Monday, November 3, 2008

Exploring Seattle

We woke up late to a rainy morning (big surprise, right?) and got ready for our day of exploration. No unpacking, no unloading, no lifting…just exploring. It was Matt’s last day before he started his new job at REI, so we figured we needed one day of no work. 

After discovering that the outlets in both bathrooms don’t work (that’s something we’ll have to fix…the girl’s gotta dry her hair sometime…), we donned our raingear and headed out. After an interesting drive through downtown, we ended up at the flagship store of REI. I felt like I was at the center of the universe for outdoorsmen, the Mecca of mountaineers, the hub of all things Goretex. 

It’s incredibly HUGE, so vast I’d want to put my child on a leash for fear of them running off amidst Nalgenes and sleeping bags and never being found. My mouth began to salivate as we walked by a long row of beautiful kayaks, and then even more so as I saw the “World Wraps” restaurant they had on the top floor!

We got me all outfitted for Seattle weather—waterproof boots that are so super cute I don’t want to take them off, wool socks, and a much better waterproof jacket than the flimsy shell I had been wearing. Matt got to meet the manager who had interviewed him from Issaquah (he had since transferred to the flagship store) and Duy (that’s his name) was totally stoked to meet Matt in person. He introduced Matt to every REI manager or supervisor who walked by, and I was really surprised to find out they all knew who he was, where he was going, and where he was from! Everyone was so nice, and when they found out we were living in Queen Anne they would automatically give us their version of the best way to get to Issaquah. They hooked us up with a free parking pass, told us the best way to get to Pike’s Place, and welcomed us to the area.

By this point it was around 3:30, and having only eaten half a toaster pastry I was getting to the “FEED ME NOW” hungry stage. We went to the front of the store to get a map and ran into their greeter who was as talkative as they come. I think it took us a good half an hour to get away, and the managers walking behind him would just smile at us and shake their heads like “sorry, we know he talks a lot…” but he was so darn nice you couldn’t tell him to shut up! Finally, laden with maps and weak with hunger, we escaped the greeter and headed to Pike’s Place.

We walked from REI to Pike’s Place, a good 20 minute stroll through downtown Seattle. It did let us get a great feel of the city. I’d say it feels similar to parts of Boston and New York, but much less crowded and congested and with more trees. It was a nice brisk day and with my new gear I was quite warm (which makes Matt a happy guy). 

When we finally reached the market, my senses were overwhelmed with the lights, the sight of bright fruits and vegetables in nice neat rows, the smell of fish and other seafood, the sounds of sellers hawking their wares, and the feeling of my empty stomach gnawing on itself. We decided that viewing the market would be much more pleasant on a full stomach, so we went to where we had heard has the best clam chowder—Pike Place Chowder. It’s won first place chowder everywhere in the country (including on the east coast), and proudly displays its “Nation’s Best Clam Chowder” awards. We walked into the tiny shop and our eyes must have been as big as saucers because the guy said, “Now wait a minute, before you get too excited, we’re out of all sandwiches and all soups except clam chowder.”

“That’s fine!” we said in unison, “That’s all we want!”

We sat down with our clam chowder in bread bowls and took a bite and just looked at each other. It was hands down the best clam chowder either of us had ever had. This picture accurately describes our feeling while eating the chowder....

With our bellies full we wandered through the market, giggling at ugly hairless dogs in sweaters still shivering, listening to street players singing their songs, and finally stopping at the famous fish place where they toss the fish. It was surrounded by a wall of people so we wove our way through to the front near where they had a monkfish hanging over the side of their display with a sign that said, “Hello I’m a Monk Fish.” We laughed as they switched it up in their fish tossing and tossed a fish to a girl in the crowd who, accordingly, screamed and ducked. Then everyone laughed again as the main fish tosser picked up the fish to show it was just a stuffed animal! She got her revenge and chucked it back at the guy behind the booth.

We continued to walk along the stalls, sniffing all kinds of fresh produce, examining some interesting items like chocolate linguini, estimating how many clams came in a pound (14-16, in case you were wondering), and finally bought some zucchini, squash and corn before we made our way to a coffee shop (NOT Starbucks…how could you think that?!). It’s definitely a cultural experience, and though not quite as homey as our old Ocean Beach farmer’s market it’s something I’d definitely like to go back to. I’m kicking myself I didn’t buy leeks while I had the chance, cause I haven’t seen them at any supermarket since!

On our way back we had some gorgeous views of the Space Needle, and we made it back to REI and to the car right before a downpour started. Next came an interesting trip to West Seattle to pick up a TV stand before heading home. I say interesting because the on-ramps and off-ramps to the freeways in Seattle make absolutely no sense. The street you take to get on to the freeway is not the street that’s listed as the on-ramp, and you can’t get on and off the freeway on the same street like in California. Basically to get to our house (as best as we can figure) you have to drive straight through downtown Seattle and then up the hill because there are no other off-ramps that go to our house. Strangely frustratingly confusing.

The next morning, Matt went off to his first day of work and I woke up to a beautiful sunny morning (ok, maybe it was late morning…). The air was brisk and I could see a storm brewing over Bainbridge Island so I made my cup of coffee and enjoyed the sun while it lasted. Our house has been shut up for so long (while the owner was trying to sell it), that I opened all the windows and let the fresh fall air blow through. About ten minutes before the storm hit, the temperature dropped drastically so I closed up the house and sat in a chair by the window to watch it roll in.
I spent the rest of my day unpacking until Matt got home, and when he announced he was hungry we opened the fridge to find…bread, cheese, milk, and a whole lot of Jackie’s Jams from the Ocean Beach market. “I think we need to go shopping…” I said.

We bundled up and headed to Ken’s Market which had gotten great reviews on google maps. We pulled up, whipped out our list and our tote bags and walked in to discover…a market no better stocked than your average 7-11. Since we were 2 of 4 people in the stores, we felt too bad to walk in and not buy anything so we bought mustard and noodles and ducked out to head to the nearest Safeway…so much for supporting the local market!

Safeway had everything we needed (except our uncooked tortillas…don’t these people eat Mexican food?!), and after acquainting ourselves with its aisles we headed home to begin our late dinner. Thanks to Heatherly I had one cookbook that wasn’t packed so we made cashew chicken that was AWESOME and we drank our beer, watched a Seinfeld and ate dinner at 10:30.

Today (November 3…we’re finally caught up!), Matt didn’t have to work until 2 so we slept in late, missed the morning shower and woke up to sunshine. We went for a long walk around Queen Anne which looks like something out of a movie from the early 1900’s (the architecture is Queen Anne style…hence the neighborhood name), and down to a viewpoint at the end of our street.
Since Matt left for work I’ve been putting the house together until Nadine (ahem, yes you) read the Morning Cups for the first time and suggested starting a blog which has taken far too much of my time now! But stay tuned for further adventures from the Seattle Palmers!

1 comment:

  1. Coffee NEVER tasted so good as when I'm reading your blog with a good cup of joe!