5 o’clock came pretty early for a family that isn’t exactly used to waking up early. But at least we weren’t doing an overnight flight right? We rustled Nathan a couple times to wake him up, and once he remembered that we were leaving for Seattle, he sprang out of bed and was ready to go. I’m not joking either, he was ready to go!
This would be the first time he’d actually be able to remember flying on a big plane! Previously, he had been to California and Nebraska, but he was less then 2 years old during those visits. And I mean come on, it’s Nebraska…
Just kidding. If you’re reading this Vince, it’s only a joke.
We had packed the night before (as everyone should) so we would have an easy time transitioning out of the house the morning of the flight. Surprisingly, I was less tired than I thought I would be. Here’s the secret; we took a little Melatonin the night before and it really helped. Usually, I have to admit to myself that it’s going to take forever for me to fall asleep, and that I’m going to be super tired the morning of the flight, and that I’m going to be completely exhausted by the end of the day.
Well most of that came true this time around as well, but at least we started the day off completely awake! And we have tons of vertical pictures of random mountains located somewhere between Anchorage and Seattle. We’ve also included images of the 737’s winglets for your viewing pleasure.
The flight went smoothly and we ended up landing about fifteen minutes ahead of schedule. Nathan decided he likes landing better than taking off. A statement I would agree with. Not that I don’t think taking off is fun, but knowing that you’re about to arrive at your destination is the best part for me.
Just for fun, I’m going to post two pictures of Nathan below. They were taken in the same spot of the Seattle airport, roughly 5 years apart.
As soon as we left the Seattle airport and headed outside, it quickly occurred to me that even though it was the end of October, it was still rather warm out; at least for an Alaskan. After all, it was only 20 degrees in Anchorage when we left, but there in Seattle it must have been in the 50’s. I couldn’t figure out if I wanted to wear a coat or not.
The next order of business would be to jump on the Link light rail. It would take us from SeaTac airport to Westlake which was close to our hotel room. All in all, I think it took about 35 minutes to get where we needed to go, but it was only $5 or $6 dollars for all of us to ride one way.
I’m going to strop right here for a moment though, and discuss a few things I wasn’t ready for in Seattle. First off, everyone seems to just do their thing and nobody else so much as bats an eye. It’s weird. I saw a grown adult with a mohawk dancing around the sidewalk holding his coffee and cigarettes with a little radio held up to his ear. He was wearing a suit top, and jeans (not skinny jeans). I don’t know if that means anything, but that was his clothing situation. It just seemed odd, I don’t know.
Obviously, not everyone was like the aforementioned dude; I simply wanted to use him as an example. But seriously, it seems like everyone just has a – “whatever” sort of attitude about things. You don’t see this stuff in Anchorage. Every few blocks it seems,(downtown Seattle I mean) you’ll find musicians playing for donations. It’s kind of cool I suppose. Although it makes you not want to make eye contact.
Here’s the worst thing though. I could definitely do without the pushy ‘music artists‘ standing right outside the exit from the Link light station trying to push their new ‘music‘ album on literally everyone that passes by. I put those previous terms in single quotations and italics for a reason, but I’ll leave it at that. I made the mistake of going down that sidewalk twice, but at least I got to make a mean face at them the second time around.
The public transit system in Seattle is like nothing else I’ve seen before. There isn’t anything that comes close to it in Alaska. If you miss a bus in Seattle; no worries you’ll get another one within ten minutes. If you miss your bus in Anchorage, you’re stuck waiting buddy. Be prepared for a bit of a wait.
There are monorails, electric trolleys, double length buses, and even cars you can rent by the hour or minute. I’ll be up front though, and tell you I only read about sharing cars by the minute, I have no clue how it actually works. So if you go to Seattle and don’t rent a car (like we did) you can still get pretty much anywhere you want with minimal fuss. Just do a little research first.
I’m sure we looked funny packing all 6 of our bags up hill through crowds of people, but who really cares! We were on vacation and we wanted to get settled in and figure out our game plan. But most importantly, we wanted to jump in the pool and go swimming.
