day tripping: seattle

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Monday, October 09, 2006
I know, I know! Andrew Bird, escaping tribal jail, what I really think of Gilmore Girls this season -- these are all things I've been meaning to write about, and here it is a week later with NOTHING TO SHOW. And now I'm going to write about My Day in Seattle.

How I Came to be in Seattle on Thursday: Despite having spent four days of the previous week in the car (also in Washington), despite having no desire to see an exhibit made up of preserved skinless human bodies, despite being tired (and whiny), when Blondie called and asked if I wanted to go to Seattle for the day, I quickly decided it would be stupid not to accept. She had to run some errands, wanted to see the Bodies exhibit and thought I might like to join her. I had that big list of despites above, but realized those boiled down to not wanting to see the exhibition. I recognize that there is educational benefit and that the human body is an intricate and complex organism, however I am not in a place where flayed bodies (however tastefully presented) are something I want to look at. Fortunately, this is not the only thing to do in Seattle! (imagine what trouble their chamber of commerce would have if it was!)

I remembered that Seattle had a fairly new (2004) central library branch that there had been a lot of fuss about it... so I could go there since it was in roughly the same part of town. Hooray! Blondie was on board with the plan and she wanted to see it too. Books and libraries are not a big part of her life, but she loves design and had seen a lot about the library in magazines and had been meaning to check it out. Hooray again! Asserting myself managed to enrich the our visit rather than ruin it -- why does this so rarely occur to me?

The Trip: It takes about 3 hours to drive from Portland to Seattle. Our trip was largely uneventful, although Blondie did award me with the distinction of being "most neurotic and overthinking person that I know, no offense." Strangely, I did not take offense. I didn't even internally fuss about it for very long, which now that I consider it makes me feel like somewhat of an overthinking fraud... ANYWAY, back to the skinless human bodies and flying fish juice! (Seattle, please consider me for your next advertising campaign!)

Our Arrival: Once off the freeway we were immediately greeted by a panhandler with a sign reading "father killed by ninjas. need money for karate lessons." (points for use of the word "ninja," but I don't think that karate is going to be of much use against them.) We parked by Pike Place Market, since that is pretty central to downtown and one of Blondie's errands was Right There. I'll spare you the details of the first errand, except to say it involved climbing a Very Steep Hill, a chichi shop, and receiving explicit directions on how to go to a restaurant at which neither of us wanted to eat, even though it was "very civilized for lunch." Second errand involved walking the whole Market, which was very pleasant, especially since we had some of that bright indian summer sun that the PNW grants its citizens before turning to 6 months of unrelenting grey drizzle. Outside the market proper are more crafty type vendors, like we have at the Saturday Market in Portland. Inside there were a few of these (including a mood ring vendor! We tried a bunch on -- either my mood is extremely variable within seconds, or mood rings are not the accurate scientific indicators they advertise themselves to be), but mostly it's fresh seafood and produce. My favorite part of the market was all of the flower vendors. There were many, or at least it seemed like many. This time of year the flowers on offer were mostly dahlias and sunflowers with some zinnias and lilies here and there -- beautiful, and that's no lie. And yes, the flying fish guys were there. It's actually pretty gross and the fish juice goes flying everywhere. (Is it really necessary to throw the same fish back and forth across the counter for reasons other than tourist photography? Am I just bitter because I forgot my camera? Perhaps.)

Anyway, the market was a lot of fun and is a popular destination for a good reason.

Food: For lunch I had a thai fried chicken salad, which maybe sounds gross, but I can assure you it was DELICIOUS and had little bits of plum and a really great vinegary dressing. We had a table by the window, which is so nice for people watching. Every third person had flowers from the market, and it was my pleasure to observe a lincoln continental try to parallel park on a slightly curved street. Once the land yacht was safely docked in only two parking places (down from three!), the entertainment switched to watching the driver try to figure out the parking meters. (in fairness, they are the stupid new kind which are completely counter-intuitive.)

For the meal known as "I am still really full from lunch but we need to kill an hour before trying to get back on the freeway so let's just get one little thing that will actually blossom into two medium sized things but that's okay because I was hungrier than I thought and we're sharing them anyway so shut up" we ate on the outdoor patio of a little place called The Pink Door. Blondie graciously gave me the view of the water (those commuter ferries go surprisingly fast) and she took the view of the room and the alley the restaurant was on. We had a fennel and orange salad and bruscceta that had three kinds of mushrooms, delicious white cheese I forget the name of, and FIGS. (so tasty, I can't even tell you) We also made up outrageous stories about our fellow diners. Good times!

The Library: Blondie and I split up after running the second errand so she could go look at her dead bodies and I could go investigate this library. I didn't read a lot about it before I went, because I figured "hey, I'll just figure it out when I get there!" which worked out pretty well. If you want to know what it looks like, click on the library link above. (the picture at the top of this post is one that Blondie mailed me since she remembered HER camera... it's taken from the 10th floor looking down to the 3rd.)

