Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Saying Goodbye to Seattle

We saved some of the biggest Seattle highlights for our final day in town and were a bit worried when we woke up to thick fog.  Fortunately, the cloud cover burned off and we were able to spend our last day in a very sunny Seattle.

The first tourist attraction on our list was a walk to Seattle Center to see the Chihuly Garden & Glass.  The entrance fee alone was absurd and Chris was worried that we'd have to sell our house if Ava broke something, but Ava was on her best behavior and was enthralled by all the shapes, light, and color.

For lunch we rotated 360 degrees at 500 feet above Seattle in the Space Needle where we had unobstructed views of the entire city.  Kids can write notes and leave them on the outer ledge for other people to respond.  Ava could read and respond to questions - about her name, where she was from, whether she would go out with them, and whether god was alive - from these unseen friends.
Crossing the city, we took a tour of CenturyLink Field, the home of Derrick Coleman and the Seattle Seahawks.  After decades as the AFC West's doormat, the Seahawks have turned things around with a gorgeous stadium and are in the NFC and Super Bowl champs.  
Highlights of the tour included the visitor's locker room 
And a visit onto the field. 
After some rest back at the hotel, we rode the LINK to Safeco Field to see Robinson Cano and the surprisingly good Seattle Mariners.  Ava has now seen games in 10 different major league stadiums (stadia?).
Prior to the game, Ava ran around the playground. 
We took a break during the Mariners' 2-0 shutout of the hapless Twins to take pictures,  
Visit the Dave Niehaus statue,  
And visit the Moose Den to get a photo and autograph of Mariner Moose.
Despite a few minor hiccups (getting drenched in Vancouver, some bumps and bruises, and some long lines), Ava had a solid, 5-star vacation and looks forward to a future trip back to the great northwest. 

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Seattle from Above and Below

One visit to Pike Place Market wasn't enough for Ava, so we made a couple more trips there today.  This morning we visited the very first Starbucks location so Ava could drink her long-promised hot chocolate.
In the main arcade, Abby and Ava enjoyed the scents of locally grown lavender. 
Back outside, Ava added a chewed up piece of gum to the Gum Wall. 
Heading to the sky, we rode on the Great Wheel.  While not quite the same as the London Eye, it still offered wonderful views of the bay and the city. 
For lunch, we stopped at Ivar's Fish Bar for some tasty fried goodness overlooking the harbor.
We then headed to Pioneer Square to visit the oldest parts of Seattle. 
The highlight for us was taking the Underground Seattle Tour (free for kids 6 and under!) where we explored Seattle below street level and were able to see an original Crapper toilet. 
Nearby was the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park where we stopped in to learn about the difficulties of travelling through Seattle to Alaska at the turn of the century in an attempt to strike it rich. 
On our way back to the hotel, we walked by the Seattle Public Library, which was exactly as depicted in Goodnight Seattle
For dinner we met up with Ava's old playgroup friend Audrey and her little brothers Lucas and Owen at Etta's.  It just happened to be wear a stripey dress day. 
After dinner we strolled around the market again and the kids climbed aboard Rachel the Pig. 
For dessert, the kids each savored their strawberry gelato from Botega Italiana
Our last stop of the night was Victor Steinbrueck Park where the kids had the chance to run around on the grass and visiting the totem pole while avoiding the homeless people.   
Ava has long enjoyed the Larry Gets Lost series and has read Larry Gets Lost in Seattle many, many times.  Today, we found a Larry that can join us during story time and that Ava can take home with her.

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Emerald City

Ava was woken up bright and early today so we could make the morning ferry from Friday Harbor to Anacortes without having to wait for 3 1/2 hours.  Once we arrived in Anacortes, Ava napped in the car as we drove to the Emerald City where we came across a giant troll.  No, we weren't going to the land of Oz.  Instead, we stopped to see the Fremont Troll on our way in to Seattle.
Nearby we popped into the Theo Chocolate factory where Ava satisfied her sweet tooth with samples of over a dozen types of chocolates.
Down the street stands the Waiting for the Interurban statue, which was decorated for July 4th and for some guy's birthday. 
Staying in the neighborhood, we had a picnic lunch along the Burke-Gilman Trail where Ava made scary noises/faces to keep the ducks and geese away from our food.
After filling up, we visited the Ballard Locks where we saw the salmon ladder and the boat "elevator."  
After checking into our hotel, we spent the rest of the afternoon with Ava's first (of many?) visits to Pike Place Market for snacks, a donation to Rachel the Pig, and some window shopping.  
With such great views from our hotel room we stayed in and ate some Serious Pie while enjoying looking out onto the city and Puget Sound.  

Friday, July 4, 2014

Small Town 4th of July

After having a big city Canada Day experience in Vancouver, we decided to have a small town Independence Day experience on San Juan Island.  The island is in the Salish Sea and has a population of less than 7,000.  After making breakfast in our cottage, we drove down to Cattle Point for a couple of early morning pictures.
Since we didn't pack folding chairs in our luggage, we hunkered down for the 4th of July parade on the sidewalk. 
That proved to be perfect for us as we had great views and were just a block away from a bake sale.
The parade was a lot of fun with a mixture of patriotic floats, rural vehicles, local bands, kids, animals, and lots of advertisements for local businesses.  Some of the parade participants threw candy to the kids, and Ava collected over 20 pieces of candy!
After the parade we walked down to the Whale Museum where we learned all about the orcas that we hoped to see later in the day. 
On the grounds of the San Juan Historical Museum we joined a record setting 1,600 people for hot dogs and live music at the annual Pig War Picnic. 
We spent most of our afternoon at Lime Kiln Point State Park (aka Whale Watch Park).  While we were unsuccessful in our efforts to spot killer whales, and despite rain beginning to fall, we spent a lot of time scrambling over the rocky shores, viewing the tide pools, and hiking to the light house.  
Driving around the island, we ran into an alpaca farm where we saw herds of alpaca playing, lounging, and being fed.  We decided not to buy a souvenir stuffed alpaca because it wasn't even made in Washington, but made in Peru. 
For 13 years (1859-1872), American and English forces occupied parts of San Juan Island in a dispute over the boundary of the US and the British Empire triggered by the shooting of a pig.  This confrontation was known as the Pig War and is remembered at the San Juan Island National Historical Park.
Ava wandered about the remains of the English Camp and through the surrounding forest. 
Throughout the day we saw deer, cattle, horses, and hens, but our big surprise of the day was getting to see a flock of bald eagles up close as they perched on trees and soared through the sky.  It was an amazing sight and quite fitting to see them on the 4th of July.