July 10 – 13
We met Lincoln for dinner that night at Frank’s Oyster House and Champagne Parlor, just a couple of miles from our place and not far from UW, where he is a senior level administrator. I first met him in the late 1990’s when I was the Director of the Student Union at UCLA. Each year I’d join two separate groups, the Pac-10 Union Directors and the UC Auxiliary Directors for a meeting that would last 2-4 days with hosting duties rotating among the various campuses.
I was very lucky to fall into my field, a career of serving students on two unique college campuses (UCLA and UNC Charlotte) and of the many rich experiences I had, some of the most rewarding were these annual gatherings of like-minded professionals.
And yes, eating and drinking was a common theme and shared joy of each meeting.
And so, we found ourselves seated across from Lincoln in a booth taking great advantage of the happy hour pricing of the house white wine. As a treat our waitress brought each of us a cucumber shooter, akin to gazpacho only cuke based and while catching up on our personal lives, we started with a round of Mini pork tacos with apple carrot slaw followed by the Baked Oyster’s Ningo with spinach & parmesan aioli.
I’ll be the first to admit I’m not a big fan of oysters (this is certainly my loss and I only wish I loved them like so many others do) but this particular treatment could possibly change my mind. The tacos were also great, so good I considered ordering another portion or two but held off, deciding with Joanna to split the Mac and Cheese with lobster.
Our entrée, even though split between the two of us was so rich and filling that we ended up taking a lunch sized serving back to the house with us. We enjoyed the rest of the evening with Lincoln, talking about the hike he planned to do that weekend to Mt. Baker,
about a couple of hours north of the city (we’d see it later in the trip from a vantage point on Orcas Island. The third-highest mountain in Washington at 10,781 feet, between the drive and a strenuous hike he’d be out a full day and plenty tired by the end of it.
It had been a fine evening, one where we all got to know a bit more about each other, expanding the boundaries of our friendship, a meal we’d all look back on fondly. As we too had a busy day starting the next morning, we said our farewells outside the restaurant returning to the house with that nice feeling one gets from good food, wine, and conversation, and savors for the rest of the evening.
As we were to meet Janice later in the morning, Joanna and I got out bright and early for a ride on the Burke-Gilman Trail. With limited time on our hands, this ride wouldn’t be about total miles, but more about the experience. With a total length of 27-miles, this multi-use paved path is a substantial part of the 90 miles of signed bike routes in Seattle and the 175 miles of trails in the King County Trails System.
As had been our good fortune for the bulk of the trip, the weather gods smiled upon us making for nearly perfect conditions to ride in. For a weekday, the trail was heavily utilized between joggers, cyclists, and multiple sets of mothers pushing prams. With an eye on the clock, we rode out a little over seven miles and turned around for the run back to the house, ready to attack the rest of our day.
Janice met us at the appointed time for what would be a full day of her Seattle. Our first stop was at the UW Waterfront Activities Center where we rented a rowboat for an hour or so of paddling around on Union Bay. Not as easy as it sounds, this type of watercraft is designed to be powered by one skilled individual with a set of oars as opposed to three independent souls brandishing paddles.
We made it out to a quiet section of the bay that is covered in water lilies before returning to the dock and heading over to take a look at the house that Janice owns, an older charming bungalow any one of us would enjoy living in. By now having worked up some hungry, we stopped in at The Monkey Bridge, a small Vietnamese restaurant with killer food.
Along with a beer, I ordered the Pork Baguette (Toasted French baguette spread with a homemade mayo, sautéed lemongrass pork, cucumber, cilantro, and pickled carrot) and Joanna the Vietnamese Style Pork Chops (Grilled garlic and lemongrass pork chops, skewered shrimp, fried egg and Brown Rice), served with a Vietnamese salad.
The sandwich, essentially their version of a Bahn-Mi was everything it should be, succulent pork, the perfect baguette and just the right amount of crunch from the vegetables. As I polished off most of Joanna’s side salad, I ate just half of my sandwich, which would come in handy later and we also boxed up a goodly amount of Joanna’s rice bowl.
