01. Sleepless in Seattle
My flight was at 6.15am, so I “woke up” at 2am in order to have ample time to eat, shower, and get last minute details taken care of before heading to O’hare. ( When I say “woke up,” I mean actually got out of bed because I had been laying there semi-conscious since 7pm the night before. ) I left the apartment at 3, hopped on the red line and took it to the blue line.
Of. Course. The blue line was an HOUR late. They were doing construction and it kept saying a train was coming and then it was delayed and it was just miserable.
Luckily I made it to O’hare at 5am, got to jump past the line for security and made it to the plane 20 minutes before boarding.
The flight was fine. After Dubai, I feel like I can handle any plane ride. Smooth sailing. I passed the time reading Chuck Palahniuk’s “Haunted” and then was editing some footage for work as well. It was really neat to look out the window once we entered Seattle because you just see this sea of clouds and then upon looking closer, you see some snow-peaked mountains peeping out above the clouds.
The plane arrived to Seattle a bit early, but Karen was waiting for me. I haven’t seen her since March and even that was a fleeting encounter so it was a lovely sight to reconnect and realize we’ll be sending the next several days together.
We took the Lightrail to downtown Seattle and on the way I was just taken away by the tall trees around us. Different types of foliage and flora; it’s always interesting to see the different terrains when traveling.
We brought my stuff to her apartment (which is super cute) and then went to drop off some books at the library. And what a neat library! It’s 9 floors I believe and the architecture is really cool.
The outside is like a metal cage and each of the floors has something unique about it. One floor is completely red. Red floors, red walls, red doors. On the 9th floor, there’s a little platform that overlooks the rest of the building, titled “the highest point in the building” (even though there’s another floor higher than that for staff).
There was this instillation, too, while going up/down the escalator.
A few of the floors are ramped slightly, so you hardly notice when you’re walking from one floor to the next. It gives the illusion that you’re walking in circles around the same floor.
After the library, we walked to a little hole-in-the-wall for lunch, but on the way I got my first sighting of Puget Sound. So cool to see this body of water from the hilly streets of Seattle. For lunch, I got a Chicken Shwarma sandwich (holla, Dubai!) and Karen got a Falafel sandwich. I basically devoured it in three seconds.
We headed down to Pike Place Market following lunch and just wandered around for a long time. There were so many interesting little vendors. Some people sold stems of flowers for $.25, some people sold fish, some sold hippy clothes. All sorts of really neat, crafty things.
We went down to the pier and looked over at Bainbridge Island, Puget Sound, and mountains in the distance for probably 15 minutes or so, talking about past lives, birds, and Seattle.
If I had to compare Seattle to elsewhere, I would say it’s the perfect combination of San Francisco, Detroit, and Chicago. It has the hilly streets of San Francisco, close to the water.. It has a rustic feel, like Detroit, but the atmosphere and some of the architecture and the way streets are laid out is like Chicago. People seem genuinely happy here. Not in a hurry or anything. Just slow-paced and going with the flow. People walking alone, smiling to themselves.
Also, this one guy playing an instrument I’ve never seen before.
We went to an antique shop, and gawked at things of the past, went through an old yearbook from the 1940′s, then proceeded back to Pike’s Place market – where we saw even cooler things than when we first went in.
These awesome clay flowers. (My favorite thing at Pike Place)
We headed back to Karen’s apartment and chilled out for a bit, took a nap, then took the bus to Whole Foods to get groceries for the week. We saw some cool beans.
We came home, made dinner, watched Kung Fu panda, and now we’re gonna hang back for the rest of the evening.02
02. Tattoos, Space Needle, Jenny&Omar
We woke up in the morning and went to Corner Cafe for breakfast – I got a Chorizo scramble and Karen got chocolate pancakes that were almost as big as the plate!
Withdrew some cash from the bank and then we took the bus to Phinney Ridge to get our tattoos. We were a little earlier so we stopped at a coffee shop so Karen could get coffee and I could use the bathroom. I noticed a guy next to me had a newspaper that had advertisements for weed all over the page. (Weed is legal in Seattle).
We wandered for a bit and then walked into the tattoo shop, called Two Birds Tattoo, where, much to our dismay, they didn’t have the appointments penciled in – even though we called in advance and they took our security deposits. Luckily they had the deposits
One woman, Alexis, was kind enough to reschedule her noon appointment and she was able to take both of us.
The coolest thing about this place is that it’s run by all women. I’ve never gotten a tattoo done by a woman before and I feel like it’s mostly a male-dominated field of work.
I went first and I got a tattoo of the Invisible Monsters book cover. It’s my favorite book ever and it seemed fitting, with a portion of the book taking place in Seattle.
