Twenty Four Hours in Seattle
Anyone who owns a business knows the crazy amounts of stress that can mean. It’s been said that entrepreneurs are the only people who will work 80 hours a week to get out of working 40, and after the past few weeks, I’m seriously and severely questioning my life and employment choices.
As you may or may not know, by day, I am a mild-mannered Apericots owner. This means that Caitlin and I, together, design for, print for, and manage Apericots, in addition to Caitlin being a full-time RN and full-time graduate student. Life can be busy.
When Apericots is groovin’, life is peachy. It is a fun business to own and run, and it truly beats a “real” job, even when it involves all nighters and other undesirable duties. But when our garment printer freaks out, Apericots becomes an unruly demon, a force that dictates my life to a degree I didn’t know possible. Which brings us to Seattle.
We have 2 garment printers. Each morning, we gather all the orders which have come in from our sundry sales channels, pull the blank bodysuits/tees/totes/pillows/etc, and print whatever design has been ordered onto the blank item and ship it out. It’s actually pretty fun. Until a garment printer starts wigging out.
But! No worries! That’s why we have 2! If one garment printer fails (like happened in 2014, when Caitlin and I accidentally fried the electronics of one and I had to immediately drive it out to LA for repair. Not fun, but we fired up printer #2 and were no worse for the wear.
So when printer #1 started acting weird, we were frustrated but not forlorn. We knew we could always fire up #2, which we did, and we sent printer #1 up to Seattle with a friend who happened to be driving that way (thank you, Hill!) for repair.
The weird thing, though, was printer #2 started doing the same thing as printer #1 I won’t go into details but suffice it to say it’s been (and still is) driving me crazy. But we made it work. Until it didn’t.
One fine Friday, the printer we were using went from passable to demonic. It stopped working. Not only that, it stopped even starting up. We now had no printers, and dozens of orders to print. Because the Fourth of July was imminent, even if I had the printer in Seattle shipped, it would have taken several days to arrive (plus, I didn’t want to pay $1,000+ for overnighting it since the printer does way 100 pounds). My only option was to drive to Seattle Saturday, party in Seattle Sunday, get the printer back Monday, and return home Monday night to fulfil orders Tuesday. Did the drive suck? Yes. Was it awful? Yes. Do I wish I had more time in Seattle? Yes. But I’d rather spend 30 hours in a car driving and being my own boss than 30 hours in an office any day, so with that logic in mind, I hit the road.
Lehi, Utah to SeaTac where my hotel was was a cool 12.5 hour drive. I thought I could do it without any troubles, I mean, I’ve done long drives before. Caitlin worked Saturday, Sunday, and Monday, so I wasn’t missing out on anything at home. I thought the drive might even be fun. I was wrong. So, so wrong.
Using a trusty Hotels.com gift card (bought at a discount…it’s rare but they do go on sale!), I booked the SeaTac Radisson. I knew it had a fitness center, a pool, and was near where I was meeting the printer repairman on Monday. It turned out to be a really great place for what I needed. There was no hot tub, which was sad and a bit weird considering it has a pool, but the location is excellent, staff was great, and room was nice for a bit of working and a lot of sleeping.
I had left Utah at 5:40am and ended up at my hotel near 7pm. I was tired, but I knew my time was short and Seattle was a city I couldn’t miss. Sleepless in Seattle? Hardly. I’ve rarely been as sleepy as I was, but being the hero I am, I bravely overcame being tired and pushed through to see the city.
The Radisson is just a couple blocks from the train into the city, which was one of many reasons I was glad I booked there. Even though I had a car, Seattle is (apparently, from what I learned) notoriously hard to find parking, and when you do find it, it’s expensive. So for $6, I left my car at the hotel and got a full-day pass for the train.
The train was easy to navigate, and for $6, a bargain. I took it all the way downtown and got off near the world-famous Pike Market. Basically, all I knew about Seattle was Pike, the Seahawks, and Nirvana/Hendrix, all things I wanted to experience. (Although the Seahawks I only wanted to experience as a hate thing, to mock the infamous Malcom Butler interception and re-live my Patriots beating them in the Super Bowl…which I did).
PIKE PLACE MARKET
Pike Place is awesome. I don’t know what makes it seem so perfect, whether it’s the gorgeous city, the perfect skyline, Mount Rainier looking like it’s floating in the distance, or just the hustle and bustle and people watching, but it’s a really great place. When I saw the iconic “Public Market” sign, I was pretty stoked. All those years seeing it on Monday Night Football (and, sadly, when the Supersonics were still a thing) made it one of those things where every time they showed that sign, I thought to myself, “How have I not been to Seattle yet?” (Full disclosure, I did spend a few hours there once as I headed to Alaska, and roamed the SeaTac area for about 12 hours on my way home waiting for a flight, but those were at weird hours and I never really experienced anything there, so for all intents and purposes, I was a Seattle virgin.)
