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Three’s Company

August 2, 2011

As much fun as we’d been having over the past two and a half weeks, The Hamster and I both missed Sarah terribly. We’d been anxiously looking forward to arriving in Seattle for a week, partly because we were excited to see Seattle but mostly because we were excited to see Sarah. The reunion Friday did not disappoint.

There were some inevitable hiccups over the weekend, though. Going from a two-person road trip to a three-person road trip in the middle of the trip presents several challenges. Another personality. Another opinion. Another set of expectations. And Sam and I have developed methods and habits and routines over the first half of the trip—how we get going and packed in the morning, when and how we stop for meals, etc.—that Sarah has stepped into without even realizing it. It wasn’t too long before there was some snapping, some toe-stepping, and some general crankiness.

The most significant challenge by far, though, was packing the car. We’ve got a little bit more stuff now, and a lot less space to jam it into now that we have to use half of the back seat for an actual person. As I write this (it’s so nice to be in a moving vehicle that I’m not driving), Sam is trapped in the back seat next to a tower of coolers and bags to the point that every time we make a right turn he has to brace the piles so that he doesn’t get buried alive.

I should probably mention at this point that Seattle was lots of fun despite our new-dynamic growing pains. We started Sunday with the Space Needle, which was a great call because we went straight to the top with no wait and only a few dozen other people there, but by the time we left everyone else in the northwest had shown up and the place was packed. The view was somewhat limited because it was an overcast, drizzly day, but that just made it a more authentic Seattle experience.

From there we went to the famous Pike Place Market, hoping to see some fish being thrown at the fish market. The fish throwers were there and raring to go but nobody bought any giant fish during the 10 minutes we stood there. I considered buying one just so they could throw it, but what on earth am I going to do with a giant salmon? I barely have room in the car for Sam.

While at the market we made sure to stop at the famous Gum Wall, a brick wall where somebody once stuck his or her chewed-up bubble gum, someone else did the same, and now the entire wall is wallpapered with thousands upon thousands of colorful, germ-covered blobs of gum. Sam and I had fun adding our own. Sarah was content just to take pictures.

Of the many street performers at the market, we found this guy the most entertaining by far:

Next up was a Mariners game at Safeco Field. Some dude in the elevator at our hotel told us that his friend has been to every major league ballpark and Safeco is the nicest of all of them. I’ve now been to every major league ballpark but one, plus a whole lot than no longer exist, and although I enjoyed Safeco I wouldn’t even put it in the top five. On the outside the park looks like an ugly, dark warehouse.

On the inside it’s far nicer. One of the problems I’ve noticed with all the stadiums that have retractible roofs is that even when the roof is open it’s still a little bit closed, giving the stadium something of an indoor feel even when you can see the sky. By keeping two of the sides of the building low and thus open even when the roof is closed, Safeco has avoided this problem and given the ballpark something of an outdoor feel even when the roof is shut. We got to experience both scenarios by arriving while the roof was still open and then watching it close for the rain shortly before the game started.

Another thing Safeco does well is food. Sadly, there’s no kosher stand, but Seattle was one of the first teams to start getting creative with ballpark food and there’s plenty of evidence of that all over the park.

(That last guy is selling “Shishkaberry,” chocolate-covered strawberries on a stick. Genius!)

It’s also the most kid-friendly ballpark I’ve ever been to. Just about every staff member we walked past handed Sam a random baseball card, Guest Services printed him a customized certificate commemorating his first visit (they also had Mariners schedules printed in Spanish, Japanese, Vietnamese, and Cambodian), and Sam was able to go on the field and run the bases after the game.

It’s just too bad the Mariners are so incredibly bad at baseball, or it would have been a truly great afternoon.

The evening was spent grocery shopping for the next few days, going underneath the Aurora Bridge to find the Fremont Troll

… and grilling our last meat meal for the next week (hot dogs and corn on the cob).

All three of us really enjoyed Seattle. It’s well-designed, it’s clean, it’s friendly, it’s quirky, it’s got interesting neighborhoods, and it’s experimenting with unusual forms of public transportation. We would have liked to spend another couple of days there getting to know the city better. Alas, Monday beckoned with a completely new itinerary. My favorite part: Sarah does all the driving.

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