Seattle, the city of flying fish
Seattle is a city perhaps best known for the Space Needle, but Seattle and the region surrounding it — straddling land, sea and mountain — have much more to offer.
You can't miss the "World Famous Pike Place Fish Market ," 86 Pike Place, where, at any moment, a fresh salmon — or two or three — might come flying through the air.
It's part of the mystique of the open-air market, which hosts a flea market-like atmosphere of epic proportions.
"People come from all over the world to see our world famous crew of fishmongers throwing fish and having fun with customers. They also come to buy some of the best seafood available anywhere in the world and have it shipped home," says the market's website.
The fish market's staff have personal profiles online, where several staffers say they enjoy "making a difference" for people. So you might want to take time to ask a fishmonger why he enjoys his job.
Or, hunt around and see if you can say hi to fishmonger Yori Oyloe, who was born in Decorah, Iowa.
The Pike Place Market first began after a sudden increase in the cost of onions, says the Pike Place Market website . A city councilman suggested a place where farmers could sell their goods directly to the consumer.
"On Aug. 17, 1907, Pike Place Market was born. On that first day, a total of eight farmers brought their wagons to the corner of First Avenue and Pike Street — and were quickly overwhelmed by an estimated 10,000 eager shoppers." By 11 a.m., they were sold out, the market website says. "Thousands of shoppers went home empty-handed, but the chaos held promise.
By the end of 1907, the first market building opened, with every space filled, the market website says. Stop at one of the myriad shops to try cappuccino, fresh pastries, fruits and and seafood. Or pick out a bouquet of flowers for your sweetheart.
If you're lucky, you might even happen upon a live street band, such as The Tall Boys .
Keep exploring Seattle and its surrounding opportunities, because there's lots more to see. If you're into the arts, keep a watchful eye out for Seattle's "pig art" (it won't take you long to figure out what this means).
Or, in relatively nearby Federal Way, Wash., for example, you can visit the Rhododendron Species Foundation and Botanical Garden at 2525 S. 336th Street.
Of course, you've got to be prepared for traffic. If you're in your rental car headed out of Seattle any time from mid- to late-afternoon, be prepared to relax as you wait for stoplights to cycle two or three times for each block you travel. The bottlenecks become part of the ambiance, if you're not in a hurry.
Tacoma is a relatively short drive from Seattle, and a great spot to view the works of Dale Chihuly, famed glass works artist. A Chihuly piece hangs in Mayo Clinic's Gonda Building and another in Mayo's Jacksonville, Fla., hospital.
The Chihuly "Bridge of Glass" in Tacoma crosses Interstate 705 and "links the Washington State History Museum with the Museum of Glass," says Chihuly.com . During your travels, don't forget Puget Sound in Seattle for a whale-watching adventure early spring to late summer (prices range from $60 to $100 per adult).
Here's one more idea: You might even want to take your passport along, in case you get a whim to drive to Vancouver, British Columbia, for a day — it's only about three hours away.
For links to related websites, go to PostBulletin.com.