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Spring Break 2007, Seattle/Victoria, BC © R. Craig Collins, 2005/6

Seattle/Victoria overview image

Friday, March 9  
Diane had a track meet, so about 8:00pm we headed to Valley Mills to pick her up. She said she was thirsty, so we stopped by a Sonic to get her a drink, when an individual backed his Aztek into the Elantra... not a great start to what turned out to be a pretty good vacation.
Saturday, March 10  

Normally we book way ahead, but we really didn't decide on Seattle until a few weeks out. Consequently, we couldn't get seats assigned in advance. So, about 6:00 am, I headed to the local airport and got our seat assignments and boarding passes.

About 11:00, we loaded the last of our duffle bags into the trunk of the Neon, leaving the Elantra to wait for the insurance people to sort out the details. We stopped just south of Fort Worth for lunch at Spring Creek BBQ, and arrived at DFW's Air Park Express lot about 2:30 pm. We got through security fairly easily, and boarded our flight about 3:30 for a 4:10 take off.

We arrived Sea-Tac about 6:30, and after finding the Advantage Car shuttle, got to the lot and picked up our 2007 Red 2 door Chevy Cobalt, and hit I-5 about 7:30.

Seattle Space Needle

After cutting through downtown on 6th Street, we checked into the Best Western Loyal Inn, 8th near Denny, in the north west corner of downtown Seattle; we liked the place because of free parking, free breakfast, and the location: between the Seattle Center and Downtown proper.

We dropped the bags and strolled over to a very Austin-artist like diner called the Hurricane Café.

After bagel breakfast sandwiches/burgers, hashbrown, etc., we walked back to the hotel, unpacked, and crashed.

The view from our room, 317, looking towards the Space Needle.

Sunday, March 11  
We arrived for our breakfast of oatmeal, waffles, yogurts, toast, and teas about 8:00.
Seattle downtown, from Space Needle

After donning our rain gear, we walked to the Seattle Center and picked up our Go Seattle Cards, about 9:30. We then took the elevator to the top of the Space Needle, which was slowed to 5 mph, due to the winds.

We could barely see the harbor, due to wind and rain, but it was fun, none the less.

View of our hotel, middle bottom, from the top of the Space Needle.

Seattle souvenir photo

After the ride down, we started spending money to pump up the local economy. Gracie found some 33 1/3 paper records from the 1962 World's Fair, and we got other various souvenirs, such as the picture to the left.

Within the grounds of the Seattle Center, there is also the Experience Music Project, the Science Fiction Museum, and the Monorail station.

So off to Experience Music (EMP).

View of the Experience Music Project from Space Needle The wild design of the EMP is also interesting from within... where we viewed old footage, walked through the guitar exhibition, saw music related clothing, and a massive piece of art encircled by walls being used as projection screens. Upstairs was a Disney music exhibit, the Jimi Hendrix, gallery, and a great hands on feature where the girls played drums, guitars, pianos, and a bass.
Seattle's Science Fiction Hall of Fame

Co-located in the EMP is the Science Fiction museum. They had Robby the robot, a ton of Star Trek artifacts, and the Sci Fi writers hall of fame. We escaped this building with only a brief encounter of the gift shop... always a Diane favorite.

From here, we walked to the Monorail station... the rain was still coming down, but the wind had died off a bit.

Seattle Monorail station

Seattle Pike Place Market

The monorails are also from 1962, though a recent accident forced a system overhaul. Originally a 4 million dollar investment, the repairs ran about 3 and a half million.

The train runs from the Seattle Center down to 5th street, and ends at Westlake shopping Center, where we had soup and Mickey D's in the food court, for lunch.

Then, it was down to Pike Place Market, for a quick stop.

Seattle Pike Place Market

Pike Place market if famous for Fish throwing fish mongers who hurl the giant salmon across the open court, but they also have a lot of eclectic shopping, flower stalls, and buskers.

Across the way is also the original Starbucks, of which Diane has become a follower of.

