P is for People – #atozchallenge

I am enriched by people. They inspire me, they teach me, they bring me joy.

I have often been told that I have never met a stranger. And it’s true. I am unabashed around people. Whether it’s joking with a person in line at a grocery store or interacting with the person at a table next to me in a restaurant, I always feel comfortable.

Having a huge elephant ear with friend Robert Phinney in Dayton, WA
Got to meet Nelson Campbell, Director of the well know documentary Plant Pure Nation, in Louisville, KY

The same goes with my travels. I have been blessed to have met hundreds of unique individuals from all walks of life.

The diversity of people enriches us.

Unlike my other posts in this series, I am stretching far beyond the boundaries of back roads in America. This post will take the reader to Japan, the Philippines, Canada and beyond. As a tour guide in Flagstaff I got to interact with 100s of nameless tourists from all over the world. Working in Japan in the late 1980s, I met more unique folks from the far corners of the earth.

Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
Motorbike Quartet in Cebu, Philippines
Street Person – Cebu

First off, there are the “random people.” The people I have photographed on the streets while traveling. Here are a few, including some from the Philippines during my trips there in 2007. From the loneliness of street people, to the unique shots I would see from the car as I drive by in some small town, these people add color.

 

Siesta Time – Cebu
Belly Rubbing – Carbon Market – Cebu
Street Person – Toronto
Walking by the Art – Toronto
Relaxing – Weatherford, Texas
Standing – Antlers, Oklahoma
Old Man – Paducah, Kentucky
Sleeping on a Bench – Lexington, Kentucky
Street Person – Dallas, Texas
Meditation – San Xavier del Bac, Tucson, Arizona
Hanging with Ukranians at Fat Smitty’s in Discovery Bay, WA
Sumoflam and Antsy McClain

For years, I have worked and often traveled with singer/songwriter Antsy McClain to many parts of this country. I have been blessed to meet many wonderful musicians, some very well known, others not so well known. Many I have gotten to know well…not as musicians, but as people.

Many of the musicians I have met are genuine.  They are such neat people…not pretentious at all.  It is nice to talk to them about life.  One of them, Bobby Cochran, who played guitar for Antsy for a few years, was also the lead guitarist for the band Steppenwolf in the 1970s.  I saw him as a fan back in 1975 and never imagined I would be traveling on the road with him talking religion, politics and life.

Hanging with guitarist Bobby Cochran in Bardstown, KY in 2011
Sumoflam and world renown guitarist Tommy Emmanuel, c.g.b.
Sumoflam and GUITARIST EXTRAORDINAIRE Edgar Cruz from Oklahoma
One of my favorite people – multitalented musician Bruce Wandmayer, from Santa Cruz, CA
Hanging with my Aussie mate, multiinstrumentalist Pauly Zarb.
Have become good friends with the lovely former country rock singer Patti Hall, who now sells real estate in Phoenix
Sumoflam and guitarist Michael Kelsey from Indiana – he is one of my favorite guitarists and musicians. He is also a fabulous person.
“Crafty” Jack Burger from Lethbridge, Alberta

Another Antsy fan I met in Lethbridge, Alberta. Crafty Jack is a carpenter and master luthier. I spent two days with he and his sweet wife “Little Debbie” back in 2008. He taught me and my son about guitar making and took us on a nice adventure to Vulcan, Alberta to learn about Star Trek. Also, while in Lethbridge we enjoyed a dinner with him and Debbie in a converted water tower.  What a trip! Our visit with him was out of this world!

I have spent time with Crafty and Debbie in California and also on a cruise to Cancun.  We strolled the historic site of Tulum in Mexico together.  So blessed to know these great folks.

Sumoflam at the USS Enterprise Monument (with Crafty Jack) in Vulcan, Alberta (2007)
One of many Flamingoheads

Along the way I have become close friends with many Antsy fans. These “Flamingoheads,” as they are called, are also a diverse and lovely flock of folks. Some have become lifelong friends.

A couple of these Flamingoheads took great care of me on a visit to California in 2015. “Christmas Carla” and “Princess Ione” provided housing, touring and transportation for nearly a week. I got to know them, not as fans of Antsy, but as the real people they are with their unique life stories.

