mt Baker or up the North Cascades Highway (if it's open yet).

Definitely plan on leaving Vancouver as early as possible to avoid long lineups at the border.


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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 08:30 AM
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You can do a big loop around Mt. Rainier if you go into the Nisqually Entrance in the SW corner of the Park, via Rte 706. From there, you can drive up to Paradise. There are bunches of places to stay just outside the Nisqually Entrance, in the town of Ashford. You can stay at Paradise, as you know, but you can also stay further down at Longmire. There are several viewpoints on the way up to Paradise.

From Paradise, you can continue on down the Stevens Canyon Road, which has a number of good stops. Some involve short strolls, like Box Canyon (a great stop) or Grove of the Patriarchs.

At the bottom of the Stevens Canyon Road, you can turn north onto Rte 123 which takes you up the east edge of the park, past a couple more nice viewpoints. As previously noted, the road to Sunrise will probably still be closed in June, which is unfortunate but I wouldn't let that stop you from going to Mt. Rainier.

Pick up Rte 410 at Cayuse Pass and head on back through Enumclaw.

Another option would be to visit Rainier, and then turn south to nearby Mt. St. Helens. If you drive down the east side of St. Helens, you can drive through the blast zone and then go up to Windy Ridge, which has great views of the Mtn and Spirit Lake. This would be a longish drive, though.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 08:58 AM
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You have two nights to spend, right?

I love Mt. Baker for hiking, but there is no lodging close to the mountain area other than private chalets and the very rustic Mountaineers Lodge (for members). Staying down in Glacier is not a great option; there are no views from there and limited dining and lodging choices.

Paradise at Mt. Rainier is one of the most beautiful places on the planet. The lodge is one of the historic national park inns and the rooms are VERY basic. Also, after spending a weekend there last summer, I couldn't say I would recommend the food in the dining room. In June, it will likely still be mostly under snow up there (although last summer's snow well into late July was unusual, I have often gone skiing around Paradise in June).

Paradise might be a nice stop on a loop trip around the Mountain, but not a place to spend 2 nights for non-hikers. And the weather is often iffy in June.

What about Whidbey Island/Port Townsend? You access Whedbey from the north by a bridge, drive down the island, and take a must less crowded ferry over to Port Townsend (named on National Geographic Traveler's list of top 100 "authentic" places to visit).

Lots of good food, nice places to stay, music, art gallerlies, and Victorian architecture in Port Townsend, plus views to Mt. Baker and Mt. Rainier from nearby beaches. This area is in the Olympic rain shadow, so the weather is generally better than other areas around Puget Sound.

To return to the airport area from Port Townsend, you can either take the Bainbridge or Bremerton ferry, or drive south along the Hood Canal (very scenic) and connect through Tacoma.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 08:59 AM
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We've "done" Mount St. Helens and enjoyed it, but won't be repeating that. We're not looking for a lot of driving, and I'm beginning to think that's what's left to do at Ranier or Baker. Alf, while that all sounds good, it does look like a lot of driving -- after the nearly 6 hours from Vancouver.

I didn't think about the road to Sunrise not being open then. Kind of defeats the purpose, you're right.

I was reading about Snowhomish. Is it just tacky or quaint?

Whidbey Island sounds like a possibility. I think we drove through there when we took a ferry from Anacortes, but I don't remember much about. Any "neat" places to stay on a budget (we're really not into quaint couple of rooms B&Bs, but like small inns. Maybe we could do just a boat trip out to Friday Harbor for lunch on Saturday (without the car?) and spend two nights on Whidbey? We also drove the Chuckanut Trail a couple years ago -- so pretty. Any place worth staying there just for the two nights?

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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 09:08 AM
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Enzian, we were posting at the same time, but you've already given me more to think about there. We've never really explored that route down from Port Townsend along Hood Canal. Would you suggest staying IN Port Townsend as opposed to on Whidbey?

By the way we are arriving Seattle in the evening, spending one night in Seattle on arrival then getting our car to drive up to take the Port Angeles Ferry a day later. (This is all the end of May, a couple weeks earlier than our return. We were thinking of staying the night at Crescent Lake. Maybe we should spend that one afternoon and night going up at Port Townsend before getting the ferry (noonish) on the next day, then we'd have a couple days to do a little more of Olympic National Park, but it is a long way all around the park to return to Seattle via Olympia. Maybe just stay 2 nights at Crescent Lake and do a day going to Hoh and up to Hurrican Ridge? Then drive back to Seattle along the Hood Canal?
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 09:33 AM
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Hmmm. I see the Harborside Inn at Port Townsend, which looks pleasant enough. I was a little confused because while the rooms are around $139 minimum, they offer a package with the rooms at $110 including the downtown historic tour and some other things. Sounds kind of intriguing. Maybe take our time from Vancouver on Friday, driving down along Chuckanut and Whidbey (had a great lunch at Chuckanut Oyster Bar I'd like to repeat), and then spending the two nights at Port Townsend exploring the town, maybe a boat trip, and then take all day Sunday down along the Hood Canal to get to SeaTac.

