When I thought about leaving on this trip, I found it difficult to imagine myself navigating safely across the USA. I’ve never been good at using maps and directions. They definitely do not come second nature to me – fourth or fifth nature is about where my navigation skills are. I knew I wanted to be places. I just hoped I could deal with moving between places. Then I remembered that Google Maps exists and my problem was solved. Type in the address and follow the directions. It’s that easy.
Then, when I got to Seattle, I wondered if I could make my way through the crowded and confusing city streets without getting lost.
Well, there’s an app for that – of course, there is. There are apps which tell you how to arrive at your destination by car, foot, public transit, or Uber. That’s pretty cool. So instead of allowing myself to get lost, I used an app.
I started out in Edmunds, where my Uncle lives. He drove me to the commuter rail that would take me into downtown Seattle. On the ride to Seattle, I saw the ocean to my right but was rather distracted by the people squishing in on me from all sides. Especially the ones on my left who were reminiscing about their young adult days of picking fruit in Northern California. I did learn that harvesting peaches is a very uncomfortable task because it is impossible not to get covered in peach hair, which is apparently quite itchy.
When I exited the rail, I didn’t know exactly where to start. I had downloaded the magical app that would lead me safely through Seattle and I had a general idea of where the places I wanted to visit were located, but I didn’t have a route planned. To figure out where I would go first, I flopped out of the tide of humans I had been swimming with and sat on a bench. I plotted a course to the Seattle Center, which is a public gathering place that was built in 1962 for the World’s Fair. It is a center for performances and activities and includes (among other things) the Seattle Pacific Museum and the Space Needle.
I had a mile and a half to walk from the transit station and I enjoyed seeing the city as I went. When I started on my way it was 8:20 A.M. and the sky was still cloudy, making for a cool morning stroll.
I arrived at the Pacific Science Center, hoping to sign up for tickets to see the traveling exhibit of Terracotta Warriors (funerary statues of the first Emperor of China’s army). However, I found that the tickets were slightly beyond my price range, so I decided to leave the exhibit for the real tourists who come with overflowing wallets.
Moving on from the Science Center, I walked the short distance to the Space Needle and sat near the base to find my next stop.
I decided to go to the Olympic Sculpture Park and then walk along the waterfront. At the Park, I found three pieces of art that interested me. The first is entitled Wake and is modeled after the lines of the ocean – waves, ships, etc. The second is called Wandering Rocks and I won’t pretend to know what it is about. It’s supposed to be symbolic of something. And it looked cool, so I took a picture. The last one is a sculpture of a nine-year-old girl, entitled Echo. It is over 46 feet high. I watched for several minutes as two people worked on the upper surface. Watching one of them stand on what looked to be a very precarious work platform made me realize that 46 feet is really really high off the ground.
As you can see in the last picture, the Sculpture Park borders on the waterfront. When I left the park, I followed the water and eventually made it to Pike Place Market.
During my tour thus far, I had seen at least six different Starbucks locations. Now I saw the original one – 1912 Pike Street. It was crazily busy, so I got coffee at a different Starbucks that was only a block away.
I walked through Pike Place Market and saw lots of people, lots of stuff being sold and lots of food. In addition to the open-air marketplace that it is famous for, there are four levels underneath, inhabited by a wide variety of shops. I approached it from the waterfront and walked up several flights of stairs to get to the top level. From there I explored downward where I eventually found the best kind of store there is – a used bookstore.
Next, I used the underground transit system to get out to the University of Washington. I haven’t been to a university quite that large before, and I was interested in comparing it to Grand Canyon University, where I plan to attend in the fall. The University of Washington didn’t disappoint – it is huge. It took me about half an hour to walk from the southern edge of campus where the transit station was to the center of campus where the tour departed from. I was impressed with the grand buildings that gave off the feeling I’d always imagined I’d find at places like Harvard and Oxford.
I finished the campus tour and walked back to the subway. When I got back to downtown Seattle, I visited the Waterfall Garden, which is a tiny patch of lush greenery in the heart of the bustling city. The garden is built on what is said to be the footprint of the original UPS office (then called the American Messenger Company) in 1907.
My next stop was the Frye Museum. I enjoyed all of the walks I took throughout the day, except for this one. There was a steep, long hill, upon which the sun graciously decided to bestow its warm rays. Just as a piece of advice, if you ever tour Seattle, don’t walk east on James Street. I enjoyed the art at the Frye but was not able to take pictures there.
I finished up at Seattle Public Library. Because of the shape of the building, I couldn’t get a good picture that would communicate the size and awesomeness of the place. It is an eleven story tall library filled with books, media of all sorts, people, comfy seats, meeting rooms, and at least one coffee shop. I looked around for a few minutes, then went up to the eleventh floor and sat down to rest.
After recovering, I walked to the commuter rail and rode back to Edmonds, where Uncle Ross picked me up. We ate a delectable dinner at home of barbequed pork, fresh salad, corn, and sourdough bread. For dessert, we had fruit, including plums that I was given in Oregon and blueberries from Aunt Dianne’s garden.
Now that the day is over, it seems to have gone so fast! It went by in a blur of busy people, impatient cars, incredible skyscrapers, and churning feet. Two of those feet were my own. They churned a lot – twelve miles in all. I am thankful for everything I got to see and also for the way I experienced the city. By walking all around, I saw both the good and the bad (thankfully not the dangerous though). Taking public transportation was interesting too, as it gave me a chance to catch a glimpse of the middle-class culture in the city.
Even in the hugeness of a metropolis like Seattle, people build relationships. On both of my rides on the commuter rail, I listened to people greet each other as friends. From what I heard, think it would be true to say that they primarily see each other on the way to and from work. But that is enough time to talk for a moment and appreciate the presence of a familiar, friendly face. Even the security officers who came back to check on the passengers was able to greet many of them by name. On my trip back to Edmonds, the security officer stuck around for the whole ride. He and the eight people he talked to were making plans to have a barbeque together on the weekend.
Well, there’s enough for one day! Tomorrow should be a little bit more relaxed. I hope.
That is quite a lot for one day. I sure enjoyed reading about it.
It takes a lot of courage to take on a cross country trip knowing that maps are not your forte!
By the end of the trip you’ll be an expert … by necessity! Or you’ll learn to enjoy unplanned exploration. 🙂
Good job you have the eye and perspective of a professional writer. You take risks. You listen to your subjects both animate and inanimate