Exploring Belltown

Foursquare quietly added a Lists feature to the service last week, just in time for me to start exploring my new neighborhood in earnest. The last couple weeks of walking to work, as well as trying to find cheap/fun dinner and drinks options, has had me keeping mental track of places I wanted to try, and hoping I’d find a tool to keep me from forgetting the good ones. Foursquare to the rescue, it seems.

I scraped the barrel a little and stretched the boundaries of what’s considered Belltown just a bit to come up with a nice even 100, as one of the Foursquare features is a “number of items completed” progress bar – I’m starting the project with 18 venues under my belt already, so 18% complete. It will probably take a year and some of them will likely close or change ownership before I get to them, but that’s the beauty of electronic lists – they can be changed. 🙂

Fellow Seattleites can tackle the list yourself and track your own progress on the “Explore Belltown” achievement. 100 Places to Eat & Drink in Belltown

Greenwood Car Show – June 2011

Christie accompanied me to the annual Greenwood show today, wherein 15 blocks of Greenwood Ave are closed and lined with amazing classic cars of all types in one of the biggest public car shows I’ve ever been to (700+ cars this year). We wore ourselves out looking at pristine restorations, highly-creative custom work and a few really strange cars that made us wonder what the owners were thinking. Quality-wise, I think this is the best show in Seattle and this is the second year in a row I have been amazed at the number of truly excellent project cars that come out of the Western Washington woodwork to park on a tree-lined street among the kettle corn booths and beer gardens to help kick off the first weekend of Seafair.

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

Pondering the Westward view

Sitting on the vacant second floor near the office’s west-facing windows in a rare moment of reflection during what is normally a hectic and nonstop workday, I am noticing for the first time what’s actually outside these walls. Across the street is a millwork facility, and behind it a new parking garage built for the Starbucks HQ that I’d never noticed before today. Behind that is the Burlington Northern rail yard and the northernmost reaches of Elliot Bay Harbor where the massive cargo cranes tirelessly juggle shipping containers like a never-ending Lego kit. One such container rolls by in the foreground atop an 18-wheeler’s specially-fitted trailer, the driver snaking his way through the orange cones and steel road plates littered down South 1st Avenue, remnants of a perpetual construction project that currently toils a few blocks further south. Across the sky a small private jet slices through the hanging clouds, descending towards Boeing Field’s southbound runway, and not long behind it a cargo transport flight on a longer approach, its silver fuselage glinting in the waning winter sun. It’s a very raw neighborhood, marred by no attempts to mask the purpose of the sprawling warehouses that are its trademark. Even as SoDo has seen some of its industrial tenants be replaced by stylish warehouse condos and shabby-chic loft workspaces this has only peeled back the neighborhood’s skin and exposed the meat and bones of the heavy industry that first made Seattle a boomtown and the blue-collar workforce that quietly keeps the city running despite a culture largely focused on the pleasures of white-collar life.

As one of those white-collar workers I have enjoyed this office’s proximity to the massive physical scale of America’s industrial machine, and as one of the high-tech laborers pushing the country into an era of electronic accomplishments rather than physical ones the honest tangibility of this largely-bygone impotus to America’s previous-century growth has been a valuable source of perspective.

On my last day in this office – the company is relocating to a more modern (and much more tightly-crowded and “efficient”) space near the financial/legal district and Chinatown – I can’t help but wonder what the next century of industrial revolutions will bring and what the littered past of my industry and the ones that come after it will look like to those that follow us. We won’t leave behind vast warehouses, complex machinery, massive infrastructure or huge environmental change. Just digital records, unfinished ideas, and a smattering of office furniture to show for all our efforts to change the world.

Seafair Weekend – August 2010

My awesome parents spent the week in Seattle, and as Danielle is in Toronto for the weekend with Jordan I had them all to myself for the past few days. They are two of my best friends and I am so lucky to have the relationship with them that I do. I know it’s a rare arrangement between parents and children that we have and I cherish it; I soak up every day and appreciate every chance I have to know them better as friends, confidants, mentors and equals. I also love to spoil them now that they are enjoying their retirement, and especially when they are in my town and I can show them the best of it. What better week to do that than Seafair week? It’s the height of Seattle summer (sun sometimes optional) and one of my favorite times to be a Seattleite. .

We raced up to the Smith Tower observation level Thursday afternoon, hoping to catch the Navy’s Blue Angels practice laps over the city. While we missed the aeronautics show the view from the 35th floor was pretty great, and I can never get enough urban aerial photography. Friday we took a picnic to Madison Park to catch some Blue Angel fly-overs and people-watch, and Saturday we joined the crowds of raingear-covered fans in Genesee Park for another, much closer look at the air show, the hydro races and the general mayhem that is Seafair. Someday I’ll get them on the lake for the truly authentic experience, and hopefully that someday will be soon and a little sunnier than today, but Mom and Dad are great sports – game for anything and easy to please – and we had an awesome adventure together. I took a few marginal pictures of the air show through the binoculars that I posted, along with a lot of Seattle’s streets from 35 floors above Yesler Wy, and a few shots of the two greatest people I’ve been blessed to share this life with. Thanks for a great weekend, you two!

Gallery is here – slideshow button is at the top-right corner.

Greenwood Car Show – June 2010

Danielle and I could have walked around this show for hours, and not just because it stretched for 30 blocks solid down Greenwood Ave on a beautiful summer day. So many of the cars were impeccably clean, beautifully restored, and just plain beautiful – full of curves, wings, fins, vents, portholes and chrome in a way that cars never are anymore. I wanted to take pictures of absolutely everything, but confined myself to painfully few shots per car in an effort to at least walk the length of the show before it ended and even then did not succeed, as the southern end of Greenwood was packing up to leave by the time we neared. I’m definitely headed to this show again next year as it is probably the best and most cleverly-located hotrod show in Seattle. I might even enter it myself, as there is a category for modern imports and it was far from inspiring.

Gallery slideshow is here

Washington Park Arboretum Walk – May 2010

The location was Alex‘s idea, but I turned out to be the one properly prepared for it as I had worn flip-flops (largely out of laziness) and the muddy, swampy, often-underwater trail was much easier to navigate when I just stopped trying to stay dry and started wading through the slop. We stopped to catch nice views of the lake, walked along the canal marveling at what life must be like in a house that’s water-adjacent, and as usual got carried away talking and didn’t take that many photos. Still, some nice shots at one of Seattle’s many treasured bastions of urban wilderness seclusion, and a great day out with a good friend.

Gallery slideshow is here