STP 2007 Trip Recap: Seattle
Things have been so busy that I haven't had time to write about our excellent adventure in the Pacific NW! Here's my account of the Seattle part of things. Portland will be along sooner or later...
Thursday, July 12
We flew to Seattle on Thursday night, after work. The only notable thing about the flight was that there was a Buddhist monk a few rows ahead of us, and I really liked his bag (it was similar to this one). It feels wrong to covet a Buddhist monk's bag. But it was so nice and simple!
We once again stayed at Ashly and Isaac's house in Ravenna, but this time they weren't there (they chose to go camping instead of doing the Seattle to Portland ride this year). It's too bad they weren't around this year. I would've gushed about how much I like their house, especially their new wall hanging, which they apparently won at a school auction. I hope someday our kids go to a school that produces such nice art.
Although Ashly, Isaac, and children weren't around, we weren't the only ones there. A family friend was staying in the basement for a few days, and the house sitter (a very nice woman named Emily who gave me some good recommendations on places to go in Seattle) stopped in while we were there. And there was a kitten! Her name is Sally, and she is very cute and very mischievous. I was kind of afraid of her because she chased everybody around trying to attack them. But in a cute way. The older cat, Maggie, was not at all happy about Sally's antics. But she made our visit much more entertaining!
Andrew showed up an hour or so after we arrived. He had driven the bikes up from the Bay Area, so his day must have been much more exhausting than ours. Despite that, he offered to sleep on the living room floor and let us have the sofa bed. It was very brave of him to sleep in the same room as the kitten.
Friday, July 13
On Friday morning, it was raining! In July! We picked up Tree at the airport and then headed downtown for breakfast. It was a bit of a hike to Julia's on Broadway, but not too bad. This Julia's was decorated very differently from the Wallingford location (which I'd gone to last year), but the menu was the same. Apparently there are drag queen performances during dinner. Breakfast was much tamer--nobody was in drag.
We split a Cinnamon Yum Yum, which was a cinnamon roll, halved and given the French toast treatment, then drizzled with butter and syrup. Very decadent, and tasty, of course. Patrick and I went halvsies on our breakfast items, sharing a scramble and a banana-caramelized-walnut buttermilk pancake (you can order just 1 pancake instead of a stack, which is nice). The scramble was good, and the pancake was delicious. I'd definitely get it again (and maybe not split it with Patrick next time).
When we walked past B & O Espresso, I stopped in to pick up a hot cocoa to go, because they are reputed to have the best hot chocolate in Seattle (that was the note I'd made on my to-visit list; I'm not sure who made that claim). It was definitely good hot chocolate. I'd get it again, were I in the neighborhood. I like their logo too.
Next, we stopped at REI to pick up the StP packets. It's a cool store. On the way out, we spotted a large dog trying on some doggie hiking boots (or something). The dog shoes came in tiny little shoe boxes, and this dog was not happy about the situation. It was walking around agitatedly, shaking its legs and trying to get the booties off. Poor doggie. It was a pretty funny scene though.
We decided to head to Salumi for lunch. The drive over was a little harrowing, as I had failed to note if it was on 3rd Ave South or North on my map. Luckily, Tree's iPhone saved the day, and we didn't get too lost. (Tree and Andrew both got iPhones recently, and they came in very handy during our trip. It made us much more interested in getting iPhones of our own. Ever since our trip up north, I've found myself frequently lamenting the fact that we don't have iPhones. If we did, we could look up an obscure fact or get store hours or directions to our destination. Ah, to have the Internet at your fingertips whenever you need it. But perhaps it's better to live in ignorance some of the time)
When we got to Salumi, the line was out the door, and we had no idea how long the wait would be, so we walked to McCoy's Firehouse for lunch instead. I think it was Andrew who said that the decorations (fireman and police regalia hanging on the walls) were reminiscent of a chain restaurant, except that these were authentic, so I guess it's just that chain restaurants are imitating restaurants like McCoy's. We sat near the bar, across from a guy who played video poker the whole time we were there. The atmosphere didn't wow me, but our waitress was friendly, and the food was good. Tree and I split the beef brisket sandwich. Yum!
After some more stressful downtown driving, we headed back to the house for a much-needed kitten break. There was also some napping and some iPhone usage. This picture of Tree and Andrew pretty much sums up our visit to Seattle--kittens and iPhones. It was nice that we were able to relax on our vacation. Sometimes I forget about that part and just spend the whole time trying to see everything that I possibly can. I think this vacation had a good mix of exploring and hanging out.
Around dinnertime, we headed up to Ballard (using the iPhone to find the best route there, as we've had trouble getting there in the past). We stopped in at the locks, but there weren't as many fish there as last year. It was still fun to watch for jumping salmon. I guess I looked pretty intense (or distraught?), judging by this picture Patrick took.