Enjoying the ride in California with “Christmas Carla” (she was born on Christmas day.
Ione (L) and Carla (R)…kissin cuzzins!!
BBQ Pitmaster Oliver Zuder showing off his trophy at the Oshawa Ribfest in 2008 in Ontario

My travels across Canada and the US have led me to others. Take, for instance, Oliver Zuder, a BBQ pit master from Ontario. I met him at Camp 31 BBQ in Paris, Ontario in 2013 and we became friends soon. I went to BBQ competitions to watch him and his brother Davor make people smile with satisfaction.

In the past couple of years, Oliver has started a new BBQ business called Uncle Sam’s BBQ, also in Ontario.   We keep in contact and my mouth waters every time I think of him.

Davor Zuder and some smokin’ ribs at Oshawa Rib Fest in Ontario in 2008

Crisscrossing the country I have met and chatted with cafe owners and shop owners. Their colorful stories enrich.

Carrie Fields, owner – Tightwad Cafe in Tightwad, MO
Tonya Floyd, current owner of the Wigwam Drive-in in Ravenna, KY
Sumoflam with Nancy Starvaggi Schaffer, showing off the AMAZING homemade sausage and pasta from Mama Santa’s Restaurant in Cleveland, OH
Donating on of my “MARDUP” license plates at Carhenge. I wonder if it is hanging on the wall…

I have also had my brushes with celebrities in my travels. As a tour guide in Arizona in 1983, I once met Alice Cooper in a restaurant parking lot in Sedona. We talked Golf and politics for 30 minutes. No selfies, no autographs. Just two people chatting.  On another occasion, I was attending a solar conference in Kobe, Japan in 1991. At lunch I sat with some other non-Japanese from Norway. We chatted a while and then I was introduced to Morten Harket, who I immediately recognized as the lead vocalist for the group A-ha (Take on Me). He happened to be a huge advocate of solar energy. We talked about many things. No pictures or autographs. Just enriching conversation.

David with Nadia Comanci – spent three days with her as her personal guide in Kyushu

One of my fond memories was being on the road for three days in Kyushu, Japan as the personal guide and interpreter for Olympic gold medalist Nadia Comaneci. I spent hours listening to her harrowing escape from the Communist regime in Romania. Though a national hero, she was also a prisoner to dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu. Fascinating stuff.

 

Sumoflam and Swamp People’s Troy Landry…one of the friendliest and most personable guys you’ll ever meet (Troy that is…)
Sumoflam with Troy Landry – 4 years after saying I would meet this guy

Back in August 2010 I watched the first episode of the TV show Swamp People. Already an avid traveler and travel writer, I became fascinated with the show, which featured Gator hunters in Louisiana. One of them, Troy Landry, was quite a character. I told my wife “one day I am gonna track him down and meet him.” In 2015 I did just that. I visited his bait shop and crawfishing facility in Pierre Part, LA. He happened to be there buying loads and loads of crawfish from fishermen. We talked and chatted for 30 minutes or more while he worked. Friendly and outgoing, and totally good natured, he told stories of Gator hunting, told me about the crawfishing business and the let me “choot him” in a selfie.

Hanging with Danielle Colby from American Pickers at Antique Archeaology in 2012

On another roadtrip, this time into Iowa, I visited the small town of LeClaire, on the Mississippi River. This was the home to Antique Archaeology, the Antique shop made famous by the hit TV Show American Pickers. While there in that hot July afternoon, I was told that Danielle Colby, one of the cast members, was around and was always happy to meet fans. She is the tattooed friendly gal that works with the pickers on the show. During my visit, I learned that she had her own business creating unique clothing and had a shop across the street. I went over there and we chatted about her work, her roller derby hobby and her work as a burlesque dancer. She welcomed a selfie too.

Under one of Clyde’s massive creations…his 12 foot tall dragon
Clyde Wynia, the creator of Jurustic Park and the artist behind all of the work

Not so famous, but just as unique, was my opportunity to meet 80 year old Clyde Wynia, the creative mind behind the amazing Jurustic Park in Marshfield, WI. This former attorney turned his welding passion into a unique menagerie of metal creations, including giant dragons and small spiders. He gave me a personal tour and told some amazing stories.

