Archive for the ‘Seattle’ Category

From Seattle to Portland

21 November 2009

November 21

I couldn’t leave Seattle right away, I had to go back downtown. I was going to the cell place in Chinatown but it did not open ‘til 10:00AM, so I went downtown to look for a camera first, and bought a nice little Nikon coolpix. Works a lot better than the old POS. Here is a picture of the sales clerk who sold it to me, the very first picture I took with it. I should have gotten her name.

I then went back to the Pioneer Square area to check out the Woodworking coop I saw yesterday. Some pretty amazing pieces at the (Northwest Fine Woodworking ), and it’s nice to see they manage to sell them at decent prices.

<rant>which might seem very high to all you non-wooddorkers at $1k per chair, but if you know the amount of time and effort and love that goes in producing one of these  rather than the cheap Chinese-made Ikea/Sauders termite puke (i.e. particle board) crap that ends up in the landfill in no time but not before it has had a chance to spew out copious amounts of formaldehyde and other pollutants in the meantime. </rant>

Fine Woodworking Coop Store

Fine Woodworking Coop Store, Jackson Street, Seattle

They also have an annual box-making contest that anyone can enter. Because of the depression, they have had to lay off some of their staff and they haven’t been able to put up all the pictures. Anyway, I voted for a box that looked like to old leather-bound volumes, done in different veneers. Beautiful work, but there were a lot more examples of beautiful work. We’ll see who wins on their web site.

Then I went to the cellular phone place in Chinatown and got a WiFi capable cell. The current number, while I’m in the USA is 206-390-8104. Please only use in case of emergencies. It will change when I get to Mexico.

A couple of final observations about Seattle: there is little traffic downtown: I can cross most streets easily and can find parking spots relatively close to where I am going. I don’t know whether it’s Seattle or the depression. One thing that is clearly a result of the depression is the number of people– mostly young men of all races: white black and oriental – who accost you begging for money or a meal. It is pretty shameful for a country that is supposedly the richest in the world. And supposedly is also the most religious and Christian of all the advanced economies. So much for the Sermon on the Mount and Christian charity.

Drove to Portland and arrived immediately after 5:00 PM. The tourist information office had just closed. I looked for a wine store & tried out a number of Pinot noirs (5 actually). None overly impressed me, but I bought two bottles of the one I like most (2007 Cameron Ashleys Leap). Maybe I should get some for David Ashley.  I then drove back to an RV park on the Columbia River.

Tomorrow the Willamette, tonight the risotto with porcini and truffles.

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Sleepy in Seattle

21 November 2009

November 20

Woke up around 8:00AM despite the late night. Had the two coffees from the room coffee machine. Only one guess for what the brand of coffee was.

Went to get my new glasses, had a really good coffee and muffin at the shopping centre where the eyeglass pace was. Went back to the Pike Street Market, has a prosciutto & parmiggiano sandwich for lunch. Boy, I love that place!

Luigis placeI went to the RV park in Bellevue, signed in ($25.00) and had a long nap. Woke up around five PM and drove downtown to Pioneer Square where they have Seattle’s underground. Walked around the area but most places were closed, despite it being a Friday night. Had an Italian supper at Luigi’s place. The waiter did not want to give me a discount because of my name. I had a so-called piadina, which was like a small pizza cut in four. This is not the real piadina from Rimini, which is more like a calzone or pocket filled with yummy stuff.

wooddorkers store

Wooddorkers' store

Got my tickets at 7:00 PM for 8:00 underground tour. Walked to Chinatown and found a cellular place that I need to investigate tomorrow morning. Another place to check out is a furniture place catering to local craftspeople.

Just one bit of oversharing, but I won’t get into graphic details: it’s nice to have a camper when you can’t find a public washroom. J

The underground tour was replete with references to prostitution and drugs, especially around servicing and fleecing the Klondike Gold Rush hopefuls. On a more historical note, I had not realized how important the Klondike was to Seattle. In the words of the tour guide: “It put Seattle on the map. Before that, Portland and Tacoma were more important.” Imagine, if it wasn’t for the Klondike, we wouldn’t have Starbucks and Microsoft.

Camera is, as we say in Quebec, complètement fuckée. It won’t close or take pictures.  I’ll have to buy one today.

Then on to Oregon and the Willamette.

