As every country dweller knows, the Big City is a dark place brimming with danger, decay, and degenerates just waiting to corrupt the innocent. It must be so, because within an hour of arriving in the city and breathing its tainted air, Caleb and I found ourselves to be desperate, wanted criminals. This is how it happened....
Because we took the bus into the city, we arrived 2 hours earlier than expected. My dear friend Jenilyn, who was to pick us up, was still an hour and a half away when we surprised her with our happy phone call. "We're heeeeere!" It being rush hour, she advised us to go ahead and take the Link Transit train down to where our hotel was and she would meet us down there. This I gamely decided to do.
We received directions to the depot. Just walk around the construction, over the sky bridge, cross the four lane street, go past the Starbucks (of course), turn left, take the elevator down to the tracks and grab any train going south. And do it while hauling 3 suitcases and 4 bags.
I knew we had to have exact change, so I let the first train go while we hunted through and found all our dollar bills and quarters. When the next train arrived, we were ready. Hustling through the door, we found the luggage area already mostly filled. Caleb was able to leave two suitcases there, but he had to hold the last one on his lap. He still had it better than I did---I had to stack all four bags on my lap, one on top of the other. Only my eyes were visible over what looked like a mutant pile of duffle bags. Can you say Public Transportation Nerd?
As stop after stop passed, commuters getting on and off, with no sign of a conductor to collect our fare, I began to get nervous. I didn't want to ask and look like an inexperienced dweeb (or should I say, even more of one!), and besides, I couldn't really move anyway.
When we reached the SeaTac airport, the train stopped and all passengers were requested to disembark. It was the end of the line. Hmmm. Maybe you were supposed to pay when you got off? Caleb and I gathered our suitcases and stepped off the train. Immediately I say two uniformed officers with vests emblazoned something like, "Fare Enforcement Officer." Choosing to throw myself on their mercy rather than pursue a life on the run, I went up to them and asked, "Where do I pay to take the train?"
They looked at me and you could tell they were storing this one up to tell the guys back in the office. "Um, you're supposed to pay before you get on. See those machines located, oh, everywhere? Use them to buy a ticket next time."
But....but....can't I pay now?
No, I couldn't. It was the end of the line, with no way to redeem myself from my shame.
Sigh. There was nothing to do but drag our luggage down to street level and wait for our ride. Thankfully, Jenilyn had purchased Orca cards for Caleb and me to use during our stay. All we had to do to prevent further crime sprees was wave our cards in the direction of any and all card readers we saw. Our unorthodox methods seemed to work, but I still don't think we had it quite figured out before we left----the computer must have hated trying to calculate our travels and fees!
My cheeks still flushed with embarrassment, it was time to explore the city. The first place we went was to the Seattle Aquarium.
It was nice to smell the salt air again. Not that I smelled it that much in California---in spite of living only a couple hours from the ocean, we visited only every year or so. Now I have to drive even farther than that just to get to the nearest mall!
Fun with the jellyfish tank! The aquarium has them displayed in an arching tank that you can walk around, under, and behind. I love jellyfish---totally cool.
After that, we wandered up to Pike Place Market, an iconic open-air market that has every kind of vendor you can think of. It is famous as a place where they toss the fish. Not, as I thought, from boat to stalls, but from displays to counter. When a customer wants a fish, the whole fish is taken off its bed of ice and hurled to the butchering/weighing counter. Interesting, but very fishy smelling. I liked the long bank of flower vendors better.
But Caleb really appreciated the bakeries....
We also saw the Gum Wall, a dubious icon where, for whatever reason, people started sticking their gum on the wall. Now it is covered in a disgusting explosion of color and texture.
This.....is a windowsill.
After we were done exploring the market we hit a couple more shops and ate at a delicious cafe before heading home to our hotel. It was lots of fun, and definitely a workout for our legs. I'm not used to climbing that many hills all in one day! Nothing left to do but post our pictures on Facebook and rest up for another fun day of sight seeing tomorrow....