Clyde tells stories of his various pieces of art

I also can’t forget to mention my encounter with “the one and only JFK,” James Frank Kotera, the Twine Ball Man of Lake Nebagamon, WI. (See full story and video HERE.)

Sumoflam with JFK, “Mr. Twine Ball” and “Junior” – August 2007

My travels have also led me to chance meetings with individuals with similar interests. And social media, especially Facebook, has extended that opportunity.

Portrait and landscape photographer Derek Ace (photo by Jeff Dostalek)
Derek Ace self portrait

On a trip to Wyoming in 2013, I stopped at a place called Hell’s Half Acre. A unique geological formation, it was a must see photo stop for me. I struck up a conversation with a young hot shot photographer named Derek Ace, from Madison, WI. We hit it off and I got his contact info. Derek and I have been Facebook friends ever since and I have been enlightened and enriched by his amazing photography, especially his desert works and his off the chain shots of abandoned buildings, rusted cars and sundry other forgotten treasures left behind.  See his Rural Ruins page for some great photos.

Author, travel writer, lecturer and musician Tui Snider of Azle, TX
Sumoflam and Tui Snider, June 2014

As an avid blogger of quirky things, I had a chance virtual encounter via the web of Texas Travel blogger Tui Snider. We exchanged notes about offbeat and quirky places in Texas and soon became good Facebook friends. On a subsequent trip to Texas in 2013, I finally met this amazing individual and her husband Larry at their gothic-accented home in Azle. Besides quirky things, Tui is also fascinated by the paranormal and has also become quite the expert on cemetery gravestone symbolism. She has published numerous books and articles. I count her as a dear friend.

Sumoflam with Shelly Cumbie in front of the historic Denton County Courthouse for a tour of the “Ghosts of Denton”
Writer, Radio Host, Sacred and Mysterious Site Traveler Teal Gray

Through Tui I have met ghost tour guide Shelly Cumbie in Denton, TX, who has provided many fascinating stories. I have also become a virtual friend of writer, blogger and podcaster Teal Gray.

Teal has actually done a live podcast interview with me on her internationally syndicated podcast.  She also recently write an article about my travel blogging and photography for the Dallas Entertainment Journal (see the link here)

Teal Gray Worldwide

The podcast can be heard in its entirety here:

Even my local staycation trips have led me to fascinating new friends, such as local bird and nature photographers and enthusiasts.  See some great photos by the members of the Jacobson Park Photographers Group which I started on Facebook. (see the site)

Photographing Wildlife with some of the Jacobson Park Photographers

I have also had the opportunity to meet local chefs that have been on Food Network competitions such as Cutthroat Kitchen or Guy’s Grocery Games. Ranada Riley, co-owner of the Lexington Diner, was one of these. Her “amazing” hairdo and unique cooking style have made her a local celebrity. But there is so much more to her beyond the cooking, whether it be her faith, her love for life or her diverse lifestyle. Meeting her in person and then following her life through social media has been a great adventure.

Ranada Riley, owner of the Lexington Diner in Lexington has been on television Food Network Competitions such as Guy’s Grocery Games and Cutthroat Kitchen

What more can I say? People bring me great joy and it is so fun to meet new folks every week!

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Washington State: A Day in Seattle

Flying to Seattle
Flying to Seattle

After a long day of travel to Washington via Delta Airlines, first to Salt Lake City and then into Seattle-Tacoma Airport, and then a good nights rest, we had the opportunity to spend a day in Seattle with the family.

Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Getting on the Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard
Kitsap Foot Ferry in Port Orchard

Bremerton Ferry

Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal
Riding the Hyak from Bremerton Terminal

Since my daughter Amaree and her family live in Port Orchard, we had to take ferries across the Puget Sound to get to Seattle. We started with the Port Orchard Foot Ferry Service that took us from Port Orchard into Bremerton. Then we got on the Bremerton Ferry which is a much larger ferry that also carries automobile traffic and enjoyed the one hour boat ride to Seattle.  We rode on the M/V Hyak, which can carry up to 2000 passengers and as many as 144 cars.

The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The family gets ready to board the Hyak Ferry in Bremerton. We were all decked out in our matching shirts.
The grandkidz join "Grammy" on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound
The grandkidz join “Grammy” on the Ferry Ride across Puget Sound

It was a beautiful day, probably in the 80s and sunny as can be. Prior to our trip Julianne and I had created T-shirts for all of the family so that we would be color coordinated and easy to find. These “safety green” T-shirts were very easy to see and it was fun throughout the day to get the comments from people.

