Thursday, April 10, 2008

Seattle trip

Space Needle and sculpture

Big wet snowflakes were falling Sunday morning (March 30), and the Washington state roads website announced that Snoqualmie Pass was closing at 10 am for avalanche control. Would we even make it to Seattle today? I wondered if we should stay home. I was uneasy, a little worried. I thought, wow, I am too attached to getting there today. It would be okay if we got to the pass and we couldn't get through tonight. There are hotels up there, after all. So I packed the car, warned Ross about the possibility of delays, kissed the cat good-bye, and put the Jeep in four-wheel drive as I drove toward the highway.

The roads were the worst in our own county, but as we headed west, the weather improved a bit. By the time we got to the pass, there were a few snowflakes, but the road was dry and open. We rejoiced as we headed down toward Seattle. Soon I spotted some flowering trees and let out a whoop -- hey, it is actually spring here!

Seattle is a dense, very urban place. I carefully navigated the streets, grateful for my big-city driving experiences. But the street numbering system was throwing me for a loop -- am I really going the right way? Then I looked up and saw the Space Needle right in front of us. This must be the right direction. Thank goodness for landmarks.

Ross and I had a two-day tourist experience. The first morning, we walked to the Pacific Science Center and played there until lunch. Ross is all about science, so what better place to start? We liked the cat sculpture near the entrance.

Stone cat

He loved playing with the water cannons outside, and we both enjoyed the butterfly exhibit.

Butterflies enjoying an orange
Butterfly and purple flowers
Butterflies four

After lunch, the weather was still decent, so we decided to make the pilgrimage up the (ridiculously expensive) Space Needle. Ross looked through every telescope on the observation deck, at least twice. I enjoyed his excitement, the sunshine, and the views.

Ross and the Space Needle

To end the day, we got in the car and found our way to the International District (Chinatown). We bought some Japanese papers and dinner at a large Asian market.

Tuesday was our day to explore the waterfront. We rode the monorail downtown and walked the few chilly blocks to Pike Place Market, then down the long stairs to the Seattle Aquarium. The aquarium was great fun. It is not a huge place, like Boston's aquarium, but it is not tiny, like Albuquerque's, either. We spent a long time at the tidal touch-pools, feeling starfish and sea cucumbers. The octopus exhibit was amazing -- I don't remember ever seeing an octopus in "real life" before, and it was a real treat to watch them up close. Ross loved watching the harbor seals get fed and get their health check-ups. The keepers would look in their mouths, check their flippers, and so forth -- each obeyed command resulted in fish treats, of course. I wish the photos that I took were decent, but my borrowed camera just couldn't handle the lighting.

After buying a book about sea monsters at the gift shop, Ross and I made the long climb back up the stairs to the market, in search of lunch. Ross was getting ravenous and cranky, so we dived into the first decent-looking place we passed. This was our one fairly expensive meal -- you can imagine what prices were like in this tourist place. While waiting for our food, I sketched Ross, reading the sea monsters book. I ordered steamer clams, something I never buy inland. With a glass of fume blanc, a salad, and a wonderful view of Puget Sound, I was quite content.

Then we roamed the market. Wow, you could spend all day there and never see it all. Ross was pretty patient while I shopped for myself (a quilt shop -- do you think I could pass up some great fabric?!), and for friends and for Chris. Of course, Ross got a little something, too. By the end, I was tired and a bit cross-eyed, and we headed out to the sunshine and a patch of grass. I simply rested, watching Ross stalk seagulls and attempt cartwheels.

Ross trying cartwheels

Homeward bound on Wednesday, we had arranged to meet up with friends who were headed to Seattle that same morning. Ross and his friend got to play at McDonald's, blowing off steam before packing themselves back into the cars again. Later, about 45 minutes out of Spokane, Ross and I relaxed at a rest stop. Ross found a tree to climb, and I sketched part of the tree as he enjoyed the view from its limbs.

Rest stop tree climbing
Me at the bottom of the tree


GreenishLady said...

What a great trip! Thanks for bringing me along! I'd have loved to see the butterflies at this time of year!

The Lone Beader said...

Great photos! The space needle looks AWEsome.

nonizamboni said...

I enjoyed reading about your trip so much! Your photos were great too. Back when we were westerners, we took our girls to the Seattle Aquarium to touch the sea creatures--a thrilling experience for us all. I miss going to the coast but your little travel log brightened my day.
Thanks for sharing!
p.s. your drive toward Snoqualmie was ineed fearless (this week's SScribbling prompt)