Friday, April 8, 2011

CatchCon Seattle 2011 - Before the Catch (con)

Back to Seattle again for CatchCon! The Deadliest Catch fan convention is like no other in the world. Fans look forward ALMOST as much to meeting the friends they have made over the years as they do meeting the captains and crews. After arriving in Seattle late Thursday afternoon and riding the Light Rail from SeaTac airport to downtown and a short shuttle ride to the Edgewater hotel, we were up at 6:00 on Friday to watch the Wizard and the Northwestern make their way through the Ballard locks. While it must be pretty exacting work for the captains and crews as well as the lock personnel, they were so gracious to spend the nearly half hour it takes to traverse the locks chatting with us.
Even Captain Sig Hansen showed up, a move which isn't atypical for him, to oversee Edgar manage the transport through the Locks. Everything went well though. Captain Monte Colburn of the Wizard and Edgar on the Northwestern did a professional job.
As you can see, the vantage point at the Ballard Locks is pretty impressive. If you're a Deadliest Catch fan, it's great to see your favorite fishing vessel go through the locks, but if you're simply a fan of all things industrial and how they work, it is still a great trip to make.
And when everything down below gets just a little too hectic, Matt Bradley made his way up into the rigging to get away from it all.
After all, for us, it is a fan event to make the trip to the Locks to see our favorite boat, so a picture is a requirement.
After the water has been removed and she is at the level of the sound, the Northwestern steams ahead. Just FYI, the crane has been removed for repairs, which makes her a little lopsided. These huge cement blocks are here to counterbalance the boat, making up for the missing weight of the crane.
As the Northwestern and the Wizard left the locks, the draw bridge over the ship canal had to be raised to accommodate their tall masts. If I have my bridges right, this is the Fremont bridge, and because of its height, is raised an average of 35 times each day, making it the most-often raised bridge in the U.S. (If I have my bridges wrong, no worries, because someone will correct me).
Next came a quick spin through Fishermen's Terminal, which is a busy working marina for commercial fishing vessels of all types and sizes. Time was of the essence for us, so we couldn't spend much time there, but made a quick pass of the Fishermen's Memorial.
It is important to remember that the Memorial isn't a tourist attraction, it is a place of rememberance for families who have lost loved ones to the sea. These sorrows are still very much in the hearts and minds of friends and families, as you can see here by this fresh bouquet commemorating the sinking of the Artic Rose, which took the lives of fifteen fishermen.
After a somber moment of remembrance, it was on to get some coffee, but first a stop at the famous (infamous?) Lockspot Cafe.
We made a great choice in stopping at Java Bean coffee in Ballard. This wonderful little shop makes delicious coffee and breakfast sandwiches, and the amazing staff is so friendly and helpful.
Then it was a race back to the Edgewater in time to see the Wizard and the Northwestern tie up and begin their preparations for the invasion of Deadliest Catch Fans at CatchCon. This has got to be one of the most unique situations in the whole of the entertainment industry. The "stars" have to work long and hard hours to get ready to host their fans. In some ways the Catchcon prep was not unlike the television show - all of the fans getting to watch the captains and crews work.
After it looked like the crews could carry on without our supervision, it was time for a little more touristy activities. First off was lunch at Kells in the Post Alley of Pike Place Market. If you love good, genuine Irish food, you can't go wrong with Kells - if you can't make it to Ireland, make it to Kells.
We were also fortunate enough to make a stop by the first-ever Starbucks Coffeeshop, first opened in Pike Place Market in 1971. They've come a long way since then.
We learned from one of our friends that no visit to Pike Place Market could possibly be complete without a visit to the Wall of Gum, so we dutifully trekked through the market in search of this wonder of the world. Our diligence paid off, and we had a chance to behold this artistic masterpiece. They even have a Facebook fan page with more than 2,500 fans. While it's not for the weak of stomach, it is a pretty incredible sight, and an inspiration for anyone wondering just how to go about creating a tourist attraction. Hmmmm....
Our evening topped off with a visit to Anthony's seafood for some great fish and chips for dinner, then back to the Edgewater for a meet and greet with most of the crew of the Northwestern.


What a day! Thanks for stopping by. The coffee is always on - this is Seattle after all!


And don't forget, Deadliest Catch premieres on Tuesday April 12 at 9pm Eastern time (that's 8pm Central!)

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