Our original plan for our last day in Seattle was to rent bikes and tour the city on two wheels, but after walking around most of the city and seeing how busy the streets were, we decided we didn't want to try to navigate the streets on bikes. So we called two of our good friends who also happen to be Washington natives to ask for a recommendation for what to fill our last day with. Two things top on their list was to go on the Underground Tour and explore Pioneer Square. The tour wasn't too pricey so we decided to venture to this part of the city we had yet to see.
The Underground Tour was really quite interesting. We learned about the history of Seattle and saw some really amazing sites. The Underground Tour takes tourists down into the original ground story of the earliest developed portions of Seattle near Yesler Way and around Pioneer Square. As it turns out all of the city near the waterfront in this area is actually the second story, while the first story is below the present day sidewalk. In the late 1880's the city was build on the mudflats of Elliot Bay and had horrible problems with drainage and tides. When the tide came in the streets would turn to soup and there was even a newspaper clipping from that time reporting that a boy drowned in the muck of the street. There was also a horrible sewage problem and sewage would spew out onto the streets with the tides. In 1889 there was a fire that destroyed most of the city by the waterfront. While it was a disaster, no lives were lost and the people of the city decided to take advantage of the clean slate and build a new elevated city. So they built the city up and the current street level is actually 15 feet above the old street level, which still exists to this day. The Underground Tour takes you through the remaining underground sidewalks and pathways. It was a great tour. While underground, we were instructed to look up to see what looks like skylights. Later these same skylights are pointed out to you when you're on the current street level and they simple look like glass tiles imbedded into the sidewalk. Little do many people on the street level know that there are people below them looking up.
After the tour we walked around Pioneer Square. There is a statue dedicated to Chief Seattle, the Native American the city is named after. I have discovered that I have a real soft place in my heart for the Native Americans of the Northwest and I am very enthralled by their art, culture and history. I'd love to learn more and read more about them so I plan to find some books on this topic. Oddly, I had a hard time finding a wide selection of books on the Natives of this region while I was there. Perhaps I just didn't know where to look.
|Statue of Chief Seattle with plaques on either side. This side is in Chief Seattle's native language|
|Opposite site of the plaques written in English|
connoisseur of root beer. He even did a Root Beer Experiment when we lived in College Station. He gathered as many root beers as he could find, developed a set of judging criteria, and rated them all. He even wrote it up with a report and asked me to proof it for grammar and scientific validity (as much validity as can be had for a root beer experiment). Sadly, the root beer he ordered was very disappointed. We have high root beer standards.
|Seattle before the fire|
|Picture of Seattle after the fire|
|Old Road sign in the underground|
|Looking up underneath the city street|
|Same place, just a different perspective|
|Smith Tower, was once the tallest tower in the west|
|The old plumbing system. That is a hollowed out wooden log. Yeah, that would be effective right?|
We walked back to our hotel and stopped by Pike's Market for one last tour through. I had been wanting to find a necklace with a Northwest Native American charm on it all week. We were directed to two stores and had success at the second. I love the necklace and shirt I bought and they give me great memories of our trip to the northwest.
I also got a commemorative Seattle mug I drink Pero in nearly every night. When I use my mug or wear my shirt or necklace I'm reminded of the wonderful trip we had. We loved the culture, the access to the ocean and bay, the beautiful surroundings, the mountains and the forests, the people, the food, everything was peaceful and refreshing for us. Patrick struggles with the heat due to heat exhausting he had when he was 18. Every summer he has to be careful and inevitably will get headaches or even get sick if he stays too long in the Texas summer. When we went to Cord d'Alene, Idaho for his second Ironman I the northwest could very well be a great place for us, especially in the summer. Everyone has always told us, "you too would love the Northwest", "you'd both fit in so much better there", and their right. When we returned home our family and friends asked us when we were moving, half-joking I think, but I think there is a another part of them that realize how much we'd love it there. The hardest thing would be leaving family and friends in Texas. Ahh well, this won't happen for years, if ever. I can only hope at this moment that someday I'll be able to move Patrick and I and whatever family we grow between now and then to someplace that fits us better than our current city.
All in all Seattle and Washington were amazing I wouldn't hesitate for a moment to go back. We also decided we won't be waiting another 11 years to take a vacation. I foresee annual summer vacations in our future. They may not be as long as this one or far off as Seattle, but we plan to take time each year to spend with each other and get away from the daily grind. I am already thinking about where to go next year, but I'll keep that to myself for now.