USA2

Lakewood, Washington

A modest account of the day follows. In the presence of familiar people, I’m not finding much effort to do a thoughtful journal so I shall just put down a simple and exclusive reenactment:

I arrived at my cousins’ place in Lakewood, near Tacoma, just before noon. I took the whole morning, even after getting up at 7:30 and “failing” to pay for my campsite last night, to drive the two hours to Tacoma, stopping just once into a public library in some anonymous town along the way. I’ve fallen in love with the library, just as I’m in love with every other establishment that offers free wireless internet access, one of my favorite things ever. I could have been in-and-out, but I had a few little conversations with some friends back at school before I had to move out.

They were all there — Jamie and Erika and Lori, and even Jamie’s boyfriend Aaron, whom it was nice to finally meet. After a tour of the lovely lake-front house, we had a sandwich picnic under perfect skies and an even lovelier view onto their lake.

Soon we were headed towards Seattle, about an hour’s drive away, sans Aaron who had other things he had to do. We wandered the downtown area, parking just under the Space Needle and the surrounding buildings, most of which were built for a World’s Fair years ago. Today the buildings house the arena where the Seattle Supersonics play, a large multi-purpose hall with scores of restaurants (and a dance floor where older couples were Swing dancing), an Opera House, and several other things. In the middle of all of them was a huge fountain, keeping the youth of Seattle cool on the relatively hot day (it peeked into the 90s). Also in the cluster of buildings is the 2000 Frank Gehry designed Experience Music Project, a strange design of smoothly bent metallic colored steel. The building apparently houses a huge collection of northwestern music artifacts, from Jimi Hendrix to the grunge era of the mid-90s — the whole Seattle scene stuff — but it carries a heavy $20 price tag, so we declined.

We took one of Seattle’s only forms of public transportation (though it seems to take only tourists), the monorail that extends from the Space Needle to another cluster of tourist sites maybe a half-mile away — maybe more, I’m not sure.

In that area we walked through Pikes Place Market, got drinks at the world’s first Starbucks store, bought some honeycomb (& ate it), wandered around the waterfront, got Tropical Snos and climbed lots of stairs.

I wish that, before I visit a town as traveled and stereotyped as Seattle, that I would really spend some time thinking about what I expect from the city, what myths I’ve had planted in my head, whatever, beforehand, before I go there. I wish I would really try to set straight how I expect the city to look, what its people will be like, whether I’ll like its attractions, and so on. I tried, in the midst of Seattle, to reconstruct these things as if I had never been there before and I couldn’t. I had no idea what I had previously guessed Seattle would be like and so I didn’t try to compare. But, as a whole (and of the little that I saw), the city was very comfortable and like most every other city.

We wandered these areas and unanimously agreed that what sounded most inviting was an air-conditioned car and swim in the lake, back at the house. So we made the drive back, only a few hours after making the original departure, and did just that. We laid in the sun, swam in the lake, lounged around, all very comfortable, all very relaxing and welcomed.

After showers and a whole assortment of phone calls — mine were to-and-from friends at the John Mayer/Counting Crows concert back in Kansas — we had a lovely home-cooked meal of lasagna and corn and bread and salad. It was a delicious meal and I ate too much, as is my nature lately.

I’m actually not staying the night at the Wollen’s — Erika is house-sitting and so she and Jamie and I are crashing there, at the house — truly house-sitting. I’m amazingly tired — I’m always tired — but I guess I have good reasons today: lots of sun, a swim, ate too much. Tomorrow we’re going hiking around Mt. Rainier, so I’ll likely be more tired then. It’s also further fodder for sleep, so I’ll get right to that.

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