Late one Saturday afternoon, I found myself scampering up a narrow path up a lush green forest, following the murmur of a stream in downstate Washington. The weekend getaway to Seattle was indeed turning into an exploration of the evergreen state with all her mountains and lakes proudly up for display.
Mt Teneriffe trailhead was on top of our list that morning as we trained our eyes on catching glimpses of the Snoqualmie region. After a hike up to the waterfall, we decided to drive down the winding roads along the valleys dotted with innumerable blue lakes, in search of one in particular- the Rachel Lake. The best on the ‘Thrill-List” outside Seattle couldn’t be missed.
The lake as it turned out was a solitary one. As we parked by the shoulder of the road and headed down to the beach, the only humans in sight were already in the middle of the lake, in their fishing boat. What’s better than experiencing the pleasure of discovering a lake that stretches as far as the naked eye can see, only to find that you have it all to yourself? Well I did feel like Captain Cook when he just landed on the shores of Hawaii. No maddening crowds, no tourists, no annoying ‘Do Not Pass Beyond this Point’ signs..Was this Rachel Lake? I guess we would never know. But we hardly cared.
A long drive back the same scenic route took us back to the hustle and bustle of a city now alive with the sounds of nightlife as we watched miniature cars and trucks from 500 ft above the ground. The observation deck on the Space Needle, the most iconic structure in downtown Seattle was brimming with people that night as we hitched our bandwagon to the line of enthusiastic tourists who faithfully read the displayed history of the tower as they waited in the queue. The black waters of the bay to the north reflected the shimmering lights of the city with its brilliantly lit skyscrapers. A giant wheel rotated constantly and a silver cruise made its way slowly across the channel. We crowded on the deck with the cool summer sir in or hair to get the mandatory picture clicked by the camera overhead like the thousands of others before us that day.
After the simply-can’t-miss visit to the space needle, and the Airbnb guest cat’s visit to our home, we hit the sack.
The next day, I found myself standing on a balcony in the world’s largest building by volume- the Boeing factory, staring awe-struck at the world’s longest Boeing 747 plane. The tour guide rendered his clearly overused speech about the host of machines that manufactured the nose, the tail and the wings pointing to the assembly of tools and workers that moved at the rate of 2 inches/hr, moving from one gigantic part to the other, servicing them as they went. It was truly a monumental feat, it seemed, for a tiny human to control the giant beast that stood before us from one end of its 250 ft long body.
Later that day, the urge to drive up to a place not frequented by tourists got the better of us as we headed North towards Snohomish County’s Crystal Lake. The highway turned into a 12 ft wide road as we drove at 50mph. We drove, already planning our next trip, talking about work, memories of school and so much more. Google maps remained our reassuring companion. And then, it threw a huge curve-ball at us. It went dead. The road turned into a dirt path it was 7 pm and we could only see faint glows through the dense forest all around. We suddenly realized that we hadn’t spotted a single car in miles.
As we drove along the narrow road, always on the lookout for cars racing toward us from the other side, the forest got denser, and darker.There was just that one road (or highway as it was called) to Crystal Lake and GPS showed that it abruptly ended in the middle of the forest. Our gas tank was still half full and I was thankful for that, if not anything else! A car passed us by, the sliding door wide open.
2 girls driving through the path that weaved through the black forest in the dead of the night didn’t seem like a wise decision. We turned around and headed back. Instinct told us to stop by the side of the road again to walk up to the river to make up for the lost Crystal Lake. Walking on the side of the highway which had no shoulder – check! Drivers were taken aback as they suddenly spotted us walking by at the road-bend. They even violated the lane rule to keep a safe 15 ft distance from us 😀
A quiet dinner at the Mediterranean fast food joint, served by an angry little man ended a perfect day filled with surprises, awe, unease and mirth. This experience definitely merits another trip to Washington state, a trip that is isn’t tied down by a pre-planned itinerary, a trip that leads to whatever place that strikes our fancy, a trip to “sail away from the safe harbor, catch the trade winds in your sails and Explore, Discover,Dream”, in the words of H.Jackson Brown.