“In Seattle we live among the trees and the waterways, and we feel we are rocked gently in the cradle of life. Our winters are not cold and our summers are not hot and we congratulate ourselves for choosing such a spectacular place to rest our heads.”
On my trip to Seattle, I learned 3 very important things.
#1 Always upgrade your airline seat whenever possible.
#2 it is possible for a city to have too many brewpubs.
#3 it is apparently possible for working age people, to spend hours during weekdays talking to each other in coffee shops, despite living in a city with a very high cost of living (I admit that I have noticed this in New York City also).
Allow me to explain:
I think statement 1 is a function of my age. I am no longer the wiry 28-year-old, who flew from ski destination to ski destination with no issues. I would also point out, that while I have expanded somewhat, the average coach seat, has been contracting. The third issue has to do with the burgeoning obesity epidemic, and the airlines unwillingness to adapt. Trapped in the middle seat during boarding, already next to a good-sized gentleman on the window, I desperately hoped for a slender aisle seat passenger. I watched with envy as three young, athletic-looking women, occupied the 3 seats across the aisle.
Now being a sleep physician, I am pretty accurately able to judge one’s weight. That’s why I knew that the roughly 6 foot 5 inch gentleman that plopped down next to me was approaching 400 pounds. He could not help but to take up at least 20% of the space allotted to me. This meant for a very uncomfortable four hours, which I spent with my shoulders hunched, praying for touchdown.
In terms of the brewpubs, it seemed almost every tavern, I visited either brewed its own beer, or offered on draft only the products of a local craft brewery. Given that population of Seattle trends towards the young and hip, there is apparently a contest to see who can create the hoppiest concoction. Apparently there are a lot of enthusiastic but inexperienced brewers in town, and the result was not always particularly palatable. I learned that if all else failed, a Rainier long neck served cold was reasonably refreshing.
As to the coffee drinkers… doesn’t anyone have to work?
Not that I didn’t enjoy Seattle. First and most important my daughter is blissfully happy here. She loves her job at Amazon, and her very cool neighborhood, with upscale restaurants and cafés, olive oil bars, a Trader Joe’s, and numerous athletic facilities and yoga studios. She lives in a nice townhouse with great roommates.
It’s very reminiscent of the neighborhood in Philadelphia, where I resided at her age. She has the youthful tolerance for urban inconveniences. She was a wonderful guide to the region’s restaurants, and attractions. It’s going to be hard to pry her out of there.
In fact Seattle feels similarly sized to Philadelphia. The big difference is for instance, when you drive an hour east from Philadelphia, you are in New Jersey. If you do the same in Seattle, you end up in Mt Baker-Snoqualmie National Forest. I traveled there on the third day of my trip, when I was becoming slightly weary of the city, and eager for some wilderness.
I drove my rental car out of the city, and encountered a problem, I have never seen elsewhere. There are toll roads and bridges everywhere, and they apparently charge in both directions. Problem is they don’t have toll booths, but cameras that photograph your license plate. Since I was in a rental car, they charged the company $8 and change, to which the rental company added a $30 service charge on a bill came to me several weeks later. The rental companies offer a roughly $25 package that covers the cost of the tolls. If you’re visiting the city and plan to drive anywhere else, it may be worth the investment.
I did some hiking for exercise in a state park on my way up to the mountains. There were trail maps available there, and I thought it might be a slightly safer place to solo hike than a random trail in the national forest. A display at the trail head described a logging operation that it gone on between 1900 and 1920.
It appeared that the major tree harvested were western red Cedars, which resist decomposition. Indeed in the forest there were huge stumps 5–6 feet in diameter still standing, and it was interesting to imagine the majestic Forest that at one time stood there.
Later I traveled up to Snoqualmie Pass. At higher elevations, the fall colors became more vibrant, and a somewhat quirky rural mountain culture reminded me of home.
Driving through the national forest, I diverted down a side road. Looking for something to photograph, I wandered into an interesting looking forest area, only to discover a growth of living trees with trunks every bit as large as the stumps I had seen earlier.
These giants stood among smaller trees, their branches festooned with moss, truly a temperate rain forest.
On my way back to town, I was hungry and stopped for a burger and a non-microbrew in the town of Gold Bar, on the Skykomish River. This is where I found Prospector’s Steak and Ale, which was full of friendly patrons, particularly John, who allowed me a portrait in the afternoon light.
Speaking of photography, I brought essentially the same camera combination on this trip that I used in London, namely my X100(t), and my RX100 Mark III. I did not bring a laptop, but my Asus transformer tablet and keyboard was a reasonable substitute. All of this works well enough, though I sometimes wished for longer focal length, than the 70mm mm equivalent offered by the long end of the Sony’s zoom.
My last stay in town was a Saturday. With my daughter off work, we explored Seattle Center and downtown. I particularly enjoyed the aquarium, and the public market.
We did not venture up into the space needle (it’s fairly expensive). We had Thai for lunch, and particularly good sushi for dinner. I then hugged her and said goodbye, and began the process of returning the car, and meeting my 11PM flight.
Seattle is a lovely town, in a gorgeous region of the country. With Brigid residing there I will undoubtedly return.
Hopefully in first class.
As always, these images and others from the trip can be viewed on my Smugmug site.