The room we were staying in had everything anyone could ever need. Two TVs (and two remotes), a mini-fridge, coffee maker, blender, dishes, and silverware. Below, Nathan will walk you through what our room looked like. He does a great job as always.
And we even used the microwave a couple times! That’s right, we cooked HotPockets for Nathan, and it only took 3 minutes! We’re not used to food cooking so quickly. It’s a little scary for us.
This first day, (after we checked into our hotel of course) we decided to walk around and see more of downtown. So we headed down Pine St. towards Pike Place Market by the ocean. I have to say, I enjoyed the variety of shops located down by the market. Those would have to wait for a different day however, because we still had a lot to get done back at the hotel. Things like CPT, playing pool, swimming, sitting in the hot tub, and eating dinner.
We walked into a little park overlooking the highway and the waterfront when we came across this street performer. He was quite entertaining in fact. I actually gave Nathan some money to toss in the hat on the ground when he was done. It isn’t in the video, but the guy saw Nathan and said to everyone, “This kid just put in $10 dollars and he doesn’t even have a job or a GED!”
Now all we needed to do was find one of the local Target stores that was supposed to be near, and pick up a few things we needed. It’s funny, because I absolutely never go to Target unless I’m out of state. And there were two things I noticed right off the bat about that particular Target store:
1. The prices for most of the food in Seattle aren’t much different than what I’m used to paying here in Anchorage.
2. That thingamajigger that brings your basket up and down levels is ultra cool! It’s like an escalator, but for carts. I don’t know the proper name for that contraption but I’m pretty sure more stores need them.
The plan for Friday was to visit some of the many food shops located around Pike Place Market, before walking to the Seattle Aquarium. And after that business was done, we figured we should take a ride on the huge Ferris Wheel by the water. Correction, I guess it’s called the “Great Wheel” and not the “Huge Ferris Wheel” like I just called it.
Le Panier smelled absolutely amazing. I was really looking forward to a nice baguette, and I think we found the perfect place for that. Lined on the back wall were all the fresh loafs of bread that had been baked that day, and in the glass display case were numerous other delectable treats.
We settled on a larger baguette known as a “Parisien” and something else which consisted of a flat bread topped with various vegetables and cheese. If my memory serves me correctly, it was called “au jardin“. I believe that phrase means “in the garden” so I’m reasonably sure that’s what it was called.
This is the back wall in Le Panier. I pretty much like everything about this place. Not only do they have delicious breads, but they have various desserts and pastries as well. Le Panier is a classic French boulangerie and patisserie.
Next, we needed some cheese. Beecher’s is pretty well known for their cheese, so we really didn’t have much of a choice but to check them out. They had free samples of which a number of people including us, liberally devoured.
Large windows provide views of the workers as they go about making the cheese. The art of cheese making is interesting to me, perhaps one day I will sit down and learn more about it. For now though, watching them do their thing is good enough for me.
After lunch, it was time for the Seattle Aquarium. I’m pretty sure the aquarium was what Vanessa was looking forward to seeing the most. I would say Nathan as well, but he was super exited about having lunch at the SkyCity Restaurant on Saturday so it was a toss up for him.
Immediately after we paid our entrance fee, we were greeted by a huge glass wall full of different kinds of fish. The one that stood out to me the most was a fish that was missing an eye. It kind of looked like what we here in Alaska would call a Red Snapper. But technically I don’t think that name is right, and it wasn’t even really red. I don’t know what it was, but I would guess some sort of rock fish. I’ve decided I’m going to call him ‘One Eyed Pete’.
Vanessa and Nathan spent a lot of time at the touch tank checking out the different types of anemones. There was a particular type with a nice green coloring that I asked about. They told me it was called a “green anemone”. I never would have guessed.
