A gardener’s paradise in Woodinville
As Master Gardeners, Gail and I decided a trip to Woodinville was in order. Our destination: Molbaks, an extraordinary garden store and nursery. Besides the usual good things about traveling by bus, (gas and parking costs, I-5 anxiety, etc) we wouldn’t be tempted to buy too many plants and other garden goodies!
We decided to drive to the Lakewood station (Exit 125/Bridgeport Way) in order to give us more time options for our return trip. Taking the 10:33 am Sound Transit 594 took us to downtown Seattle (4th and Union) by 11:55. Gail used her ORCA card for the first time. The ORCA card is so convenient… no digging up the correct cash and/or coins, and the card reader tells you the cash balance remaining on your card. The ORCA card is the ONLY payment method that recognizes “transfers” if you ride more than one bus. www.ORCAcard.com
A Seattle-blue sky and unusually fluffy white clouds greeted us as we strolled one block west (towards the Sound) to 3rd and Union. Sound Transit’s 522 (to Woodinville) came along just after noon. Route 522 travels up I-5 for a bit, getting off at Lake City Way, turning east passing through Kenmore, and then on to Bothell Way. Third Place Books (a wonderful independent book store) is located at 17171 Bothell Way, at the Lake Forest Park Mall. The bus took a slight detour to stop at the modern University of Washington/Cascadia College Bothell campus. We then got back on highway 522, entering the outskirts of Woodinville.
The bus route passed by many malls and large box stores. We exited the bus at NE 178th Place and 138th Place NE at about 12:50. The helpful bus driver pointed out the direction of Molbaks. We walked through a few parking lots to Molbaks, located at 13625 NE 175th. We were hungry by this time, so we headed to the conservatory-like café within the store. After ordering our lunch, we found a bistro-style table and chairs among the fountain, pond, and tropical plants. Note to self: The café would be especially cozy on a dreary winter day…
After eating, we were ready to browse. Plants, outdoor furniture, garden tools, fountains… as far as you can see in any direction… await you. It was an overwhelming experience. Flowers of all types (orchids, geraniums, roses…you name it, it was there!) were arranged by color. The area devoted to seeds was huge. Gail bought some vegetable seeds and I found a sought-after patio tomato variety.
We picked up literature about Molbaks and the Woodinville environs. The Molbaks calendar for May and June is filled with demonstrations, seminars, wine tastings, book signing and more. They even have “Sprout sessions” for young “budding” gardeners. Check their current calendar of events at www.molbaks.com
After buying our goods, we packed up (tomato plant in backpack) and headed back to the bus stop (178th Place and 138th Place, in front of a mall which includes a Target store). We had about 15 minutes to spare, so we took a quick look at the Cost Plus Market, which was next door.
The bus (Sound Transit 522) runs every 30 minutes, from early morning (5:00) to late night (midnight), so you never have to wait for long. The trip back to Seattle was uneventful, taking just under an hour. Commute traffic had started; so glad we weren’t driving!
We exited the bus at 6th and Union, and walked a few block north and west to the Westlake Mall (Pike and 4th). Our destination at the Mall was Daisos, a Japanese discount store located on the lower level. I was looking for Sumi-e art supplies. I found calligraphy paper, brushes, ink, and inkstone, each for only $1.50. Gail found some interesting and unique origami paper. What a fun place to find kids party favors or Christmas stocking stuffers!
Friday afternoon traffic on I-5 is usually brutal (even for buses) so we decided to take the Sounder (train) back home. Just outside Daisos is the entrance to the Seattle Metro bus/light link tunnel. Once you enter the bus tunnel, turn right, and down the stairs to the SOUTH buses at Bay 3. Being in the tunnel is somewhat disorienting… no visible landmarks, except for the station names. We got off at the Pioneer Square station and walked the few blocks south to the King Street Station. (We should have stayed on the bus until the next stop, International District, which is even closer to the King Street Station).
The Sounder is best accessed from the street level on the west side of the King Street Station (look for the clock tower). Be sure you are on the correct train (Tacoma, NOT Everett). We waited about 10 minutes for the next train, finding a seat with a table on the 2nd level. What a civilized way to travel! We pulled out of the station at 5:40, spending our time planning our summer bus trip schedule (oh… there will be some GOOD ones… be sure to check back throughout the summer!) We arrived at the Tacoma Dome station at 6:39, finding the free 599 shuttle bus waiting for Sounder passengers just to the left of the front of the train.
We were at the Lakewood Station shortly after 7:00, arriving rested and satisfied by another fun adventure.
Cost summary: The northbound bus trip (594 to Seattle; transferring to 522 to Woodinville) cost $5.50. The southbound trip (594 to Seattle; Sounder train to Tacoma/Lakewood) cost $7.00.