Day 930 – Bon Hiver
Somehow saying it “bone eevair” seems better than writing it out. But no matter how you say it, write it, feel it, think it, or even hate it winter is coming on strong in the higher elevations and will soon descend into the valley.
Ok, time for some catchup and travel news: first, i spent last weekend in Seattle with Annette. She was there doing some work for the VA (which has a huge presence in the Seattle/Tacoma area). Seattle is the poster-child for “Cities that need to re-think their infrastructure.” The auto traffic there is horrible. It’s horrible not just due to volume, but also because of numerous pinch points and the demands of difficult topography. They do have a robust bus system that seems well-utilized at all hours (at least the hours i was out and about), but busses are not enough. The city is flirting with a streetcar line (a short “test” line to open in December) but it’s one of those mostly touristy things that goes from nowhere to nowhere and travels along already congested streets. Dangle-the-feet-in-the-water projects such as these make me angry since even if they are a screaming success transit opponents invariably use their small contribution and relatively high cost to thwart expansion or future projects.
Seattle’s real estate boom is still booming. Glass-n-steel condos are going up all over the place and the PI happily advertises “Studios starting at $500k” as a good deal. “New York style loft living” seems to be the mantra of the pushers trying to hook new addicts or get existing addicts to up-scale. The cycle of consumerism is quite high-end in Seattle.
For this trip we stayed in the odd little “eastlake” neighborhood. It’s a small enclave squished between Lake Union and the i5 corridor. During the day the dull roar of traffic and the intermittent howl of float planes are the norm. But it has a genuine neighborhood feel and in just three days we were able to sample “the super-touristy seafood place,” “the breakfast place,” “the pizza place,” “the italian restaurant,” and even “the snazzy too-cool-for-school hipster bar/restaurant.” We managed to break our all-time record for dinner out at the seafood place. Our other meals were better aligned with our socio-economic status.
Annette had never been across the floating bridges, so on Sunday we drove “the big rectangle.” East on 520, south on 405, West on 90, North on 5. 405 south goes past Bellevue which is enjoying its own boom. There are skyscrapers going up at an astonishing rate. I can’t help but wonder if executives of this or that tech company on the 50th floor will gaze west at the towers of Seattle proper, plotting and scheming how to get there.
But in the final analysis Seattle is a who’s who of companies where i never want to work. Just wandering around one passes Clear Channel, REAL Networks, Oracle, of course Microsoft, and a host of smaller players. There are a few companies i’d be curious about, f5 Networks (hey, right across from Clear Channel) and the spunky CMS vendor “Ingeniuex” (sp?) are both there. Along with a plethora of others. But Microsoft is the elephant in the room. Bill Gates’ mondo mansion is even a tourist sight that float plane tours advertise. “Can i toss something out when we fly over?” i wanted to ask. But we didn’t even go over to the float plane dock. Too much money has to change hands for a ride in a beaver.
We did avail ourselves of “the poor man’s cruise ships” the Washington state ferry system, and took a ride we’d never before done – Vashon Island. I won’t bother with the details but i will say that Vashon is quite surprising. It is a pleasant rural haven in a sea (or more correctly a sound) of industry and commerce.
Thus went another successful visit to Seattle.