Back in November, I flew home to Washington State to spend a few days with my family before jetting off to California for a much-needed vacation. While in Washington, I made all my usual stops: loaded up at Half Price Books, took the obligatory day trip into Seattle, and spent plenty of time just goofing off with my family. But this was no ordinary trip home. This time, I brought my boyfriend Dan along for the ride.
That’s right, guys, it was time to meet the parents. After nearly two years of dating, it seemed almost impossible that this trip hadn’t come sooner. I already knew, of course, that he would fit right in with our little troupe of weirdos.
Spoiler alert: I was totally right. Dan got full approval from every last member of my gigantic family. Okay, so two of my seven siblings were away at college, but they’ve heard enough stories about Dan to come to the same conclusion I have: he’s perfect!
I can already hear people groaning. We get it. Enough with the mushy stuff!
Okay, okay…anyway, we all wanted to show Dan a good time while he was in the Seattle area. Mom booked us passage on the Seattle Lakes Cruise Tour, offered through Argosy Cruises. I hadn’t been on an Argosy cruise since…well, probably since I visited the Indian island of Tillicum Village back in elementary school! I was thrilled to spend an afternoon on the water, sharing my love of the Pacific Northwest with Dan and hanging out with Mom and my younger sister Rachel.
The cruise departed at 1:15pm, and coasted through both Lake Union and Lake Washington for the next two hours, narrated all the while by a longtime Seattle resident and local expert.
Washington is a stunning state, with plenty of natural beauty, fantastic seafood, and an interesting history. We passed by sailboats and under bridges, and found out how Seattle’s famous floating houses came to be. We even learned the difference between a floating house and a houseboat – houseboats can be disconnected easily from the dock, allowing their owners to sail far away to a new home, while floating houses are permanently attached to the dock and subject to the same property taxes of a regular suburban home.
It was chilly in November, especially for these two Florida residents, so after cruising past the University of Washington, we joined Mom and Rachel at their cozy table indoors. Let me just take this time to say that Rachel loves Dan. I mean it. She was constantly vying for his attention, stunning him with the “laser” button on her Buzz Lightyear sweatshirt, and cracking up each time he collapsed onto the table. She still talks about him, months after our visit, and even requested to show Dan her Special Olympics swimming medals via Skype.
After warming up for a while, we bought a couple of hot chocolates from the bar and ventured out to the front of the ship. Most of the other cruise guests had retreated inside at this point, away from the persistent chilly wind, so we had the bow to ourselves for a long time. We caught a glimpse of BIll Gates’s massive home, complete with covered swimming pool and small indoor theater. Most of it was hidden under a white tarp while it was being updated. I don’t know what else he could possibly be adding to his enormous home, as our tour guide told us that Bill Gates imports his own sand to create a “beach” along the waterfront. It sounds like he has it all. The guy even has one of Leonardi Da Vinci’s original manuscripts, which he bought at auction for a whopping $30.8 million. That’s nearly half of the $63 million it took to build the home itself back in 2005. Check out 19 Crazy Facts About Bill Gates’ $123 Million Washington Mansion for more insane stats and tidbits.
I swelled with pride as Mt. Rainier came into view, just as beautiful as ever. This was the farthest Dan had ever been from Florida, and I had to wonder if he had ever witnessed the majesty of a snow-capped mountain before.
The ship turned back around, slicing easily through the cold waters of Lake Washington and approaching the University of Washington once more.
Purple-clad sports fans flocked to the football stadium in their boats – apparently tailgating on a boat is a common practice here! Several businesses even pick passengers up from their personal boats and ferry them to the stadium, for a fee. I have to say, sailing away on a boat sounds much better than fighting the post-game Seattle traffic.
We passed more floating homes as we crossed over into Lake Union, and as the Seattle skyline edged closer, I felt a twinge of sadness. There was one thing I was really hoping to see on this tour, something so touristy that I was almost ashamed to admit it. With minutes left in the cruise, I was ready to cut my losses and head back inside.
Then it happened.
The Sleepless in Seattle houseboat was owned by one couple for over twenty years, and was sold recently to a new owner. I had watched the film for the first time just a few months before our trip, and I immediately regretted not seeing it sooner. I don’t know when this happened, but I find myself loving these nineties “date night” movies more with each one I see. If you love Seattle, and of course if you love Tom Hanks (and who doesn’t?) GO CHECK IT OUT NOW.
Finally, it was time for our tour to end. After disembarking with some new knowledge of Seattle’s history and the features that make it such a unique city, we eased out into the late afternoon traffic and on to the next adventure.