I hate being without them, I hate not hearing them laugh, I hate not seeing this in the backseat:
But, true to form, we did try to cram as much as possible into our last few hours in Seattle.
We started the day at the EMP museum, a nonprofit museum dedicated to contemporary pop culture. The museum was founded by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen (which you'll notice as you start reading the labels on almost everything. Aside from the Wizard of Oz costumes it seems like it's all from the Allen Family's private collection).
Personally, I found the giant hallway of Kurt Cobian's used napkins and 8th grade drawings a bit gratuitous, but the rest of the place was like a tribute to my childhood - and don't think for a second that I didn't shove all of that glorious 80's culture down Punk and Kooka's throats. Thankfully, my children are cool enough to recognize the sketches from A-ha's Take On Me video all on their own.
They also marveled at the Thriller Costumes, Yoda's Cane, the guns from Men In Black, the bikes and jackets from the Thrift Shop video, Sirius Black's coat, The Terminator's skull, Darth Vader's original light saber, Jason Vorhees' mask, the monster maker shadow screen (which magically transforms your shadow into a tentacled monster), the special effects green-screen, and the scream booth, complete with vintage photos.
After three hours, we were all slightly starving, so we made our way to Pike's Market. If you've never been, the first thing you'll notice is the huge bouquets of fresh flowers for five dollars. The second thing you'll be thinking is "Thank you florists for for providing something for me to smell besides the gargantuan, still twitching salmon, crab, and manta-ray looking things that fishmongers are pedaling.
One of our children had a harder time with this than the others.
"Seriously? This is where we're eating lunch?"
"No. This is like dining in the streets of Agrabah. I can't eat with this stuff staring at me."
"You'll find something."
(To his sister), "Come on Abu, let's see if we can find some sugared dates and dried figs."
Eventually, we all found something (ironically, he had the shrimp), a burger for Kooka, crab salad for Rico, a tamale for me, and garlic fries all around. If there is one thing Seattle does better than anywhere else in the world, it's fries. Skin-on, slightly limpy, piled high in little paper cartons. I really can't understand why, with all of the music coming out of a Seattle, that nobody ever mentioned these freaking FRIES!!!!
With 30 varieties of deliciousness, we found ourselves sampling so much we got full before we bought any. We tasted cookies and cream popcorn, cheddar cheese, black raspberry with vanilla cream, cinnamon bun, Hawaiian salted caramel, truffle formage, piña colada, kettle corn, bacon, mint chocolate chip, and it was all fantastic. We finally settled on salted caramel, cookies and cream, and cheddar, before heading back towards Pike's Market, for just one last Seattle icon.
We wouldn't want our kids to say we never showed them any culture, so of course our last stop before the airport was the famous Gum Wall. There is no history, no background, just an ally where thousands - maybe millions of people leave their gum on the wall. The WTF look on our children's faces was pretty much how we'd hoped to wrap up our tour of the mainland.
There is not much to say about putting your unaccompanied minors on an airplane. If you've never done it - don't. It's miserable, especially when they're leaving in the middle of a grand adventure. I suppose if they were leaving to make their Broadway debut, or accept that full-ride to Harvard, I might feel differently, but I doubt it. Even Yoda was noticeably bummed. She waved goodbye to the plane, and proceeded to drown her sorrows in a sippy cup of Apple juice and a carton of a Trader Joe's ABC cookies.
Rico and I attempted to continue the adventure, by stopping at Shing Song Korean Barbecue across from our hotel. It didn't work. Aside from thinking about how much Kooka would have loved it, we both found ourselves slightly sickened at the vast amounts of unidentifyable raw meat served to us. Nobody in the restaurant spoke English, so the best we could gather, was that we were being served "shoulder of delicious". Since that could translate to damn near anything, including the belligerent drunk guy who disputed his bill on the way in, I stuck to what I believed to be chicken.
In case you're wondering, we both ended up sick. Yoda, who ate nothing but sticky rice, was absolutely fine.
So we're Punk and Kooka, who landed safely back in Midwestern farm country - no cliffs, no jellyfish, no earthquakes. It still sucks.