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May 28, 2014

A Spectacular Seattle

Tom McLaughlin

Seattle, Washington – The plane landed after a 10-hour flight. I finally got some sleep and my son Dzul and my wife Suriani also dozed most of the way. We felt refreshed and active.


The clearing of customs was the usual non-event. A dour-faced guy checked our passports and, after asking us if we had over $10,000 in cash and we laughed heartily, he passed us through. We called our hotel and the pickup van appeared promptly.


Seattle is a long city with the airport at the bottom of the last stop on the light rail. To the west is the Pacific Ocean and to the east are the mountains, the Cascades. Known for its rain, the town receives 39 inches a year about the same as Central Maryland. However, the precipitation falls in the form of a mist for days, giving it a bad reputation. We would have none of that. Four glorious and cloudless days with above average temperatures were to bless us.


We elected to stay near the airport because the hotels in the city central were expensive. I am talking about $65 vs. $250 and more. With Boeing and Microsoft the main employers, they can ask – and get – those absurd prices. The hotel we stayed in, The Red Roof Inn, had been recently re-modelled with the smell of fresh paint, a new 40" or so color television and a huge king-size bed. A "Denny's" was within a short walk, where we found breakfast and dinner. The light rail terminal was very close and for $5.50 we could ride all day. This connected with the monorail and, for a few extra bucks, we had the whole town covered.


Day One was spent visiting the Public Market. Row after row of tulip stands greeted us as it was Mother's Day here in America. The colors were vibrant with yellows, reds and an occasional blue predominating. Fish mongers sold freshly caught salmon, yelling out every time they sold one. Inside, row after row of fresh fruits and vegetables, arranged in tidy clusters, prospered.


We ate at the Hard Rock Cafe. Not that we meant to. I purchased two of their t-shirts for both daughters. I had believed the restaurant was meant for young 20-somethings," but there were many families present. High chairs were the norm. We enjoyed a burger, I had not been in the States long enough to put name to it. The clear blue sky enabled us to see for many miles over the Puget Sound and the city. Absolutely spectacular!


Mount Rainer was the subject of Day Two. We took a tour which cost about $120 each, Dzul was free. The long journey across the plains and the ascent up this active volcano was punctuated by the history and geography of the area. We saw many natural features. At the top, we had lunch, vegetable lasagne – which was awful and at a horrific price. Bring your own food.


Dzul fell asleep, and I went into the bus with him. Suriani found a friend and went into the snow fields to play. Being her first time with measurable snow, about nine feet of it, she built a snow man, threw snow balls and made snow angels. She was out of my sight, more the pity, but enjoyed herself immensely.


The ride back down the mountain included many stops and Suriani got off the bus to marvel at the waterfalls and the shifting creeks. Dzul slept while I stood guard. He was finally aroused at the stop for Huckleberry Pie, which was delicious. It was at a stand run by the wives of Himalayan sherpers, who helped people get acclimated and practice before their journey to Mt. Everest.


We went to a music museum on the light rail followed by a short journey on the monorail for Day Three. Dzul was awake this time. The museum cost $24 and I was beginning to realize all of the museums were to be that expensive. There was a huge, four-or-five story cone at the centre covered with guitars. There were many rooms showing films and music. A special room was dedicated to Kurt Cobain. I guess I should have known who he was and his music, but somehow he just slipped by my life. He was a local Seattle boy.


We visited the Space Needle, a building erected for the 1962 World’s Fair. I managed to chase Dzul around it for three or four laps while Suriani enjoyed the amazing view. I didn't mind. When it came to her turn to do the chasing, I enjoyed the grand view from all angles on this perfectly clear flawless day. We walked around the parks and music museum. The air was fresh with highs in the upper 70's.


A dazzling spring day in Seattle.


...Life is good. . . . . .


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