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October 24, 2004: Seattle. It's big.

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After spending a fairly relaxing day just hanging out with my little sister and her family, we spent today (or most of it) running around Seattle. Richard had never really seen Seattle, and itís been a very long time since Iíve done more than just drive through it in passing. So this morning, after inhaling a marvelous homemade coffee cake, and large quantities of coffee, we all piled into two cars and headed off to the city.

My little sister and my niece rode with me, which suited my niece just fine because there were toys for her to play with and things to chatter about. The drive into the city wasnít too bad since it was a weekend day (and thus less rush hour traffic).

We started with Pike Street Market, since any trip to Seattle must include at least one trip there. I remember wandering through this with my uncle, back when we used to go up and visit him, but itís been quite a long time. Richard got a kick out of the fish market (and the way they fling the fish), and my niece was quite taken with the big brass bear that sits just outside the market.

We mostly just meandered through the market, and then through various shops around the market. There was a brief detour into a tea store, where Richard bought some kind of tea that is very, very strong, and only he liked (the rest of us took a whiff and shuddered). Then we had to stop by the chocolate store right next door, which apparently just opened. We picked out an assortment of truffles to try for later, and escaped before any of us broke down and ran screaming amid all the goodies, smearing chocolate all over our faces and taking bites out of everything. But it was close. Chocolate stores are dangerous places, after all.

It was fun wandering around all the little shops and booths, checking out all the merchandise. We found a little Italian place for lunch and had calzones and cheese pizza, crammed onto rickety stools around a tiny little counter in the very back of the store. We found a coffee shop and drank coffee and chai tea and split huge pumpkin cookies while waiting for Lark in the Morning to open so we could meander around all the really cool musical instruments. And then there was a hasty lesson on how to use the Seattle bus system, since it was getting to be nap time for a certain four year old niece, so we hugged my sister and brother-in-law good bye and found a nearby bus station, and they left us in Seattle to entertain ourselves for the rest of the day.

Richard really wanted to check out the new Science Fiction Museum, and I thought it would be fun to at least meander by the Space Needle. So we managed to figure out the right bus to take, and it took us straight to the City Center. Since itís Sunday the place was mostly deserted, but that was actually rather nice (neither of us is big into crowds). It was actually pretty cool Ė although it might be kind of boring for the non-nerd type. Mainly itís exhibits Ė classic books, manuscripts, television shows, costumes and props from various productions. The museum was set up to walk through the progression of science fiction in both print and film, focusing on different areas of the genre, such as horror, space travel, alien encounters, and so on. It was kind of fun to walk through and read all the snippets here and there. They have one of the (I think) life-sized aliens from the Alien series, stuck in a huge glass enclosure, and it was properly realistic enough looking to make a few of the younger visitors a bit wary.

After the museum we just wandered around the Seattle Center. We checked out the fountain, and stopped to chat with a man sitting on a bench playing his tuba. We ate ice cream in a huge food court area and watched little kids clamboring around in a play area down below. We found the little sculpture garden and walked through that. And eventually we figured out which bus to take to get us back to our car (made easier because I had carefully marked where we parked on the map).

We drove around downtown Seattle for a little bit, just to see more of the city. It was kind of cool to drive right by the new library, since Iíve seen pictures of it (and actually worked on an article about the building, and some of the rather unique architecture involved). And it was fun to play tourist, peering out our windows at all the buildings.

There was nasty traffic on the drive back to my sisterís house, and we did manage to get lost once, but eventually we found our way back. After my niece went to bed we watched Desperate Housewives, which Richard and I had not seen before but will now have to watch every week because it is so very funny and clever, and divvied up all the chocolate truffles (because the raspberry chocolate torte was just not enough for the weekend), and it was a fun day.

Richard and the cutest little four-year old niece, ever.

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