As I stepped out of the train station, I found myself in front of Qwest Field before a Seattle Sounders Game. Waves of absurdly bright blue/green jerseys passed and vuvuzelas were heard here and there as the masses moved into the stadium. Not to knock the LA Galaxy, but these fans were nuts. The highlight of it all was a group of about 50 people all amassed walking down the street together as a big mobile block. The front row was carrying a banner that was probably 15 feet wide and all of them were singing and chanting.
Evan, Laura and their roommate Lizzy swang by the stadium to pick me up. Part of me wanted to buy some tickets from a scalper, but I was a guest and really didn’t feel like imposing my fair-weather fandom. More importantly, we were all starving! After politely asking the group to never address me as my online alias, but my given name, Evan drove us to Jai Thai for dinner. Our plan was to head to Brouwer’s, a bar with lots of tasty microbrews on tap. This would have been the case except there was a bit of an issue; Lizzy had a date there that evening and didn’t want her two roommates and their strange friend (thats me!) showing up and spoiling it for her. What goes around comes around in the world of cockblocking karma. Therefore, we instead went to Kate’s Pub, for some drinks and a few rounds of darts. Surprisingly, I managed to win a round of darts. I then realized it was getting close to midnight. It must have been birthday magic.
The next morning, we headed to Gas Works Park. Besides a spectacular view of downtown, the site of the park is an old gas refinery that has been shut down and essentially left for visitors to wander through in style that feels like a mix of historical preservation and street art. Evan and I wandered the park and took a few pictures.
After Gas Works, we stopped by Paseo and picked up a couple Cuban Roast sandwiches to go and then headed to Kerry Park. Kerry Park is another great spot in the city to catch a glimpse of downtown and Mt. Rainier. With the weather on my side as usual, we sat on a park bench eating delicious sandwiches and staring off in the distance to see the city and Mt. Rainier behind it. I love the pacific northwest. Once again I was hit with the realization of absurdly flat the midwest is. I spent a minute daydreaming of hiking up the mountain until coming to the conclusion of how unprepared I currently was. I grabbed my camera, did my best to capture the mountain until calling it quits.
After finding some parking downtown, we walked over to Pike Place Market. Pike Place was cool to walk through and see. Most of the grocery-related vendors appeared to have good produce, meats and such. However, 80% of the vendors in there sold nothing but crap. Touristy bullshit like snowglobes every kind of ugly shirt that said Seattle or had an umbrella on it. My absolute favorite was what we found while exploring the shops downstairs. It was a basket of for sale goods that included: an open/half-empty box of q-tips and several bottles of partially used lotion. Nothing says commerce like some used lotion! We walked by the first Starbucks which was surrounded with people who gave so much of a shit about Starbucks, they wanted to go buy a cup of coffee from the first one. I instead went the stereotypical Russian route, and picked up a dessert pirozhok from a bakery called Piroshky Piroshky.
Exiting downtown, Evan took me on a mini-tour of the University of Washington on the way to the neighborhood grocery store. At the store, we picked up some much needed supplies; birthday hats and beer. We hung out at the house and had a few drinks before getting a ride to the bus stop from Lizzy as she was on her way to work. Taking the bus down to Ballard, we made our way to King’s Hardware. Happy hour pitcher specials and skeeball? This birthday was shaping up to be one of the better ones I’ve had in the last few years! We spent a while there chatting, skeeballing and terrifying the waitress (OK, that was mostly me). Hungry, we migrated down the street to La Carta de Oaxaca where way too much food was ordered. Bellies full, The Old Pequliar was the next stop on my little tour of the Ballard area. It was a nice little dive with fairly inexpensive PBR on tap. The only thing peculiar there were the patrons. Evan gave me the choice of taking the bus or walking home. “About a mile, but it’s uphill” is what Evan responded after asking how far the walk was. The walk it was! Our second to last stop was to the Safeway so each us could pick up a roadie and we walked and talked and walked and talked. After quickly popping into a gas station to pee and pick up some powerade(we had to power up!). We made it back to the house. Laura asked us what we had been up to that night. Shocked at the walk she said “You know thats like a 5 mile walk!” I googled it, It was only 3.8 but semi-impressive nonetheless. Exhausted, I retired for the night.
In the morning, Evan an I headed out to Blue Star for breakfast, bummed around online most of the day and then I was dropped off at the bus pickup zone. A few hours into the ride, we reached the US/Canada border. Being my first time taking a bus across the border, this was new to me. However, being harassed and searched countless times when I was a kid, I had some experience dealing with border agents. I had very little difficulty during the interview, but my two favorite lines were “You’re on vacation for a month?” and “What you mean you were in Canada last month… oh out east!” I re-boarded the bus and an hour later we had arrived. Hello Vancouver!