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Archive for June, 2011

Greetings once more, TWIF enthusiasts! This is Patrick Killen once more, bringing you more of my adventures as a lowly intern exploring the city of Seattle.

The past week has been a busy one for me, with 2 Seattle tours, the Solstice Parade, and volunteering for TWIF at the Fremont Fair. Though it will disrupt the chronology of my adventures somewhat, I think it makes the most sense for me to start with the city tours.

First and foremost (and the excursion which occurred soonest after my previous post) I took a tour with Show me Seattle, a tour group that specializes in three-hour, small group tours throughout the city.

I think it’s worth noting here that I’ve gotten pretty awesome weather all but one day that I’ve been in Seattle. This leads me to believe that the prevailing stories of Seattle weather are augmented by one of the following:

  1. All of you are lying in a grand conspiracy to keep people from moving here and enjoying your awesome weather.
  2. I have, in fact, arrived here at the most optimal time of the year to avoid the typical cloudy gloom and resulting SADness (see what I did there?).
  3. I am some sort of secret wizard whose very presence has brought you the glorious gift of sunlight and slightly higher temperatures.

I will speculate no further on which of these scenarios is most likely, except to say this: you’re welcome.

Moving on, I embarked on this tour with a startling crowd of exactly one other person. Meaning our total tour group ended up consisting of 3 people: myself, a nice Australian lady, and our tour guide, Tavier. Together we crowded into our tiny bus/van thingy:

and set out into the city. Much of what I saw and heard is familiar to most Seattleites, and to be honest the sheer volume of information would be too much to reproduce here. So here are some highlights:

Queen Ann Hill (and the view from it)

Lots of beautiful homes, gorgeous views, and a reasonable explanation for why Seattleites have the leg strength to play soccer with bowling balls. This place is most likely old hat to seasoned Seattle-dwellers, but coming from a state so flat that the Native Americans went around building their own hills. I always have an appreciation for a good view. Needless to say, however, I probably won’t be venturing to Queen Ann Hill on foot any time soon.

Post Alley

I’ve roamed the Pike’s Place Market off and on throughout my stay in Seattle, and I always seem to be finding new things. Our most excellent tour guide, Tavier, pointed out a number of interesting semi-hidden areas of Pike’s Place that I hadn’t even thought to explore. Since this tour, every time I’m even remotely close to the market I go out of my way to snag some bao from Mee Sum Pastry , after Tavier pointed it out (I’ve always been a fan of bao, and this place makes the best I’ve had.).

I also dropped in on some of the Post Alley shops (which I didn’t even know existed) to check out the Perennial Tea Room and The Tasting Room as I am an unashamed fan of both fine teas and wines as fine as a college-student budget can handle. There’s still plenty more for me to explore here, and rest assured I plan to do so.

Ballard Locks

The engineering nerd in me loved this part of the tour. I can’t help it, my dad is an engineer, most of my close friends are either studying to become engineers or have already graduated. I have to appreciate feats of engineering, and the Ballard Locks certainly qualify.

The addition of the salmon ladder was a cool touch, and of course we went down to take a look:

All in all, a really cool tour. Tavier was a superb guide and extremely knowledgeable. Most times that I had a question, he managed to answer it before I even asked. In terms of a truly comprehensive tour of Seattle, Show me Seattle is a great option that I would highly recommend.

From there, it makes the most sense to compare that tour with another, perhaps more widely-known tour that I also took in the past week:

Yes, that’s correct; my internship sadists coordinators thought it would be excellent blog-fodder to test any of my lingering beliefs in a benevolent creator by putting me on one of these amphibious deathtraps and subjecting me to the song and dance put on by Ride the Duck’s exuberant tour guides. This was mine:

He changed hats

several times

corresponding to transitions (real and imagined) in the course of the tour.

This tour is approximately 90 minutes, only half the time of the previous tour, and the truncation made a notable difference in the experience. Where the Show me Seattle tour could be called comprehensive, Ride the Ducks can be thought of as concise. It was also very…musical. The selections were relatively inoffensive, and it isn’t as though we actually made it through the entirety of any one song. Most of them were old classics, enthusiastically introduced by our guide/captain in his boisterous radio-voice. I admit, this is one of the tour elements I was most apprehensive about; but I believe I got lucky. Our tour was only about half full, the earliest of the available tours, and was populated almost entirely by older people. There were no sing-alongs or clapping-in-time, and even the 2 young grandchildren on the tour were sparing in the use of their “quackers”.

