Knowing of our love of baked goods, my friend Teri, a lifelong Washington State resident until a recent move to Utah, suggested that Barry and I might want to pay a visit to Black Diamond Bakery in tiny Black Diamond, Washington.
When I checked it out on google maps, it turned out to be eminently bikeable from our hotel in the small town of Pacific, south of Seattle. Total mileage one way was around 17, and there would be a big climb into Black Diamond, which would earn us some goodies.
Here was our approximate route.
After riding through the charming downtown of Auburn (photos on the return trip), we were soon in the rural Green River valley east of the city on SE Green Valley Road, pedaling by tidy farms and beautiful trees. Everything was, as the road name said, green and verdant -- pure pastoral perfection. And the road was nice and flat as well. Since I still didn't have a replacement camera for the old one I broke in Coeur d'Alene and Barry was not in a picture-taking mood that morning, we didn't get any photos of this leg of the trip, but suffice it to say, it was lovely.
Until we hit the left turn on 218th Avenue SE.
Barry is a crazy-good hill climber and, although he started behind me as he did a little extra bit in the flats, he quickly caught and passed me. I had to stop three times, I think it was, just to catch my breath and allow my heart rate to fall back into a normal range. I would have needed several more low gears than what I have to get up that one without stopping! But finally, I crested the hill and knew the worst was over.
When we got to the edge of Black Diamond, we saw Mount Rainier for the first time. In all the clouds of the previous few days, we had not had a chance to see it; or, as the locals say, "the mountain was not out". Today it was, in all its glory. We made the mistake of venturing into the edge of a construction site to try to get a photo and got chased out by one of the truck drivers working there, who gave us a stern lecture. That kind of of cast a pall on the day for awhile -- we really hate to get in trouble, and all we wanted was a photo, not to steal anything. Oh well.
We continued on to the bakery and found it easily. Deciding what to buy was a bit more difficult!
It was all good, but the highlight of our visit was the view from the patio. Yep, the mountain was indeed out today. Breathtaking, isn't it?!
Leaving the bakery, we stopped briefly at the old railroad depot and checked out a memorial to fallen Washington State coal miners.
Then we turned around to head back down down down the steep hill. This direction was a lot more fun, as you might imagine.
I made Barry stop and take a photo of these incredible blue hydrangeas dripping over the road as we headed back into Auburn.
We picked up the Interurban Trail for the short distance between Auburn and Pacific. Love the wildflowers!
And right along the trail, we caught some more glimpses of magnificent Mt. Rainier. We couldn't believe it had been lurking behind the clouds right there for the past several days, as we'd taken this stretch of trail several times before with no sign of it. I can't get over how surreal it looks rising up above the evergreens -- like a painted backdrop.
Barry put in a few more miles on the bike after dropping me off at the hotel, and here are a couple of cool things he saw.
For dinner we checked out a colorful little Mexican place, El Tajin, less than a mile down the Interurban Trail at the edge of Auburn. Cute, cheap, and authentic, and we could walk there. Perfecto!
I only eat pork once in a blue moon, but I splurged on these delicious tacos. Four for 5 bucks, and loaded with fresh sweet onion and cilantro. Yummmmmmm!
Barry went hog -- er, chicken -- wild and got a full chicken enchilada dinner -- I think it cost all of $6.50. We already had the guac and salsa in our hotel fridge so were able to make a great meal of it.
Stay tuned as we point our four wheels (our car, this time) eastward and head towards our next destination, Walla Walla!
After pigging out on doughnuts (in Part 2, here), it was almost time to start heading back to our hotel in Pacific, about 30 miles south of downtown Seattle. But first, we did a bit more sightseeing.
Here's the monorail that goes by right outside where we were eating at Top Pot Doughnuts. I have always loved monorails, ever since visiting Disneyworld as a little girl. Unfortunately, with our bikes, we really couldn't take a ride.
We rode north a bit to get as close as we could to the Space Needle.
Before leaving downtown, we wanted to make sure to check out the Public Market area, so we headed back downhill and towards the waterfront. It was certainly bustling with pedestrians on this busy Sunday afternoon. Cyclists, not so much.
I fell in love with these rooftop flower gardens. How pretty!
And this awesome pig marking the Pike Place Market.
Even though we really couldn't go inside or buy anything (our pockets were already full of doughnuts!) it was just fun to be a part of such a vibrant local scene.
As we finally hopped back on our steeds and continued south, we passed Safeco Field.
