Our lovely Thursday in Seattle was followed by an equally beautiful Friday in terms of weather, but more grumpiness on an emotional level. This likely had to do with the fact that we walked about 5 more miles than expected throughout the course of the day.
The plan was good; walk down Pike Street from the hotel to First Avenue, where we would catch a bus in the free ride zone to Jackson Street and walk two blocks to Safeco Field for a 12:30 game day tour of the ballpark. Except… for some reason, the only bus that passed us on First Avenue was not going that direction. This directly contradicted the hotel front desk ladies, who assured us that LOTS of buses go straight down First Avenue. So. We walked 2 miles (according to Google Maps) and arrived at Safeco Field a breezy 15 minutes before tour time. But I was damp with sweat and not nearly as caffeinated as I would have liked, and I was hungry and thirsty, so even the nice weather did not seem as nice as it could have if we’d been able to take a damn bus for a portion of our journey.
Still, the ballpark tour was cool. Even though Ken Griffey, Jr. did not lead it as I was expecting. (I thought he worked for the team now?) A shrewish woman in her 70s named Helen led the tour instead, and she was full of information and excitement as long as nobody asked any questions. Most of our fellow tour-takers were Japanese and abided by her unspoken rule—too busy affirming stereotypes by fawning over every mention and piece of memorabilia related to Ichiro. We got to sit in the press box for a few minutes, and I thought that was cool. Ben about wet his pants from the excitement of standing in the dugouts and then on the field behind home plate. On the dirt, mind you. DO NOT EVEN THINK ABOUT TOUCHING THE GRASS, Helen said, with the implied sentiment that she would put on her Gremlin face and bite off your Tender Parts with one snarl if you did.
After the tour, we browsed the team store and confirmed that we are well past the Obtain Chinsy Souvenir From Everywhere stage. Well, that was more my hurdle than Ben’s to begin with. We went across the street to Pyramid Brewery for lunch. I enjoyed water and some of Ben’s Audacious Apricot Ale. My burger was okay, but the sweet potato fries were Audaciously Awesome and satisfied both my carb and vegetable cravings.
We walked back up First Avenue afterward to Yesler Way and Pioneer Square, where a great miracle occurred and we caught a bus. Instead of taking it all the way back to Pike Street, we got off a little early and went down to the waterfront where we caught the last Argosy Harbor Cruise of the day. We wanted to take full advantage of the nice Seattle weather and got some great views of the skyline. There was also a sea lion hanging out on a buoy by the West Seattle peninsula who posed for photos as we cruised on by.
Still full from lunch, we finally made it back to the hotel in the early evening for a nap. Later on we relied on The Internet for our bus itinerary to the Space Needle. Guess what? The Internet (specifically King County’s Metro Trip Planner) provided much more accurate information than the front desk. There was no line at the Space Needle, and not many people hanging out at the top while we were there (about 10pm-11pm). We ended up back at Tap House Grill for a late-night snack and, of course, some beer. Well, Ben had a beer and I drank water and we complained to each other about our sore legs and feet.
Saturday we met up with our friends Liz and Josh (and their 3.5-year-old daughter, whom I haven’t seen since she was a month old) and ate good Chinese food at Pike Place Market. Except the diet Pepsi was nasty. We stopped by Golden Age Collectables to pick up our allotted one-per-person comic for Free Comic Book Day, and then headed back to Safeco Field (in their car, thankfully) for an actual baseball game. We sat in “Area 51,” which is in right field close to where Ichiro hangs out. He’s number 51.
The most exciting part of the game for me was batting practice, where Liz and I whimpered and cowered together as baseballs came screaming toward us multiple times. Ben and Josh were ready to knock us down “for safety” to catch any balls headed in our direction. A few came close, but attempts were foiled by people with bug mitts and long reaches who didn’t even end up having seats in our section.
Josh said that I HAD to try the stadium’s garlic fries, so I did. And I basically breathed garlic fire for three days. I officially recommend them, but with caution. And plan to share because you actually get a lot for the overpriced fee.
It was “Turn Back the Clock” night at Safeco Field, and the Mariners and the Oakland A’s were dressed in retro jerseys from 1939. So they were actually the Seattle Rainers and the Oakland Oaks. There was no modern music played, only Swing and traditional baseball tunes on the organ. It was pretty cool… the Jumbotron even displayed video with a sepia and crackle filter so it looked like film footage from 1939. I liked the gimmick. The game went pretty quickly, and though we thought it might go into extra innings, Oakland ended up winning it in the ninth. Josh was sad, but Ben was just happy to be able to watch a live pro baseball game again. Going to a minor league Salt Lake Bees game just isn’t the same.
Sunday we met up with Liz and Josh again to go to the zoo. Seattle has a nice zoo, and if you like birds, you NEED to visit the Willawong Station. It’s a “bird feeding experience” that brings out the best of bird ownership without the need for you to clean up any poop or change the cage. In a different exhibit, I was rushed by a kookaburra. Luckily there was a plate of glass or plexiglass between us, because that m’f'n beak would have hurt bigtime.
After the zoo, we went back to Liz and Josh’s sweet new digs for dinner (some of the best take-out Pad Thai I’ve ever had) and general hanging out. It’s hard to not live closer to them.
On Monday, there was some time to kill after we checked out of our hotel and before our flight, so we meandered down the street to the Seattle Aquarium. Ben enjoyed it more than expected, and revealed to me that he wasn’t sure he’d ever been in an aquarium. I couldn’t believe it, but then again I worked a summer at Sea World of Ohio (when it still existed) and can’t imagine life without occasional aquarium visits. In any case, it turns out that I really, really love puffins. Is it possible that I’ve never seen them before? Perhaps. I spent a proportionally large amount of time staring and smiling at them and taking a bajillion crappy photos that didn’t turn out. Well, a couple kind of did. I’ll get those up on Flickr in the next couple days.
And that was our Seattle trip. We won’t be moving there anytime soon, but I definitely want to go back to visit. Now that we’ve done our downtown tourist trip, we can try it from a different angle. If it’s baseball season, though, the angle will still have to include a game! No garlic fries next time, though.