After 3 weeks back in Detroit, we’re finally on the move in a way that is starting to seem real. We flew out at 6:30 Friday morning. After a not so unexpected late night of burning meat and celebratory beers we made it to the airport with just enough time to stand in the security line for 45 minutes and barely make our flight. June in Detroit is about as good as things get in the world. Pale Michiganders reappear from a winter of heavy drinking, binge watching Netflix, and generally eating like shit to plant gardens and and turn the drinking up a notch while attending various outdoor activities such as baseball games and pedal pubs. I wish that I could spend the whole summer in the city and take off once things start to get cold. It’s easy to leave in November or December. There will inevitably be a day where the cold comes in and blows the reshly browned leaves across the ground. Detroit 2.0 neighbors might give you a dirty look if these aren’t raked immediately. But leaving just as things are getting nice is hard. The days are long and everyone is making up for lost light in the winter.
We landed in Seattle early and dropped our things at an Airbnb. The owner turned out to be an OG trad climber from Flint. We were on foot exploring by 9:00 in the morning. People are everywhere in Seattle. On the surface, this town is so perfect that it is a bit sickening. Everyone is beautiful and probably well educated. It is very clean and you will have a difficult time finding a purveyor of beef that won’t tell you the name of the cow that your salami came from. It reminds me a bit of a study I once read that showed that people were willing to pay a 20% premium for menu items that used words with more syllables in their descriptions even though there was actually nothing better or even different….
My grandma is joining us until we begin riding. She is an 86 year old badass and one of my heroes. We probably walked over 10 miles around town yesterday. The city is littered with ride share bikes and so we took them out for a spin. She struggled on a few hills and had to walk one or two of them. I took an electric assist bike out, which is actually kind of fun, and offered it to her, but she said that it was for old people.
While we were riding to return the bikes I asked her if she had ever considered getting a tattoo. She said that she had. She thought about it enough to know that if she ever did it she would get a butterfly and it would be on her foot or ankle. I spent a good chunk of the rest of the day trying to get her to go into a tattoo shop, just to have a look around.
Apparently Seattle was built by a drunk, a thief, and an idiot. A madam played a pivotal role as well, but they didn’t name any streets after her. At least this is what they will tell you at Bill Speidel’s Underground Seattle tour. The idiot decided to build the original city too close to the water and it would constantly flood from the tides coming in. The drunk was able to convince people to move here despite that, and the thief became mayor and emptied the city’s bank account into his own pocket. He was elected for multiple terms. After a completely avoidable fire that burnt the whole city down, Seattle went into quite a bit of debt to rebuild. In order to finance the debt, they taxed the hell out of prostitution, but the madam still became wealthy enough to donate what is the second largest endowment in the history of the city when adjusted for inflation. If you’re wondering why it is the ‘underground’ tour it is because the city flooded so much in the early days that they decided to raise all of the streets to the second story of the buildings downtown. The original street level is now 15 feet under ground and is used mostly for storing old toilets. Seriously….
At some point I ran into a tattoo parlor to get the intel on a half dollar sized butterfly. Sixty bucks, 20 minutes, and not much pain. I told the guy that my grandma was a bit concerned about the pain.
“If she is 85 then she has already felt more pain than a body full of tattoos could cause….”
After drinks and dinner we made our way back home and got to bed. We were at the Amtrak station by 7:15 this morning and at 7:55 (10 minutes after our expected departure time) they announced that the train was late and we might want to consider a bus. Everyone in the depot let out a collective “Fuck.” An Amtrak train running late is the federal government at its best. All of the employees tell you different stories. One man told us that the train could be there any moment. Another said probably two to three hours. They all offered complicated contingency plans should it not arrive. A woman said that the train was there and it was just a mechanical issue. “Maybe they’ll have it ready in a few minutes.” Not prepared to miss the boat, we decided to book a Lyft. We found a young lad named Peter who was in the same dilemma and decided to split the bill. Two hours later we were in Bellingham with our new friend and our driver accidentally jumped the curb as we pulled into the ferry station. Breakfast and stop at the grocery store for a week’s supply of food and booze and we were ready to sail.
I’m excited for the boat. I was initially hoping to have a week to do nothing but watch the world go by, although I ended up getting a call from a customer the other day and will need to work a bit along the way. Not ideal, but I guess if we’re taking two years off then a few more days of staring at screen won’t kill me. The boat only has 100 passengers out of a capacity of 500, so it should be nice and quiet. We will be taping our tent to the top deck rather than sleeping in a cabin. I’m starting to get excited and maybe a bit nervous about this whole thing. That’s good though. Forcing yourself into situations that scare the shit out of you means that you’re living.
I am excited to follow your trip. My husband and I have just passed the 100000km mark cycle touring over 18 years. I am keep to know the contact info about the boat and will they pick up in Canada. So exciting. Will follow you as we tour this summer. Enjoy ever minute even the Amtrak misadventure.
The boat is the Alaska Marine Highway. Unfortunately they do not picm up or drop off in Canada. Thanks for the good wishes!
Well, don’t leave us hangin’… Did your badass granny get the tatoo? Loved her comment on the electric bikes!
Still working on the tattoo…..
Such fun following your adventures. We lived in Seattle. Quite a trip. The underground is strange but your description was awesome. Have ever so much fun and go to your grandma from us. Happy Birthday to her next week. Enjoy Alaska.
Sandy and Paul
Sign seen in Namibia: Living starts outside your comfort zone.
Chris, Sophie & Grandma,
Hope the cruise is going well! I just talked to my boss Mike Smith and his son Chris Smith is going to the Girdwood Music Festival, too. Yes, Small World, as the Disney song goes. He said he’d be glad to hook you up with a warm shower, place to stay, etc. His cell number is 586-431-5243. If not, maybe give him a call and thanks. They’re all up there on a cruise. If for some reason you can’t reach him, Mike’s phone number is 586-899-5401. Mike said he’d gladly by you dinner to hear how the first leg of the trip went and where you going from there. Hope all is well!
Haha, thanks. Will reach out. No promises that I won’t tell embarrassing stories about you to your boss…… Are they all going to the festival, or just Chris?