As the seasons change and it feels decidedly like Fall, I’m remembering we had several wonderful grace-filled experiences before the summer ended. I just didn’t get them all recorded.
To remedy that, I will go backwards by events and make up for my slacking off.
Bob’s Seattle Vacation
2 September 2019
To end the summer festivities, we brought my youngest brother up to our place for a little vacation before he had to go back to work at the beginning of the school year. We picked him up from Enumclaw on Sunday evening, September 1 and Monday bright and early we began our stay-cation in the city with Bob.
We cracked out of bed early on Labor Day and found free holiday parking on the street right next to Pike Place Market. Some of the vendors were still setting up their stalls. We brought sweaters because the morning seemed gray and cooler than the day before. But, we shouldn’t have worried. The sun came out and the temperatures reached their summer glory.
Lots of people decided to join us at the market, but we got there first. We walked the length of the market and Bob perused the collectibles store, which is what he had most wanted to see. A tiny, little 8 table Chinese restaurant – with stunning views of Elliot Bay – beckoned us to enter as no one else had laid claim to it. We decided it must be time for some lunch as the BBQ pork on a stick and the hum bows called out to us. It was the perfect market lunch. It fortified us just enough to finish walking the market and make it back to the car.
Next stop was Daiso in Ravenna, for a walk through the Japanese dollar store. How I love that store. Bob wanted to see it. We both found some items that had to go home with us.
Arriving home ahead of the holiday rush, we made it with just enough time to put strip steaks on the BBQ for dinner. Two of our sons joined us and one of them and his family brought the makings for root beer floats for dessert. We had a last of summer holiday party. After dinner Bob and I took a walk while the rest of the party played checkers in the backyard.
3 September 2019
Today we hopped out of bed and into the car to go explore Pioneer Square. Bob wanted to see Seattle’s underground. Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour did not disappoint. We easily found a parking place on the street across from the tavern where the tour begins. We walked right up to the window and bought our tickets – no waiting. However, we just missed the first tour, so we had about 45 minutes to wait for the next one. Forty-five minutes is not hard to spend in Pioneer Square. We went right to Magic Mouse Toys (a favorite toy store when our kids were little) and used up all our time.
While we waited for the tour to begin, about 50 more people joined us and we were escorted to an upstairs room for some initial history and orientation. The guide should have been a stand up comic. Or, maybe he was one. We were all laughing before we even left the staging area. He took us on a winding tour into the underground of Seattle, created after the great Seattle fire of 1889, when the streets were built up above the first floors of the buildings. Largely, it was an effort to solve a sewage problem. So, you can imagine the bathroom humor that accompanied the tour. Historically, the underground was a by product of the new modern convenience, the crapper – er, toilet – to us modern folk. Invented by Thomas Crapper, the toilet was wonderful, but because Seattle was built at sea level, whenever high tide came . . . there were problems with sewage coming into homes through the – you guessed it – the new toilets. So Seattle’s solution was to built the city one floor higher so the sewage wouldn’t back up during high tides. But, what is amazing is, the first floors of all the main buildings in Pioneer Square still exist below what is now the first floor entrance to those buildings. The first floors are abandoned – and had been for almost 100 years when Bill Speidel discovered their existence around the 1960’s. So began Bill Speidel’s Underground Tours – which continue to this day.
The most fascinating moment was when our guide turned off all the electric lights and showed us how the underground remained lit by the natural light coming through three or four inch purple glass blocks that were embedded in the sidewalk above our heads. These walks were built long before the underground was abandoned. And the rooms below were perfectly lit without electricity.
Following our tour, Bob and I walked over to the International District while my Driver moved the car closer to where we were headed. Bob had never been to Uwajimaya, the Japanese department and grocery store – so that was the next stop on our tour. Bob found a lovely silk panel of a traditional Japanese dragon that he had to take home with him for his front room.
We found a new Chinese restaurant and Bob treated us to some very delicious sweet and sour pork and Mandarin beef for lunch. Then we made our way home. Today was also going to have a cooking lesson. Bob wanted to learn how to roast a turkey breast; which he did and we happily ate for dinner; two of our sons and one girlfriend joining us for the party. It was a nice evening – and a very good turkey breast!
4 September 2019
The Museum of Flight was on our calendar of events today. After breakfast we packed a picnic lunch of turkey sandwiches, chips, apples and cookies, anticipating the time when we would need to rest for lunch. Knowing there were lovely grounds around the museum and that the small cafe there wasn’t much to write home about, we thought a picnic would serve us well.
We walked the museum learning about the history of flight and the many iterations of aircraft and famous pilots until we needed to stop and rest. We ate our prepared lunch and continued on to the new aviation pavilion, where they have several historic aircraft on display. Among them were a Concord; and Airforce One; a B-52; a 747; and a B-17F from WWII days. The planes are immaculately kept and lovingly restored; making us want to do more than just look. We wanted to be able to go inside them. Some were open and one could walk through them, but unfortunately, not the B-17, which was the one we truly desired to enter. As we were reading about the history, a docent joined us and I asked her if it were ever possible to be able to go inside the B-17. We had a long conversation, ending with her offering to make special arrangements for us if we would call ahead and ask for the privilege. I wrote down her name and number and must remember to do that in the future.
We leisurely walked through the WWII gallery as well as the WWI gallery where Bob and I had to stop and try to fly a WWI biplane in their simulator. It was surprisingly difficult! But we both had fun. After our attempts to take off and land, the simulator would show us what we had made the aircraft do . . . which was crash it in most instances! There was a lot of laughing.
Leaving the museum, Bob requested stopping at a comic book store; Fred Meyer across the street, and a Big 5 Sports store. To Bob’s delight, he found several things he had been looking for. After shopping, it was almost 6:00, so we decided to stop for pizza before going home for the day. We went to Patxi’s Pizza in old Ballard and tired their deep dish pizza with sausage and pepperoni. It was like a lasagna in a crust, and equally delicious. Needless to say, we had to bring some home with us because between the three of us, we couldn’t finish one pie.
There was resting in front of the TV for the evening hours and another day of stay-cation logged in Seattle. It was great fun to have Bob with us and explore places we had not been to in ages.
5 September 2019
Bob’s days in Seattle were coming to an end. We made arrangements to meet up with our oldest son during his lunch hour on our way to take Bob home to Enumclaw. We arrived in Issaquah where our son works at Costco and he directed us to Fat Burger for lunch. We’d never been to a Fat Burger before! Our son assured us they were delicious, but we all ordered a “baby burger” since we had been eating so much with Bob during the week. They were good burgers – but a baby was certainly enough.
We dropped Bob off, stopped to see the folks, and shared one last dinner together with Bob at the folks’ place.
I have to say, we were exhausted after so much fun – but in a good way. It’s so easy to forget that relationships are built and fostered by sharing and doing things together. Time spent together exploring, learning, talking, eating, and even walking and shopping can be grace-filled time. I had never before spent so much time with my brother Bob as an adult. He was born after I left home for college and the years have separated us. These days together were wonderful reminders that even families need to take time to just be together; explore together; and share in the wonders of the universe together. Without sharing experiences we become strangers to each other and look for objects to satisfy our need for human connection.
Take the time. Connect with someone. Share the grace. Be a part of the unfolding wonder of life.