Seattle downtown on a Sunday, not where I planned to be

posted in: Travel | 9

This is a total digression. I have more wool posts, but on a Skype call with my daughter last night I mentioned the drive I took yesterday from SeaTac through Seattle, and she wants to see photos.

I flew in (my mother's ill), arriving an hour late because our plane was delayed to permit people coming from the east through a thunderstorm to make their connections. Picked up the rental car and called my brother-in-law to let the family know I was on my way to their house. He mentioned that the highway 99 viaduct is closed this weekend for construction, and the only option for the southern part of my trip would be I-5, and that it would be crowded. He mentioned that getting off the freeway when possible and taking 4th Avenue through downtown would be a potentially good alternative.

I know Seattle somewhat, because I lived here 40 years ago and took the buses back and forth between Lake City (way north), downtown, and my classes at the University of Washington. Things have changed a little between then and now, and I have never done much driving in this city. I did have a map (not very detailed) from the car-rental agency. (I forgot to bring a better map, and I'm not sure it would have helped.)

The freeway became a large-scale parking lot beginning about 2 miles south of downtown, so I edged over and exited at something called Martinez. It appeared to be willing to connect to 4th Avenue, but that didn't work out: I could SEE two lanes of access to 4th Avenue, but the elevated highway segment I was on wouldn't let me get to them. I headed north and attempted to find 4th Avenue by driving around some stadiums (post-1970s construction) and ended up on 1st Avenue South, where some event was going on involving teams of people running through the streets wearing costumes or at least matching t-shirts. I think beer may have been involved. There were a LOT of teams: hundreds of people. One team had Viking-style horned helmets and armor that I think was made of Rainier beer cans.

I ended up progressing slowly through Pioneer Square (my first, four-week weaving class, in 1971, was in a second-floor space in Pioneer Square; I transported my rented Pioneer table loom there on the number 7 bus from Lake City). I decided to delay my attempts at finding 4th Avenue for a few blocks because I wasn't sure I could access it from the clutter of streets around Pioneer Square.

I figured out that the people I was seeing darting in and out of traffic were likely participating in a large-scale scavenger hunt. Reason? MANY people running in front of my car when traffic slowed to a stop (every 5 feet or so) to get their pictures taken with the license plate of the car in front of me.

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The car from California had cut me off when I was attempting to merge onto some more-major street from the narrow alley near one of the stadiums (stadia?) that I'd inadvertently gotten onto while looking for a way to get to 4th. At this point, I became glad that the California driver hadn't let me in, and that the more generous driver following it had, because being behind that car made my travel across lower downtown Seattle a lot more interesting than it would have been otherwise.

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Note the "construction ahead" sign. This was also a theme of the day. And more frequent than the photos indicate. I only snapped pictures when I was not moving.

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The construction was not minor.

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Nor was the event.

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When people were not running in front of my car, this is what they were doing:

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I headed up the hill, still seeking 4th Avenue (lots of one-way streets to figure out, with more construction, undocumented because my car was actually moving).

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I did find 4th Avenue. My connection to wherever I went next involved going down a street that my map, also studied when I was fully stopped, suggested was the connector (Battery). Once I turned onto it, the two lanes (out of three) that went where I needed to go were clearly marked BUS ONLY, but (1) I couldn't see how else to get there and (2) lots of other cars were using the BUS ONLY lanes. So I followed them.

Whew. I decided to park the car and walk as much as possible for the rest of the day. But my journey was a whole lot more interesting than I-5 was!

While walking back from visiting my mother, here's a bridge I waited to cross:

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I am undoubtedly not the first person to think this looks like a TARDIS:

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(There are actually four of them on the Fremont bridge.)

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9 Responses

  1. Jen

    We might well have passed each other at some point while I was circling around trying to find parking at the various downtown LYSs (the Puget Sound LYS Tour is this weekend – but we definitely weren’t the people in t-shirts!). Sending good thoughts for your mom.

  2. Beth Hansen

    Sorry to hear that your mom isn’t well. Hope for a speedy recovery!

    Was fun chatting in MN.

    LOVE the first photo from MDS&W you posted. Lovely little e-spinner in the picture! ;-D
    Beth H

  3. Deborah Robson

    Jen, a LYS tour in Seattle would be a treat! Most of the stores I know are north of downtown. Maybe all of them–!

    Thanks, Jen and Laura and Beth, for the good wishes for Mom. She’s had a stroke and the biggest challenge is that she has lost most of her ability to speak. The good part is that it’s now MOST of and not ALL of, which is where she was a week ago.

    Beth, yes, that is a lovely little Hansen e-spinner right there at the head of the class!

  4. 6thWall

    Thank you for all the pictures! And for not taking any when you were driving. 🙂

    Also, your TARDIS comment made me very, very happy; I’m rubbing off on you!

  5. Deborah Robson

    You’re welcome for the pictures, 6th Wall. And yes, you are definitely rubbing off on me. I *immediately* thought “TARDIS.”

  6. Gretchen Frederick

    Hey Deb,
    I was in Seattle going to the UofW 37 years ago. Wonder if we just missed each other?
    Lived in Ballard, walking distance from Fremont too and for awhile, Joan lived in Lake City. I wasn’t weaving then though…

    Sorry to hear your mom isn’t well, sure she enjoyed seeing you.

  7. Deborah Robson

    Well, Gretchen, I do wonder if we just missed each other. I was at UW 1971 to 1973. I lived in Lake City, Ravenna, Wallingford, and Phinney Ridge. My sister and brother-in-law live in Ballard, walking distance from Fremont. . . .

    Mom does seem to be enjoy seeing me. It’s a quick visit. She’s in rehab from a stroke. It’s complicated {wry grin}.

  8. Cindy H

    I feel your pain. I live in Bremerton and getting on and off the ferry is always an adventure in creative route finding.

    Do you think that might have been a geocaching event?

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