Seahawks Field/House that Neon, I Mean Nike, Built, um, Qwest Field, or Century Link Field Presented by a Big Overhang
There was much not rejoicing when the friendly tour guide told us that during our tour of the Seattle Seahawks’ facility, we would not be stepping on the field or into the locker room due to the Marinique soccer squad practicing and the field getting a once-over for an upcoming Gold Cup doubleheader. The Gold Cup is like the Stanley Cup, only about soccer and about 12 people care.
Even though I was wearing a Titans hat, the tour guide knew I was from Atlanta so I had to answer all Atlanta questions, like whether the Falcons’ visiting locker room was painted pink. That must explain the complete defensive breakdown on that last drive in last year’s Seahawks/Falcons game. I was not “all in” regarding the tour until we turned and viewed the display of high school helmets. Every high school football helmet in the state was on the wall. A lot of schools borrow NFL looks, including the unfortunate yellow Bengals look that intimidates nobody except maybe a small dog.
The interior halls of the stadium are freaking wide. There seems to be more overall square footage than LP Field by a large margin. Part of the interior that’s dedicated on game days to a pre-game tailgate party is set aside as a concert hall. Paul Allen likes music. If Paul Allen wants Dave Grohl to come to his house to sing show tunes at dinner, I’m guessing Dave Grohl frees up his calendar.
Anyway, we saw most of the stadium and the gooey innards, like the suites, the press box (free food), the seats (75% ish are covered in case of rain, including most of the “cheap seats”, and an area devoted to the historical coaches. I think Tom Flores’ hair deserves its own wing. I realized that this is a franchise with about as much success over time as the Falcons, which means very few banners. Heck, I think the Major League Soccer Sounders, who wear the neon green that the Seahawks refuse to devote one of their dozen jersey styles to, have more banners in about five years of existence than the Seahawks have in about 40. Don’t get me wrong, no franchise has more short- and long-term hopes for success.
I think I show my cards as an old coot when I say that the Seahawks’ original uniforms are superior to their current look, and let’s not talk about their Certs jerseys that have been thrown in the dustbin of history, but of course their only Super Bowl appearance is in those jerseys. The tour was great, the guide was knowledgeable, and I probably would have contracted a case of turf toe had I walked on the actual field.
I did make a brief stop at a Seattle sports store on the way back to the hotel. Heck, the old Mariners jerseys are their best one as well, and it’s sad to see the Supersonics until I realize that it’s basketball. I can’t watch now that Mark Madsen is out of the league.
When I was at the crumpet joint, I noticed the “Falafel King” storefront next door. I had to stop and get a gyro. I can’t call myself a gyro aficionado since I eat about one a month but I do like one, especially when it’s not the “log of meat” variety. The one I had was delicious, with the meet rubbed in some kind of chili powder, fresh and moist. The sauce had a hint of mint. Great afternoon snack.
It was nap time, because we suck the marrow out of any opportunity to sleep, before our evening activities. By chance, there was a monorail station that went from our hotel to the Space Needle so we wouldn’t have to walk. Insert foreshadowing about our inadvertent walking marathon to date. We got in the car and experienced a rarity for this week, really bad traffic. I was nostalgic for Atlanta for a minute there. We were a few minutes late for our appointment at Salty’s, a seafood joint that the dynasty maestro Chad Scott told us about. Take a restaurant, give it a view of the city and they can serve boxed Kraft mac and cheese. They did not. I’ll say the service was a bit slow, but the food was fantastic. I did pick a semi-dud of a Pinot Noir, a little more tanniny than I’m used to in that type of grape. We even got a white chocolate cake dessert.
Parking is expensive. Renting a car for a week when we really needed it for the drive from Portland to Seattle wasn’t our best move. We decided to drop off the car a couple of days early and light rail it back to town. The experience wasn’t fantastic. The one gas station near the airport didn’t take credit cards and we had to pool our remaining cash when our debit cards failed to work. The walk to the terminal from the rental car lot was not one made for dress shoes. We took the train and played the married couple by looking at our individual phones all the way back. We were pretty pooped out when we got back to the room.
The final day in Seattle arrived with a duck. I arranged a meetup for lunchtime so we decided to tour the town in a duck boat. We got on the boat at 10 in the morning, flush with our local chain restaurant flatbread sandwiches and diet sodas. The Laws don’t bleep around. Our “captain” for the ride was Captain Alley Katz, who wore the ears and tail in part because they’re meant to be festive and in part to frighten us. I did one of these tours in Boston and they are pretty standard. The boats are WW2 vehicles that can run on land and water, the captains play funky music and wear crazy hats.
The duck boats are completely open vehicles, so the air rushed in as we rode around town. We didn’t bring jackets. Seattle in July can be jacket season. I heard rumors of temperatures in the 80s and 90s the week before we arrived but it stayed in the 50s and 60s during our three-day venture. Back to the attractions.
We got to see the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle (not pictured above). If you want to get into the houseboat market, I’ll say that you will not be buying low. Only Seattle would have a park that is a former plant converting coal into gas. Only in Seattle would someone convert a tool shed into a $1200-a-month rental property because it’s on a lake. We spent 90 minutes on the duck boat, saw a lot of the town, and ejected just in time for me to make my lunch date. Oh yeah, let me include my favorite bar sign of the week, a gal in a bikini riding a whale.
I drank my lunch. I went to a bar called Yardhouse. There I met Josh Deceuster of Draft Breakdown, Jeff Brubach of the fantasy football Jeffs (football.com/co-owner of The Fake Football) and Ryan Boser of LeagueSafe. At the bar I consumed five different beers while we talked football and watched the replay of a Gold Cup soccer match. The U.S. beat Belize like they were coached by Jerry Gray. I was surrounded by two Vikings fans (Christian Ponder got married in mid-season and his play tanked after that) and a Seahawks fan (Jeff will put in a good word for when Seattle plays the Titans in October).
I took no pictures, which is a theme of my tweetups. I didn’t eat anything either, which forced me to order a burger at the hotel after I stumbled back, and of course there was a nap before we got into our evening activities.
For our final journey of the vacation, we decided to take the ferry to Bainbridge Island. I recall there being nothing on the island when I visited in 1998, but it’s quite possible that I went to one of the other countless islands. Alison’s friend recommended getting on a boat in time for sunset and coming back in the dark. We got to the island at around 8 o’clock and found the only taxi to get us a ride to our dinner destination. We went to the Harbour Public House. I thought it might be time to eat healthy until I saw poutine on the menu. Poutine is a Canadian’s hangover dream. The version I got had cheese curds, bacon, chicken, gravy, and fries. I had a brown ale as my final beer of the voyage.
We almost didn’t make it back. The ferry was at 9:45 and I looked at my clock at 9:15. We had a mile to go and just consumed a day’s worth of calories. We started at the dock, where there were dozens of boats hanging out. We had to make a few wild turns and when some fellow travelers ran past us, we knew this was going to be close. The guy said “two minutes” at the gate and 90 seconds later we were on board.
After surviving the tense journey, we tried to take some pictures of the growing Seattle skyline from the water. It was freezing. I could only stay outside for a few minutes before retreating to the covered area. We were tired and sore and of course, we walked from the ferry destination to our hotel, another mile plus. It was an appropriate close to our trip.
We got up at 5 the following morning, the exact same time a week ago that we left from Atlanta, give or take three time zones. At least we had a direct flight. When we got to town, we saw our first rain in a week.
We didn’t exactly dominate the world on this trip, but it was a memorable trip and a fitting tribute to ten years of wedded bliss. Then comes football season.