A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
A flock of seagulls on the deck of the Hyak
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry
Feeding the seagulls on the ferry

I enjoyed sitting on the outside deck as we travel to cross the sound and loved watching the waves, the birds and other things.  We got to a point where a couple of people and brought food to feed to the seagulls,  who would swoop down and grab the food right out of these people’s hands. It was fun to see all of the seagulls up so close. I was able to grab some amazing photographs, some of which are posted below.

A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
A seagull glides gracefully alongside the ferry.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
There were about a dozen seagulls soaring alongside the ferry. Here are a couple of them.
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
One seagull had his eye on some goodies
This was a luck shot...literally a couple of feet away
This was a luck shot…literally a couple of feet away
Seattle in the distance
Seattle in the distance

 

From the ferry deck we could not only see Seattle, but off in the distance we could see the beautiful cone shape of Mt. Rainier.  Even in the heat of July it was covered with snow and glaciers.

A panorama view of Seattle from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry
Seattle as seen from the Ferry

As we approached Seattle, I could see the full expanse of the city and over to the south I could see the Space Needle clearly.  The Seattle city scape is certainly a beautiful one.

Seattle's famed "Great Wheel"
Seattle’s famed “Great Wheel”

Finally, we all arrived safely at the port and disembarked from the ferry into the crowded waterfront area of Seattle. This section of Seattle is certainly built to accommodate tourism. There is a giant Ferris wheel, called the “Seattle Great Wheel“, a couple of fun shops/museums, plenty of fun eateries, lemonade stands and much much more.

 

 

Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Birds glide by on the Seattle waterfront
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
Amaree gets lemonade at a real lemon stand
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront
A unique view of the Seattle Waterfront

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle
Visiting Ye Olde Curiosity Shop on the waterfront in Seattle

Our first stop once we hit the sidewalk was Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. Julianne and I had the opportunity to visit this place a few years ago when we were in Seattle prior to taking a cruise to Alaska. But, honestly, it was much more fun with all the grandkids being able to see all of the odd things in this museum/store.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop in Seattle
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you as you walk into Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A two headed sheep in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

Always the sucker for oddities, the store for that craving with some of the strange creatures that they have on display along with many of the unique items that were for sale in the store.

A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
A stare down in Ye Olde Curiosity Shop

CuriositytShop2Ye Olde Curiosity Shop got its start when Joseph Edward Standley set up his curio and souvenir shop on the waterfront in 1899.  Back then Seattle was a rough ‘n’ tumble town. Even at that time, Standley’s shop presented a jumbled mix of curiosities and significant art objects. He collected and sold what came his way, but also had local Native American artists make objects to his specifications. CuriosityShop2He sold genuine Tlingit totem poles, but also replicas by carvers descended from the Vancouver Island-based Nuu-chah-nulth tribe, who were living in Seattle, and even inexpensive souvenir totem poles made in Japan. A flair for the bizarre and grotesque led him to include items such as shrunken heads from the Amazon (some of them definitely genuine, others probably not). It is certainly a must visit location if you are in this part of Seattle!

Seattle Waterfront

Miner's Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
Miner’s Landing on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot...one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront
The Crab Pot…one of many eating establishments on the Seattle Waterfront

We then continued to walk towards the area where the Pike Place Market is located. Along the way we passed eateries, shops and the Great Wheel. We skipped by most of these places but did take stops for a quick break. All down the path there are cornhole games and other things that are set up for people to just stop and play and we did so.

Another place of interest that we did not stop at but probably would’ve enjoyed was the Seattle aquarium. That will have to be on our agenda for the next trip. We had planned to visit the aquarium in Tacoma later in the week, so we skipped this particular venue.

Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
Welcome to the Seattle Waterfront
The Seattle Aquarium
The Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
Unique sign for the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
A nice Orca Sculpture across the street from the Seattle Aquarium
Orca Wall Art in Seattle
Orca Wall Art in Seattle

The “Parking Squid”

Hanging with the grandkidz on the "Parking Squid" in Seattle
Hanging with the grandkidz on the “Parking Squid” in Seattle

At that point you can cross the street towards Pike Place Market, and visit the rather unique parking squid. This squid sculpture was made specifically for parking in attaching your bikes which makes it a rather unique item. As always, I am always looking for unique sculptures and so we stopped for a photo opportunity with the kids and I got another photo of this.

