Saturday, July 25, 2009

Passing Though Seattle

July 21

After a regular diet of small town touring, it seems we have become intimidated by big cities. We are tempted to skip Seattle entirely, but decide we would regret it later. So we steel ourselves for the drive into the big city, brave the heavy traffic on the expressway and the confusing confluence of ramps and signs as we approach downtown, find a parking garage (where it will cost us $14 to park for less than six hours), and head to the one place every Seattle tourist visits—Pike Street Market.

It is a feast for the senses.
The merchants are hawking their wares--we taste juicy slices of white and yellow peaches from the man yelling "Peaches, peaches, peaches, we've got your peaches," and try a nectarine from another man in his stand. Further down the line of vendors, we try marion berries. We eschew the raw fish samples. We watch women who almost seem to dance with their bouquets, as they bend, twist and turn to select perfect flowers, one stem at a time, from buckets and buckets of different blooms surrounding them. The huge colorful bouquets they create sell for just $10,
no matter which one of the four flower stands along the strip you buy from.

It is all very photogenic. Neon signs above, vintage produce and fish seller booth signs, fruits and vegetables artfully arranged and frequently misted, flowers in abundance. We love this place.

We end up buying just a white nectarine and a yellow one, which are so juicy we have to bend over to eat them, letting the juice puddle on the sidewalk beneath us. Still hungry, we find a contemporary Vietnamese restaurant with a deck overlooking Puget Sound, where we have a wonderful lunch with a view of the boats below and the mountains in the distance.

Our last stop is the Seattle Art Museum, where we plan to do a quick tour (they actually have a highlight tour entitled "If You Only Have an Hour"). We can't resist the "Ten Compelling Characters" highlight tour (focusing on the subjects of ten art pieces, ranging from Elvis Presley, as seen by Andy Warhol to an Egyptian mayor portrayed on a 4,000 year old stone tablet). So we combine the two highlight tours, which already puts us over an hour. We also want to see the Andrew Wyeth special exhibit, and, of course, we run across some other interesting paintings and sculpture on the way to the highlights,
we eavesdrop on a docent-led tour for a few minutes. They have a lot of beautiful and intriguing Northwestern tribal artwork, and some contemporary art that captures our fancy. We spend a little over two action-packed hours at the museum, and could have easily spent two more.

But, we have to be on our way, because we have a schedule to meet. Tomorrow, we are taking the ferry from Anacortes to San Juan Island, where we have reservations to stay three nights at a Bed and Breakfast. We need to get to Anacortes this afternoon in time to find a motel before they are all booked up with other people heading out on morning ferries to the islands. We can't just call in advance and make a reservation, because we are hoping to stay in a "modestly priced" establishment, and the only way to be sure a cheap motel meets our high standards is to check it out in person. We have found this out the hard way.

We crawl out of Seattle in bumper-to-bumper freeway traffic that doesn't let up for over thirty miles. We are looking forward to getting back to our small town itinerary.

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