The city of Seattle curves gracefully between mountains, water and lush shades of green. Richly drenched in frequent rain, the scenery is exquisite. From the snow clad Cascade mountains to the dark blue of the Puget Sound, Seattle in the Pacific North-west, contains thousands of acres of parkland.
A nature lovers delight, interestingly Washington State’s largest city, is home to a large tech industry. Both Microsoft and Amazon have their headquarters in the busy metropolis.
And with Google, Facebook and the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation creating a busy, breakneck kind of working week, there is the ultimate paradox of glorious natural beauty alongside a culture of technological leaps and bounds. While the work week for many is spent in a haze of technology, weekends find ardent campers and hikers hitting the green trails.
A popular site for exuberant Boy Scouts is Fire Mountain, appropriately named for its flame coloured countenance when the sun shines down on it. Camp sites with bonfires and spooky stories are a common sight. Rattlesnake ledge is another mountain with a great hike on a popular trail, through a cool forest with views of the Cedar River watershed.
A drive through Mount Rainier Park fills your senses with the scents of the forest and allows an awe-inspiring view of Mount Rainier.
The majesty of nature at its peak.
Mount Rainier is the highest mountain of the Cascade Range and the highest mountain in the U.S. state of Washington. It is a large active stratovolcano located 59 miles south-southeast of Seattle.
Skagit Valley in the northwestern corner of the state, offers a ceaseless array of flowers. Its exquisite tulip display is a delightful annual attraction. The defining feature of the valley is the Skagit River, which snakes through local communities which includes Mount Vernon.
Sports and Skiing
While the city of Seattle rarely receives snow, just half an hour away, into the mountains, there’s generous amounts of snow and sport.
Eager skiers and snow tubers drive to Snoqualmie slopes for smooth white slopes.
For first-time snow tubers with rickety bones (like me), this is an exhilarating activity where you slide down sharp slopes in a huge tube, all the while being spun around in circles!
Ideal for Campers & Hikers
Snoqualmie Falls is another breathtaking location renowned for both its beauty and the fact that Twin Peaks was filmed there. A sumptuous breakfast can be had at The Salish Lodge while watching the falls cascade to foamy depths. Weather plays a major in dictating your day’s travels.
When the sun is out, Seattle looks like the perfect picture postcard. Turquoise, perfect skies and calm waters. A John Constable painting. A ferry ride can take you to either the Bainbridge or Vashun islands.
However the frequent rainy weather creates a totally different kind of tempo as well. The grey skies and relentless drizzle make you want to seek refuge in the tons of coffee shops that lace the city.
From the first Starbucks ever to the cheery Le Panier in downtown Seattle, the aroma of coffee is a Seattle trademark. The popular Le Panier is a bakery/coffee shop offering scrumptious almond croissants and more. Located perfectly in the quaint Pike Place, the market place around the bakery is a much loved tourist stop.
Museums and More
For Art lovers, the Chihuly Museum is not far from the buzz of downtown energy. The exquisite glass sculptures are carefully carved and captivating. SAM, the Seattle Art Museum plays host to regular exhibit. It recently hosted Tasveer Film Festival’s opening reception, bringing a rush of Desi energy to town.
Also in the heart of Seattle is the futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy and the city’s most iconic landmark.
Seattle is a blend of natural beauty, technological power, coffee shops galore, artists, and galleries. All this against the backdrop of rainy skies and the less frequent but utterly gorgeous, sunlit days.
When the sun shines, Seattle is perfection and the white snow atop Mount Rainier glistens under gold tipped light.
And when it rains, well then, you have warm coffee shops to escape to! With an artist friend or two who will point out the silver lining, while waiting for the clouds to part again!
(Photographs by Zeinab Masud)