Rebels By Bus

Slow Travel With Low Carbon Footprint

Seattle fun in the sun…

It turns out the myth is true:  Summer doesn’t actually start until the day after the 4th of July in Seattle.

My 13 year old grandson, Luke, and I took advantage of the beautiful blue sky day this past Friday.  Luke is a fairly new Rebel by bus, but is an enthusiastic adventure-seeker.

We caught the Intercity Transit 605 at the Martin Way Park and Ride, transferred to the Sound Transit 594 at the Highway 512 Park and Ride in Lakewood, and arrived in Seattle about 11:15.  Our first stop was at 4th and Cherry, in front of the Columbia Center building, the tallest building in Washington and 4th tallest west of the Mississippi River.  The 76 floor, 932 foot tall building has three concave facades, making it appear as three separate towers.  We entered from the 4th Avenue side, greeted by aromas from over a dozen choices at the Food Court.  Four short flights of escalators took us to the 5th Avenue entrance, where we caught the elevator to the 40th floor.  From the 40th floor (which has a Starbucks café with a great view to the east) we caught another elevator to the 73rd observation floor.  The $6 charge is a bargain, considering the Space Needle (which is “only” 605 feet tall) charges $19 for adults and youth over age 12.  The view is outstanding… the orange-topped Space Needle and downtown to the North; Olympic Mountains and Elliott Bay complete with ferries to the West; the sports stadiums, container ships, and Mt. Rainier to the South; and East to Lake Washington and beyond.  I liked the glimpses of the green courtyards within the confines of many of the buildings.  Luke liked “seeing the landscape… everything!”.  The new Giant ferris wheel perched on the edge of a pier was operational, with a very long line of customers. 

Once we had our fill of the amazing views, we headed back down to the Food Court.  Luke chose asandwich at the Sub Shop, as well as self-serve soft yogurt. I created a salad from Fresh Market.  There is ample seating in the atrium, a few steps down from the Food Court.  We were both pleased with our inexpensive tasty meals.

After lunch we headed back up the flights of escalators, exiting the building on 5th Avenue.  Heading north to the downtown core, we passed many Seattle icons:  the Fairmont (Olympic) Hotel, the architecturally interesting Seattle Public Library, and the 5th Avenue Theater.  The terrace above the Rocky Bottom Pub (across 5th Avenue from the 5th Avenue theater) is a good place to view the Art Deco façade of the Cobb building.  (Note:  If you are interested in Seattle’s architecture, I highly recommend the Seattle Architecture Foundation tours.  The Foundation is located in the Rainier Tower building, on 5th Avenue.

Once we came to Pine Street, we headed east a couple blocks to Pacific Place , specifically, the Barnes and Noble Bookstore.  During our last Seattle trip, Luke discovered the Top Gear magazine there, a British magazine featuring exotic and FAST cars.  A 13 year old boy’s nirvana.  He bought TWO magazines this time.

Next stop was the South Lake Union streetcar, which we boarded behind the Westlake Mall, at 5th and Stewart.  We could smell the wonderful Skillet Diner food truck from a block away.  Too bad we didn’t know it was going to be there before we ate lunch!  The streetcar costs $2.50 for adults, $1.25 for youth, UNLESS you have an ORCA card (then it’s free).  This is one more reason to get an ORCA card, if you don’t already have one.  We waited about 10 minutes for the next purple streetcar to arrive.  (Note:  A second streetcar route is currently under construction, due to be operational in early 2014.  This route will run east on Jackson Street (from the King Street Station) to 14th, then west on Yesler up Capital Hill, turning north on Broadway all the way to Denny Way.)

We got off the streetcar at the South Pokies Lake Union Park.  Lots of pre-school age children and their care-providers were enjoying the sprinkler/fountains squirting from the pavement.  What a great interactive addition to the Park!  We wandered down to the classic boats moored at the Park:  the Virginia V, Arthur Foss tugboat, and a few other relics.  The Wooden Boat Center is located on the east end of the Park.  We asked about the small model sailboats, that I thought would be available to use that day.  Turns out they are only available on the weekend.  Darn.  For a $5 donation, you can float the 3 foot tall models on the large pond, located in the center of the park.  As a consolation, Luke was handed a small wooden hull, so he could create his own boat model at home.

By this time, we were hot and tired.  After catching the streetcar back to town, we walked from the Westlake Mall to 2nd and Pine, to Molly Moon’s Ice Cream shop,  home of the wonderful world-famous salted carmel ice cream and other yummy flavors. I had twin-kid size scoops of their Stumptown Coffee (with chocolate ribbons) alongside their dark chocolate ice cream.  Luke happily settled in with a hot fudge sundae.

After finishing the ice cream, we were ready to head home, via the Sounder train.  We walked down 2nd Avenue, stopping to admire a few of the public art man-hole covers.  They’re fun to look for (which I found out about on a Seattle Architecture Foundation tour).  We crossed Jackson Street at 2nd Avenue, and walked two blocks alongside King Street Station to the stairway down to the Sounder train.  We waited just a few minutes for the first train of the afternoon.

The first Sounder train of the afternoon left for Tacoma promptly at 3:15.  Luke settled in with his magazine, as I read the last of a fast-read mystery.  The view and comfort of the top level of the Sounder can’t be beat.  One of the joys of the Sounder is it doesn’t get stopped with I-5 traffic.  You don’t even SEE I-5!  Right on schedule, we arrived at the Tacoma Dome station at 4:15.  We grabbed the Light Link across the street from the terminal to get to Pacific Avenue by the State Historical Museum.  The last leg of this Rebels by Bus experience was the Intercity Transit 605, returning us to the Martin Way Park and Ride.  As we were walking from the bus to the car, we were guessing how many steps we had taken in today’s adventure.  We were hoping to get our 10,000 steps in… and, believe it or not, our pedometer read 10,012 as we arrived at the car.  Too bad we didn’t park ONE row closer to the bus :-0

When I asked Luke which part of the day he liked best, he took some time to respond… he started out saying “the tower (Columbia Center observation floor)…ice cream…walking through town…”  Then he said “EVERYTHING!”  Another successful adventure!

As always, there are many fun things to do in the area we visited.  Here are a few ideas for future trips:

  • The Center for Wooden Boats ( offers a multitude of activities for many different ages, including pre-school story time aboard the historic tugboat Arthur Foss, free public sail on Sundays, boat rentals, and as mentioned earlier, sailing the model sail boats in the pond (only on the weekends).
  • The Fremont Sunday Ice Cream cruise ( offers a 60 minute narrated “tour” of Lake Union and Portage Bay Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.  Adult fares range from $11 to $15.  They also have a mini-ferry service connecting South Lake Union with the University of Washington campus.
  • The historic Viriginia V becomes the floating “FarmBoat Market” on Saturdays during the summer.  What a great idea!
  • Goldstar, a discount entertainment website, has been offering what appears to be a fun and relatively inexpensive lunch/boat tour of Lake Union and Lake Washington.  For about $35, you get lunch and a narrated two hour boat tour of the area.



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  • admin says:

    Welcome Luke–a fellow rebel! What’s your next trip?

  • Paula says:

    Sounds like such a fun trip, that I printed out a copy for my 21 year old son and his college friends to use on their trip this Thur to Seattle. Will look forward to a report on your next adventure with Luke.

  • Mary says:

    Great! The weather forecast shows we’ll have summer back by then…
    Tell Nathan I’d love to have him (and friends) write up their experiences with the bus and Sounder… guest bloggers :-0

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