Oh, did I not mention the quackers?


Guess why they call them that. Go ahead. Guess.

Honestly, this tour was not that bad. However, I would caution anyone who cringes at the sight of the packed sing-along tours that roll down pike to steer clear unless their relatives are in town (and even then with trepidation). Even though my experience was pretty tame, I was constantly reminded of how bad it could have been:

For those of you still reading after than little marathon, we move onward! I won’t begrudge you switching to another tab to check email or Facebook or something before continuing. Go ahead, do it.

All done? Great, let’s continue:

The Solstice Parade and the Fremont Fair

I will try to keep this section brief, mainly because there will be another, picture-filled post about it at a later date, but I felt it would be interesting to share some of my experience and viewpoint on the Solstice Parade especially.

I am a Louisiana native, and therefore no stranger to a good parade. Mardi Gras is a statewide celebration, but the debauchery (and media attention) is mainly focused in New Orleans. Baton Rouge is located about an hour’s drive (~70 miles) west of New Orleans, so it’s not much of a hike to make the trip and stay a few days.

I’m sad to say that most of what you hear about New Orleans Mardi Gras is completely true. Well, except for the shootings/stabbings (they tend to underplay that).

That said, I can assure you with complete confidence that something like the Solstice Parade would never be allowed to occur in Louisiana. “But why?”, you ask, “Don’t you have people flashing boobies during all that crazy Mardi Gras nonsense?”. Why yes! Yes we do! So naked bicyclists should be no problem, right?

Well, not so much. Two major differences:

  1. The flashing is fleeting (though frequent if you’re in the right place).
  2. There are no kids on Bourbon (as far as anyone will tell you)

None of this matters to me so much, but understand that Louisiana is essentially run by a cabal of uptight, “religious” old people with a great deal of reach and even more money. If they could, they would already have shut down the more, er, “enthusiastic” of the Mardi Gras celebratory activities, but the fact of the matter is that by now it’s practically traditional. The other reasoning is the same old irrational, puritanical notion that nudity and sexuality are inextricably entwined. Not gonna go into that here.

Short version of Louisiana thoughts on public nudity: God forbid that anyone under 18 should see a naked person. Ever. Until they get married, of course.

So I say to you, Seattle: Kudos! Kudos on not being freaked out by naked people because sadly, and seriously, that is an accomplishment.

And hey, some of that body paint was really cool! I’d post pictures, but to do so would violate the WordPress Terms of Service. So here’ s picture of a paper cup octopus instead!

Come back next week to find out more about a backwater southerner’s very first Summer in Seattle!

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The Fremont Fair is sadly over, not to return till next year. Still, we can look back and remember the crazy times, insane outfits, and mind blowing floats in the parade. TWIF was so excited to be a part of this awesome event. We had so many volunteers come out that the beer gardens needed to find more ways for us to help and contribute besides just pouring beer! That wasn’t our only success at the fair however; we also managed to spread TWIF cheer to Fremont through our booth, which was busy for a majority of the day. If you missed the fair, here are some pictures so you can remember on of Seattle’s most exciting days with us.

Enjoy!

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Greetings and salutations! As the many of you who follow the TWIF Facebook and twitter may have surmised, I am the new intern for The World is Fun!

My Name is Patrick Killen, and these entries to our esteemed blog will be your peek into my peek of your fair city and what is has to offer to the unenlightened outsider. But first, I must properly introduce myself.

Who am I and why do you care?

My name, as I said, is Patrick, and I hail from Baton Rouge, Louisiana (Which, fyi, is the capitol of the state, not New Orleans). You may be asking why I would choose to make my way all the way to the far-off northwest for an internship, and to this I can easily respond with a picture:

But in addition to escaping the hellish nightmare which is a deep-south summer, I also wanted to experience the sights and culture of a city in which I may very well spend the next several years. But more on that later – I will reveal more of my sordid past and character as my adventure in Seattle goes on and I post more of these blogs.

