Rocking my signature look (boots with hiking socks sticking out the top, shorts, my blue ¼ zip, and my sunglasses), I wandered towards the waterfront in the morning simply to see the mountains; I really can’t tell you how tired I am of this concrete jungle. All of the snow-capped mountains in the distance, Ranier in particular, seem to rise up out of nowhere, and dominate the skyline; making all the things made by human hands seem so insignificant. The sprawling metropolis all around me feels so insubstantial and unfulfilling compared to those mountains that are out of reach; kind of like off-brand Oreos compared to the real thing. Enough of the poetic license. Back to the story.
Olympic Sculpture Park is located on the north end of the waterfront, and is a huge attraction in Seattle. I went, and confirmed that I still don’t understand or appreciate art and continued farther down the shoreline to Myrtle Gardens Park which had something I had hoped to find on my trip: a beach. On that rocky beach, I sat down, took off my boots and socks, and waded into the frigid water. Finally, I’ve been in the Pacific. And, via taste test, it’s less salty then the Atlantic.
From there, I wandered quite a bit. I’m not sure for how long; all I remember is that I kept moving until I found the flagship REI store. To give you an idea of the size of the store, it has a mountain bike test drive path outside, around a waterfall, with real hills and trails. There is an indoor hiking loop with dirt and rocks so you can test out the new hiking boots. The store is over 100,000 sq ft, and quite frankly, there is just TOO much to look at. Even I can’t look through 500 backpacks and not get bored.
Lazily heading back to my motel to get cleaned up for the award reception, I passed Dahlia’s Bakery which was closed when I had walked by it earlier. It was open now, so I popped inside. The lady behind the counter asked what I wanted, and I told her I didn’t know because it all looked so good and I came from somewhere that didn’t really have any good bakeries. Horrified, she asked where I was from, to which I replied, “South Carolina”. The customer behind me piped up and said, “No kidding! I’m from Greenville!” and agreed with me that we really don’t have any good bakeries (at least that we had found). He recommended I get the Coconut Pie Cup (which I did) and I saw a Rhubarb and Pecan Muffin which I got as well. It’s embarrassing, but I stood outside and licked the wrappers clean.
After getting cleaned up, I met with Rudy from Jersey to head over to the award reception. The ceremony was pretty standard, except one student’s big accomplishment was musical based, so he actually performed a Native American wood-wind instrument solo; the rest of us felt bad because we had neglected the talent portion of the pageant….I mean ceremony. Not to be beaten, after the ceremony Rudy showed me the proper technique of sliding down an entire escalator in order to fly about 10’. I’ve kayaked rapids, climbed 30’ boulders with only a crash pad, and stood in between an AT backpacker and food, but I was too scared to try that. Humbled, I went back to the hotel and packed for my last day in Seattle before crashing on the bed.
Remembering that luggage expands 30% after unpacking, I shoved the last bit of my stuff into my bag for the trip home. My plane didn’t leave until 8pm local time, so I had one whole day left in Seattle. By this point, I was burnt out and ready to go home to where they know that the only type of tea is sweet tea. The honey moon was over, and the romance was gone.
Melissa and I walked through the University District, and then headed back towards downtown and the wharf. As Melissa is walking beside me, a guy with a black hoody pulled down over his face walks beside her, cuts us off, and then spins around like he’s going to punch us. I have no clue what is going on, so I get behind him and lock him in a rear-naked choke. Turns out that this is the standard practice for mugging, and Rudy thought it would be funny to mess with us. It didn’t really work.
I went back through the waterfront with Rudy and Melissa playing tour guide because I knew the area, but I was glad when we were done. 5 days traveling alone gets lonely, and I had people to get home and see. I shouldered my bags, said my goodbyes, and went to the airport for the long 12 hour process of getting me home to the people who were waiting for me. And to sweet tea.
Seattle is an amazing city, and I wholeheartedly recommend you go there. Don’t let the distance make you think twice; at the time of this writing, a round trip ticket to Seattle from Charlotte is only $300. Most of the people in Seattle are friendly and welcoming, especially if you’re willing to use a little Old South Charm. If you ever need recommendations for food, what to go see, or where to stay, feel free to email me.