We hightailed it back to Market St. so we could check out a few stores before closing time (Patrick and Andrew may not have been as excited about the shopping parts of the trip as I was; sorry guys). First, we stopped at Cookies, which was a pretty small store, full of cookie cutters and other cookie accoutrements (sprinkles, aprons, cookie jars). Certainly a good resource if you're in the neighborhood, but it wasn't as exciting as I'd hoped it would be.
Next we stopped at Velouria, which turned out to be a great find. It was packed full of cute indie arts and crafts. Tree bought a wallet and necklace (and admired these umbrellas, as did I). I bought a Portland-style engineer's cap (by Mona Lucy) in olive corduroy and rust lace (my favorite Portland house paint color combination, as you may recall). We saw short-brimmed hats all over Portland on our last visit, but I don't think they've caught on in the Bay Area. Maybe I'll be a trend setter. Or not... Here I am looking official (or maybe a little angry?) in my new hat. I think it looks cuter in person.
We also stopped at Market St. Shoes, which had all sorts of exciting shoes, but it would've been especially mean of me to try on shoes when people were hungry for dinner and tired of shopping. Our final stop was Tableau, a home goods boutique. They had just closed, and when the shopkeeper saw us looking in the window, she came out and offered to let us look around. We felt bad, since she was closed, but how could we refuse such a kind offer? Neither of us bought anything, but they carried all sorts of nice things, and, as Tree pointed out, it was all really thoughtfully displayed. Worth a second visit when we're not as rushed.
We walked down Market Street to the Hi-Life for dinner. It's located in a beautifully renovated firehouse (pole still intact), and the menu features a different wine-producing region every few months (it was Napa on our visit). The food exceeded my expectations, and I really liked the decor--airy and open, with lots of wood and exposed brick. I'd definitely go there again. Here I am sporting my purple Keens in front of the restaurant. (I wore the Keens throughout the visit, and they were very comfortable right from the get-go. And maybe not quite as ugly as I originally thought)
The drinks were quite attractive. Patrick had an Arnold Palmer (with a very nice separation of Arnold and Palmer), and Tree had a Berrito--a strawberry mojito.
Tree and Andrew split a small dish of awesome macaroni and cheese (they let me steal a bite--what good friends!) and a pizza. Patrick got pizza too, which turned out to be a good choice. Although my dinner (porterhouse pork with Laura Chenel mashed potatoes and braised greens, with a side of watermelon-jicama salad) was good, the pizzas were better. Next time...
We skipped dessert at the Hi-Life because we were only a block away from our beloved Cupcake Royale! We enjoyed their cupcakes so much last year that there was no question that we would make a return visit. I had a vanilla coconut bunny (vanilla cake with vanilla frosting and fluffy coconut), though in retrospect, chocolate cake might have been a better choice than vanilla. It was good and all, but I like the Orange You Glad (chocolate cake with orange-infused buttercream) even better. Here's a shot of Andrew's Peppermint Party (aren't nonpareils the cutest?!).
I admired the art on display at Cupcake Royale (by Scott Erickson), but it was too pricey to buy on a whim. However, I took a picture of one of our favorites, and maybe someday I will paint something similar. I'm not a very original artist, sad to say. One of the things I liked about the painting, which isn't captured here, was the subtle texture of the sky. It wasn't just flat white; there were circles and lines of slightly different shades superimposed on the background. I also really liked this painting of his.
After our cupcake dessert, we headed home for some bike maintenance and last-minute ride preparations (or exploring-Seattle preparations, in my case).
Saturday, July 14
We woke up early on Saturday so Patrick, Tree, and Andrew could start their ride. I shuttled their gear to the ride start, which was full of people on bikes, as it was last year. After wishing them well, I returned to the house and got ready for a day of exploring. Last year, I spent a lot of my time walking, but this year I realized that Seattle is a little too big to walk around, so I drove everywhere. I felt kind of bad about it, but I was able to cover a lot more ground.
First I went to Dish for breakfast. It's in an industrial area (soon to be urbanly renewed, I suspect), not too far from Ballard. I grabbed a seat at the counter and perused the menu. It was pretty standard breakfast fare. Although many things looked good, I was compelled to order the Seattle to Portland scramble (spinach, bacon, cheddar, tomatoes) in honor of the ride. I thought about ordering a scone, since you don't see those on breakfast menus very often, but I went with an English muffin instead (I seem to have English muffin cravings pretty frequently, for some reason). Although my breakfast was yummy, I suffered a little pang of ordering regret when I saw the waitress carrying the fruit and yogurt plate to another table. It had a beautiful array of fruit (including cherries!), and it looked so healthy and delicious. Oh well!
I had a good view of the kitchen past the shelves of hot sauce opposite the counter, and it looked like an honest operation. It was a pretty small place, and the kitchen looked cramped, but the cooks seemed to be doing just fine. One of them was putting together a Mickey Mouse pancake while I was waiting for my breakfast. When I was little, we used to go to a little cafe on the corner, and I would get Mickey Mouse pancakes. I'm glad restaurants still do that.
