A weekend in Washington—early November, 2014.
Bonfire on the beach—site of adventure planning and high school nostalgia. (See also: W)
Coffee—a city-wide treasure. Sure, there’s a Starbucks on every block, but there’s also probably a local joint just as close.
Driving on a boat—it turns out the Seattle area is mostly water. I’m super [drip, drip] good at maps and spatial reasoning, so I totally knew that you had to drive around, use a bridge, or take a ferry to get pretty much anywhere outside the city. We drove our car onto a boat. It was crazy.
Eating outside—A cup of cinnamon spice tea and a serving of oatmeal eaten straight out of the brown paper package gets five out of ten stars when eaten in my kitchen, but eleventy-twelve stars when eaten sitting on a rock atop a mountain in forty degree fog.
Family breakfast—those curious incidents when you’re completely absorbed and welcomed into a family that’s not your own. They make you pancakes and eggs and bacon and let you play with their puppies. You almost forget you’re not home.
Great Outdoors, The—a natural resource Washington will never run short of.
Hiking—it’s harder than it looks. It’s just walking, right? Maybe a little uphill and with a few things in a backpack, right? Wrong. Turn back now, all ye of weak legs. I survived, but my legs are still burning three days later. (See also: Q)
Interstate 90—sometimes the front seat of a car provides the best views (see also: V). You always say the Midwest is claustrophobic because everything is flat. I didn’t get it until those mountains appeared, almost out of nowhere, dwarfing the car like something from a fantasy novel. Indeed, Ms. Austen: “What are men to rocks and mountains?”
Just in time—Grand Rapids was beginning to close in.
Keys—they were Will’s. They were in a shoebox. They were left on the back of a car as we drove away. They were lost… perhaps forever. Upon realizing his mistake, we went back to search for the box with flashlights, but only found a mama black bear and her two babies. A fairly certain fact: they stole and box and are now wearing his clothes and trying to break into his apartment. (See also: U)
Library—Seattle’s is big and modern. Think lime green escalators and a whole floor with red walls, red floors, and red ceilings. Yes, it’s as The Shining-esque as you imagine. And it doesn’t quite feel like a library.
Mason Lake—looked Photoshopped in the morning light, was as quiet as a tomb.
New friends—how remarkable that there are people to get along with all over the country.
Oysters—my first taste, fresh in the shell. Part slimy, part salty, all Seattle.
Pear at Pike’s Place—Michigan doesn’t make ‘em like this, folks. It was sweet and juicy, something out of a William Carlos Williams poem. Was it the shifting weather or the banjo street performer or the lingering smell of fish and fried dough that made this pear so good?
Quick connection—for future reference, twenty minutes is the perfect amount of time to get from concourse G to concourse F in the Minneapolis airport if you jog, ignoring the soreness of your legs and using the new muscles developed while hiking.
Rain—like the bad teeth of the British, rain in Seattle is not just a cliché. Observation: people in Seattle are, for the most part, too cool for umbrellas. They all just own really nice raincoats and learn to deal with it.
Sex worker; what my seatmate on the flight from Minneapolis to Seattle described himself as. I spent the entire three hours listening to him talk to the other woman in our row about his job and his life story. Other words used to describe himself: prostitute, male escort.
Tavern Law—a restaurant with an old-school speakeasy on the top floor. Make a few phone calls on the rotary next to the locked door, say “boomerang,” and you’re in. A bartender will ask you a series of rapid questions about what kind of drink you’d like (herbal or floral? bitter or sweet? egg white or none?) then concoct a one-of-a-kind brew sprinkled with dried lavender. It smells like heaven.
Views—hikers and climbers and bikers in Washington (a.k.a everyone) are obsessed with “views.” “I’ve heard that’s a great hike! How were the views?” “If we start hiking this mountain too late, there might not be views!” “It was foggy, so we didn’t get any good views. ALAS!”
Whale—a mysterious animal with a blowhole sound like a gunshot. Possibly sighted in Puget Sound.
X—really, why is this even a letter?
You—host, friend, cook, trail guide, reader, writer, listener, DJ, personal trainer, Samwise, seeker of all things wild and free.
Zippers—on suitcases and raincoats and backpacks and sleeping bags and tent flaps.
Abby Zwart (’13) teaches high school English in Grand Rapids, Michigan. She spends her free time making lists of books she should read, cooking, and managing the post calvin.