Seattle Travelog Sun 10/30

Part of a series from the travelog of my trip to Seattle in October 2022.

Up and packed. Checked out. Eating at Oddfellows again. Funny how quickly default places set in. The staff here is beautiful, and the food is good. So very good.

Off to waste time until 2pm, when I’ll board the #1 train to SEATAC for 6pm boarding. Gotta ship my new pocket knives by UPS. Thanks, TSA.

UPS guy doesn’t understand how UPS computers work. Monkey-fucked it enough to ship my stuff to my home by Friday [it arrived Monday, ed]. $19 to ship $35 of steel; kinda negates the discount I got at the sporting goods store. Oh well. Souvenirs.

That woman at Oddfellows. Majestic. Still sticks in my mind. Even in a service job, she had poise and class. Guess that’s what Oddfellows is about. She lit up when I thanked her and the staff for letting me hang out for a few mornings throughout the week, and that I’m flying back to Austin. People treat you different if you look homeless. They breathe a sigh of relief when they realize you’re traveling on vacation. No wonder men shave and wear bright colors in big cities — it’s to distance themselves from vagabonds. Maybe I should do the same — Austin doesn’t suffer from that so much; beards are fashion here.

Fuckin’ Austin. Fuckin’ Seattle.

Capital Hill Farmer’s Market
“andimgonnamisseverybody” Christopher Paul Jordan (2021)

Bummed around the Cap Hill Farmer’s Market for a bit, scrolling until the call of nature started ringing. Doubled back to the Oddfellows building because I bothered to write down the day’s bathroom access code. Best dump of the weekend.

“Ribbon of Light, Reveries” Horatio Hung-Yan Law (2021)

Back to Farmer’s Market. Checked out Cal Anderson for a bit, saw some public art. Got to play a favorite game “Name That Log: Man or Dog”.

Leaned on a wall and scrolled until 2pm, then downstairs to the #1 platform — took the back way this time, no escalators – ugh. More walking. Hips & knees & ankles & heels hurt. Got on the train and dropped my baggage in the seat. Ahh.

South Seattle is a dragged-down dump. Obviously some policy decisions were made here. Nuggets of pyrite scattered amongst burnt trash piles, empty lots, closed shops, tagged warehouses. Damp valley streets. Clapboard box houses. Felt like Arkansas. Othello was the worst of it. Gets even more industrial south of there. The two consecutive airport stops — Tukwilla and SEATAC — were confusing. Went by the signs, my memory of the stop, and the fact that so many people were getting off the train.

Slogged solo across the skybridges this time. Found the ticket kiosk. Printed ticket, Gate D4. TSA lines were fucked. Line 5, closest to Concourse D, was sending everyone to Line 2, way up by Concourse A. So much walking. Gave me time to reapportion my bag contents. 12 minute line became 24 just after I queued. Buh. And some Typhoid Matt was croup coughing open-mouthed a few people ahead of me in line while his girlfriend looked on in sympathy. Double-mask time. Ugh. TSA selected my carry-on for secondary screening. Another Ugh. Talk about scared. Some dude nearby was getting publicly groped because he apparently had a weapon in his bag. Damn, dude. Damn.

Walked all the way back to Concourse D. Found my gate, found food, ate, and waited.

Flight back, the milkfed farmboy next to me in seat E had no knowledge of how much space he occupied, kept bumping and nudging me. Left-handed. Dominated the armrest. Some people. Was doing his calculus homework — smart people are just physically dumb sometimes.

Hard landing. Down safe. Quick taxi to skybridge, hurriedly did my day’s Duolingo lesson before midnight while waiting to deplane (phone jumped ahead 2 timezones when I turned off airplane mode), long walk from gate 2 to exit at 22. Back to parking bus, D-4-25. Car undisturbed and still functional. Started, paid $90 to exit parking, then toll road.

I’m home.

Unpacked, put house together, had a drink, and chilled.

I’m home. Fucking Austin.

Seattle Travelog Sat 10/29

Part of a series from the travelog of my trip to Seattle in October 2022.

Got up after good sleep, cleaned up, headed out to do my own things for the day until evening plans could be made.

Mailed off postcards. Took the train down to Pioneer Square to do the Seattle Underground Tour. Got in 3 minutes late, joined the tour. The tour guide asked where I’m from, I said Austin, he heard Boston, and started spouting Boston facts. Ah, good times. I corrected him later and tipped him for the trouble.

Learned facts: The term “skid row” was invented here, in Seattle. The United Parcel Service also started here (shipping laudanum, alcohol, and opium, ssshh). And Seattle is the only capital city in the US named after a native chief. Chief Seattle also had an apparent symbiosis with the white man, because they had a ship with cannons, and he warned us when warring tribes were about to attack (or so says the writers of white history). Truth is more complicated.

The city’s merchants made so much money by selling equipment to prospectors during the gold rush — Canada had a “one ton rule” where prospectors had to prove they had a year of supplies before crossing the border. Guess where the last outpost to buy goods was?