What do you think?

I'm still fine with just driving up to Lake Crescent and maybe up to Hurricane Ridge on our way to BC, and just spending a night at Lake Crescent Lodge before taking the ferry to Victoria.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 09:42 AM
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Hmmm - if I had three days to spend between Vancouver BC and Seatac, I'd do this: cross the border, spend some time in Bellingham, especially the area around Fairhaven and WWU. Then drive out to Mt. Baker, and have a look around Artist's Point. Then drive down to LaConner, a cute Port Townsend-y type of place on the mainland, and perhaps spend the night there.

The next day drive over to Fidalgo Island and explore Anacortes and the wonderful park there. Then drive south and cross Deception Pass bridge to Whidbey Island. Check out Deception Pass State Park, Coupeville and Langley. Either stay in Coupeville or take a late ferry to Port Townsend. (You will probably need to make reservations for this ferry; the old boats were junked and the replacement one is really too small for the route.)

The next day, get a taste of Port Townsend (check out Water Street, the uptown Victorians and Fort Worden State Park) before driving about an hour and a half to Bainbridge to get the ferry there back to Seattle, and your Seatac area accommodations.

Of course, all bets are off if you've never been to Whistler. If you haven't been there, I would spend two nights there before driving back to Seatac on the third day. The Whistler area, and the drive up to it, are beautiful that time of year.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 10:54 AM
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Oh, yea. Spent four great nights at Whistler three summers ago.

I'll look at all that route, azzure. With a partner with Alzheimer's though, we're kind of into getting to a place and staying more, having a base instead of the day by day drive. This idea of two days and then one night at SeaTac is bad enough without making it three separate nights. I'm kind of thinking the two nights in Port Townsend with a view of the harbor would suit him fine.

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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 11:09 AM
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Patrick--I was thinking along the same lines as enzian. I love Port Townsend. We have always stayed at the same place there, Morgan Hill Cottage. Their website is www.morganhilldesign.com if you want to check it out. They have several properties in town. I like the cottage as it is an easy walk down to a park and the beach, yet the cottage itself is quite nice. We have never even seen the owners. We send in payment before we arrive, they ask what time we arrive, and leave the door open for us. It is very private too. As for Snohomish, we used to live there. It is known for its antiques, which the stores line the main street along the river. There are a couple places there that had nice items, but I am not an antique person so didn't care for most of the places (too musty, etc for my tastes). Other than that, and a few restaurants, there isn't a draw for visitors to the town. It was a great place to live and raise children, and I would move back in a heartbeat, but it is not a visitor destination spot IMO. Whidbey is another place that we spent a lot of time at, and still return to. We sail out of there, so that is our interest there. If you head there and go to Coupeville, there is a fantastic lunch spot with the best soups and sandwiches. I am blanking on the name right now, but if you go I will try to remember. Deception Pass State Park is beautiful, and there are some really nice drives along the island.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 11:41 AM
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Hi Patrick---I had to get some work done, but I'm checking back. I see mms likes the Port Townsend idea too.

I think in June the coast/island/Port Townsend area offers much more than the mountains, which can be snowy and shrouded in clouds.

If you want to spend two nights in one spot and relax, you could either stay in Anacortes (and visit Friday Harbor by ferry), or continue down Whidbey and end in Port Townsend. I believe there are boat trips from there in the summer, both whale-watching and sightseeing tours.

http://www.pugetsoundexpress.com/

It's also nice to explore the downtown area and Fort Worden. I don't know how much walking Lee can do, but there are trails linking the old WWI bunkers there.

The town has an abundance of restaurants and pubs, including some very good ones. Lodging is a bit tougher, if you want to avoid B&B's.

I haven't been back much since my mother moved from there 10 years ago, so I'm not very up to date on the inns and motels. I think Harborside is fairly new--I don't recall seeing it before. It gets fairly uniformly bad reviews on TA, for whatever that is worth (one never knows about that.) I have stayed at the Swan and the Palace, but I wouldn't recommend them.

The location of the Harborside concerns me a bit, as if the wind is wrong you might possibly get the drifting aroma from the pulp mill located sevaral miles south of there.

Check this for more on the pulp mill:

http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/htm...9_mill19m.html

Of course, with the economy what it is, the mill may be shut down. But I would stay more to the north in downtown or "uptown" in Port Townsend to avoid any issues with the mill. These area are around the bend and out of the wind drift pattern.

Would you consider a cottage or private apartment as mms suggests? In addition to the one she recommended, I would suggest the Sea Loft:

http://www.olympus.net/personal/mortenson/

It is a studio apartment over a garage; very private and offers lovely views over the shipping channels. We haven't stayed there but we were going to; I reserved it as a birthday surprise for DH but he ended up on call that weekend. The owner was very kind and accomodating. The location is "high bank" waterfront, located on the hill between Fort Worden and downtown. The view is to the north.

