The Northwest

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If you are not familiar with ferry travel, it is almost as special as the destination it takes you to during the course of a vacation.

Recently we were in the Seattle area and decided to spend a few days getting reacquainted with the area.

The city is positioned on a bay within sight of some of the highest mountains in North America. Here, you enjoy the sights of tall pine trees, lakes and a great city with warm people. There are many fine hotels and restaurants with some of the best seafood on the west coast. The city has many hills, much like San Francisco, and you can find great views from almost any location.

If you are staying downtown, walk to Pike Place Market and try some seafood as well as to stroll the shops or just sit and enjoy the activity on the bay. The ferries come and go as well as passenger and cargo ships. Be sure to have some salmon cooked over alder wood – it can’t be beat!

One morning, we drove 25 miles north of Seattle to the city of Everett and took a Boeing Aircraft Factory tour. In this facility they make the 747s, 767s, 777s and the new 787 Dreamliner. The tour should be booked in advance and lasts some two hours.

Upon arrival at the factory we checked in and waited briefly for the tour to begin. You are first led into a rather large theatre and shown a 15-minute film of flight and how Boeing has been a major part of aircraft development over the past 70 years. Then, we boarded a coach and were driven to the largest factory in the world. The building is 472 million cubic feet in volume and Disneyland could be placed within its walls. As we were driving past the runway we saw parked on the ramp three new 787 Dreamliners. This aircraft has yet to be flight-tested, but you may have read about it over the past several years. Half of its construction is of composites and therefore it weighs only half of what it would if it were of only steel materials. It is behind in flight-testing because of some engineering problems, but I understand they have been solved and hopefully the 787 will fly for the first time before the end of the year.

The aircraft will have the range of 8,200 miles; permitting it to fly to many cities in world.

It is not as large as some of the other Boeing models, but because it is not as large as the 777 or 747, it can be used by airlines to fly from medium markets to other medium and large markets. For instance: Denver to Tokyo or Cleveland to Paris. The 787 will have many new features and will set new standards in air travel.

Already, more than 700 aircraft have been ordered by the world’s airlines and it hasn’t even flown yet! The first carrier to order the aircraft is ANA - All Nippon Airlines - and they will be the first to receive the aircraft hopefully in 2010.

So, now we enter the factory and walk the assembly line for the new 747-8 airliner. This new model is longer and offers a new wing and many other new features that the series 400 does not. The first carrier to order the 747-8 is Cargolux and it will be used to carry freight all over the world.

We also walked the production lines of the 767, 777 as well the new 787. We visited the factory on a Sunday morning and there was a full working crew-building aircraft.

After the factory tour we were driven across the runway back to the tour starting point, which is the Museum of Future Flight and Aviation Center. Here are interesting displays of engines, flight decks, aircraft interiors as well as a very complete gift shop with aircraft models, shirts, jackets, caps and many other items for the aircraft interested person.

For reservations to tour the factory phone Boeing at 800-464-1476. It’s a great tour!

The grandchildren were with us and had recently read the “Twilight” book series and had seen the film. John, 7 and Jenna, 9 begged us to drive to the Olympic Peninsula to visit the small town of Forks where most of the story takes place. From Seattle, we drove north on Route 5 and then turned west to Lynnwood where we drove on to a ferry that took about 35 minutes sailing to Kingston, then continued on to Port Angeles on Route 101 through some of the most beautiful countryside you will ever see.

The Olympic Peninsula is a wild and wooded area offering towering mountains and primeval rain forests. We drove from Port Angeles to the misty town of Forks where we had booked bed and breakfast accommodations for the night. Forks is not large and seems to be an area for hunters and fisherman. The Pacific Ocean is not far away. The next morning we took the kids to a general store that was loaded with such articles as T-shirts, caps, pants, jackets and assorted items featuring “Twilight” printed all over them. The children had to purchase some of these for themselves and their friends back home.

After an hour or so of this action, we got back in the car and drove around the area finding locations where the movie was filmed. I have never seen the young people so excited.

The Peninsula is some 3,600 square miles of surprisingly wild country. You find dense rain forests, high rugged peaks and rushing rivers. We visited Hurricane Ridge, Neah Bay, Lake Crescent, Sol Duc Hot Springs, the Hoh Rain Forest, Quinault Rain Forest and Gray’s Harbor.

For years I had been told of the beauty of this territory and we finally saw it. You should too. You will never forget it. The best time to drive is summer or early fall when there is less rain.

If you have the time and are driving your own car, explore other areas in Washington State. And then head south to Portland, Ore. for a visit to this amazing city and environs. Also try to have time to drive to Astoria and head south on Highway 101 to enjoy the Oregon coast.

It’s hard to beat the pleasures and beauty of the Northwest.

Editor’s note: Seattle is one of my favorite places to visit, though I have only been there once. If you have the time and can arrange it, try a dinner cruise on Elliott Bay when there is a full moon — it is a truly magical experience to watch the lights of the city come up along with the moon. Another treat is an underground tour of the city.

My first newspaper job was on the central Oregon coast in the community of Newport. I have not been back in years, but I have great memories of fresh seafood, Crab Louie, Mo’s Clam Chowder and popcorn shrimp.

I agree with Ken about visiting the Pacific Northwest in late summer and the fall ... especially the fall. Take one of the winding roads east from the 101 into the river valleys and get yourself some home canned goods from roadside stands and ship them home.

Learn more about the fun and festivities on the central Oregon coast by checking out former Rim residents Dave and Niki Price’s publication, Oregon Coast Today online at oregoncoasttoday.com. He is the former publisher and she the former editor of the Roundup.

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