Within an hour of leaving the motel in Surrey Team Lipstick reached the border post of America with many cars piled up in the que despite a 5-lane approach


US border

 The boys were questioned by a very serious US border official and were requested to open the rear windows so that the official’s nosiness could be satisfied after requesting also details of how much cash would the Team carry and for what reason they would bring a right-hand drive vehicle to the United states and whether proper import documentation was on hand.


After this 20 minutes ordeal, the Team was given the go ahead to enter into the USA and made good use of the wonderful Highway systems going down towards the Pacific West Coast.


Seattle, a city in the Pacific Northwest, is surrounded by water, mountains and evergreen forests, and contains thousands of acres of parkland. Washington State’s largest city, it’s home to a large tech industry, with Microsoft and Amazon headquartered in its metropolitan area. The futuristic Space Needle, a 1962 World’s Fair legacy, is its most iconic landmark.

The way into Seattle was quite hectic with highway intersections above and below and twice the guys missed the right exit which means driving for kilometers before being able to make a U-turn in order to reach the pre-booked Hotel named Silver Cloud.


This hotel is situated between a baseball and a football stadium in downtown Seattle and they offer a free shuttle service to visit landmarks in Seattle – this proved to be an amazing service and the boys made use of this immediately to get to the Pioneer Park.


Pioneer Square – the heart of old Seattle – is the place to go experience Seattle’s early history. Turn-of-the-century street lamps line the square.

The Pioneer Square neighborhood was the hub of pioneer Seattle. The first industry, Yesler Sawmill, was built in here in 185. In 1889 local businessmen returned to Seattle from a trip to Alaska with a Tlingit totem pole and gave the Puget Sound its first landmark.

The first buildings following the Great Fire of 1899 were built around Pioneer Square and in 1909 an iron pergola was built as a shelter over an underground restroom, known as “the finest underground restroom in the United States”. This tiny park is at the heart of Seattle’s historical district.


Seattle’s first buildings were wooden. On June 6, 1889 at 2:39 in the afternoon] a cabinetmaker (Jonathan Edward Back)accidentally overturned and ignited a glue pot. An attempt to extinguish it with water spread the burning grease-based glue. The fire chief was out of town, and although the volunteer fire department responded they made the mistake of trying to use too many hoses at once. With the subsequent drop in water pressure none of the hoses were effective and the Great Seattle Fire destroyed 31 blocks.


While a destructive fire was not unusual for the time, instead of rebuilding the city as it was before, the response of the city leaders was to make two strategic decisions: first, that all new buildings must be of stone or brick, as insurance against a similar disaster in the future; and second to regrade the streets one to two stories higher than the original street grade. Pioneer Square had originally been built mostly on filled-in tidelands and, as a consequence, it often flooded. The new street level also assisted in ensuring that gravity-assisted flush toilets that funneled into Elliott Bay did not back up at high tide.


For the regrade, the streets were lined with concrete walls that formed narrow alleyways between the walls and the buildings on both sides of the street, with a wide “alley” where the street was. The naturally steep hillsides were used, and through a series of sluices material was washed into the wide “alleys”, raising the streets to the desired new level, generally 12 feet (3.7 m) higher than before, in some places nearly 30 feet (9.1 m).


Once the new sidewalks were complete, building owners moved their businesses to the new ground floor, although merchants carried on business in the lowest floors of buildings that survived the fire, and pedestrians continued to use the underground sidewalks lit by the glass prisms (still seen on some streets) embedded in the grade-level sidewalk above.


Only a small portion of the Seattle Underground has been restored and made safe and accessible to the public on guided tours. In 1965, local citizen Bill Speidel established “Bill Speidel’s Underground Tour,” which operates to this day and Team Lipstick decided to go “underground in Seattle’ rather thanbeing “sleepless in Seattle”


Seattles Pioneer Square


Underground Tour

This was an amazing tour walking underground on the then street level in 1889 with the new Seattle street some 3m above them.


Like most of the towns and city up north it was clear that Seattle started to grow through the gold rush in the late 1800s


Seattle’s Pioneer Square bustled with excitement as news of a major gold strike in Canada’s Yukon River valley from where Team Lipstick came down reached the port city during the summer of 1897. Soon eager prospectors from all over the country descended on Seattle to purchase supplies and secure transportation to the far-away gold fields. Newcomers were beset with information from every corner. Hawkers offered one sales pitch after another, explaining where to find lodging, meals, gambling, and other entertainment. Outfitters tried to entice prospectors into their stores to purchase the supplies necessary for the stampede north. Anticipating large crowds, these outfitters piled merchandise everywhere, including the sidewalks in front of their stores. One clever merchant opened a mining school where greenhorns could learn the techniques of panning, sluicing, and rocking before setting out for the gold fields. Some anxious stampeders headed directly for the piers where ships were ready to sail north, joining the great migration to the Klondike gold fields. The intense bustle and commotion of the Klondike Gold Rush dramatically changed the face of Seattle.


It is hard to imagine how Seattle would look if Gold would never be found further up North most probably it would just be another little village.

The great Hotel also has a nice Steakhouse on the ground floor where the boys had a great meal after satisfying their thirst in a brewery across the road from where one could see the famous needle and the wheel which they would visit the next day.


A night view of Seattle if one is a bit sleepless….
Day 17 – 3rd September – Vancouver to Seattle