Downtown Seattle

Everybody was feeling good this morning so the day started off great and we had a busy day planned.  There was a lot we wanted to see downtown and one of those was an 11:00 tour of the “underground” with our friends the Tillery’s.  You may remember that we met up with these neighbors of our back in Banff when we hiked Johnston Canyon together.  It’s been fun stalking meeting up with them during our travels.

Yesterday it had been so easy to find 4 hour street parking that we decided to drive again instead of taking the bus. Bad, bad, bad idea.  Cities are made for walking.  Ride your bike if you have to.  But never, ever, ever drive in a city like Seattle, Denver, Austin, etc.  So yeah, any money we saved on bus fare we spent on parking and diesel as we idled around the streets being passed by a one legged guy hobbling along with his walker.  But we found parking and we got the “early bird” price which saved us $5.  Then it was off to Pike Place Market.
Something is fishy

This market is pretty touristy but definitely neat to see.  The displays of vendors’ goods are very impressive and fun to photograph.  There were trinkets, t-shirts, cider, flowers, noodles, jams, jerky, fruits, veggies and fish.  Steph led us down some stairs to an alley to a place called the Gum Wall.  Can you guess why?  The walls are COVERED with ABC (already been chewed) chewing gum.  I had heard about this place, but to see it is something else.  There is something about collections that is very satisfying to the eye.  There is both a sameness and a difference between the items.  I appreciated the quirkiness of the collection subject (even if I don’t like to chew gum) and the enormity of the crowd sourced collection.

We continued walking down the street towards where we would meet our friends for the tour.  I though to myself, “self, wouldn’t it be funny if I found that posh hotel I stayed at on my last visit to the city?”.  Well, guess what?  I looked up and there it was, the sign for the Alexis Hotel!!
The Alexis Hotel
Back in grad school Greg Johnson, his two dogs and I piled into his Mitsubishi Eclipse to go to a conference in Seattle.  The rest of our group was flying but Greg wanted to take his dogs and wanted to explore Wyoming, Montana and Idaho along the way which sounded fun to me too.  We arrive at our prearranged motel in Seattle after 5 days of driving, camping, fishing, drinking and generally stinking due to our neglect for showering.  When checking into the motel we find out that dogs are not allowed.  So we go on the hunt for another option.  Our camping gear is already soaking wet so we’d rather not camp again.  And this is before the days of smart phones to find a dog friendly place to stay.  I don’t know how but we end up in the heart of downtown at the Alexis Hotel and I jump out to see if they allow dogs.  I look like death and probably smell worse so I’m certain I will be turned away at the door but to my surprise the doormen open the door with a “good day to you sir.”  I walk in toward the desk taking in the fine embellishments all over the hotel and think to myself there is no way they are going to allow a college bum like me to stay here…especially when they find out there is another bum and 2 dogs with me.  “Of course we have a room for you and your pets,” the woman at the counter says.  Ok, but there is no way we can afford the price I am sure.  Amazingly it turns out it was the same price of the dumpy, out-of-town motel we were supposed to stay at!!!  I was blown away by the hospitality I felt at this hotel when it would have been very easy to judge me by my grubby looks and smell.  They even did a load of laundry for us for free when they saw all our wet gear hung up all over the room to dry.

Site #1

Cool wall

Something is fishy

Pikes Place



Pikes Place

Gum wall alley

A lot o gum

Jaw dropping

Gum wall


The Alexis Hotel

Mossy bike



But that was then….let’s get back to now!  We met up with the Tillery’s and we went to meet our tour for the underground.  I’d never even heard of the “underground” but Steph was excited about it and had scored us a private tour and the group discount price!!  Essentially, Seattle version 1.0 was built in the tidal flat and became a wet muddy mess every day when the tide came in.  Then one day there was a horrible fire that consumed the wooden buildings of town but spared all lives.  When they built Seattle version 2.0 they put in a sea wall to protect them from flooding and also built the town elevated over the top of version 1.0!  The merchants did not want to lose business during construction so they ran their shops out of the “basement” level (the version 1.0 level) of the newly elevated streets.  Eventually the 1st floors were added to the shops at the level of the elevated streets and the sidewalks were bridged between the street and the buildings.  So our tour took place down in those basement level shops and sidewalks.  I was so impressed by the determination/planning of the business owners. In order to get back to business and survive they planned ahead knowing that the first floor of their shops would be buried and the 2nd floor would be the main floor eventually.  Great tour, great guide, great history.  Definitely worth it!!  We wanted to check out the Klondike museum and one other one that got high marks but there just wasn’t going to be time to squeeze it in to our one day in downtown.

We were hungry and hankerin’ for fish and chips so we decided to “keep clam” and eat at Ivar’s.  Certainly not the healthiest option but it was fast and everybody liked their food and got full.  We had a 1.5 mile walk to the International Fountain which Steph had heard was a lot of fun.  And it was hot, so a fountain you can play in sounded like a good idea.  It took us awhile to get there and as we approached I thought, “ummm, looks like any regular old fountain to me.”  But as you get closer you realize this thing is HUGE!!  And the water is synchronized to music that is pumped into the well like structure where the fountain resides.  It was pretty impressive.  At first the kids didn’t want to get wet (we didn’t have swim suits) but once they did they had a ball and played for quite awhile.  When we were done Steph and the kids got a treat at a nearby Starbucks while I went to get the truck and pick them up for the ride home.  On their way to meet me in the truck they happened by some singing flowers!!

Two days in Seattle is not really enough so there is plenty more for us to see when we visit again someday.

Private tour


Old stuff

Beneath the streets

Crappy picture


Sky light

"Why did the chicken cross the road?"

"Knock knock"

"It's good to be in Seattle"


Famous Washingtonians

Wach's with some of the Tillery's



Fish n chips

Watching the ship come in

Monkey Farts

Having fun



Kids, fountain, needle

High water

Sun dried boys

Space Needle


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