Seattle….The Renegade’s Way
Man, I envy this Rays team for the next three days. Not only are they in one of the cleanest towns in America, but they are in a place that I have had a deep love affair with my entire life. But it is over 3,127.66 miles from my doorstep right now to the city limits of Seattle, Washington. The Emerald City of the Pacific Northwest is a special oasis for me where rainy days can bring 37 inches of rain in a year, and you get the bonus of both sea and mountain backgrounds that are just breathtaking to the eyes.
It is a slice of paradise I Fell in love with as a child, journeyed to as an adult, and hope to move for good within the next 10 years. I know, I know. I was born here in Florida, so why would I give up tropical paradise for the sea and snow? Simple answer for me is I have been a subjected to 100+ mph winds and wild heat that can bake the paint right off my car for almost half a century. So I want to live in an area that has one of the milder climates in the world.
Where temperature variations are frequent, and misty, cloudy days are not frowned upon like here in Florida. I want to live in a place where there is always a chance of a little drop of rain and surprisingly, there are only a few days a year where the snows falls amongst the city streets.
I mean ever since I was a young kid coming out to the Naval base on the Whitbney Island with my father to see my brother who was an Executive Officer on a nuclear sub, or working on his alfalfa farm as a teenager during the summers I have had a love for the area’s floating bridges and daily sights of Mt Rainer and Mt Baker out of the house windows.
I still remember hitting the slopes of Mt. Baker in late August to slide down the snowy slush for my first adventure with the frozen mixture. But then things like the pine and fresh cut wood smell in the air or the tasting of the royal cherries right off the tree can send me to the moon.
And hey have a love affair with baseball in this area. From the Triple-A Tacoma Rainers to the feisty home dwellers of beautiful Safeco Field, the Seattle Mariners, this region is a baseball haven. One of the Rays ex-Bullpen Coaches, Matt Sinatro, who is currently with the Chicago Cubs has a baseball facility right here in this region.
So it is about time that I list some of the great thing the guys can do in their off time while they are out in Seattle, or at least some of the thing I would be into doing if I was there this weekend. People forget, that the Tampa Bay Baseball group was in the process of buying the Mariner’s when the local government stepped in and saved the sale of the team buying promising a new stadium and development in the SODO (South Downtown) district.
First off, if you are a music fan, this town can be a haven for lovers of all different types of music. You can go celebrate like Sir Mix-a-lot and his crew on Broadway right to the west of the Space Needle and stop at Dick’s and get you a burger to die for. This is the region talked about in his classic video, “Posse on Broadway.”
Or if you want to pay your respects to those who have fashioned some of today;s music tastes, you can visit the final resting places of Jimi Hendrix in Renton or maybe Bruce Lee and his son Brandon Lee. And while you are out there, you can visit the Troll under the Bridge in Freemont. This awesome sculpture is actually fashioned within the underneath support of a highway bridge in the small town.
But even as the team get up in the morning while they are staying in downtown Seattle at the Westin on 5th Avenue they can always stroll on down and take in an Underground Tour which starts in Pioneer Square and will make them aware of some of the odd characteristics of this town, and maybe you will get a ghost sighting at the old bank vault. Seattle was originally built at sea level. And this brought about some interesting plumbing problems during high tide.
For that reason, all of the early homes had their bathrooms on the second floor of the house to avoid a messy clean-up once a day based on the tides. Also, after an early fire in the city, the city officials decided to build their new town above the fire rubble and produced a lower town that was steeped in darkness both by activities and by the building above them.
Or maybe they are just thirsty and want to travel out to the Red Hook Brewery, which has its home base here in Seattle. The company, which crafts different types of beer was started in this are in 1981. Red Hook started in an old transmission shop and moved 20 miles east of the city where they still have Tuesday Night Trivia at the Forecaster’s Pub located right off the brewery.
Or maybe Hard Lemonade is your thing? You know that Seattle is also home to Mike’s Hard Lemonade, which was first made here back in 1999 after they moved the operations from Lakewood, Colorado to Seattle.
But then you have local food icons like Beth’s where the team can all join in to take on their signature 12-egg omelette and hash browns, or maybe sit in the Pope’s Room at Buco de Beppo near Lake Washington. But then there are local icons like Ivar’s. where the fish is so fresh the fish slaps you before you eat it.
