Chihuly Garden and Glass

I admit, before going to the Chihuly Garden, I thought it was going to be boring because you know, once you’ve seen a glass bowl, you’ve seen ’em all. Not so!

When I went to the Chihuly Garden, the exhibit was ocean themed. That meant giant sea monsters and flights of the imagination of what could be at the depths of the ocean.

I went to the exhibit that showcases the works of glass artist Dale Chihuly, a big deal in Seattle. I think there’s a lot of pride that Seattle managed to create an artist other than Nirvana. I went with my family; my dad, his partner, his cousin, and his aunt.

I remember going into one of the rooms, I think it was full of sea plants, and my dad giggled. “What’s so funny?” I asked him.

He pointed to one of the sculptures. “Ok, that one looks like boobs.”

“You say that about everything,” I responded, clearly embarrassed, as I usually am at my dad’s side of the family when we’re in public, for this very reason.

He giggled his way into the next room over and I stayed at that exhibit for a while longer.

Then my dad’s cousin, Angela walked in. She started giggling. “Oh God, what’s so funny,” I asked for the second time in the past 5 minutes.

She pointed to one of the sculptures, “That one is boobs,” she said, “It is.”

I rolled my eyes, “That’s what my dad just pointed out to me.”

She laughed some more, so proud of herself, and went on to the next room to see what exciting glass adventures await.

Just as I was ready to join her in the next exhibit, my dad’s aunt Julie showed up. Julie a proper lady of 65 years. She is the adult of the family.

“Looks like boobs,” she whispered in my ear.

Pike Place Market

Ok, Pike Place is really cool. It’s one of the oldest continuously operated farmers’ markets in the United States. Its shops include produce, crafts, antiques, comic books, collectibles, restaurants, fishmongers, arcades, and one of the oldest head shops in Seattle.

Beware of the fish mongers though.

I am about to say something controversial on here, but I’m going to say it: The fish mongers are overpriced. And they’re overpriced because you’re unsuspectingly paying for a show.

So they throw the fish. Big fucking deal. I can throw my own fish at home.

That’s their schtick. They yell the name of the fish you want to each other and repeat it in a chorus and sometimes sing and then at the beginning of the show they throw the fish to each other. They never drop it too. Can you imagine how many times a day a $60 fish would just be ruined because I didn’t catch it in time?

Yeah, and I’m serious about paying $60 for 2.5 lbs. of fish. That’s ridiculous. I don’t care if my fish isn’t the highest quality sourced salmon that’s fed off a silver platter with a golden fork and knife. No salmon is worth $60. Not a single one in history.

So don’t give me a $60 fish or I’ll destroy your reputation on my blog.

But come for the fish and stay for the vast array of other shops. Some of the freshest, local produce, seafood, flowers, and hobby shops are in the deeper, more hidden parts of the market. I think the world’s biggest shoes might be available to see through a peephole if you pay a quarter to see it through some binoculars. There’s also machine and human fortune tellers and psychics.

Lastly, it is always packed. Be prepared and patient to wait in a long line, but there’s a reason the line is out the door: the food is very good.

Don’t get frustrated about waiting in line for a long time. That’s part of travel and life in general. You’re going to be waiting in a lot of lines. But instead of thinking about how awful it is and how much you don’t want to be waiting and what a grumpy mood it’s putting you in, use it as an opportunity to smell the food and watch people and eavesdrop on their conversations.

The Market is a great place to go for excellent food, and I suggest trying a little bit of everything for a day.

Just be prepared to wait for it.

Washington State Ferries

I fucking hate the ferry.

But not because there’s anything wrong with the ferry. It’s just that I grew up in Kitsap and had to take the ferry all the time to go to Seattle to either see friends or get home and it became a chore to me. Not very mindful of me.

But when I’ve been on other Washington state ferries, especially the ferry that goes from Anacortes to British Columbia, I enjoyed it. One time I even saw some wild wolves or maybe foxes walking on an island we passed on the way to Vancouver.

It’s not uncommon to go on the ferry, look outside, and see wildlife like sea lions and seafaring birds such as seagulls the size of turkeys. They subsist on a diet of garbage and french fries people throw to them from the ferry parking lot.

Go for the breathtaking views of the mountain and evergreen wonder, stay for the birds that eat garbage.

Mount Rainier

Mt. Rainier is one of my favorite places I like to go in Washington.

My best friend and travel companion Zach and me were driving to Mount Rainier, one of many trips we’ve taken to the mountain, and I was driving. I always drive. If I’m going to fly the car off a cliff, it better be my own fault.

The drive to the visitor center and trails around Mt. Rainier is up some steep hills and one lane roads, which is to be expected of any nature trek worth going to.

We walked along one of the many trails and I’m not sure why, but it wasn’t very crowded. I remember going along a steep ridge, and ending up at a giant rock with a panoramic view of the massive collection of green trees, of which a great deal were upturned as if they weren’t towering pines, but toothpicks blown around in the wind.

I remember another time, when we got to the rock, we started smoking weed and I remember being surrounded by fog so thick you could barely see your hand in front of your face. Almost like white darkness.

I think the people nearby were on to us but our desire for the drug was stronger than the embarrassment of being caught smoking weed in public back when it was illegal. I remember getting closed eye visuals of a kaleidoscope of faint colors.

Maybe it was all in my head though.

We sat for a while talking about what tiny specs we are in a cold, unfeeling universe and how to make your own meaning before the high wore off and then we headed back down the trail to the visitor center.

The visitor center had some great displays, exhibits, and interactive games that also taught you about the various facets of the geology and history behind Mt. Rainier.

I remember there was a comments section of the visitor’s center where you use the pen and paper to write down things like, “beautiful mountain” or something like that.

I drew a picture of a squirrel and my friend wrote down the entirety of the lyrics to the Rescue Rangers theme song.

Then we got tired from all the hiking and learning that we walked back to the car, had some fruit by the foot, and then we were on our way.

Olympic National Park

Olympic National Park is the place to go for the authentic Washington state experience.

I’m going to hit you with some facts:

  • Contains 3 ecosystems: sub-alpine forest and wildflower meadow, temperate forest, and the rugged Pacific shore
  • 95% of the park has been declared Olympic Wilderness

More than thinking of seafood and Nirvana, this is the real Washington. It’s a place rich in diverse nature. Even living in the city of Seattle, you’re only 20 minutes from great skiing, for example.

I’ve been to Olympic National Park many times throughout my life and it never ceases to impress me. It looks like where a hobbit or an ewok would live except it’s your actual real life.

Also, it’s a long ass drive so me and my friends have gone off the beaten path and bathroom’d in the forest.

I don’t think you’re supposed to do that because it can like, scare the bears?

But seriously, the last thing I care about is scaring a bear away because of my toxic urine.

And with that, it seems like the perfect time to end my blog post and hit publish.

Signing off,

Shannon O’Brien