Sunday, December 26, 2010

8 Hours In Seattle

At 12:00AM I walked through security with no problems. No frisking, no metal detectors beeping, it was smooth. I put my shoes and my belt back on and waved at my parents who were still waiting for me. 2AM is a pretty typical flight time for flying from Anchorage to the lower 48, so I didn't think much of how busy the airport was. I sat down and read Song of Solomon by Toni Morrison for a while, waiting to get on the plane. They called my name and switched me to a different spot, closer to the front. I think they were having plane balancing issues because they also had other people move to the front just for the take-off, leaving the back of the plane a bit empty. It was weird and I was slightly sketched, but I soon forgot about it because I was tired and I fell asleep before the seat belt light came on.

Seemingly seconds later, I woke up to the pilot giving us our wake-up call. We were already in Seattle. That was one of the nicer flights I've been on.

I bought a ticket that had an 8 hour layover in Seattle, so I had already been thinking about what the heck I'd do for 8 hours. I was mostly excited to get to explore a new city, but it's always a bit intimidating to try to find your way around a brand new city. With little effort I found the light rail station, bought my ticket, and hopped on. The sun was just below the horizon for my ride, so I was able to see my surroundings alright.

It was a nice ride, but the shock-factor left my jaw open for at least 3 minutes while I was sitting there on the train. Now, I knew that Seattle is a rainy city, but I just didn't quite realize the implications. I looked around and saw a lot of trees. Evergreen trees, evidence of a forest that had survived for a very long time, probably because of the abundance of water. I did notice that most of the leaved trees didn't have leaves on them, so that was comforting. But the grass. Surely that was just fake grass. There's no way grass could be so green on December 26th. It was seriously as beautiful as a golf course in May. In my experience, winter is either white or brown (white being AK and brown being Denver), never green. While this left me questioning my entire philosophy on seasons, I found myself in a better mood with all this color.

It wasn't too long before I realized it was Sunday. I was planning on skipping church, since I was kinda far from my church in Golden. I didn't feel at all bad about it. I just didn't know how I was going to keep myself entertained for the entire 8 hours. A memory came out of hiding from a dark corner of my brain. Mars Hill Church is based in Seattle. Since they're a church, they probably have a meeting sometime on Sunday. I could probably go there. Mars Hill Church, if you did not already know, is a quite famous church. It is mostly famous because Mark Driscoll is the pastor there. Because I think he's a good guy, I decided I'd try to go there. Hmm, I didn't have the internet and didn't have any idea where this church was. My first idea was just to ask around. It's a big enough church, surely somebody would know where it was. Then my brain kicked into anti-social gear and I realized how I could find this church. My friend Nathan is famous for his ability to be awake ridiculously early and he can often be found in front of his computer if he's not at work. It was pretty early, so I texted him and got the info I needed. I knew the place was at Western Ave. and Bell St, although I had no idea where this intersection was.

I was starving, so I made my way to Pikes Place Market Center, hoping to find some grub. After walking through the market that had an incredibly strong seafood smell, I found a place across the street that looked like a bakery/coffee shop. Indeed it was a bakery/coffee shop entitled Le Panier-Very French Bakery. It must have been very French because all the stuff was written in French, leaving me very confused about what to order. Overcoming the language barrier I pointed to a pastry that looked like a flat cinnamon roll and said, "I want that one!" Embarrassed by my loud, uneducated exclamation, I sheepishly asked if I should order my latte right there or next to the espresso machine. Well I got my pastry and my latte, making sure I tipped them well as an attempt to excuse my ignorance. Surely they were thinking, He may be stupid, but at least he's generous. The pastry and the latte were both amazing. If you go to Seattle, make sure you go there. Since I had spent $6.00 at this place I figured I was entitled to some time to just sit at the table and read for a while. I did this for a while and then left around 9:05, hoping to find that church.

My hopes of finding the church were very low. I started just walking around aimlessly, hoping to find Western and Bell. I got to the end of the market and looked out to Puget Sound from the park. I hadn't heard the sound of sea gulls in probably 3 or 4 years and just hearing them lifted my spirits, reminding me of the good ole' days when I worked in Anchorage during the summer. I turned around and kept walking down the street. Happening to glance at the street sign, I noticed that I was at Western Avenue! Well I'll be darned. I was not expecting to actually ust walk up to the right street. I had a 50/50 chance of Bell St. being north or south. I chose north and continued to walk in that direction. Seeing an Asian girl walking the opposite way, I worked up the courage to ask her if she knew where Bell St. This was a huge risk, because, for all I knew, Bell street could be miles away. "It's 2 blocks north of here." Are you serious? How could I just randomly walk to the right place? Sure enough it was right there-the Mars Hill Church Downtown Campus, just a half block away from Western and Bell. I went in, sang the familiar songs, and listened to the sermon. It was good stuff about Jesus' title, Prince of Peace. Then I left.

I had already gone a little ways north, so I figured I'd go to the Space Needle. I was hardly interested in seeing it, but I was quite bored and had nothing to do, so I walked all the way there. Geekfest was of course happening nearby at the science fiction museum. It was about as exciting as I was expecting to see the space needle, that excitement level being hardly even interested in looking up.

It was 11:30, so I figured I could walk back and find some lunch somewhere. This ended up being a pointless walk in random directions around downtown. I found some places that looked interesting near the market, but due to the chaos that was ensuing, I did not stop at any of them. I just kept walking and walking. I got to the area of town that's basically a really really big mall on every single block in all directions. This part of town just seemed phony, like it was just a bunch of phonies pretending to be rich. All the food places around there were either too nice or nothing unique to Seattle. After probably walking a mile around the phony part of Seattle I went back to the touristy part of Seattle (the market) to find a place I was actually interested in. I went to Michou Castillanos for a flat bread sandwich and it was superb. I strolled around the market for another 15 minutes, observed the chaos, then left, figuring it was time to catch the light rail.

I caught the light rail, made it back to the airport, successfully went through security, watched some NFL, took a nap, then flew back to Denver. It was definitely a fun day out and I learned some valuable lessons. Seattle is very green. Seattle is completely obsessed with Starbucks-I'm pretty sure they have a Starbucks on every single street corner. Pikes Place Market is my favorite part of Seattle so far. French people know how to make good pastries and coffee.

1 comment:

  1. I remember the first time i went to Seattle I was SHOCKED how the trees are everywhere and how they are HUGE! Like, everywhere a tree can grow there is a large tree there--even in the median of the highway.