Seattle, Washington

Sunday, June 14th - Friday, June 19th

"If I never see this place again, it'll be to soon!"

Yep, I said it, just as Jill and I were getting into the town car for the ride back to SeaTac Airport and our long flight back to the east coast. I said it, and I meant it. This was our second trip to Seattle, our first being back in 2005, and we hated it then (although the travelogue, still in it's infancy at that point, doesn't reflect that, trust me - we hated it). We were hoping that our return trip would bring better fortunes, and a better view, but alas it didn't. The Pacific Northwest is known for its natural beauty, but if you are a follower of our travelogue you'll notice that 'natural beauty' isn't usually at the top of our favorite travel reasons. So, like Chevy Chase in 'Vacation', our wonderment at the natural beauty lasted about five minutes. After that, to cliche yet another movie, just think of the buzzards in 'Jungle Book' ("so, whadda you wanna do", "I dunno, whadda you wanna do"). This is not an active vacationers destination by any stretch of the imagination, at least in my definition of active. There is Pike's Place Market, which takes about half a day, and the stores and such around there. There is Seattle Center, which is just a pathetic shell of what is once was, and will take all of about an hour to peruse (and that includes the monorail ride there and back). Beyond that, well, that's it. Add into that the amount of transients begging for money - constant, and I mean CONSTANT - and all of the action groups hounding you for their survey - again, CONSTANT - and you could see why we just couldn't wait to get back to the east coast, where life for us is 'normal'. Okay, so, rant over. That was as much rant as it was a reminder to myself if I ever developed an idea in the future to go back to Seattle - DON'T!

Our trip started out on Sunday, with a drive from home to the Fairfield Inn at JFK. The flight west was leaving at 7:30 on Monday morning, and instead of fighting the morning traffic through New York, we decided to stay close to the airport where we could leave the car. Welp, we didn't do such a great job of missing the traffic. Around 10:00 at night we hit the traffic (or should I say backup) for the George Washington Bridge. We were in the 'express' lanes, where the delay was an hour, and as we sat there we watched the 'local' lanes zipping by (their delay was only 15 minutes). So, when we came upon a break in the median between the two sections, Jill made a move that would make most stunt people in Hollywood stand up and cheer when she cut across the median into the local lanes (and thereby cut a good 45 minutes off of our trip!). I thought it was about one of the sweetest moves ever, even if I was white knuckling it and yelling 'TRUCK' as she completed it.

The Fairfield Inn was adequate for what we needed, but not the kind of place we would've stayed long term. The room was, literally, smaller than a couple of the cruise ship cabins we've stayed in - yikes!

We decided to try a 'new' airline for this venture west, so Jill booked us on Virgin America. It boasted WiFi internet access (which we found cost $11.95 per flight) and television, games, and from seat ordering of food and drinks. The games were cool, a bit on the classic side, the television was a bit limited when compared to the offerings on JetBlue (but still helped a lot to take up the time during the flight), and the ordering was really cool - although it kept the stewardesses and stewards hopping constantly! Flights were relatively uneventful, although as usual Jill had someone sitting in her lap the entire way. Stopped over in LAX, where we had just about half an hour layover, so we grabbed some lunch at Gladstone's which was near our gate (we went into and out from the same gate, and obviously the same plane, on the way out). We shared an order of fish and chips, which were excellent, and had a couple of Dos Equis XX as well.

We grabbed a ($49.00) taxi ride from SeaTac to the Hotel Max (room 614), on Stewart Street in downtown Seattle, a boutique type hotel similar to the Kimpton's that we have stayed at in the past. The room was a bit small, but it was nice none the less and the price was right! We got our bags settled in the room, and went out for a walk to get our bearings and look around. We went down to Pike's Place Market, which was just closing down, and along 1st to make sure that the Crumpet Shop was still there! (more on that in a few). We walked back to the downtown 'core' in search of dinner, with the intent of going to the Fox Sports Grill. When we arrived there, though, it was 'closed for a private event'. Their misfortune of not having our business ended up being our fortune and great find, for three doors up was the Tap House Grill, an awesome place to eat that had 160 beers on tap!! Yahtzee! We shared a popcorn shrimp for an appetizer, and Jill had fish tacos and Trade Route Mango Hefeweizen to drink, and I had dungeness crab mac and cheese and a world sampler to drink! It included Kronenbourg 1664, Ayinger Brau-Weisse, Murphy's Irish Stout, and [insert fourth beer here]. For dessert, we had the Tap House ice cream sandwich, which was butter macadamia nut ice cream sandwiched between 2 decadent chocolate chip cookies - yum!!

