We finally took a family trip in 2020. It was not the trip we had originally planned, or even close. With precautions, we felt safe, and the change of scenery and lots of fresh air worked wonders for us. I probably jinxed myself discussing all of the travel I had planned in 2020 earlier this year. None of the fun trips I was looking forward to happened as planned. We cancelled a trip to visit family domestically this spring, as well as a journey to Spain. My travel plans to experience Qatar Airways Q-Suites has been through a few itinerary changes, and I’m still not sure if/when it will happen, almost certainly not in 2020.
Our visit to Cascadia
Cascadia is a bioregion covering the Pacific Northwest from southern Alaska to Oregon, and sometimes even further. The Doug flag is an unofficial symbol of Cascadia, and sometimes used by various sports teams from the area, including all 3 MLS teams that are in the area, Vancouver, Seattle and Portland. Some in Cascadia movement feel more aligned with locals than their own national governments in Washington DC and/or Ottawa. Anyway, this is my attempt at some humor in this difficult year. Our trip to Cascadia is likely as much “international” travel as I’ll get in 2020.
This trip came about from a planned Alaska cruise with my in-laws this August. Needless to say, that trip did not happen as planned. Still, we kept our flights, originally booked as a nonstops between Milwaukee and Seattle on Alaska. We changed our itinerary a bit, but decided to go ahead with a trip to the Pacific Northwest. In part to have a change of scenery, and enjoy some fresh air, as well as some cooler weather. We focused on mostly outdoor activities, and even in more crowded areas in cities, people wear masks and measures are in place to ensure social distancing.
With the intent of going on the Alaska cruise, I booked a night at the new (to me) Hyatt Regency Seattle, in part since at category 4, I could use a free night award, and I was interested in trying a new place. As our plans changed, the hotel availability in Seattle changed quite a bit. There are 3 Hyatt hotels within a few blocks of each other in downtown Seattle. I’ve stayed at both the Olive 8 and Grand Hyatt before. I linked to Scott’s reviews of both properties. Both are nice, Grand Hyatt has a solid lounge, but I prefer the Olive 8. In part for its excellent breakfast in the on-property restaurant. Before our stay, I was contacted by the Grand Hyatt offering to take our booking from the Hyatt Regency, since the latter hotel is (and remains) closed. Currently, of the 3 properties, only the Grand Hyatt is open for reservations.
Ultimately, we extended our stay in Seattle, and used it as our base for a few days in the area. As a Globalist, I was able to access the Grand Club, although it is unstaffed, and only pre-packaged snacks and coffee/tea/water are available. There is a 24-hour in-room dining menu available. Limited options, but as a globalist benefit we received 2 items each day for free, which we used for breakfast most mornings.
The hotel location is easy walking distance to Pike Place Market, and other activities like the Aquarium which my daughter enjoyed. While most shops are open in the market, as with most restaurants in town, they have limited capacity and food establishments generally are takeout only.
While in Seattle, beyond our time around the city, we visited some family and friends, but one of my favorite activities was our day trip to Olympic National Park. Due to limited ferry services operating, we drove the long way around through Tacoma. It made for a long day, going there and back, but we still enjoyed it. We only spent minimal time in the National Park, but it is beautiful, and I hope to return for a longer visit someday.
We did some short hikes from the top of Hurricane ridge, which while windy, really had some beautiful views. Southward to peaks in the Olympic range, and North and east towards Vancouver Island and across the water to the Cascades.
On one hike, I noticed my phone buzzed, and it was with a text message noting that I was in Canada. If only! Like my earlier joke about Cascadia, I’m trying to laugh rather than cry about what seems to be a complete lack of international travel this year. Presumably it picked up a tower from Vancouver Island. From that part of the park, we were closer to Canadian towers than any in the US.
After some hiking, we headed back down to sea level and went to a park along the water. Another short hike brought us to a nice beach along a thin sand spit, part of Dungeness National Wildlife Refuge. While there were others around, we found plenty of space to enjoy playing in the waves, and walking along the beach.
We enjoyed the first part of our trip, in and around Seattle. While we visited a big city, much of our time was outside. In most public places, there is plenty of space to feel comfortable. Masks are everywhere, I’d say essentially 100% compliance indoors, and good outdoors as well if near others. I have to say the flights on Alaska Air was nice, lots of open seats well beyond the blocked middle seats that they promise. The rest of our trip consisted some time north of Seattle, and then a few days in Oregon which I will review in a later post.
Have you had any travels this summer?