Marcy takes on Seattle!

The last time I was in the Seattle area, I was considering my acceptance to the University of Puget Sound. I was a naïve girl with no real thoughts other than whether I would get into San Diego (USD). Hmmm... Rain, clouds and short days over sun, sand and Tijuana? I really didn't properly appreciate my parents paying for a trip to WA State. I really had no intention of going to PSU but it was one of the first times I travelled completely independently, first time I rented a car and first time I had to get where I needed to go all on my own. Really it was quite a good experience for me, and for that, I suppose the opportunity and expense was not lost on me. 

This opportunity to travel was the first time my daughter was going to a major synchronized swimming competition. I have travelled tons in the last 30 odd years since my young age of 18, with husband, without husband, with three kids in tow and without, but somehow I felt completely disoriented. Basically, I never felt I had my A game, never entered the "travel" zone and I definitely felt like a JV player. I damn near killed us in our Toyota Hybrid (another first) on the way to the hotel. I could feel the "fucking tourist" curses all around me and forget trying to figure out cardinal directions, the mountains were not in the west, there was no setting sun to be seen through the cloudy skies and the fingers of the salt-water inlets were on all sides, no west-coast ocean bearings.  Not that I could see the water anyways as I dodged cars, looked for on-ramps and hoped I took the correct fork in the road.

I kind of wonder if technology has almost made me stupid. I seriously depend so much on my phone that I no longer am forced to get my bearings. I'm soft. Not too mention that I depended on the herd mentality. We travelled with a small contingent of first-to-swim girls and I just went with the flow. Everything I hate about novice travelers, I committed. I am sorry Sea-Tac commuters. 

Nonetheless, we finally arrive at our destination. There was much build-up about the impressiveness of King County Aquatic Center and it was big, but not intimidatingly so, at least to me, and my daughter seemed up for the challenge. It is very cool when you realize that many of the girls she was competing against would some day be Olympians.  I also learned that many of the best swimmers are streamed into the duet competition. My girl was swimming 11-12 age group duets with her partner and did well. Seriously, she did awesome, she took dead last but not without a fight! She and her partner improved their score by 10 points leading up to competition and closed the gap by 0.3 and 0.5 behind the next two teams. She rocked it and I loved seeing her swim,  she loved doing it. She, unlike mama, was in her zone. 

Silver Cloud Lake Union Hotel: I felt I planned this hotel pretty well. Close to I-5, free parking, free downtown Seattle shuttle, indoor pool, continental breakfast, crushed granite counters, travertine floors and reasonably priced. The first day, I dutifully reserve our spots for the half-hourly shuttle pick-up. The front desk sounded almost surprised by the request and the shuttle was empty aside from us. From then on, I didn't bother, it was always there when we needed it, mostly empty...until we had reservations for the Space Needle. That day it left 5 minutes earlier than suggested lobby arrival time  (thus 10 minutes early) and, since it was rush-hour, we had to call a cab (versus me doing the tourist thing and driving). Yes, good call but it did ruffle my feathers...By not having a reservation, they accept no fault. "Tough shit tourist."  On top of that, they still claim no fault (ineptitude) during rush hour, even with a reservation, so jag-off and hire a taxi. 

Pike Place Market: Our first stop was this eclectic fish/flower/artisan/I-don't-really-want-to-work-but-this-is-better-than-a-desk-job-so-I-will-bark-at-you-with-my-favorite-sales-pitch tourist trap. Did I ever mention that I hate crowds, a sort of claustrophobia sets in and all I want to do is protect my purse like a Super Bowl offensive receiver (didn't the Seahawks win this year?) and make my escape like the Artful Dodger.  So, we went down the least crowded avenues and swiftly found our way out. Only stopping once at the information booth for directions to the Aquarium. Of course he thought himself so witty with his "only leave gum on the gum wall don't take from it" joke, that his directions were disjunct and confusing. We rambled on and did find the rather disgusting wall of bird-choking ABC waste that Seattleites are so fond of...The Gum Wall...gross! But, for the crowd lovers, plan lots of time at Pike Place Market. 

view from Great Wheel
Seattle Aquarium: We make our way into this huge fishbowl located within what appears to be an old saw mill or boat yard building. It's nicely done, with lots of lovely fish and petting ponds and outdoor enclosures. I really want to say something lovely about this place because it's great for kids and I have been a little snippy so far, but... The Denver Aquarium is quite honestly better. It's newer with nicer land-animal homes and just about the same number of fishies. At Seattle Aquarium, my heart felt sorry for the otters, seals and sea lions. But I give the aquarium kudos for providing homes to creatures that were either harmed and rescued or breed in captivity. It's really a commentary on how awful humans are to our seaworld, support the aquarium, we all need rescuing.

The Great Ferris Wheel: I convinced the girls to have lunch at The Alaskan Sourdough Bakery, unfortunately, it was the hottest day so far in Seattle, so bread-bowl clam chowder was off the hot ideas list. Yummy good french dip would have to do and it did. Around we go to the Seattle version of the London Eye. It was fun! Finally, I felt like I knew where I was in my space/time continuum although I still didn't feel like everything was all together. Great views of the dockyards, Space Needle, Mt. Rainer and downtown skyscape. Very rarely do I purchase the photo cards from these places. But green screen magic gave two keepsakes that the girls loved.

Seattle on a hot day: I'd like to thank all my Seattle-familiar friends for not telling me about the San Francisco style hill climbs. The workout was phenomenal and I was so happy to sweat like a pig as we toured the city! My daughter was completely sucked in by The Yellow Leaf Cupcake Co. advertisement in the local tourist rag. More hills! Thank god I came from the land of Mile High training. Seriously, people were grabbing from tree to tree propelling them further upwards. We did alright, no assistance needed, and their cupcakes and macaroons were pretty good. At least the ends justified the means.

which one? 
Olympic Sculpture Park (SAM): After our drip-down-your-back hike we visited the Seattle Art Museum's amazing conference center with glass overlook. It is air conditioned, along with cafe tables and clean restrooms. I was a little surprised it was so nice and free of charge! I do think the security guards at various locations around the whole Olympic Sculpture Park keep out the indigents (more on that later) and thankfully I guess we didn't look like bums despite our salty ring. After cooling down a bit we meandered through the 9-acre oasis of grass and visual pleasantries. The Echo sculpture stands at 46' tall a.k.a "the giant head" was the most notable to me. I asked my thirteen year old daughter what the sculpture said to her? She replied it looked like an African slave sad about her condition in life, the home she was taken from and the hard road ahead. Not too far off from interpretation of a speechless nymph only allowed to repeat the last words of another.