Vacation Scorecard: Dallas v. Seattle

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Spent the first half of my vacation in the Pacific northwest. Seattle, to be exact. I'd been there several times, covering Cowboys-Seahawks and Mavericks-Sonics after my initial trip in 1987 for, would you believe, Dallas Sidekicks-Tacoma Stars.

But this time I really did Seattle.

Some days I wanted to ride my bike over the rolling, tree-lined terrain and sip a cup of coffee while taking in waterfront views. (And I don't even like coffee.) Others I wanted to go Kurt Cobain. (And I'm not particularly fond of suicide.)

In April, Dallas city leaders took a fact-finding trip to the same region. They returned. All things considered, I think I'll ...

LANDSCAPE - Seattle has trees that make Dallas' offerings look like scrub brush. There are crazy colorful flowers blooming organically in yards, street corners, everywhere. Spend a couple days enjoying the vibrance along Lake Washington and Puget Sound and you get a comical perspective on our lame attempt to manufacture life along the Trinity River. Oh yeah, and there's a 15,000-foot snow-covered bump we hiked called Mount Rainier. Flying back to DFW Airport, I was reminded that we live on a ridiculously flat, barren, concrete prairie. Advantage: Seattle.

WEATHER - There are more than 200 cloudy days a year in Seattle. When I was there I saw the sun once and I wore long sleeves almost every day. Gray = Depressing; Sun = Tan lines. Advantage: Dallas.

SPORTS - The Mariners' Safeco Park and the Seahawks' Qwest Field are seperated by a lob wedge on the edge of downtown. I know, what a concept. Problem is, the only basketball players at nearby Key Arena wear sports bras. Opened up the Seattle Times one morning and there was a column and a game story about the WNBA's Seattle Storm. Kurt, your thoughts? Advantage: Dallas.

DRIVING - Seattle drivers aren't convinced they're in one big NASCAR race, camouflaging their personal inadequacies by fake success in some imaginary race. Not one time was I cut off or dangerously passed by a redneck in a white pickup or a frantic soccer mom in an SUV. There is an amazing number of folks on bicycles. Bike lanes everywhere. And HOV lanes void of plastic, exploding dividers. Refreshing. Advantage: Seattle.

WOMEN - There's a much more natural look in Seattle. Little makeup. Loose-fitting sweaters. The females are fit, but they hardly flaunt. Too bad. Advantage: Dallas.

DOWNTOWN - Amazing. You can park at one spot and walk to the Space Needle (think Reunion Tower with an ocean view), Pike's Market (think Farmer's Market with a pulse), combo Science Fiction/Rock 'n Roll Museum (think Hard Rock Cafe of nothing like we have here) and boat cruises out into Puget Sound (think combining Lakes Lewisville, Lake Ray Hubbard, Grapevine and Lavon, adding blue dye and plopping it down in Oak Cliff). Advantage: Seattle.

PRIDE - I was there five days and I have no clue what Washington's state flag looks like. Advantage: Dallas.

FOOD - The wife and kid enjoyed a cup at the original Starbuck's and there are these little coffee huts (like our seasonal snow cone stands, but permanent) in every parking lot, all manned by youngish girls with bubbly personalities and aggressive cleavage. I had some underwhelming crabcakes and my wife says the sushi, surprisingly, ain't all that different/better than back home. Didn't take long to crave Tex-Mex. Don't expect Wash-Can to sweep the nation. Advantage: Dallas.

MISCELLANEOUS - Seattle is scenic and convenient for pedestrians, but kind of a hassle for drivers. Not many exits on freeways and - unlike here - there aren't gas stations and fast-food restaurants on every corner. ... There is an amazing 40-acre dog park in nearby Bellevue ... Radio station 107.7 The End smokes anything Dallas offers. ... Never found any sports talk radio. Advantage: Tie.

VIBE - Because of the sporadic sun and numerous suicides, BusinessWeek recently ranked Seattle among the nation's 20 most depressed cities. It's clear that people up there tend to focus more on their surroundings - nature, animals, etc. - than themselves. While in Dallas we trend toward leased BMWs and Botox, Seattle minimizes personal image. Advantage: Dallas.

There are things to admire about Seattle. Views and substance and a downtown buzz Dallas would and should kill for. But if you need me this week I'll be right here.

Working from home.

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