16. Lighter Loads in Seattle
We arrived in Seattle, WA at 6:25am. We decided the first problem we needed to tackle was how to manage our extra baggage now that we no longer had a vehicle. It would be impossible to drag everything we had along with us for the next couple weeks. We found some storage lockers in the bus station where we decided to stow our baggage while ate breakfast and decided what to do next. More importantly, we needed breakfast.
Most places still seemed to be closed so we finally asked someone if they knew of a good place that might be open this early. He recommended a place down at Seattle’s famous Pike Place Market named Lowells.
It was wonderful. We were hungry, tired, and after all that had transpired we were ready for some good comfort food. We got french toast, eggs, sausage, and coffee. We ate on the third story right on the edge of the sound. It was a beautiful morning and we talked and drank coffee to our heart’s content. There was no rush to be anywhere other than where we were.
To solve our excess baggage issue, we decided to go the post office to mail as much as we could home and keep just what we needed for a couple of weeks on the road. We purchased two medium-sized boxes, packed everything we could into them, and mailed the boxes home. Seventy-five dollars purchased our freedom and it felt fantastic. It was strange walking back out of the post office having mailed all of my carefully packed items back to Ohio keeping just a small backpack of essentials. I was surprised that I felt so free and liberated at a time when I had so little.
With full stomachs and lighter loads, we were free to explore the city. Our first stop was the Sub Pop record label headquarters who represented some of our favorite bands at the time. Unfortunately they didn’t have a store or anything, just a small office where one of their publicists gave us their new sampler CD and a few stickers for stopping by.
We stopped by one or two more used book and record stores to have a look around. They were all amazing and full of musical and literary gems—and cats. I picked up a copy of Into the Wild to read throughout the rest of the trip.
We were going to go up in the famous Space Needle but for the cost of a trip to the top we could buy a couple meals, so we decided to give it a pass. We hung out at the Farmer’s Market for a while and watched the guys yell and throw fish around. The had a big gnarly looking fist sticking out the front of their display that they could pull from the back and make it move to scare people. There was a guy on the street playing guitar, harmonica, and tambourine at the same time. The atmosphere was fresh, full of food, and bustling with people—a strange contrast from the open meadows of Yellowstone. Another musician was playing slide guitar while a homeless man stood next to him dancing. We talked to one guy sitting in a chair under an umbrella handing out flyers and found out they were advertising their local church in the area. When we told him that we were into Jesus his eyes lit up, he asked us to come over and pray. We all joined hands in a circle but instead of praying, he just started singing Glory, Glory, Hallelujah and we all joined in. It was one of the more amazing prayers I’ve participated in.
We continued on wandering around the city. We must have passed through a not so hot area (one of the risks of just meandering around a major city that is completely foreign) because we had a run of strange encounters and observations. At one point we were at an intersection waiting to cross when a homeless man approached us asking us what we had.
“What do we have?”
“Actually, nothing much really.”
I couldn’t tell if we were about to be robbed, if we were being asked for drugs, or if this was just his way of making conversation. It sort of seemed like all three. We told him a bit about what we were up to and that we were just roaming around Seattle for the day. He went on to tell us his own stories about traveling the country, originally coming from Toledo, and has been stuck in Seattle for the last two years. He told us he has been in 87 fights in his life and that he hated “those white supremist kids.” I always find it fascinating what information people voluntarily offer up when given a chance to speak. Just minutes before talking with this guy we witnessed an escalating altercation between a guy and a girl on the other side of the street. “That guy broke the girls crack pipe and now she’s all pissed off,” he explained very matter of factly.
We made our way to the Bay Front where we ate at a fish and chips place. We sat watching young children standing real still holding their french fries up in the air for the brazen seagulls to swoop down and snatch out of their little hands.
We spent the entire day doing this type of thing—just walking, observing, and walking some more. From 7:30am to 7:30pm we walked the city of Seattle. Toward the end of the day we found the Smith building which had an observation deck at the top. At $5 it was much cheaper than the more expensive Space Needle and Jimmy and I were keen on getting better view of the city scape. Brian and Luke didn’t want to spend the money so we split up for a bit. It was a fantastic view of the city. In one direction were the tall, sleek buildings of the downtown area, another side was the beautiful inlet, and the other side faded off into the outskirts of the city with mountains far off in the distance.
For some reason, I omitted the details in my journal, but I know Brian had to catch a plane back to Ohio so at some point we said goodbye to him and helped him get to where he needed to be. So now it was just down to Luke, Jim, and myself. Next, we would catch the night bus to San Francisco.