I spent a late afternoon hitting two of the major tourist attractions, Pike's Market and the Space Needle. I was bored with the first and pleasantly surprised by the second.
Pikes' is a flea market with fish. If you like tie-dyed shirts, incense and other paraphernalia that should have died in the 60's you will find the wares more appealing. Even the fish was not terribly interesting if you have ever seen one before. If I had a kitchen I might have been more enthused about wandering through the bins of ice looking for the perfect catch. There were large bouquets of flowers and stalls of spices and jams, neither of which were on my shopping list. I ended up walking briskly through without much interest.
The Space Needle is an icon of Seattle, adding some unique architecture to an otherwise typical modern skyline. You may have heard that the needle was built as the center peace for the 1962 World’s Fair whose theme was the 21st Century. It costs $16 ($12 military) to up in the needle, which makes it a pricey tourist attraction. I was prepared to freak out by the height and under whelmed by the experience. Neither expectation panned out. While the elevator was a bit disconcerting since it outside the structures, there was a nice solid back wall I could cling too and the ride was blissfully short. Upon arrival, the tourist is dumped into a large restaurant that is safely cocooned away from the open air by nice plat glass windows. There are fat pills and coffee/beer to choose from and cocktail tables to linger at. After surviving the trip up, I was not about to stay indoors, however, and ventured out onto the weather deck. This too was less frightening because there was a nice waist high metal barrier and an eye height plastic shield minimized the vertigo. I was a little nervous about shoving my friend’s small camera through the wires above this plastic to take pictures but that was fear for the camera, and not fear for myself.
I tuned into a tour that was taking place outside and learned a couple of interesting points about Seattle. First, there is one boat for every 4 people in Seattle and you can drive your boat up to Husky’s stadium.
The view from the Needle is well worth the ticket particularly for those of us used to broad vistas. I could see Mt. Baker to the north, which the tour guide indicated was a rare event. Mt. Baker is usually visible only 50 days per year. Alas, Mt. Rainier was not visible through the haze and smog. I talked to my father last night and he said there was large wildfire to the south near Mt. Hood, which was significantly degrading the air quality. Still, I know it is a good day when Mt. Rainier is visible.
Downtown Seattle is very majestic when viewed from the Needle. It is quite cliché, but you really could reach out and touch them. I also enjoyed looking out the bay towards the San Juan Mountains. I think I could watch the ferries travel back and forth all day. I love ships and wandered up to a grain shipping facility where a large tanker was moored. I do wish I had time to get out on the water. I assume I just need three other people and a boat would mysteriously appear.
I am not an urban gal though and find I get tired of buildings and car noise very quickly. I want to hike around Rainier, I want to cruise the San Juans, and I want to kayak with the sea birds. Seattle seems to have a very large and imposing homeless population that limits one’s desire to wander aimlessly through every nook and cranny. We certainly have a homeless population in Boulder but in most areas they blend in with the University students are therefore less visible. If you feel like I do, spend one day in the city and get out to enjoy some of Washington’s world-class wild spaces.