許多住在溫哥華的人都喜歡南下過境到西雅圖渡週末。只須要兩個小時簡單的車程，便可越過邊境，從溫哥華直達西雅圖市中心。因為我有 Nexus 卡在手，可以駛過非 Nexus 汽車排隊過境的車龍，使用 Nexus 卡專用通道，過關只須等候 5分鐘。回答關員幾個問題後，便可以在 I-5 號公路長驅直往西雅圖。 途中有很多特賣商場和賭場，要中途不停車是一件非常困難的事。如果我在任何一個特賣場停車，恐怕會樂不思蜀，大概沒有可能抵達西雅圖了。
在溫哥華住了廿多年才驚覺我從來沒有去過波音公司，或說得正確點，從未去過該公司的未來飛行中心 (Future of Flight Aviation Centre)。該中心在華盛頓州的 Mukilteo 市，位於西雅圖以北 25 英哩。在一個又濕又大風的一天，我去了參觀這個被健力士世界記錄大全收錄為全球體積最大，合計4億7200萬立方英呎的巨型建築物。我參加了他們的 90分鐘導賞團，認識了波音公司的歷史。經過一輪安檢，確定我們沒有攜帶任何手袋、背包、相機和手機後，我們一行人上了一輛巴士，駛過停機坪到達世界最大的飛機庫。
我可以看到一架飛機由開始到結束的整個組裝過程。以前所有部件是在這家工廠製造和安裝。現在為了精簡組裝飛機的工序，飛機的各部份包括引擎在內，獲安排在其他美國城市不同的工廠製造。做好的飛機部份會由一架特別改裝的波音 787 夢幻客機 (Dreamliner) 運載到波音公司位於 Everett 的工廠。組裝一架設備完整的飛機只需短短 3星期。全日 24小時有 3組人員輪流值班。導賞團結束後旅遊巴士把我們帶回未來飛行中心。該中心內有一個觀景廊讓參觀者拍照留念。那裏有各種飛機部件，由引擎到座位，一應俱全。能夠親身看到幕後如何製造這些雄偉的飛行機器確是引人入勝，令人難忘。
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.
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.
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.
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?