There are some wonderful people in this group and here is an example of one of them. I met Outsider at MSS back in March. When he saw we were coming to Seattle, he offered to give my wife and I a tour of places most tourists don't see. He picked us up Sunday at our downtown hotel at 10 AM and off we went. Our first stop was the Ballard Locks, which allows the boats to move from the sea level of the ocean to the higher fresh water of Lake Union & Lake Washington and vice versa. Works just like the Panama Canal Locks and is over 100 years old. The salmon weren't quite running yet. I guess we were about a week early, but they built a salmon ladder to allow the salmon to migrate between the ocean and the lakes. According to Outsider, once it starts, it's amazing to see. The highlight of the day for me was a very personalized tour of a very large manufacturing plant in Seattle, where we were actually allowed on the plant floor. We also visited the Fremont area, which had a huge sidewalk type sale going on. Fremont is the kind of Bohemian area of Seattle. Artists, free spirits etc. We also made it to Chinatown and several other areas and sites. We went places all day long and he wouldn't even let me buy the gas! We had our own tour director. The point of the post is a public thank you to Outsider, a great VMB member. He gave up his Sunday day off to chauffeur us around the city. He dropped us back at our downtown Seattle hotel at 7 PM. Just a funny. At the time I didn't know where he lived, I assumed Seattle. He took us to the 13 Coins restaurant near Seatac airport, just to see the place because it is a fixture in Seattle and we had one beer. Anyway, we get back to the car and he says his house isn't far, so lets go there to meet his wife and have a beer. We are driving and driving away from Seattle downtown and my wife and I look at each like where the hell are we going? After quite a drive, I see we just entered Tacoma! Milwaukee isn't that big and I since I'm retired, I don't drive that much. I can't believe what commuters think is a short drive. All was good and he then drove us to downtown Tacoma to see the Museum of Glass and a nice old bar on/near the campus of UW. Now he has to drive us all the way back to downtown Seattle and he acted like it was just a "short drive". Big thank you to Outsider for making this a memorable vacation. PS, it may have sounded like more, but the entire day consisted of 4 drinks each. EDIT: Just one thing I wanted to add. My wife and I were wandering by ourselves on Pike Street near the market, but not in it yet. She ducked into a T shirt store and I said I would wait on the corner. In 5 minutes, I was hit up by 7 different bums/panhandlers what ever you want to call them. I've never had that happen on Fremont St. If you think Fremont is bad, spend some time near Pike Place Market. We enjoyed Seattle but I think this trend has more to do with the economy than anything else.