May 17th, 2009



I've been to Seattle at least four times before, but had never gone to a baseball game there. The Red Sox were finally playing the Mariners on a weekend, so that made for a good excuse. Unfortunately, airfare either IAD or DCA was outrageous, so I flew in and out of BWI, which is inconvenient. Still, there was nothing wrong with the flights per se. Going there, I connected through Denver and got my traditional Denver airport cold. (I am convinced that I am allergic to something they use there and that whatever it is messes up my immune system for at least 48 hours.) I stayed at the Airport Hilton on the grounds of a reasonable rate and general convenience. It was fine, though not as quiet as one might hope for.

I had the day to kill on Saturday so took the bus downtown and the monorail on to Seattle Center. I'd been up in the Space Needle before, so focused on the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum. (That's really one building and one museum admission.) I was glad I remembered to ask for the AAA rate, which saved me four bucks.

The Experience Music Project is just OK. I'd suggest that the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland is considerably more interesting, possibly because Seattle's contributions to rock music are fairly limited. In short, Jimi Hendrix had to leave Seattle to build his career. The Kingsmen recorded one song that's lived on. And there was a brief period when people thought grunge was significant. The exhibit on Hendrix was pretty good, actually. It was also fun seeing the FBI transcripts on whether or not "Louie Louie" is obscene. The best exhibit was one on the history of the electric guitar. There's also some fun interactive exhibits upstairs, where you can fool around with various instruments (keyboards, guitars, drums) and effects.

I liked the Science Fiction Museum somewhat better, though I had issues with the lighting for some of the exhibits. In particular, it's pretty much impossible to read the "what was going on in the world at large" part of the timeline exhibit. I was also surprised by how familiar most of the material was, since I don't consider myself to be much of an sf fan.

All in all, that filled a few hours, after which I took a bus back downtown and meandered a bit. I had to look at shoes at the ur-Nordstrom's (but not buy anything) and had a cup of mocha at The Dilettante (while resisting the urge to sing "that's a chocolate shop in Seattle" out loud). Eventually I meandered over to Pioneer Square and the Elliot Bay Book Shop, which is always a good place for browsing. From there, it was a short walk to Safeco Field.

Overall, I found it to be a pleasant ballpark, though there is nothing really distinctive about its design. There's a nice little Mariner's Hall of Fame, with accompanying museum exhibits that try to persuade one that there is actual baseball history in the Pacific Northwest. (Most of those exhibits have to do with things like minor league teams in Boise, so aren't very persuasive.) The range of concessions is worth noting, including local flavor (Ivar's, where I had some decent fish and chips for supper) and things like Thai food and sushi. There is also the best sweet treat at any ballpark I've been to. Namely, the shishkaberry - chocolate dipped strawberries on a skewer. (And there are even vendors who come around with these.) The prices, alas, are as absurdly high as at every other ballpark.

As for the game, the Sox are feeling the absence of Kevin Youkilis, though replacement first baseman Jeff Bailey did hit one home run. (Jason Bay and Jason Varitek both hit 2 run homers.) Josh Beckett is not as brilliant a pitcher as he once was, but he still pulled things out well enough for a 5-3 victory.

The bus back to the airport (followed by the Hilton shuttle) worked fine, too. But the evening game, coupled with an early flight (to ORD, where I connected to a flight to BWI) still made for way too short a night. It also took me ages to get home from BWI, between waiting for the B30 bus, the bus ride, and the metro (where single tracking between West Falls Church and Vienna added about another 20 minutes to the journey).

So it was a good trip, but I am about ready to collapse.