Emeryville Amy

This blog will be a combination of my favorite places in the Bay Area and abroad, memoirs, recipes, restaurant reviews and travel experiences.

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Location: Emeryville, San Francisco Bay Area, CA, United States

Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Sleepless In Seattle

SLEEPLESS IN SEATTLE (definitely overused, but what the heck...)

I read in an article recently that coffee and caffeine are good for you. I love to hear that things I like (or am somewhat addicted to) are actually healthy. This piece went on to say that the Renaissance in Europe didn't happen until coffee was introduced there. With the introduction of coffee, culture and the arts flourished and an entire new age began.

Seattle is very into coffee and this might or might not be the reason it is such a vibrant creative city. One example of this is a massive "Troll" statue under one of the bridges. It is just the head and shoulders of the troll and he has a VW Bug under one hand. He is made so that people can climb on him and he has become a very popular stop for locals and travelers in-the-know.

In many places there are whimsical iron works and statues and banners for the public to enjoy. I was staying in a part of Seattle called Ballard. It was formed by Scandinavians which is readily apparent by the Swedish and Norwegian flags and statues of Leif Erickson all over the place. Its main industry has been fishing but it also home to many artists. The downtown area on Market Street and Ballard Street is charming and full of life. On Sunday there was a gathering for "SUSTAINABLE BALLARD" encouraging the use of environmentally sound products and practices. A weekly farmers market was in full swing with gorgeous flowers, especially sunflowers this time of year, and mouthwatering produce. Street musicians were playing music and adding to the festive atmosphere.

I arrived around 10:00 on Saturday night and Ben and Rachel came to pick me up in their little Honda Civic with a kayak strapped on top. It is reported that one in four people in Seattle owns a boat. That figure seems staggering to me and it was only fitting that Ben had one of his "boats" with him. I don't know what they are actually counting when they say that figure, but it is obvious that this is a society which enjoys the water that surrounds them. We zigzagged through crazy traffic downtown which was hopping that time on a Saturday evening. Lots of young people were hanging out, going to brew pubs and cafes and clubs.

On Sunday morning Rachel made a really delicious puff pancake using some of the pears that I had bought on my drive down from Mt Hood. We ate in the bright morning sun on their deck looking out over the shipping locks. When the conditions are right you can see Mt Rainier in the distance. The locks which connect the fresh water lake and the salt water of the Puget Sound are just a couple of blocks away from their apartment. We strolled down there to see them in action. The salmon are migrating this time of the year and were jumping out of the water like crazy. If I had more time I would have loved to have gone on a guided tour of them. Next to the locks is a botanical garden and beautiful green park which is used for outdoor concerts during the summer.

Kim, Kurt and Suzy Kleeh came by to pick me up for church. We went to University Presbyterian Church where Earl is the senior pastor. He preaches at all 5 services on Sundays. It felt so familiar to hear his voice and to see him in the pulpit. It took me back to my early years at Berkeley. Kim took me on a quick tour of their church campus and I peaked into their kitchen and saw their fellowship hall.

We took a scenic route back to Ballard stopping at the troll and various look out spots. We had lunch in Ballard at a renovated brick firehouse now used as a restaurant. The menu was funny and creative and the food very tasty. After lunch we strolled through the farmers market and around the neighborhood. We then got back in the car and they drove me to Sunset Point and to Golden Gardens down on Elliot Bay. I took off my shoes and walked along the water edge, watching the boats go by on the Sound and catching up with Kim.

In the evening I was able to hook up with an old college friend named Dave Chiu. It has been several years since we have seen each other and it was wonderful to hear how his life was going. We shared a fabulous dessert at a restaurant called Ray's down by the water. It was an orange-chocolate souffle made with Scharfenberger and Valrohna chocolate and topped with vanilla ice cream and homemade chocolate sauce. That is what dessert is all about... I didn't get home until almost 11:30 and since I had been out since 10:00 am it made for a long day. But what can you do when there are so many people to see and things to do!

After morning coffee with Rachel, I set out by bus to go back to University Pres to meet with Earl. The buses are very convenient in Seattle. I had no problem getting to church. Earl and I walked over to the neighborhood Tully's cafe which seemed to almost exclusively be serving members of their staff or church. Kind of like going to Raleighs on Telegraph during lunch time in Berkeley. Earl and I had a great chat and he filled me in on his family and the church life and I shared about the changes and adventures in my life. He had some interesting thoughts on future jobs for me based my skills and gifts that I wouldn't have thought of myself. Definitely food for thought.

