Unlike the Eiffel Tower, the Space Needle in Seattle can’t be seen from every hotel balcony.
We’re in town to collect Murray and Jenny from the cruise terminal as they return from their Alaskan extravaganza. Our drive from Canada is an experience in itself. There are two border crossing points and I choose the one I reckon will be quickest. After only an hour in the queue of cars inching their way to the checkpoint we are directed inside to do the visa renewal thing that was all too hard for the guy the other night. The line of people is short, so we only get to listen in to a couple of the stories of people trying to convince the officers that, since their second cousin’s great aunt visited the US once, they definitely should qualify for skilled migrant status. It’s always a little sobering to hear these stories of people trying to get a better life, though I reckon that they have heaps of opportunities in Canada so it’s OK.
Passport stamped, we’re on our way again into the land of Uncle Sam. We make a short stop at an unnamed town for lunch and then it’s I5 to Seattle. I know that the yanks like things big, but this road is crazy. It swells from four to six to eight lanes as we progress, and all of them are full of people rushing somewhere. Nanette reminds me that half of them have guns in their cars, so I just smile when they swap lanes without warning.
Ah yes, back to the Space Needle. We burst from the freeway and find ourselves in the middle of downtown Seattle. The GPS got confused because we just came through a tunnel but hey, no problem, we just have to find 6th street. Um, one way streets, crazy drivers (with guns) and a GPS telling us to “travel three hundred kill-ommeterrs on highway 12.” Needless to say, we are slightly frazzled when we pull up outside the hotel.
A smiling young man offers to valet park the car. I’ve seen those American movies where people pose as valets so they can steal Ferraris. I look at our minivan. I give him the keys. An equally pleasant young lady welcomes us at reception. “I’ve given you a lovely city view room today.” She’s so nice we are up in the room before we realise we thanked her for giving us a room with a view of other buildings. But – if you stand on the desk and lean to the left a little, you can just see a little bit of the Space Needle through a small gap. That’s special.
We now have the evening free. People have told us we should head to the pier area to see the tourist sights and maybe catch a relaxed meal. “The map” says it’s only about five blocks away. “The map” only shows horizontal distance! Seattle is really steep! We find ourselves going one step forward and two steps down. Nanette comments “at least it’s down hill.” Ah, yes, but we just may need to head back up the hill again if we want to sleep tonight.
We distract ourselves by hopping on a harbour cruise we hear being touted as we reach the pier. A young lady named Gentry describes the points of interest and rolls out a repertoire of well used one liners that amuse most of the vacationing American crowd. We find the spiel a bit hackneyed, but have lots of fun watching our fellow passengers.
Back in port we reckon the only option for dinner has to be clam chowder. It’s goooooood. Right. We’re now fortified to climb Seatt Hill’s best slopes back to the hotel. “At least we can see the Space Needle from our room” – well, sort of.