Since growing up in the “grunge era”, Seattle and the Pacific Northwest have been on my list of places to visit. After a couple of nights in Spokane we hit I-90 bound for the Emerald City. But I wasn’t the only one who was looking forward to our next destination. Shortly after we told friends about our plans for the trip, one of Maya’s friends and her dad said they would find a time to see us along the way and ultimately they settled on Seattle. Needless to say Maya had been counting down the days since about the time we left St. Louis.
One of the first things that struck me along the way was how different eastern Washington is from what I had always pictured the state to be. Until we hit the Cascades, the landscape was dry and more like what we had experienced driving through other “less exciting” drives of trip. Once we entered the mountain range things quickly greened-up and from that point on the landscape was full of green —lots of trees and big pines.
Our first morning in Seattle we drove to downtown to meet up with Brian and Katie at the Space Needle. The Eiffel Tower of Seattle has been the city’s iconic landmark after its debut for the 1962 World Fair. Since then the surrounding blocks have been filled with museums, playgrounds and parkland, so much more to see and visit than just the structure itself. We went to the top of its 520’ high viewing area for a great 360º view of the city and beyond. An unexpected feature was the floor below, which has a rotating glass floor. We all braved the step onto the floor, the kids even laid down on it to get the full floating effect.
Next-door was the Museum of Pop Culture (aka the MoPop). The exterior was super cool and looked like pieces of massive reflective fabric had been draped over the structure inside. The museum itself was just ok, but I had much higher expectations. Granted there was a great temporary exhibit on Prince and their permanent ones on Sci-Fi and Fantasy movies had some cool movie props, but it felt like it needed more. I also thought the better exhibits didn’t seem like they had much of a logical flow to them and were a bit random in what they displayed. I just wanted more.
Later we took Seattle’s other relic from the ’62 Worlds Fair, the monorail, down to Pike Market (we had to check all of the tourist boxes, we are tourists after all). The market was fantastic. I had expected the fish markets but there are booths after booths with fresh-cut flowers, fruits and vegetables and countless other vendors spanning the multi-block, multi-story market. We ended up taking advantage of the fresh fish and bought a few other items for a terrific dinner later that night.
At one point while planning for this trip I had a wild hair and started looking for possible concerts along the way. As luck would have it while we were in Seattle, Blondie and Elvis Costello were playing at Chateau St. Michelle as part of their summer concert series. It was the perfect opportunity for a guys night out, while Nikki and the girls caught a movie, and Wyatt hung out with my parents who had just gotten into town (more about our adventures with them in our next post.)
Turns out Chateau St Michelle, which I had always thought was a made-up name for a mass-produced wine, is actually a very real place in Woodinville, WA. The setting for the amphitheater, which was tucked next to the chateau, was fantastic. It might have been one of the best settings I’ve been to for an outdoor show. An added benefit was their wine tent. It was pretty cool seeing people walking around with bottles of their wine instead of the usual beer cups. The whole scene would be cool to see replicated back home at some of the distilleries, yet I digress.
Blondie kicked off the show and even though Deborah Harry has aged and her range isn’t close to what it once was, it was still fun. During their set they played everything I wanted to hear and even surprised me with a couple of unexpected songs. So, solid show but didn’t blow me away.
I have to admit, back in his heyday, I wasn’t a big Elvis Costello fan. I just never really got into him. He’s one of several artists who initially I didn’t like but over the years, I’ve grown to appreciate and really like. Where I felt like Blondie was ok, Elvis blew the doors off. His show was awesome. His voice and energy were amazing. He engaged with the crowd and kept everyone on their feet. Maybe it’s because I wan’t expecting it, but easily one of the best shows I have seen in a while.
So our first impressions of Seattle were strong. We’ll share more of our experiences in our next post.