I’ve already said that this year of my life is given over to exploring other places, ‘other’ meaning beyond Brooklyn. Leaving the city to begin with was, conceptually, a huge hurdle for me. I spent one of my last nights crying in a cab as it sped through the neighborhoods that house so many of my happiest memories. But once that break was made, once I’d overcome the feeling of leaving New York, such a big wide world unfolded before me. It might be easier for me to say this because I know I’ll return to Brooklyn before too long, but I don’t have to be in New York to be happy. Big realizations hit you once and then come back and hit you again if you forget them.
That said, I don’t want to live in Seattle. Daniel and I have a list that we share through Avocado called Wanderings. It’s all the places we want to go together: Istanbul, Croatia, San Francisco, Morocco. Seattle is the first place we’ve actually crossed off our list.
We planned the trip rather last-minute and didn’t do much research. I came up with a list of restaurants and bookstores that caught my eye, and Daniel had the address (minus apartment number) of the friend we were to stay with written down somewhere. We both made it, he from Philly and me from Phoenix.
This trip brought me to the Pacific Ocean for the very first time.
We were on Alki Beach in West Seattle, and it was cold but sunny on our first full day there.
Sunglasses: this was the last time I would need these.
We explored the downtown area on that first day and bought a gigantic Arctic Char from the Pike Place Fish Market, which fed us for many, many meals.
Of course, Daniel found a store with beautiful woods, and it was difficult to tear him away.
Our downtown Friday night involved the Seattle Underground Tour (which we suspected might be just a tourist trap but was actually also highly informative and entertaining) and dinner at Quinn’s Pub in Capitol Hill. Quinn’s was absolutely wonderful and I have no photos because the atmosphere was that romantic, but they make their own dark chocolate bars. I know.
Our neighborhood homebase was Ballard, so we devoted a lot of time to explorations on foot. I squeezed in a 6-mile run around Green Lake on Saturday morning.
And then the rain started. Torrential downpours, to which even Seattle is apparently unaccustomed, that lasted for days. Things we did in the rain: rode the ferry to Bainbridge.
Apparently we both wear rain on our faces. We also managed a walk to the farmers market.
And from there, our trip devolved into a giant food and beer tour. My grand plans for a variety of cultural experiences disintegrated as we took refuge from the rain in Seattle’s pubs and (fantastic) breweries.
Hilliard’s had an inviting (if not physically warm) atmosphere, and I was a big fan of the Murdered Out Stout.
Fremont Brewing Company was my favorite, though. The huge windows meant that even on a gloomy day, life felt a little sunnier. Plus, I like their motto, pictured here on their Dark Star Imperial Oatmeal Stout.
We broke for dessert with a trip to the Theo Chocolate Factory. Theo is my favorite chocolate, so I was psyched that they give tours. Tours means lots of free chocolate samples. And you learn something. And then you get more free chocolate samples.
Their factory is actually really cool, and I love that my intense chocolate addiction supports a company that actually stands behind and is so transparent about its ingredients and production methods. Daniel and I agreed that our favorite bar was the ECI Vanilla Nib, proceeds of which go to the Eastern Congo Initiative to support its work with Congolese farmers. (Good stocking stuffer? I think so.)
And then we had more beer.
At some point I made the switch to tasting portions to keep from drowning my rainy day sorrows too much. This was an all-pumpkin flight, including the Dark o’ the Moon Pumpkin Stout from Seattle’s own Elysian Brewing Company. (I loved this. It was like two of my favorite beers had a delicious baby.)
I split this second round with someone, I promise.
So the beer was good. And the food was good. We even got to have breakfast for dinner with this crazy lady and her too-cute fiancé. I couldn’t have taken much more rain, though. It reminded me too much of living in Dublin, and the rain was what drove me away from Dublin.
But that’s the point of exploring: now that I know I could again live places other than Brooklyn in this lifetime, I want to figure out where those other places are. What, in a place, makes me happy? What are the things I use to build a life? Good food. Busyness. People who are making things. And, yes, maybe, sun. Even if cold, sun. It’s good to know.
So now I’m back in the Valley of the Sun. Next big adventure? I don’t know, but I’m thinking about laying by the pool and maybe making this banana bread. I know.