If you’ve never touched an anemone, they have a sticky quality to them, and apparently it has to do with little barbs that hook onto your skin. It’s really kind of a strange feeling at first. Oh and the sea urchins, they are strange as well. If you push against (not straight down) one of their spines, other nearby spines will move towards your finger kind of like a weird magnet.
This ring of jellyfish was quite interesting as well. It looked to me like it made a full circle, even going under the floor. And it alternated through many different colors from blue to green to orange and so forth. Not necessarily in that order.
Apart from the touch tanks with their anemones, sea urchins, shrimp and various other underwater creatures, the aquarium is home to a giant Pacific octopus. At least that’s what I was told. But alas, I believe he was returned back to the ocean just prior to us showing up. It must be the Duley effect.
Nonetheless, there was still an octopus. This one was substantially smaller I think, but still really neat to watch, even though it was sleeping. Vanessa actually took Nathan back after we had left just to watch the feeding of the octopus. Hah, that sounds funny. Kind of like the ‘running of the bulls,’ only the ‘feeding of the octopus.’
With the Seattle Aquarium out of the way with, now it was time to hop on the Seattle Great Wheel. It afforded a great view of the surrounding area as you can see in the video below. I think it reaches a maximum height of 175 feet (53.34 m) which is, you know, more than three stories.
If you’re visiting Seattle, I would say the money spent is a good one-time investment. Adult tickets are $13 dollars each and youth tickets (age 4-11) are $9 dollars each at the time of this writing. So taking into account the generous sales tax in Seattle it cost us over $40 dollars for Vanessa, Nathan and myself. They were even kind enough to tack on a separate (who knows what) tax in addition to the nearly 10% sales tax onto our tickets. (That’s actually what brought us over the $40 dollar mark)
I mention it’s a good one-time investment, because the entirety of the ride lasted less than ten minutes. Of course, it wasn’t busy when we waited in line so I don’t know how much of a difference it would make if their were lines and lines of people waiting to get on board.
And that was what we did for most of the day on Saturday. It had turned out to be a sunny day. To recap, we began the day by walking around the market again, but this time we took our time and visited new areas.
And before you ask, yes we walked by the gum wall. I have to say, it isn’t as epic as I thought it was going to be. Just kind of weird actually. We enjoyed a simple but tasty lunch close to the aquarium before checking out all the animals inside. And then finally, before leaving the waterfront, we took a nice ride on the Seattle Great Wheel.
With tired and sore feet, we were ready to walk back to the hotel located nine blocks away. But first, a quick stop at Target again to grab some food for dinner and take another gander at the shopping basket escalator. It’s an amazing implementation, I’m telling you.
On a bonus note, I found these super delicious bad for you mini-burgers located in the freezer section that were superb straight out of the microwave! So that was a score.
Once back at the hotel, it was time for Nathan’s treatment, swimming in the pool, sitting in the hot tub, showing Nathan how to play pool, and making some dinner for him. Exactly in that order.
Saturday finally arrived! It was the day we we had been waiting for. Vanessa made reservations a few days earlier for the SkyCity Restaurant at the top of the Space Needle. Nathan had definitely been waiting patiently for this one.
And we were going to get to ride the monorail to the Space Needle. The day began with rain as usual I suppose, but started clearing up by late afternoon. The ride really only took us about 3 minutes, and I was surprised at how close the Space Needle was from where we were staying. I thought it was going to be much farther away.
Since Vanessa had made reservations at the restaurant prior to us showing up, we wouldn’t need to pay anything to ride to the top, plus we could skip the lines and go directly to the elevator in the gift shop.
41 seconds and 520 feet (158.496 m) later, we stepped out of the elevator onto the observation deck overlooking the city. There were nifty arrows on the ground that showed us what way were facing. That was particularly helpful for us because we had been struggling to get our bearings. Just the night before, we had established which way we thought north and south were. It was good to know we were absolutely wrong in our thinking.
We meandered around the observation deck for about 10 minutes until we received a text letting us know our table would be ready shortly. Once inside the restaurant, we were directed to our seats, and given menus. We all know I can’t do seafood, so my options were definitely more limited than were Vanessa’s. I probably would have ordered the same thing she did (the Benny), but it just had to have crab on it. Oh well.