Our next stop was the Hiram M. Chittenden Locks otherwise known as the Ballad Locks at the west end of Salmon Bay, in the Lake Washington Ship Canal between the neighborhoods of Ballard to the north and Magnolia to the south. Carrying more boat traffic than any other lock in the US, along with its fish ladder and the surrounding Carl S. English Jr. Botanical Gardens, they attract more than one million visitors annually, making it one of Seattle’s top tourist attractions.
The construction of the locks between 1911 and 1916 reshaped the topography of Seattle and the surrounding area, lowering the water level of Lake Washington and Lake Union by 8.8 feet and adding miles of new waterfront land. The Locks are listed on the National Register of Historic Places and the American Society of Civil Engineers Historic Civil Engineering Landmarks.
Leaning against the railing of the Large Lock, we watched the boats queueing up for their passage from Salmon Bay to Shilshole Bay, then walked across the Small Lock to the fish ladder to view salmon swimming upstream as part of their life cycle. Pacific salmon are anadromous; they hatch in lakes, rivers, fish hatcheries and streams, migrate to sea, and only at the end of their life return to fresh water to spawn.
As we’d serendipitously arrived during the peak of spawning season (from about the beginning of July through mid-August) there were many salmon to view. The fish approaching the ladder smell the attraction water, recognizing the scent of Lake Washington and its tributaries.
They enter the ladder, and either jump over each of the 21 weirs or swim though tunnel-like openings and then exit the ladder into the fresh water of Salmon Bay and continue following the waterway to the lake, river, or stream where they were born. Once there, the females lay eggs which the males fertilize; most salmon die shortly after spawning.
Finished up at the locks we drove into the city to meet up with Janice’s boyfriend Jack at one of their favorite spots, Georgetown Brewing in the neighborhood of the same name. The tasting room offers free samples of all of their beers and if you arrive on a weekday as we did, they don’t seem to keep track of how many you’ve sampled. We had quite the time working our way through the list of beers, some more than once and then set off to walk this formerly industrial neighborhood with the original Rainier Brewing buildings taking up blocks, now slowly gentrifying. We stopped in at Kirk Albert’s, a fascinating combination art and found objects furnishings gallery.
We entered into a entertaining dialogue with Kirk himself, discussing items in the shop, politics and his method of collecting. We briefly considered buying one of the condom molds until we found out they were $150 apiece and concluded that it would be better to put that money towards future bar tabs. As we left the shop and walked along Airport Way, we passed a number of bars and restaurants, all fairly busy for a Friday afternoon.
Nearing the end of our exploration, we crossed the street to stop in at Fran’s Chocolates for a taste or two (they were really good) before retracing our steps to our final stop of the day, Elysian Brewing.
One of Seattle’s oldest craft brewers, I would order one of their flagship brews, the Space Dust IPA.
After a long afternoon of walking that pint was a refreshing undertaking, indeed I could have had a couple more, but our day was drawing to a close and with an early departure on tap the next morning to catch our ferry to Victoria, we closed out the day by saying farewell to Jack. Janis transported us back to the house and on the way I made good use of the remaining half sandwich, even better now given how hungry I was and upon our return, Joanna would polish off her leftover as well.
Our stay in Seattle had been fulfilling and meaningful, re-connecting with friends and family, hitting tourists’ sites, both known and unknown, and tossing in a nice bike ride to complete it all. We realized as we prepared for the next day’s journey that had added yet another must visit place to an already crowded list, one that seems to get longer each day. To me though that list represents a rich and satisfying life with much more to explore. So be sure to follow us on that journey.
Mt. Baker: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mount_Baker
Burke-Gilman Trail: https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/washington/burkegilman-trail
UW Waterfront Activities: https://www.washington.edu/ima/waterfront/canoe-boat-rentals/
The Monkey Bridge: http://www.themonkeybridge.com/about/
Ballard Locks: http://www.ballardlocks.org/
Attraction Water: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0925857416305936
Georgetown Brewing: https://georgetownbeer.com/
Elysian Brewing: https://www.elysianbrewing.com/beer/