Ride the Ducks

The amphibious Party on Wheels actually makes Seattle seem fun!


441-DUCK, www.ridetheducksofseattle.com

You're probably thinking . . .

What? You went on the Duck? That weird, high off the ground, amphibious truck that's jam-packed with tourists wearing duck-call beaks and covered with cameras? That loud, shaking vessel blasting hits of the '60s, '70s, and '80s while the guide points out fascinating Seattle facts such as "Pioneer Square is not a square"?

What a difference a sunny day makes

But on a warm day with an artificially blue sky, from inside the crowded Duck the waterfront looks charming and quaint, Safeco Field grand and imposing, and it seems like nothing could be more fun than flying a kite at Gas Works Park. Of course, the real excitement is the exact moment you drive right into the water. It's unclear why it's so much more amazing to drive a truck into the water rather than just get on a boat, but it's thrilling in an "I can't believe we're getting away with this" kind of way.

Party time

Ride the Ducks bills itself as a Party on Wheels, and the host, Captain Outrageous, adheres to the following good housekeeping rules for party success.

Give guests things to do: My friend Giulio, for example, was dubbed first mate (and renamed Bill for the duration). His responsibilities were unclear, but the Captain did seek his counsel on several occasions, and he successfully picked out the yacht he's buying for all of us.

When it's quiet, turn up the music: You wouldn't believe the reaction to "Hail to the Halibut."

Everyone (well, nearly) likes sports: Thus, several whoops for the Mariners and the Huskies. Go Ichiro!

Don't forget conversation starters: Capt. O. relayed many, many interesting things about Seattle, including: "Seattle has the second largest ferry boat system in the country." "Seattle has the third largest fishing fleet in the U.S." "The top of the Space Needle rotates powered by a one-horsepower motor." (Is this good? Bad? I don't know, but everyone seemed impressed.) "EMP is designed to look like the inner ear." (I thought it was a smashed guitar, but maybe it's "art" and you're allowed to make up your own interpretation.) "There's one boat for every six people in Seattle. That's more boats per capita than any other city in America. There's one boat for every six people!" (We actually heard this at least three times.)

The only real party misstep came when the good Capt. O. broke the cardinal rule of socializing: Don't talk politics. During a contemplative moment to remember veterans and Sept. 11, he played a tape of Roosevelt announcing the bombing of Pearl Harbor. This went over like a wet donut for the group of Japanese tourists.

All in all, if you've lived in Seattle for two months, there are almost certainly zero sites you haven't seen. But like all good city tours, it leaves you saying, "Wow, Seattle seems really fun."

Save this one for . . .

Your grumpiest local friend, as a loud, obnoxious reminder that "Hey, you could be living in Omaha, you idiot."

Who knew?

The boat drivers are all Coast Guard-certified sea captains. This knowledge made me nervous—we need a military personage to drive the thing? Also, most of these amphibious boats were built by Rosie the Riveters during WWII. Go ladies.

I'll always remember . . .

There is one boat for every six people in Seattle. Since I don't think I know anyone with a boat, I'm hoping I'll be able to meet someone immediately.

Audrey Van Buskirk


comments powered by Disqus

Friends to Follow