A quick trip to Seattle: 5-7 March 2020

Seattle, Washington. The Emerald City. Its close proximity (by Western standards) to Portland means I have visited it a lot over the past 20 years. Whenever I needed to visit another major city and didn’t want to travel to, say, San Francisco or Chicago, Seattle fit the bill. I’ve pretty much seen most parts of the city by this point. So there’s not a lot “new” to discover. Maybe I’m a bit burnt out?

It didn’t feel so long since the last time I was up that way in October, to lead my Three Speed Ride. And before that, it was August. To get to the point: I go to Seattle a lot, maybe too much. Rather than be excited for the trip, I’m often left with the quandary of “what to do” when I visit.

This was the situation that presented itself with my recent trip. There was no burning desire to visit, rather, this was “business”. Swift Industries was having an artist’s pop-up and invited me. I felt flattered that they thought of me, and while my experience with pop-ups is not that great, I also know I need to “put myself out there”. Plus, I can travel to Seattle on the cheap: I have enough Amtrak Guest Rewards points to cover many round-trip train tickets, and due to my hostel connections, I have a place I can stay for cheap-as-free. So I booked my travel tickets and accommodations and got into King Street Station late Thursday afternoon, Thursday March 5th.

But while the travel and stay are pretty much free, it still costs money to do things in a different city. There was a time that I could travel from town to town, barely spending anything, living off dollar slices of pizza and Food Not Bombs meals. Those days are over. But I am pretty broke right now. I did my best to keep costs down, but it’s pretty easy to part with your money if you want to have any degree of fun when traveling.

Part of the problem is the time of year. March is a transitional month between damp Northwest winter and a prolonged spring. I can ride around to some degree, but if it’s raining it’s not going to be a fun ride. I’m going to want to go indoors at some point, and that usually means an outlay of cash. Summer is easier, it’s warm and dry enough to be outside the whole day, so I can save cash by hanging out in parks, getting food to go or hitting up a market.

And then it comes around to the whole “what to do”. I had Friday as the free day, so I ended up heading north. I gravitate towards neighborhoods like Ballard and Fremont. It’s easy to see why: there’s stuff to do, and an abundance of water. I love going to the Ballard Locks. It’s not something I can get in Portland. And I might as well go do things I can’t do at home.

The pop-up went OK. I met some cool people, and sold a few things, but not as much as I wanted. And I realized that when the pop-up obligation ended, I didn’t want to stick around Seattle any more for this trip. After initially giving myself most of Sunday to hang out in town, I shrewdly modified my return ticket for Saturday afternoon. It was a short and quick trip.

Will I feel this ambivalent about Seattle in the future? I sure hope not. Maybe heading up in better weather will improve my mood. I really want to do a Three Speed Ride there again during the dry season. But I need to be smarter about traveling there. I definitely like visiting Vancouver BC more, but there was a time where I did it enough to get ambivalent about that, too. Now I’m not. Which reminds me: I need to get up there soon. Victoria, too!

Seattle at Night, 5 March 2020.

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