Invisible Monsters is about a model that gets her jaw shot off while driving down the highway. Recovering in a hospital, she meets a pre-op MTF trans woman and they flee the hospital to go on a road trip. At one point they go to the Space Needle, write their secrets & dreams on postcards, and toss it over the edge.
The tattoo experience took from noon to 3.30, and then we were rushing to Sephora to meet up with Jenny.
We browsed around for a moment, Karen bought some lipstick, and then the three of us marched back to Karen’s apartment to make some veggie sandwiches and chill out for a bit.
We took the bus to Wayward Vegan, where Omar met us, and we had some DELICIOUS food. It was seriously so amazing. I got a Mexi-Burger (with chorizo, it seemed to be the trend for the day on my part.)
While we were there, a ladybug appeared out of nowhere and was on my hand!
Oh, also, Karen kissed my cheek while wearing her new lipstick!
Omar drove us back to downtown Seattle to see the Space Needle, but on our way, we saw the Artists At Play playground, which is basically this HUGE playground with really large structures that are more suitable for adults than kids (even though it says it’s for ages 9 – 12).
We ran around and played like kids for about a half an hour and once we were exhausted enough, we walked the block over to the Space Needle.
It’s always interesting, taking the elevator up to the skydeck on any tall building because there’s a moment when you feel this strange sensation and you can’t help but think “this is unreal.” You’re above everything else. You’re able to look down from such a high heights – almost as if it’s something we shouldn’t be able to do. Everything looks so small, but still magnificent.
After walking around and breathing in the sights, I pulled out my postcards and gave one to each of us. We all wrote our fears, our secrets, and/or our dreams. I applied some lipstick and kissed on a stamp, and then tossed the postcard off the railing. Of course, I was the one that was seen doing it, since it was my idea, but the security guard was really cool and I explained to him that it’s something from my favorite book and I wanted to reenact the moment.
We took the elevator back down, Jenny & Omar took us home, and now we’re hanging out about to pass out.
Tomorrow is Hoh Rainforest and Kalaloch coast. The moment I’ve really, really been waiting for!
It’s been such an exciting day, but tomorrow promises to be even better.
03. Hoh Rainforest & Kalaloch Coast
We woke up at 7.30 to make sandwiches before getting our rental car and heading out to Hoh Rainforest – a 5 hour drive each way.
We got to Hertz around 9, which was luckily right down the block from Karen’s apartment, but had to wait until 10.30 to get the car. It was super busy since it’s Labor Day weekend, and I guess most weekends are busy in general.
Once we had the car, we went to Target to get some water and some last minute supplies, and then we hit the road!
It was amazing. I mentioned it before, but it’s always so cool to see the different terrains when traveling, and Washington didn’t cease to surprise me.
And these cute little deer made a guest appearance!
I’m not gonna say it wasn’t a long trip, because it definitely was, but it was so much fun. Hoh Rainforest was absolutely gorgeous and so was the ride up there. The trees were lush, green, dripping with moss. We couldn’t stop saying how “unreal” it was when we walked the Hall of Mosses trail at Hoh.
Karen photobombing the pic.
Karen happily in the ocean 🙂
Afterwards, we stopped at Kalaloch coast on the way back to play in the Pacific ocean barefoot. It was cold, but after the initial shock, it was really a unique experience. I’ve been to the ocean before, but never the Pacific, and you can’t help but stare out into the distance and be in awe of the vast beauty.
Some ephemeral art I made at the beach. “i was here” – only to be washed away moments later.
We hung out for a bit and I’m pretty sure we discovered the remains of a jellyfish in the sand. I found a really cool seashell, too! And there were these really weird bugs hopping about, not sure what they were.
After we got our fill of the Pacific Ocean, we began to descend back to Seattle. It was like being pulled back into the real world after leaving Hoh & Kalaloch – such incredible beauty.
I can’t wait to go back to Olympian National Park some day and see what else it has to offer. But there’s Mt. Rainer, too, and so many other sights as well.
What a breathtaking day.
04. Fremont, Sickness, & Fun
I didn’t sleep well last night between being allergic to Karen’s cat and an oncoming sickness of sorts. I was in a pretty miserable mood so went for a walk to try and clear my head and get away from the dander for a little while.
I came across this neat fountain that was filtering around soapy-water, so at the rim there was a big cloud of bubbles.
After being transfixed by the fountain for a while, I started walking and explored the Freeway park, which had some really cool architecture. There was this building block effect going on, where there were all different sized rectangles that had stairs going through them.
