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Saturday, September 16, 2000

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Underground in Seattle

I woke early and went for a walk in the neighborhood. It's a very nice upscale development and Mike and Lauri's apartment looks out on the golf course. It's not like the good old days and anyone can play but if you're into golf it's very handy. They aren't but plenty of other people are as the parking lot is full by 7:00 am.

We went to downtown Seattle to do a little sightseeing today. It's an interesting city as it curves around the sound and Lake Washington. All real seaport cities have a bit more grit to them than wannabe pretty seaports and Seattle has had more that it's share of grit. I enjoy the hills that it's built on, like most of the Pacific coast cities.

We had time before our reservation for the underground tour so we walked over to Elliott's bookstore and looked around. My son is looking for info on officers in the Franco-Prussian war and tried to find something, but no luck. This isn't a big seller in the US, it seems. I looked at some history books and some mysteries, nothing grabbed my attention. This is a fun store as it has both used and new books which means you have a much more interesting selection. We had lunch downstairs in their little hippie restaurant, which has good food.

The big event was the tour of Underground Seattle. We start in a bar in Pioneer Square and even had a beer during the introduction to the walk. I can think of a lot of tours that would be greatly improved with a beer at the start, but this is a good tour just on it's own so the beer was a bonus.

It seems the founding fathers built on tide flats and not only were they knee deep in mud and water a couple times a day, but also sewage. After the great fire, which the firemen were totally unable to control, they rebuilt in the same place, but with the knowledge that they would have fill in the tide flats with soil from the hills above them, so they built the fancy doors and windows on the second floor. The tour took us through the underground sections, with a very funny talk by the guide on the very sordid and greedy history of early, and not so early, Seattle. This is definitely a must see.

This is was where the Klondike miners stocked up on supplies and 900 prostitutes supplied them with services. On the census they all called themselves seamstresses. The wife of the city leaders were not fooled and insisted that they be investigated. Their husbands investigated very thoroughly, for many days, and not wanting to lose this source of income for the city, charged them all a $9.00 sewing machine tax. I forget if this was weekly or monthly, or whatever, but it was a sizable chunk of income for the Seattle government.

By the way there is a memorial to the firemen, who watched the city burn down, in a park nearby.

After the underground tour we walked along the waterfront and then back up to Pike's Place Market. My legs were hurting. All walking to go up or down here, except for the stretch along the waterfront. I always want to say Pike's Peak Market and I'm sure that's some kind of freudian slip, but. . We wandered through the shops, looking at some very nice crafts and flowers. I didn't like walking through the fish market as I never enjoy the smell of uncooked fish in mass. I like it nicely cooked and presented to me on a platter with parsley. The rest was great.

On the way back to the car we wandered through several furniture and decorating stores. There was one with very avant garde, modern furniture and furnishings that I loved. I feel so free and comfortable with clean, clear lines. In my sober moments I realize that those cleans lines would have magazines, books, whatever piled high in no time, but I can still dream.

Then it was back to Mukilteo to watch the Olympics. I'm a very fitful Olympics watcher as I feel so sorry for the losers but I do enjoy it when the United States wins.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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