I start the morning standing at the prow of the sailboat-inspired Grant Street Pier in Vancouver, Washington, looking south across the mighty Columbia River. One of my favorite cities, Portland, beckons on the Oregon side, but today I’m northbound, to Seattle.
My Acura TLX Type S has a full tank, but I’m on empty, so before hitting the highway I stop downtown at the Kafiex Roasters – Coffee Lab for a fair-trade latte with lavender syrup, plus an egg, cheese, and avocado sandwich on a house-baked croissant. That high-octane fuel does its job: Gunning the Acura’s turbo V6 as I pull onto I-5, I feel like I could make Alaska in one shot.
The first stretch of the Interstate is rather unlovely, but it’s impossible to keep the Pacific Northwest scenery at bay for long, and in less than an hour I’m wending my way up Washington State Route 504 toward Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. In 1980, the volcano erupted in a series of cataclysmic blasts, spreading ash across 11 states and reducing the mountain’s height by 1,300 feet. And it’s still active: I saw smoke rising from the peak when I lived in Portland in 2004.
All’s quiet today, though—just a closed observatory and a crater obscured by snow and clouds.
Buzzing from my brush with danger, I return to I-5. A few minutes later, as the highway crests a rise, I see the top of the Washington State Capitol peeking above the pines. I pull off in Olympia to check out the scenic capitol campus—the 1928 Legislative Building has the fifth-tallest self-supporting masonry dome in the world—but I have to be honest, I’m more interested in a different photo op. I get back in the car and thrash my head to the roar of “Call the Doctor” until I reach Sleater-Kinney Road, in the suburb of Lacey. I exit and snap a shot of a street sign; that will have to do until someone builds a proper monument to Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker.
The next sight, much like Mount St. Helens, is both beautiful and notorious. The Tacoma Narrows Bridge was nicknamed “Galloping Gertie” by the workers who built it because of how its deck rocked when winds were high. Always listen to the work crew: Just four months after opening in 1940, the bridge collapsed in spectacular fashion. While the 1950 replacement span retained the nickname, the only galloping being done as I cross today is by the 355 horses under the Acura’s hood.
I’ve risked a lot of danger today—volcanoes, bridges, punk rockers—so why not cap things off by driving on water? I mean, of course, with the Acura securely parked on the deck of a Washington State Ferry boat. I pull up to the terminal in Bremerton, and soon the car is on board and I’m standing on the top deck, wind whipping all around me, as we chug across Puget Sound. Mount Rainier looms huge on the horizon for the first part of the ride, but then the bright lights of Seattle’s skyline, from the Space Needle to the stadiums in SoDo, make their play for my attention.
As I drive off the ferry, I realize I haven’t eaten since Vancouver. Fortunately, I’m right next to the Pike Place Market. After engaging in my most dangerous activity yet—searching for parking near the market—I head in for dinner. From Rainier cherries to Dungeness crabs, the range of comestibles on hand is staggering, but I decide to treat myself to a meal at Pike Place’s highest-end restaurant, Matt’s in the Market. I dig into oysters on the half shell and King salmon while gazing out toward the waters whence they came. What could make a more perfect ending to my jaunt to the Emerald City? Ah, there it is: raindrops splashing against the window.
2021 Acura TLX Type S
Acura may be Honda’s luxury brand, but other than the NSX supercar there hasn’t been a performance version of any of the marque’s vehicles in the last decade. That changed this year, and the new TLX Type S is the platonic ideal of a sport sedan. The cabin is capacious, comfortable (thanks to the Ultrasuede-trimmed seats), and quiet, but when you dial the performance mode to Sport+ you’ll hear every one of the 3-liter, turbo V6’s 355 ponies. The torque-vectoring all-wheel-drive system and 10-speed transmission ensure that power is distributed smoothly and where it needs to be. It’s enough to make you think you might not need that ferry to get across the water after all…
From $52,300, acura.com