Olympia, Washington   7/21 – 7/25

Olympia, Washington: Population = 50,302 (Metro area = 269,536), elevation = 95  feet, Average January low temp = 33.7º, Average July high temp = 76.8º, Average snowfall = 10.8”

Getting back across the bay on the ferry takes a few hours; get parked on the pier, show passports, drive onto the ship, find a seat or wander around the ship for an hour and a half.  On the American side, I was expecting the ICE ogres with questionnaires and sniffing dogs and mirrors on a stick.  Instead, we got a kind of jolly guy who did a little banter and waved us through.  Easy.

Black Ball’s ferry Coho

Once ashore, we headed straight out of Port Angeles.  We decided that driving to Olympia would take too long, so we opted to stop at Bremerton for the night.  Heading South, the route was a little different and more scenic than the Northbound route.  Highway 3 follows a few of the bays along Puget Sound.  The trees were tall, the forest deep, the land a mix of steep rolling hills and wide muddy bays at low tide.  The traffic was a steady, unbroken stream that we floated along in, varying speeds from kind of slow to very slow.  It was a nice day for a drive.

Driving Puget sound

Bremerton is a town of about 40,000 people.  What is probably the main selling point for the town is that there is a ferry from there to Seattle.  According to a news show we saw, Seattle is very expensive to live in so lots of people live across the Sound and take the ferry to work.  I can’t tell you much about Bremerton.  We went out for dinner, spent the night in a hotel, had breakfast at The Family Pancake House (great cakes!), and then drove on into the traffic jam that is Interstate 5, under construction, near Olympia.

Our rental was not actually in Olympia.  The local AirBnB rentals are few and expensive, so we booked an Extended Stay in nearby suburban Lacey.  As long as we stayed off the freeway, it was a short drive into town.  And we have to visit the town; it is a Capitol City.  First up is the Old Capitol.  Not much info on the website, but the outside looks like a castle.  Inside is a disappointment.  It has been carved up into office space with bland cubicle walls everywhere.

The Old Capitol was once a courthouse. Now it is office space.
The entrance pay homage to Washington with a nice statue and garden

The new capitol building is a lot more impressive.  It sports an unsupported masonry dome that is the 5th highest in the world.  The light fixture dangling from the dome was made by Tiffany and weighs 10,000 pounds.  One very odd thing about the Capitol Building is that there is no artwork.  There are just big grey areas where it should go.  An artist, Michael Spafford, was hired to do a set of murals but, when he started hanging them in 1981, they were so reviled that they were all removed.

The State Capitol in Olympia
An unsupported dome is built like an igloo. Build layer after layer, each slightly smaller circles than the one before.
The Tiffany Chandelier is enormous. A VW Beetle could fit inside the middle.
The Senate chamber. Notice the grey areas high up the walls where the murals are not located.

It seemed like we were in Washington for a long time; we crossed East to West and then North to South.  It is a beautiful state with lovely flowers and trees, mountains, rivers, bays, and ocean.  It might be a great place to live, but we were uncomfortable with all of the sales taxes.  Liquor is taxed at 20.5% and bar drinks at 13.7%, everything else runs close to 10%.  No Thanks Washington, we are headed to Oregon!

A fine but overtaxed beer
South of Olympia, Mount St. Helens rears its broken peak over the forest

Next up:  Newberg OR


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We are two recent retirees who decided to sell the house, pull up stakes, and explore North America. We are both being tourists and looking for the right blend of people, place, and geography that makes for the perfect place to retire.

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