Monday, July 4, 2016

"Baseball and Friends" Day in Seattle

Unlike the "fly by the seat of your pants" nature of our first couple of visiting days in Seattle, Sunday had an agenda: Mariners vs. Orioles at Safeco Field. This meant we got to spend a much-needed leisurely morning relaxing, before making our way back into the city. Then we cruised the now-familiar highway until we were instructed by the GPS to take Edgar Martinez Drive...which makes total he's only one of the most famous Designated Hitters in history and a beloved former icon of the Mariners organization. 

We patted ourselves on the back for leaving so early as we came to a screeching halt in a looooong line of cars queued up to find parking. But on the bright side, we had plenty of time to admire the hulking structure of Safeco field, looming over us only a few yards away. After letting Husband and Riley off at the curb to minimize their walk (hobble...whatever...), Derek and I went in search of a place to stash the car. The first lot we saw wanted $30...which gave me unpleasant flashbacks to the San Francisco Giants, and triggered a stubborn "no way in hell" reaction. However, only a block further was a $20 option...which we deemed acceptable, so we jumped on it.

Pleased with our first decision of the day, Derek and I approached the Left Field side of the ballpark and were politely asked by a nice young man if we'd like some "gluten-free, non-GMO snack bars"? Why YES, yes we would...well, make that "I would....and I'll take my son's, as well". (As an aside: in my short time here, I've become tuned to Seattle's funky, crunchy-granola vibe, which I kind of L-O-V-E. Furthermore, the whole family has made the inevitable comparisons to San Francisco in terms of natural landscape, artistic environment, foodie culture, and laid-back attitude. Okay, back on topic...)

Then as we entered the gate, we were handed reusable shopping bags with the Mariners logo. What? Free giveaway swag for the out-of-towners? Aaannnd the good feelings continue! As usual (or so we've been told) the day dawned kind of grey and gloomy, punctuated by occasional sprinkles and spritzes. However, even by the time we started our journey towards the stadium, the clouds looked like they were valiantly trying to clear. When we arrived, the roof was closed on Safeco, to protect the grass and infield from becoming a swamp. It was still a nice venue, no doubt...just a bit… dark. However, about a half-hour after we walked in, they started the process of sliding the roof back, opening the seating bowl to the increasingly blue sky. And after that, my friends, the view of the skyline, and the Seahawks' stadium right next door, was pretty stunning.

Our seats were also pretty awesome--just to the first base side of home plate, exactly where we prefer to watch a game. So, leaving Riley and Husband safely settled, Derek and I took a lap around the different levels, to see what there was to see. Some notables: a shrine to Ken Griffey Jr. (who will be entering the Cooperstown Hall of Fame in 21 days, as announced by the banner hanging over Right Field); dedicated Peets coffee stands (does this surprise anyone,  regarding the java-crazy Seattle? I didn't think so...); also multiple stand-alone wine kiosks (for the more refined taste buds?); and, at one lone concession outpost...sweet potato fries (yessss....I can eat something here!). 

After our mini-tour, we returned to the family and got comfortable for the game. In this case, I should mention that preparing for this outing had involved long-sleeved shirts and multiple layers...which is quite the strange concept for us Mid-Atlanteans to be bundling up for an outdoor sporting July! But the temperature hovered in the upper 60s, with a cool breeze--thus we noticed it appeared to be only the natives who dressed in tees, with bare arms showing. (More power to 'em...brrrr!) As for the game itself, the less said, the better from an Os fan's perspective. It pretty abysmal performance all around. But we were sitting next to a lovely family (older couple and their grown son) who chatted with us pleasantly throughout the entire 9 innings, making it a much less painful experience.

Since, you know, "eating" is one of those necessary activities in the lives of Team WestEnders, the next order of business was to make a dinner plan. As luck would have it, we actually know a couple who live in the area (one of whom is originally from Maryland, if you're wondering how that happened), and had kept them informed of our adventures, so we could meet up if possible. They were free for the evening, and since the female half of the duo is a vegetarian (Yay! An ally...) she had numerous suggestions for cool places to have a produce-based meal...that she promised would even fill and satisfy the male carnivores in the group. 

Therefore we made our way slightly north of the city to the Sunlight Cafe, nestled in an adorably artsy neighborhood...and perfectly willing to meet any dietary restrictions I threw their way (because, you know, I'm just THAT difficult...these days, anyway...). During our dinner interlude, while we enjoyed our delectable selections, they regaled us with information about the area, featuring a mile-long list of things we should attempt to the few hours of free time remaining to us. But at least one thing we could manage: ice cream at what they assured us is a must-try establishment called Molly Moon's, back in the city. Judging by the line--which is reportedly always out-the-door and around the block--it's super-popular. Since they offer a vegan version of ice cream, I decided to throw caution to the wind, ignore the "no sugar" edict for one night, and have some.

And yes, it was soooo worth it. How rich is this stuff? Derek finished his cone only with a herculean effort, and Riley couldn't even eat half of his. I can't remember the last time--if ever--that anyone has left dessert unconquered...but it was also more sweet stuff than we usually eat in a week, so there is that. While waiting to order, and savoring our ice cream, we had time to soak in the atmosphere of our funky surroundings—hoppin’ night clubs, eclectic shops, a lighted Astroturf field where people were still hanging out and playing, even at 10 p.m., and my absolute favorite: all of the crosswalks were painted with rainbow stripes, in the universal symbol of inclusion and acceptance for all people.

Well…did I mention it was pretty much bedtime? And with the impending sugar crash, we figured it was a good idea to hightail it back to the hotel and turn in for the night. It had been another full day of fun and excitement, and Team WestEnders was wiped out. See ya tomorrow, Seattle! 

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