Time to say goodbye to the city skyscrapers and head back....
One last look back at the Port of Seattle.
We headed back on the bike path and crossed the Green River into a very different environment from where we'd just spent the last several hours. It was nice to see trees again!
I was amazed at the number of butterfly bushes growing as weeds along the bike path. Back in my home state of North Carolina, people buy these at nurseries and plant them in their gardens. I used to! Here, I they are considered a noxious, invasive weed since they are non-native. But I love their honey-like aroma, beautiful flowers, and the fact that they attract and feed butterflies.
By now, I'd finally gotten warm enough to remove my jacket, and the skort came off as well -- no need to be "dressy" now that we were no longer in the city!
When we got back to Auburn, which sports these great dragonfly sculptures near the Interurban Trail crossing, the clouds had really darkened up again. Fortunately, we never did get wet, though it had rained in Pacific while we were in the city -- we saw puddles.
The tally for the round-trip ride plus riding we did around the city amounted to 65 miles; not something even people as crazy as us would want to do every day. But for one excellent day, it was well worth the time and effort to see an amazing city for the first time.
In our last post, we'd just ridden our bikes approximately 30 miles from Pacific, south of the metro area, to downtown Seattle. Now we were in the city, and there was so much to see, especially since this was our first visit.
We started at the waterfront. From Waterfront Park just south of the aquarium, we had a great view of downtown skyscrapers.
The Space Needle looks pretty big here in this zoomed-in photo.
...but in full context, it looks downright dinky next to all the taller downtown buildings. Still, it's cool to finally see it.
We soon figured out that this was Pride Week in Seattle and the annual Pride parade was going on downtown. The Space Needle as well as other establishments were all decked out in rainbows for the occasion. This event meant that downtown was more crowded than usual for a Sunday, but we were kind of excited to be there for it, even though it meant heavy traffic and many, many blocked off streets. This made getting around on bikes even more of a challenge, especially since we were first-timers to the city. Nothing like an adventure, right?!
Barry wanted to make sure to get to Top Pot Doughnuts, so we rode around with our map trying to determine how best to detour around the parade route to get there. There are a lot of one-way streets downtown, making getting around a bit more challenging as well.
As we pedaled about looking for a street we could take, we especially liked this flipped inside-out umbrella sculpture.
We eventually determined that with so many streets closed off for the parade, it was not going to be easy to get to where we wanted to go, so we might as well enjoy the parade for awhile and go through once it was over.
The Pride parade was incredibly upbeat and joyful, with loud music and dancing. It reminded us so much of the many parades in Belize with the spirit of the participants and great audience support as well. It was just lots of fun to see everyone dressed up flamboyantly and openly celebrating who they were.
I held onto the bikes and watched from a bit back while Barry stepped up and took some photos of all the action.
I was both surprised and heartened to see the large Microsoft contingent highlighting all the company had done to support diversity over the years. The times they are a'changing!
Not to be outdone, "GLAmazon" got in on the act as well...
Even though the parade was supposed to be over at 1:30 pm, it wasn't even close to finished by then. After watching for awhile, we were starving and really ready to find the doughnut shop. We kept riding and riding, only to run into yet another closed street. Finally, we asked a traffic officer, and turns out it was okay to cross in the staging area where the marchers were lining up getting ready to perform.
There, we saw more colorful parade participants as we finally crossed over to the streets we needed to be on to get to the doughnut shop.
Heading west and away from the flat part of the city at the waterfront, we had to go up a very steep climb with no momentum. I finally gave up and walked the top of it as I just didn't have the gears (or the lungs) to get there by pedal power.
Finally, at 2:30 pm, we rolled up at Top Pot Doughnuts. Was it worth the wait? Oh yes! (Thanks Teri for the recommendation!!)
Barry went in first, while I sat outside and watched the bikes. I guess they were trying to get rid of doughnuts since it was getting late in the day, so when he ordered six doughnuts, they offered him six more free! It goes without saying that he couldn't pass up a deal like that. My jaw dropped when he walked out with this box full. And these were not small doughnuts.
Emily & Barry
We're a long-married, early-retired couple who are currently traveling as nomads with no fixed home base. After years of living in North Carolina (Emily's home state), we spent 18 months living oceanfront on Ambergris Caye, Belize, a year road-tripping the US in a Honda CR-V, a year in Playa del Carmen, Mexico, and are now roaming North America in our 32' motorhome, Pearl, following warm weather whenever possible.
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