Playing Tourist in the Emerald City

We got to play tourist in our own backyard over the weekend.

OK, maybe “backyard” is a stretch. Seattle’s more like 180 miles away. But for a while there, it was feeling like a second home. So that kind of counts, right?

In any case, we headed north on Saturday morning for a weekend getaway to the Emerald City. “Have one last hurrah in Seattle” was on our Farewell Tour list, or words to that effect, and our favorite band was playing their annual Christmas show in Ballard, so we had the perfect excuse to go. We left home at 8:30 and arrived at our first destination, Pike Place Market, three hours later, where we promptly joined a million other people wandering around the place, one-third of them dressed as either Santas, reindeer, or elves.

Wow, I thought. Seattleites really get into the spirit of the holidays!

Which was actually only half true. Turns out they really get into the spirits, as there was a Santa-themed pub crawl taking place.

It did feel pretty festive regardless. Even the brass pig was dressed for the occasion.

Merry Pigmas.

And lest you think Portland has a lock on weirdness, Seattle folk can be every bit as nutty.

We spent a solid two hours in the market, with a stop at our favorite hole-in-the-wall Chinese restaurant for lunch. Bought a hodgepodge of goodies including ginger pickles, Beecher’s mac ‘n cheese, coffee-flavored Greek yogurt, Bloody Mary green beans, balsamic vinegar, and the single most expensive filet of smoked salmon on the planet. Seriously, when the guy rang us up and said “That’ll be $41!” Tara and I looked at each other and I could read the holy shit! in her eyes. That’s okay; I’m sure it was reflected in mine, as well. But what were we supposed to do, say “err…never mind” and walk away? That’s just embarrassing, so we bit the bullet. I’m happy to report that the fish is really, really good.

Also, looking back on that list, what a weird bunch of stuff we bought, huh?

Sufficiently stocked up, we left Pike Place and debated hitting the Space Needle, but it was grey and overcast, a fact that I am sure shocks you, and we decided if we were going to drop $50 on a pair of tickets to the observation deck, we’d better have a clear view of Mount Rainier to make it worthwhile. After all, we’d just taken out a second mortgage on a piece of fish, so the idea of spending more money wasn’t exactly enticing. We drove up to Kerry Park instead for a view of downtown, then headed to Ballard and checked into our room, a claustrophobia-inducing little space that contained a bed and a dresser and not much else. The bathroom was down the hall. Not exactly the Ritz, but it was cheap. Ish. Cheap for Ballard, anyway, which is apparently one of the trendier areas in town. All we really needed was a roof over our heads anyway, so it was fine. Once we got settled in we walked around the main drag, looking for a place to drink – and eat too, though that was a secondary concern – and settled on a bar and grill called The Sexton. Anne joined us shortly after and we kicked back with cocktails and some really good food.

The Moondoggies were playing at the Tractor Tavern just down the street, and we were there promptly at 8:00 when the doors opened so we could secure a spot right in front of the stage. Widower opened and The Maldives followed before The Moondoggies took the stage. All three bands were fantastic, playing mostly originals with a few Christmas songs mixed in for good measure. At one point a presumably-drunk girl literally grabbed me from behind.  I figured she’d accidentally bumped into me thanks to a little too much booze, but then it happened a couple more times. I think Tara’s angry glare finally scared her off. I’ll just chalk the whole thing up to my magnetic personality.

OMG, it’s that Mark guy from Portland again! What’s he doing all the way up here…?

After the show I chatted with The Moondoggies’ lead singer, Kevin. I consider him a friend now, though I suppose that might be a stretch (though he does call me by name whenever he sees me, which at least counts as a semi-friendship, right?). He thanked us for driving all the way up from Portland, which means he probably thinks we’re really stalkers now, ha. They have a new album dropping in April and he said they’ll be coming down to PDX that month for a show, so it looks like we’ll get to see them at least one more time before we move.

By now it was well past 1:00 and Anne had to drive home – we’d cut her off hours earlier, but our hotel was a block away so we kept the party going a little longer. Actually ended up hearing last call at two different bars before finally calling it a night. By then it was after 2:00.

Sunday we returned to The Sexton for a Bloody Mary and coffee before hitting the road. Drove down to Tacoma to meet up with Tracy, David, Anne, and Anthony for breakfast/lunch before beginning the trek home.

All in all, it was a super fun weekend. Let’s recap the highlights: I was drunkenly groped, drank a gallon of whiskey, chatted up the lead singer in a rock ‘n roll band, and closed down two bars. Pretty badass if I do say so myself!

One of these days I’ll act my age…


Published by Mark Petruska

I'm a professional writer and editor living my best life in south central Wisconsin.

6 thoughts on “Playing Tourist in the Emerald City

  1. Mark, I LOVE that first capture of all the Santa’s! Made me SMILE 🙂

    I love when people get into the holiday spirit. I’m the same way, I love all the decorations, music, and movies that come with Christmas – they make me feel like a kid again.

    “and we decided if we were going to drop $50 on a pair of tickets to the observation deck, we’d better have a clear view of Mount Rainier to make it worthwhile.”

    I know how you felt because I am dying to go to the top of Rockefeller Center (known as The Top of the Rock) but the tickets are $35.00 per person. However, I think I’m going to spurge and do it anyway, as a Christmas present to myself, because I’m going back to NYC the week after Christmas to do some site seeing. I’m dying take my camera and get some shot of Manhattan because it is by far, the best view.

    ” I think Tara’s angry glare finally scared her off. I’ll just chalk the whole thing up to my magnetic personality.”

    HA! That’s awesome!!!


    1. Wow. That’s awfully expensive! But I think it’s worth it. As much as you love NYC, especially this time of year, you deserve to treat yourself well.

      Hope you had a fantastic Christmas, Ron!


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