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Retracing a Familiar Route Through Seattle, Redmond, and Bellevue
You Can Never Go Back
Oh, yes I can!
I just don't want to stay.
While it is sensory stimulating and journalistically invigorating to visit Seattle and vicinity, my heart is nestled in the moderately sequestered Walla Walla Valley. There, the only rat race I ever need to be concerned with is how fast I can sell a Mickey or Minnie memorabilia item on eBay. Oh, sorry, M & M! Same family, different genus. Got it!
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit the Seattle neighborhood where I lived for a few years while holding down a job in nearby Redmond.
The Fuji camera I used to take photos of the event was a secondhand device that I got from my brother, Charlie. Apparently, during one of his fishing expeditions, he accidentally dropped this camera into the water. While its viewing capability was damaged, the basic functions were still operable.
Anyway, when my family and I were in Hawaii in December, 2010, Charlie presented this camera to me as a gift of brotherly aloha. He knew I was really passionate about my writing, and so he thought this camera would come in handy. It turned out to be one of the best investments my brother could have ever made in me.
I am a true-blue procrastinator, and so while I had every good intention to use this camera, I was a bit inhibited about trying to figure out how it worked. One day, I emailed my brother and asked him a question about taking photos with my cellphone. He lit into me and said to forget about the cellphone--use the camera!
Well, for a few days, I fiddled around with the camera. I took some night pictures several evenings ago and experienced firsthand the superior quality of the photos compared to my old cellphone pix of the same scenes. When I visited the Seattle area, I took more shots, and this photo essay will make liberal use of them.
Thought Theme for the Day: I am a good fit for this less than perfect camera because I am a less than perfect human being.
I Thank My Guardian Angel
The photo above was my first attempt of the day.
Each evening, I would leave the rental home I was living at with two other men and walk four-tenths of a mile to this very intersection. The Rainier Valley was and may very well still be the most dangerous community in Seattle. I remember vividly leaving for work one evening. A crowd of people--policemen, medical professionals, television crews, news journalists, and alarmed neighbors and passersby--stood at the intersection right in front of our house.
Later, I learned that a fugitive who had killed several police officers had been gunned down near his car that had been parked just a few yards away.
While this was an extreme case, the Rainier Valley was fraught with crime. Walking six-tenths of a mile to the link light rail station in the pitch black darkness of night was a real challenge. I reminded myself to walk tall and confidently--hopefully sending out vibes that I was NOT going to be an easy victim. My only weapon was prayer, and God answered faithfully for every single walk I made through that neighborhood.
Thankfully, on this return trip to Seattle, I was traveling in the early morning. Just as I had done hundreds of times before, I got on the Sound Transit Light Rail at the Othello Station and headed downtown. Approximately 22 minutes later, I disembarked the train at the Westlake tunnel. I caught an escalator up to the street level and went to the post office at 3rd and Union to mail one of my eBay packages. (Yes, even when I'm traveling, I take care of business.) I was pleasantly surprised that there was no line. Sweet! After some lighthearted banter with the kind, middle-aged Afro-American woman who helped me, I was off to the Central branch of the Seattle Public Library.
Along the way, I took a few photos of the Seattle skyscrapers.
Since this was the first time I had ever tried to capture the sensation of height, I may have been a bit clumsy, but you can't learn how to swim without making a splash, so I just went for it, and here are the results.
After a short walk, I arrived at the Central Branch of the Seattle Public Library. Looking very much like an enormous blue diamond because of its multi-faceted window design, it is an impressive architectural work of art that sits smack dab in the middle of 4th Avenue, arguably Seattle's main hub of activity.
After using a computer to check on my eBay site, I left the library and headed north towards Westlake Park. There, I took a photo of a familiar department store before catching the 545 Sound Transit bus to Redmond.
Next, I was off to Redmond, once a suburb of Seattle and now its own incorporated entity.
After approximately a half hour ride, I got off the bus in front of Fred Meyer, an all-stop department store where I used to frequently shop for something to eat and drink during my graveyard shift at the bagel shop.
On a path adjacent to one of the Redmond main streets is a large stand of trees. These evergreen skyscrapers are a natural contrast to their synthetic urban counterparts in downtown Seattle. They are the true vanguards of mankind, and it was refreshing for this writer to see a bit of natural wonder still left untouched while the rest of the Microsoft capital of the world rapidly developed around and in spite of it.
This was the general area where I worked as a baker for about five years. I gave the work my very best effort, thankful that I had a job that enabled me to send money home to my family, but what the labor and its owner and management demanded of me was not worth the heartache and physical ailments that accompanied it.
On this visit back to my old stomping grounds, I chose, for my own peace of mind and the most compelling form of reinforcement for the banner decision I made one fateful day to leave this all behind and return home to my family for good, to shake the dust off of my shoes and walk away.
Next, I went to Fred Meyer and stopped in at the in-store branch of my bank to conduct some miscellaneous transactions.
I was hungry by this time, and so I went to the deli a few feet away where I purchased a lunch deal. My selection was--no surprise to all--Hawaiian Ono Chicken. For $4.37, I got a delicious rice bowl with succulent chicken pieces drowned in a sumptuous teriyaki sauce...oh, and also a small soft drink to go with it.
Next stop in my busy day: Bellevue.
I have alluded to this several times in my writing, but just in case you're new to Hawaiian Odysseus hubs, you should know that I write prolifically in coffee shops, restaurants, libraries and anywhere else that offers free WiFi.
Anyway, after picking up my new eyeglasses at Lenscrafters, I walked over to one of my favorite Starbucks shops. It's located adjacent to a Barnes and Noble store which makes coming to this site a double whammy of literary pursuits for me.
I thought today's writing project would only have taken an hour or so at the most, but it's almost 7 PM. In my defense, I was running into a few problems with the uploading of my photos but, thankfully, the issue passed.
So, I'm taking a short break to stretch my legs and pump more java into my fatigued body before sprinting down the home stretch of this long but very rewarding post. See you in just a few...
You can check out these Bellevue skyscrapers while you wait.
It's no wonder that Bellevue--just a little pipsqueak of a town back in the seventies, is now the second largest city in Washington. I came across this interesting fact two or three years ago and was simply amazed! Suburban sprawl is alive and well in the Evergreen State, that's for sure!
My one commentary is that Bellevue has found a way, unlike Seattle, to maintain a clean and orderly appearance. Whether this is due to political decisions, fiscal planning, socioeconomic strategies, or other factors, Bellevue sets an example for other cities to emulate.
In any event, I have overstayed my welcome in Bellevue and must now head back to the Emerald City. At a pre-designated spot, I will meet up with my equally emerald queen for the long drive back home to eastern Washington.