IT Editor Janelle Nanos is on the West Coast this week, blogging about her trip and taking advice from readers on where to head next. After gathering some suggestions, she met up with one IT reader for a tour of her favorite neighborhood. She'll be heading to San Francisco next and is still looking for suggestions, so please feel free to leave them in the comments below...
After a few stops in Tacoma, Washington, I arrived safely in Seattle this past weekend and was very lucky to meet up with Nerd's Eye View blogger and friend of IT Pam Mandel, who took some time out of her busy afternoon to show me the old amusement park grounds at Alki Point, which was once known as the Coney Island of the West.
I'd never heard of (or honestly, even conceived of) Seattle's little beach town, but with its amazing view of downtown and a hefty heaping of kitsch, I was instantly smitten. The Point was the place where first settlers arrived in Seattle, and its current iteration, Alki, is a mix of old and new: Stacks of old-brick condos mingle with newer glass developments along the waterfront, and old fishfry shacks cozy up to coffee shops with Wi-Fi. There's a long, winding bike path that snakes along the Sound, and volleyball players—and yes, even a few swimmers—were taking advantage of the beach (the great old photographs in Spud Fish and Chips show hundreds of swimmers in their full-piece bathing suits playing in the waves—causing us to wonder whether the enthusiasm waned or whether our tolerance for cold has slackened over time).
As we wandered along the beach, we happened upon a group of paddlers who were working their way up the Puget Sound from Cowlitz, Washington, to the Cowichan, British Columbia. They were participating in the annual Tribal Journeys Paddle—a flotilla of intertribal canoes who paddle to the Cowichan each year, and we were lucky enough to stumble upon the group after they finished the latest leg of their trip. We spoke with a paddler named Joe (pictured, right), who wore a traditional cedar bark hat and huge relieved smile on his face; his arms and body were still covered in a fine layer of salt from an intense morning of paddling. Their next stop was Suquamish, a town 30 miles further up the Sound, he explained, before loping away to hand off some coffee to his cousin. We watched the revelers, enjoyed their music, and admired the 11-person canoes decorated with traditional paintings of salmon. It was a great glimpse of authentic culture that we felt lucky to stumble upon, and Pam has a great take on it over at her own blog here.
After our walk, Pam took me down to Luna Park Café,
a restaurant named for the old amusement park that serves up yummy
diner fare (watch out for their "Gut Bomb" burger) and some tremendous
milkshakes. Their decor is an assortment of signs from old West Seattle
establishments, and the diner hopes to continue the fun, free-for-all
tradition of the amusement park, albeit on a much smaller scale. Luna
Park shares a building with the Avalon Glassworks gallery and studio, meaning those of you who can't make it to Tacoma can still manage to get a glimpse of artists as they work with molten glass.
Pam then dropped me off at the city water taxi dock, where for $3 I hitched a ride across Elliott Bay and got an amazing view of the city. On the 12-minute sail I got the chance to speak with a retired taxi driver named Robert, who drove the city streets for 25 years and was a treasure trove of trivia tidbits. (You can test your own knowledge of Seattle with our Places of a Lifetime quiz.) It was a lovely afternoon on a beautifully sunny day in Seattle and a great way to enjoy a bit of an out-of-the-way adventure in Pam's "passive-aggressive city." But I'll her tell you about it herself: