June 6 - 10 2017
How We Got There
Yuri flew on Southwest from Cincinnati to Seattle during their first week of operations in that airport with a layover in Midway. Per my friend Nathan, I "turned a commuter flight into an event" by taking Jet Blue from Oakland to Seattle with a layover in Long Beach. We rented a Car in Seattle and drove about an hour down I-5 to Olympia.
How We Got Around
The public transport system in Olympia is virtually nonexistent. In addition they do not have Lyft either. Our hotel was located downtown so we were able to walk to most places when it was not raining (which was rare). We got around with our rental car to places outside of downtown.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Town Place Suites which was the only Marriott in the city. This was a pretty new hotel with comfortable furniture, beautiful decor, a modern design, free breakfast, and great wifi.
What We Did
We both skipped sleep the day before so once we arrived in the hotel we passed out. We awoke at around 11PM to forage for food and ran across a diner on 4th street called King Solomon's Reef that was open. After dinner we went back to the hotel to plan the rest of our day.
While driving into Olympia you can't miss a gigantic mountain in the distance. It's size becomes even more impressive when you realize its roughly 60 miles away from town. We wanted to watch the sun rise so we headed to Mt. Rainier at around 4AM. Two hours later we entered the national park, and then spend the next 3 hours making our way up the mountain with very frequent stops to take in the beautiful vistas, wildlife, and waterfalls.
Once we reached the top of the mountain, I had breakfast at the Paradise Inn and we headed back to Olympia. We stopped by Browsers Books where I picked up way too many books including a real Gem called "Olympia" by David Scherer Water. This comedic nonfiction book about the history, culture, and people of Olympia was one of the best local history books that I have ever read. We passed out at the hotel afterwards and were late to a dinner with a new friend that we made on Facebook. We felt really horrible about this. We ended up meeting her at a bar and watching a local cover band play some tunes before heading over to Quality Burrito for dinner.
We started the next day by visiting the Olympia farmers market. Afterwards we went to the capitol, walked around the piers and ended the day at Tumwater falls.
The next day, I turned 29. It was really great to spend the day with my brother. After reading "Olympia" I emailed David and asked if he would be able to meet us. He agreed and it was a really great birthday treat to be able to meet and talk to him for an hour about history, writing, Olympia, and life. I ended by birthday by watching "Lost City of Z" at an old theatre, eating Russian Dumplings, and getting ice cream.
The next day we left Olympia early and headed down to Salem along the Washington and Oregon coast.
What Was the Fuss
Similar to Frankfort or Carson City, Olympia is the kind of place that you have to go to intentionally. Most folks drive past it on the way to either Seattle or Portland. For being such a small town, I was surprised to learn that they have 3 weekly free papers in addition to their daily newspaper.
I was a bit disappointed that they didn't have any museums. They used to have a history museum but it has been closed down for years. Instead of art museums, it seems that local artists use alleys and streets instead, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
The capitol building itself is very impressive. It is one of the largest mason domes in the world and the interior and surrounding grounds are beautiful. Looking out into the distance past capitol lake you can see a mountain range.
Besides the government, it is not clear if Olympia has any other industry. Despite these shortcomings, I really enjoyed our time in Olympia. It was a peaceful town, with beautiful scenery, great people, tons of culture, and a whole lot of "weird" stuff.