Friday: Vancouver, Border, Queen Anne
On Friday morning I met up with Cousin Carolyn at UBC after my class for a pre-birthday-weekend croissant + latte. A good start. Carolyn is Queen of the Forestry Department, and we always have the best intentions to catch up, but the truth is the Arts building is just about as far away from the Forestry building as you can get. So naturally we don't run into each other unless we have made scrupulous plans.
Speaking of scrupulous plans, after I parted company with Carolyn I ran about like a mad thing getting ready for our All American Road Trip, including an all important trip to our local travel agent for some weekend travel insurance. I know it's just across the border but we must NEVER LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT. I speak from Hexperience.
Anyway, I skytrained out to Richmond with my backpack and my passport, stopped briefly to procure a taro milk tea with pearls from Aberdeen Mall (one of those amazing little pockets of pure Asia which Vancouver has tucked away), and finally made it to Matthew's work just as he was heading out the door. I gave the bubble tea into Matthew's grateful hands (it has become a tradition whenever I meet him at work to bring one of these weird purple drinks), and we hopped in the car at 5pm sharp.
And then all the fog descended.
Matthew drove us gingerly to the border and we waited and made the end-of-week-catch-up small talk for AN HOUR, and finally got through. Luckily, since Matthew went rally driving in November, we didn't need to exit the vehicle please sir because his three-month pass was still good. The fog continued thick. It was 7pm by this time.
(I realise that if I don't gloss over some of the less exciting parts of this amazing journey then this blog post will never end.)
So we got to Queen Anne, a suburb a smidge to the North of Seattle's CBD, and checked in to our totally gorgeous hotel. Matthew has a reasonable fear of driving the steep hills in downtown Seattle, so when I was searching for accomm, he requested a no-hill-zone. Queen Anne is perfect! Our hotel, The Maxwell, was very modern and full of original art, mostly circus-themed. We checked in and headed for the "Rock" bar downstairs, which had totally gross cocktails. Matthew's drink, if that's what you could call it, was in an actual lava lamp, and had orange jelly floating in it. Also it was about three quarters of a litre.
Saturday: EMP, Monorail, Downtown
In the morning we woke up and discovered that the Space Needle was amidst clouds. Matthew had very romantically planned to take me to lunch in the revolving restaurant at the top, which would make it the third such moving restaurant we've been to. BUT ALAS! The fog was so dense we couldn't merit the huge tourist pricetag to sit in the middle of no sort of view whatever for two hours, so we proceeded to plan b. Thank you for the thought, Matthew!
We walked down to Queen Anne Avenue North and had breakfast as Peso's, a local institution. Holy! It kept us going. The decor inside and out was vibrant.
|Epic American Mexican breakfast, with a cup of tea.|
After breakfast Matthew and I explored our suburb. Here are some local places of note, including this puntasticly named restaurant:
Oh, Easy Street Records. Everything about this store screamed 20th century. We wandered up to see if we could find a bargain and my goodness, there was one copy of every cd ever recorded. It oozed neighbourhood charm and indie rock spirit.
We spotted the Experience Music Project museum but to get to it we had to wade through 90% melted 'winter wonderland' man-made snow. Grrrreaeat.
|Aside: this awesome building had nothing inside that we could tell, but omg look at those American eagle gargoyles!! And Matthew, looking his dapper winter self.|
|Close-up of the EMP outside.|
The EMP had lots of exhibits, but the ones that we saw were the obligatory Nirvana exhibit, full of guitars, ripped t-shirts belonging to Kurt, Dave and Krist, and charmingly evocative hand-written posters for Nirvana as a support act to other Seattle-area bands in the last 80s and early 90s.
We also went to the Jimi Hendrix exhibit, which contained rather fancier clothing than the Nirvana offerings, and bits of iconically smashed guitars.
Finally, we headed downstairs to the Sci-Fi exhibit. This was a very eclectic, very wide-ranging collection of books old and new, tv old and new, film old and new, and the odd video-game.
|Enlarge this and read the caption...|
|Gun from Men in Black film|
|Me making a sci-fi film.|
|Apparently this is a dalek? Am I right?|
|Head from Terminator.|
|Face sucking thing from Alien film.|
|Matthew and me in front of some sort of special effects screen.|
|A special effects switchboard from the olden days.|
After the EMP we caught the Historic Monorail into town. It's like a skytrain, only older and with more windows.