After breakfast, I drove up to Ballard proper. My primary goal was to revisit Market St. Shoes to try some things on, but they weren't open yet, so I stopped in at Caffe Fiore to pass the time. It was a pretty little coffee shop, in a relatively new location, it seemed. It was almost too pretty and polished, like a Starbucks in disguise. I think part of the problem was that it wasn't established yet, so there weren't any regulars there. It didn't feel cozy yet. But I hope it'll succeed. I really like the concept and the decor. I think I'd enjoy hanging out there if I lived in the neighborhood. Certainly a fine place to grab a snack and use the bathroom while waiting for the shoe store to open.
I wasn't able to make it to Mighty O on this visit, so I was excited to see that Caffe Fiore sold a selection of their donuts, along with items from the Essential Baking Company (another bakery I'd like to visit someday). I opted for a cute mini lemon-poppyseed donut. What a great idea--who can resist a mini donut? I also ordered a cup of tea because it seemed weird to just order a mini donut and nothing else. It was a tasty donut, but I'd still love to go to the source and try one hot out of the fryer.
When the shoe store opened, I walked in and selected a few pairs to try on. Unfortunately, they were out of my size in every style I liked. The salesgirl was intent on selling me some shoes despite this setback, and she tried her best to get me to buy something. I humored her and tried on some too-small shoes, but in the end I had to leave empty-handed. I did write down the brand of the shoes I liked the most, and when I got home I ordered them from Zappos, so all was not lost (I've since received them, but I haven't made a final decision on whether I'll keep them or not--they're cute, but in a practical German way. Very comfy though).
I explored Ballard Ave. a little, stopping in at an apothecary--Dandelion Botanical Co.--which was staffed by a very friendly man who seemed excited to have a customer; I felt bad telling him that I was from California and wouldn't be returning regularly. It was a very aesthetically pleasing store, the walls lined with big jars and the counter punctuated by old-fashioned balances. They also had some nice wooden jewelry. I turned down his offer of freshly brewed tea (a concoction of his own design), though I should have tried some. I was all tea'd out after my visit to Caffe Fiore.
I also visited Camelion Design, yet another home furnishings boutique. Also full of good stuff, but I didn't buy anything. I think I liked Tableau a little better, but that may have been because the saleslady was friendlier.
Next, I drove up to Phinney Ave. to visit the Frock Shop. It's a cute little store, stuffed with pretty dresses, as well as a few cards, shoes, purses, and other gifty items. I could've spent hours there, I think. I ended up buying one of their bread-and-butter dresses (in a black and white graphic leaf print) by Purple Rain. The dress is made of a silky jersey fabric with a surplice neckline and tie back. It's reputedly flattering on almost everybody (they sell a lot of them--thus the "bread-and-butter" moniker), and I certainly liked the way it looked on me. The owner mentioned that she was working on designing a signature Frock Shop dress, which would be made by a local sewing operation in Seattle. That would be cool!
I also bought a sweet purse, made by the shop's owner, Suzy Fairchild. I was excited to learn that it was a one-of-a-kind purse (I'm easily impressed). It's a little shallower than my normal purse, which exposes the purse contents to potential pickpockets, but as long as I keep it wedged under my arm, I think it'll be fine. I plan on using it as my cute weekend purse, not my everyday purse. It makes me happy :)
I also stopped in at Lil Paisley, a small vintage jewelry shop next door to the Frock Shop. The owner was very helpful (and wearing one of the Frock Shop's bread-and-butter dresses herself), but I didn't end up buying anything from her.
Phinney Ridge seems like a sweet little up-and-coming neighborhood. I walked by the community center, where they have a weekly farmers' market (I didn't manage to make it to a single farmers' market in Seattle or Portland this time, which was too bad). I stopped in at Red Mill Burgers, named one of GQ Magazine's "20 Hamburgers You Must Eat Before You Die." With such a ringing endorsement, how could I miss it?
It was a tiny restaurant, crowded with people waiting to order, but the line moved at a reasonable speed. Although I'm not a burger aficionado, I went with the Red Onion Jam Burger (a hamburger topped with lettuce, tomato, their special Mill Sauce, and a pile of caramelized red onions). I ate it on a little patch of grass across the street, shaded by a tree and surrounded by flowers. It was a pleasant lunch, if a little messy. I would certainly recommend their hamburgers, but their sparkling lemonade was too sweet for me. I'd go for root beer next time. Here's a shot of the crazy stack 'o' bacon behind the counter (I asked the girl who wrapped the burgers if I could take a picture; she seemed unsure as to why I wanted a picture of all that bacon).
It was about time to head out to Portland, so I returned to the house one last time and got everything loaded up. I tried to play with the kitten, but she was more intent on clawing her way up the couch in order to pounce on Maggie (Maggie did not appreciate this one bit!). On an unrelated note, I think her collar compliments her fur quite nicely!
It was time to drive down to Portland in the midday heat, in a car without air conditioning. Is that better or worse than riding a bike between Seattle and Portland (202 miles)? I'm not sure...