The "Parking Squid" by Seattle artist Susan Robb
The “Parking Squid” by Seattle artist Susan Robb

This unique utilitarian sculpture by Seattle artist Susan Robb, was commissioned by the Seattle Department of Transportation in 2009 and installed in 2012.  It was originally installed on the north side of the EMP building in Seattle Center, but was eventually moved just outside of the Pike Place Market parking garage (the Pike Street Hill Climb) across the street from the Seattle Aquarium.  The structure is made from galvanized steel and is a fun addition to a walking tour.

World Spice Market

World Spice Market in Seattle
World Spice Market in Seattle

On our way up to Pike Place Market (we took the elevator instead of the Pike Street Hill Climb), we just happened upon the World Spice Market. What a fabulous little shop! If you like spices this is the place to go because they have everything.

Spices line the wall at the Word Spice Market
Spices line the wall at the World Spice Market

The shop is set up more like an apothecary with jars of spices along the walls and in bottles and jars throughout the store. You can open each one and take a whiff of the spice and then you request what spices you want and in some cases they actually grind them up for you fresh.

Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
Relaxing at the Spice Shop while they prepare our order
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
One of the World Spice Market staff prepares spice mix
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Spices on the Wall at the World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Rules of the Game at World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market
Some Great fragrances emanate from the World Spice Market

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Market in Seattle
Pike Place Market in Seattle
The Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle
Rachel the Golden Pig (on the right!!!) and Sumoflam at Pike Place Market in Seattle

We finally made our way to the entrance of Pike Place market and took a quick stop with Rachel the Golden Pig, which is one of the famous pieces of artwork associated with this world renowned farmers market.

Naturally, since it was the end of July and everyone is on vacation and touring Seattle, the Pike Place market was packed to the gills! To go anywhere it was bump and grind all the way.

 

Pike Place Market was packed
Pike Place Market was packed
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market
One of the famed fishmongers of Pike Place Market

Despite the crowds, we were able to still enjoy some of the fun things of the market including the well-known fishmongers to throw the fish across the way yell out the customers name etc.

My grandkids, especially little Charlie, being smaller, were able to weasel their way up to the front and I soon saw Charlie playing with the crawfish, which were still alive. Fortunately, I was able to squeeze in and get close enough to grab a couple of good photos!

Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Charlie and the Crawfish at Pike Place Market
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Another great shot of Charlie with a crawfish
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen
Wild Fish caught by Wild Fishermen

Here are a few more random photos I got at Pike Place Market.  Such a unique and fun place (other than the crowds).

Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Famous for its fish, Pike Place Market has a number of fish shops and plenty of fish
Squid at Pike Place Market
Squid at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
The family hangs with the famed Rachel the Golden Pig at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
Fresh Fish Neon at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
A Balloon Man at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
King Salmon at Pike Place Market
We've got fish at Pike Place Market
We’ve got fish at Pike Place Market
Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Extreme Habanero Spicy Noodles at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Yes, there is Volcanic Ash Art at Pike Place Market
Unique Pillars
Unique Pillars

DSC_4851The Pike Place Market seems to go on forever and there is not a place to sit down anywhere along the way and so it got to be very tiring. We finally did get out of the market and walked down to a large park it did have plenty of seating.

Seattle Scenes

Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
Pike Place Market entrance at Virginia and Western
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle
An artist relaxes by his booth along the waterfront in Seattle

After a brief rest, we decided that we would venture to the point where we can catch the large duck boats and Ride the Duck. even this was about a mile away and a good part of it was uphill, towards the terminus of the monorail station.

Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long
Grabbed a shot in front of the original Starbucks in Seattle. Line was a mile long

Along the way we walked by numerous shops including the origina Starbucks. Starbucks is now all over the place, but this was the first one and I have a picture showing I’ve been there!  Here are a few more random scenes from our walk.

