Down Unders Up Over

And Seattle..........*siiigh*. Once again we were looked after by the hosts with the mostests R and C who not only provided us with wonderful lodgings but left no Seattle stone unturned in two days of touring. We did the underground tour, Pike Place Market, bought cheese, saw the Fremont Troll and they were both very patient about allowing me lots of antique time. C even found me the perfect souvenir - an antique silver luggage tag with 'Seattle' engraved on it.

So what really happened:
the host’s perspective…

Word was that there was so much luggage heading my way that no single car could hold it all, so I took the dilapidated pick-up truck to the train depot to pick up the Jones and their luggage. Hey, one headlight was out! Who knew? Fortunately parking is free that late on a Sunday night, so I got real close to the station. I parked myself on a bench with a book and waited. Their train was early, but I was earlier, so I got to make friends with a little boy who was wheeling his sister around the large waiting room on a luggage rack. Then the Jones arrived. Quick hug for Mama Bear, Manly Hug for Poppa Bear, and a shake hands and formal introduction with Baby Bear. So THIS is the famous Carys that I’ve heard so much about. Fortunately it wasn’t raining, so the luggage in the back of the truck didn’t get wet. After a few zigs and zags, we made it out of town, only to discover that the internal lighting in the truck wasn’t working. Who knew? Then halfway home, the lights came on. That truck is haunted. Deposited the Jones in a room and ignored them until morning.

carys on vegemite

Morning. So that’s what you look like in the day time? Big pot of coffee and re-introduction to vegemite. Of course it’s only palatable if you put a large glop of butter (or butter like substance) on the toast first. Butter is like bacon: it will make anything better, or in the case of vegemite, at least bearable. Apparently, vegemite is also good to wear. The now personable Carys wore a vegemite beard into each cheek for the rest of the time she was here. Into the car to do the touristy thing.

First stop, Renton Washington, for a stop at Jones Park (really!) and a view of the migrating salmon in the Cedar River. Carys immediately made friends and wanted the kids to come with us for the rest of the day. Sorry love. No room.

Next stop: Tacoma Screw Products in Georgetown. Not a regular stop on the tourist express, but I needed to return G’s dog leash to him, even if he wasn’t there to collect it. Not my problem.

Alaska Way viaduct (don’t tell them that it’s in imminent danger of collapse!) to the parking garage under the Pike Place Market. A walk along the waterfront (I can’t believe how noisy the viaduct is! Can’t we knock this thing down and build a tunnel out of it?), right past the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, but into the first antique shop we come to. Full bladders from the pot of coffee, so we’ll meet you at the restrooms across the street. Carys never did see the carousel in that building. Onward.

Pioneer Square. Men took child for pizza slices while the women went (need I say it?) into an antique store. Men wandered with child down a couple of blocks of downtown while women continued doing what they did. Hey, I wasn’t there, and I didn’t see. Rock and gem shop, and cow chip cookies. Back to Pioneer Square. We were waiting for the Underground Tour to start, and Stu never showed up. I kept waiting. Turns out he wasn’t coming, so I stopped waiting. Instead, he went to two bookstores, looking for something to do on the long flight home.

Underground tour. Liz went forward to chase away the spirits from the haunted place so Carys wouldn’t be scared, but Liz wound up running back to the crowd. I suppose that she found her ghost, and was none too pleased by the experience. Dank and musty, a bit of history, slightly entertaining. Not a must see, but cool none the less.

Free bus service downtown, so riding up hill to the Market. Our guests are instantly recognizable as not being from around here. Loud (possibly drunk at 3 P.M.) person loudly exclaims to Stu with vociferous comments beginning with "A Dingo Ate My Baby!". I half expected “Do You Come From A Land Down Under”, and “Shrimp On The Barbie” to come next. Does this happen to you wherever you go? It’s a wonder you ever leave your country if everybody wants to sing Men At Work tunes to you whenever you go out. Geez.

One of the travelers later commented the following:
the only other time this has happened was eight years ago, on the train between airline gate and luggage collection at........Seattle. Only it was a rousing version of Tie me Kangaroo Down, Sport.
So at least we're avoiding the obvious cliches here. I mean, just the other day I found the words and chords to play "Waltzing Matilda". At least I didn't try to play that song for them when they were visiting...

The Market. Wander, wonder, and wander some more. Lots of time spent at the fish throwers. Some lady (unknown to us) got scared as she was chased with a Headless Fish Body, and as she ran down the street screaming she lost her cell phone. Bouncing on cobble stones does wonders to sophisticated electronics! Then deep into the bowels of the market, and the women went (shall I say it?) antique shopping. They found the aforementioned silver luggage tag with 'Seattle' engraved on it, while the men went stir crazy and the child got ice cream. Done with the market.

