Seattle – done and dusted!

Chittenden Locks and Counterweight bridge

Time flies when you are having fun!

We are leaving Seattle tomorrow and heading towards Everett (a short trip by bus North), on our way to Vancouver.

We have booked a cruise and depart on 22nd August (from Vancouver to Whittier, Alaska), so have 10 days to get ourselves up into Canada.

When I last wrote, we were staying in an AirBnB – it was a bit like a posh hostel. Nice house, ok location, clean and comfy lodgings, nice chatting with our travellers BUT when they have no respect coming in late or up and about early – you so don’t feel like being friendly any more!! We only had one night here [at this noisy AirBnB – I tell you our AirBnB is nothing short of amazing if I do say so myself!!] in between the two weeks looking after our ‘Hairy Maclary’ and another black cat (Winston).

This week we have been out to the Ballard to the Chittenden Locks, Botanical Gardens and the Nordic Museum. I also had a haircut and my toes done, so had to make two trips out there. It is such a lovely part of town, although it still does have many ‘displaced persons’.

Our first trip we did the locks and gardens. We did the locks tour, heard the history of how it is built to manage the salt water / fresh water transfer, transfers of the boats (big and small) and the fish ladder. It is a really busy system as boats / fish transfer from Puget Sound to Lake Washington and vice-versa. We watched the boats come and go and then watched the king salmon wait for their turn to enter the fish ladder. Those salmon waiting on the ‘sea side’ were hunted before our eyes, by harbour seals. An easy lunch for those seals. They drop ‘bombs’ into the sea every so often to scare the seals off, so the salmon can have any easy run at the fish ladder!

They have cruise ships (of the smaller kind) submarines and once they had a ship that was a bit too wide so they took it through tilted to one side by ballast. The story and photos of that were fascinating.

We walked through the botanical gardens, talked to the groundswoman about the squirrels, moles and the mountain beavers! We convinced her that she should make a trip to New Zealand – NZ is going to be busy after all our recommendations!

Having seen the ‘village’ at Ballard I decided I would get my hair cut – it was the nicest looking place we had been, and we had been gifted tickets to the Nordic Museum, so back out there again on the bus the next day. We found the Kangaroo & Kiwi bar, so stopped for lunch (after a haircut). Pie, mash and peas for Colin, fish with mango salsa and rice for me + 2 beers each = $65US which equates to $95NZ for lunch!! Who said America is cheap!! Actually, with the $$$ value being so low, it is making it really expensive to be here. Hopefully Canada will not quite bruise our budget so much!

Anyway, the Nordic Museum was lovely. It is a new purpose built place and has awesome displays, but a lot of reading. At one stage after WWII the Nordic countries lost 1/3 of their population to immigration. For me, I have some Swedish history [also some Irish – for those who didn’t know] so it was an interesting place to visit. You read that the Nordic people were not welcomed in America when they first came – people didn’t like their clothes or their customs (history just seems to repeat itself!!). A lovely place to visit, but too much reading for me! Colin soaked it all up, while I sloped off … soaked my feet and had my toes done!

One of the things that was on our to-do list was the Seattle underground tour. What a great experience. Our guide was great, very theatrical and knowledgeable. It is just so fascinating how the streets were built ‘way back then’. I tried to describe how this was done to mum on a video-chat but I don’t think I did a good job!! So I am going to bullet point so maybe it can make sense to you.

  1. Build a three, four or more storied house
  2. Expect that your ground floor will eventually become a basement!
  3. Council of the day then builds retaining walls 14 feet from your ground floor, so they can build a road – at the level of your first floor.
  4. You then have a built-up road in the middle of the street, sidewalks at your current ground level, with ladder to get up to street level [thinks moats without water!]
  5. As years go by they eventually build all the sidewalks at road level, and now you have a basement.
  6. The sidewalks have glass ‘skylights’ and these has turned purple overtime as they are UV damaged (the glass skylights were installed as a form of lighting to the basements)
  7. The original ground level houses all the sewer pipes, and if you were clever you would use the ‘original space’ for ‘other‘ activities [think red light/prohibition bars] and a way to move around ‘underground’ without being seen.

We had a great guide and although the tour was only an hour, it was so worthwhile.

Seattle is a great city to wander around, and I love the Pike Place markets, so we have been back there again. Also visited the UPS waterfall garden which is the ‘birthplace’ of UPS.

My friend Jacqs [husband] is American and they emailed to say Paul had a cousin in Seattle, so we met them (Lawrie & Gwen) for coffee in the city and really enjoyed chatting with them. They also invited us to join them (and their niece/nephew) to visit the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. I am so glad we went here. What incredible people, are doing the most amazing work. I loved our visit here and wondered why it doesn’t pop up in the top 10 things to do in Seattle – it is free?! Their byline ‘arrive curious … leave inspired’ sums up the fantastic work they do.

We ‘built’ a bag for a ‘displaced person’ and you could either leave it for their staff to distribute or give it to a person yourself. We took ours away and will gift to people who live in the neighbourhood where we have been staying. The bag contains – 1 x t’shirt, 1 x small towel, hand sanitizer, a few plasters and a couple of museli bars. You are encouraged to add water, toothpaste/brush if you are able).

The last thing we did this week was a trip to the Boeing Factory. We thought we had booked a south Seattle experience (1 hour from us) but we actually booked a North Seattle experience (in Everett – which we had planned to do while in Everett!!). Anyway, after three hours of buses we were nearly there but not quite!! So ended up in an Uber for a mad dash to ‘check-in’ – if you are not there within 20 minutes of the tour your tickets are released to those on ‘stand-by’. I phoned to say we were on our way, so we were all good.

On the Boeing production line were two Air NZ dreamliners (787’s – they have 2.3 million parts!!). It was great to see them with logo on the tail – it’s the funny little things that make you proud of home! Anyways the place is huge, covers 11 acres and has 46,000 staff at the one site [who works shifts]! The factory buildings / Boeing are in the Guinness Book of Records for a few things:

  • The giant doors are the largest mural in the world
  • Largest building in the world by volume
  • It is a ‘city’ within Everett and has its own fire department, security police, bus service [to get around the 11 acres] medical, water, power etc, etc, etc
  • The staff have bikes (1,300 to ride)
  • There are 150+ test pilots

Everything was colossal, you could do fun facts for pages but if you want to know more visit their you-tube channel for all flight / space / rockets / missiles / airforce planes and MORE!

Well, that is enough from us for now. Seattle has been great, but new adventures are on the horizon. Stay tuned.

ps: we also went to REI store here and caught up with Marks [who I used to work with] brother. What an amazing place – think Pack’n’Pedal on steroids!!

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