After our (thankfully cougar-free) hike up Mount Walker, we headed to Seattle via the Kingston-Edmonds ferry, which took us across the Puget Sound and into the city.
It was a gorgeous evening, so having been fantasising about burgers and cold beer all the way down the mountain (honestly, you’d think we’d been lost and starving for months), we stopped for a pub dinner on a sunny terrace as soon as we disembarked the car ferry.
The next morning, we headed to Pike Place market, probably Seattle’s most famous attraction. Given that we’d all been to Seattle previously and we all knew just how touristy the market was, I’m not quite sure why we felt the need to go again, but there we are! It did mean we could revisit Lowells, a local institution that’s famous for its seafood. Even on a grey day we were very pleased to nab a window seat for a view over the ferries and seaplanes crossing the harbour.
My clam chowder was delicious, but our next stop was much less palatable… Seattle’s famous gum wall, which has been gradually building up since the 1990s. Well actually, the alley walls have been cleared at least once in that time (because the bricks were starting to degrade from all the sugar!) but the gum is now back with a vengeance. It even came second on a TripAdvisor list of the world’s germiest attractions (after the Blarney Stone near Cork, in case you were wondering). It was totally disgusting, of course, but also strangely pretty.
In the afternoon, we headed to the Museum of Flight, where we introduced Mum and Dad to our signature move of arriving at the rear entrance. You could tell the staff were very confused about how we’d ended up there, but we couldn’t explain because we didn’t know! Anyway, we went inside a BA-liveried Concorde with its interior intact, so Mum gave us a guided tour of where she used to work. It never fails to astound me just how tiny the Concorde is inside.
We also saw an exhibit on the development of the Boeing 747, where we had our own personal tour guide in Dad. In fact, he was so knowledgeable that I accused him of skipping ahead to read the information panels!
Dad was most indignant because the museum claimed to be exhibiting the only Blackbird M-21 in existence and he knew for a fact that there was another at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, but then he realised that OF COURSE the one at Duxford was the SR-71. Silly him! We all nodded along, obviously already aware of the big differences between the M-21 and the SR-71 (as I’m sure you are too). Actually it was quite cool – the Blackbird already holds the record for being the fastest and highest flying jet in history, and this version had an added drone sat on top that launched from the ‘mother ship’ to collect intelligence from enemy territory during the Cold War. Apparently it never quite worked as it was intended, but we did enjoy the relatively low-tech way it delivered surveillance data, by dropping a canister over friendly territory (rather than transmitting any data electronically).
The following day, we had breakfast at Toulouse Petit, a Louisiana-style Creole restaurant that Mum and Dad had visited before (and Oli, it turned out, on Dad’s recommendation). Dad had mentioned it just the once or twice, so we knew he was keen to return! And it was delicious. Oli and I hedged our bets and shared some tangy, spicy shrimp served with creamy grits (left) and then went full Americana for our remaining choice, with chicken fried chicken, which came with eggs, breakfast potatoes and (my favourite) a biscuit.
To work off our breakfast (which, slightly worryingly, we all polished off), we took a wander around the Capitol Hill neighbourhood. This was described by the Lonely Planet as “Seattle’s most unashamedly hip neighbourhood, where the exceptionally rich mix with the exceptionally eccentric”. Indeed, it was an interesting walk, but to be honest it was mostly notable for Dad’s antics at the gas station just before we parked, when he attempted to pay by posting his credit card into the receipt dispenser of the self-service pump 🤦🏼♀️. Thankfully he managed to retrieve it before I reached the front of the queue in the gas station to ask for help, because I still hadn’t worked out how to explain why he’d done it!
After this mishap, it was time to drop off our hire car (probably for the best, really) and head to King Street Station to begin our much-anticipated Amtrak adventure across the continent.