This was just a brief visit though, as our real goal was the Argosy harbor cruise docks. So down endless stairs to the waterfront, and up a few blocks.

Seattle Argosy cruises

The elevated road, the viaduct, which runs along the waterfront, was damaged during the 2001 earthquake, but an election while we were there chose not to replace the viaduct, and not to dig a tunnel. So while they know what they don't want, they are still a little iffy on what they do want.

There is supposed to be a trolley that runs below, but it is also sidelined because of construction. We had counted on free downtown transportation, but this day relied on our legs to get to the cruise dock.

Seattle Argosy cruises

We could have chosen from several cruises, but we opted for the 2:15 harbor cruise. After using our Go Seattle Cards for the fourth time of the day, we only had a short wait until we boarded the Spirit of Seattle.

The rain had cut back, and the sun was breaking out just a bit, which really lit up the city from the water.

We headed up from pier 55, past the Edgewater hotel, where guests used to reel in 20 lb salmon, and try to keep

Seattle Spirit of Seattle

them in the tubs. They don't allow fishing anymore, for some reason.

We headed up past pier 69 where we would leave to Victoria from, in a day or two, and then turned toward Bainbridge Island, the site of the original settlement... until weather sent them across the the current site. We also passed some sea lions, and hear of one that was camping by the locks, and chomping salmon as they went by. They gave him a trip to southern California, but evidently he beat the boat back to Seattle.

Seattle skyline, from the Spirit of Seattle

We got a great view, stretching from the Space Needle to the north, down to the old Pioneer Square, and the ball parks, in the south.

We then turned at the south end of the harbor, and sailed up past the dockyards, and back to our berth.

From here, we went to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop for more souvenirs, and brushes with mummies, shrunken heads, and a parting of some money. Since we still had some, we also went

to the Pirate's Plunder shop, as we worked our way up the waterfront. We got back to Pike Place Market, and explored a bit. We then headed to the hotel; not too bad on the waterfront, but up those hills to 8th street was a challenge. From there, did a bit of research, and came across a dining option. No feeling like any more strolling, we drove to a local dining institution, Spud Fish and Chips, near Green Lake. Nice view as the sun set over the lake, but not the best eats about, I'm thinking. After getting back to the hotel, we headed out to the Whole Foods market near our hotel to get Gracie a toothbrush, and stopped by one of about 5000 Starbuck's, before turning in for the night.
Monday, March 12  
Seattle's Pioneer Square

After our usual breakfast, we headed to the closest bus stop, right on 5th under the monorail, and caught a free bus to near Union and 2nd. From here we walked to Pioneer Square, where Seattle began.

We used the Go card to get tickets to the 11:00 Underground tour, and wandered around the area. There were a lot of shops around the Occidental pedestrian mall, but Diane wanted a Starbuck's to tide her over until the tour began.

Perfect timing, the sun disappeared as we strolled into the Smith building, and the rain started.

We got back to the location of the Underground tour, and were escorted into a saloon where we heard the early history of the city, and how poor plumbing was ruining the city of the 1880s. That, and lousy mayor, who kept getting re-elected.

As the tide would come in, it would bring back all the refuse, and shoot it up the toilets!

But this was all taken care of when the city completely burned to the ground in 1889.

Though people had already begun to rebuild the homes and businesses, the city decided to elevate the city... getting it off the mud flats, and to deal with the plumbing. So, the road were raised from 8 the 30 feet. The now dwarfed building could not stand the side loading of backfill, so I-beams connected the buildings to the streets, and sidewalks were added over the the top... leaving walk ways that were used for about 15 years.

Thus, the underground was born.

Now, largely in disrepair, the Underground was still a very interesting, and wildly amusing, tour.

Skylights, purpled with the years, from above,
and from below.

A couple of other Underground tidbits. Yesler street, named after the corrupt mayor, follows the path that lumber traveled down to Yesler's mill.

Hence, the original Skid Row. Also, ladies of the night were called seamstresses. Instead of shutting them down, and thus driving the loggers and Yukon miners away, the city taxed them. Thus, the sewing machine use tax... or SMUT.