Sidewalk above, street on top of infill behind retaining wall

The underground floors were made after the great Seattle fire, but were built with brick before the city could raise the town high enough above sea level. Tides and sewage were problems. The infill under the streets is mud from uphill, plus burned buildings, ship ballast, and other stuff.

Just like Jane said, Pioneer Square is sketchy. Old town center. So the courthouse and all the civil services are there. Denny Avenue was originally Skid Road, where logs were slid down from First Hill on oil and whale fat to settle at the shoreline, waiting for high tide to float them away for sale. But with all the underground stores losing their classiness and darkly turning into brothels, bars, opium dens, casinos, the down-and-out who hung out here were named after the street, which became known as “skid row”. The more you know.

Anyway, Pioneer. It’s hard to tell the difference between a man shouting, voice echoing off the buildings, and an actual threat. But it’s a learnable skill. Just keep your distance and be aware.

Fuckin’ Seattle.

After the tour, I walked down to the waterfront and took in the tourism, sights, sounds, The Sound, the wharves, birds, gulls, Ferris wheel, boats, walking. So much walking. South to North, ended at the Olympic Sculpture Garden, at a pocket beach. Enjoyed some silence while sitting on a log. Finally at sea level.

I left Willie’s marble in the crook of a builder, plain view. Maybe someone will find it. Maybe the tide will knock it off into the space between boulders. Leave it to chance. Better than chucking it into the sound — it’s inanimate glass, but I picture suffocation. Chance is better. I’m weird.

Dog tired, I scooted back south and grabbed some fish and chips at Iver’s. Seagulls are loud when they know you have food.

Enjoyed my lunch, then walked back inland and uphill. Took transit back to 15th and John. Met up with Joe.

We walked to coffee, then to drinks and dinner back at Thai Bites, talked with Ian the Bartender, who made us an experimental Halloween-themed drink. Watched baseball. Walked down to Broadway and around the hood to gaggle at the wildlife. Halloween weekend in the gayborhood and college district. So wild. Saw some crazy shit.

Hugs at 12th and parted ways. Gonna miss Joe.

Gonna miss Seattle.

Fucking Seattle.

Seattle Travelog Fri 10/28

Part of a series from the travelog of my trip to Seattle in October 2022.

Up early. Heavy rains, gray windows. Creaking & popping of floor registers. Surprisingly, 8 hours of sleep. This time zone is weird. Granola and shower.

Having breakfast and coffee at Argento Cafe on 12th. It’s passable — espresso drinks, and (microwaved) eggs on bagels. Tasty, but tiny coffeeshop fare. Seattle’s full of these little places.

Joe and I are going to the Museum of Pop Culture today, hopefully by monorail. Hopefully we’ll be in the Space Needle by sunset. I need to drop Willie’s marble at the base somewhere. Tee-hee. Hopefully Joe feels OK after his COVID and Flu shot yesterday. Says he’s moving slow. Today may be interesting.

Also, the rain stopped. Overcast with pops of sunlight.

It can’t rain all the time.

Pike Place Fish Market, where they throw the fish

Milled about until Joe met me at 12th and John, then we went downtown to take a tour around. Walked through Pike Place Fish Market and saw the original Starbuck’s Coffee. Neat.

Remember when the Starbuck’s logo had nipples?

Then we continued on to the #1 line to take the shortest monorail in the world to MoPop and the Space Needle.

MoPop is actually kinda cool. Collections in the Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy sections, then Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Jimi Hendrix, guitars, rap photography. Good place to spend some time. Chris Cornell statue out front. Kinda looks like him. Building façade designed by Frank Gerry. Monorail runs right through it. Tickets $32 each.

Next door across the plaza to the Space Needle. Jehovah’s Witnesses stalking the plaza. Needle reopened after remodels. Restaurant level still rotates, but floor is part glass, and no restaurant, replaced with a smaller reservation-only cocktail bar. Still spins.

Observation deck metal meshes are replaced with glass — 4 inches thick, leans out, crystal clear; glass benches. Amazing what we’re doing with such a fragile material.

The clouds parted for a short bit and we got to see Mount Rainier to the south — majestic. Saw some of the Olympic mountains across the Sound too. Sunset occluded by ocean-effect clouds. Still gorgeous.

I forgot to place Willie’s marble at the base. So, so very tired. Feet hurt. We bused back to Joe’s house to decide next moves. His friends were throwing a Halloween get-together. I opted out. Out of spoons, especially after two tours and a day out.

Went home, dazed, then passed out. You run me ragged, Seattle.

Seattle Travelog Thu 10/27

Part of a series from the travelog of my trip to Seattle in October 2022.

Up and at-em at 8:30, spontaneously. I think my body clock is adjusting. Rather, it didn’t. Pulled a late one — sobering up from going to sleep at 1:30. Oops.

Granola bar and uncomfortable shower in a dim bathroom. I’ve had worse. Really good dump. Rare this week.

