This was our last day in Seattle. We decided to become like the locals and not start on anything too early. We had a tour lined up for 11:30 so we wandered down to Pike Place Market at around 9, for breakfast. We went back to Honest Biscuits, which had offered us a very nice sample of a biscuit on yesterday’s foodie tour. Going back for brekky was a smart move! I had a delicious “macGregor” biscuit – with cheese and bacon. This was very different to Biscuit Bitch. This biscuit was just cut in half and buttered, it wasn’t totally buried in gravy, cheese, grits and scrambled egg like the Biscuit Bitch one (which wasn’t at all bad, just different). Basically the macgregor was a really nice savoury scone. But I’m also happy to report that, at last I found great coffee! Honest Biscuit don’t just do a good biscuit, they do a good cappuccino as well. I’d give it an 8 on the iScott Coffee Scale.
We wandered around the Pike Place Market a bit – the ‘day stalls’ they talked about really are often just hired for the day – today they had a whole bunch of different vendors selling a whole bunch of different stuff, which was nice to see. Still amazing cheap flowers and yummy produce though. We also managed to find a few other parts of the market that we hadn’t found yesterday – bonus! We wandered our way from the market down the Pier 54, past a good number of touristy shops, which is all good fun when you are indeed a tourist.
Today we boarded the Argosy “Good Time II”, for another cruise. The tour was called, and I kid you not “Tillicum excursion”. Yep, you heard it here first, I’m going to cruise Tillicum. Oh myyyy. (I never said this blog was going to be particularly highbrow, did I? Good.) This was a cruise out to Blake Island, about 45 minutes out of Seattle.
Along to way we learnt a little about the Duwamish tribe. At the time the white people started making their way here across the Oregon Trail, the chief of the Duwamish tribe was a certain “Chief Seattle”. HIs name was Si’ahl, Seattle was just the nearest approximation the white settlers made of his name. Chief Si’ahl welcomed the newcomers and brokered a pretty good peace, there was plenty of trade in skills and good between the owners of the land and the newcomers. Chief Si’ahl remains a deeply respected man here in Seattle. You can learn more about the Duwamish here: https://www.duwamishtribe.org . It’s very important to note – they are still here. It’s an ongoing, living culture, they’re not a piece a history. The tribe is still going strong.
Tillicum was established on Blake Island in the early 1960s. It was established as a place for people to come and learn more about the native american history (and present) of this part of the country. So to an extent it’s all a bit ‘staged’, but if it helps shed a bit of light on the history and way people lived, then it’s not necessary a bad thing. Upon arrival at the island we were greeted with a mug full of clams in broth. Well at least now I’ve learnt that I don’t much care for clams. The cool thing was we get to contribute to the upkeep of the island .. as after eating the clams it’s tradition to just chuck the shells on the ground, and crush them with you shoes. Voila – you’ve just maintained the path.
A few the bits and piece i learned – Puget Sound it pronounced Pew-Jet by the locals. I always thought it was Pu-Zhay, you know, like the renowned fashion boutique, Target 🙂 But no. I also learned that modern Seattle is a very young city. It was only founded in 1851. It’s the fastest growing city in America, they say. They also said it currently has one third of all cranes in the USA> And judging by the skyline I’m inclined to believe it. There really is a lot going on, they’re currently riding high on the technology boom. Also, Mount Rainier is pretty show, on average it’s only visible for about 90 days of the year. Today it was really clear, so here are about 1000 more pictures of it (hey, at least there aren’t as many Space Needle photos this time, right? 🙂 )
Did I take a lot of photos of Mr Rainier today? Why yes, yes I did …
But back to Blake Island. We were ushered into a longhouse – normally like the headquarters of a tribe. But in this case, a dinner-and-a-show venue. Upon entering we saw the salmon being cooked in the traditional way which is really clever. It’s butterflied, mounted on stakes and cooked around a big fire for about an hour. It produces a delicious, moist, and lightly smokey salmon dish which was just wonderful. There was also a bunch of other food – as far a s a tourist buffet goes it was good quality stuff, very tasty. (sorry, no photo, too hungry!)
There was also a stage show showing some traditional costume, dance, and amazing wooden masks made to pay tribute to the spirits of the land. Dare I say this was a bit touristy since much of it was delivered via a projection rather than by real people. But hopefully it’s at least making some contribution toward keeping the local culture alive. Although there were totem poles aplenty at Tillicum, this part of the country really didn’t have much of a thing for hotel poles. They were usually only a few feet high, usually to honour a single person. But they also have this excellent concept of “shame poles”. If somebody owes you something, and doesn’t pay up, you carve up a Shame Pole in their likeness, and place it in front our their house. One of the arms of the figure on the shame pole is outstretched as if to be – so the whole neighbourhood instantly knows that you’re not coming good on some kid of debt. However when you do pay up, the figure is carved in such a way that the arm is articulated, so can them be moved up in to a greeting position. So you pay your debt, and next thing you know you have a tribute to yourself on your front lawn – very nice!
At the conclusion of the show we had a little bit of time to wander around the island. Just before the boat landed we were told how the place was positively brimming with wildlife, especially deer (which swim across the sea in the summer!) and racoons. They’re all pretty tame and not started of humans, but of course don’t try to pat them, we were advised. Maybe the day was just too warm, because there wasn’t a raccoon or deer to be seen – maybe they’d all buggered off to the more shady parts, but on our wander around we didn’t see or hear evidence of a single one of them. We were fortunate enough however to see an eagle nearby at the dock.
There’s a bit more info about Tillicum village here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tillicum_Village
We arrived back at Seattle itself – it was a bit hard to believe that was a 4 hours + tour, the time went so quickly. It was great to learn more, if only a little bit more, about the culture of the original inhabitants of these lands. There’s so much more to learn and appreciate though.
We had a wander around through some shops – which reminded me of something I forgot to mention yesterday. We went into Target, and they had this cool novelty – in additional to a people escalator, they had one specially rom trolleys as well. How nifty!
We also saw an amusing bit of, I dunno, civil disobedience?
We also saw the very large, always moving, Hammering Man sculpture:
On the way back to the hotel we stoped in at the Dahlia Bakery which is quite close by. Home of the famous triple coconut pie. (again, I am not convinced how famous it actually is). But Dahlia Bakery is one of the fourteen or so restaurants in Seattle owned by mister ‘love rub’ himself, Tom Douglas. Sure enough it was a delicious pie – very very rich, even I couldn’t quite finish it. But Perry, being a coconut fanatic, really enjoyed it (and the rest of mine).
For dinner we headed out to ‘Lola’ – another Tom Douglas restaurant. It had Saganaki Cheese, so of course we had to go. It was ‘Mediterranean’ – so they borrowed a bit from here and there, primarily Greek. It was all good – high quality, delicious food, including made-to-order doughnuts right at the end. Awesome. Not cheap, but awesome. A fitting way to end our stay.
So in conclusion… Seattle, we got off to a rocky start, but you’ve won me over. I never realised it was such a foodie town, there’s good food to be had everywhere. There’s good coffee to be had somewhere – that’s surprising enough. It has a lot of natural beauty around, with so much water, and of course the imposing figure of Mt Rainier. Glad to see it at least putting some effort in to recognising and working with its indigenous peoples, too. Pike Place Market is wonderful, the Jetsons-tastic Space Needle puts its definitive stamp on the city’s skyline, and we were fortunate to have amazing summer weather every day. It’s been good!
Tomorrow… time to head even further north.