I roamed Pike from one end to the other, looking at all the cool shops and restaurants. I also had fun looking down on the waterfront, seeing the Ferris wheel, aquarium, and other cool things down there. Since it was a Saturday night, it was extremely busy and I saw and heard lots of cool weird people.
There were lines at nearly every restaurant that I thought looked decent, and surprisingly, quite a few were already closed. Since I was there on business, I was slightly less cheap than usual, and decided I had to have fish and chips if I was on the waterfront. As I mentioned in my Iceland post, I don’t like any seafood but fish and chips, so I did a quick Yelp search, found Etta’s, and away I went.
There was a decently-sized line outside Etta’s, and I heard someone ask for the wait time and they were told it was about half an hour. I certainly didn’t want to wait, but I was also alone, so I thought I might be able to get in faster. They told me if I sat at the bar, I could be seated immediately, and boom I was in.
The menu looked decent (if you like seafood), and I was tempted by the bartender to try their burger because he told me he wasn’t being a homer, it truly was one of the best burgers he’d ever had. But c’mon, I wasn’t in Seattle for a burger. I had to try their cod and chips…and I did not regret it.
The fish was amazing, very mild, not fishy at all, and breaded/fried perfectly. It was certainly among the best fish I’ve ever had. It was fun looking out at Pike Place, and Etta’s bar had a huge TV where I watched the Pacquiao/Horn boxing batch in Brisbane (my favorite city in the world), so that made it enjoyable. The chips were not my favorite. They were the flavor/type of In and Out’s fries, but they were tiny and skinny like Smashburger’s. They weren’t bad, but not my favorite. And there was a TON of them, so I felt weird having not finished my meal. Etta’s does what apparently lots of places do in Seattle and adds 20% to your check (they say it goes to employees and other stuff), but I would usually tip at least that amount so it was no big deal. My meal was right around $20 and I was off into the Seattle sunset.
I’m really embarrassed to admit this…but until the woman at the front desk of my hotel mentioned it, I had totally forgotten about the Space Needle. Is it on the front of the old Supersonics jerseys? Yes. Is it on the amazing Death Crab Cutie tee , one of my favorite band shirts ever? Yes. And somehow it never crossed my mind until the lady told me I shouldn’t miss it. Duh.
The lady told me it was $2.50 from Pike Place to take a monorail to the Space Needle, and that the monorail was cash-only. So I dutifully broke a $5 and had my cash in hand, but by the time I left Etta’s, I was closer to the Space Needle just walking than I was to a place to catch the monorail. Or so said Google Maps. So I walked.
Apparently, Seattle has a large homeless population, but maybe I was just not in that area. I only got asked for money once on my .75-mile walk, and maybe I was in the safe part of Seattle or something, but it didn’t feel dangerous or scary walking by myself at dusk. Maybe that was a dumb decision, I’m not sure. I kept wondering where the Space Needle was and then I came around a corner and bam, there it is! It’s really beautiful at night, such a weird and iconic building. I didn’t really do anything but gawk up and marvel that I was seeing such a cool building, and I wandered around the parks nearby for a few minutes. After taking some photos, I walked about a mile back to the train, caught it back to SeaTac, and slept like a baby. Night one was a huge success and I was stoked for the next day, which I knew would be my only full day in Seattle.
TOURISTY STUFF BEGINS
Back when the Seattle Museum of Pop Culture opened, I remember hearing it had exhibits on Jimi Hendrix and/or Nirvana. That’s all I needed to hear. It went on my mental bucket list, and that was pretty much all I had planned for Sunday. By some divine providence, I was able to find a parking spot right by the museum, and as I went to go pay for the spot, I saw it was 4 hour maximum. Perfect. Except…it was Sunday! No time limit and no paying! As my Lyft driver told me later, “Bro, never move your car ever again!”
I got up to pay for my Pop Museum ticket ($28) and the guy asked me if I was going to do the Space Needle or Seattle Aquarium. I had seen the Space Needle the night before and thought I’d like to go up, but I had no idea how expensive that would be or how to even do it. The night before, from Pike Place, I saw the aquarium and thought it might be cool but didn’t think much of it beyond that. So I asked how much those things were, and he showed me the Seattle Pass. It included the Pop Museum, Aquarium, Space Needle (two trips up, actually, although I only did one) and a cruise around Seattle Harbor. Price: $79. I was sold very easily. I realized I needed to make a cruise reservation in person and that the aquarium closed earliest, so I caught a Lyft to that side of town ($7.50 plus $2 tip) and my adventure had begun.
