Summer Road Trips, Sans the Car

Hop a Groovy Bus to P-Town

Itching to get south of the border? Go green on the new biodiesel-powered shuttle. Started last fall by former Evergreen student Jacob Rosenblum and Portland resident Benjamin Koenigsberg, Shared Route runs from Seattle to Portland (with a stop in Olympia) every Friday, Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. At $30 one way, it costs about the same as Greyhound or Amtrak, and this peace train welcomes not only colorful characters but their bikes and pets, too. (And there are no limits on what kind of nonhuman friend you can bring, as long as you can keep it close.) Make a reservation online or just show up at the King Street Station shortly before the 2:30 p.m. departure time. (The shuttle only seats 12, but there's been just one sell-out so far.) "It's a lot more fun and friendly than your typical transit experience. People usually chat each other up," Rosenblum says, adding that the driver is happy to play passengers' CDs over the speakers. Though these young entrepreneurs hope to expand, there's currently only one trip per day— and it gets you into Portland's Union Station at 6:15 p.m. So, make a weekend out of it! www.sharedroute.org. AIMEE CURL

Located a mere eight miles (by sea) from the downtown Seattle waterfront, Blake Island is best known for being the home to Tillicum Village, a Native American lodge–like structure that serves up some mean salmon and features a deliciously cheesy Vegas-style historical retrospective from the mind of Elliott Avenue showman Greg Thompson. Less well known is the fact that none other than Chief Seattle was born on Blake Island (or at least a stork dropped him off there), that the majority of its 475-acre terrain is a virtually unencumbered state park which welcomes overnight campers, and that the island is only reachable by private or chartered boat. For a moorage fee of 10 bones per night, you and a lover can pilot your dad's trusty cigarette boat out to the isle, pop Keith Sweat in a portable stereo, and freak nasty under the moonlight without fear of getting ejected from the dance by a prudish trigonometry teacher. www.parks.wa.gov, www.blakeislandcruises.com, www.tillicumvillage.com. MIKE SEELY

Contrary to what those monorail morons wanted you to believe, getting out to West Seattle couldn't be easier, on the back of the mighty Metro 54. Hop on it downtown, and it'll whisk you over the freeway and down the length of Fauntleroy Way. At about the 30-minute mark, you'll hop off at Lincoln Park, one of Seattle's best—and not all that heavily used by those outside the neighborhood. Its 135 acres includes five miles of trails, including a stunner that goes all along the point under a canopy of trees; it's one of the best Puget Sound walks you're going to find. At the tip of the point is the park's most famous amenity: an Olympic-size, heated, outdoor, salt-water pool that's open summer-only. The 54 runs twice an hour on weekends. www.seattle.gov/parks, transit.metrokc.gov. MARK D. FEFER

The Oregon-based beer, lifestyle 'n' lodge company McMenamin's first overnight-stay foray into Washington state has been a boon to tourism in Centralia's sleepy downtown. Featuring a gorgeously refurbished theater (movies, music), two pubs, and a vintage hotel, the Olympic Club is actually a former whorehouse and bootlegger's palace described on the resort's Web site as being "a point of power, intrigue and contention since opening in 1908." Also, the resort contains "mammoth porcelain urinals." In other words, don't expect to get cut off by bartenders. The best part about the whole deal is the Oly Club is right next to Centralia's train station, which means you can get a head start in the bar car after picking up a Chinatown hooker to take advantage of the other half of Amtrak's two-for-one special. That's really the only way to pay proper homage to a Prohibition-era den ofdebauchery, isn't it? 112 N. Tower Ave., Centralia, 360-736-5164, www.mcmenamins.com. MIKE SEELY

Feeling the need for some green space, but don't want to schlepp all the way to Alki Beach? Get your kicks in with a trip to the REI flagship store. Climb the Pinnacle—a 60-foot-tall adventure-beckoning unit, once the largest indoor climbing structure in the world. One pass runs you $15, only $5 if you're a member; shoes, harnesses, and resin balls supplied (a lifetime membership is $15). Souvenirs from Everest and REI's pioneering history abound in the woodsy entrance that's part camping lodge, part museum of the great outdoors. Outside, in the bike track encircling the store, you can also test a mountain bike in a proper setting, one with lush vegetation, trails, trees and a waterfall. People who are "shopping for hiking boots" can make use of the textured track indoors or a hiking trail snaking along the perimeter outside, intertwining with the bike path. (Collisions with unsuspecting pedestrians trying to enter the store? That's just part of the fun.) Street-bike shoppers can test those in the proper place outside the store, in the streets themselves (and, ostensibly, bring them back). Afterward, grab an iced latte from the cafe and some dehydrated ice cream from the camping-supply section. Chill out on the deck upstairs overlooking the waterfall; it's loud enough to drown out even the sounds of nearby I-5. Feels far away, indeed. Nearby bus routes include the 8, 25, 27, 41, 66, 70, 71, 72, and 73. 222 Yale Ave. N., 223-1944. KARLA STARR

 
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