We’re having a bit of downtime this morning; Ryan is a little under the weather and is catching up on rest right now. So I’ll catch up on what we’ve done the past two days.

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Sunday, we stayed on Whidbey Island, exploring the city of Langley in the morning and early afternoon. Langley is home to many quaint shops; in particular, there was a nice soap shop that we spent a little time in. We ate at the local Village Pizzaria. The service was a little slow, but the pizza was great. Later on, we went to Coupeville, supposedly the oldest settlement on the island. For some reason it seemed like a ghost town on that Sunday afternoon, especially when compared to Langley. Melissa wanted to go out to lavender farm a bit north of Coupeville. It was interesting to see (and smell) so much lavender in growth; I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many bees so focused on pollenation in one place at one time. The farm also had a great view of the west shore of the island. After a little rest and relaxation, we went over to the Beachfront Grill at the Holmes Harbor for dinner. The service was great there; I got an alder-plank roasted salmon that was delicious.

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Yesterday we spent the day at Seattle Center, visiting the Space Needle, eating lunch at the Revolution Bar & Grill, and then enjoying the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Hall of Fame and Museum. The Space Needle offered fine views of the Seattle area and had lots of construction-related information. It also had good info about the views themselves, pointing out local landmarks. It was neat to see seaplanes flying into the area and landing in Lake Union. The Revolution seemed like a new establishment; the food was OK but the service was slow. The Experience Music Project had an excellent combination of exhibits and interactivity surrounding American music. There was a neat new exhibit about the origins of hip-hop. Ryan had fun playing with a mock turntable setup; he got the hang of (digitally-assisted) scratching relatively quickly. There was a rock/metal area that had a focus on Seattle’s own Heart and Queensryche, and an area dedicated to native son Jimi Hendrix. My favorite Hendrix-related items on display was Jimi’s outfit from his Isle of Wight performance, the original mixing console from Electric Ladyland studios, and an interactive exhibit that let you work Jimi’s favorite effects pedals (such as wah-wah and fuzz) in real-time over recordings of some of his famous licks. The EMP also had a free “On Stage” interactive exhibit that was like karaoke with instruments; it was recorded for a DVD and/or poster we could optionally buy. We chose to cover “I Love Rock and Roll”, although my decision to play guitar unassisted made the final mix less than stellar. If I had let the bed guitars play through and just sang, the DVD might have been worth buying. 😉 Ryan had a great time playing the drums, and Melissa hammed it up on keyboards. There was also a Sound Check area that gave interactive tutorials on different instruments and had practice rooms with different instruments. It also had an area that let you record songs, but we didn’t get that far. As we were leaving the EMP, there was a display of music-related costumes; my favorites were an Ace Frehley “Spaceman” costume (a Paul Stanley costume was also there) and outfits worn by Sonny & Cher.

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My favorite stop of the day was definitely the recently-opened (2004) Science Fiction Museum, which had a ton of actual props and information about both visual- and printed-medium sci-fi adventures. It definitely reminded me that I’m such a sci-fi nut; I dug the whole thing. When I was browsing the Hall Of Fame, I noticed a number of authors I’d never heard of. I have a feeling I’ll be hitting the library for some titles new to me once we get back. I also have a few DVDs I haven’t watched in a while that will see some activity. I’m glad the SFM was more than just a Star Wars/Star Trek lovefest, although there were plenty of props from both franchises present. My favorites were a captain’s chair from ST:TOS, as well as a scale model of the sets used for ST:TOS. You’d be surprised how much mileage they got out of just a few sets: the bridge, engineering, sick bay (with the highly-used outside circular hall) and the transporter room. They also had a full-size R2-D2 model (he’s still my favorite robot) and a neat detail model of the Death Star that was used during the filming of the original Star Wars movie.

After all that, we played a few games in the arcade together then ate a quick hot-dog/corn-dog dinner before heading out of downtown. We stopped by the excellently-appointed Northgate Mall on the way back to get a travel iron to replace Melissa’s old one that she found had broken. Brookstone to the rescue; they had a nice little model that fit the bill.

The ferry rides back and forth to Whidbey Island are definitely not something I’d want to do every day. The overhead associated with waiting, combined with the distance between the island and Seattle doesn’t make for a timely commute. So far we’ve only made the trip a few times, but currently we’re planning another downtown Seattle day as well as a trip to Mt. Rainier (which was what we were going to be doing today) that’ll require crossings, as well as our trip out on Saturday morning. Definitely a place I like visiting, but don’t want to live in, at least not until retirement. 😉