Thursday, September 25, 2008

Sleepless in Seattle

Well gentle readers, a bit of a departure from my normal fare. Thanks for playing along and letting me exercise some of my creative urges, such as they are.

Tonight I wanted to share a recent travel experience to the home of Frazier Crane and Sam Baldwin, lovely Seattle, WA.

I was part of a team that went to visit a little company in nearby Redmond founded by some guy who until recently did commercials with Jerry Seinfeld. Apparently he is a better businessman that an actor.

Anywho, the trip had a number of interesting twists, at least for me.

First, the guy who was leading the trip confided in me that he had a bad feeling about the trip (always reassuring before getting into a metal tube with wings waiting to take you 30,000 feet in the air, right?). Several key people had not been able to make the trip for various good reasons (serious family health issues, budget constraints, etc.). So right out of the chute, things were a little weird.

Our connecting flight was in LAX, where we witnessed a swarm of paparazzi tracking an apparent celeb...though I have no idea who he was. Then I actually heard that there are paparazzi for hire in LA that you can hire to "stalk' you so people think you are important. I guess that should come as no surprise in a town known for make-believe, but I also found a similar service in Austin. Oy Veh!

The next odd thing was my that my room number at the Residence Inn was 1313. I mean if you weren't superstitious with one 13, we'll tack another one on to make you really nervous, right?

Then I noticed the previous resident left me some beer. Yeah, 4 bottles of Alaskan Ale. I guess the 2 he had were enough. Not sure why housecleaning hadn't seen it and removed it, but they are still in the fridge, if you are headed up that way. I'll stick to my Diet Mountain Dew and Starbucks for my drinks of choice, thank you.

Day 2 was business meetings until early afternoon. One of my teammates had lived in Seattle for a time, so he acted as a tour guide taking us to all the really cool spots, and there are quite a few of them. We had tickets to a Seattle Mariners (baseball) game at 7:00 and had about 4 hours to kill. We killed most of our free time, but had some left.

We decided it would be cool to take a ferry ride of about 30 minutes over to Bainbridge Island and back. That would kill just enough time to let us walk to the ballpark for the first pitch. Or so we thought.

We paid our fare and walked on to the ferry, which also carries bicycle and auto traffic.
After a very pleasant 30 minute cruise viewing Seattle's skyline and most of Mt Rainier, we arrived at Bainbridge.

In a post 911 world can I ask each of you a favor? If you plan to abandon your vehicle, don't do it on a ferry. People get edgy. And tourists like me get stuck on the wrong side of the harbor with tickets to a major league baseball game and miss the first inning...bad karma people, bad karma.

Turns out that due to the security threat of the abandoned Honda Civic, they pulled the ferry out of service and we had to wait for another ferry to take us back to Seattle. But you know those Seattle area folks with us took it all in stride. We even struck up a number of conversations with some really cool folks, who just before were total strangers. Who knew big city folks were so friendly?

Well, back in Seattle, we then headed for the baseball stadium, probably 6 blocks away. We were accosted by a panhandler with an interesting tale. I hadn't heard this one before...and I have heard quite a few. This guy claimed he was Canadian, and was out of gas. He only had Canadian money, the gas station wouldn't take it, and the exchanges were closed. Could he have $10 for some gas? Before I could ask him if he would just like us to exchange his Canadian money, my soft-hearted friend gave him the 10 spot and sent him on his way. At least now we could get to the game.

To get there we had to cross the original skid row. Interesting history there...

As we arrived at the stadium, I noticed a few things different there. First, their best player is from Japan...Ichiro (ee-CHEE-row) Suzuki. Awesome player. But they also have a sushi bar in the ballpark. Their signature item is (ahem) and Ichi-roll. Sorry folks, I just report them, I don't make em up.

The other odd things...all food related:

  • They serve hot chocolate in the park. The vendors look like beer vendors, but they have cans of whipped cream in addition to the cups of hot chocolate. Just seems weird at a baseball game...but the temps were in the low 60's so I can understand it.
  • Clam chowder...seriously?
  • Garlic Fries...OMG y'all these are slap-yore-granny good. They take hot fries right out of the fryer and dump them in a huge bowl full of POUNDS of minced roasted garlic and parsley, and toss them. When you order fries you get a full pound, and they are covered with garlic. If you like garlic this is the bomb! BTW, there are no vampires in Seattle...coincidence? I think not.
Ok, so that was pretty much the end of the weirdness...but on the return flight from Seattle to LAX, we got to fly with the LA Sparks, the women's NBA team. What a great bunch of ladies they were. They did not have the entitled athlete persona at all from what I could tell. They flew coach, were gracious to fans and polite to everyone. Keisha Brown sat behind me and carried on a really refreshing conversation with a fan who sat next to her. The team's general manager sat across the aisle from me, and was very pleasant and professional.

They seemed to really like what they did (they are in the playoffs currently). Their coach, former LA Laker Michael Cooper ("Coop") was a gentleman to everyone. After bumping my seat, he came back to apologize, though there was really no need.

All in all, I hate to be away from my family, especially on business. But this trip was a pretty cool one...


momma p said...

First, 1313...were there really 13 floors in that hotel? Secondly, perhaps you could figure out how to reconstruct those garlic fries and share with a friend? Sounds awesome. And lastly, I've always wanted to go to Seattle, thanks for letting me live vicariously.

Mark said...

If I can figure it out, are you volunteering to cook some up?

I'll bring the burgers ;-)

Mark said...

Oh, and no, there weren't 13 floors. This place was set up like an apartment complex, so it was building 13, suite 13.

Steph said...

i want some of those garlic fries, too!!!

paparazzi for hire? seriously? just when you think you've heard it all.

glad you're back safe and sound. i had pizza with your wife while you were gone... and i know she's glad you're back, too. :)

Mark said...

I am glad y'all had some time together. Tam needs her Steph time!

Anonymous said...

Seattle is our next big trip. Did you know that Seattle has the least number of Baptist churches per capita in the US?

Or at least it did a few years ago. It's definitely a mission field.

I was surprised how friendly people were in NYC, too. Cool, huh?

Slap yore granny? I say, "slap yer sister!"

Mark said...

Definitely cool, and definitely believe Seattle to be a mission field. Where sin abounds, grace super-abounds!

I don;t slap sisters...sisters hit back ;-)

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