After such an awesome meal, and good beer, we went back to the hotel - and hit the workout room! To bed afterwards for some much needed sleep!

On Tuesday, in an effort to shake off the east coast to west coast time difference and tiredness, we slept in for a bit. After getting up and moving, we headed straight to the Crumpet Shop for breakfast! We found this little gem on our first trip to Seattle, and it has quickly become the one and only reason to visit there! A small place on 1st Street, right around the corner from the iconic entrance to Pike Place Market, The Crumpet Shop serves up a yummy meal that you can't find anywhere else in the United States (this per the nice lady that made our breakfast both mornings we were there). On this day, Jill had ricotta cheese and Nutella on a crumpet, I had egg, peppers, and blue cheese on a crumpet, and we shared a scone with strawberry jam. As always, YUMMO!

Recharged from the great breakfast, we headed straight long into the day by shopping throughout the market, as well as the stores in the surrounding blocks. When we had done all of that, we went back up to Pacific Place where we went to the Seahawks/Sounders store (bought a scarf and jersey for Mike, as well as a pin), and the Nike store (some new flip flops for Jill). We dropped all of our purchases off at the hotel, and then headed BACK to Pike's Place Market (really folks, it is all there really is to do in downtown Seattle). Being after lunchtime at this point, we went to the Athenian Inn, a Pike Place Market mainstay for over 100 years! I had an "O' Crab" and Jill had a nice grilled salmon on a salad; we shared a bowl of clam chowder; Jill had a couple of Riesling's to drink, and I had a couple Widmer Hefeweizen's.

Since we had pretty much 'done' everything in 'downtown' Seattle, we hopped onto the monorail and took it out to the Space Needle to look at that and the surrounding area. If there is anywhere that was 'once' a nice place to visit (but isn't anymore), this is it. There is an amusement park in the surrounding area from the Space Needle, where most of the rides looked outdated and weren't being ridden anyways, and all of the supporting buildings that at one time probably contained shops and offices and restaurants were all empty. Not a very 'tourist friendly' destination, outside of the Space Needle. We wandered through the shop at the Space Needle, and grabbed a snack in the large exhibit/food court area before jumping back on the monorail and heading back to the hotel (again).

At night, we decided to walk to the Belltown area of 'downtown' in search of dinner and something else to just look at. This area is known for the birth of grunge music, and at the heart of it all was the {insert bar name here}, so we stopped there to have a beer and look around. No bands were playing on that night, and at $5.00 for a plastic cup of beer, we decided to move on after one drink. We settled on {insert restaurant name here} for dinner, a fairly decent BBQ place. After dinner, we walked around a bit more, ran into one of Jill's ex-co-workers who was in town for the conference, and then made our way back to the Tap House Grill for a 'nightcap' before calling it a night.

On Wednesday, Jill spoke at the HFMA conference. We had some time in the morning, so we walked back down to the Crumpet Shop one last time for some yummy eats! After Jill spoke, we wandered to Gordon Biersch Brewing Company for some lunch before going back to the hotel and changing. We had tickets for the Seattle Sounders FC game against DC United, so we trekked down to Qwest Field for the game. Loud crowd, none of which around us sat for any of the game, so at halftime we decided to leave. Back to the hotel for our last night (ever?) in Seattle.

Up bright and early on Thursday for our flight(s) back across the US. We had another layover at LAX, so we ate once again at Gladstone's. Arriving into JFK late (around midnight), we decided that the drive home would be to much, so we made it as far as the Fairfield Inn and Suites in Parsippany where we took a nap for a few hours. The next morning (noontime?) we found a really good diner - {insert name here} - to eat at. Having some time to kill, we stopped at the Mount Airy Lodge and Casino, and then at the Pocono International Speedway where we got to take a tour! Dinner at the Mexican place in Scranton that we stopped at in the recent past before getting home.

June 17th
Seattle Sounders 3-DC United 3

Sounders FC fans may not see goals like the two Seattle scored in the first half again this season.

