How many feet deep is Lake Union? Where can you find a cigarette-burned guitar originally owned by “Layla”‘s Eric Clapton? In what part of Seattle did the first pioneers settle? What are the names of the sculptures decorating the Space Needle’s lawn? And where in Seattle can you find the country’s largest butterfly exhibit? You’ll find out all of this, and much more during one of Seattle’s “Ride the Ducks” sea and water tours—and all to the tune of The Bee Gee’s, MC Hammer, Frank Sinatra, and more.
The smell of newly-chewed bubble gum was in the air as Captain Clam Chowder boarded our amphibious vessel and introduced himself. “Raise your hand if you had dinner before getting on here,” he said to a less-than-energetic crowd. It was the last tour of the day; the sun was starting to set; the fall air was beginning to turn crisp. As I was seated in the far back, he put me in charge of the safety-donut and fire extinguisher. He also had us all hang our hands outside the open-air “windows,” and then informed us that these were our emergency exits. He mentioned life preservers, put on his trusty hat, and we were off…
“Check out the legs on that one!” he said as we passed by the Space Needle. Needless to say, our captain was a funny guy, although as it was the end of the day, we took some warming up. We passed by the Seattle Center, the Experience Music Project / Science Fiction Museum, and the 9-acre sculpture park near 1st and Western. Thankfully, Captain Clam Chowder pointed out a large silver, aluminum tree, so I now know where not to stand during a lighting storm. Ba-dum-cha!
A late afternoon drive along Alaskan Way as the sun shines along the water with a breeze in your face is a delight. We passed the Edgewater hotel, made famous by the Beatles claiming they could fish from the windows of their hotel suite. Fisherman’s Wharf was bustling at this time with after-work comradery; we passed the Seattle aquarium, and the ferry and Canada/Alaska cruise terminals. All the while being inundated with fun-filled Seattle facts. We even started to play an interactive Starbucks game.
As we drove by Qwest field, Chowder started to blast the Monday night football theme music , which made the new stadium seem even more massive. After leaving the “sports district,” we drove through Pioneer Square, where we passed the entrance to Seattle’s underground tour, and where I saw the prettiest Quizno’s sub shop I’ve ever seen. MMmmm, Sammie’s. An umbrella of maple trees shade these streets, and older brick buildings line them. Meanwhile, I believe in Miracles, plays over the speakers, and MC Hammer is next…
As we passed by the Seattle Art Museum’s “Hammering Man,” and America’s longest-running Farmer’s Market, Pike’s Place, the bus started to get more energetic. Maybe it was the fact that our little land-boat was maneuvering its way around towering glass skyscrapers turned golden from the sun; or was it the moon-walking pedestrian who waved to us? Nah, I think it was because “Ah, ah, ah, ah, Staying Alive” came on.
That’s called a Quacker. Yours for only $2!
After a rock-n-roll , 31 MPH drive along Highway 99, and a glorious view over the Aurora Bridge, it was time to test out our sea legs. The Gilligan’s Island theme song played as we neared the boat launch. It was a quick and easy transition, and as our vessel began to float, Captain Clam Chowder passed back a drain stop, asking the passenger behind him to, “find out where this goes for me?”
So what, the University of Washington’s crew team was moving faster than us, all the better pace for us to soak in the ride, and take pictures!
After watching the sunset fade behind the Seattle skyline we headed back toward home-base. Not without playing a lively, Name-the-Seattle-Connection trivia game first. When we returned we were greeted by more staff who offered us prints of the photos we took before boarding. I didn’t buy one, but definitely good memorabilia for those that did.
And if you’re wondering: 34, EMP, West Seattle, Black Lightning and Moongate, Pacific Science Center.