This morning we left the hotel and went over the road to the Icon, a fairly ludicrous bar and grill, decorated with vast amounts of blown glass masquerading as pieces of candy, where we were served breakfast by a man with a hangdog expression on his face and a tight-lipped taciturnity that left me marvelling at his abruptness. I don’t want locquaciousness at breakfast, I want coffee and eggs with a minimum of chat, and that’s what he provided. Then we took a bus over to Fremont and wandered around for hours, until La Serpiente Negra melted down and we had to go back to the hotel.
In that time, we’d seen plenty of Fremont life; as well as the usual Sunday market, the Fremont Festival, to celebrate the summer solstice, was still in full swing. We watched a band called Bre’r Rabbit from Bellingham, who, as well as the usual guitar and banjo, had a cellist, which made me misty-eyed for the Auteurs, that great 90s indie band I only discovered in 2005. I bought a Washington sticker for my luggage, and some pictures of construction vehicles for my daughter (she has a great affinity for earthmoving equipment of any description) before we visited the troll, Gasworks Park, and a wholly unsuccessful attempt to find a ferry back to downtown.
Back at the hotel, we took her for a quick swim in the (freezing cold) indoor pool, then went down to the lobby, where we met a family from Nicaragua, up in Seattle for the marathon. I got to practise my Spanish, and our daughter got to try to clamber into their stroller, and growl at their youngest daughter, and in return they presented us with a clockwork turtle bath toy. I was glad we were carrying around a bag full of our daughter’s toys, so we could reciprocate this kindness with a book by Eric Carle, and then we trotted out to dinner.
We were planning to eat at a pizza restaurant one block up, Superb Pie, but they don’t take reservations, and on a Sunday evening they were chock full of people, so even a walk to Pike Place and back didn’t get us any closer to having a table. My family were happy to stand around outside and wait, but I was restless and wanted to keep the child occupied, so I walked down a few blocks with my wife, and then recognised the Palace, a restaurant with an enormous ceramic cockerel in the window, from corporate dinners long ago.
They could seat us immediately, so my wife went back and collected the rest of the family while I drank a gin and tonic and slowly oscillated, which kept our child content and slumbering. Our server was super enthusiastic about all the food on offer, and we ended up with an incredible plate of roasted asparagus, peppery and citrusy at the same time, which even our daughter enjoyed (previously she’s not tolerated asparagus). For the next two hours my wife and I had a relay, where one of us would accompany our daughter outside to walk along the sidewalk, or prevent her eating cigarette butts or running into the road, and the other would enjoy a solid meal made from the finest Washington could produce.
I ate cheese. An enormous plate of cheese, and it was everything I could have hoped for. My first gin and tonic (with grapefruit juice) was fairly perfect, but I went a bit wrong by ordering a cocktail made with Aviation Gin and creme de violette, as it was just too damn strong for my weak body. The ice cream we had for dessert was also just okay, whereas the preceding courses had been superlative, and thus anything would not compare well with it.
And so ended my first proper day of holiday in Seattle; the sun has shone on us all day, our daughter has been cheerful ninety-percent of the time, and I have nothing to complain about. How long can this bliss last?