Using my free MetroPass from Microsoft, I took the bus to downtown Seattle on the Fourth. It was a gratifying trip along tree-lined roads, across Mercer Island and the sailboat-speckled Lake Washington, past Safeco Field (home of the Seattle Mariners), and Qwest Field (72,000 seats to watch the Seattle Seahawks), and through Chinatown. Anxious to see Seattle on foot, I got off at the next stop – in front of the Seattle City Hall. This dramatic, angular building featured a large glass-enclosed piece of art of iridescent disks strung on filament. Below is a picture. The neighboring buildings are reflected in the glass.
Walking towards the waterfront, I reached Pioneer Square, one of the oldest parts of Seattle; it’s famous for its underground tour of what was once the main roadways and first-floor storefronts of old downtown Seattle, including houses of ill repute, taverns and opium dens. The area also features 20 blocks of Victorian Romanesque architecture.
Seattle wraps around Elliott Bay in the Puget Sound. Its waterfront has piers and facilities for shipping, huge cruise (Norwegian, Celebrity, Holland, Princess) ships, Washington State ferries, site-seeing and sailing boats, and tourism, including the Seattle Aquarium, Odyssey Maritime Discovery Center, and a plethora of restaurants and tourist shops and attractions. It’s a hubbub of people – locals enjoying the day and the spectacular view of the bay, camera-toting tourists, students, joggers, walkers, and little children running up-and-down the wide boardwalk.
The weather, like the view, was perfect. Across the sapphire water, I can see snow-capped Olympic Mountains, Mount Rainer, green hills dotted with houses and ships and boats of every ilk. The Emerald City takes my breath away. My trepidations about leaving Texas and starting over have become a distant memory.
Walking further, I reached the newly opened Olympic Sculpture Park, developed by the Seattle Art Museum (SAM) and the Trust for Public Land. Once a hang-out for transients and highly industrial area owned by Union Oil of California (UNOCAL), the 9-acre park is a unique mixture of large outdoor sculptures, pathways, native plantings, and a pavilion and amphitheater in a Z-shaped configuration that connects three distinct parcels of landscape and goes over a multi-lane highway and railroad tracks.
I didn’t spend much time in the park because I wanted to share it with Rich in a few months. Instead, I headed back to Pike Street and the "market." On the way, I passed by the Growing Vine Street project, which captures storm water runoff from the neighboring building and uses biofiltration (exposing polluted water to sunlight, soil and vegetation) to biologically alter and absorb pollutants, thereby improving water quality.
There’s lots of science and a huge cistern involved in the project. All I saw was 8-city blocks, planted with amazing flowering bushes, vegetables, small sculptures, and pathways. There were patches of bright lavender, delicate old-fashioned pink and magenta roses, bristly artichokes, multi-colored dahlias, and peonies… everything that I can’t wait to plant in our next house!
As expected, Pike’s Market was swarming with people rushing up to tables of just-picked fruits (mostly cherries, blueberries, and apricots), vegetables, and buckets of flowers. Enormous bouquets cost $10-$20. Smaller bouquets, the size you’d buy in Texas for $20 or more, are just $5.
The market also features cases of fish, meat, poultry, dairy products, coffees and teas, dried pasta, candies, nuts, honey, baked goods, and locally produced lotions and potions. I bought some Moon Valley calendula soap along with their lotion bar, lip balm, and a salve with sweet almond oil, beeswax, rosehip seed oil, flax oil, aloe, comfrey, calendula, burdock, geranium, and rosemary extract. My skin already feels less itchy!
Encompassing many, many blocks and dozen or more buildings, the market is recognized as America’s premier farmers’ market and is home to nearly 200 year-year commercial businesses, 190 craftspeople, 120 farmers who rent table space, 240 street performers and musicians, and 300 apartment units, most of which house mostly low-income, elderly people.
Click here to take a tour of the market. It’s fun!
After many hours of wandering through downtown Seattle, I was happy to grab a bus back to Bellevue and spend the rest of the day and evening, reading, painting my toenails, watching TV, and worrying about Rich, who was overseeing the Fort Vancouver Fireworks Show in Vancouver (border of Washington and Oregon). I was glad when he called at 11 o’clock to say that his show went off without a hitch.