Nine Days in Seattle; Four Hours of Sun

November 16, 2014 at 6:45 am (Seattle, Uncategorized) (, , , , )

Starbucks in Ballard

Starbucks in Ballard

I shouldn’t complain.  I lived in Tacoma, WA for 18 years.  I know what the weather’s like there.  But my son and his wife live there, and I hadn’t seen them since their wedding 16 months earlier.  The notorious rain actually started in Eastern Washington, the dry side, and followed me all the way:  Through Snoqualmie Pass AT FREAKING NIGHT – which badly needs a fresh coat of lane paint.  Across the Lake Washington floating bridge.  And pretty much stayed for the next nine days.  Oh, there were about four hours of sunshine.  Never saw Mt. Rainier either.

Ryan and Amy on a cold, very dreary day (what passes for normal 10 months of the year in Seattle.)

Ryan and Amy on a cold, very dreary day (what passes for normal 10 months of the year in Seattle.)

Other than that, the visit was lovely.  My son’s house is small but sweet, with a mother-in-law apartment which he’s fixing up.  I bought them a birdfeeder and seed so they could enjoy their avian visitors (and maybe give up climbing rocks and mountains in favor of a more sedate hobby.)

Ryan's bucket list of mountains to climb.  I wish he'd replace that list with birds he'd like to see.

Ryan’s bucket list of mountains to climb. I wish he’d replace that list with birds he’d like to see.

There are many extremely tall, old, and dangerous-looking fir, pine and cedar in and near their yard, which makes me nervous.  You see, I remember when the Hood Canal Floating Bridge was blown into oblivion  (February 1979).  And the Inauguration Day Storm (Jan. 20, 1993) that sent trees crashing down for miles around and covered our yard completely in fir and cedar branches.  A tiny little branch pierced our roof, too.

Ryan was called to jury duty.  Pot is specifically listed as one of the excluded items in the courtroom.

Ryan was called to jury duty. Pot is specifically listed as one of the excluded items in the courtroom.

As every schoolchild now knows, Washington legalized recreational marijuana, and it was kinda funny to see the green crosses that indicated pot shops all over the place.  My smart phone located 13 (THIRTEEN) marijuana dispensaries within a five mile radius of my son’s house.  Holy moly.

Pot shop (er, marijuana dispensary) in Tacoma

Pot shop (er, marijuana dispensary) in Tacoma

One thing about the area, people are known for being fairly polite while driving.  Since I learned to drive here, it has always irritated me that the driving habits of people in other places (Maine, Boston,  the whole East Coast actually, and California…) are so atrocious and dangerous.  I got used to these people entering the freeway with the intent of racing the rightful occupant of the lane (me) and risking a collision, rather than adjusting speed to merge.  That’s right, I said MERGE. I was dumbfounded when somebody in Seattle actually MERGED onto I-5.  They apparently don’t teach MERGE in Driver’s Ed outside of Seattle.

Bloody Mary at Skillet Diner in Ballard

Bloody Mary at Skillet Diner in Ballard

Ryan and Amy are adventurous eaters, and we went to an Ethiopian restaurant that had some pretty darn good food.  You sit at a round wicker table with the top made like a bowl.  The food comes on a huge tray that fits the bowl, and under the separate mounds of food is a large layer of thin, spongy injera bread which you just tear off and eat.  No silverware.  You use the bread to pick up the food items and eat it.  We ordered a meat dish, and a vegetable platter.  It was amazingly delicious and quite exotic.  Even the spongy sourdough bread was good.  We also had some great Thai food, although the soup smelled an awful lot like bus station urine, so we didn’t eat it.  We ate at one place on Lake Union that earned a tab of $76 for two of us (we each had a margarita and shared dessert.).  I just about fainted.  Ryan assured me that those prices are common in the trendy neighborhoods.

Carmelized grapefruit

Carmelized grapefruit

Skillet Diner in Ballard had a fantastic breakfast menu, and I just had to try the carmelized grapefruit, as well as the house-made biscuits and sage sausage gravy.  The best sausage and biscuits I ever had was at a restaurant somewhere in Western Washington (Captain something) about 30 years ago, and not even in the fabled South did I ever find anything close.  Until Skillet.  Oh. My. God. I did not include a photo since sausage gravy looks like what we in the Army politely called SOS (shit on a shingle.)  Some good shit!

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There were three coffee shops a stone’s throw from the diner (Starbucks among them, of course.)  And some adorable shops with funky stuff like art cards, cool little toys, and yummy gourmet cupcakes. And a park with weird art tree sculptures. We explored Ballard Consignment across the street and they found a sweet corner liquor cabinet.  Managed to fit it in the Toyota with Amy and me squeezed tight.  I thoroughly enjoyed the artsy fartsy ambiance of that Ballard neighborhood.  (Can you tell I’ve lived in the Middle of Nowhere for too long?)