Walking through the park, I realized it’s kind of a shady area, but beautiful regardless. There was a Hope wall that people filled out in chalk. “As I age, I ____”.
I got back to Karen’s and still being in a sick, grumpy mood, we headed over to Fremont. We saw the Fremont Troll bridge, where there’s a gigantic troll carved out of…. well, I’m not sure what. Looks like mud, but I think it’s more like cement.
We then stopped for some Turkish food and tea, which was delicious and helped clear out my sinuses for a moment. After that, we headed to Fremont market, where they had different vendors selling all different types of things. There was some interesting jewelry and some great paintings/photographs for sale. There was an antique/vintage area that had old Barbie’s.
One of the neatest things was this food truck selling stuffed waffles, shaped like fish. Karen got the S’more waffle and it looked so good!
We went back to Karen’s apartment for a moment, then tried to go to Columbia Tower (which has a great view of the city you can access by going to the Starbuck’s on the 40th floor) but it was closed. So we waited for the bus, met up with Jenny & Omar, and made dinner. Mushroom soup, with stuffed peppers. I was probably a grumpy bitch all day up until around this point.
( Sorry, Karen! You’ve been absolutely amazing and have been a wonderful host – so thank you for putting up with me. )
I had water out of one of Jenny & Omar’s mugs that had The Kiss printed on it. This is a picture I’ve known my whole life. My parents have had it on display in our house for as long as I can remember. Karen’s mom had it as well. And now here once again!
After, we went down to Ballard to walk around for a bit and then to Hot Cakes (which has some delicious cakes, shakes, & coffee.)
We hung out for a while, then said our goodbyes around 11.30, when Karen & I headed back to her apartment.
This mildly suggestive drum-store icon.
I leave tomorrow on a 5.10pm train back to Chicago!
05. Loose Ends & Departure
My final day in Seattle.
We woke up and had breakfast – I made oatmeal with bananas and Karen had the excellent idea of adding peanut butter since we didn’t have sugar. A thick meal, but delicious.
After showers and getting dressed, we went back down to Pike Place so I could get some gifts for my parents and to also check out the Gum Wall.
It felt as if things were coming full circle. The day we arrived, we went to Pike Place, Friday we saw Jenny & Omar, Saturday was the pinnacle in which we went to the rainforest & the ocean, Sunday we saw Jenny & Omar again, and to close the circle, today we hit Pike Place for the last time.
We were aiming to go to Capitol Hill, but due to it being a holiday, busses weren’t running that way and it was a treacherous walk (Seattle can be VERY hilly in some areas). We decided there wasn’t really much time, so instead we took the bus out to Karen’s work area to get lunch at Katsu Burger which had been on our itinerary.
It was a little burger joint in the middle of nowhere, but the food was BOMB.
I got the Godzilla Burger which was like an organic beef patty with jalapeños and onions and all these other delicious ingredients, with a side of curry fries. I was just about dead after finishing it. Obviously I got ramune and pocky in addition.
This was on the wall, too, and reminded me I want to get something like this to keep track of all the places I’ve been & will go.
And then that was that!
We’re back at Karen’s apartment now and I’ll be leaving in half an hour to head to the airport.
I love it here, but I’m ready to be back home in Chicago!
Update: (12.11am Chicago time)
During my trip, I kept trying to look out for Mt. Rainer, but to no avail.
I was looking out the window after takeoff, desperately hoping to see it. My seat was right by the wing, and the sun was reflecting off the wing and, persistently searching as I was, I started crying from having the sun’s reflection right in my eyes.
The plane turned diagonally/(sideways?) to change direction and the wing obstructed my view, but as soon as it leveled out…
Seattle was a small city, but a proud city, with lots of character and beauty. I had so much fun during my time of a measly 5 days out here: I experienced nature, new friendships and the rekindling of old ones, cheap and kickass food, creativity, music, and more.
Though I love Chicago and I don’t see myself going anywhere anytime soon, Seattle is definitely an option for the future. I would love to spend more time in the Olympic National Park, check out all it has to offer and to also travel down to Mt. Rainer and see what’s on that side.
It was so cool to go up to Hoh Rainforest and actually experience.. well, a RAINFOREST! And to go to Kalaloch and be at the end of the country. How refreshing, and how grounding to be in the midst of such a raw area of the country. To some, at one point, it might’ve seemed like the end of the world.
My favorite moments aside from the road trip had to have been the Invisible Monsters-themed day, where I got the tattoo during the day and in the evening when we went up to the Space Needle to toss my fears/dreams/wishes postcard off the railing.
Thank you, Karen, for allowing me to come visit you. You have been absolutely amazing and this meant the world to me. I love you so much!