Saturday, January 9, 2010

"The bluest skies you've ever seen are in Seattle, And the hills the greenest green, in Seattle"

Since there was no Christmas newsletter in 2009, thought we would let you on the Mullen doin's. Donna and I didn't travel much last year due to my limited mobility and the economy being a bit dicey. We did establish some travel guidelines prior to any trips; as close to home as possible, no cities (concrete is not my friend), no flying (open space terminal flooring not my friend either), and no place where the sun wasn't shining most of the day.

We then flew to Seattle in May.

Donna always wanted to go there and I had fond memories from a visit 30+ years ago. When I revisit a place I haven't been to in awhile, I like to compare and see who or what has changed more, me or the place. Seattle won in all categories. Seattle wasn't fighting gravity around the waist. No proliferating gray hair. Not a wrinkle visible on city streets, no potholes. I limped; the downtown traffic, even at rush hour, moved with measurement and order. Store fronts and sidewalks were full of interest. Polite and unhurried pedestrians - cell phone affixed to one hand, Starbucks to the other - always at the ready in case someone lit a cigarette or dressed without fashion consideration. The city was still young without those attendant problems, still in puberty even after 30 years. Bad for me, good for the visit.

Seattle is surprisingly hilly. In fact a guy I was talking to on one of the buses while going to the Mariners game ($15.00 for a great seat!) explained to me that Seattle was just like San Francisco, but "without the Californians." Which I took to be a good thing.

Donna made me stay in a nice hotel downtown that came with a concierge desk and great views on upper floors. About once an hour a sea plane with pontoons would either take off or land on Lake Union and fly right by our hotel window. On our first day we asked the concierge the best way to get around. He said, "we have 78 light rail and bus routes". So although complete, public transportation was somewhat complicated. But Day two, armed with 4 maps, Donna was giving route numbers and directions to tourists.

Herein lies the best memory of the trip. I find a trip always has a memory moment, the first thing that comes into your mind when thinking about or asked about a particular vacation or place you've been to. Sea level sunset in Maui, a double-decker bus motoring around London, a beach of rain on Cape Cod. A moment. For Seattle, the moment came as we were waiting for a subway on the third underground level of a subway station and having a bus show up. Let me repeat. We were waiting for the subway and a bus showed up...out of the subway tunnel. My first thought being - does the bus know it is a bus and not a subway? Imagine. Donna and I flew over 2400 miles to discover a 12 ton bus with a delusional identity crisis. Go figure.

We did all the touristy things, mostly in the city, but did take the ferry over to the Olympic peninsula for a day. No matter where you went it was hard to escape the magnificent gaze of Mount Ranier. Like everything else in Seattle, it was impressive. We also went to the Univ. of Washington Botanic Gardens. There is an magnificent Japanese garden and an azalea walk that spans over a mile. The azaleas are interspersed with lilac bushes and all manner of evergreens and pines that background a wide, grassy trail.

We also ate out - restaurants around Pike's Market and in Belltown mostly. Tom Douglas's Dahlia (Tom "put Northwest cuisine on the map",... thank you Tom) in Belltown was very good. Dining tip- word to the wise-they sat us near kitchen. I didn't have enough black on.

Also noticed both at Dahlia's and another very good eatery, Steelhead Dinner, (near Pike Market, not seated by the kitchen, we must have been considered "cool")that the wait staff used the term "treated" instead of "cooked." You know, when they come up to you and give the specials and "featured" presentations of the evening..and also size you up for a tip; they will say something like this, "We have for your consideration Grilled marinated skirt steak treated with encrusted oregonzola, pickled onions and peppercorn aioli." I started to wonder if the food in the kitchens of Seattle restaurants are being handled by line and sous chefs or board certified physicians.

I "treated" my side dish, french fries, with ketchup.

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