Sep
26
Filed Under (Travel Log) by Tom on 09-26-2007
Early Bird Special
Early Bird Special

The parking garage in Seattle where we parked yesterday has an Early Bird Special of $10.00 for the whole day if we get there before 9:00 am. So we leave at 7:30 am this morning to get there in time.

Unfortunately for us there’s fog on the road today and traffic is heavy and slow. Parry drives us in the carpool lane but even that’s slower than yesterday.

Just as we get within ten miles of the city, the van starts to act up again. It’s not overheating like yesterday, this time the electrical system is going haywire. The lights on the dashboard are flashing on and off and the van is hesitating like it’s about to stall. We’re afraid the battery isn’t recharging properly. It’s beginning to look like we’ll get stuck in the carpool lane with no place to pull over. That will make for an interesting day.

Luckily the van stutters it’s way into the city and makes it to the parking garage. Unluckily it’s 9:11 am when we arrive, just minutes past getting the Early Bird Special.

We park the van and shut her down. Parry attempts to restart her but no go. She’s dead. We decide not to deal with it right now. If we have to, we’ll call AAA for assistance when we’re ready to leave.

Today is a little more structured than yesterday. There are two things we want to do, go on the Underground Tour and go to the Space Needle.

It’s cloudy and foggy in the city again this morning, although the sun is promised to appear sometime today. After yesterday’s experience, I’m not holding my breath.

The Space Needle is the one Seattle icon I’ve wanted to see for many years, so even though it’s foggy, I’m ready to go there now and view it in person. We can’t see it from downtown but we know the general direction to walk, so we make our way towards the north end of the city in search of it.

Space Needle Rising Out of the Fog
Space Needle Rising Out of the Fog

Rising like an alien spaceship out of War of the Worlds, it slowly begins to make it’s appearance in the skyline.

Called the Eiffel Tower of the Pacific, the Space Needle was created for the 1962 World’s Fair and rises over 600 feet into the air. It was the idea of Edward E. Carlson, former CEO of United Airlines and Westin Hotels, who sketched the concept on a cocktail napkin while dining out one evening.

When I went to school for photography, my first assignment was to photograph a floor lamp from as many different points of view as possible. That lesson has stuck with me and even though I’m not consciously thinking about it today, I find myself photographing the Space Needle that same way.

Space Needle I
Space Needle I

 

Space Needle II
Space Needle II

 

Space Needle III
Space Needle III

 

Space Needle IV
Space Needle IV

 

We toy around with the idea of going up in the Space Needle now, but the visibility is really low and the cost is somewhat high. Instead we opt to take a chance that the sun will shine later and head back downtown on the Seattle Center Monorail which was also built for the 1962 Seattle World’s Fair.

Downtown Seattle
Downtown Seattle

Now it’s time for the Underground Tour. So we walk to the Pioneer Square District, pay our admission and wait in line.

When I was young I saw a TV show that depicted the Seattle underground, so I already have a picture in my mind of what I expect to see. I suppose because of that, I am disappointed with the tour.

The guides try to make it fun with their humorous take on the history of Seattle and the Pioneer Square District, but the tour is like going into someone’s dirty basement where a bunch of junk that had been collected over the years was just thrown around on the floor.

By the time the tour is over the sun’s shining and the sky is clear. We take a break for lunch at a little pizza joint before taking the monorail back to the Space Needle for our ride to the top.

We pay $32.00 for the two of us and make our way to the elevator to go up. Before we can get to the elevator, we have to pass though an area where a photographer is set up in front of a mural of the city of Seattle. The mural shows the Space Needle in the foreground and Mount Rainier in the background. The photographer lifts a rope to let you through and insists you have your photograph taken before entering the elevator. I’m thinking of refusing because we never buy these types of photos, but at the last minute decide to be a good sport. Parry and I pose in front of the mural and just as the photographer snaps the shot, to everyone’s surprise including my own, I lean over and give Parry a big kiss on the cheek. We end up buying the photo.

Space Needle Observation Deck
Space Needle Observation Deck

We take the quick ride to the saucer and arrive in a spacious circular room with large tinted windows. We step through a door to the outside and the first thing I notice is there’s no glass to obstruct the spectacular view. There are metal wires to keep you from jumping, but fresh air and clear views otherwise. It is so refreshing to be up that high and not be in a glass cage.

It’s always a challenge to take hand held photographs and get any kind of clarity of detail. I miss my tripod but like many of these tourist attractions tripods are forbidden. So I rest my camera on the wires and shoot with the highest aperture and the lowest film speed I can get away with and hope for the best.

Space Needle Observation Deck at Night
Space Needle Observation Deck at Night

We end up staying on the Space Needle until after sunset and are rewarded with a full moon rising in the east as the sun is setting over the Puget Sound in the west, with the city of Seattle and Mount Rainier in between. It’s a real treat for the eye no matter which direction you look. We feel very lucky to be experiencing this glorious scene.

Here are some of the shots from the Space Needle

Seattle Cityscape I
Seattle Cityscape I

 

Cloud Bank Rolling Over Puget Sound
Cloud Bank Rolling Over Puget Sound

 

Mount Rainier Hovers Over Seattle
Mount Rainier Hovers Over Seattle

 

Seattle Cityscape Closeup
Seattle Cityscape Closeup

 

Seattle Cityscape Vertical
Seattle Cityscape Vertical

 

Seattle Cityscape II
Seattle Cityscape II

 

Seattle Cityscape II Night
Seattle Cityscape II Night

 

Seattle Moon Rising
Seattle Moon Rising

 

Space Needle Night
Space Needle Night

 

Space Needle Saucer Night
Space Needle Saucer Night

 

Seattle Cityscape III
Seattle Cityscape III

 

We take the Seattle Center Monorail back downtown to pick up the van and go home. The train is practically empty, so Parry asks the driver if we can sit up front with him. We have a great view of the ride from the cockpit.

Walking back to the garage we run across a performing street percussionist. He’s using a couple of plastic five gallon buckets, some glass bottles and other miscellaneous found items to create his music. He does this while balancing a smoking cigarette in his mouth with a long ash hanging off the end. Here’s a little sample of his talent.

It was a great day but a long one and Parry and I are both ready to head home. The van, having healed itself while we were away, starts right up and we make it back with no problem. We decide not to drive to Seattle again until we take it to a garage and have it looked at.



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