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I have an odd knack of traveling to a city where something with national or international importance happens.  This was the tragedy in nearby Marysville.

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On my way to my new job in southern California, I stopped in to see an old friend Sheila, who had been instrumental in helping me find my way during a dark time in my life.  Formerly a professional interior decorator, she now paints luscious flower bouquets (“Not Your Grandmother’s Flowers”) and dotes on her three grandsons.  Her house is full of that “Sheila charm”- mostly thrift store finds that are just so funky and placed so perfectly in her West Seattle home.  She has a theme of black-and-white checkerboard tiles, which also show up in her paintings.  She manages to find doo-dads and fabrics to echo that theme, too.  Sheila’s one of my bold and clever and creative heroes.  Check out her website and her art!Untitled-1

I also visited my 91-year-old “Mama Bev” in Tacoma.  She greeted me in a charming pumpkin costume, since it was Halloween.   She and husband Herb had a writer’s workshop every other week in their home, and for ten years we critiqued each other’s work.  They lived frugally and traveled the world for free because travel agencies would foot the bill for travel writers who could give them or their tours a plug.  Herb died about a decade ago (I miss that guy) and Bev has been active in her charming retirement community, planning talent shows and programs, meeting with friends and riding her big adult trike to the store or doctor’s appointments.  She’s a hero of mine, too.

Mama Bev

Mama Bev

Then I looked up a cousin of my mom’s (her godson actually) who lives with his wife Cathy near Grants Pass, Oregon.  John and I do “battle” on Facebook over our differing political views, but contrary to his scary biker-looking photo, he’s a really nice guy.  The Black Bear Restaurant where we had breakfast has a Tesla charging station!  Plug those babies in while you eat, and you’re good to go for another coupla hours.  (Didn’t see any actual Teslas plugged in, but it was pretty nifty anyway.)

Tesla charging station, Grants Pass, Oregon

Tesla charging station, Grants Pass, Oregon

So that’s the scoop on my visit to Seattle.  I’m in sunny Southern California now, but I might have to do the next post on the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone, which I saw enroute to Seattle.  We’ll see.  Stay warm ya’ll.

First time I saw gas below $3.00 a gallon in what seems like a decade.  This was in Seattle.

First time I saw gas below $3.00 a gallon in what seems like a decade. This was in Seattle.

Text and photographs copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

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Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug and Fine Art America

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Contact:  cindy at cindymcintyre.com

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8 Comments

  1. Phil Schob said,

    REALLY LOVED THIS BLOG CINDY, YOU HAVE AND STILL ARE LIVING AN INTERESTING LIFE. TAKE CARE AND HAVE A GREAT THANKSGIVING, PHIL

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Thanks Phil – glad Brandon is doing better. Mom just told me yesterday about what happened. Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours, too!

  2. Alli Farkas said,

    Amazing how many interesting and/or offbeat things you found amid your visits to family and friends. The Ethiopian restaurant sounds just like one I visited many years ago in Silicon Valley. Nice horse sculpture in front of the pot shop, too! No idea what kind of job brought you to SoCal, but I lived in LA for decades, which was about four decades too long. Nice place to visit, but if that’s where you’re headed and you’re sensitive to rude drivers you will be going over the edge quite soon I should think! Even after years of driving in Chicago, LA still seems like driving in China to me. Even though I’ve only read about driving in China and will most likely (fortunately) never have to experience it. Good luck with the new job, wherever in SoCal it is!

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Alli, my son disagrees that Seattle drivers know how to merge. He was pretty ticked with me for saying that. He says they dribble onto the freeway at 30 mph instead of getting up to speed before merging. I said, well we were going about that speed in the rain when I observed the MERGE so maybe he’s right. LOL.

  3. mbkircus said,

    Glad you are getting time to catch us up on your adventures. Great post – except for not much light.

  4. TravelBug-Susan said,

    What a great blog today. It shows how much you love life, art, and people

    • Cindy McIntyre said,

      Thanks! I wanted to peek inside a pot shop but couldn’t summon the courage. I’m such a goody-two-shoes.

  5. Pam Leonard said,

    Illinois has some of the most inconsiderate drivers in the country, so be warned if you ever intend to be within a 2 hour drive of Chicago. On the flip side the second you hit the Wisconsin border you are in the land of those who follow the speed limit and know how to yield…unless they have Illinois license plates!

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