Getting there...

Trip Start Nov 21, 2010
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18
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Trip End Nov 01, 2014


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Where I stayed

Flag of United States  , Washington
Monday, December 20, 2010

Arriving in Seattle after traveling for about three full weeks we realized we're getting a little sick of traveling. Hotel to hotel gets a little draining. The dog is afraid of manhole covers and any metal in a sidewalk, which makes city life really difficult. Plus, we're not traveling like normal travelers. We are moving. We have three bright orange plastic tubs and an electric cooler that we have to bring in every night so that food doesn't freeze and so that we have clothing, food for the dog, coffee for the morning, etc. Not that it matters whatsoever, but we look RIDICULOUS getting into a hotel. God forbid they don't have one of those valet wheely carts, we're making three trips to get all our stuff into a hotel room for the night. Then the dog. Ugh. Needless to say, we like staying more than one night in each place we go...takes the pain of the daily move down a notch.

Can't say enough about the Hotel Max. They've got a few in the NW US, but I'm not sure there are many more. They boast about being an artsy hotel, and they are. Designer (replica) furniture, original artwork (not Picasso, but local artists' originals), impeccable service and helpfulness, and the list goes on. They had a wireless phone, easy enough. They had Aveda brand soap and shampoo. They had a bottle / wine opener in the room. They had a slow-close toilet seat cover. Such simple things made life feel a little more like home. Anyway...we DID leave the hotel.

Friends had recommended the Underground Tour, Ivar's Seafood, The Crab Pot, and going to the Space Needle and walking through Experience Music Project. I guess we got it all done, AND saw the original Starbucks.

We ate some amazing seafood. At Ivar's the best thing we had was a smoked salmon chowder. It had a smoky flavor with corn and potatoes and was awesome. It's something we decided we needed to try and make once we get to Alaska and can smoke (on our smoker) our own salmon (that we catch). At The Crab Pot we had a seafood boil, "The Pacific Clambake", with lots of crabs, clams, muscles, prawns, corn, potatoes, and sourdough bread. Delicious.

The Underground Tour of the city was about the old pioneer town and how the city was developed from it's early days, when it was located at and below sea level. We saw an original Crapper, designed by Thomas Crapper for the high-end society. The city's 6-inch diameter wooden sewer system that dumped raw sewage into Puget Sound had a hard time keeping up when the crapper caught on. And then the 20-foot (or more) tides could even wash (burst) sewage in reverse through their sewer system. Yuck. There were stories of sewage bursting back into toilets and creating 3-foot fountains inside bathrooms. The city decided, in the meantime, that it would be best to publish the tide schedules on the front page of the newspapers so that people could plan their days accordingly!

So, the city was also below sea level in places. They had a huge fire which basically leveled the downtown. After the first they decided they needed to raise the city, but keep foundations at the levels of the existing buildings. So, they took sawdust from the mills just outside of town and moved it to the downtown area along the waters edge. The original city streets were at 39% and more grades, making navigation nearly impossible for walking, let alone horse-drawn carriages. So, they were able to take land and sawdust from the higher portions of town and put it in the lower portions, leveling the city all at once. Anyway, they started with the streets. They built buildings at the original grade, then slowly brought the streets up to the second-story level of the existing buildings, and eventually turned the first floors into basements that were used until the 1970s. (The crazy thing about all of this is that the history of Seattle is so young that these types of things were happening in the 1870s and beyond.) So, buildings were built with a first story completely free of architectural decoration, then the rest of the building would be decorated with stone and brick ornamentation. Then the city built separate foundation walls between the sidewalk edge and the street edge, to build up the roads and leave the sidewalks at original level. Hopefully this is making some sense...I know it might sound crazy. So the sidewalks were a whole story down for quite some time as they finish the roads. Then they went back and build barrel vaulted sidewalk platforms that sat on the retaining walls for the roads and the second floor framing for the buildings. All to fill in a city. By the way - all this being said - the underground tour is a walking tour of the old sidewalk locations, now under the current sidewalks. The original storefronts, in some places, remain...underground. Skylights were even built into the new sidewalks to get light into the basement level sidewalks. Maybe the pictures will help explain this.

We went to the Space Needle too, in hopes of seeing Mt. Rainer. Since it's winter in Washington, it was raining and cloudy, so we couldn't see much. Still a very cool view of the city. Plus, Santa was there for photos! He was all decked out in space-aged garb...so we didn't partake. Experience Music Project is also on the same site as the Space Needle, so we walked through there. Frank Gehry designs some weird stuff. I guess it's 'cool', but there was so much going on it was like sensory overload. And the building was iridescent, which I had no idea about. It was a little much if you ask me, but I'm sure it's done wonderful things for the city of Seattle and music, and whatever else is housed there. It was certainly an experience (pun intended).

(I've got a few Space Needle photos, but they're going to have to come later...it's bedtime and I've been doing this for about 4 hours now. Goodnight!)
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