So I settled on the American burger. And you know what? It was absolutely one of the most enjoyable burgers I’ve had in a long time. I was unfamiliar with the sauce they used on the hamburger bun, but it coupled with the burger perfectly. The menu says it’s a red onion-bacon jam, however Vanessa and I both tasted Worcestershire Sauce the most.
Fair warning here, if you visit SkyCity Restaurant and decide to go with the American burger, make sure you have an extra napkin on hand, because it is just insanely juicy. I’m not even joking.
After lunch, we strolled over to the nearby park so Nathan could release some energy climbing around. Unfortunately, we didn’t have the time to check out the nearby Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit. That was a shame…
On the way over to the park, we ran into this guy at the monorail station. Quite fittingly, his name is “Monorail Man” and I’m pretty sure he’s related to Optimus Prime somehow.
So anyway, at the park, Nathan got to climb all over the rope thing and go down the slides and run around with other children. Basically, it was a good way for him to let of some steam. Which by the way, is beneficial for everyone.
The park also had large yellow pipes of various lengths that could be struck to make different sounds and a large orange maze painted on the cement that people were busy trying to finish. Well, mostly it was just people going in all kinds of weird directions while staring at their feet. I noticed a few of them cheating as well. So nevermind I said anything about that. It wasn’t important. I’ll move on to other things.
I’m pretty sure I caught a grown up on video, trying to be sneaky and climb up to the top with the rest of the children. I’m not sure though, you’re going to have to decide for yourself.
Nathan ran around like a champ, not complaining about being tired one bit, even after all the walking we had been doing so far.
That is until we told him it was time to leave. Then the meltdown happened. “I’m just so tired,” he cried. “My feet hurt!”
I’m surprised he didn’t just sit down and melt into the ground right then and there. Somehow though, we managed to drag him back to the monorail station so we could get going. Soon we were on our way back to the hotel where Nathan would end up having the best night of swimming and hot-tubbing yet.
And here’s why. Saturday night was considerably warmer than the previous nights (I’m talking 5°-6° F warmer) and it wasn’t raining. That was the key; no rain. The hot tub is fine when it’s raining and/or the end of October, but the 80° F (26.6° C) pool is a bit on the cool side when it’s raining and/or the end of October.
But most importantly, other children showed up to the pool that night for Nathan to play with. Swimming has always been a big part of my life, and I was glad to see Nathan splashing around and jumping off the side into the water with other children his age. I could see the fun they were all having and the enjoyment in their eyes.
It reminds me of parts of my childhood growing up. So I was really glad that Nathan got to have so much fun swimming around with new friends on our vacation. One of the children was a seven year old Asian girl. We introduced ourselves and found out her name was Vanessa as well!
She was from Canada, and she could speak 5 languages! And guess what? French was one of them. So yeah, I felt pretty silly at that moment; me with my one language and only part of another one. But it was all good, because we had some basic conversations in French and it was an all around fun night for our whole family.
As Sunday rolled around, we didn’t have much planned for the day. We were looking forward to relaxing at the hotel room to give our feet a bit of a break from all the walking we’d been doing so far. We did however want to go to a restaurant and get some food. That was about the extent of our plans.
Google maps showed us the restaurants that were within walking distance to us, and we opted for a place called Gordon Biersch. The weather that day brought a gentle drizzle but it was somehow comfortable in a peculiar way.
After a little confusion, we located the restaurant. It was actually on the third level of a mall, which reminded me a little bit of the 5th Avenue Mall here in Anchorage. The restaurant itself wasn’t anything like what I pictured it to be either. The pictures on the phone made it look like a smaller restaurant that served pub style food. I would say that isn’t accurate. Don’t get me wrong, the food was pretty good, just not what I thought it was going to be.