A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
A unique Hot Dog Eatery along the waterfront
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
There were street musicians everywhere. Seattle is known for its music. This man was playing old Benny Goodman classics.
On a building side...reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s
On a building side…a cornerstone from 1981
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Another street musician trying to make a buck by the original Starbucks
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Buildings old and new in downtown Seattle
Always love my Pink Elephants...this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Always love my Pink Elephants…this time in the form of a Car Wash!
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn't want money... just wanted smiles
Met the Seattle Smile Guy along the way. Didn’t want money… just wanted smiles
An Old Clock on a building
An Old Clock on a building
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky
The Hammering Man by Jonathan Borofsky

I should note that the Hammering Man, by artist Jonathan Borofsky, is one of many artworks around Seattle.  Borofsky has installed the Hammering Man in other places around the world as well. This one is 48 feet tall and is directly in front of the Seattle Art Museum.  I have visited other works by Borofsky in Council Bluffs, Iowa (Molecule Man), in Pittsburgh at Carnegie Mellon (“Walking to the Sky“) and the “Man With Briefcase” in Fort Worth, Texas.  I love the simple grandeur of his art and hope to see more in the future.

Kress Building in Seattle
Kress Building in Seattle

Ride the Duck in Seattle

Ride the Ducks in Seattle
Ride the Ducks in Seattle

After the rather grueling walk up to the monorail station area, it was really nice to have a seat and relax for nearly an hour before our ride was to take place.

All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us...yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!
All of us waiting for to Ride the Duck. This guy loved our shirts and wanted a photo with us…yes, we were photobombed in Seattle!

DSC_4885Throughout my travels, I have seen the “Ride the Ducks” boats in a few places over the years. I specifically recall seeing one Ketchikan, Alaska, but I’ve also seen them in San Francisco, Stone Mountain (Georgia) and Branson (Missouri). I had never ridden one, so I didn’t know what to expect.

After the wait, we finally were able to board our “Duck” adventure.  We were in for a load of fun!!

Super_DUKWFirst off, a little history about the “Ducks.”  The DUKW (D-built in 1942, U-amphibious 2-ton truck, K-front wheel drive, W-rear wheel drive) was an amphibious landing craft developed by the United States Army during World War II. It was designed to deliver cargo from ships at sea directly to the shore. DUKWS are street legal to drive on the roads and are also legal to drive on water as recreational boats. (See more history here)

The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

DSC_4891Our ride on the Duck was fun.  We had a great driver – Captain Mandy Lifeboats.  She was full of energy and pulled a few tricks out of her hat…or was it she pulled a few hats out of her tricks?  She was both wacky (and even quacky!!)

Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy in a Unique head dress
Mandy the Pirate....ARGH
Mandy the Pirate….ARGH
Duck coming up out of Lake Union
Duck coming up out of Lake Union

Our Duck Tour took us from the Seattle Center, where the Monorail begins.  We drove up along Lake Union and had some nice views from the Aurora Bridge.  We then made our way INTO the lake and cruised around the lake.  We saw the floating home from Sleepless in Seattle, and a few other ritzy lakeside homes, not to mention multi-million dollar yachts. We also had a great view of the skyline.

The Space Needle as seen from the Duck
The Space Needle as seen from the Duck

From the lake we drove back towards downtown past the Space Needle, the EMP Museum and then towards the downtown shopping area and along the waterfront. Overall the ride lasted about 90 minutes and we had a frolicking good time.  There were times we all “quacked” at passersby, sang songs, had fun Disco Music and more.

What I enjoyed about this ride was the opportunity to see Seattle without all of the walking!  And it gave a flavor of some of the places we can see on our next trip out there to see the family.

Houseboats on Lake Union
Houseboats on Lake Union
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
A Mural under a bridge. It was created as a Paint By Number and then many Seattle residents added the paint
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union....as seen from the Duck
Paddle Boarders in Lake Union….as seen from the Duck
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.
The view of Seattle as seen from Lake Union from the comfort of a Duck Ride.

After the Duck Ride was over, we walked the mile or so back to the Ferry Dock to catch the ferry back to Port Orchard.  We were all quite exhausted, but made it in time and enjoyed the ride back.  And we were blessed with a wonderful sunset leaving its mark on Mt. Rainier. It was a splendid, though tiring, day.

Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard
Mt. Rainier as seen from the Bremerton Ferry on our return to Port Orchard

 

 

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