This is the 12th of a series of posts dealing with my tenth and most recent trip to Seattle as adult. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. What few updates there are indicated by NOW in brackets.
Well, it was overcast all day today so I didn't make it to Alki Beach. I once went there on an overcast day and it was depressing, so not this time.
It was raining a bit as I set out this morning and made it to Freeway Park (a park built over the I-5), passing through Washington State Convention Center en route. I returned to the hostel for breakfast and then to get out of the elements bought a ticket for the Underground Tour even though I just did it last year. I still had close to an hour before the first tour of the day, so I passed through Occidental Park (a park made of concrete; skid row; some art pieces like the Firefighters Memorial. I also visited Waterfall Garden Park (and enclosed space that, yes, has lots of plants and mad-made waterfalls. From there I went up the steps at CenturyLink Field and through railing got a few pics of the football field. I visited Klondike Gold Rush Historical Park (actually a free museum) before retuning briefly to Waterfall Garden Park and Occidental Park en route to the Underground Tour, which has three underground sections, the third being the shortest.
I decided to go to Smith Tower as Underground Tour participants are $1 off. It was 35 storeys high, low compared to Columbia Center but being open air was a lot scarier. My hands were sweaty and I kept worrying that I'd drop my camera and it would take the express route downward. 360 degrees though so I got some great shots, albeit shots with railing in most of them beyond a few zoomed shots. I found a pamphlet about another free museum whose name unfortunately escapes me at the moment (and the pamphlets packed). It's basically promo for the Alaska Viaduct, so advertises having the most boring exhibit (i.e. boring through ground; no Oregon aspect). I went to the food court at Uwajamaya in the International District (got Chinese food) and also visited a Japanese book store and Hing Pay Park (another concrete park) before heading to that area's Downtown Transit Tunnel.
To kill time and avoid possible rain, I took the Central Link light rail (Sound Transit) to SeaTac Airport and visited the airport briefly. They have a bird cage near an entrance to attract wild birds that get in so they can be released back into the wild. Seemed to be working on one sparrow that did indeed get in. I then took the Central Link back to Westlake Station; because I was still on an ORCA transfer, I was still on the clock from the first trip and didn't have to pay for the return. So a good $2.75 investment with some nice photos taken from the trains.
I visited Pacific Place one more time (scrap metal penguin, Barnes & Noble), then Pike Place Market (Left Bank Books, Rachel the Pig; also wanted to use the bathroom but the people in the cubicles were taking a very long time and I finally decided I didn't want to use the toilet after either one of them). I visited Holy Cow Records before leaving the market. The goats under the freeway rank were gone when I headed north, finally crossing Bell Street Bridge one more time and checking out the observation area on the other side again briefly. I made one final trip to Olympic Sculpture Park (only got so-so photos of Love & Loss as people were sitting on part of that art piece) and checked out the newly opened (today I think) Western Oracle art piece (a small house). You were allowed to go in, but the only thing to really see inside were support beams. I went to the International Fountain at Seattle Center and stayed a while until I got the sense that it might rain again. So I went to the McDonald's across from Seattle Center (I ordered cheeseburgers with no mustard and pickles and she thought I said no mustard and ketchup; I realize my speech isn't the best but does my pronunciation of "pickles" really sound like "ketchup"??). This time I got photos of the poles with sports balls (one type of ball each: soccer, baseball, football, basketball; the latter must now push a few Seattlites' buttons).
[NOW: Western Oracle was just a temporary exhibit.]
I visited the statue of Chief Sealth, feeling like a statue of Seattle's namesake was a nice way to end this trip. I returned to the hostel and packed. There was live comedy show. Quality varied with one person in particular bombing, but it was a time passer, something different for my last day.
And when I say last day, I mean it in more ways than one. I've been doing these Seattle trips since 2006 and so much has changed that it's time to retire them. The weather hasn't helped of course, but really it's that for me a critical part of the Seattle experience was being able to spontaneously (from the International Fountain or whenever) be able to wander to a store that sold my kind of movies (i.e. the strange stuff) and to be able to do so very late at night. Having a store with my kind of movies so accessible was a large part of what I loved about Seattle, also being able to take a fun little break from the fountain and then return to it. It just doesn't feel right without it. There's been a lot of changes and I've weathered them, but this is the final straw variety, losing the nearby Easy Street Records and especially Silver Platters (Tower Records same location the first year) in one fell swoop. I still like Seattle, but not to the point when I can keep it as a yearly ritual. I think I'll invest in a passport so next year instead I can fly to Disneyland. Obviously I'll probably get back to Seattle again some time, but I think it's time for a break.
[NOW: I am toying with the idea of a small Seattle trip this year, but in terms of concrete plans, Disneyland is indeed replacing Seattle this year.]