I have a love/hate relationship with Seattle. I love Seattle, but I hate paying for parking so most of my trips to Seattle are on foot. I don’t walk all the way from my home…I drive to a ferry, walk onboard and then stroll the streets of Seattle. On a sunny day this walking thing is a pretty good idea, but when it is raining I will sometimes pay the cost of parking because I am a wimp and don’t want to get my shoes wet. Recently I had to drive into Seattle and it was a sunny day, this convergence of opposites is sometimes known as a miracle, but I like to think of it as a coincidence.
Once we (me and my two favorite ladies) arrived in Seattle we headed for the Fremont area. Fremont calls itself the “center of the universe” although I believe Galileo said it wasn’t. It was one of the reasons he was excommunicated. The church may have forgiven him, but Fremont still hasn’t. Fremont has a troll that lives under a bridge, a rocket, a large statue of Lenin, and an annual naked bike ride.
We were a little early for our scheduled appointment, so we headed for Gas Works Park. Morning frost covered the ground and there were icy patches in the parking lot. As we walked through the parking lot I was surprised to see a little girl with her dad and a sled.
They climbed to the top of the hill in Gas Works Park and she took off sledding down the hill. It is a steep hill, a dangerous hill, and the little girl loved it. I was envious, but I was not dressed for sledding, so I did what most adults do, I stood around wishing I was younger.
On top of the hillside is a cement solstice calendar and one of the best views of the city. My daughter poked holes in the ice of the solstice calendar and I took pictures like a tourist with an itchy trigger finger.
The old gas works area is now surrounded by an attractive, aging, rusted, barbed-wire fence to prevent lawsuits or injuries or to give homeless people a challenge. I’m not a historian and I don’t want to look up information on Gas Works Park so the next few sentences are going to be fiction (lies). Gas Works Park was originally a set from the Mad Max movies. The Australian government gave it to the city of Seattle as a gift of goodwill (like the French and the Statue of Liberty.) Today the gasworks are used to form a pocket of rust in the downtown area as a metaphoric reminder of the approach of death that we all face.
After about 20 minutes of winter sun and cold, we headed back to Fremont for coffee and our appointment. Fremont is a great little pocket of Seattle. American neighborhoods could learn a lot from Fremont, but I think most American neighborhoods don’t understand Fremont’s ironic sense of humor. While some neighborhoods line their streets with Neighborhood Watch signs, Fremont went out and bought an old rocket. The statue of Lenin was probably picked up on eBay (this is a lie, the statue predates eBay) and the Troll is just cool. The message of Fremont is perfect: Dude, take it easy. Why you all stressed out?
After our visit to Fremont we decided to head to Capitol Hill area. I really hadn’t traveled to Capitol Hill much before a year ago because I was an idiot. I have begun to remedy this situation by visiting this little hipster enclave whenever we are driving in the city. I am clueless about Hipsters and so I will make some wild generalizations intended to be funny and not offensive. If you are sitting at a cafe reading this in jeans that you stole from your sister, don’t get your pant legs all rolled up.
As far as I can tell being a Hipster means wearing clothing that looks used, is two sizes too small, and if you are a guy you must have some type of strange facial hair. The male version of Hipsterdom confuses me a great deal. In my opinion there is nothing more uncomfortable than a tight pair of jeans. I am not suggesting I never wore tight jeans, but that was the 80s and the jeans were paper-thin and soft. Today the jeans look like they have been dipped in starch and are so tight and small that I am certain hospitals in the area have to have special scissors to cut them off when a hipster ends up at the hospital after falling off his one-speed bike. (Come on kids, put on a helmet when you are on a bike. This isn’t Breaking Away, I believe that movie was shot in Indiana.)
It was lunchtime so we went to Oddfellows.
Now you don’t need a PhD to eat at Oddfellows, but you do need to pay attention. So here’s a guide so you don’t look like an idiot: 1. Stand in line, 2. Read the big menu on the wall, 3. When you get to the front, order your meal, 4) Don’t pay anything. Don’t take out a credit card. Don’t give the person working a CASH REGISTER anything resembling money. Why? I don’t know, but most often people nearest the CASH REGISTER are the ones you pay, but not in Oddfellows. In Oddfellows you get a little table number from the person working the CASH REGISTER. 5) Go sit at a long table with the other hipsters. You can talk about things like hair gels and where to buy the best child sized suit vests. 6) When your waiter brings you your food looking like he just stepped off a farm (gumboots? really? I am super confused about this whole thing) eat. 7) When you finish eating, pay the waiter.
After our meal, the food was good, we strolled next door to Elliott Bay Book Co. I like Elliot Bay Book Co. and I like books, but it is sad to me that the bookstore is about half its old downtown size, its like it moved to Capitol Hill and lost 100 pounds. It does have all the elements of a great bookstore in my opinion: books, and odd smells.
Our final stop was at some cupcake place. I ran into my first cupcake shop about five years ago in San Francisco. I never really gave much thought to cupcakes until then, but these days if I want something sweet, cupcake shops are a good place to spend too much money for a little snack.
The sun was dropping and we had a good day, so it was time for the long slog home. A ferry ride, a drive, a few stops along the way and then home. Thank you sunny Seattle.