Sleepless in Seattle

20 November 2009

November 19th

Left the campground at 8:00 AM. I saw a Lowes at a shopping centre, so I had to go check it out. Same as a home Depot. I bought some AAA batteries for the digital voice recorder and some S-hooks so I can hang some things from the clothesline. Nowhere to buy an umbrella. Yesterday I talked about being ½ an hour from Seattle and how wonderful driving on freeways was. Well, today, I didn’t get to Seattle until 10:30: heavy crawling traffic all the way for no good reason except the rainy weather, at least according to the radio. You would think that a little rain wouldn’t paralyze their traffic, but there it is. Along the way, I got off and stopped at McDonalds to use the washrooms (it was the closest to the expressway). At least MickyD has clean toilets, won’t say anything about the food.

Seattle: one of the most influential cities in our globalized late 20th/early 21st centuries. Three brands/corporations that define our era stand out: Boeing, Microsoft, Starbucks. Three mixed blessings: the jumbo jet that allows us to flit economically around the world in airborne cattle cars and spew massive amounts of CO2; the MS-DOS and Windows and the MS Office that have monopolized the personal computer and that I am using to write a draft of this blog; and the espresso-based (using the term loosely) “latte”. I have ceased railing that latte means milk in Italian, not coffee. But Starbucks has made espresso ubiquitous around the world (I once read about a place in Prague offering “real Seattle-style latte”), and I no longer have to search for the Italian neighbourhood to get a decent coffee.

Not that Starbucks’ espresso is any good, but that of many of its imitators is clearly excellent including our very own Yukon coffee roasters, Bean North and Midnight Sun Coffee. (To those of you from Outside, the Yukon is a coffee exporter. We get it from secret tropical valleys Jack London wrote about.) Would Zola and Michael & co. have gotten anywhere without Starbucks pioneering the whole thing? Even Tim Horton’s tries to sell espresso but they should stick to providing the men in red serge with double-doubles and doughnuts.

Pike Street MarketGot to the convention bureau at 6th and Pike around 10:30 and then headed to the Pike Street Market to replenish my fresh food stocks. Bought some good smoked salmon, fresh porcini, a truffle (only $5.00, not bad), fresh local fruit and greens. Lunch was heart medication: a yummy and messy to eat grilled salmon sandwich on baguette. I intended to make a porcini risotto with truffle tonight, but I ended up going out for supper. Also bought a bottle of the best Washington Syrah at $60 odd dollars a bottle. I am feeling flush today as I just got paid by YTG.

I love Seattle! I have to come back with Marilyn and stay for five days exploring the food at the Pike Street market.

After the market I went to the Seattle Art Museum where there is an exhibition of some of Michelangelo’s sketches for the Sistine Chapel that he somehow forgot to burn and another on Calder. Some of Calder’s later mobiles are amazing: how did he do it? I also took a brief look at other exhibits. Apart from a couple of Warhols, two things caught my eye: an Italian renaissance wood paneled room and a 16-17th century Dutch wooden display chest/bureau. Why is it that the woodworkers were who made such wonderful creations remain anonymous, while the most minor daubers of paints on canvas or least competent stone chiselers all have biographies and books written about them? Pisses me off!

Dutch cabinet

Similar Dutch cabinet from Van de Ven Antique dealers in Baarle-Hertog-Nassau

I went back to the Convention Centre Tourist Information Bureau as I couldn’t find the address of the RV park they had suggested earlier. Ann and Janet were extremely helpful and I decided to stay in an inexpensive hotel rather than in a RV Park. The hotel (Belltown Inn) is fairly nice and inexpensive and has parking, but is in a neighbourhood that turns quite seedy at night, with obvious drug deals going on allover the place.

I got new glasses made at Lenscrafters: one hour service. But I didn’t get there in time for their 8:00 PM closing time as I was talking to Marilyn for too long. I forgot to say that a lens fell off my glasses while driving last night. A little scary as I had to hold the lens over my good eye while driving. (For those who don’t know me, I like to refer to myself as a one-eye-talian, having lost my left eye in a car accident in 1977.) I stopped at the first exit and retrieved another pair from the camper.

Anyway, I also went to Barnes and Noble to pick up a copy of Paul Theroux’s book on the Patagonia Express. I started reading it last night as I had a hard time falling asleep. The room was way too hot and the book interesting. I fell finally asleep at about 3:00AM.