On the way into Seattle I passed a VW Microbus with the following crudely spray-painted on the back:


I also passed a double-length bus on I-5. It looked like a normal mass transit bus, except it had what appeared to be a metal arm for overhead electrical wires. This arm was retracted, since there were no wires over the expressway.

I forgot to bring my directions and maps and addresses for the sites I wanted to see in Seattle, but I remembered that the Kingdome was south of the waterfront, so I took an exit that looked likely. I was lucky.

I saw wires over the street, which confirmed my suspicion that the busses turn into what are basically trackless trolleys. I don't know if they are electric on the open road or if they have dual power sources.

I found the piers but couldn't remember which one I was looking for. There is a viaduct above and beside the main street along the piers, and there is metered parking underneath. I picked what seemed like a good place. It was only drizzling, and I thought I wouldn't be in the rain much.

I got lucky again, since Ye Olde Curiosity Shop was just a few yards north of where I parked.

In its current state, Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is very similar to Marsh's Free Museum. In the back along the walls are the curios. The rest of the shop is a souvenir stand.

I imagine that in the early days (it opened in 1899) this was really a waterfront curio shop. I picture fog over the streets and creaking ships in the harbor. I open a creaky door and blink as I enter a dark dusty store, filled with wonders from around the world.

Maybe it wasn't like that, but I like to think that it was.

There are still oddities here. The headliners are Sylvia and Sylvester, mummies. Both were allegedly mummified naturally due to freak conditions.

Sylvester looks carved from wood and isn't very convincing. Sylvia, however, looks like a thin paper covering over a skeleton. She looks real, or at least as real as I am able to judge with very little mummy experience.

Equally impressive, although neither as big nor as popular during my visit as the mummies, was a shelf full of shrunken heads. These looked great.

I looked for T-shirts with the mummies or heads but found nothing. I asked Inga, the clerk at the back register, and she said there weren't any, but that it sounded like a really good idea. She said she would mention it to the owner.

I asked Inga about the Liberman sculpture, Olympic Iliad, that is at Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle and some rides and other stuff. She said the best way to get there was by monorail (in fact, everyone and every web site and every tour book said that). Since Inga didn't have a car, she didn't know if there was a place I could stop just to photograph the sculpture.

Next door to Ye Olde Curiosity Shop was Ivar's Acres of Clams. I didn't eat in the restaurant proper, but I did get some fried clams and French fries from the fish stand on the side.

On the corner is a statue of Ivar feeding a French fry to a seagull. Signs around the outdoor dining area warn against feeding pigeons but say that feeding the seagulls is OK.

There was a covered outdoor dining area, but it was full due to the mist falling from the sky. Luckily there were small tables down the side of the building under an awning.

Beside the tables were a small wooden walkway, some benches, and a railing. Beyond the railing was water. As I sat down, a seagull landed on the railing and waited patiently. I looked and saw that beside each occupied table was a seagull waiting patiently on the railing.

The seagulls were very skilled at catching tossed fries. If they couldn't reach them without leaving the railing, they just hovered slightly, then landed in position.

Other seagulls joined in when fries started flying. None came to the tables, though; they all stayed on the railing.

I watched some very large car ferries pass by as I ate lunch with the seagulls.

I headed north from the pier, intending to at least drive by Seattle Center to see if I could get a picture. I really needed a map. Seattle isn't a flat city with straight streets, and water kept getting in the way. I abandoned hope of seeing Seattle Center.

Eventually I figured I was far enough north and probably west of Fremont, so I turned right. The streets were sometimes narrow, often winding, and went up and down steep hills.

Surprisingly I did find Archie McPhee and only circled the block a few times looking for a parking space.

If you aren't familiar with the Archie McPhee catalog, check out their web site. "Purveyors of Popular Culture", McPhee sells lots of cool little toys.

(Maybe it's just my perception, but it seems as if they have changed over the years. I remember the Archie McPhee catalog being full of surplus discoveries. These days it is mostly full of things they have manufactured. They are still fun things, but they lack the true "forgotten treasures" feel.)

I asked if they would ship my purchases home for me. I was told no, but that they have a catalog for mail order. Surprise.

The store was much smaller than I expected, but it did have lots of neat things. I found a few I didn't recognize from the catalogs, but I was too distracted by the fact that I couldn't actually buy anything (I wasn't sure I could get all I had in my luggage for the return trip) that I didn't take notes. And I didn't buy anything at all.

I did get the phone number from the wholesale wing for Mary Esther and directions to the Red Hook Brewery.

On the way to Red Hook I passed through what I assume was the center of Fremont. It was a five-way intersection, but that isn't why it reminded me of Little Five Points in Atlanta. It had that arty hippy health food liberal casual free spirit feel to it. Subsequent research revealed that, about ten years ago, Fremont declared its independence.

I arrived at Red Hook about five minutes before the tour started. I expected a crowd, since other breweries, like Sprecher in Milwaukee, have people waiting in line for packed tours. Our group was about a half dozen.

I liked this tour. I've been on a couple of dozen brewery tours, the huge industrial to the tiny, and this tour ranks in the top three (along with Sprecher and Lakefront in Milwaukee).

That the beer tasting came first was one contributing factor. I think all tours should start this way, but Lakefront is the only other one I've seen do this. We sampled the pale ale and the hefeweizen and the coffee stout (my only coffee in Seattle) and something else.

Another factor was our tour guide, Robin. This was a very relaxed, casual tour. Rather than just give speeches as we walked along, she just talked conversationally about the beer, the company, and the facility.

My digital camera was upstaged on the tour by a tiny digital camcorder. Its owner was from Athens, Georgia, so it must have been very easy to use.

They don't brew beer at this facility any more, but all the equipment is still in the back. Robin showed us the mash tun and the lauter tun and the fermenting tanks and the filters and the storage tanks, which are pretty much the same in any brewery.

After the tour we got our final beer sample and some postcards, which the company would have put stamps on had I filled them out and mailed them there. We also got bumper stickers, and we got to keep our little tasting glasses. Quite a bargain for a buck!

While Red Hook no longer brews beer in this building, they do still have the Trolleyman, a pub. I had another beer or two and finally gave in to curiosity and ordered a smoked salmon appetizer.

I decided that, while early in the afternoon, I should get back to the motel and get packed.

I cleaned out the car and managed to squeeze everything into my luggage. I was impressed.

The final day was fairly uneventful and doesn't deserve its own page, so I will put it here.

June 27th - Home Again

I got up on time and made it to the airport an hour and a half before my flight. This was good, since I found out my flight had been moved up an hour and fifteen minutes, not the fifteen minutes I had thought. I got bumped to the front of the line and hurried to the gate.

There were still people getting on the plane, so I wasn't too late.

I switched seats with a couple who wanted to be together and ended up next to a couple from Singapore. They were extremely friendly and polite, and they slept a lot. I wish I could sit next to people like them on every flight.

Shortly after takeoff we broke through the clouds and Mount Rainier loomed outside my window. I am pretty sure I also saw Mount Saint Helens and Mount Adams, too. I checked some maps when I got home, and they were in the right places.

I got to Chicago an hour early, and I managed to catch an earlier bus, so I got home about an hour and a half sooner than anticipated.