ARGOSY CRUISE CHECK IN
My Seattle Pass ticket said I had to make a reservation for the cruise, and that was the most appealing thing in my booklet, so I went. As an added bonus, it’s right next to the Seattle Aquarium, so I decided to check in for my cruise then hit the aquarium while I waited for the boat. And I’m glad I did. As I was leaving the cruise (more on it below), they announced that the rest of the cruises for the day were sold out. So if you do the Seattle Pass, be sure to go make your reservation for a specific time as soon as you can. It’s super easy and the aquarium is next door.
ALASKAN SOURDOUGH BAKERY
I didn’t want to be gazing at the fish and wishing I could devour them, so I hit up the nearest place I could find on my way. Alaskan Sourdough Bakery is on the waterfront, which is cool, and has sourdough bread, which is also cool. Other than that? Meh. I got a Gold Rush cookie with my sandwich, which has raisins, pecans, white chocolate chips, coconut, and regular chocolate chips. That was good. The sandwich was very regular. They gave me HEAPS of mayo when I asked for none, and the Diet Coke (no refills) she gave me from the fountain contained nary an ice cube. But alas, it was fairly cheap ($10 for the combo) and convenient. Plus, a cool reggae band (they never said their name in the 25 minutes I watched/ate) was playing outside. Not the highest recommendation for food but it filled the hunger gap for the time being.
I’m not going to spend a ton of time on things that can more easily be looked up online, but the aquarium was fun. Probably more fun for a child or if you have kids than a 32-year-old solo dude, but whatever. They have a massive octopus which is really cool to see up close. There is also a big clear ring full of jellyfish and an open tank where the waves break which are both interesting. But the main thing is…otters!
If you don’t know my wife/partner in crime/traveling companion Caitlin, you probably don’t appreciate otters like you should. If there’s an otter GIF, she’s seen it. If there’s a cute otter photo, she’s sent it to me. Most of our married life has been spent trying to find a way to adopt an otter into our family instead of having an actual child.
So most of my time here was spent watching the otters and taking awful photos (I’m not a good photographer anyways, but try taking a photo of an animal behind glass/underwater/floating around and you’ll understand why my otter photos are so bad) of these otters. I had no idea river otters and sea otters were a thing, and they are hugely different sizes, colors, and shapes. Cool. One of the river otters made eye contact with this little kid who was about otter-eye-level and it kept rolling around, pawing at the kid, basically just showing off for the child. It was great.
All up, I probably only spent about an hour at the aquarium, but it was enough time to see what I wanted and head one or two piers over for the cruise.
The cruise was definitely a highlight for me. As I mentioned in my Iceland post, I have a thing for harbors and boats. I’m just fascinated (and slightly terrified) of giant ships, so this cruise was perfect. According to them, it was a 3.5 mile cruise, and lasted about an hour. The boarding was a bit chaotic, with several different employees lining up several different groups using pocket-sized megaphones, but once I got in the right line, it was all good. I waited in line for about 20 minutes to actually board, which wasn’t the worst thing ever but it did feel long.
The cruise itself was cool. There were lots of deck chairs on the top and a couple covered (but super hot) floors below. Our guide, Greg (I think) was really knowledgeable about Seattle and the area. The tour took an hour and was nice and relaxing. No waves, no seasickness, no nothin’ except enjoyable leisure. We saw some really cool views of the city skyline, Mount Rainier (I guess you can’t see Rainier too often due to weather, so it was a really cool sight to see behind the city, looking like some floating castle), a few beaches, and the harbor. It was a fun and unique way to see a lot of the city, and if you go I highly recommend it.
SEATTLE MUSEUM OF POP CULTURE
From the Argosy Cruise terminal, I caught another Lyft back to where I had been originally so I could finish my tour at the Pop Museum and Space Needle. Once again, the cost was just under $10 and was very worth it since my time was so short.
The Seattle Museum of Pop Culture (aka MoPop), my friends, is what I came for…aside from business and work, of course. I was already sold when I hear there was a Jimi Hendrix exhibit, but a Bowie exhibit? Count me in thrice! As soon as you walk in, there’s a HUGE movie screen playing old Bowie videos and live performances…which is a great start to any experience. It was hard to not sit there the entire time, as he was a mesmerizing performer. But my time was getting short, so I made haste to see the Bowie/Mick Rock exhibit.
