YXCDVi3nSe+lUWyLhiaw4AThis stop was a very different kind of camping. It’s really traveling, without having to endure staying in a hotel. I had two primary goals here: see two lifelong friends, and see our favorite comedian. Both were located in Seattle and so we stayed in a KOA to the south. Coming straight off some forest service campgrounds and a national park, it ain’t much to look at as campgrounds go, and it’s probably the most sardine-packed KOA I’ve ever seen, but it also provides full hookups, laundry, and a safe place to leave Dory while we do city mice things. So it’s perfect.

Gu4h0CJbQxGD3%LLv+RG+wOn our way, we stopped at a very special place. My friend, Anne, happens to be the granddaughter of the people who donated 500 acres of land back in the 70s in order to create a wildlife refuge. Its name is Northwest Trek, and remains one of my all time favorite places to visit. It operates as a refuge and rescue facility for a variety of animals who do, or did, call the northwest their home. There are enclosed habitats for the predators and smaller animals, as well as a huge open roaming territory for the herbivores. The habitats are created in such a way that the animals have the ability to hide from humans when they wish. Because of this, it is entirely possible you won’t see anyone, especially around midday. I happen to love this, but be aware you may need to come back and try later in the day to catch some views when they’re out of hiding.

zikzpm7MSCWKYIvpu%JypgThis is what happened when we arrived, which was probably around 2pm. As we headed toward the trams, having seen zero critters in their enclosures, we were muttering, “Now eventually you do plan to have wild animals? In your wild animal park?” The tram tour corrected the trend and we saw enough free roaming wildlife to make the driver visibly giddy. We apparently spotted 5 out of 6 of their moose (hooray!), plus herds of bison, elk, mountain goats, longhorn sheep, and plenty of deer, all up close and personal. That was fun.

kHSXHstcSHiA1%Wv8oisLwReturning to the habitats, we saw everybody, being all happy and active, and seeming not to care much whether there were humans staring at them. I could spend hours watching otters, and may have. We also witnessed some impressive bear play between two young males. Both were orphaned and not able to be released into the wild. The habitats don’t appear to have much of a barrier between the animals and spectators, causing one to really question whether one of them could clear the trench if they ever wanted to. My friend reminded me later that they are very well fed. However, she tells stories of being in the park essentially alone (a super nice perk for having cool grandparents) and coming across a pack of wolves staring her down hard. Doesn’t matter how much people explain it’s safe at that point. I highly recommend a visit to this place if you’re anywhere close to Seattle. It’s only about an hour drive away and very cool.

V0ZjpHCcSr+aAx2CvYbiFQThe next day was devoted to being tourists with my pals. They played tour guide in a spectacular way and we had a blast. Included in the day’s itinerary was a lovely lunch at Toulouse Petit, followed by a fully hipster coffee experience at La Marzocco. It doesn’t get any more Seattle than this, I figure. Richard got an espresso that met his expectations, and that’s not so easy. They give classes on making the perfect espresso drinks, ranging from novice to expert, including steamed milk latte art. Fully caffeinated we followed with a trip up the Space Needle (actually just one bud went up with me), and a spin through the Chihuly Gardens. That one was a thrill for me because a) I’m a sucker for color, and b) I had just missed the exhibit when I first went to Montreal four years ago to pick up Dory. Pictures don’t do it justice. Put all of that into a city center with a Polish heritage festival going on, and you’ve got yourself a big day.

vtNY7dEASp6a3ArxsVWAegBut wait, there’s more. That evening we had tickets to see Eddie Izzard. As a comedian, he’s hard to describe. If you know him, you get how hysterical he is and his latest show does not disappoint. In addition to being brilliant, and worldly wise, and hysterically funny, he is also a transvestite (an “executive transvestite” to be specific). Appropriately enough, the man sitting next to us was dressed very tastefully, wearing classy women’s clothes, makeup, and sporting a hair cut I could never pull off. He was beautiful and we struck up a fascinating conversation about his journey. People around us joined in and the experience gave me an uplifting feeling about people. And then of course, there’s Eddie, who can transition from a riff on what would happen if there were animals besides humans who became bat-like superheroes (“I am Bat Giraffe.” “I am Bat Crocodile.” “I am Bat Bat.”), to how to push off the destructive power of evil by doubling (not ‘re-doubling’ as he points out because that makes no sense) our own efforts to do good in the world. I so love that man.

IMG_6192Saturday exhausted the country mice. Sunday was a glorious recouping day filled with: laundry, internet and blogging catch up, shopping, and route planning for the next leg of the journey.

Perfection. What a great stay. But the best part for me was, of course, hanging with the Paly peeps. Let’s do it again, shall we?

Total miles from Windy Point: 85.4, 17.6 mpg, 3 hours 1 min. It’s a KOA, though I must point out it’s incredibly tightly packed and right next to a busy street (and an Amazon Fulfillment Center) so there’s road noise. There’s also 5G, a win. And, they serve all-you-can-eat pancakes in the morning. They also showed outdoor family movies at night.

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