This is the sixth of a series of posts recalling my second annual trip to Seattle. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of five years later or to add further clarification; I use “NOW” to denote such cases.
Another humid night. I woke up around 4 to a rustling sound nearby so I opened my eyes slightly and a woman was changing out of everything. It was hard to tell without my glasses on and I didn't want there to be any awkward moments when she realized I'd woken up so I didn't put then on (not *that* dark), but I think she changed briefly, out of *every*thing in front of me, thinking I was still asleep.
The first part of the day I took a couple of photos of the remnants of the parade. Not many though as most things had apparently been cleared out the night before.
[NOW: Most years there’s still a fair bit of litter in some areas of the parade route the day after. I’m not sure if that was the case this time.]
I revisited Freeway Park, and in fact found parts of the part I hadn't noticed or had forgotten about since my last visit there last year. Greater Victoria residents might be wondering if Freeway Park has a freeway in the sense that Westshore Shopping Centre has any sort of shore. Actually it is indeed built onto a freeway and even early morning you can hear the buzz of traffic.
[NOW: There are a lot of fountains in one section of the park. For people who have never been to the Greater Victoria area, Westshore Shopping Centre is nowhere near any shoreline.]
My original plan was to visit a park near the university early on, but it started to rain early on, so I retrieved my coat from the hostel and changed into long sleeve pants, and visited the Harbor Steps near my last year's hostel while working on backup plans.
[NOW: The park in question was Warren G. Magnuson Park, described below.]
The Harbor Steps are very wide and have lots of steps (and temporarily lots of model pigs -- I think I've discovered a new pig every day of the trip thus far).
[NOW: As previously noted, with a few exceptions such as Rachel the Pig at Pike Place Market, most of the pigs were around to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Market and were thus just there for that year.]
I wandered around a little more and decided to take a bus to Ballard. This being the free zone, I paid for a weekend daypass (only $2.50) upon exiting the bus.
[NOW: Due to the free downtown area, it’s often the case that you pay upon exiting, not entering the bus in Seattle.]
They had another component of Seafair (the parade's Seafair, too) there: a huge multi-block outdoor market; I think on one angle it connected to a smaller (by Seattle standards) Sunday farmer's market. As with the parade, there were no half measures; this was huge!
[NOW: The Seafair and regular markets were the Seafair Seafoodfest and the Ballard Farmer's Market, respectively. I think in 2011 the Seafoodfest was done outside of Seafair.]
I walked over to the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks. To explain the locks you have to first understand that in Ballard, the saltwater Puget Sound connects with the freshwater Lake Union, and Lake Union's at a much higher water level. So the way boats and ships cross is, they steer their boat into a special section ending in a barrier and the boats/ships are roped to the locks, kind of like when a boat is roped to a dock. Then a barrier closes behind them, and the water level is either raised or lowering depending on if they're entering or exiting Lake Union.
But the locks themselves are not the most amazing thing at the Locks. No, the most amazing thing is a fish "ladder" (more a staircase) designed to assist salmon returning from the sea to spawn. On one level (the last I think) you actually get to watch salmon trying to swim up current, having survived being eaten by predators or killed by diseases for what (except possibly for the steelheads) is the final leg of their life journey. Amazing to watch this because it's live (and thus with the current, no narrator to hint at the outcome) and you know that these salmon are either incredibly lucky or they truly are the best of the best, having made it this far in their life journey. I've never seen anything like it. The most amazing part of this trip beyond a doubt.
I found a comic shop in Ballard and this time actually bought some. By now the weather was nicer so I headed for the park described above (Warren G. Magnuson Park). I actually passed on a comic shop en route to reach the park before too dark. Not much real beach area, but very easy to navigate. They have a small blocked off section for dogs to roam free without leashes (toilet paper provided near one entry).
[NOW: The comic shop in Ballard is Arcane Comics. The park is nowhere near Ballard, being way to the east and a bit to the north of the Locks].
When I left the park i jogged away because it was a while for the next bus. Was going to go to Broadway but it was getting late and the bus from the park was going to Seattle Center so went there instead. I ate at the McDonald's near there, remembering only hours later after it was too late about the Sunday free dinner. Oops. Well, can't be helped now, and I'm surprised I'm as functional as I am given nearly a week of minimal sleep. And while there I figured out the ending to the Santa story I'm finding. Perhaps had I eaten the free dinner, I wouldn't have had that key brainstorm. Some people were laughing *really* loud there.
Walked back downtown as I didn't feel like using my pass and wandered around a little.
Was going to buy some film and flavoured water from one store but she ID'd me re: the credit card, and while I was rummaging my bag for money, she went "tap-tap" with her fingernails on the counter the whole time. I probably didn't have the cash on me, but was too flustered by this to find it regardless so just bought the water. She was lucky I bought even that much, but the water was cheap and it's a big humid here.
[NOW: I later noticed that I did have the cash, but with the sound of fingernails repeatedly tapping on the counter there was no way I was going to find it. This was at the downtown Seattle Walgreen’s. This being 2007, I doubt that woman is still there.]
A few incidents like these notwithstanding, and not counting Settle as truly part of Seattle, I have to say that I still fell in love with the city all over again, and for my final full day tomorrow, I'm thinking of just revisiting spots I like one last time (and maybe doing a final sweep of Broadway for that card) rather than doing another mandatory exploring of a new area. I lucked out today with the Locks, but I think I'll use tomorrow mainly to examine what Seattle really means to me.
So yes tomorrow will be the 4th day in a row I go to the International Fountain at Seattle Center. And there will be other places I'm visited multiple times. But I figure a vacation should be about doing things you love. And like I told people last year, part of me really does want to find a way to move here someday. Of course then I remember there's no decent swimming holes here, but there are parts of this city I enjoy enough to make this my plan. Let's see if tomorrow bears this plan out.
[NOW: Actually there are some decent swimming areas when the weather’s nice, Warren G. Magnuson Park and Seward Park spring to mind.]