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Published: September 12th 2009
EMP Main Entrance
Seattle, plus Jane and Maya
Tuesday August 25
In mid-afternoon Jane and Maya arrived from Corvallis. Knowing that there were no rooms the Mayflower Hotel they booked on Hotwire and luckily ended up at the Seattle Westin a three-minute walk away. We decided that for today’s activity we would take the monorail to the Seattle Center. This is a major park and activity complex, site of the 1962 World’s Fair Space Needle and now home to Paul Allen’s “EMP” Experience Music Project and “SFM” Science Fiction Museum. Wanting to enjoy dinner at the Space Needle’s rotating restaurant we had made reservations the day before.
From the third floor of the Westlake Mall we boarded the monorail and enjoyed the ride over traffic to the park. Our first stop was the modern, spectacular looking EMP and SFM, a Frank O. Gehry-designed radical building. This extreme multi colored building houses two separate museums. They share an entrance but offer separate exhibits so we choose to attend the SFM first. As we enter the security person to the SFM advises me that I’m not allowed to take any pictures in the museum. (I’ve previously expressed in the blog how I believe this
practice is a tedious exercise of power by paranoid museum curators.) I have no problem complying. My camera is attached to the top of my “Q STICK”. A walking stick-tripod, which I use everywhere I go because of my affliction (ALS) and the balance problems that I have. Shortly after entering the museum a black shirt security fascist accosts me about my camera and walking stick. He’s immediately appears quite agitated and insists that I immediately remove my camera and get rid of the tripod. I tell him that I’ll put the camera in Karen’s pocketbook but I need the walking stick for balance. He eventually relents as I explain that without the camera my walking stick won’t take any pictures, he finally leaves in an angry huff. From then on then on as I walk through the exhibits whenever I look over my shoulder there’s an array of “Black Shirts”. They are following and staring at me like I’m some kind of major security threat. Their constant surveillance certainly diminished my ability to enjoy the exhibit. Fortunately this turns out to be our only negative experience over this two-week trip.
We cross the hall and enter the “EMP”
Entrance inside EMP
and the staff is friendly and helpful. I’m told that I can’t take pictures of specific exhibits but can put my camera back on my walking stick and can take pictures of the exhibits in the hallways. The “EMP” is a dynamic experience museum that provides an informative enjoyable contemporary music experience. They present a great representation of all genres of modern music including soul, country, gospel, and rock and roll. The Jimmy Hendrix exhibit was outstanding and provided a very informative memorial and a deeper understanding of this performer whose musical roots were developed here in Seattle. The exhibits are interactive and provide a broad understanding of the modern music from the progression of the electric guitar to the Seattle music scene. They also offered us musical performance choices from karaoke to professional sound rooms and the ability to produce your own next great rock and roll song. We only regret that none of has any musical ability. We really needed my brother John and his musical skills to fully appreciate the many offerings.
From here we walked across the park to the entrance of the “Space Needle”. You ride the glass front elevator up as you watch
Hallway in EMP
the city drop beneath you. We’re a bit early for our reservation and want a window seat so they give us a beeper and invite us to visit the observation deck. This really is a great place to see the city. On this warm clear evening the harbor, islands, neighborhoods, lakes, and city skyline are bathed in the warm evening light. In 15 minutes our buzzer rings and we get our window seat. Fabio our server is excellent. He’s entertaining, advises us about items on the menu and makes helpful recommendations. When my prime rib arrives and appears well done, Fabio sees it and takes it away and returns with another that’s medium rare just as I had ordered without me even having to ask. The food is excellent, the dining experience so unique it is well worth the expense. Enjoying drinks, appetizers, our meal and dessert we end up doing four of the 50-minute rotations of this enjoyable restaurant. The great views continue throughout the sunset as we watch the excitement of this vibrant city happening below us. The “Space Needle” a relic from the 1962 World’s Fair is still a vibrant part of the city. On this Tuesday
Maya & Karen
night the restaurant is experiencing a full house. It seems clear to us that the city’s residents enjoy the Space Needle as much as the tourists. The smartly dressed locals sitting around us are celebrating birthdays, wedding engagements, and anniversaries. For the four of us it was a very memorable evening.
The next morning we rode the underground to the historical Pioneer Square section of town. We enjoyed breakfast at Caffè Umbria, an Italian coffee shop and walked the neighborhood. We plan on accompaning Maya to the upper observatory in the Smith Tower at Pioneer Square. The Smith Tower is a 37 story tall building that opened in 1914 that was constructed by Lyman Cornelius Smith creator of the Smith Corona typewriter. For most of the last century it was the tallest building in the city of Seattle. Our goal was to visit the crown jewel of the building the legendary 35th floor Chinese Room. The room’s name derives from the extensive carved wood and porcelain ceiling and the elaborately carved black wood furniture that were gifts to Mr. Smith from the Empress of China. The observatory’s furnishings include the famed Wishing Chair. The chair, product of the skill
Sylvan & Jane
of a Chinese carver and quite likely the skill of an early day virtuoso publicity man, incorporates a carved dragon and a phoenix, which when combined, portends marriage. Legend has it that and any unmarried woman who sits in the chair and makes the proper wish will be married in a year. Maya made the Smith Tower visit the apex of our time in Pioneer Square and besides views from the observatory were worthwhile. We had a birds-eye view right into Quest and Safeco fields homes to the Seattle Mariners and Seahawks.
For lunch we visited the international neighborhood the sight of the second largest China town in the US. We went to the Uwajimaya Market and enjoyed the unusual shopping and dining experience. We each chose different food venders for a variety of oriental meals, a great lunch at a very reasonable price.
After lunch Karen wanted to pay here respects to Nordstrom’s mother ship and catch a quick nap so Jane, Maya and myself decided to ride the island ferry system to Bainbridge Island. For $6.75 we were able to take an hour and a half roundtrip ride to the island and get a great water
Lake Washington-Sailboat Rece
view of the city. This trip cost us a fraction of what we had spent yesterday for the Argosy harbor tour. Most of the information we heard n yesterdays tour you could have gotten from any of the Seattle tourist magazines. The ferry ride by comparison is a real bargain. Today was another warm clear day in the supposed rainy city; we enjoyed the ride and had great views of Mt. Rainer and Baker Mountain.
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