From what I think I read, Mick Rock was a college age photographer who somehow befriended Bowie and followed him around for months. The photo exhibit was really interesting because it had a mix of Bowie onstage being the Bowie we all love, and candid, everyday shots of him just as David. It was a cool glimpse into a true icon, and with his still-recent passing, it seemed very poignant and important. Highly suggested.
From there, I went into the guitar room. It’s cool and darkly lit and has a collection of guitars ranging from Kurt Cobain to a bunch of 40’s and 50’s people I’d never heard of but I’m sure they were great. Really I was just stoked about Kurt’s famous Fender from the “Smells Like Teen Spirit” video. I’m really curious how they got it, but alas, the story went untold. The guitar room is phenomenal and for any music junkie it’s worth a gander.
Next was the Jimi exhibit, which had some of his stage costumes, robes, journals, luggage, and a bunch of cool handwritten notes. Just like Bowie, it was fun to see a more day-to-day, personal side of a larger-than-life icon. It was fascinating to read his accounts of his shows, lifestyle, guitar purchases, partying, and other stuff. It was a little underwhelming compared to Bowie, but still cool to see.
In the middle of the MoPop, there’s a giant sculpture made out of something like 700 instruments. It looks almost like a Christmas tree of guitars. I don’t know what to say about it except it’s cool and fun to stare at from above and below.
The last place I went at MoPop was to the deep, dark basement to see their horror movie exhibit. The ironic thing is I don’t think I’d seen a single one of the movies in the exhibit, but it was still cool to see all the props and interviews. It was very dark, very red, and very creepy down there, so in that regard, they totally nailed the atmosphere. I saw props from films I’ve never seen like Hostel and Alien and (well, I think I did see this one) Gremlins. I watched interviews with directors I’ve never heard of and saw short clips from movies that I’ll never think about again. It was actually really fun to be down there. Being alone was kinda lame, as it would have been more fun with someone like Caitlin, who would have been freaking out at every turn. Definitely worth checking out.
By this point, I was feeling that all-too-familiar feeling I talked about in my Iceland post, the weird mix of anticipation to be doing something cool, gratitude that I even have the chance, and dread knowing my adventure was about to end. In particular, dread knowing I had a 14 hour drive coming the next day with a piece of equipment that basically would determine whether my business could function. So yeah, I was a bit nervous and apprehensive that my adventure was coming to an end.
As soon as I bought my Seattle Pass, the guy told me to go exchange the ticket in the booklet for the Space Needle for an actual reservation. It’s super easy, you just head to the kiosk, scan the ticket, and choose your time to go up the needle. Even better, you also get a second trip up the needle for nighttime.
My problem was that I made a reservation for 4pm before realizing that wouldn’t work. By the time I’d done the aquarium, lunch, the cruise, and the Pop Museum, it was close to 6pm. As I was waiting in line, I heard someone yell out that the Space Needle was all reserved until 9pm. Shoot. Was I going to miss this iconic Seattle moment? Not bloody likely.
I asked the first Space Needle employee I could find, telling her I forgot to come at 4 and could I go now? The answer: No. Not a chance. Shoot. So I did what any red blooded American would do: I kept asking until I got the answer I wanted. Which didn’t take long, because I went to the front of the queue and said I had forgotten to come at my time, could I do anything? To which the person said sure, go ahead.
So in about 9 seconds, I got to skip the line and within 3 minutes, I was heading up to the top of the Space Needle. Good times indeed.
It’s not like the Space Needle offers anything that other tall buildings don’t. I mean, if you’ve been up the Stratosphere in Vegas, you know what you’re getting. But it was fun to see the bird’s eye view of Seattle, especially after seeing it earlier from the cruise boat. It was fun seeing the places we’d been just a couple hours earlier, this time from way above. One building has giant daddy long legs on top of it, which I tried, to little avail, to get a decent picture of. It’s just a beautiful sight seeing a big, iconic city from above, and I really enjoyed just standing on top of the Space Needle taking everything in.
From there, my trip was over, It was back to my hotel, out to grab a quick pizza, and on to pick up our printer the next day. I was headed back to Salt Lake City by 10am the next day, and I made it home and was able to keep Apericots afloat. Seattle was awesome. I’d love to go back for longer than a day, and I’d love to take Caitlin with me to experience it together. But I was super glad to be able to see what I did, and would definitely recommend the Seattle Pass to anyone trying to see it in 24 hours.