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?
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.
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.