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Field Tripping in Seattle

Julie Stein


. . .Okay, you can if you want to, but you won't be seeing the real Seattle. For a taste of Seattle livability, may I suggest a few destinations. Of course, you will want to sneak away from the meetings for an hour and watch the fishmongers at Pike Place Market hurl 20- lb. King salmons around like hacky-sacks. Keep out of their way! And of course, you will want to walk the waterfront, savor freshly shucked Quilcene oysters at Elliott's, or maybe hop on the Winslow Ferry for a 20- minute moonlit excursion to Bainbridge Island. All the tourists do, and rightfully so. But to experience why Seattle has become such a hot destination for tourists, high- tech billionaires, and football free agents, you should wander a bit among Seattle's one- of- a- kind neighborhoods.

Want nightlife? Clubs and music? Belltown's the home of the "Seattle sound." Try the Crocodile Cafe on Second Avenue. Taverns and boisterous Old- Time Seattle? Visit Pioneer Square and the J and M Saloon. Crave urbanity and the city- that- never- sleeps feeling? Broadway on Capitol Hill is for you. Dreaming about lutefisk (dried codfish) and Scandinavian design? Try historic Ballard and its glorious sunsets at the exquisite gardens associated with the Chittenden Locks. Feel like a dose of the 1960s? Venture north to bohemian Fremont, an oddball locale whose motto is "Welcome to Fremont--the Center of the Universe. Set Your Clock Back Five Minutes." There you can genuflect at the feet of the "Troll under the Bridge," a giant VW- eating monster (originally with California plates), dress up the wacky crowd in "Waiting for the Interurban" (a favorite sculpture), and close down the place at the infamous Red Hook Brewery.

By now you may be pondering, "How can I see Seattle and still soak up all those engrossing symposia I came to hear?" You're in luck...SAA has planned a half- dozen Seattle excursions that take you around town to savor much of what the city has to offer without leaving your friends wondering "Where's [your name], I thought she was coming to the meetings?" Here's how you can see Seattle and still maintain your scholarly reputation.

Have a morning to yourself? Try the three- hour Seattle City Highlights tour. Along the way, you will see historic Pioneer Square, home of the renowned Elliott Bay Bookstore and Seattle's favorite art galleries and raucous taverns, and the city's International District, center of diverse Asian communities and wonderful shops and restaurants. This outing will carry you across one of Seattle's unique floating bridges, whisk you through the beautiful University of Washington campus, and invite you to stroll the grounds of the Chittenden Locks with its exquisite gardens and fascinating salmon ladders. The tour returns to midtown for a taste of Pike Place Market, the cultural and spiritual heart of Seattle.

Prefer stretching your legs to sitting on a cushy motorcoach seat? Take a bracing walk about Seattle's scenic hills on the Walking Tour of Downtown Seattle. See where public transportation meets art gallery in Seattle's Metro Bus Tunnel. View the city's vast collection of lively public art and learn about Seattle's colorful (somewhat bawdy) history. If you are the type who likes to know what's beneath your feet (and what archaeologist is not?), you might also try the Seattle Underground Tour, an unusual visit to "Ghost Town" Seattle, the unrestored city that lies beneath the present- day streets. If only they would let us do some surveying of these abandoned basements and streets!

Some say that the best way to see Seattle is from its enveloping waterways. For an afternoon on the water, SAA is offering a Seattle Harbor Cruise on Elliott Bay. You will pass through the locks, cruise Lake Washington, and perhaps catch a glimpse of Bill Gates's palace. There is no better way to experience the city.

Another trip for the weary conventioneer is a visit to the Burke Museum of Natural History and Culture on the University of Washington campus. A city bus from the Convention Center and your SAA convention badge will get you free admission to the exhibits. Among the displays are East Wenatchee Clovis Cache artifacts, including large fluted points. Your SAA badge also gets you a 10 percent discount at the Burke gift shop, which specializes in the art and crafts of contemporary Native American artists.

Finally, after a hard day of meeting and thinking, SAA invites you to relax for an evening touring the West Coast's heartland of microbrewing on the Microbrewery Tour and Pub Crawl. For those whose tastes run toward the suds, you will visit some of the finest alehouses and sip Red Hook ESB, Ballard Bitter, and Black Hook Porter. This event is Friday night only, so be sure to sign up.

So, go to the Space Needle if you must (if the weather is clear you can see mountains on all sides!), but be sure to see more of Seattle than just the Convention Center. SAA provides the means for you to meet your friends and colleagues, exchange ideas, learn the latest developments in archaeology, and see all the sights. Downtown is alive all night long, and the streets are safe. And remember that Seattle is more than just a space needle.

Julie Stein is cochair of the Local Advisory Committee for the 63rd Annual Meeting.

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