On a whim I bought a ticket to Seattle. I have a few friends who have been calling me home and there were still many stones to be overturned up in the great Pacific Northwest; so I went.
I stayed with Ethan, a very dear friend from my Bothell, Washington days; though I am glad our story has continued from that town and onto better things. He took me in and with the company of Marina, a very best friend from junior high, I was right at home. The city is bigger than I remember it. Mount Rainier is closer than I remember it. We walked Magnuson Park in the evening with popsicles because it’s the little things first.
Then when Ethan and Marina went on to work and school respectively, I went to play. I rode Ethan’s bike many mountainous miles to Green Lake, made the loop, laid in the sunshine, got sunburned (because who would bring sunscreen from Texas to Seattle?), ate clam chowder at Duke’s Chowderhouse and reluctantly rode back. From there it was Matthew’s Beach, Volunteer Park and finally sunset at Discovery Park because four parks before sundown is absolutely necessary. We ate pasta, smelled dahlias, picked blackberries and mumbled as Ethan, master trail finder, took us on some not-so-scenic dead end trails. But who can really complain when the sky looked the way it did and when you’re in the company you happen to be in? Ethan and I went out for drinks with friends which was really kind of sweet. I ate Dick’s Hamburgers in the end because that’s what a belly of beer insists at that hour. Not the wisest, but the most satisfying.
Kelle, my flatmate from London, and I grabbed brunch at Portidge Bay Cafe and holy moly, my whole life has been spent thinking a fruit bar was a square of oaty, fruity dessert until now where I realize that it’s actually a bar of unlimited berries and whipped cream waiting to hit my Pistachio and Papaya Granola. So I overindulged, went to Pike’s, subconsciously griped about the fact that the peaches are called “Oh my God Peaches” until I took a bite and said “Oh my God”. I ate Beechers, put my gum on the wall and ogled over the neon lights that illuminate Pike’s. My evening was spent canoeing with sweet friends in the Arboretum. Show me a better time, please.
I went to work with Ethan on Thursday. I spent the first hour recouping with a nap in his car before wandering Marymoor Dog Park (sin dog, so what?) and walking the bird trail. I got some bento teriyaki, for old times sake, for our lunch before Ethan took me on a grand tour of his work place and shop. It’s always neat to see where someone spends their hours.
Marina, Ethan and I packed up the car and set off for San Francisco at 2pm. We stopped in Portland for trailer tacos and Voodoo Doughnuts. I’m going to have to pause because I need to profess my love. I’m inFATuated with doughnuts as of late. The line out of the door wasn’t bothersome, the man behind the counter was lovely and as the displays rotated thousands of calories in infinite circles, I pointed to two: Old Dirty Bastard and Kelly’s Jam (habañero and pineapple jam-filled!). Driving through the night so required this blast of sugar. I also was so incredibly disappointed with Portland. Maybe it was the ever-imposterous “Keep Portland Weird” slogan slapped on the side of a building or the immense amount of homeless folk, but it felt dirty and not something I would want to be a part of. The rest of Oregon though, that’s a different story.
At 5:45am, we stopped at the Golden Gate Bridge overlook. With sheer excitement to see the bridge for the first time, I leaped and danced and ran to the top out of pure joy only to find that I could barely see Ethan standing next to me. The fog was rolling quickly, but never ending. What I did not realize is that for the next three days, I would never see the Golden Gate in its entirety and I would never catch a glimpse of the sun. The west coast was confused.
We ate at Eddie’s Diner mostly for the unreasonable hour that we found ourselves still awake at and for the bottomless coffee, we laughed at the Painted Ladies, hiked Miles End, barked at seals, walked the Sutro Baths and had Thai food in Little Chinatown with our host, Barbara.
The Conservatory of Flowers was a sweet way to start a day filled with touristy attractions like Fisherman’s Wharf, In-N-Out, Ghiradelli’s, Chinatown and Mission District. We ate burritos with Thomas and Allison at El Farolito (Thomas being a friend I met in a hostel in Berlin and again during his visit to London)! These little meet ups are what keep me going, I swear. They make my heart so happy. With all the crumby tourist garb out of the way, we decided to be more adventurous in the coming day; it suits us better.
A farmers market and the de young Museum took up much of our last morning. We spent the afternoon at Stern Grove listening to Andrew Bird perform. I’ve never loved a venue more. Being surrounded by trees with a man who can whistle like that is magic. I also got to meet up with Erica. I met her at a Maddie on Things book signing in Austin, Texas a while back. We happened to chat for an hour then and exchange enough information to stay in loose contact all this time. It’s funny how social media works. Ethan, Marina and I ate the best deep-dish pizza of our lives on Sunday. My dear friend Henry recommended Little Star so we gave it a shot and I don’t know how anyone can be disappointed with a belly full of artichokes and pints of Blue Star. This was definitely our glory meal. We wandered the coast and walked part of the Golden Gate Bridge at dark. I’m not sure what I thought San Francisco would be like, but I’m in love with it. There is so much character in the architecture; my eyes never rested. Maybe it was the company or maybe it was a combination of things, but I so enjoyed this city.
We drove back to Seattle on Monday, making the fifteen hour trek at 7am. We stopped in Eugene for an ice cream at my sweet friend Parker’s recommendation, though I’m super bummed he couldn’t be there to share it with.
I met up with Marlena for lunch on Tuesday. She lived in the flat above me in London so lunch was basically a cry fest over the city we grew too attached to and recounting memories. Sometimes that’s exactly what you need to do though. But she’s lovely and I wish we had done more in London together.
I handpicked blackberries, bought rum and made blackberry mojitos in the evening while enjoying my last hours in Seattle. We kicked the ball, rode bikes and I said goodbyes. I always forget that those massive hugs at baggage claim are always followed by these deafening goodbyes. I should keep that in mind while I attempt to feed this travel bug.
If the Pacific Northwest wanted to hold me hostage, I might let it. I’m so fond of the time I’ve spent there and the people I’ve spent it with.