The restaurant was actually quite large it seemed. There were three different sections. The first was a patio section located right outside, the second was what you would consider the bar area of the restaurant (big glass windows looking in on the brewery), and finally a large sit down section with booths for families.
I was impressed with their menu to be honest, considering the fact that it kind of had the atmosphere of a chain type store like Applebee’s, except in my opinion much better. That’s merely the impression I got though, I don’t know anything about them, nor have I so much as done any research about the restaurant.
Anyway, one of the appetizers caught my eye in particular. It consisted of house made chips covered lightly with prusciutto, green onions, and a Brie cheese sauce. It was very good. Yes, yes, quite good.
Next up, Nathan decided on the chicken and cheddar cheese burger with mashed potatoes. Something truly weird from him. He never eats mashed potatoes at home, nor does he care about chicken burgers.
Vanessa and I decided to share a meal, so we ordered a simple cheeseburger (with bacon of course) which the waiter was kind enough to split up for us. The service was good and the prices I felt were more than fair for the quality of food we received.
As the last day of our trip rolled around, we decided we would have enough time to visit the zoo prior to heading back to the airport. I think Vanessa had thought about it earlier, but figured we wouldn’t have enough time. However, she was getting more familiar with the bus system and how the city was laid out, so we thought it would be fun to go see what kind of animals we could find. After all, we weren’t leaving until around 8:30 that evening.
Right inside the front gate was the Humboldt penguin enclosure, where Nathan got the opportunity to feed them some fish. These penguins breed in coastal Chili and Peru. And from what I was told, they’re named after the cold water current they swim in.
Their whole set up was really cool. I don’t know exactly how it works, but the penguins naturally swim in 55° F (12.7° C) water, and so to replicate that, the zoo team dug underground to a certain depth where the water is naturally and consistently that temperature. From there, they have it pumped up for the birds to enjoy.
Right after we left the penguins, we figured we should get a bite to eat at the restaurant there, and then get a move on because the signs said the park closed at 4:00 p.m. and it was already 1:30 p.m. at that point.
So, the next thing we did was to head to the tropical rain forest section of the zoo. It sounded like a good idea at the time. But I should have known better, because right as we entered the front door there was, you guessed it, a wall of mist coming out from the ceiling. And for a CF patient, that’s a big no-no.
Nathan and I would need to go elsewhere. The problem is that Vanessa didn’t see us leave, and as soon as we left, the mist must have stopped because she continued to video the whole time with no mist to speak of. Then guess what? This is the best part.
Nathan and I got separated from Vanessa and we all had a good time being lost together. It’s like we were in two different dimensions. We simply couldn’t find each other until a member of the zoo staff rode up to us on a bike asking if I was Mr. Duley…
In the interest of keeping this from getting too out of hand (not that it hasn’t already) I’m going to try and summarize our favorite parts of the zoo. I totally liked watching the gorilla underneath the tropical rainforest exhibit. Although there was a whole family present, Nathan and I only saw the big guy. He was just sitting down half asleep.
And of course when Vanessa came across the gorillas, as she was looking for us, (I still don’t know how we didn’t cross paths) all the gorillas were out and about doing their thing. I don’t get it.
I’m going to say the Denver zoo was better by a good margin, but there were still plenty of fun things to check out in the Seattle zoo. We saw a zebra, some hippos, lots and lots of cool birds, including two different types of magpies (that’s important to us), kangaroos, elk, giraffes, orangutans and many other different animals as well.
As late afternoon approached, it was time to say goodbye to the zoo and catch our buss back to the hotel so we could finish packing everything and hop on the Link light rail back to SeaTac airport.
It would be a late night for us all but that’s okay. We landed just after 11 o’clock that night, grabbed our bags from the baggage claim and hopped on the shuttle that would take us back to our truck.
With a thoroughly enjoyable trip behind us, we had returned to Alaska to figure out what our next destination should be. I’m thinking Minnesota to show Nathan the Mall of America, Valley Fair, and a certain pizza restaurant I’ve been wanting to check out for some time now.