Sleepless in Seattle...

Trip Start Dec 11, 2010
Trip End Ongoing

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Flag of United States  , Washington
Wednesday, April 13, 2011

We eventually hit the road...a couple of hours later than planned...and the road trip began!!
We hadn't even made it to our first destination when Phin was pulled over by the police!!! Hahaha apparently even though they don't put any signs up if you drive past a construction site..even if nothing is must slow down by more than 10mph or move to the left lane. Luckily the sheriff took pity on us foreigners so he let us go with a warning...phew!
After a detour to walmart to purchase some pillows ($2.50 each) and sheets ($9) we drove into a suprisingly rain free Seattle. We wandered around Frank Gehrys music museum and up to the Space Needle. Due to the intermittent clearing of the sky..we felt it was worth the trip up to the top. We arrived just in time to watch the sunset over Seattle and the night lights start to shine! It was really beautiful! On a recommendation from the ticket collector at the Space Needle we headed to a restaurant, Toulouse Petit for a late night dinner. In Seattle they do this awesome thing where they have Happy Hour at lots of places for both food and drink. So we waited 10minutes and all the food was then half price!!! Sweeeeeet! We had a scrumptious dinner and then got in the car to drive to our home for the night...the Walmart car park!
It may sound like an odd place to sleep but when you are trying to save money and sleep in your car there aren't many places close to the city that you can safely park! Walmart is happy for you to park at their supercentres which are open 24hrs a day and well lit so it's pretty safe. Often there is security guards patrolling the area as well. We just hang sheets over the windows so people can't see in and sleep the night away! Well that's where the sleepless comes in....we had planned to put our stuff in the front and sleep in the back but we use the air mattress with a black fitted sheet to put over everything when we leave the car so it's not obvious there is stuff in the back...there is pretty much a full layer of stuff though so we decided to just try and sleep on top of it. Unfortunately we didn't evenly distribute the stuff underneath so I was sinking in places...hence the sleepless!!
We made it through the night...also woke freezing at about 4am but hey it was free! Once we packed up our bedding and hid it under the mattress we drove to the Seattle centre for a day in town.
After driving around and around we found the cheapest parking we could...$12 a day..ouch! We then walked to the Pike street markets. These markets have been around for a long time and are predominantly food, flowers and crafts. There seafood section is their speciality with boxes for carrying on planes and shipping cross country. We then wandered down town to pioneer square where we shared a focaccia and signed up for the underground tour. I was a little sceptical but Phin was keen so I went along and so glad we did it. Our guide was awesome, giving us an entertaining history lesson on Seattle. Pretty much when they built the town they built it on the low lands which meant that twice a day they would get tidal water coming through their streets and houses. Oops. Then in the early 1900s there was the great Seattle fire..rather than taking the opportunity to build higher, the mayor was concerned business would head south so they quickly rebuilt in the same places but with the plan to move up. They started by creating the streets higher but the pedestrian strip was over 3 metres lower. So you had to climb a ladder up and then down just to cross the street. Eventually it was complete and all the legitimate businesses were above ground..but the "seamstresses" aka ladies of the night stayed below for years to come. Really fascinating! The tour took us below and we walked along the pedestrian strip, saw shop entrances, ladders and the sky lights inserted for natural light. We then headed to the Seattle Public Library designed by Koolhaas and one! It is like a 10 story high atrium coming in and out at sharp angles. It made me want to go back to study just so I could spend time in something like this! After another hour of walking the city centre shops we went and checked out the REI outdoor shop. They have built this two story shop and surrounded it with trees and waterfalls in the middle of the city so it is like a sanctuary in the mountains...they also have a climbing wall shaped like a tree for people to use! Very cool design.
We had seen a little documentary about this bar in the university district that always had free live music and it was also mentioned in the lonely planet so we we should check it out! We walked in to the Blue Moon and it was not what we were expecting. We would have been younger than almost everyone by at least 20yrs. There were people with hair to their bums, drunk old men listening to these two old guys playing the guitar and cello and a drunk old woman trying to dance seductively to country music. Hilarious but what the?? We felt we had to have one drink and thank goodness it was only 1 as the g&t was the strength of about 4
drinks! We quickly bailed and after some cheap Mexican we were back at walmart for our second nights sleep. Still a little cold but the bed was level and we slept quite well.
Next morning the plan was to drive to Tacoma to see the museum of glass but after stealing some free wifi from Maccas we decided to first check out the Boeing Museum of Flight and then head to Tacoma as the reviews said the best glass stuff was actually free outside. We arrived at the museum of flight and were planning on being their a couple of hours. We checked out the Concorde (this one last flew in 2003). Interesting how small the passenger windows were...but when you are that much higher there isn't much to see! We then went and walked though airforce one (this plane flew from 1967-1996). Pretty cool to go inside and see the presidents workspace and conference room. We particularly liked the fake temperature gauge in the meeting room that actually raised the desk up and down depending on whether he wanted to intimidate who he was talking to! Back inside we then went to walk though the WW1 and 2 exhibit. Amazing but information took 2.5hrs to get through! Finally we made it out alive but still had to see the sections on the "beginning of flight" and "space exploration". Exhausted, we left 6hrs after we arrived, 30min after the museum had closed and still hadn't seen it all! We drove down to Tacoma and walked around the museum of Glass. There was a bridge of Dale Chihulys work which was amazing glass wall and overhead cabinets were full of brightly coloured blown glass pieces. There were more works by him hanging inside the law courts and an amazing water feature of glass in front of the museum...very cool.
We enjoyed an Indian curry for dinner before it was back to a walmart for our best sleep yet!
Next morning we needed a shower and were keen to do some exercise so went to a local gym! $10 for workout, sauna and shower!
We did a big supermarket shop and had the first coffee ever that we actually enjoyed from starbucks and were waving goodbye to Seattle/Tacoma and commencing the drive to Olympic national park.

Btw: if you are a cappucino drinker like us...when in the states you need to order a latte!!! Otherwise it's almost all foam!! Very important lesson we learnt!

April 14 Update
Phin: “Road trip has Begun!...possibly sleeping in a car park tonight! Sleepless in Seatle (literally) @ walmart! Walmart is like a small country, why would you ever shop anywhere else?”
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