Tailgating – Like a Boss

Kickin' it old school - as one passer-by said. The end result - Husky Chicken.

It was about an hour before game day. The Washington Huskies were taking on the Arizona Wildcats and it was do or die time for the Huskies after being crushed last week by Stanford. At least that’s the story according to the local university newspaper, which had devoted a good half of their Saturday paper (including the cover) to the ever present upcoming game.

The excitement all over the University of Washington campus (and well beyond) was tangible. That night Husky Stadium would be jammed with over 59,000 purple clad “Dawgs”. Outside the stadium, the tailgating got underway three to four hours before the game. The extravagance of the setups were astounding. Everywhere you went, there was a sea of purple and gold clutching plastic cups of Miller and Bud. Ol’ boys walked from SUV to SUV chatting it up. Wives (and husbands) BBQed chicken, asparagus, bacon-wrapped jalapeno poppers and just about every fatty, grilled meat you could imagine.

Boatgaiters - one of the unique elements of Seattle's tailgate experience.

Set up on the grassy knoll above the lot, stylized “DAWG” Winnebagos were lined up. Powered by diesel generators, these party zones blasted tunes and other current college games on large crystal clear, satellite equipped TVs. Games of beer pong were everywhere. So were drunk people. But what was most engaging, inspiring and surprising was how genial the whole scene was.

Perhaps it was the age diversity of the event, which included kids barely old enough to throw a football running between die-hard DAWGs who’d witnessed the 1990s championship game as middle-aged Boosters. There was a family, carnival vibe to the whole thing. Even to the young guys who meandered up to your group and just stood there swaying back and forth because they were to drunk to do much else exuded it.

Or maybe it was just the established nature of the whole thing. People understood that despite a steady patrol of officers throughout all the massive parking lots, no one would be hassled as long as they were discreet about their drinking and behavior. There seemed to be a mutual understanding. Color within the lines and everyone would have fun.

Or perhaps its just the nature of college football in general. Far from the uproars of violence endemic in hockey, it seemed to be a game of controlled and channeled violence. I’m told there are rarely fights on the field because you can vent your aggression in the next down (with the ref, the fans and your coaches blessing).

Whatever the case, it was hard to not notice how different of a vibe there was to the whole event than the infamous “Vancouver Riot” earlier this year.

The game itself was a ball. But also was noticeably a pageant. The players, after every down, (no matter how few yards were gained) would engage in their victory ceremonies of helmet banging, back slaps, jumping up and down like kangaroos. In defeat, different ceremonies – sympathetic back-slap, head held down hustle back to the side lines.

The cheerleaders and cheer(men?), endlessly pepped up, bounced around the sidelines down after down. Every third down, a big angry husky dog would be displayed on the stadium’s jumbotron and bark viciously to help do its part to shore up the teams (occasionally weak) defense. At half time, a whole slew of alumni (distinguished professors among them) along with what seemed to be U-Dub’s entire rowing team (oars and all) lined up to create a massive 100 meter long tunnel through which the whole team ran through to the hardcore lyrics of Detroit prodigy Eminem. Oh and then there was the marching band. Dozens (hundreds it seemed like at times) lined the field and in constant marching order, serenaded all 60,000 of us with one classic rock song after another. There uniforms with their giant “W” and sparkling golden plumes were almost as impressive as their massive formation marches.

Talk about an amazing experience for a couple Canadians. Such a community seems to only exist South of the border.

Seattle’s Communities and Attractions

The Space Needle is cool, but if you really want to experience Seattle - check out the sites below.

The Space Needle is cool, but if you really want to experience Seattle - check out the sites below.

You may have noticed quite a number of posts from my dear co-editor John recently. That’s because a) he rocks; b) he’s chock full of great ideas  (like preaching the greatness of T-dot – am I being sarcastic? You’ll never know); c) because he’s capital P prolific and d) because I’ve been MIA for the past half week as my lovely partner Theo and I explore Washington and Oregon.

Now, after days of traveling, Theo and I have finally arrived at a small and lovely little rental located right on the Pacific in Cannon Beach. It has been a lovely journey, that has introduced us to a dozen new communities. Here’s the first one we’d like to talk about: Seattle!

Seattle was our first stop and we had a lovely time visiting Vancouver’s beloved American sister city. It’s certainly an interesting place. Here were some highlights, sites and mini-communities to consider checking out should you decide to visit. We would highly recommend if you have further suggestions to please add them to the comments section below!