Rachel came by and we drove over to Pike's Public Market. Scenes from Sleepless in Seattle flashed in my head as we walked through and looked at the gorgeous flowers and produce and local handicrafts. Just after I told Rachel that I wasn't going to actually buy anything because I didn't want to try to shove it in my suitcase, I stopped and purchased a honey based lotion bar that seemed like it would work really well. At least it was small. And it smelled good.

Halfway through the market we stopped for lunch at Bechman's handmade cheese shop. They make the cheese right there and you can see the process it goes through. The final product is a very flavorful "jack" like cheese. We ordered grilled cheese sandwiches from the counter and then sat on old fashioned shaped metal milk jugs. A good grilled cheese sandwich is hard to beat and these were exceptional. We kept meandering through the market, stopping to look at the famous fish stall where they throw the fish to one another and then we were drawn by the smell to the booth that was making tiny cinnamon donuts right before our eyes. We thought it only right to sample a couple. I don't usually eat donuts but because they were still hot and covered in cinnamon and sugar they were completely worth it. Besides, they were tiny so I am sure they weren't too bad for us...

I wanted to go up in the Space Needle so Rachel dropped me off there and I went up to the top. It was a gorgeous sunny day, perfect for seeing Seattle from the observation deck 600 feet above the street level. I hung out there for about an hour just soaking in the panoramic views and listening to the docents talk about the city. A question I kept hearing tourists ask was "Where is the houseboat from Sleepless in Seattle?" The docent would point out the direction where it was located even though it was around a bend and not quite visible from there. It was breathtaking to look out over the Puget Sound and see the ferries cruising around and out to the different lakes and to the Cascade Mountain Range. The city has many unique buildings as well. After returning to ground level, I rode the monorail built for the World Fair in 1960 to the Westlake Center and then took the bus back to Ballard where Rachel was busy cooking up Tortilla Soup and stuffed pasilla peppers for a dinner party that night with Dan and Alicia who have recently moved back to Seattle too. Dinner was delicious since both Rachel and Ben are good cooks, and it was nice to catch up with Dan and Alicia.

I was itching to go out on the water so the next morning I got up and took the bus back to the pier where the ferries dock. I purchased a round trip ticket to Bremerton which takes a little over 2 hours total. I loved feeling the sea breeze on my face as we went across the water past Bainbridge Island over to Bremerton. I can see why people love this area. It is amazing to look out over the water at all the islands and see the homes of the people who live there. Looking back at the city I was able to figure out the relationships of all of the buildings and sights I had seen and felt like I had finally "got it". I thought that I would see more people out on their boats, but maybe because it was the middle of the week they were at work. I'm sure there are certain areas that are more popular for people to "boat" in.

I walked along the waterfront after my boat trip and went into the aquarium. It was pretty good, but doesn't compare to the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I trudged back up the hill to 4th Street where I could catch the bus. It ended up being about 20 minutes late and then we got stuck in traffic near the Ballard drawbridge and I arrived home about 45 minutes later than I expected. I started to worry about whether I would make it to my train on time since I had planned to take the bus back to the train station, all the way back across the city. Luckily for me, Rachel was worried that I might miss my train and kindly arranged with Ben to get the car so she could drive me. I made it on time and the train pulled out of the station on time. So much for Amtrak always being late. In fact, the train arrived almost a half an hour early in Bellingham.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

It sounds like you're having a wonderful time! Your description is really making me miss Seattle -- the water, the mountains, the quirky artistic sensibility... like the troll statue -- I love that! And what a fun picture!

How great that you got to visit so many people - the Kleehs, Dave Chiu, Dan & Alicia, Earl Palmer, etc. I hope you enjoyed your visit to Seattle as much as I enjoyed living there!

11:11 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's so fun to see a written description of the time you spent in Seattle...it was great to have you stay with us, and thanks for the chocolate-covered goodies. :)

We can't wait to read about your other adventures!

8:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

oooh, you sailed right past my home (on Bainbridge Island)! I'm jealous... but it's so great to hear a visitor's impression of a place that is so familiar to me.

10:16 PM  

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