You’ve Arrived at Seattle’s Most Retro Grocery Store

Of Course We Found This in Seattle!

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A special “thank you” to Erin and Jeff McNeil, owners of this Grocery Outlet location, for helping UndiscoveredWanderings with this article. We thoroughly enjoyed our visit and are pleased to share our experience with our readership.

When was the last time you thought of a grocery store as a tourist destination? When was the last time you were in Seattle? If there’s any city in America with offbeat grocery stores, why wouldn’t it be here? We were encouraged to visit this particular store by our Airbnb hosts during our visit last year. “It’s a grocery store with lots of cool iconic stuff in it”, we were told.



Our curiosity drew us to the road…

And so we ventured to Grocery Outlet—specifically, the Grocery Outlet of Skyway, Washington, just outside Seattle. It’s one of two stores independently owned and operated by Erin and Jeff McNeil. The McNeils, who’ve been in the grocery business for most of their lives, had a goal: to make their stores not only a place to shop, but also a destination. See why they got UndiscoveredWanderings’s attention? But how does one make a grocery store, of all things, stand out when there’s so many in every neighborhood?

One Word: Retro

It started years ago, when the building located at 68th Avenue South was just another neighborhood grocery store under a different name and ownership. Skyway was a bustling hub, a haven for musicians–including a young, up-and-coming Ray Charles—and intellectuals alike. It had the Route 66 vibe back then, Erin explained to us. The store eventually closed down and the building sat abandoned for a number of years.

But in 2013, the McNeils opened up this, their second store, under the Grocery Outlet chain. Yet they wanted more than just a place to buy groceries. They wanted a place, Erin recounted, that would be talked about and make the community proud. It was their goal to attract shoppers from throughout the Seattle area. With the neighborhood’s rich history in mind, they stuck to Skyway’s retro roots. It’s been a labor of love ever since…and it’s paying off.

The McNeils put as many retro-themed items in their store as possible. They sourced from places in Washington, Oregon, and even Canada to acquire the most offbeat and nostalgic items, including a life size Clark Kent in a phone booth, readying his Superman costume. There’s plenty of local history here, too, like old lockers from the local fire department (see gallery below). All of these items adorn shelves, floor space, and ceiling tiles as you casually make your way through the isles. The aura of the store definitely channels that back-in-time Route 66 feeling.



By the way, Erin and Jeff sourced all of these items within three months prior to Grocery Outlet–Skyway’s grand opening. Not bad. And their primary means for finding all this cool stuff? Craigslist.

Four years later, the McNeils are pleased with the store’s progress; Erin described things as being in a “good rhythm”. Not only has the community flocked to Skyway’s Grocery Outlet, their clientele continues to expand to include regular shoppers from all over the Seattle area. And of course, there’s the out-of-town visitors like us.

This is truly an Undiscovered Wandering, a title we reserve for the most offbeat places we visit. Oh–we mentioned that this place is one of two stores. Yup, there’s another one out there, which we’ll reveal to you soon. Care for a sneak peak? Two words: Bowling Alley.

Stay tuned.

Balloons! Balloons Everywhere!

See You in Albuquerque

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To be honest, UWanderings probably won’t make it there this year, but we went a couple years ago and had a blast. If you catch yourself in the ABQ in early October each year, you might wake up early enough to notice hot air balloons floating around the city. Morning is the best time for ballooning due to air temperature.

It’s a bizarre feeling watching a balloon hover over you while driving on Interstate 25 as you’re heading to the Fiesta’s fairgrounds, where you can get local eats and buy cool souvenirs at any one of the tented venues. A must see if you’re there; a must do if you’re a ballooning enthusiast.

This year’s Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta is from October 7-15, 2017. See the link below for more details.

Official Balloon Fiesta Website

The Final Resting Place of Ernest Hemingway

An American Icon At Peace

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Ernest Hemingway was, by all means, a talented writer–even if he was misunderstood at times. His extraordinary accomplishments and contributions to American literature are undeniable. But Hemingway was also a soldier, traveler, adventurer, and more. Despite his nonconformist life, he did have a dark side; his wild adventures and habits–including drinking–caught up with him in 1961, when he sadly took his own life. 

By then, he had moved to the secluded town of Ketchum in Idaho’s Sun Valley. And it is here where he is buried. The cemetery is down the road from the town’s main strip. It’s not hard to find his grave–it’s the one with books, pens, booze and money left by visitors and admirers (personally, we never condone defacing a grave). A reflection of his talents and struggles. He rests next to his wife, Mary Welsh Hemingway, who passed away a number of years after her husband.

Our visit was solemn, silent, and reflective.

Rest in peace, Mr. Hemingway.