1) The University District: Thanks to a hot tip from a friend of ours (thanks Brian) we headed to the University of Washington to get a cup a Chai tea from Trabant (1309 NE 45th St). It’s tiny hole in the wall which serves – I kid you not – some of the best flavour enthused Chai I’ve ever had the fortune of sampling. Nearby is the well know Ave. The Ave is where you go if you’re a student looking to shop, drink, eat or be merry. It’s got a smorgasboard of different places to spend your Benjamins and is well worth a visit. Later we wandered up the hill (the whole university is perched on a large hill overlooking the bridges and outside districts of the city) and checked out Red Square. It’s located in the centre of the university and surrounded by imposing stone and brick libraries and administrative buildings. The actual square is a huge open area – great for protests, performances and communist demonstrations of military might (similar to another more famous Red Square across the Pacific). Afterward, we headed back up the hill and toured Frat row. This is another must for visitors to Seattle. Each one is huge. Some are run down, others as slick as the fraternity alumni who doubtlessly contribute to them every year. Most were bedecked (in addition to their Greek Alphabet Symbols) with Christmas holly and huge fully decorated Christmas trees. Walking fraternity row made me feel like I was in a Revenge of the Nerds movie – one in which I was most definitely a nerd. The feeling was only hammered in again by streets, which were jammed with hundreds of fans wearing purple jerseys and carrying cases of Bud and Coors Light. Fortunately, there were some nerds in the crowd – equally dressed to the nines in purple. In America, everyone’s a college football fan – even the guys like me.

2) The Troll of Fremont: Sadly, I was not allowed to visit this wonder of Seattle – however I thought I’d treat you to its legend. According to folk lore He sits under the Aurora Bridge, is giant and made of stone. Legend has it, if you wait until midnight of a full moon and compare (in a negative way of course) Seattle to Vancouver, the troll of Fremont will come alive and devour you. So the story goes anyway…

3) The Sci-Fi Museum: Yeah, there’s also the Experience Music Project but most people have heard of it, and if you haven’t, you can learn about it here. The real gem is the Sci-Fi museum. The whole museum is jam packed with memorabilia, cool displays, interactive exhibits, life sized Darth Vaders and Terminators, and a huge collection of novels and stories along with a synopsis of each of their plots. It’s an amazing collection of nerdom – and one which brings out the inner nerd of anyone who’s dreamed of what it’d be like if… One of neatest things about this terrific museum is how it’s managed to connect with thousands of people who would never identify themselves as sci-fi fans.

4) The Pike Street Market: Most have heard of this area. It’s well worth checking out. Similar to Granville Market, the Pike Street Market has got also sorts of vendors selling everything from fish (where they chuck em to each other), to flowers, to nick-nacks, to comic books, to cheeses, to leather satchels, to well – everything. It’s a great place to wander, whether you’re a foodie or just a run-of-the-mill tourist because there is so much to see. It’s also right across from [shudder] the world’s first Starbucks. A half block away are a number of smaller alleys containing a mish-mash of great (and not so great) artist galleries, wine shops, restaurants, and cafes.

5) Downtown financial district: You wouldn’t think there would be an lot going on here. Theo wanted to initially check it out because there were a bunch of shops she fancied visiting (Nordstroms, Macy’s). I went along to get some fresh air. What I found was a street scene that overwhelmed. The entire core was lit up with wreathes and white Christmas lights. Thousands of people flocked about the area. A dozen street performers (including one guy who did a pretty good drumming using only pales and another fellow who was “cycling for military families” on a stationary bike) entertained crowds. It was a level of street activity that I’m not used to in Vancouver (even on Robson St and Granville St – Vancouver’s own downtown mecca). Seattle 1, Vancouver 0. Another thing noticeable in the downtown core was just how few desperate folks were panhandling. Maybe it just doesn’t fit the American creed or maybe they have a better system of social services (I’d be surprised if that were the reason), but the homelessness nation was not all that well represented compared to what we see everyday in Vancouver.

6) Monorail: Yeah, Seattle’s got one. It runs from the downtown core to the Sci-Fi Museum and the Experience Music Project. I’m not sure whether this is meant to be a commuter traffic device or just a tourist ride. Whatever it is, Vancouver’s SkyTrain (now doesn’t that just sound cooler?) beats it hands down.

7) Boeing Factory: We didn’t have a chance to tour the factory this visit, but during past trips to Seattle, it was certainly a highlight. A visit to the factory will give you an opportunity to tour the massive hangers where 747s, 777s and their like are mass produced for airlines around the world. The hangars themselves are multiple football fields wide (total volume: 13,385,378 cubic meters) making them the largest building in the world. It’s a pretty amazing experience that leaves you feeling like a Lilliputian.