Pike Place, Seattle
My brother in law Dave and his wonderful fiancé Jessica have the distinct pleasure of living in Seattle, and we occasionally have the even more distinct pleasure to leave the humid flatlands of Houston behind and visit them there. In advance of their upcoming nuptials, Dave and Jess asked their friends to come northwest for a weekend of bachelor/bachelorette activities. Kate and I decided to supersize the combo, and tacked on a couple days in Mount Rainier National Park.
Rainier above the clouds
After meeting family and friends at the airport after we arrived, we all sauntered down to the waterfront near Pike Place for dinner[i]. We’ve been to the markets at Pike Place before, but it’s always fun to wander through the hectic maze of stalls and tourists. No one was slinging fish by the time we got there, but we did stop and admire their pigs[ii]. I also stopped to admire their pedestrian intersections...instead of the usual confined walkways, there was at least one pedestrian square, in which you could start at any corner, and progress to any other point on the square while traffic waited patiently. This lead to a conspicuous amount of purposeful directionlessness in crossing intersections, just because we could[iii].
Riding the Pig, Pike Place Market, Lower Floor!
We ambled through down to the waterfront, to “The Crab Pot”, located on a wharf over Puget Sound. Dinner was a heaping bucket/pile of seafood boil (“The Seafest!”) dumped ceremoniously on our table, communal style. It was just short of perfect. Of all the fantastic nicer restaurants we’ve been to in Seattle, I think it’s hard to beat digging into a mass of crab legs, mussels, etc with a frosty mug of beer in one hand and a fork in the other[iv] while the sun sets over the mountains across the Sound. As bellies filled and light waned, we headed back to their Capitol Hill neighborhood[v] for a drink at the local bar before turning in.
Dinner at the Crap Pot, The Crab Pot, Seafest!, Crab Pot Vista, Work that Steel, Capitol Hill, The Bottleneck Lounge
[i] Actually, while there was sauntering involved, there was also the use of Seattle’s public transportation system, which is one of the most useful and multi-facted I’ve encountered. It’s serious stuff there…with the potential exception of the unfortunately named South Lake Union Trolley. Does no one do acronym checks? I mean, seriously? The potential for innuendo there (ride the…get on the….etc) is pretty staggering.
[ii] In the grand tradition of American tourism, despite having no idea what the pig statues were about, I took a picture of them anyway because we have failed as a nation if we do not photodocument every last potentially important thing we come across. If we enjoy things in any other way than from behind a lens, the terrorists win.
[iii] Sometimes bordering on “willy-nilly”.
[iv] Rounding out the meal was a fantastic bowl of salmon chowder and a couple passed-around desserts.
[v] Which is one of the cooler urban neighborhoods I’ve walked through. I have a hard time explaining to some other people in my profession why I think some urban planning aesthetics are unnatural, or unrealistic. SO much of it comes from an inorganic, 30,000 foot view of immaculate architects drawings. It missed the organic reality of city life, and sometimes, unfortunately, borders on elitism when what is “desirable” is a reflection of only a certain point of view. I’m all in favor of denser urban area focused on walkability, etc. I just think some of the ways we go about trying to achieve those things are artificial at best. However, I often have trouble explaining what my ideal is.The Capitol Hill neighborhoods in that area are pretty damn close to being the summation of what I try to formulate into words, even recognizing, well, it ain’t a cheap place to live. It feels organic…houses are not uniform, there are gardens everywhere, streets feel like small town streets, there are lots of thriving little local shops, public transport is everywhere without being intrusive…just a really nice place, while still maintaining reasonable density for an urban area. Are you listening New Urbanists? Get thee to Capitol Hill.