Walk, Ride, Around About Seattle, A Bit of Caffé Vita and Fremont

The Blur of Saturday Morning

It is Saturday.  I am feeling a bit retrospective.  New city, new residence, new places out there.  I decide I need to get out and about, otherwise I am going to get to feeling kind of ratty today.  Nothing like wandering to clear the mind, get one’s ideas straight, and get the motivation kicking again.

I got up around 8am, maybe later, not really sure.  I put myself together and out the door I went.  No coffee, no food, nothing but a laptop, cell phone, ORCA Card, and some wanderlust.

First I decided that coffee was in order, so I headed toward the Uptown Espresso at 4th and Wall.  However, just after crossing Denny by the Monorail, here comes a #8 (#8 route map) which just seems like the perfect route to kick off my day with.  So with a flicker of thought, and pondering if I’ll survive without coffee, I decide to board the bus.

We get to rolling and pass across I-5 and slowly make it up the hills toward Capitol Hill.  At John St & 15th I note a Safeway, which is important for the car free life.  In these parts the Safeways are often the cheap bulk stores that are great for commodity type goods.  Unlike the Whole Foods, which are great, but suck up every penny a poor soul has to their name.

The #8 route continues up and over the hills into residential streets.  Beautiful neighborhoods that remind me of north west neighborhoods.  The green is lush, the hills steep, and people walking about carrying on with their daily lives.

At Madison and MLK Streets there is a small slice of stores mixed into the middle of the neighborhood.  The bus just pokes along this section with us 4 riders.  Unlike other times I am not particularly observant today.  I haven’t noticed the people or been watching them.

I pull up another map, to see where my connection points are to get back into town.  The Sound Transit Link Light Rail has several connection points that look perfect.  I figure if anything, being deprived of coffee still, it ay be a good idea to grab the light rail back into town and and get a cup of coffee that I’d trust.

I finally transferred at the Othella Link Light Rail Station stop.  The #8 headed off on its southward route, and I walked around the station area.  The area was somewhat sketchy, nothing compared to my New Orleans days of wandering, but sketchy for the north west.  As always, this didn’t really both me and I walked about looking in the unopened stores.  At this time of the day, this part of town is shuttered.  I’m betting though if one wants some Pho or other Vietnamese treats, this is probably a good part of town for that.

Flanged Wheels Rolling and STOP

So I boarded the light rail train that came along next.  We zipped off quickly heading north into town.  I got a little curious about the tunnel station under Beacon Hill.  That curiosity kicked me into gear and I decided to go explore that area too.  I got off and headed up in the elevator to ground level.  I got out and this part of town was rather desolate.  I must admit, I’m not sure why Sound Transit or Seattle or whoever, decided to stick this station right here.  There is literally nothing that is particularly walkable from here.  Maybe it was hiding, but it definitely was not visible.

I walked a few blocks toward where I could see over the edge of Beacon Hill down upon the city.  Even though there wasn’t any immediately walkable coffee shops or such the view up here is spectacular.  I needed a panoramic camera to get this shot of the city!  One can see the shipping loaders, the SODO area, and of course downtown rising from the Earth.  Absolutely great view.  I’ll have to return here just for pictures upon getting a camera to do it justice.

I then headed back into the tunnel, boarded the next train, and zipped off toward the city again.  I love coming out of the tunnel on the raise section of rail overlooking SODO.  Being able to see the light rail facilities and passing along the bus facilities is interesting for a transit sleuth like me.  We rolled into SODO and then onward.  However at some point we came to a complete stop!  We just sat and sat there.  The recorded voice came on the speaker and said there is traffic and we’ll move forward in just a moment.

That left me with the thought, if the voice is recorded to say that, how often do they have delays on the light rail because of traffic?!?!!?  This is a dedicated, controlled, unimpeded right of way!  WTF!  Nonsense, again, if I ran transit this nonsense would be a thing of the past (at least with five 9s of no delays).  Anyway, not like I was unhappy, just kind of shocked at the ridiculousness of the situation.

Then after a few minutes the driver came onto the speaker as we sat, “There is a bus broken down in front of us so as soon as they get it moved we’ll pull into the station.”  Oh my god the perverse transit related irony of this situation!  A BUS is blocking the dedicated LIGHT RAIL.  I suppose though, this is the one part that isn’t dedicated.  This points out two issues – 1.  Buses break down (for whatever reason) a LOT.  2.  Rail based vehicles can’t pass things when appropriate infrastructure isn’t available (like passing tracks).

After the 13-15 minutes STOP we experienced we finally pulled forward.

Caffé Vita Mmmmm

I got off the light rail at this stop and walked over to Caffé Vita at 125 Prefontaine Place South Seattle, WA 98104-2672.  I knew this coffee shop from many previous visits to Seattle.  They make a high quality cappuccino which is much needed sometimes, especially on a day like this.

http://maps.google.com/maps?f=q&source=s_q&hl=en&geocode=&q=caffe+vita&sll=47.619718,-122.34587&sspn=0.008996,0.014699&ie=UTF8&hq=caffe+vita&hnear=&ll=47.601215,-122.329337&spn=0.008999,0.014699&z=14&iwloc=A&cid=8054863590227938189&output=embed
View Larger Map

 

Finally I headed out from Caffé Vita and north bound to Fremont via the #28 (#28 route map).  This route is initially the #23 (#23 route map) before it turns into the #28 I found.  This is a good thing to know, being that I didn’t, but d
ecided at the last minute I’d board the #23 to get further into town.  Once I got into town I got off, thinking that the #28 was coming and fortunately looked back at the bus and realized it now read #28.