|Matthew and me taking tourist selfies on the monorail, Space Needle in the background.|
|I was not so successful with my shopping. Despite loving this jumper at first sight, it didn't fit well enough for anyone to read the key text when I'm wearing it. This is the definition of a 'sadface moment'.|
After all that museuming and shopping we were superpooped, so we wandered down the hill to Pike Place Market and veered off into a little laneway. We actually recognised this laneway from when we were in Seattle in September 2012. Immediately in front of us was a sweet wine bar called Marche (I can't figure out how to get the accent happening over the 'e' in blogger, but you can just imagine it being more French-sounding than 'marsh-as-in-bog', okay?).
|This photo doesn't do justice to the extreme steepness of the hill. It's like 20 degrees.|
We then moved on to the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) restaurant on 1st Ave. Now, this place received actual rave reviews in the tourist literature, so forgive us for wanting to check it out. ...For a start, it was more brightly lit than the museum exhibits, and in fact, even than Macy's department store.
|Me in the cold hard light of dinner with a wineglass as big as my face.|
We returned to Queen Anne via cab through the misty night, and stopped a few blocks short of our hotel at the MarQueen lounge for a nightcap. Matthew saw his doppelganger. It was a perfect end to an adventurous day.
Sunday: Woodland Park Zoo!!!
We had kept at the back of our minds the possibility of buzzing up the Space Needle for a revolving luncheon on Sunday, but the weather again thwarted us.
|Fine! We won't go up you then!|
We decided to check out Woodland Zoo which was a bit of a drive away, but in the right direction for going on home. Happily, as soon as we left Seattle proper, the cloud lifted right away and it was nothing but sharp blue skies for the rest of the day! We stopped in Fremont, a gorgeous suburb which calls itself the 'centre of the known universe' on it's own website, and grabbed an espresso and a croissant (guess who's developing a croissant habit? probably need to nip that in the bud, or else give up cheese.) Have we mentioned how Seattle prides itself on hole-in-the-wall espresso-only (ie. not drippycoffee) cafes? It's A Thing, trust.
Then we got lost in the car, in a suburb called Ballard.
Then we arrived at the Zoo! (Hello to all you readers who have skipped all the boring bits above and come straight to the interesting part of the weekend!) I'm not sure why the flamingos are up front, because that's not the order I selected them in, but it's actually kind of fitting because they were hands down the most fascinating members of the zoo community! Matthew and I could not stop staring and laughing. Did you know that their feathers are pink in colour because they eat pink shrimp all day? That's a fact.
|Penguin nap capsules.|
|This one was extremely curious, and would have actually nibbled our fingers if it could have reached them.|
|More glorious, camp, vain flamingos. New favourite animal.|
|And their necks! Nothing like a swans neck, and there was actually a swan in the flamingo enclosure that we could compare them with!|
|We loved the bug room because it was about 4 degrees outside and the bug room was delightfully warm. However, tarantulas. Enough said.|
|The lions were far away, but very dignified.|
|This is a Japanese Red Crane. Surprisingly large (taller than me by a long shot).|
|Not sure who this guy is, but he had a very engaging stare.|
|...aaand a pepsi machine in the zoo.|
|Male orangutan threading and unthreading some scrow-together piping with his fingers, toes and mouth. He was fascinated, we were fascinated.|
|Oh, this is the one wallaby, forever alone in his huge enclosure, shivering in the chilly winter mid-afternoon sun.|
|A historical carousel in the zoo grounds, circa 1920s I think.|
|Matthew outside the carousel on a thing.|
|Original wooden hand-carved and hand-painted horse of objectionable taste.|
|...and finally, the free-roaming peacock who watched us eat our lunch, strutting and posing all the while.|
The Woodland Park Zoo is a must if you are planning a weekend in Seattle. It was very nearly empty of people, there were stretches of parkland where we felt like were were alone with the animals. It was incredibly spacious and had an amazing collection. We didn't photograph all by a long shot, but there was also a hippo, two giraffes, a couple more elephants, one of whom was actually dancing, a snow leopard, and the most amazing animal I have ever seen, called a Serow from Japan which is like a cross between an ape and a goat.
We headed home when the sun was still pretty high, but as soon as we got to the hills all the fog came down again and stuck with us all the way back to our front door in South Granville. The border lineup was not long, the classic rock in our car was classic, and we had the enormous presence of mind to stop at the local grocer so that we had actual vegetables to eat for dinner when we finally got home. Adulthood, eh?
Next time on the blog:
Actual birthday at the Kings
Anything else exciting that happens between now and then.