But there is a host of ethnic variety from Turkish food at Bistro Turkuaz to Catfish Corner on Cherry Street that brings back the Southern charm of soul food to this Florida boy. Icons like Mario Batali has his family’s deli Salumi in this town, along with some of the local flavor of places like Flying Squirrel Pizza Company founded by ex-musician Bill Coury.
It would take me 10 years to sample all the different types and styles of dining in this town. I mean small breweries like Pyramid Brewing, which is within the shadow of Safeco field, or the small brewhouses like Circa that make a Sunday brunch of Hawaiian sweet-bread
French toast. The region has all the great flavors and tastes of the world hidden within 30 miles of the center of the city.
But one of the wildest meals I ever had while in Seattle was at Senor Moose Cafe in Ballard, just north of the city hub. It was nestled within car dealerships and construction sites to give you an odd feeling you were in the wrong neighborhood, But it has some of the best and wildest Mexican combinations on earth. I personally recommend the eggs and cactus, which tastes like green peppers to me.
The region is a gold mine for seafood, and you can get some of the finest and freshest in the world off the docks or, in the local Farmer’s Markets. But he granddaddy of them all is Pikes Market located right on the ridge of the town is within walking distance of the monorail that goes up and down the Seattle slope towards the World’s Fair location. Everyone knows their “Public Market” sign that has been emblazoned on movies screens and backdrops for years. But it is within the confines of this small market that is found one of the true gems of this city, and my personal favorite fast food.
Just mention the name Prioshky-Prioshky to a local or even someone and their mouth will water. They do not do sushi, but does the Eastern European classic pirogies that are to simply die for………totally. the last few times I have gone out to Seattle, I have brought back a dry ice box filled with 10 pounds of their tasty morsels to Tampa Bay.
Simply worth the trip to just taste one of them. But there is a huge combination of places in the market that are great, like Taxidogs, or even I Love New York Deli that does the mile high sandwiches just like Katz’s Deli in NYC. Oh, and be sure to visit the Spoon Man and tell him the “Florida Cracker” said Hello. I loved this guy and his unique take on music from raps to old boogie-woogie with just two spoons. Classic entertainment.
Enough with the food, I have to mention a few great thing you can do before I get off this blog and have to go run a mile or so to get over the urge to fly out there tonight. But the area is teeming with great sightseeing adventures too, like the site of the 1980 World Fair that houses the city’s icon, the Space Needle, or go out to Ballard Locks and check out the salmon steps put into the lake’s lock system to keep them jumping to their spawning grounds just north of the city. Or maybe take a Duck Tour and see Microsoft’s Bill Gates compound from the lakeside.
But my “green” moment highlights was my visit to Gas Works Park project where the local government turned the old coal-to-gas processing plant back into a park for the community. It has a unique boilerhouse that has been converted into public picnic shelters and a huge hill perfect for flying kites and rolling down the hillside ( yes, I did a few rolls).
I was once told by Jane of “Confessions of a She-Fan” I should work as a tourism guide because I take great pride in telling all of you about the places that have stayed with me in my life. I am just someone who values beauty and the essence of what makes a smile carry on for days, months and years. I hope my little preview of one of my favorite baseball town did not bore you too much.
Seattle is one of the town that has stayed in my mind for what seems like forever. It is a perfect meshing of technology and culture, with a spice of ethnic individuality and pride. But first and foremost, it is a town that enjoys its quirks and odd variety of attractions. Ask anyone about Archie McPhee’s store and the eccentric gadgets in that store like the Pig Catapult. It is like a Spencer’s Gifts shop on PED’s.
I hope you can some day hit a baseball game at Safeco Field ( my favorite park) and stroll around the city a few days. Just like the charm of San Francisco, Seattle can take you away from stress and responsibilities for a few minutes with just the aroma of the freshly brewed coffee along the storefronts. Off days for a baseball team can be either a day of rest, or exploration.
I hope that both can be done by the Rays during this critical road trip before one of the most important home stands of the season. So guys, take in some of the nightlife at places like Cowgirls (a Seattle-style Hooters), world famous Lava Lounge, or just kick back at Doc Maynard’s for live music and some old Seattle charm. Or maybe the answer is Rendezvous, which has it own theatre for pulp films, concerts or even a team-oriented event.
Whatever your taste in anything, I bet you I can find what you need in this town during your travels here. From crafted beers made daily to sending a fresh slab salmon back home, this town has what you need, what you desire, and will make you smile for years afterwards just by its vibe……Trust me on that…..I stayed in a Holiday Inn Express off of I-5 when I was last there.