This is by far another stupid point for Metro.  How the hell is anyone supposed to know the route change if all they’ve looked at is the time points or the numbers on the stop?  The stop had #28 listed, but #23 comes up to the stop?  That’s not good at all, that just introduces total confusion for riders.  But alas, I managed to get onto the correct route.

Awesome Hippy Land Communist Capitalist Fremont

Just toward the center of Fremont is an actual X-Soviet Statue of Lenin.  Yes, that guy that managed to create one of the most horrific Governments in all history.  Yeah, that dude!  His statue is on American soil standing in Fremont.  I found this hilarious and sad.  But wait, that isn’t the entirety of the sadness.  The reason it is here is because of an American individual who saw the statue toppled and desecrated in the then X-Soviet Union after the wall came down.  He re-mortgaged his house to get the status – which weighs tons – back into this country.  Nothing against the guy for liking art, but wow, that seems like a lot of trouble for a part of history that is of questionable perpetuation at best.  Anyway there is this statue, of him in front of arms (i.e. armaments of war) and flames moving into revolution as he did.  In an artistic sense this is awesome, in a tasteful sense it is of questionable nature to keep a statue that for millions represents great suffering and death.  But I digress, it really isn’t for me to say as I stood against and have always stood against what Lenin did.

I wondered about and found Tableau (a company I have worked with and almost prospectively worked for), and Adobe Office, and a bunch of other things in the Fremont area.  This is one of the cooler places in Seattle.  I got off the bus and wondered a good hour plus in this area of town.  There are coffee shops, diners, breakfast places, and much more.  I also found a great sandwich shop.

After wandering about for a time I went back and boarded the #26 (#26 route map) back into Belltown.  I retraced this route later, but as for the exploratory wandering this was it for me today.  Great fun, awesome discoveries, and more to come in the near future.  Enjoy.

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85 Comments

  1. Nice, kind of makes me wish I didn’t have a car, and that Sarajevo had an actual communal route that didn’t suck. I hate the public transportation in Bosnia because it is mostly used by the poor and as such is not kept in the best working or aesthetic order. In the winter time it is either too cold (because the heaters are not working) or too hot (because they are)! In summer time it is always hot as hell and it smells like an outhouse from the middle ages, and god forbid you crack open a window, there is bound to be an old ass person complaining that they kidneys will suffer from the intolerable wind draft… just die already!
    Anyways, great description, wish you had taken a photo of the Stalin statue!

    Reply

  2. My big adventure on Metro was on Saturday just after 7pm, headed back downtown on the 41 after a Target run. A passenger in the very back was being extremely loud and demanding, telling the boarding passengers at the Northgate Transit Center where to sit. Some teenagers got on and were engaging with him and they eventually got into some kind of display/challenge/posturing with the loud passenger who started lifting his legs to display and brag about his ankle bracelet, and a box cutter that he was carrying.

    Although the box cutter blade was retracted the two times he pulled it out, one of the teenagers moved up toward the original loud passenger while wielding a folding knife with the blade EXTENDED. At this point, my girlfriend and I both went up front, she explained the situation to the operator who pulled over, opened the doors and called in what was going on while I called 911.

    As soon as the bus was pulled over, the teenagers ran out the back but the guy with the box cutter sat there for awhile before getting off, returning, getting off again and walking into the middle of 5th Ave NE where he proceeded to do what I can only describe as something between "the robot" and randomly flailing his arms.

    A Metro supervisor arrived within 10 or so minutes and followed the guy up the street for awhile and the Metro Police arrived another 10 minutes or so later and gave the operator an incident number and were in communication with the supervisor before telling the operator that the bus was okay to go.

    After 8 or 10 years of riding the CTA regularly, and taking MTA and Muni in New York and San Francisco, the combination of this kid with his extended knife blade and the mentally ill, high, or drunk passenger and his box cutter on Metro served to create the most memorable and exiting bus experience I’ve ever had, and it isn’t something I’m looking forward to repeating.

    Here’s hoping that Metro finds some funding to ramp up some sort of visible, on-board security presence in the near future.

    Reply

  3. My big adventure on Metro was on Saturday just after 7pm, headed back downtown on the 41 after a Target run. A passenger in the very back was being extremely loud and demanding, telling the boarding passengers at the Northgate Transit Center where to sit. Some teenagers got on and were engaging with him and they eventually got into some kind of display/challenge/posturing with the loud passenger who started lifting his legs to display and brag about his ankle bracelet, and a box cutter that he was carrying.

    Although the box cutter blade was retracted the two times he pulled it out, one of the teenagers moved up toward the original loud passenger while wielding a folding knife with the blade EXTENDED. At this point, my girlfriend and I both went up front, she explained the situation to the operator who pulled over, opened the doors and called in what was going on while I called 911.

    As soon as the bus was pulled over, the teenagers ran out the back but the guy with the box cutter sat there for awhile before getting off, returning, getting off again and walking into the middle of 5th Ave NE where he proceeded to do what I can only describe as something between "the robot" and randomly flailing his arms.

    A Metro supervisor arrived within 10 or so minutes and followed the guy up the street for awhile and the Metro Police arrived another 10 minutes or so later and gave the operator an incident number and were in communication with the supervisor before telling the operator that the bus was okay to go.

    After 8 or 10 years of riding the CTA regularly, and taking MTA and Muni in New York and San Francisco, the combination of this kid with his extended knife blade and the mentally ill, high, or drunk passenger and his box cutter on Metro served to create the most memorable and exiting bus experience I’ve ever had, and it isn’t something I’m looking forward to repeating.

    Here’s hoping that Metro finds some funding to ramp up some sort of visible, on-board security presence in the near future.

    Reply

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