I swear, you look out the window here, see blue skies and wispy clouds, so dress accordingly. By the time you get the t-shirt on, the skies have greyed up and 15 minutes later cold rain is pouring down. I've read that there is only one outdoor swimming pool in all Seattle, and I'm understanding why.
So, raincoats in hand, we headed downtown Wednesday morning. I was amazed that it only took 10 minutes. Cheap Larry made up for the fast travel time by circling around looking for parking spaces and pricing parking garages. He finally admitted defeat, and pulled into a garage near Pioneer Square. I think the poor unfortunates who had been muttering into their brown bags last time we were there 16 years ago were still on the benches.
We got tickets for the Underground Tour, and then went into the Mystery Bookstore around the corner to kill a few minutes. Yes, books were purchased.
The tour begins in a reproduction of a saloon, where a guide gives a pretty good talk about Seatttle's early history, peppered with enough bad jokes to make even Dan's eyes roll. Actually, this guide was entertaining, and at least the toilet jokes were in context when talking about 19th century attempts at civil engineering. Then, we were split into groups, and let down into the abandoned areas under Seattle's current streets. More toilet humor from our guide, who wasn't nearly as effective as the last one. It was interesting to see and hear about this underground area, made by diffferent levels of streets, sidewalks and buildings as Seattle tried to cope with tide flats, unstable ground, rebuilding from fire and earthquake, and growing population.
We took a bus the few stops up to Pike Place Market, on what we dubbed the "Wino Express" that could have been fueled by the passenger sitting next to me. Bus service downtown is free, which is very cool.
We got off the bus, and hey, blue skies again! Wandered around looking for lunch, and decided to just get sandwiches from the cheese shop opposite the market, which makes several of their own cheeses in a big windowed area. Toasted cheese and crab sandwich was a winner.
Wandered around and through the market, eating free samples and nibbles along the way. Had to make the kids stop and wait for someone to order a salmon at Pike Seafood so they could hear the cheer and see the poor fish flying through the air.
Oh look, it's raining again. We got back on the bus, retreived the car, and headed over to the Space Needle area. More circling looking for parking, frustrated by the 6-quarter an hour meters and our collection of four quarters and some euro coins. Another lot after a three-against-one vote in the car. We spent some time inside the Experience Music Project and the Science Fiction Museum, two museums that are a personal project by Paul Allen, one of the founders of Microsoft. He hired Frank Geahry to build what looks like a huge multicolored blob next to the Space needle to house his personal collection of music and sci fi memorabilia. They've obviously thrown a lot of money at the place, but it is in serious need of a real curator to give the exhibits some context and be more than an expensive showcase for a collector's geeky junk. Still, fun. We decided the cloud cover was too thick to make going up into the Space Needle worthwhile, so we'll try on Friday when the forecast promises sun.
We drove around a bit, checking out different neighborhoods. Seattle is another city with almost a village-y feel, with low buildings, nice commercial streets, and many single-family houses. Back home, eventually, some rest, and we got the boys burgers while Larry and I met M and G for dinner at Volterra in Ballard. Excellent meal, great company and conversation.