Eric came to attend the AWP Conference and to interview candidates for his sabbatical replacement. My mom was free that week, so I decided to come along and spend time with my youngest sister, who moved to Seattle about a year ago.
We arrived on Tuesday evening and crashed at my sister's house in Ballard. Eric didn't have any conference obligations on Wednesday except for registering, so we spent the day together with my sister and her two little children. I had breakfast at Señor Moose Café with Sharon Muza and Kim James, the founder of Doula Match. Great food, lovely women, fantastic conversation. While I was breakfasting, Eric toured downtown Ballard with my sister.
Then we met up to visit the Ballard (Chittenden) locks. I visited Seattle when I was about 10 years old, and the locks are one of the few things I can recall.
We picked up some amazing sandwiches at Paseo for lunch. On my sister's recommendation, I chose spice level #3 but I think I could easily have gone up to a 4 or 5 (out of 5). I like it hot!
After naps for my sister's toddler, we went to Golden Gardens Park, a lovely beachfront park and playground. Ivy napped while we enjoyed amazing weather: mid-50s and sunny.
Once the children were covered in sand and (hopefully) tired out, we headed home and caught the bus downtown. Because Eric was also interviewing candidates for his sabbatical replacement, we were able to stay at a very nice hotel, the Fairmont Olympic. We spent an hour in the pool and hottub before it was Ivy's bedtime.
I nursed Ivy and ran off to meet some birth people at Café Presse in Capitol Hill. Dr. Elias Kass of One Sky Family Medicine, a recent CNM graduate (and IBCLC), and a long-time blog reader met me for a wonderful evening of conversation. I was going to walk to and from the hotel, but Elias kindly gave me rides. Thanks!!
We discovered that our "suite" at the Fairmont wasn't really a suite at all, since the 4 French doors between the bedroom and living room had no glass...just large open panels covered with sheer curtains.
|If there's no door, no sound control, and no light control, it's not really a suite.|
Eric had to sit with the lights off and make no noise to keep Ivy from waking up. After one night of this, I decided to put Ivy to bed at my sister's house and stay until my bedtime. It's only a 12 minute drive from her house to downtown when the traffic is light.
Another gorgeous day: mid-50s and sunny. Seattle, what's up? My sister met me at the hotel for swimming, then we explored Pike Place Market and the surrounding shops, including Beecher's Handmade Cheese. Lots of delicious food samples....mmmm....oh, we saw the gum wall (eewwww) and walked past the original Starbucks.
Home for lunch and naps, then back outside to Carkeek Park. It overlooks the Puget Sound and has a little pedestrian bridge that crosses over train tracks down to the beach. Ivy took another outdoor nap--what a lovely thing--while we entertained the other little ones. I was eager to see a bit more of downtown Ballard, so we walked around and visited Classic Consignment. Several lovely shirts & sweaters later, I emerged. I also found an amazing antique chair but had to pass it up...sigh...Dinner was Thai takeout from Pestle Rock.
Yet another day of gorgeous sunny weather! We spent the morning at the City Center playing in several of the fountains, including the musical fountain with jets that spray to the music and an empty fountain that looks more like an ocean floor than a fountain.
We also toured the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Visitor's Center. Amazing interactive displays on alleviating poverty, improving sanitation and clean water supplies, reversing malnutrition, and improving the quality of life for all people.
We took this picture...and then it showed up on the wall behind us!
A rural Nepalese midwife's birth kit...plastic sheets, soap, string, and basic instructions. Amazing that something so simple can make such a difference in birth outcomes.
Lunch was takeout pho...I could eat it every day. Yum. After naps, we headed to the Woodland Park Zoo. I was finally able to meet a longtime friend, colleague, and blog reader Jenne after 7+ years of correspondence. I love being able to make these connections!
Later that evening, my sister hosted a last-minute Feminist Mormon Housewives get-together. It was small, but the conversation was great. I love tackling big issues of faith, doubt, feminism, and activism.
My sister brought her whole family for swimming on Saturday morning. Seattle decided to show its true colors, so we had cooler temperatures and rain. My sister stayed behind to take the Seattle Underground Tour with Ivy and me and Eric. The sights were mildly interesting, but the tour itself was fascinating. I love well-done entertaining history.
I finally was able to spend some time in the afternoon with Eric at the AWP Bookfair. He'd been tied up all day and most evenings going to conference sessions, while my days were full sightseeing with my sister. We checked out of the hotel and spent our last night at my sister's house again.
Saturday ended on a fantastic note with dinner at The Whale Wins. We had to wait almost and hour and a half for a table, but it was worth it. Amazing flavors and unusual combinations of ingredients. My only complaint was that the restaurant was pretty chilly. I dressed up but had to keep my coat on the whole time, and I still wasn't quite warm enough!
Sunday was spent traveling from 7 am PST to 11 pm EST. But at least we got home in one day--another big storm system blew through and threatened to cancel flights.
Observations about Seattle
There's a definite urban-outdoorsy vibe in Seattle. I saw lots of yoga pants + running shoes, practical leather boots, down jackets, closely trimmed beards, and knitted hats & scarves. My sister says that Seattle women don't often "do" their hair, since it rains so much.
The AWP conference was full of uber-hipsters. What a collection of skinny jeans, funky glasses, asymmetrical haircuts, facial hair, and artistically draped hand-knit shawls!
Why do expensive hotels offer fewer amenities than cheap hotels? At the Fairmont, you get the privilege of paying for wifi. Breakfast is $20/person. At Motel 6/Super 8/etc, you get free wifi, free breakfast, and sometimes even free dinner. Weird.
Of course, the best entertainment at the Fairmont was free: shredding toilet paper.
I've never lived in a big urban area, so Seattle's real estate prices were shocking. There's something fundamentally wrong with such expensive housing. I kept wondering the whole time, "How do real people with regular jobs even survive here?" In my town, some of the cheaper houses are the same price as a car. (Granted, they are not usually very nice at this price, but still...) How do those of you living in big cities make it work?