10/02/2010: Day 9: Saturday in Seattle
A slow start in the morning: We slept in and then I wrote up text for the day before. After some coffee we undecided to take another Seattle day, rather than moving on. So around noon we accepted a ride into town from our host. I wanted to look more closely at the Gehry building. I could see plenty without actually buying entrance into the museums. Everything in Seattle costs about $15. Except parking; that's $12/hr or worse.
For a while, we just walked around the fountains, rides, and museums nibbling caramel corn and a latte. Then we decided to go for the Underground Tour that explains the steep streets and architectural evolution of Seattle. THe tour starts at Pioneer Square, the opposite end of downtown. We walked over to the north end of the free bus zone, and rode to the other. Then it was just a few blocks to the square.
On Saturday afternoon, the tour was packed. Tours in Seattle are apparently all humor based. The passing Duck Tours, for inescapable example, seemed particularly rowdy. The underground tour was laden with entendre and colorful euphemisms for frontier town goings-on during the advent of modern plumbing. Our young guide had the patter down pat, but did not reveal any more nuanced or deeper understanding. But when addressing such a large group with other groups close ahead and behind, only so much information could be conveyed. But I found it interesting. It helps that I can read a lot from the archeo-architectural context, such as what materials were used how, and which engineering choices were made in which era. I freely admit that I couldn't have read nearly as much between the lines without the guide feeding the right lines to start with.
One point of interest to me came when the guide had to fill time to leave a gap between groups before we actually descended below the streets. She pointed up to a white tower behind us and told us about the Smith Tower. As in Smith-Corona typewriters. It was the tallest building this side of the country for quite a while. My personal interest is that I actually own an L. C. Smith typewriter from a decade before the building was built. It has a qwerty layout, but predates both the shift key and a visible typing platen. They merged with Corona a few decades later. But we didn't have time to go up to its external observation platform between the end of the tour and its closing for the day.
After the tour, I decided to wander downhill to the waterfront. We dined at Ivan's Fish Bar, sitting facing the sun and seagulls right over the dazzling water. We then moseyed along the waterfront as the sun retreated behind the hazy horizon. And then went underground to catch the bus back in the dark. There was a choice of dances for the evening, and chose to go to bed early.