After the tour, we bought our way out of the Rouge's Gallery souvenir shop, and walked around the corner to pizza at Mario's.

From here, we walked to the International District, aka Chinatown. Gracie went crazy at Uwagimaya market, getting Japanese Manga magazines, art supplies, and cartoon flip books.

From here, we walked until we found the busses going back to town, and got back to the downtown shopping district. We started at Westlake Mall, went to Nordstrum's, then to Pacific Place Mall, then to Bon Marché/Macy's, dropping money all the way... but the girl's got some nice clothes.

A short walk later, we got to the hotel, and tried to find some asian food. The University area had a few, and we wound up driving to Mandarin Chef. We finished at Safeway for cookies, and back to the hotel.

Seattle Internation District dragon
Tuesday, March 13  
After the usual breakfast, we got in the car and drove to the Museum of Flight.
Seattle Museum of Flight

I knew this would be one of my favorite stops.

Aside from the great variety of jets parked outside, including the vertical take off Harrier behind me in the picture, inside were scale models of Leonardo's flying machines. We got in free because of the Go Seattle Card, so that purchase was more than paying for itself.

We noted when we could go visit the tarmac, and started wandering.

Seattle Museum of Flight

Just beyond the models was the great hall, full of wonderful and historic planes. After circling the Blackbird spyplane, we wound up at the simulators, and the family took a turn being catapulted off a destroyer during WWII. We got shot up, (protrusions in the seats), had the wind screen shot out (blasts of air in the face), but managed to land successfully, and get hauled back on board.

They also had real cockpits to sit in.

Seattle Museum of Flight

Gracie and I got a turn in a Blackbird, the world's fastest airplane, and Diane opted for an F-18.

At 11:00 we walked across the street to tour two prized aircraft... the Eisenhower-Kennedy-Johnson-Nixon Air Force One, and a real SST, a British Airways Concorde.

Air Force One at the time was fairly small, room for press and staff, and a small office space, shown below.

Seattle Museum of Flight, Air Force One
There was a small cabin area for the president, with a long couch that looked like it could double for a bed, while there were some fold down 'bunk-bed' berths in the rear for less presidential naps.
Seattle Museum of Flight, Air Force One
Seattle Museum of Flight, Concorde The Concorde was long and narrow, two seat on each side of the aisle... while about as nice as first class on any narrow-body jet, it's claim was crossing the Atlantic in under 4 hours.
Museum of Flight,  from the Tower

After that, we headed back to the main Museum, and went through the tower exhibit, and actually listened in to the real tower on the field, and watched a student helicopter pilot. Scary.

Then we went through the Red Barn, the original Boeing plant, and saw old mail aircraft, and old wood working and metal working tools used to make them.

There were also movies, ads, models

Museum of Flight,  WWI display

and histories of various aircraft through to the Jet Age.

From there, we went to the Wings of Courage, with stories of war pilots, and the planes they flew.

Upstairs were flying reproductions of WWI aircraft, and life sized trenches and other displays.

Downstairs were WWII aircraft, and a Women's Air Service Program/WASP display. We followed a real WASP as she discussed that time in her life.

Museum of Flight,  WWII display
We then had a soup and sandwich lunch in the Wings café, where they had some wonderful posters, like the one to the right. Of course, drop some money in the gift shop, then back to town.
Museum of Flight,  Blackbird poster
A friend had suggested Claim Jumpers for dinner, just outside Alderwood Mall in Lynwood. I-5 traffic was pretty bad, but using the express/car pool lanes, we made pretty good time. Such good time, the girls had enough time to shop before we had some pretty good food for dinner. I had a great chicken cashew salad sandwich, and others had pot pie, fried chicken and pasta.
Wednesday, March 14  
Seattle Pier 69, Victoria Clipper

After an early breakfast, we drove a mile down to the Bell/Elliott street parking garage, then took the skybridge across the Alaskan Way to the water front.

A few blocks down was the pier for the Victoria Clipper.

