Date of Trip: August 2005
In August of 2005, my parents invited my brother and me to join them on a trip to Seattle.Everyone had completedtheirundergraduate requirements, so we thought that we would celebrate the end to the most enjoyable part of life, childhood.My parents had done a combined Seattle, Alaska and Hawaii trip for their 25th anniversary, so they already knew a bit about the area.
The flight was relatively uneventful, except that I had just read some article about DVT, or deep vein thrombosis, and so I was nervous during the entire flight that I would end up with a blood clot in my leg, that would break apart, shootinto my lung and kill me. It was a delightful way to begin the trip. We arrived at Seattle without issue and took the thirty minute taxi ride with a kindly Kazakstani driverto our accommodations.
As in most things, I was completely unaware of what our accommodations would look like. When we arrived, I was certainly impressed. We would be spending the three nights on the waterfront, in a tenth floor, two bedroom, two bath apartment. The flat also included a small balcony offering a fine view of the harbor. We sat there watching the various ferries, tugs and other ships slogging their way back and forth. From our vantage point, none of the boats seemed to be in much of a hurry.
During the first full day, the sky was so crystalline; we were able to see the 14,000 + tall Mt. Rainier, looming massively 50 miles to the southeast. The mountain is actually an active volcano, but no one seems to worry much about the possibility of eruption.
I think my parents had a Seattle guidebook with them, which they used to choose the location of our first meal. I can’t remember what the place was called, but they served only soups, and a few different “rolls,” which are,not surprisingly,rolls with crab, chicken or lobster salad plopped on top. Pops ordered the soup sampler, which included four different soups –clam chowder, lobster bisque, cream of chicken, and some other choice. His eyes, at first glittering with childlike expectation, slackened somewhat after he tasted each soup. I had the chicken salad roll, a safe choice, but one that I’ve regretted ever since.
The place was crowded, so the family unit had to be split up into two tables of two. My brother and I were seated at one table. I was facing the window, eating my roll, aimlessly watching the people pass. Out of the corner of my sightline, I caught a muttering homeless man, face flushed, clothes clinging grotesquely to his body, stumbling purposefully past. At the moment he crossed in front of me, the sands stopped falling. Through the glass window, I noticed my own vague reflection merging with his stooped body. His canceled eyes became my canceled eyes. I felt a sharp twinge of burning pain in my chest, and I was struck with an overwhelming sense of doom. I wasn’t sure what the hell was happening to me, a 23 year old in pristine physical condition, my body a flawless engine (my face being the exception), a harmoniously functioning system capable of incredible feats, but Iimmediatelyfound myselfin a worst-case scenario mindset. I found out later that is was heartburn and not a heart attack. After an emasculating visit to the Emergency room, a freak show setting starring clinically insane shriekers, drug abusers, expectant families and friends tightly clutching their belongings, a patient in handcuffs in the bed next to me, repeatedly asking who had called the police to report his passed out body, I was discharged. Now, I look back, and it all seems kind of funny.
The typical tourist attractions were on our list of things to do: The Seattle Underground Tour, the Experience Music Project, a Mariners game and a boat tour around the harbor.
The tour was well presented and enlightening. It’s hard to believe — even after experiencing it first hand — that the people of Seattle decided to raise a large part of the downtown area one to two floors following the Great Seattle Fire of 1889. There was, however, a drainage/sewage issue that the elevation seemed to fix. Prior to the raising, a boy is rumored to have drowned in a pothole. Businesses continued in the underground, and sprouted anew on the raised portions, creating a bizarre combination of ladders, make- shift bridges, and people interacting at wildly divergent heights. The tour guide was amusing, but there was this one young couple that who seemed to be trying to ruin the tour. These types of tours feature an average of one story + punch-line, or one liner per minute. It’s fun to gauge the audience response to the “jokes” some of which are pretty clever. During the entire tour, this adwizard, who had taken the tour ten times, continuously gave away the punch-line before the guide. I understand he was trying to impress his girlfriend/date, but I wanted to slap him.
The Experience Music Project is like the Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame, but much, much better. When we were there, they had a fascinating Dylan exhibit. I really came to think much more highly of Dylan as a man, but sadly a little less of him as a “poet.” Some of his lyrics really stink on their own!
We went to see the lowly Seattle Mariners at their stunning, tax-payer-funded ball park, Safeco Field. The place was about half full. I guess it’s hard to be a Mariners fan, as they’ve been in the cellar for the past several seasons. It was a pleasure to experience the Japanese sensation, Ichiro, and his legendary bat control. My brother and I irritated my father by whispering “Ichiro” throughout the course of the game. It’s fun to whisper “Ichiro.” You should try it.
Not that you need a real reason for visiting Seattle, but we intentionally planned our trip to coincide with Bumbershoot, a four-day art festival featuring live music, visual art, a film festival, food vendors etc. You can purchase a four day pass for only $80, which I feel is an incredible deal. During our three days, we listened to jazz (Charlie Hunter and Bill Friesel), R&B (Mavis Staples), world music, industrial glam rock (Garbage), 70’s glam rock (New York Dolls), Girly Glam Rock (The Donnas), a performance of a folk rock concept album (John Wesley Harding), watched a few chilling documentaries, ate Thai, Greek, Indian, Japanese, Italian food in abundance, and wandered around enjoying the weather and the “feel good hippie” vibe. It was a delight.
Besides the panic attack, something that honestly colored the whole trip, Seattle was great. I hope to return as soon as possible and give Seattle the attention it deserves.