And so, onto phase 2…..The West Coast……

Friday 19th May

Linda and I have spent a lot of time up and down the east coast on holiday and business; even sailing through part of the Inter Coastal Waterway into the Chesapeake river in 2001, but we’ve yet to visit the west coast.  Today we put this right having flown into Seattle on Alaska Airlines (never heard of them but excellent service) from Chicago.  Seattle was meant only to be a means of getting from point A to point B, to collect our car for the drive down the west coast.  Thankfully we decided to make time to visit down town Seattle.  It is a beautiful, open and seemingly relaxed city sitting alongside Elliot Bay.  In fact it is surrounded by water and islands which can be reached by ferry.  There is a fabulous old market where just about every fresh food, especially great sea food, can be  purchased together with a wide range of restaurants.  The bonus for me was that I discovered it also contains one of the best guitar stores I have visited.  If you haven’t been there and find yourself anywhere nearby in future, then go.  You won’t be disappointed.  Sadly they also have a big problem with homeless people on the streets, many of whom seem drunk and display traits of mental illness.  A lady on the plane warned us about this and I can now see why.

Pike Place Market.  These photos do not do it justice.  This place must have grown like topsy over many years.  It is anything but modern and uniform which adds to its charm.  Why doesn’t Winchester have something like this I wonder?  Surely one remedy to the increasingly dysfunctional and deserted high streets around the UK?

The waterfront is pleasant but definitely under exploited in my humble opinion.  This could have something to do with the weather which is akin to the UK they tell me.

Surprise surprise the highlight for me was discovering this guitar store.  I can’t believe that I’ve never heard of it before.  My new best friend Jay, who started the business 22 years ago, has created something truly special.  Probably the best overall range of vintage guitars I’ve seen.  Including Gruhn Guitars in Nashville. For instance he has 3 Fender Broadcasters, one in mint condition on sale for $350,000.  Only 100 were ever made (probably less than 70 left in existence today) in 1951.  Leo Fender was forced to stop production as he was being threatened by a rival with the same brand name.  It went onto be called the Telecaster.  This is very rare and special for me to see it on display.  Jay is a great guy, very friendly and knowledgable.  He is not a guitar retailer he is an enthusiast who happens to sell guitars.  The legendary blues guitarist Joe Bonamassa is a personal friend and customer.  I will definitely be keeping in touch with Jay.  He is the real deal.

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Try to contain yourselves, but I went to the barbers today for the first time in nearly 30 years as I objected paying £10 for 5 minutes in the chair.  As Linda doesn’t have her ‘sheep shearers’ with her I was forced to pay this visit.  Meet Donny who has been cutting hair for over 20 years.  I lost count of the times he changed the razor head presumably in an attempt to justify the $20 (inc. tip) fee.  In my case I estimate this to be approximately $240 an hour.  It will have to last until we get back to the UK!

We collect the car tomorrow.  Let the holiday proper commence…………..

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