Saturday, January 4, 2014

Girl Blew West Diary: Seattle

There's images that remain imprinted in your memory and endure in your heart. Flying into Seattle in the late evening on a June night, I looked out the airplane window and witnessed the mountain ranges with a bird's eye view. It felt like a dream. Sometimes I almost wonder, was it a dream?  This land is a sacred place. We landed and saw the Alaska Airlines planes on the runway. I confessed to my husband Steve later that I had this almost magnetic pull to want to board one and keep going further into the wilderness. He had the same feeling.

There's an obscure Tori Amos song, Mountain, from her Scarlet's Walk era. I wish she had included it on the record, one of my favorites, which is a sonic road trip across America, the land a character as much as the people Scarlet meets on her journey.

"So the city spits you out, rejected.
Kiss the brave men that you thought had you protected.
She'll be down when the mountain lets her go."

The draw of the mountain, and away from the city. Here I was landing in a big city, when I work in one, New York, that I feel so overwhelmed in. But I found pieces, maybe even themes, that find me wherever I am. Seattle would be our base city before venturing to Rainier and Olympic National Parks.

When considering vacation plans, we again looked West. I want to go West again, Oregon. Montana. Alaska. I feel like what I read was once written about Johnny Appleseed, "A boy. Blew West." I feel like the girl who blew west.

Here in the Western city of Seattle is what I loved.

Indie coffee shops.

In New Jersey, Dunkin Donuts and Starbucks are king. Not here.

We stayed in the Maple Leaf neighborhood and visited different shops for breakfast each day. The Blue Saucer. So many happy things out front: the dog, flowers, a bike.

A soy latte and bagel with tomato, spinach and homemade onion jam. This wasn't on the menu but they suggested it when I asked for a non-dairy breakfast sandwich. I love all of the milk alternatives widely available for coffee drinks, too.

I went back again for their "mojito" with white peach iced tea, lime juice and mint leaves.

A white mocha with rice milk and a lingonberry crepe at Café Javasti.

At Cloud City Coffee, a vegan cherry almond muffin and an almond milk medici, a mocha with orange zest.

Not just the food and drinks, but the community spirit. I loved everything on this poster about community at Cloud City Coffee. The first thing listed "Turn off your tv."
As an editorial "Apple Bites into (Our) Holiday Humanity" in my local paper noted,
"The average American apparently now spends more than five hours a day on a digital device and 4 1/2 hours with the TV on. If you work or study eight hours a day, sleep eight hours a night, and commute at all, what time is left actually living life?"

Keeping money in the communities.

This was our first trip using Airbnb for a number of nights. For the first leg we stayed with Jess and Joey. Three nights here were $218 ($65 per night and a $23 fee), which we thought sounded reasonable for a major city. This was actually our most expensive Airbnb place. We didn't meet our hosts, but were happy for our very comfortable bed, clean room, shower, and chair with a leg massager after a long flight and days sightseeing. Their rooms are above Joey's hair salon, and their house is beautiful.

Books, and communities for them (libraries, small books shops, swaps).

I love these little book exchanges. Someone started one in our office too.

Down the road from Cloud City Coffee, so excited to spot a "Little Free Library," started by Todd Bol of Wisconsin who built one as a tribute to his mother, a former schoolteacher who loved reading. You can buy or make one. Watch a short video here.

One of my favorite authors was here: Louise Erdrich, and her best selling The Round House. I had already read this from my library.

We did some things from the tourist checklist too. The futuristic Space Needle.

A Washington state white wine at the top. I've lived in New Jersey my entire life, not far from New York City (where I currently work) and have never been to the top of the Empire State Building. I always say I should play tourist in my own backyard, but seldom do.

We rode the Ferris Wheel. I regretted not doing so in Paris and felt the urge to do it here.

A vegetarian hot dog with sauerkraut, sea salt and vinegar potato chips and a fresh squeezed strawberry lemonade at "The Frankfurter" on the waterfront.

At Pike Place Market, we picked up some Rainier cherries (so lucky we were there for the season) and an "Oh My God" peach. These are nature's candy to me.

Huckleberry ice cream on the pier.

Learning about history.

I know more now about the California gold rush, but I didn't know anything about the Alaskan gold rush until visiting the Klondike Gold Rush National Historic Park. Sharing some quotes from signs in the museum.

"In August 1896, an event occurred that was to change the region and its Native inhabitants forever. On Bonanza Creek, a small branch of the Klondike River, three prospectors discovered what would prove to be the largest concentration of gold ever found. News spread quickly to the loose network of white prospectors moving throughout the Yukon. Winter soon set in closing all routes to the Klondike. News of the strike would not reach the rest of the world until the following summer."

Consider the state of the economy today. Are times as desperate now?

"The spectacle of men looking for work...My God!! This is terrible! Battling for the privilege of working all day for enough to eat - and the next day go at it again; and the next day go at it again; and so on until the earth rattles on their pine boxes." - Igantius Donnelly, "The Representative," August 29, 1894.

In 1897, Ethel Anderson was a young child. Later in life she wrote about her life in Bellingham, Washington before the gold rush.

"They called the hard times a "panic" but why it came, no one knows...Money began to disappear and no one had any work. For a while our papa cut firewood for the railway for a dollar a day - a fourteen-hour day...When our food supply began to run low we would strike out, gun in hand...No need to carry a lunch for every homesteader along the way would say, 'Put your feet under the table and tell us the news.' Every traveler was a walking newspaper, and in hard times the farmer alone is well fed."

A sign here talks about the displacement of the Native people who were outraged by the sale of Alaska by Russia in 1867. Who can sell the land? We'll visit this more in my next diary entry.

"Sourdough, a form of yeast, was used to make bread or pancakes rise during the gold rush. A person who spent at least one full winter in Alaska was called a 'Sourdough.'"

"Do not worry about any danger, for there is no more here than in Detroit except what comes with hard work...Plenty of that will be at hand...I fully expect hard work and lots of it and I shall not be disappointed." - Mac McMichael, 1898


Awaiting mail in the Yukon Territory. Mail and news traveled so slowly, and now we have information at our fingertips. When viewing what dominates the headlines in the media, I often think, "This is the age when so much information is available to us, and this is the information that's being pushed upon us?"

Nature. Always seeking out moments in nature.

Before we got on the trail I came upon this stunning Native American mural. Remembering and respecting the animal spirits.

A sailing race was going on that day.

The Discovery Park lighthouse was our destination. Everyone around here seemed to be enjoying the moment.

I'll be exploring constants in my life - gardens and farms - as themes in my Seattle stay, but even more adventure awaits before.
There was a book at the Space Needle gift shop, "I Can Learn Something New." So much of traveling is about learning something new, but I'm trying to approach daily life this way too. The airwaves are flooded in January with advertisements from the weight loss industry that makes in particular women feel insecure about their bodies. Forget those ads, and embrace what's beautiful about you, and the world around you. Let's focus on learning something new.

No comments:

Post a Comment