November 26, 2012
“Seattle is…like…it’s own society man.” said my friend Fletcher Goldingay over a cocktail at Still Liquor, a chic but low-key bar on Capitol Hill. “It’s not Portland, it’s WAY different than San Diego…there’s really no city like it on the west coast.” He may be right, I thought, taking a moment to look out the window at the traffic and humans moving to and fro in the night.
Without a doubt, Seattle has its own culture, steeped in art, music, and history, which you can feel when walking its streets, dining in its restaurants, or drinking at its many bars and pubs. It’s hard to put a distinctive label on it, other than maybe applying the words ‘Progessive, Hip(ster), Pacific Northwest, Outdoorsy, Gritty, Artsy’ (my own synopsis).
Something that stands out to me, having explored the streets of Capitol Hill and beyond extensively on foot, is the amount of street art (also known as graffiti to you conservatives) present everywhere. Street signs, walls, really anywhere you can make a statement, it’s been made. An equally colourful layer of peeling stickers, advertising everything from bands to beers to grassroots movements, has been applied to any and all vacant ‘real estate’. The sum of all this guerilla advertising equals a massive amount of messages hitting you at once from all directions, none of which are city-approved, or corporate in any sense. This, in itself, speaks volumes about the DIY ethos of Seattle’s culture.
Rewinding a few hours from my time with Fletcher, I was sitting at a table at one of Seattle’s foodie hotspots: Sitka & Spruce. Located in the Melrose Market at Melrose and Pine St., Sitka & Spruce serves local, organic fare, mostly sourced from a farm conveniently owned by the restaurant’s proprietors. Seated across from me was none other than Kenmore Air’s own blogger, Mikaela Cowles. I learned about Mikaela’s life as a NCAA college basketball player before she dove headfirst into writing, while enoying Neah Bay black cod served with cauliflower, romanesco, broccoli, wild watercress, cracked Winthrop emmer berries, pickled beets, and yogurt. A meal for the books, without a doubt! Check out www.sitkaandspruce.com to learn more about this iconic Seattle eatery.
The next morning, I hit the streets of Capitol Hill early, and hit a brisk pace to keep warm in the chill fall air. A second clear day in Seattle, the sun illuminated the city skyline as I bee-lined to a favourite AM spot of mine: Top Pot Doughnuts (www.toppotdoughnuts.com). To quote their self –authored story, Top Pot ‘paired a vintage aesthetic with a gourmet spin on the traditional coffee and doughnuts pairing’. Their small brick storefront on north Capitol Hill has the vibe of a library, with floor to ceiling bookshelves, and a wall-mounted rotary dial phone (it doesn’t actually work – I tried). The coffee, as usual, was top notch, and the pumpkin spice doughnut I tried put any Tim Horton’s offering to shame.
After catching up on email and enjoying my quintessential morning breakfast pairing, I decided to make one more stop before making moves back to Lake Union for my return flight home. I headed down Bellevue Ave. to visit the good people at Broadcast Coffee, a relatively new coffee joint that specializes in high-end, single origin espresso.
Barry, Broadcast’s proprietor, recommended I try Sightglass Coffee Roaster’s latest offering from Ethiopia, which was an heirloom bean. I enjoyed a double shot with a small raw sugar addition, and let its sweet flavor grace my palate as I reflected on the wide variety of food and drink I’d gotten to experience in my short escape south of the border. Seattle, without a doubt, has a phenomenal restaurant scene, and although I’ve made my rounds to some extent, I know I’ve only just scratched the surface.
Saying goodbye to Barry, I took a turn down Pike St., and proceeded over the I-5 and down into the city centre. I headed down through the thick of it, eventually arriving at Pike Place Market. With no objective but a route back to Lake Union, I meandered down the cobblestone streets, eventually cutting north when I hit the Clipper Terminal at Pier 69. Making my way past the Seattle Centre and the ever-impressive Space Needle, I ended my walk at the Kenmore Air terminal at South Lake Union.
Even to me, who enjoys a good trek, it occurred to me that I had covered a significant amount of ground on foot in Seattle in less than 24 hours. After a few quick emails from the terminal thanks to Kenmore’s free wifi, I was soon boarding the Otter back to Victoria. Taking a cue from a fellow passenger on the flight down, I asked our pilot if I could ride shotgun in the cockpit, and got the thumbs up.
Strapped in, I scanned the instrument panel, struck by how much more there was to control than behind the wheel of my Volvo 240 (no large analog clock on the Otter, folks). The cockpit was one area where the Otter more clearly showed its age, as the controls had a well-worn look commensurate to the many hours these planes have spent in the air.
After a quick pre-flight checklist, we accelerated north across Lake Union and soon were airborne. With a final glimpse of the University of Washington, we banked left and began our journey back to Victoria.
Many thanks to Kenmore Air for helping to facilitate this article. Mikaela Cowles at Kenmore Air has also authored a blog post on Victoria and the Executive House Hotel, which you can read here: http://blog.kenmoreair.com/?p=492
To all you Victorians looking for a good reason to head south to the USA, look no further than the adventure of a floatplane ride, at a reasonable price. Forget ferries, cars, and (just this once) even bicycles – check out Kenmore’s information here: www.kenmoreair.com and get flying!
Stay Classy Executives,