Sunday, November 25, 2007

I Am Spokane (And So Can You!)

Last weekend Eliza and I made the longest trip I've ever taken without leaving the state. Eliza's never been to Spokane, and I've only visited once before, wandering around the old Expo '74 fairgrounds one afternoon in 1999. We found marmots, a goat, an elephant, and Bigfoot.

Sunday began with breakfast at the Big Foot Pub & Eatery, and later we dropped by the Lil' Bigfoot tavern. In between we visited Spokane Community College, where the athletic teams are nicknamed Bigfoot, the student paper is the Sasquatch Times (no link), and there's a big foot-shaped concrete bench outside the student union. Across town, the Spokane Falls Community College bookstore has lots of "Bigfoot" merch, much of it bearing this logo. (For more Bigfoot-in-Spokane pix, check out my updated In Search of Bigfoot page.)

Spokanistan supposedly has scads of marmots in downtown's Riverside Park--site of the '74 World's Fair--but the only ones we saw were in this ridiculous marmot mural painted underneath an ancient railroad bridge. We explored the park, but the Sky Ride was hardly worth the $7 ticket, and I was disappointed we couldn't go up in the clock tower. We were more impressed by the nearby Parkade, as photographed by Eliza.

Seattle may have its Space Needle from the '62 World's Fair, but our favorite Expo '74 remnant is the interactive Garbage Goat, a high-powered vacuum that sucks trash through the mouth of this metal goat sculpture. After pushing the button (seen to next to the goat in the picture above), there's about 25 seconds of suction to "feed" the goat garbage. I'd do more housework if we had one at home.

We ate quite a lot ourselves, at Dolly's diner, Frank's Diner and the Steamplant Grill. Saturday night we drank beer, rocked the jukebox and played pull-tabs at downtown's comfortably seedy Lamp Post tavern. We also hit nearly every Inland Empire thrift store, where Eliza scored lots of kitchen gear and I scored a '70s Mariners batting helmet, Nerf Ping Pong, Parchesi, a copy of Danny and the Dinosaur, and VHS tapes of Sweatin' to the Oldies and a Yakov Smirnoff show. But the coolest store is White Elephant, a cluttered old Chubby & Tubby-like business that sells loads of weird toys and games (Blow Soccer!?), guns 'n' ammo 'n' fishing 'n' camping gear, and boxfuls of discount Expo '74 trinkets. I picked up a program, a map, and an ashtray, all for a mere $2.10.

Oh, and we stayed at the lovely Montvale Hotel.

On the list for our next visit--perhaps in another couple years--are Zip's, the city drive, the giant milk bottle, and, depending on the time of year, the Chiefs or Indians.

We are Spokane. And so can you.


At 1:55 PM, November 30, 2007 , Blogger A.W. Hilst said...

Love it! Spokane is truly a gem. If you plan on hitting Zip's, I'd recommend stopping at the one in Ritzville first, and then do a little compare/contrast at the one in Spokane. Same with Dick's. Quite a different vibe than the one on Capitol Hill (and they have grilled cheese, if I remember right).

There's also a killer Lazer Tag place on the outskirts of downtown. Highly recommended.

At 9:20 PM, July 16, 2009 , Blogger Jackelope said...

The ridiculous marmot mural had a signature. It's by Tom Quinn of T.C. Quinn, artist. I admit it's my first mural, done 16 years ago, but I still like it to be credited when it's shown on the world wide web. You can see more work at, and see a later marmot mural at the "Welcome to Marmotopia" site on the "links" page.

At 8:19 PM, March 23, 2010 , Blogger The Spovangelist said...

Now that it is 2010 it is time for you to come back. A lot has changed since I moved here in 2007. You should consult with me when you make your travel plans. I can help you get beyond Seattle's stereotypical conception of our town.


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