I kind of meant to keep a running log of my stay in Seattle as did in Victoria; or at least carry on a flirt-by-flirt, firework by firework overview.
I never quite got to my computer in seattle; maybe it was flaky WiFi, or maybe the lack of a decent writing surface in my room. Or maybe I was too busy by day and too beat at night.
I’ve been through Seattle a few times before, and sort of rated it as one of those ‘what’s the big fuss about’ cities. The last three days in Seattle changed my mind completely. I drove in thinking, i should have stayed in Victoria, or gone to Vancouver; I left today thinking, I want to live here.
My hotel was almost exactly halfway between Pioneer Square and Pike Place Market; it would be hard to pick a more perfect spot for a first trip. This is the corner where the Seattle Fire started in 1889.
It’s funny; my mental image of Seattle came from two sources. There was a teevee show around 1970; ‘Here Come the Brides’ or something like that. It presented 1860′s Seattle as a folksy, rustic place.
That image stuck – though I can’t recall ever actually watching the show at the time – until Seattle hit the public consciousness in a big way, thanks to Sub Pob Records and the Grunge scene. Somewhere around the same time, Starbucks started to its slow march toward world dominance.
My image of Seattle changed from from folksy to urban; like the rest of the country, I sort of noticed seattle for the first time in fifteen years or so. Trouble was, the new image was just as two dimensional as the old. What I saw wasn’t that different than the music scene in San Francisco; punk, folk and metal bands all sort of converging on a common point, fueled by drugs, alcohol and coffee.
Several years ago, I came through the area on the way from one place and to another. What I saw was horrible traffic, crowds on tourists, and not much else. I pretty much got out of town quick as I could and haven’t been interested in coming back since.
This week, I wiped out all that. Cheesy western teevee, grunge rock stereotypes, traffic and empty tourism; all gone.
What I realized the last few days is, I’d missed what made this city cool. The dynamic weather, the amazing views, the food, the culture. In one sweep of coast line, one can find two of the country’s best ballparks, storied old quarter, world-class farmer’s market, numerous museums, and thriving downtown.
Everywhere I looked there were shops, restaurants, bars, and yes, coffee houses, that were full of locals as well as tourists. People live here; the tourists spots are such because places like Pike Place Market are real, not hopped up for tourists.
I didn’t get to do half of what I wanted; I missed the Experience Music Project, I missed several restaurants, several museums. I didn’t get to shop for produce and cook (no kitchen in my hotel). I didn’t have time for any live music. On the other hand, I managed to get to Pike Place a couple of times, found a tattoo shop I’ve wanted to visit for years (Vyvyn Lazonga), toured Seattle’s underground, visited the Space Needle (something I’ve wanted to see since I was little. I saw forth-of-july fireworks and visited the Utilikilts store. I got out to see locks in Ballard, took my kids to Archie McPhee, and even managed to catch a musical with them (Aida, one of their favorite shows).
What I proved to myself is that I’d completely missed seattle last time I was here; and that I needed to spend a whole lot more time here than had this week. I liked Seattle enough that I started to visualize living here; the only things that stopped me from pricing houses were the thought that I’d just seen un-seasonably warm weather, and that the main high tech employer in town happens to be Micro$oft.
Plans for next time, though; condo, not hotel, so I can show Pike Place and then cook. And plan for much more time, so I can actually hang out.