Trying to get to Ballard during rush hour is madness. I thought that I knew where I was going (over there somewhere), and after a few more zigs and zags, realized that indeed, you can’t get there from here. Well, I did find it, but it was a challenge. We got out on the south side of the canal at the park that is the locks, and wandered a bit. There was a seal looking for a quick meal (for the most part we only saw its head), and a couple of Great Blue Herons looking for a more studious meal. Didn’t see any flying overhead, and that was one of the plans for that part of the trip. Down into the fish ladder viewing area (THERE! THERE! I SAW A FISH!!!), and Carys playing tour guide for some other visitors. Across the locks, through the garden, and a strike was declared until food was made available. That, and it was starting to rain. We had dinner at the Lockspot Café, where each Jones had Fish and Chips. If it had still been raining, they would have made me go get the car and drive around all of Ballard to pick them up, but it wasn’t so they didn’t. Back at the car and we drove out the way that we should have driven in, which is to say the short way, across the bridge, and into Fremont. Parked near the Troll, and visited, asking, is that a real Volkswagon in its hand? Sure was.

It seems that after over 2 weeks on the road, there was something of a cat touching withdrawal (Jonesing if you will), so we then headed towards Beauty and the Books of Fremont to see the resident store cats there. Unfortunately the store had closed, so we had to make do with seeing the cats from the other side of the glass, including one that had a mouse toy in its mouth. Cute! And a book in the window, something about “Jones and the Crossroads” or some such. Second Jones spotting of the day! And as we were leaving the store front, they were gifted with the ultimate Seattle experience, as the skies opened up and a true monsoon descended upon us. This time they DID make me go get the car, and we piled back warm and not so dry to go back to Kent.

That was a big day, so we just packed it in for the evening.

Next day, more coffee and more vegemite. Good with butter, not so good with peanut butter. Not that anybody would try it that way, but there you are. Pile in the car, and drive through downtown Kent. Didn’t take long. Freeway into downtown Tacoma, a bit of a drive around (note to self: take the correct exit next time), along the Ruston waterway, and to the zoo. An interesting place. Much improved over the first view that I had 30 years ago, but there aren’t any animals near the entrance. We were just in time for the “Wonders Of The Animal Kingdom” show, so we sat and waited for that.

carys and the rat After the show, Carys immediately jumped into the line to see the rat in the keeper’s hands. Of all the animals to see at the zoo, and she gets excited by the rat. Who knew? A quick breeze through the upper floor of the aquarium (did we even go to the lower floor?), and out into the zoo proper.
other people Where did they hide the polar bears? Meh. Beluga whales, musk ox, red wolves, and a lot of time in the kiddie play area. Even the big guy went down the slide, but the track was too rounded. Some butts need a wider track to accommodate the, ahem, wider carriage. Not interested in the kangaroos or the wallabies.
carys and a friend Carys trys to get an animal out of an exhibit, or a new friend into the exhibit.

carys all spleanderfulC says this is how she remembers Carys: In Motion

carys and two friends

all adults here

carys and two friends

Leave the zoo, and a quick drive through the park. I imagine that Australia is nothing like this. Leave the park and cross the (currently) only bridge across the Tacoma Narrows, and a stop at the bridge viewing park on the other side. More seals pass by, and Carys runs on down to the water, while the more sedentary adults wait on the higher part of the park. Carys almost loses an eye by standing too close behind a fly fisherman while he was casting, and we were several hundred feet away. Pack ‘em up and head ‘em out, trying to get to Gig Harbor, but making a wrong turn. OK, we’re back on the freeway, we might as well head home.

An evening of wine and cheese purchased at the market. No shrimp on Barbara, but pork tenderloin will do, for a wonderful grilling dining experience in an outdoor setting. Flowers and bees and hummingbirds, a special part of my everyday life, but something new for persons from other hemispheres. Having run out of things to do, we watch “Curse of the Were-Rabbit”, and call it a night.

Next day, more vegemite. Talk about a rut! Parents look to be in need of a bit of quiet / packing time, so I took Carys to the housing development that used to be our open field. She attempted to exhaust herself on the playground equipment, but only succeeded in exhausting her host. (Turn me upside down! Now!) Broken and battered, I returned to my soon to be quiet home for final packing and non-prescription pain killers. (I must have been the cool Uncle, maybe 15-20 years ago. Now I’m just old…)

Rickety pick-up truck packed (and who cares if the lights don’t work in the daytime?), and a trip to the airport, a hug for Mama Bear, a hug and an upside down toss into the back of the truck for Baby Bear, and a Manly Hug for Papa Bear, and they were off, and my life was quiet again.

Too quiet. In a review of the aftermath, it was decided that a) we’d had a lot of fun packed into a very small time frame, b) that we missed them already, and c) it sure was quiet around the house now. But it was clean. They even made the bed before they left, even though we had to strip the bed to wash the sheets.

So just because the Jones’s had a great time, don’t get any funny ideas about visiting us. We’re starting to get surly in our dotage, and we’ll probably charge you for the experience…

Next time we'll be ready

next time we'll be ready

Copyright 2007 by Rich Webb, aka The Outsider.

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