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Seattle: Gateway to Puget Sound, Olympic Peninsula, Western Washington and Alaska
by Jerry W. Bird

I have always admired the Boeing Aircraft Company, whose home base is in the Seattle area, and have hopes of including a tour of this marvelous world-class complex as well as the spectacular Museum of Flight at Boeing Field in our 2003 Air and Marine Travel Show series. Most of our delegates from North America and overseas, being members of the aviation and travel industry, will applaud the decision. My personal connection with the City of Seattle goes back decades - my father Don Bird was born here and my maternal grandfather Ernie Somerton grew up in nearby Edmonds, before moving north to Vancouver. When it comes to fond memories of Seattle, Tacoma and Western Washington,

I'll never forget the wintry day driving west from Calgary, Alberta, when my son Ron (then 12) and I were having visions of Ivar's famous clam chowder, which I described to him in glowing detail. The visions began appearing like a mirage, while our car was still plowing its way through the snowbound Cascade Mountains east of Everett, Washington. The deep tummy rumbles grew more intense each few miles as we neared the city. Finally seated at Ivar's famous dining room on Seattle's Elliott Bay waterfront, our waiter asked, “Do you wantdthe small, large or colossal bowl of chowder? Being almost as famished as street urchins in the musical comedy "Oliver," we both chimed in at once, "The colossal bowl of course. " You should have seen Ron's eyes bug out when the order was finally placed before us -- Ivar's soup bowls were not unlike those white porcelain wash basins that were once the standard in rural Canadian hotel rooms.

And each colossal bowl was brimful of fat, saucy clams, swimming in a steamy, succulent broth. I get hunger pangs and warm feelings all over again just thinking about it. Ivar's Restaurant is like a village museum; all of the walls and hallways, even the washrooms, are lined with photos of early days on the bustling Seattle waterfront. Many dated back to the days of the Klondike Gold Rush, when Seattle jockeyed with the other coastal cities for top position as supplier to the gold fields. Some scenes took me back to my childhood in Dawson City, which was a living museum at the time.

One could easily spend an hour or more wall watching. I love that whole Elliott Bay area, with its shops, attractions and entertainment, ferry terminal and the famous Pike Street Market perched on top of the hill. By the way, outside Ivar's is an old fashioned streetcar that will take you along the harbor front.

Jerry's mom and dadSecond Home
Seattle has been our second home in the last two decades, and was our family's original family home. My dad, Don Bird, was born in Kirkland, a Seattle suburb on Lake Washington. He later went north to join the Royal Canadian Mounties, met my mom in the Yukon, and the rest is history. Yet while I lived in Northwest Washington State for 6 years, it was never in the Emerald City. Perhaps that's why I'm still intimidated by the freeway system. Last spring, when we drove in downtown Seattle on business, one of us took a wrong turn and ended up in the far northern outskirts, by the University, having had no opportunity to turn around. It was almost two hours later, thanks to some help from some kind citizens who kept their eyes peeled, that we were reunited. Guess which one of us had all the money, plus bank and credit cards? The day was a panic anyway, as I had to get my US passport renewed for a trip to Africa that same week. Seattle's wacky traffic zoo is always a challenge, but great fun if you're in a nutty mood.

More Northwestern USA Gateways: Anchorage/ Moses Lake/ Portland/ Spokane

Getting there from Canada. As an aviation aficionado and ex RCAF, I enjoy any opportunity to visit Boeing Field. A quick, convenient way from either Vancouver or Victoria is by Helijet Airways. As an avid desktop publisher since the first day of the Apple Macintosh Revolution, the name Microsoft looms large. This means a lot of Canadians will spend their time in and around Seattle in the years to come, as Silicon Valley North threatens to outdo the original. From Vancouver to the Seattle (Sea-Tac) Airport by car, allow at least three hours. The bus service is excellent and leaves from the Sandman Inn on West Georgia Street.

Another leaf from Bird's book of great Seattle memories is the "Spirit of Washington", a superb dinner train that rattles and rolls from suburban Renton, across a large trestle bridge, then along Lake Washington to the winery at Woodinville. Every dining coach is a classic, conversation piece and no two are even the least bit identical. Ask the Seattle CVB folks for more details at 206-431-4444. I honed my writing skills in Seattle, working with Neil Strother on his newspaper Seattle Northwest Prime Times, which has since been sold. Neil is now a top editor in the Internet Media field; we will link you to some of his articles first chance we get.

Living in the Vancouver, BC area as a child, and since Expo '86 as an adult, Seattle' has always been a magnet, with Pike Street Market, a bustling waterfront, lush flower gardens, and a water wonderland embracing Mercer Island, Bellevue and my dad's home town of Kirkland. Our favorite supermarket by far is Larry's near Sea-Tac airport; stop a while and stock up for the picnic of your lifetime, or just feast your eyes. Our top department store, especially for clothing, is Nordstroms, a Seattle original. Add to those choices, some favorite bed and breakfast, hotels and dining spots, and the combination makes Seattle a place you don't mind being sleepless in.

We've vowed to see a Mariners or Seahawks game in their new stadium before long. The population of Seattle and the greater Puget Sound area is 3,000,000 and bursting at the seams. Yet thanks the natural boundaries of hills and water, most neighborhoods, such as Kirkland, have a small town feeling, friendly and laid back. While umbrellas are common, Seattle's rainfall is often exaggerated, even by its citizens. We're told the annual rainfall here is 36 inches, less than New York and other cities with no special reputation for rain. During the rainy winter season it seldom pours buckets. In this moderate climate, Seattle's rain usually arrives in the form of passing showers or a gentle mist.

Washington State Airport Profiles (to come): Boeing Field/King County International, Paine Field/ Snohomish Country, Arlington Municipal, Bellingham International, Bremerton National, Renton Municipal, Snohomish Airport (Harvey Field)

Free Online Map of Seattle Airport from MapQuest: http://www.mapquest.com/cgi-bin/ia_find


Helijet Airlines or Amtrak?
Fly the Super City Triangle to Seattle via Vancouver and Victoria or take the Train. Much more to come, including transportation by rail(Amtrak and Washington State Transportation are urging an extra scheduled train to Vancouver to improve service). Also ferry and cruise ship routes and contacts.

Washington Aerospace Alliance
Seattle Tower, Suite 1600, 1218 Third Ave
Seattle,WA 98101. Email:kmiller@apcoassoc.com
Tel: (206) 443-5712. Fax: (206) 224-4344

With over 150 members, the WAA is the largest aerospace association in the world, recognized for the quality and capabilities of it's membership. The mission of the Washington Aerospace Alliance (WAA) is to promote collaboration among Washington aerospace suppliers to reduce manufacturing costs, improve productivity, develop new products, increase sales and organize strategic marketing initiatives on behalf of the industry in areas beyond the reach of individual member companies.

Everett, Wa and Snohomish County: 'Tis the season for salmon fishing, now through December. The latest copy of Snohomish County's Story line tells of River Meadows Park for pink salmon, South Fork of Stillaguamish River, Jordan Creek near Arlington. Also pink and chum near Darrington, pink and coho at Borlin Park, and several other choice spots. Get more details from sandy@snohomish.org, or www.snomomish.org

Sandy Ward, Executive Director
Snohomish County Tourism Bureau