Summer’s Pretty Much Over, So Why Not Another Road Trip?

Fall is Perfect for the Open Roads

Summer may be over, but that’s no excuse to not travel! If you’re looking for that last hurrah, look no further than this article about truly offbeat places by our Guest Contributor, Sally Perkins.

A big thank you to Sally, who has written for us before. We’re thrilled to have her back in this installment about unexplored places in America’s Midwest, West Coast, and the South. Sally is a professional freelance writer with many years experience across many different areas. She made the move to freelancing from a stressful corporate job and loves the work-life balance it offers her. When not at work, Sally enjoys reading, hiking, spending time with her family, and traveling as much as possible.

Spice Up Your Road Trip with These Unique Ideas

By Sally Perkins



There is nothing more appealing than setting out on the wide-open road with your friends for the road trip of your dreams. But wouldn’t it be even more fun to take a road trip that only you and your friends have witnessed? By setting out on any of these unique road trip ideas, you can guarantee that your trip is unconventional and full of irreplaceable memories that you’ll never forget.

Unconventional Road Tripping Maps 

We’ve all heard of the great American road trips on Route 66 or visiting any of the popular national parks, like Yellowstone National Park or the Grand Canyon. Make your road trip interesting by choosing to take a route that is, as they say, off the beaten path. Oftentimes, the best road trips are the ones that take place spontaneously and in places you wouldn’t normally view as exciting. Try driving across your own home state for a change! Here’s some examples…

Ohio: Ohio is the classic flyover state. Though it gets mentioned in television and films a lot, it is actually home to many strange attractions to spice up your road trip fun. Starting in the northeast corner, in Geneva, you can stop for a game of miniature golf at the oldest mini-golf course in the U.S. You can then visit the many graveyards in the state where former U.S. presidents now rest, including James Garfield in Cleveland. You can also pay homage to the Rockefeller family. There are also a bunch of truly weird attractions, like the world’s largest loaf of bread in Urbana, and haunted places like the Ohio State Reformatory in Mansfield, where the famous movie Shawshank Redemption was filmed.



Bay Area: If strange places in the Midwest don’t interest you, there’s also the beautiful West Coast. The San Francisco Bay Area is a great place to start. Driving in nearly any direction for a few hours will bring you to stunning sites of nature and wildlife. Heading north three hours, you’ll hit the Anderson Valley region. A little less conventional than Napa or Sonoma, this wine-tasting locale also includes an award-winning brewery, Anderson Valley Brewing Company, facilities for cheese making that you can tour, and state parks like Henry Woods

Southern Charm: A third idea for an unconventional road trip is to visit the vast south and hit the road. Though you may not know it, Texas is home to plenty of bizarre happenings, from alien-sightings to spaceship dwellings. Beginning in the northeast part of the state, you can visit the gravesite of a pilot from a UFO in Aurora, Texas. Hitting a few of these stops on your trip will definitely add to the fun and eccentricity of your road trip.

Prepping for your Road Trip 

It is a good thing to keep in mind that you should make sure your vehicle is ready for the ride before setting out. While you and your friends’ attitudes may be to get on the road as fast as possible and deal with the particulars later, checking your vehicle’s oil, mileage, and tire pressure are all wise safety checks to confirm before driving long distances. Taking the proper steps to cleaning your car will make the trip easier, as you will have a clean slate and a more fuel-efficient vehicle from the very start. 
 
Planning an unconventional road trip takes time and consideration, but your friends will certainly thank you once you are discovering parts of the wild that you may never have witnessed otherwise.

Reno’s Spider Bug

It Rises

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As you may recall, UndiscoveredWanderings spent a good chunk of summer 2016 in Reno, Nevada–part of our three-month inaugural road trip that took us across America, plus a couple excursions to Canada and Mexico. Our stay in Reno was short but memorable: we went drifting, found a swap meet for car people, visited a foreign country just outside Virginia City, and we even did a feature on the famous In-N-Out, which is something we’re sadly missing on the East Coast. What wonderful burgers that place has!

It was during our visit to In-N-Out that we noticed, around the corner, a creature hanging out on the roof of a neighboring building. 

And that’s when we met the spider car sculpture, adorning the top of Scudder’s Performance automotive shop. Technically in the neighboring city of Sparks, the Spider Bug, as it’s locally known, is already famous among locals and car buffs. Once built for another purpose by artist David Farmbrough, Mr. Scudder rescued the spider–which has an old VW Bug for a body–from the scrap heap and made it the unofficial mascot of his business. The Spider Bug has sat atop Scudder’s Performance for the last several years now, making it a welcome fixture in a city known for quirky things.

Links
Scudder’s Performance

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