July 10 – 13
Our drive to Seattle went smoothly until we got to the metropolitan area, right around Tacoma, where traffic backed up. This would be the underpinning of our stay, congested freeways (often due to construction) and heavy use of the arteries that feed them. We were scheduled to meet with our friend Janis after our arrival, but not knowing what might transpire and feeling hungry, we stopped for our once every 2-3-year visit to a Burger King south of the city.
Everyone has their own opinions about burger joints (we’ve certainly expressed ours a few times in this blog) but the King ranks in my top five for taste and quality for the price. Finished with lunch we drove on to Tacoma and exited to get gas at a station located across the street from an entry gate for the Army-led Joint Base (Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine) Lewis-McChord.
As we pulled in, we were blocked from entering the gas island by a Toyota Forerunner that couldn’t seem to figure out what they were supposed to do now that they were at the station. Finally settling on the first pump in, instead of pulling through to the second pump, it caused us to drive around and then back up to the pump in front of them.
While gassing up I went into the mini-mart for a drink and passed the young man from the Toyota talking to a fellow who was gassing his older Mercedes (with a carful of friends inside) and I overheard an offer a gold chain to the first guy, who we assumed was military personnel. When asked if it was real gold the obvious answer was yes, and they were only asking $150 for it. I don’t believe the deal was consummated but I can’t think of a better place to buy fine jewelry than a gas station next to a military base in Tacoma.
Traffic got worse as we neared downtown Seattle and then intensified once we exited the I-5 onto the 520 and crossed the Portage Bay Viaduct to turn left onto Montlake Blvd. To get to and from our destination this would be our route, heavily trafficked as it borders the University District and its namesake the University of Washington.
I spent a month in this area at the end of the three months plus of my first trip to Europe in 1977 and returned again for a week in 1979 just prior to my second three-month Europe adventure. Heir und Frau Angst (Tom and Kathy) lived in a neighborhood atop a hill overlooking Husky Stadium and their kind generosity enabled me to get back on my feet (I was flat broke) as Tom and I did handyman work around town.
This time around, when we drove past the stadium, which had been remodeled since that last visit, I tried to remember the neighborhood as it was so many years ago, to no avail. Such is the advance of time.
We arrived at Hawthorne Hills Airbnb and were greeted by the owner, who checked us into our garden studio. Seattle is a pricey place to stay and we wanted more than just a room (like in Nashville), so for about $100 a night we got a good-sized space with a kitchen surrounded by a fabulous garden in a nice part of town. After unpacking and getting moved in Janis drove over (she lives not too far away) to pick us up for our introduction to her Seattle (highly recommended).
Our first stop was Green Lake Park, where we spent an enjoyable 40 minutes or so walking and getting caught up, essentially what we’d do with her for the rest of our time together. Finished with the walk, we made our way to one of her favorite watering holes, Latona Pub. After ordering our first round of beer, we decided on food, nothing too heavy for us as we’d had the big burger lunch earlier.
Joanna and Janis split the Winter Duck Salad (Sonoma duck confit over arugula with figs, roasted beets, hazelnuts, Humboldt Fog goat cheese and a balsamic vinaigrette) and I the French Onion soup, one of my favorites.
It was just the right amount of food and our second beers kept our conversation lively.
Janis drove us back to the house and we made plans to meet again in a couple of days to explore more of her Seattle. In the meantime we’d do some roaming of our own, including a trip back down to the Tacoma area the following day for a visit with members of my family. But that is for the next post. For now, picture us on a warm evening, the door to the studio open and the garden just beyond, encouraging us to relax and enjoy.
Hawthorne Hills: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/21081142
Latona Pub: http://latonapub.com/