We got into Seattle Friday evening at about 9:00 and picked up our rental car. We had managed to score a full sized car for only $15 a day, and it turned out to be a PT Cruiser. It was shiny & blue & only had 3 miles on it! We found Rick's cousin Annette's house easily enough & there was much hugging all around. The original plan had been for Derek and Annette to play tour guide for our 2 days in Seattle, but Derek apparently didn't really want to because he decided to spend a week in the hospital instead. They originally thought he had gall stones & it kept escalating until they figured out that he had a blocked bile duct. They did some surgery & he was on the road to recovery when we got there, although you can't be much of a tour guide from a hospital bed. Also, because it involved his liver, he turned a bright Homer Simpson yellow. So after a quick visit with him at the hospital, hellbob and I grabbed the map & found the Experience Music Project. We were there for hours! There was a very cool sculpture called If VI were IX which is a bunch of instruments, mostly guitars, in a 2 story tornado shaped funnel. The really cool thing about it is that it plays live music. A lot of the guitars are rigged with only one string and the computer picks it and a microphone picks it up.
Unfortunately, other than this sculpture, you're pretty much not allowed to take pictures of anything. I tried to get a picture of the original hand-written lyrics to Lump by the Presidents of the United States, but a museum dude saw me and made me erase it. Most of the galleries were kind of interesting. Rick really liked the Jimi Hendrix exhibit, although I was b-o-r-e-d by it. They also have a sound room where they have instruments you can play with, and they have "training instruments" with lights that tell you where to put your hands. Even with their simple breakdowns for songs I pretty much still sucked!
After leaving the EMP we went to the Space Needle, because it was right there. It is a total tourist trap. It costs something like $16 to go up, and when you come back down the elevator lets you out right in the over priced gift shop. The view was ok. It was cloudy though, so not as impressive as it could have been. We couldn't even see Mt. Ranier!
We headed to the Pike Place market area after leaving the needle, but it was about 7pm at this point and lots of things were already shut down. We went to a place called the Crab Bucket for dinner. They are known for their big bowls of seafood. They lay out butcher paper on the table and bring out a big bucket of stuff that they just dump on the table. We had clams, mussels, shrimp, corn-on-the-cob, sausage, and potatoes. It was very good. Then after dinner it was back to Annette's house.
Sunday we went to the Woodland park Zoo. They were apparently right on the ball when the whole web thing started, because their web site is www.zoo.org. We took Derek & Annette's kids, Grace & Brian, with us to the zoo. I got in free because of my MN Zoo membership! Seattle has a great zoo! They've got some cool animals that we don't have here in Minnesota, like hippopotomus.
I even saw some of the slugs that Washington state is so famous for!
One of their orangutan's had a burlap bag that he put over his head in a darn good impression of an ewok!
After leaving the zoo, we stopped off at the Aurora Street bridge in the Fremont neighborhood to check out the Troll that lives there.
Then we dropped off the kids and headed up north to Birch Bay where we would spend the next four nights.
Monday we had to get up kind of early, because we had to head back south to Anacortes to catch a ferry to the San Juan Islands. This was the part of the trip I had been most looking forward to, the whale watching tour. We just made it onto the ferry & it was about an hour long trip to Friday Harbor. Once we got there we went looking for Bon Accord tours, because that was who we had made our reservations with. When we asked at one place, the guy was like "Are you Sharon?" Apparently the other people who were going out on the Bon Accord cancelled because of the crappy weather, so Patrick, the captain, wasn't going to be going out and referred us to Western Prince Tours Unfortunately, the whales had headed out towards the ocean earlier that morning and would be too far out for us to get to. The sucky thing is that I had originally picked Bon Accord because he only did small tours (no more than 6 people) and he was willing to stay out longer if the whales were further out & took longer to get to, which was what happened.
The tour was still really cool though. There were bald eagles (I even spotted a couple of them before our tour guide chick did!), harbor seals, purple starfish, and the highlight was the Dall's porpoises. They are similar in color to the Orcas, black & white, but are much smaller. They are about 6 feet long each, and they can swim fast! The groups we found were each only 2 or 3 porpoises, but they came up and rode the boat's wake. They would cruise along just under the boats bow, and then pull ahead and leap out of the water. It was soooo cool!
The day started out all rainy & cold, but by the time the tour was about 1/2 over, the sun was out. We caught the 4:15 ferry out of Friday Harbor & mostly just napped on the hour long ride back. When we got back in the car I insisted that hellbob & I should go find the Deception Pass Bridge, because it was supposed to be really cool.
After stopping for pictures of the bridge I saw a trail that looked like it went down to the beach, so HB waited in the car while I ran down to take pictures. It was a pretty easy hike down, and there was some way cool driftwood down there. The hike back up, however... ugh. Turns out that there was another parking lot closer to the beach & I thought "Oh, I'll just call Rick and have him drive down to get me" but then I realized that it would be tough to do since my phone was in the car with him! Hiking down .3 miles and up .3 miles are two entirely different creatures! Then we stopped at a casino to do a buffet dinner and headed on back to the resort. It was a full day! Unfortunately we didn't get back until 10 pm, which is what time the hot tub closed, so we just crashed instead.
Dang, I'm still not done...
I'll finish up with the 2nd half of the trip tomorrow. There are a TON more pictures up at my photo gallery