We boarded the Victoria Clipper IV, a fast catamaran, about 7:30, and were underway at 8:00 for the 2 1/2 hour trip to Victoria, BC.


On board the Victoria Clipper IV

The Clipper seated about 300, and looked more like the biggest wide body jet ever. Two levels, a bar, and video screens showing our position on navigation charts.

She cruised at 30 knots, and was fairly smooth until we hit the straights of Juan de Fuca. Even then, it was kind of fun, but walking back to the restrooms was a bit of a challenge, as was completing my crossword without writing letters all over the page.


Lighthouse between Seattle and Victoria.

We passed just beautiful vistas on this clear cool day, like the lighthouse to the left, with the snow covered mountains always looming.

About 10:30, we slowed down as we entered Victoria harbor. The harbor is also the airport, with one seaplane heading right for us, then veering abaft to land. We cleared customs fairly quickly, and started walking into the central part of town, passing the Parliamentary building with it's dome, and a neat waterfall memorial.

Victoria harbor, with the Empress Hotel.

We stopped in the visitor center, got our bearings, and from the harbor we headed for Fort street, and walked up Antique Row.

They say that this is the most English of Canadian towns, and it did seem to have that character about it, though the tourism industry was everywhere.

About 11:30, we headed back to the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where we had a reservation for a very British tea.

Victoria, tea at the Empress

We all had the Empress blend of tea, which was served with three levels of tea foods. The bottom tray had finger sandwiches, including egg, salmon, and ginger carrot. The next tray had scones, Jersey cream, and pistachio puffs. The top tray had lemon cranberry tarts, chocolates, and shortbread. My mother would have loved it... we had done tea at Harrod's in London; she was also fond of owls, so when we saw a shop with a huge stone carving of a family of owls, we knew she was there, too.

Victoria seaplane harbor area

We then headed back to the harbor; as the girls shopped, I walked down to the seaplane wharf, and watched the planes land and take off. In the area, an interesting character was selling coins he had cut parts out of, and we somehow bought nickels and such for like $10.00.

From there, we strolled to Chinatown, though the signs took on a Chinese flair, it was a mixed neighborhood o Victorian and Asian influences. We did some more exploring around Market Square, Tin Tan Alley, and the Chinatown gate.


Victoria, Chinatown street signs Victoria, Chinatown Gate

Some Asian influences...
Victoria, Market Square

some not so Asian influences...
Victoria harbor area

About 3:30 we started back, and waited forever for American customs (on Canadian soil) to check us out.

We boarded with the second group on a much fuller Clipper, purchased some Turkey and Bagel baskets (literally a package of turkey, and a packaged bagel), and settled in for the ride back to Seattle. It had stayed bright all day, and the wind had died down, the the return crossing was very easy on us.

Seattle from Pier 69

As we crossed the skybridge back to the car, I took one last picture of the skyline.

We needed some gas, so we headed to the Shell a block from the hotel, but found ourselves on a little highway, and we wound up taking a very scenic ride past Queen Anne and over Union Lake.

After gassing up, it was dessert at the Hurricane Café, packing, and bed.

Thursday, March 15


After an early breakfast, we loaded up the car, and headed back to Advantage. Traffic wasn't too bad, but a semi had turned over and slowed us a bit near Boeing field. At Sea-Tac, we dropped the car, and took the shuttle to the airport. After fiddling with the Alaska airlines check in terminal, we got our boarding passes, and took our seats... not great seating assignments, AB on one side, EF a row behind on the other side, with other people occupying the aisle seats.

To get the good fare, we had to change in San Jose. DON'T DO THIS. We had to switch terminals, physically removed terminals about a mile apart, and the bus took forever. The security lines were so poorly managed that people risked telling off the agents.

Pizza cost us $25, but we did load early. The Super 80 is two seats on one side, and we had AB on rows 26 and 27.

After arriving DFW, we caught the shuttle to the car, grabbed a bit at Don Pablo's, and then parked on I-35 in Burleson while an accident was cleared, getting us home safe, but tired, about 11:30 pm.

Last day bobbles aside, what a great trip.