12:30pm: Lunch like a travel pro. Go to El Puerto Mexican Restaurant and if you want to do as Steves does, order a chicken tostada and cranberry juice. 423 Main St.; 425/672-2469.
Predictable, but not stereotypical
Rick Steves is safe, solid, square. You would trust him to take Aunt Bertha to Barcelona.
But in Edmonds, where he grew up and still lives, Steves delights in raising eyebrows with his überliberal ideas about protecting Puget Sound and making Main Street a car-free zone.
"I love our town. Look at this," Steves says, sweeping his hand toward a white church steeple. "It's like Andy of Mayberry!
But Andy of Mayberry towns need stimulus. I like being here afflicting the comfortable. It carbonates the whole experience."
As he bubbles on, Steves reveals more contradictions. He worked hard to build a travel empire that nets $30 million a year. Yet one look at his wardrobe (he wore aviator glasses until they were almost back in style) demonstrates that this man is not materialistic.
The fact that his 1990 Integra has only 50,000 miles on it exposes the core contradiction. Rick Steves, the globe-trotting PBS host, is a world-class homebody.
People can set their clocks by Steves when he's in Edmonds. "Must be 12:30," merchants say. "There's Rick walking to El Puerto."
"Yes, they have a name for me at the Mexican restaurant," Steves admits. "'The Little Tostada' ― because I always order a chicken tostada and cranberry juice. It's a beautiful thing."
In the late 1970s, Steves walked these same streets but was headed in a different direction. He was about to graduate from the University of Washington and was happily teaching piano and preparing to take over his parents' piano-importing business.