The main thing you will need to know is that, while I have traveled a fair amount, all of my impressions of Seattle will be compared to Louisiana. I think it will quickly become obvious why I thought coming here would be a good idea.

Onward to the first adventure!

What I’m doing here

My Internship with TWIF consists of a variety of tasks and responsibilities, one of which will be this blog – or more accurately the adventures that I describe herein. Each week, my esteemed overlords internship directors will give me a task or set of instructions (scavenger-hunt style) that I am to complete and then write about my experiences. The task for this week began here:

Or rather, with my first meeting with Amy at Cupcake Royale on East Pike Street. It was here that she issued to me a Seattle survival kit

And a bundle of 3 sealed envelopes (one red, one green and one purple) and a black box.

I considered the kit itself as my first test. The umbrella was a nice try, but a set of 3 personal circumstances led me not to trust it:

  1. I have done my research and know that there’s no faster way to be spotted as a tourist than to be seen using an umbrella.
  2. Earlier that morning I already spent a cringe-inducing amount of money on a rain jacket at REI(which will insure I eat nothing but ramen noodles for the next couple of weeks)
  3. I come from a state where we have powerful thunderstorms on a regular basis. Taking out an umbrella in Seattle-level rain would be equally scorned in Louisiana as it would be here.

The poncho I kept, of course. It’s small and compact enough to keep on me, if only for emergencies. I kept the map as well, it can be carried easily and opened discretely enough that most people wouldn’t notice. The camera, buttons, and business cards also came along. The cupcake and the umbrella were dropped off back at the friend’s apartment where I’m staying.

The Red envelope instructed me to open it first, revealing a blue piece of paper with instructions printed on it and a $5 bill paper-clipped to it. The paper instructed me to go to 701 5th Ave, and hand the bill to whoever was at the information desk, asking, “where it would take me”.

The building at 701 5th Ave turned out to be the Colombia Center, and the $5 bill ended up taking me to the Sky View deck on the 73rd floor. The fellow at the front desk was most helpful and barely batted an eye when I handed him $5 and asked where it’d get me. I imagine if I had done so with a $100 bill, I may have ended up somewhere much different, maybe some sort of underground business lounge were cigar-smoking moguls play baccarat and such.

But I guess TWIF wanted to save something for me to do next week.

      Anywho, I made my way to the sky view deck and looked out on the city of Seattle, which made the reasons for this part of the task abundantly clear:

  1. The Space Needle is for chumps. I mean seriously, it looked pitiful from up there.
  2. This is Seattle. This is what you’ll be exploring and experiencing for the next 2 months. Take a good, long look.

      I imagine that the Colombia Center is Seattle’s version of 30 Rockefeller Plaza in New York City. Once you’ve gone to the “Top of the Rock” you understand that people don’t climb the Empire State Building for the views, they climb it to say they climbed the Empire State Building. If you really want to see the city, you’d be on top of 30 Rock. There is a similar alternative view in Venice, but for the sake of brevity (ha!) I’ll let you explore that for yourself. The point is, this is the kind of experience which is more true to the spirit of the city. This is where you want to be to really appreciate where you are and just how many goddamn hills you’ve been climbing up and down since you got here.

It was here that I was instructed to open the green envelope. Inside, there was a card for a free tall coffee at Starbucks, and instruction to go to the Starbucks on the 40th floor for some refreshment (“This is Seattle, after all”, the card said). After securing my beverage, I was instructed to open the purple envelope.

Inside, it gave directions to the Market Theater, where I was to go and open the black box. Amy was clearly also trying to determine if I had been paying attention to my surroundings, because the directions on the card told me to turn the wrong way (nice try again, Amy.)

I made my way to the Pike Place Market, and down the ramp to the entrance of the Market Theater where I opened the box to discover…

What? What was I supposed to do with this?

One trip to Wikipedia later (thank god for smartphones) I turned the corner to discover this.

Gross.

But you know, when in Rome. So I made my contribution:

And thus my task was at its end. I hope my performance was satisfactory!

What will bizarre tasks will next week hold? Is there more to this city than bubblegum walls and residents with disturbingly muscular calves? What the hell am I going to do with the rest of this gum?!

Come back next week to read more about my Summer in Seattle!

Now excuse me while I go wash my hands. Thoroughly.

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