Now, I love the good old-fashioned dark wood, leather club chair, low-light, cozy library as much as the next nerd. This library is the opposite of that, but I love it too. It's very well lit -- taking maximum advantage of natural light which is important this far north. Many of the interior spaces appear to have been designed by Willy Wonka and Dr. Seuss's love child... but it WORKS. It's playful, modern, thoughtful, colorful, and fully wired. I mean, fully, fully wired. There's wireless internet available throughout (I stumbled across more than one patron sitting in the middle of an aisle with laptop open and books all around), there are also countless work areas set up for use with laptops -- including power sources and a hard-wired ethernet port if you're not set up for wireless. It's very nice. I wandered all through the library, including taking the yellow escalators all the way up to the 10th floor and walking down the "book spiral." The book spiral is pretty cool -- all of their collections are on a slightly downward .. spiral. You can walk from floors 10-5 without ever taking any stairs. The dewey decimal numbers are printed right on the floor, so you can easily find what you're looking for. Anyway, there are many more things I could say about this wonderful building, but I think I'll just say (for now) that if you're in Seattle and have exhausted the flayed dead body and fish juice opportunities, I can heartily recommend visiting the library.

The Way Home: Even more uneventful, except the moon was beautiful and not-quite full and the back seat was full of flowers. As I type this I realize it sounds sort of romantic and "ah, what a lovely day!" It WAS a lovely day, but I'd be remiss not to mention that I fell asleep twice on the way home (such bad manners I'm ashamed to admit it), and that we got into an argument about whether the moon was waxing or waning. (WAXING! like I said...)

In short (I know! way too late for that now) if Blondie calls up and says "do you want to go to Seattle with me?" the answer should be yes.
10 comments on "day tripping: seattle"
  1. Although I detest, DETEST, Seattle, the library sounds amazing. I'd rather check that out than the Jimi Hendrix breast implant looking museum thing up there, for realz...

  2. ooh -- who's being mysterious now?? Why do you detest Seattle? I'm not saying it's not detestable (what place isn't to some degree or another?) --but why do you hate it so much?

    If you're forced to go there, I recommend DEMANDING to go to the library. It's really swell.

    Have you been to the EMP? I haven't, but I want to check it out. I should say, I half want to check it out. I'm in favor of it in theory, but I have fears that it will be cheesy and sad. (but it looks so cool on the outside...)

  3. Seattle is: dirty, unfriendly, messy and the freeway is a disaster on a titanic scale. I would love to go to the library, and the EMP? I am not sure if I would enjoy it all that much. We'll see...What do you think of Gilmore Girls this season? I like it quite a bit, actually.

  4. Yay for the Seattle adventure! Good for you, for just accepting Blondie's offer and no, not just going along--asserting yourself and checking out that library. As for the Andrew Bird post, I will just have to adjust, sigh.

  5. BBD - You make good points, although people were friendly enough when I was there. It's possible my standards are really low, though.

    As for Gilmore Girls. ARGH! where to begin??? (1. all the verbal screwball magic of earlier seasons = GONE 2. Lane has sex one time, it's awful, and now she's pregnant -- this is so lame! if she falls down some stairs and loses the baby, I'm quitting the show altogether) maybe things will perk up when richard and emily return.

    (and I'm not just blaming the new guy -- I think they got WAY off track about half-way through last year. Now they can't even SEE the track, is what worries me.)

    Patty -- I'm still going to get to Andrew Bird, it's just taking me longer than I had anticipated.

  6. Oh, I am so glad about Andrew Bird. And thank you thank you for all the food details in your Seattle tour! I always want to know.......

  7. I like that Lane is pregnant and that it is not Lorelai and a "Who's the daddy?" plot line. Save that for DOOL, you know? Where is Lukes' daughter? I miss Paris and Emily and think that the show will improve as the season progresses, although I really did enjoy Rory's asian vacation through the living room. I mean all that Hello Kitty stuff, what's not to love?

  8. Patty, I'm glad you liked the food details. With these long rambly travel posts I know I'm pushing the edges of what is even remotely interesting for someone who is not me to read, so I'm happy it wasn't too much of an imposition!

    BBD -- I guess if someone had to be pregnant, better Lane than Lorelei (although RORY would have been even better! or how about Miss Patty? or KIRK! he could have some sort of hysterical pregnancy), but did they have to have the baby drama at all? Or so early?

    The asian vacation in the living room was fun, but by the time they got to candy sushi, it felt pretty forced to me. sniff. I miss the spontaneous lunacy! maybe it's still there and I'm just grouchy. (I do not discount this possibility.)

  9. There is definitely a different "vibe" this season, but I must say that the episodes have been better than most of last seasons episodes, in my humble opinion. But they really didn't need a baby story so early. Although I always enjoy seeing Lane.

  10. I like Lane too (and the rest of her crazy band). Last season went astray (what was up with that Luke/ Lorelei stuff?) and I'm dubious about the start this season, but I'm still watching.
    Except of course for tonight. (d'oh!) I was at a John Hodgman reading (which I do not regret for one single second -- there was brandy sipping and tales of hobos, chickenbones and moonshine) and I set the VCR wrong.


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