Monthly Archives: September 2009

The Transitory Property of Life

Today, I finished cleaning the apartment I moved out of over the weekend. I vacuumed, I swept, I dusted. I cleaned cobwebs out of forgotten corners and wiped dust off the baseboards and inefficiently placed baseboard heating units under the drafty windows. I scrubbed crud out of the shower and off the faux-wood floors in the kitchen.

And then I closed the door for the last time on the place I called home for a year, which is the longest I’ve lived anywhere in quite some time.

I guess I could wax poetic on how packing and cleaning and leaving that place is somehow a testament to life’s impermanence, but really all I want to do now is take a shower and sneeze out some of the dust bunnies I inhaled this morning.

I managed to squeeze in a hiking trip to the fire lookout atop Mt. Fremont, which is so close to Mt. Rainier that the mythical Mountain looks small somehow. The fire lookout there appears to still be staffed, so a peak inside showed cots and equipment and neatly arranged remnants of the spartan lifestyle of a fire lookout. In the morning the glaciers yawned blue ice and in the afternoon the sun’s glare made them glow. Mt. Rainier



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Eat your way through Seattle’s International District

With about 100 coffee shops, restaurants and bakeries, Seattle’s International District can be sensory overload for the hungry traveler. The neighborhood is stocked with cuisine from Korea, China, Japan, Vietnam, Thailand and more.

Click here to read the full story on Matador Nights!

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Sunday morning, life comes easy

You know you’re on the west coast when the only people awake and about at 8 a.m. on a Sunday morning are the cyclists.

This Sunday there was an organized ride through some of Seattle’s most picturesque neighborhoods, so even though the 55 miles turned out to be pretty lonely without a riding buddy, I found myself slowing down through the parks and tree-lined streets. The ride started at Myrtle Edwards Park on Elliott Bay near downtown, with sailboats and the Olympics on the horizon. The air was light and cool and I could almost feel the Pacific Ocean on my skin.

Seattle never ceases to amaze me. Between the neighborhoods perched on hilltops overlooking Mt. Rainier to the lakes and the Sound and the islands and the deep green urban parks that feel like  a wilder elsewhere, this ride was the perfect way to spend one of my last weekends here.

My leaving is starting to feel more palpable. In less than three weeks I’ll leave the place I’ve spent a year of my life exploring. I go between excitement for a new beginning in yet another place and sadness at the end of summer–and my time–here.

Salmon know instinctively the route to their birthplace. Maybe there’s some internal compass in me, too, pointing the way even while the current runs against me. We’ll see what happens next.

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The Absurdity of Modern Food

I have a hard time buying eggs.

Each time at the grocery, without fail, I stand in front of the eggs and I’m completely confused.

In short, I’m trying to buy eggs from happy chickens. With the trend towards organic food and the like, one would think it’d be fairly easy to find a carton of eggs laid by chickens in a clean, happy living situation. Not so.

I’ve recently purchased two cartons from two different companies, each with myriad descriptors likely intended to help the consumer. But there are just so many—and they can mean so many things—that slapping these adjectives all over the cartons makes things quite confusing.

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Indian summer

My pictures never fail to disappoint. Perhaps it’s because I’m a crappy photographer, which is probably true, but looking back on the photos I’ve taken over the last several months here just don’t do the scenery justice. They don’t convey the sheer expanse of the vistas or the sense of accomplishment at earning them after miles of hard hiking.

Case in point: the pictures of the backpacking trip I took this weekend to Spider Meadow in the Glacier Peak Wilderness. The trail is relatively flat for the first 7.5 miles, before climbing about 1,000 feet for the last half mile to a knob at the foot of a glacier. I camped in the back of the cirque rimmed with red mountains next to a stream rushing down from the melting ice. At night I drank hot tea and watched shooting stars streak across a smudge of the Milky Way. Sublime.

It was unseasonably warm this past weekend–temps were in the high 80s even as the leaves slowly start to lose their green. The end of this adventure–this year in Seattle–is close but it’s not palpable yet so I’m ignoring it. No packing, no preparations…just living and hoping the sunshine sticks around, too.

mountains beyond mountains

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10 Curious Roadside Attractions

From my latest piece on Matador Trips:

For hours we passed the billboards: “The Thing? The mystery of the desert” and “The Thing? What is it?” and finally, when my friend Leigh and I arrived at the exit in the middle of Arizona off Interstate 10, curiosity had gotten the better of us. We sheepishly handed over the $1 entry fee and began a strange and entertaining walk through my first roadside attraction.

If you have the time and a sense of humor, here are 10 bemusing, tacky roadside attractions, all easily accessible from interstates, to check out on your next American road trip.

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