Over the last 10 years of traveling to the far flung counties of the United States, I’ve discovered the important of status in travel loyalty programs. While I’ve frequently benefited from great upgrades at Marriott, on this trip to Seattle it wasn’t my Bonvoy status that really helped me; this time it was my top tier status with Hertz that made the difference.
With so many folks taking advantage of ride sharing, I’ve occasionally heard things like “who rents cars these days?” or “why bother with rental car loyalty programs?” I suppose for some, renting a car isn't really practical, especially if the majority of travel takes place in large cities. For county collecting, a rental car is a necessity. So I was pleased earlier this year when Hertz granted me their top status—President’s Circle—through the end of 2020. By the way, for Bonvoy members who occasionally rent cars, it might be worthwhile to link your account with Hertz. Titaniums and Ambassadors can get elevated status (Hertz-Marriott elevated status). You can imagine my delight at being able the select a 2019 Jaguar XE without having to pay extra.
And just in case you think I just photographed someone else’s car, this should put that thought to rest.
Speaking of status, the reason for this trip was to renew my MVP status with Alaska Airlines. After returning from my Alaska cruise this summer, I realized I would need another trip to accumulate enough miles to reach what is essentially silver status on AS. When running the numbers, I discovered I’d need to make two round-trips to Seattle in economy or one in first class, so I picked the least expensive first class weekend flights I could find and decided to add in a day of county collecting for good measure. The flights have already posted and my status is assured for another year.
The flight (in iahflyr's favorite seat 1A) to Seattle was great and in relatively short time I was in my rented Jaguar and on the road. Since my county plans were all north of Seattle, I zipped through town and grabbed a late bite to eat before heading to the Residence Inn in North Seattle/Lynnwood. As anticipated, I was up early (still on east coast time) and on the road before breakfast. I only had 5 stops planned for the day, but one of them would require some time on the water.
I skipped Everett (for now) and headed straight for Mt. Vernon, the Skagit County seat. From there it was an easy shot over to Anacortes where I parked the car and hopped aboard the Washington State ferry system to visit Friday Harbor. Over the years, I’ve crossed Puget Sound by ferry plenty of times, but this was my first visit to the San Juan Islands. Having checked the schedules before leaving home, I knew I wanted to catch the 8:30 ferry to Friday Harbor and the 11:05 coming back. The crossing takes about an hour, so that gave me roughly 90 minutes to explore. The main part of town is fairly small, so it turned out to be enough time.
As you can see, the weather wasn’t exactly idea for a leisurely stroll around town. No matter. Umbrella in hand, I wandered through the streets an up the hill to the county courthouse. I popped into a few shops, dropped a postcard in the mail, and before I knew it I was back on the ferry heading to Anacortes. From there it was on to Coupeville, Bellingham, and finally Everett before heading to the Moxy in Seattle. I thought I would give the brand a second look, having previously stayed the one in Denver last summer. While I still can’t claim to be a fan, I found the Moxy in Seattle be a much better experience. Perhaps it was knowing what to expect. Perhaps it was the friendlier bartenders. The room was certainly a bit less cramped this time, so maybe that had something to do with it. While I doubt I’ll be seeking out Moxy locations for future stays, under the right circumstances it is an option.
While in Seattle, I learned there was an Australian/New Zealand themed pub, Kangaroo and Kiwi, not too far from where I was staying. Having grown up in Australia, I had to give it a try. In the US, places like this usually serve typical American food (burgers and wings) with ‘cutesy’ names to make them sound Australian. There was some of that, but I was pleased to find a good old Aussie meat pie (topped with mash and brown gravy) on the menu. There were also sausage rolls and NZ lamb chops. To use the proper Australian slang, this place is bonzer. As with most pubs, there are plenty of teles to watch the game (footy or rugby). There is even a life-sized Ned Kelly statue in full bushranger gear (look it up if that sentence confused you ). While this pub might not be completely ‘fair dinkum,’ it’s about as good as you’ll get in the USA. Oh, one last thing. Kangaroo and Kiwi is part of the ‘Eat Around Town’ program, so you can earn additional Bonvoy points if you’re signed up.
Since this trip was really a mileage run, I’m pleased that I was able to squeeze in 5 county visits. With the exception of Friday Harbor, I had visited all the county seats back during the years I lived in the Seattle area, but that was before I started mailing postcards to document my visits. Here are the before and after maps. Not a lot of changes, but every county brings my overall goal one step closer.
In just a couple days, I’m off again, this time to Denver and north into Wyoming. Also in the plan are a few counties in southwest Nebraska. As usual, there will be a blog post a few days after I return home.