If they have their way, they'll never see one like the one that equalized for DC United in the 87th minute again, but an own goal evened the score and it ended in a 3-3 draw in front of 29,104 at Qwest Field Wednesday night.

“It doesn't feel good. This is a game that we should have won tonight and we should have won it going away,” Sounders FC head coach Sigi Schmid said. “It's very deflating when a team comes back and ties you like that, but on the positive side of the equation, we’re creating opportunities.”

Osvaldo Alonso scored a cracker of a goal in the first half and Nate Jaqua knocked an obscure, twisting shot that DC United defender Marc Burch chipped in for an own goal to give Seattle a 2-1 lead before the halftime whistle. But Tyrone Marshall’s own goal in the 87th minute evened the tally at 3-3 and Seattle had to settle for a draw after holding a 3-1 lead into the final half-hour.

“It came so fast that there was no reaction to get out of the way. It just hit and went in,” Marshall said. “It's one of those plays that you wish you could have back, but it happened so we have to move on.”

Although DC took the 1-0 lead in the 34th minute when rookie midfielder Chris Pontius scored his fourth goal of the season, getting his foot on a cross from Santino Quaranta.

Alonso then evened the score with his first goal of the season on a blistering shot from 30 yards out that bent it's way into the right corner of the net over the outstretched hand of United goalkeeper Josh Wicks who faced nine shots in the first half and 17 in the game, making seven saves.

Then Jaqua spun the Sounders into the lead, taking a ball from Fredy Montero and twisting to fend off a defender before sending in a left-footed effort that bounced down off of Burch and spilled into the net for a 2-1 Seattle lead.

They carried that momentum into the second half and Montero notched his team-leading sixth goal of the season. Montero got some open space at the top of the DC box, juked Burch to one side, then flinged a left-footed shot inside the far post for a 3-1 lead.

Seattle continued to hold possession and create chances, even after Christian Gomez scored his third goal of the year to narrow the lead to 3-2. But then Pontius got free up the left side in the 87th minute, sent in a cross and sealed the draw with Marshall’s own goal.

“Pontius hit a good cross, but at that particular time we need to be as close as we can and we can probably do a better job with the runners,” Marshall said. “But in the run of play, things happen. It missed him and hit my head and went in.”

A heated Kasey Keller blamed a lack of discipline down the stretch for the unsightly result.

“The game's pretty simple, but unfortunately we want to make it extremely complicated,” Keller said. “Mistakes are going to happen and that’s all part of the game, but it's the little things that you have to keep doing every time. Unfortunately we’re switching off at times and it's killing us right now.”

Added Schmid, “The problem with the two of the three goals is that we're too far off guys as they're sending in crosses. If guys have ten yards of room and can hit naked crosses with us not impacting the cross, if they're a good player they are going to be able to pick out targets.”

The draw moved the Sounders to 5-3-6 (21 points) on the season for third in the Western Conference. DC United is now 5-2-8 (23 points) and sit atop the East.

“It's annoying and you get a bit angry about it,” Ljungberg said. “Three-one, the game should be over and we controlled it quite well, but the goals we concede are mistakes and it’s icing on the cake that it’s an own goal in the 87th minute. It's hard, but that’s soccer. It's not always fair.”

“We scored three goals at home – we could've scored ten – and we throw a game away in the 87th minute when we should have, quite comfortably, won this 4-1,” Keller said. “We should have been disciplined enough to hit them on a counter and get the fourth one instead of throwing two goals away. Simple as that.”

Seattle flies out early Thursday morning to face the New York Red Bulls on Saturday. The game is scheduled for a 4:30 kickoff on KONG television.

Trip Notes:

The first leg of our outbound trip was aboard Virgin America flight 403, JFK-->LAX; depart 730AM, arrive 1025AM; Seats 11D & 11E.

The second leg of our outbound trip was aboard Virgin America flight 789, LAX-->SEA; depart 1205PM, arrive 240PM; Seats 7B & 7C.

The first leg of our return trip was aboard Virgin America flight 784, SEA-->LAX; depart 1115AM, arrive 200PM; Seats 11B & 11C.

The second leg of our return trip was aboard Virgin America flight 416, LAX-->JFK; depart 320PM, arrive 1150PM; Seats 5B & 5C.

Our seats for the Sounders game were Section 131, Row M, Seats 5-6.