South of the Border (A weekend trip to Seattle)

    A favourite weekend past time of many Vancouverites is to go south of the border to Seattle.  It's a fairly easy and straightforward drive across the border which takes  about a two hour drive from Vancouver to downtown Seattle.  With my Nexus card in hand, I drove by the long line up for the non Nexus cars at the border crossing and only waited in line for 5 minutes. A few questions asked by the border patrol and I was on I-5 headed to Seattle.  It was hard not to stop at all the Outlet malls or Casinos on the way to Seattle. If I had stopped at any of those Outlet Malls I would have never made it to Seattle.

    Having lived in Vancouver for twenty years, it occurred to me that I had never visited the Boeing factory, or more accurately, the Future of Flight Aviation  Centre.  It is located in Mukilteo, Washington about 25 miles north of Seattle.  So on a wet and windy day I stopped by to check out the world's largest building by volume, as recorded in the Guinness Book of Records, measuring a cool 472 million cubic feet.  I signed up for their 90 minutes tour where I learned about the history of the Boeing Company.  After making sure that we were not carrying any purses, backpacks, cameras, or cell phones , it was on the bus which drove us across the tarmac to the world's largest hangar.

    I was able to see how an airplane is assembled from the beginning to end.  Where once all the parts were manufactured and assembled at this factory, they have streamlined the assembly of the plane by having various sections of the plane including the engines manufactured at different factories in different cities in the USA. The sections of the planes are flown into Everett with a Boeing 787 Deamliner which was custom made to fly the assemblies into Everett.  A fully assembled airplane can be ready in a speedy three weeks.  There is a round the clock three shifts taking place at any time.  The conclusion of the bus tour takes us back to the Flight Aviation Centre where photos are allowed in a viewing gallery.  There were displays of various airplane parts from engines to seating.  It really was fascinating to have a behind the scenes look at how these magnificent flying machines are made.

    Then it was time for lunch.  A friend recommended I check out a local favourite called Ivar's.  There are several restaurants under this company serving mainly seafood.  I headed to the one near the ferry in Mukilteo Landing.  It was a bit odd to drive past all the cars lined up for the ferry in Mukilteo heading for Clinton and other locations.  It was a chilly day and many of the passengers had the same idea and headed to Ivar's on the pier for some clam chowder.  The clam chowder was creamy and delicious. It came in cups, bowls or tankard size.  You could order the red or white clam chowder.  I also ordered some deep fried scallops and some deep fried clams to go with my chowder.  Everything was tasty and I can see why it's so popular with the locals.

    Scallops in the back and fried clams in the front with a bowl of seafood chowder.

    It's a busy Saturday at Seattle's Public Market.

    Then it was back on the road heading towards downtown Seattle.  It has been quite a few years since I last visited Seattle's Public Market.  I have mixed feelings about downtown Seattle.  Parking spaces are few and parking fees are expensive.  I found a parking spot which cost  $5 a half hour.  Pretty steep for a bit of grocery shopping.  It's very busy down at the market.  There were stalls inside and outside the market as well shops along the roads leading up to the market.  You could find all manner of arts and crafts at the various stalls.  Handcrafted jewellery and ornaments as well as unique gift items were on display everywhere.  Definitely a few good ideas for Christmas gift giving.  It was very busy the day I was there and I had to negotiate the throngs of people to make my way through the market.  I made my way towards the famous seafood stalls.  One in particular drew throngs of people standing around.  The fishmongers toss the seafood to each other and it looks like the fish are literally flying.  Everyone was hanging around waiting around for the next fish 'fling' which prompted an irate fishmonger to say, "you're supposed to buy it not look at it!"  I have to say there really was a huge array of seafood to purchase.  It will have to be another time for me to purchase seafood. 

    I was more interested in the many flower stalls.  There were many beautiful Fall flower arrangements.   Little pumpkins were carved out and used as vases.  Very adorable!  I also liked the colourful pepper wreaths.  I'm not sure whether you're supposed to eat them or leave them as an ornament. 

    Gorgeous Pepper displays.  Are you supposed to eat them?

    Plenty of fresh fruit and vegetables.              Amazing array of seafood.                          Cute idea to use Pumpkins as a vase.

    I was in Seattle a few days before Halloween and saw quite a few people already dressed up and walking about.  One of the more popular costumes I kept seeing was the Steampunk look.  I thought it was for Halloween but no, the people dress this way every day.  Seattle has a very large community of Steampunk fans and followers that it even made a mention on one of famed food writer and television host , Anthony Bourdain's show.  Steampunk is where people wear clothing from the 19th Century's British Victorian era or the American 'Wild West' with an added futuristic twist.

    It was a wet, cold and grey weekend in Seattle.

    There's so much more to Seattle and you really do need more than a couple of days to do it some justice.  In the meantime, I'm thinking maybe I should attempt to make some chowder.  It'll never be as good as Ivar's  but it'll be good enough for me. Shall it be red or white?