Tuesday, November 2, 2010

10/22/10 Day 19

     It was time to see Seattle!  Virginia and I had decided that the best way to do this would be to take the “Duck” tour.  The “Ducks” are actually a type of amphibious military landing vehicle, and there is a whole fleet of them in Seattle.  Just after we arrived at the home base of the Ducks and got our tickets, we were quickly led to our vehicle and introduced to our captain.  Her name was Luna Chick and she really was out of this world!
Luna Chick in one of her many cooky hat and glasses ensembles

This guy was sitting atop the Duck Tour Headquarters 

     Duck tours are a truly unique experience.  It’s a great way to see the city, just be prepared for a rather wacky ride.  Our tour guide was extremely silly, and she expected us to be as well.  This meant that in between bits of Seattle history and trivia we had to do things like dance the YMCA, wave and shout happily at strangers, and yell “cha-ching” every time we saw a Starbucks.
     It was a great tour.  We started out downtown, crossed over a bridge where we were treated to a breath taking cityscape, then we drove into lake union (remember, these things are amphibious!)  We cruised around here for a while, looking at the ships and floating houses, before returning to the roads.
A Duck in water

     We had seen a lot by the time our Duck returned to the station, but now we wanted to experience it!  We had already found all day parking in a nearby garage, so we began walking the few blocks to the downtown and waterfront area.  Just across the street from the Ducks looms the Seattle Space Needle.  We stopped to admire it and snap a few pictures, but we didn’t go up it, it was too expensive.
We found this strange alien communications tower

We walked down to the sculpture garden by the waterfront and found a bench where we had a picnic lunch before heading to explore the historic downtown area.
     We ended up spending most of our time at the Pike Place Market.  This has been the city’s public market since the early 1900’s and is a very interesting and unique place.  The main part is housed in a multi-storied building that takes up a whole block, and it is packed with all sorts of unusual shops.  Chain stores aren’t allowed to operate in the market place; all the businesses must be local.  The one exception to this rule is Starbucks (Cha-ching!)  The chain has one store located in the market and this is only allowed because it was the first.  Starbucks (Cha-ching!) only became a chain after this store proved a huge success.
     The coolest place in the market was the main street where the food vendors and restaurants were.  They had all kinds of fresh fruits and vegetables, and a delicious aroma filled the air.  Except in the fish stalls.  They didn’t smell so delicious, but there was enough ice covering all the giant fish and other sea life to keep the odor to a minimum.  This is also where my favorite thing in the market was.
common love, give us a kiss!

     Scattered throughout the stalls were many buskers.  These performers, mostly musicians, did what ever they could to attract attention and earn a few dollars for their art.  The first we saw was a shabby looking young man pouring his heart into singing “Your Song” by Elton John while accompanying himself on accordion.  We were standing on a walkway above him, so I folded a dollar bill into a paper airplane and threw it down to him.  We also saw people playing guitars and a group singing gospel songs.  One of the best performers was the self-proclaimed “King of the Buskers.”  His act was amazing!  Not only did he play the guitar and the harmonica, he hula hooped, jumped around and spun in circles, and even balanced a second guitar on his chin!

     Amber and Jenna were going to pick us up and take us to a few more sights, but we still had some time to kill before that.  We spent about thirty minutes watching a man on banjo and a woman with a fiddle performing old-time folk music until our friends arrived.
     We walked to the corner and hopped in their car as they stopped at the light.  We then began a quest to find the Fremont Troll.  After only a few detours, we parked and walked up to the towering grey monster.  The troll is a sculpture made by a local artist and the design was agreed upon by the people in the community.  It appears as a gargantuan bust of a hunched troll with one hand grasping a Volkswagen beetle.  His long unkempt hair drapes over one eye while the other shiny eye glares out at you.  We climbed up and got our picture taken with him.  Then we continued on towards the Chittenden Locks.
Fremont BridgeTroll

     The locks provide a safe passageway between Lake Washington and Puget Sound.  There was a fish ladder, which was actually put in when the locks were built in 1917, which allowed salmon to get to their breeding grounds and back.  There was a viewing area where we saw some salmon, just chillin’.
     A small boat pulled up and docked near the locks; we were hoping it would want to get through.  We waited, hoping something would happen.  While we were waiting we watched the salmon jumping out of the water all around us, and we even saw a seal swimming around the locks.  Then the red light began to flash and the gates opened to let the little boat in.  We watched as the water drained from the locks, leaving the boat level with the lake.
     It was about dusk by this time and we were hungry.  The Lockspot Café was right by, and their claim of serving world famous fish and chips lured us in.  The fish was good, and chips were okay, but the malt vinegar was the best we had ever tasted!
- Eric

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