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Tuesday, December 09, 2008
Random notes and photos from the Great Grey North
I spent part of last week in Seattle, thus the lack of blogging around here. But I've returned to Portland with photos and anecdotes that are sure to delight you and yours this holiday season. Er, something.
Seattle has a lot of things that Portland lacks. Skyscrapers. Sounds. An amazing farmers market/underground retail labyrinth. A (granted, now defunct) music scene that was important enough to land itself an actual name. A Game Works.
Nevertheless, there's at least one thing this town has up on the Emerald City (besides better livability, better weather and better coffee). We've got a proper town square that makes the one in front of Westlake Center look exactly like what it is: a half-hearted addition to the front of a shopping mall. Because of its dainty size, Seattle's square could never handle a proper Christmas tree like the one that's currently sitting in Portland's "Living Room." Here's a photo of Westlake's pipsqueak. The snowflakes are a nice touch though.
Sure, Portland has Burgerville but I'd happily trade its overpriced, homegrown milkshakes for a Dick's Drive-In. Dick's is basically a small Seattle chain similar to In-N-Out but without the hokey t-shirts and pretense. The locals supposedly have a love/hate relationship with the chain. From what I hear, Seattle PD routinely has to show up on weekend nights to turn away crowds of drunken cluphoppers at the Capitol Hill location at closing time. Some swear by their burgers' magical ability to cure hangovers.
I hiked up there around lunchtime one afternoon and found a large, diverse crowd waiting in line. This location lacks indoor seating, providing only stainless-steel outdoor counters. I ate my burger while standing between a businessman and a hipster, across the counter from two street kids. The burgers are on par with In-N-Out, the fries are superior but the chocolate shakes could use some work.
City Market is apparently popular among discouraged Republicans. Not pictured here: the signs encouraging nude bicyclists and Santa Claus to stop on in for their quality convenience store goods.
The Space Needle was all lit-up for, no, not Christmas. The top was illuminated with eerie blood-red lights for World AIDS Day. Here's what it looked like from the ground. Please ignore the super happy festive tree up front and focus instead on the somberness of a deadly disease that continues to impact millions worldwide. Thanks.
The staff wouldn't let me take photos of Captain Kirk's chair in the science fiction wing of the EMP. Here instead is a shot of a creepy Donald Duck ride in the amusement park section of Seattle Center.
One evening the fire alarm went off in my hotel. A voice came on the PA system and said, "We are currently investigating a fire alarm." That's it. No further details. A woman down the hall stuck her head out of her room long enough to ask," Are we supposed to leave? I'm not going down 15 flights of stairs in these heels unless I have to." I decided not to worry about it until, two minutes later, I saw two firetrucks blasting down 3rd Avenue towards the hotel. I grabbed my laptop, my camera and ran downstairs to...
...find a smoke-filled lobby and a small crowd watching two fireman investigate an elevator. A motor had sputtered out, filling the first few floors with smoke. I hung around long enough to take this photo. I didn't see the lady in heels down there.