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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 11:45 AM
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For Whidbey Island, I like www.captainwhidbey.com but that may be a bit too funky for your style. Take a look.

www.innatlangley.com always gets good comments but I have not seen it or stayed there myself.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 11:50 AM
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enzian--That Sea Loft is very close to the cottage that we stay at. I love the location around there. That is the park that we go to also Fort Worden is a good suggestion, IMO. We have been with and without our kids. Great place to explore.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 12:27 PM
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Funny about Harborside Inn. I had already gone to Trip Advisor and the first 10 or so reviews were all extremely positive except for one who had a problem with being charged for a pet. For the price place it seemed very positive. I went back and continued and found some others further down pretty negative though.

I'm not big on pulp smell, though! Shades of Sweetwater, Tennessee and Brunswick, Georgia!

That SeaLoft "cottage" looks very nice though. Is it much of a walk to various restaurants? Downhill/uphill coming and going? It looks like it's high up? And for $120 a night for two nights seems like a steal.

I think I'd rather stay right in Port Townsend than Whidbey. Suze, I LIKE funky -- although the prices started getting up there with private bath (a requirement) and the other place is way over budget.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 01:12 PM
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If "funky" is OK, then take a look at the Palace Hotel:

http://www.palacehotelpt.com/

It is listed under B&B's on Tripadvisor (where it gets great reviews) but it really is a hotel---an old Victorian one, nicely renovated. It doesn't "feel" like a B&B, but more like a small European hotel, with privacy for all.

Some of the rooms are a bit cutesy with their ladies' names, tricked up to look/sound like a brothel. but the Captain Tibbalt's Room (#2) where we have stayed, and the Crow's Nest (#1) are fine. Most of the rooms (including these) have private bath---but watch out for the clawfoot tub in "Miss Alice".

This one is in a great location, right in the middle of downtown on Water Street, with shops and restaurants in the same block or around the corner. There is private parking nearby, probably around the corner. There are stairs to negotiate, as all rooms are on the second or third floor (as Americans count floors).
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 01:36 PM
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OK, now I'm getting confused. I had looked at the TripAdvisor reviews for The Palace and dismissed it. I found the reviews FAR worse for it than for the Haborside Inn -- especially reading between the lines.

But I do find overall pretty good reviews for the Swan Hotel, which looks interesting. I realize why when most of the negatives are simply that the decor isn't anything special, but otherwise, I sure don't see much negative. I kind of like the idea of being in the "thick" of things. I suspect we'd need to drive and park from the SeaLoft generally.

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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 01:37 PM
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Aha! It WAS a brothel. That explains the room names.

From the hotel website:

"From 1925 to 1933, the upper two floors of the building were known as the Palace Hotel, affectionately nicknamed "the Palace of Sweets" as they were operated as a brothel and hotel. During this time, the Madame of the house, Marie, occupied the corner suite on the second floor. . . .

"Since being renovated, the building has been home to the Palace Hotel. The hotel occupies the second and third floors, with a lovely restaurant and several specialty retailers located on the main level. The hotel features 15 charming guest rooms and suites, each still bearing the name of one of the "girls". Each room is uniquely furnished with antiques and collectibles, in keeping with the Victorian character of the building. Most have private baths and several have mini-kitchen facilities. With soaring windows and 14-foot ceilings, each guest room retains the flavor of century-old quality and architectural character so rarely found today."


The location is excellent. Although it is not right on the waterfront, there are water views from some rooms. You'll just have to decide if the Victorian kitsch is tolerable. Those 2 rooms I mentioned---Captain Tibbal's, and the Crow's Nest, have much less of that than the others.

As for the Sea Loft, it is in a residential area above the downtown; the walk downtown from there would not be terribly long---maybe 3/4 mile? I can't remember exactly. But it would be hilly.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 01:45 PM
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Yes, I'm confused too! I only read down the first 5 for the Palace, all of which were happy with the place. After that, they turned bad!

The Harborside has one good one, then the next four say it was horrible.

Well, that's Tripadvisor---always hard to sort out.

I would in any case steer you away fromthe Harborside based on the location. The views on the website are tempting, but I think you are actually behind the marina. Nice view of the masts. less so of the bay beyond. I love the sound of clanking masts. . . but. . . Also, it's a long walk from there to the downtown area.

Swan's might work; we stayed there once when it was new. The location is good, right at the end of the main street and close to everything. It IS right on the road, with very little setback (no grounds or gardens between your room and the street); I'm not sure that shows from the website.
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 04:06 PM
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OK, here's the next deal. Lake Crescent Lodge is fully booked for Wednesday, May 27. Any other ideas fairly close to Port Angeles?
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Old Dec 9th, 2008, 04:33 PM
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In Port Angeles, the Best Western Olympic Lodge is quite nice. It is a typical hotel, but backs up to a golf course. While not exactly unique, it is a great hotel. We have used this location as a start for backpacking trips.
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