By Land and By Sea

There is something about exploring a city on my own that both invigorates and calms me.  Maybe it’s the sense of ownership that it creates, knowing that I managed to find my way around without help, confident that I actually am competent.  Although I enjoy traveling with friends, I really appreciate opportunities to set off into the wild unknown…of civilized Seattle.

King Street Station, where Amtrak’s Empire Builder line ends.

We left off (in #44DaysInATrain: DAY THREE) with me in the coffeeshop Zeitgeist, waiting for my brother Roy’s lunch break.  At noon, we arranged to meet for Thai food.  I would walk one way down 1st Ave, he the other, and eventually we would meet up.  I put on my purse, threw my backpack on, and clutched my duffel bag, then cut a wide swath down the sidewalk.  Just when a homeless man called out, “Welcome home!” I wondered if I’d gone too far.  My phone rang, and Roy said, “I’m almost to Zeitgeist.  Where are you?”  We had missed each other, and I had gone further than the restaurant, so we both turned around and eventually met in front of our Thai restaurant. 

Over a lunch of pineapple curry, I talked incessantly.  It was only after our meal that I realized I’d been desperate for comfortable conversation after three days of purely internal dialogue.  Roy agreed to keep my bags at his office, and he pointed out several fun things I could do to fill up the afternoon.  As an afterthought, he said, “Or you could take the ferry to Bainbridge Island.”  The idea immediately caught on my brain, and I loved the idea of traveling by both rail and sea in the same day.

Seven years ago, my mom and I visited Roy, and we went out to Bainbridge Island.  It must have been late in the day, because my memory of it was as somewhere dark and boring, with nothing open.  We wound up eating at a restaurant so that there was some purpose to our visit and immediately heading back to Seattle.  My expectations were low, and I was in it purely for the experience of riding a ferry.

Dad: Are you going to yell “I’m king of the world!”?  Son, glancing at me:  Da-a-d, stop it!

Which, to be honest, is probably my favorite mode of transportation.  The ferries between Europe and Asia were the highlight of my Istanbul travels, and there’s something so calming to me about floating over water, motors humming beneath me, wind blowing and sea air filling my lungs.  I would happily pay $8.10 just for that feeling.



Luckily, Bainbridge Island turned out to be awesome.  The town center is several blocks from the docks, but by following the signage (and the crowd) it was easy enough to find.  It started to spit cold rain while I walked the streets, which was just enough to feel very Seattle without ruining everything.  I stopped in a consignment store where used clothing was more expensive than anything I would buy new.  I wandered a cute market grocery store to buy sparkling cucumber water and a chocolate bar.  I spent an enormous amount of time investigating every single item for sale in a traveler’s store, though I walked out with only shampoo and body wash sheets (you add a tiny bit of water to get them working) and a Rick Steve’s guidebook and map of Athens.  On the way back to the ferry dock, I stopped in the Bainbridge art museum, which was quaint and surprisingly inspirational, considering everything there was made by local artists.

I always like a city that’s confident enough to create their own mural.
Poured glass human from the Bainbridge Island art museum.

I got back to Seattle in time to grab $1 coffee at Top Pot and meet Roy outside his office at 5:30.  My solo adventures were over, but that was fine, because I got to spend the rest of the evening talking with Roy and his partner Idil about traveling, blogging, life and emotions.  I spent fifteen minutes describing Hamilton: An American Musical, and Roy said, “Wow, you really sell it well.”

“Okay, so do you want to listen to it?”

“It’s already after eleven o’clock.”

“JUST ONE SONG.”  They agreed, so they folded laundry while I played the first track, and within the first eight counts they agreed that it was super awesome amazing, which pleased me very much.

I’m loving my trip, both the times when I’m alone and the times when I’m with family.  I need to make a mental note to always visit people while they’re working, so that I’ll necessarily have both experiences.

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