Walking Around Seattle

forestMany things can be, and have been, said about Seattle – congested, dirty, loud, growing too fast, best being avoided, green, cold shouldered (the Seattle Freeze) and rude. Most of that are true. Quite a few drivers honk at the car in front of them to move it or get out of the way. Pedestrians and bicyclists do the same thing, too. “Move it!” they shout as they silently sneak up behind you and scare the living daylights out of you. Some people avoid downtown Seattle altogether for fear of getting shot in the face (it happens). There is no shortage of beggars and riff raff around the Pike-Pine corridor, Pioneer Square, Native Park, the Waterfront and elsewhere. Aurora Avenue has its own character, too. On any given you can find so many orange needle caps on the street you’d swear you were walking through an infirmary. Still, Seattle is packing them in. There are countless streams of Asians milling about. The Ducks are always full. Just a short stroll through Seattle Center will expose you to foreign languages you strive to identify. Yeah, the skyline is getting bigger and more congested, but at least there is something true about Seattle that can’t be overlooked – she is interesting.

My roommate and I have done a lot of walking around Seattle and the outlying areas. It’s interesting how just crossing one block can bring a whole new change of scenery. We started out walking just 4 miles here, 6 miles there. Eventually, it escalated to 10 miles here, 15 miles there. Yesterday we walked 19.1 miles. Our aching feet brought us through SoDo, the Central District, Mercer Island, Factoria and Bellevue. We saw rich folks and poor folks, businessmen and crackheads, gleaming spires and condemned hovels. There were lakes, bridges, forests, marshes, malls, marinas, hills, gated communities, parks, a bike tunnel, ships, and the two longest floating bridges in the world – the north and south floating bridges across Lake Washington. Walking across that south bridge was torturous. Wikipedia says it’s 1.2 miles but other [laces say it’s about 2 miles long. I believe the 2 miles story. It felt like it. It was kind of dangerous, too. I nearly collided with a bicyclist coming down from Mercer Island at a fast clip. Mercer Island itself was interesting. The police pulled us over and asked if we’d seen a black guy on a bike. We said no. Funny. Mercer Island is milk white. You’d think it’d be a walk in the park to spot a black guy on a bike from 2 miles away. I don’t know. Maybe the cop was just checking up on us to see if we were up to no good.

Our journey terminated at the Bellevue Square. That was worth our 10 hour walk. We were probably fated to make the trip anyway because the Panda Express restaurant we ate in had the same store number as the address of this transitional shelter we live in. All in all, I’d say it was a pretty productive day yesterday. There definitely are lots of areas that Seattle has to improve – Holgate Ave., SoDo, Aurora Ave., the Central District, the International District, Westlake Center, Belltown, parts of Lake City, the University District and so on, but I believe Seattle is just a work in progress. I read that there are 42 cranes working as we speak on the skyline. That’s a start. Once Big Bertha, the super tunneling machine, gets churning again, Seattle will be well on her way to being a super developed but very enjoyable metropolis.

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