Put my thermal leggings back on — 50’s today, but 15 MPH winds. Life in the Sound. Walked down and am having breakfast at Oddfellows Cafe on Joe’s recommendation. Eggs benny is pretty good. Good Americano. Sitting at the bar. Barista kicking ass.

The bar is the best place to sit in any cafe. Come for the food, stay for the floor show.

Plan today is walking up to see the Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee graves, then the “Black Sun” statue, the Asian conservatory, then the apartment house from “Singles”. Lord knows what else. Seattle.

Did all that. Volunteer park is actually very lovely and peaceful, despite the stiff wind. Maybe because of it. Up on a hill, high enough for a water reservoir and a brick and steel water tower. And lots of horizontal space.

What surprises me is how Seattle parks just work — their bathrooms are open, functional, bright, not clean, but also not sketchy. Tax dollars at work for everyone. The homeless problem has cities all over cutting back on public services and public spaces. There’s less of that here. Austin has all but closed its park bathrooms in exchange for building big high-tech, automatic-locking, camera-monitored lavatories. So expensive. People just need a sanitary place to piss.

“Black Sun”, by Isamu Noguchi (1969), inspiration for Soundgarden’s “Black Hole Sun”

The “Black Sun” statue is impressive. Built in 1969 by Isamu Noguchi. Twelve feet tall, five feet thick, cut black granite, with lobes, bulges, cuts. From the right angle, you can see the Space Needle through the center.

The graves of Bruce Lee and Brandon Lee in Lake View Cemetery

Lots of Japan-US representation in Volunteer Park. Same with Lake View Cemetery next door. Bruce & Brandon Lee’s graves are joyful and somber. Saw people taking selfies and striking poses — just seems too gauche, to gawdy, too disrespectful. Memento Mori, not Memento Selfi.

I actually got a little superstitious. Saw my reflection in the grave marble, moved out of it quickly. Just felt like bad luck. Even took a selfie in the apartment later with my eyes closed, pretending to sleep, but with the angle in the easy chair, it looked like a grave viewing. My time is short – don’t remind me. Not unless I ask to be reminded. [shudders]

The apartment building from the movie “Singles”

Ate a granola bar to recover lost sugar. Bused down to the “Singles” apartment house and walked around on the back side of Cap Hill. Had coffee. Called mom. Walked home and rested. Rest is important.

Dick’s is the place where the cool hang out, the S.W.A.S.S. come to play, and the rich flaunt clout.

Hunger arose, so Joe and I ate at Dick’s Burgers on Broadway (Posse UP!). I’ve finally eaten a bag of Dick’s.

Walked to both ends of Broadway proper. Saw the Jimi Hendrix statue in front of the art store, across the street from Seattle Central College. Found the UPS store where I’ll ship out my knives and souvenirs on Sunday before my flight.

Had drinks at the Yeti Bar, then stumbled uphill to our respective homes just before the rains hit. Sleepy night.

Dance steps embedded in the sidewalk along Broadway

Just another rainy night, without you. Seattle.

Seattle Travelog Weds 10/26

Part of a series from the travelog of my trip to Seattle in October 2022.

Got up, pulled myself together, final pack, then check out of AirBnB #1 by 9:30am. I’d never be this early in my own time zone.

Fair breakfast fare at Sugar & Salt

Walked down 62nd one last time on 24th to some breakfast joint called Sugar & Salt. It was OK, but mediocre. I think the breakfast stuff was tacked onto the original concept (Lebanese fare), and they just phoned it in. You go for the atmosphere and a place to sit. Anyway, ate, scrolled, and planned my way south to rendezvous with Joe, because I still have 5 hours before check-in of AirBnB #2.

Took the 40 downtown, then the 8 up. Saw wild things, like a homeless guy get up from his brick exhaust vent bed behind a Whole Foods, walk over to a rental E-bike, and just start pedaling it across and down the street while it chirped away without pay. A man who does not care just does not fucking care.

Seattle, y’all.

Ada’s Books and Cafe
Rooftop. View. Olympic Mountains are visible across the Sound.

Hung out with Joe. Did a load of laundry at his house, thankfully. Toured around Cap Hill for place setting. Went to Ada’s Bookstore and Cafe, had brunch. Back to his place for rooftop views, then off to walk around Cap Hill and Broadway for getting a feel for the built landscape. Life in the gayborhood. Cal Anderson Park, where CHAZ happened. The BLM street mural. The police station that was evacuated during the protests.

Reflecting pool at Cal Anderson Park
Skate park at Cal Anderson Park

We waited in line for 40 minutes for some really, really good ramen at Danbo. Walked uphill to Bites of Bangkok to sit at the bar for drinks and laughs with the bartender. Sloshed home.

Super good ramen. Super good. Worth the wait.

AirBnB #2 is interesting and modernized, but has old-building problems: cold, drafty, leaning and creaking floors, traffic noise through the single-hung windows. Figured out how to turn on the floorboard radiators for heat, put on the leggings I haven’t needed until now, prepped for bed. Sheets get clammy when it’s cold.

Brrr, Seattle.