Tuesday, July 29, 2014

How I'm Spending My Summer Vacation

When I decided to retire I made sure to do it in the summer, as far as I'm concerned that's the very best time to be in the Pacific Northwest.  The other 3 seasons are in varying degrees wet, damp, gray, dark and depressing.  Maybe it's because of the other 3 seasons but summer in Seattle is special, summer in Seattle is just glorious.  The days are long, the sky is blue and cloud free and I love feeling the warm sunshine on my skin.  When it rained for a few days last week I stayed home and experienced life through the Internet which doesn't bode well for me during those other 3 seasons.

But since this is my first summer vacation since I was 15 I'm spending it exploring the Seattle area as I would explore a foreign city.  I pack my camera, I put on my walking shoes and I take public transit.

One of the first things I discovered was just 2 blocks from my house.  A marijuana store is preparing to open for business in an old State liquor store.
Oddly enough the store seems to be named "Grass"
Washington state has legalized recreational marijuana but you can't use the stuff recreationally if you can't get it and as of this writing there's one open pot shop for nearly 700,000 people and when they're not out of product to sell the line to buy snakes around the building, across two parking lots to Lander St and then all the way down the street, perhaps 3 blocks in all.  Seeing that line made me recall things I've read about buying bread in the Soviet Union or shoes in North Korea.  More pot stores should mean better selection and lower prices and I won't have to bus it down to Lander street again to look at the lines to buy a legal product.

I attempted to explore Ballard but Market Street seems to have changed into an area of tiny expensive condos and trendy coffee bars, wine bars, pet grooming salons and yoga studios.  I hopped back onto the #44 bus and made my way to Wallingford.  There I stopped for ice cream at Molly Moon but when I sat down to eat my treat the place was suddenly descended upon by perhaps 40 Asian tourists who I had passed earlier as they gathered in front of and inside Archie McPhee.  The clogged the ice cream store and took pictures of each other.

Let's take pictures of each other and eat ice cream!
I walked back to the University District, boarded the #343 bus for home.  Explorations will continue until the weather changes.  As long as the sun shines I'm taking active retirement seriously but I know that by Labor Day change in the form or rain, clouds and falling temperatures will be in the air.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Retirement: The Fountain of Youth?

Today is the first weekday of my new life.  The weather is normal for summer in Seattle, which is to say absolutely fantastic.  I feel energized.  The world just opened and I want to take advantage of everything.  It's the fountain of youth.  

This is my first summer vacation since I was 15.  In a way I want to spend this time the way I would in Bangkok or Taipei.  What I usually do in a cities like those is to purchase a transit pass and find a different neighborhood to explore every day.  The transit pass that I've carried for the last 20 years of employment is good until the end of September so I'm good to go.  But first a new life needs new clothes so it's off to Cabelas to score new touring threads.   I  also took a daytime run through Costco so I could rub slouched shoulders with the rest of the old retired codgers who seem to haunt Costco on weekdays.

The Freeway Stop at 145th st & I-5 South

The stress of work has left behind a few layers and some extra belt notches and they need to go.  Bus pass plus lots of summertime walking = sweat and expended calories so I walked down to I-5 and took Sound Transit's 512 bus to to 45th street in Wallingford. 
Meat Activists?
I lived in Wallingford for my first few years in Seattle and I haven't crawled 45th street in 20 years.  My how it's changed.  Nearly everything seems to have changed, much shinier, grander and more upscale. More gourmet ice cream, gelato shops and coffee shops trying not to be Starbucks than I remember.  Until today I'd never seen a shop run by "meat activists" before.

From 45th street I walked into Greenlake and briskly walked to the Starbucks at the top of the lake so I could drink something, catch some A/C and plot my next destination.  I whipped out my bus pass and hopped a bus heading toward Ballard and got off at 85th and Aurora to take the "E" line downtown so that I could catch and express bus home.  

Gosh the park was pretty today:

I'm not sure whether it's the sudden freedom or the magnificent weather and I'm just one day into this but so far it's great.  I keep wondering how this would be if it was 45 degrees, overcast, wet and damp, and the sun was going down at 5PM; in other words just like 9 months of the year in this part of the world.