Tuesday, September 25, 2007

The Ohioans conquer Seattle

I met Anne in September 1994 when I moved to London to study abroad for a year. She was one of my eight flatmates and the first one I met. Since that moment, she has been one of my dearest friends. After London, we have only seen each other 4 times: her wedding (to Matt) in 2000, my brief visit to Ohio in 2004, our wedding in 2005 and just now. But it's like no time goes by and we pick up just where we left off. When she told me they would be coming out for an extended weekend, I was ecstatic. They had never been to Seattle so we endeavored to represent our city well and make it a rock & roll good time. When you think of what to highlight for out-of-towners, it can be overwhelming to try to encapsulate what Seattle is in a handful of days. Anne & Matt let us know that they had no burning desire to go up in the Space Needle and honestly once you get up there, you are looking down at a city you don't know. Aside from the views (if the weather is cooperating) is that really very exciting? So I suggested we thoroughly embarrass ourselves and take a "Ride the Ducks" tour.

Photo by Sean Testa.

As a local, I usually cringe when I see those things on the street but with company it seemed like a unique & comprehensive experience. But if that weren't enough, Sean and Shannon were willing to do it too so we wouldn't be the only locals on board.

Like the Hummer, the Ducks are former military vehicles commercialized to capture their true potential. Who would have thought that vehicles designed to storm the beaches of Normandy would later be driven around cities as people blew through plastic duck lips? I knew these things went in the water but I had never seen that part with my own eyes. I can't adequately describe the flash of doubt that takes hold as the thing rolls down the boat launch. A vehicle that can be sound on both the road and in water? Of course it was fine. But if you are curious to know how they look in water, here's one in Lake Union.

Photo by Sean Testa.

Both Anne & Matt are landscape architects in Ohio. Our activities on Sunday centered around green things and we took them over to the Arboretum and Japanese Garden. They saw a few plants they'd never seen before and impressed us with their ability to identify trees, shrubs and flowers with ease and confidence. They were very impressed with the Seattle Japanese Garden and said it was second only to the one in Portland that they visited around the time of our wedding.

Here are purple flowers that almost glowed--they were so vivid. Not that you can really tell from the picture. I forget the name of them now. Behind them were some zebra grass which were also quite exotic looking. The Japanese Garden doesn't seem to have raccoon problems. These Koi could get night jobs bouncing in Pioneer Square, they are so huge. And these lunkers and will hurt you if you don't feed them. (More Japanese Garden photos HERE.)

Here is a new exhibit at the Japanese Garden called "Faces." Just kidding. This was in Fremont near where we ate dinner: a great Italian restaurant that doesn't look like much from the road but has excellent food & homemade desserts: Fremont Classic Pizzeria & Trattoria. Yes, they bite. The one thing Anne & Matt wanted more than anything during their visit to Seattle was to eat lots of seafood. And wouldn't you know it, the salmon are running. The first night we dined at Chinooks and the next night we served some home-cooked Coho but forgot how pungent cooking salmon can be and got to live with the smell for a few days (sorry Anne). To further our salmon knowledge, we made a stop at the Ballard Locks to see them hop the ladder. It really is an amazing place to visit, tourist or local. The gardens: exquisite and well cared for, the locks: an amazing human invention to behold and the salmon ladder: up-close and personal with wild salmon--and it's all free. So. Freaking. Cool. We also spotted winged wildlife, a heron and other birds. And this was in the garden there. Looks like it's from another planet. It's one the most bizarre and beautiful flowers I have ever seen. Does anyone know what it is? Naturally you can't visit Seattle without a little Farmer's Market action so I took them to the largest one in the country: Pike Street Market. Can I tell you how much more sane it is on a Monday? Lots of room to move around and the vibe is almost zen it's so relaxing. We bought some flowers and produce, like you do. Saw some fish get thrown, ate at Lowell's for lunch, cruised by the first Starbucks and stopped in at Le Panier (The Very French Bakery). Beautiful day to boot. It's been a thrill to have Anne & Matt here and show them some gems of this city. Safe travels back to Ohio and next time it's our turn to come see you! Thanks also to Sean and Shannon for their participation in the Duck Tour and dinner. Always a thrill to have great friends together at the same table.

1 comment:

Anne said...

That's a passion flower!!! :) And i'm feeling better now that there's no salmon smells! :) Love you, Anne