Friday, June 15, 2012

On The Road Again Day #2 - Pike Street Market

It's day two of this trip, Thursday, June 14, 2012. Seattle is an exhilarating city. It’s important to remember, however, I’m not a fan of big cities so this is pushing the envelope for me to make these statements. 

Seattle reminds me a lot of San Francisco, my favorite city. Like any big city, it has its traffic and congestion, parking problems, a diverse population which tends to contribute to the driving behavior of the local population and is compounded by the interloping visitors, like me. But, there is an interesting vibe to this city that makes it different from San Francisco and any other major city I’ve been to. That’s a good thing. It’s not a carbon copy.

My morning was quite relaxed today. I slept pretty well after being up and awake for about 23 hours. A bed felt good. I took care of some business this morning. This is a busy time for me with a few projects on the books plus the annual Veteran Speakers Retreat and Legends Award program I coordinate and execute every August. 

My son is in the midst of some stress and turmoil while he’s getting the prototype of a new Internet business model created and operational. It’s almost like deja vu all over again watching and listening to him. What he’s doing has been my life. Creating and starting businesses from as early as age 12 for me. He’s 33, which is precisely the age I was when he was born. At that time his mother and I were running a very busy conference recording and tape duplication business as well as about three other businesses at the same time. So, watching him brings back memories.

The Pike Street Market

I decided that today would be a good day to go down to the Pike Street Market, a well established public market that has been around for 105 years this August. It’s a fun place. There are vendors selling fresh fish and shellfish of all kinds right off the fishing boats. There are vegetable vendors, bakers, gift shops, toy, magic, puzzle shops, art galleries, restaurants of all kinds and stalls of flowers of all kinds. It’s a must visit place when one is in Seattle. In addition to the main public market, there are several other buildings across the street and an alley between Pike Street and 1st Street. And there are more shops and restaurants there, too. One that is particularly popular is the first, as in Number 1, Starbucks Coffee Shop directly across the street from the Public Market. I went in the last time I was here in 2005 and waited out the line. This time, I chose to pass on that opportunity.

There are always street musicians around the Market. I don’t know if they have rules established by the market management or if they have their own unwritten code, but they seem to rotate through the various prime locations. Mostly they are folk singers or instrumentalists on various string instruments. But, there was a pianist playing on one corner and he had a real piano, not an electronic keyboard. He sang and played. There was a small jazz trio in front of Starbucks and a little later there was a mountain music group complete with a washboard player.

There is so much to choose from. The variety of unique shops with all kinds of things for sale is mind boggling. It leaves me wondering how many of them actually sell enough “stuff” to make a living and pay their overhead. But, I guess they do. One of the real crowd pleasers is the main fish vending stall. There they actually have what I guess would be termed fishmongers. They play with the gathered crowd and then they’ll pull a few of the really large fish from the packing ice and throw it from the display in front of the stall to one of the fish preparers behind the counter in the stall. They do this with great fanfare. And, of course, they goad the “audience” they’ve assembled into cheering. 

The Living Free Nomad Meets the Genius Project Woman

The most fun for me was when I was beginning my exploration of the lowest level of the three that make up the Public Market. As I came down the ramp leading to the shops there was a pretty, young blond woman sitting on the ground painting the beginning of a sign on the lower portion of the wall, just below the shop window. It was too soon for me to know what the sign would ultimately say. There was an attractive older woman, meaning she appeared older than the young, blond woman, who appeared to be assisting in some manner. Well, that was the beginning of a fun and delightful 45 minutes or so. I acknowledged the gal sitting on the ground and painting and she smiled and thanked me for my pleasantry. Then the other woman jumped in. I had just been accosted by Brooke Westlund and Karen Peterson.

Brooke went on with her painting and just listened in and quipped occasionally looking up from her focus on the freehand sign she was painting - and very well, I might add. This from someone who can’t draw a straight line with a T square. Karen it turns out was almost my age, but looked at least 20 years younger. Karen had more energy than any three people I know. And could she talk. I’ll bet she could talk a Wall Street banker into investing every last cent he had into faulty Credit Default Swaps - that brought down the economy in 2007. She was delightful, funny, exhilarating and intelligent, not to leave out pretty kookie. This is one of my favorite things about living free and being a professional nomad - meeting interesting people. I gave her one of my “Living Free” business cards that also lists my 12 Steps for Living Free and she went crazy over it. She seemed to think I was some kind of genius for her own special pet project she calls, aptly enough, the Genius Project. Well, they have my card and my email address, so we’ll see if they ever contact me after our close encounter of the enjoyable kind.

Later in the afternoon I did more walking and looking, I enjoyed a delicious bowl of hot, fresh made, New England clam chowder with a shrimp cocktail and the house’s own homemade cocktail sauce. I topped that off with fresh frozen strawberry yogurt. And that was my afternoon. I had my son drop me off at the Market because parking in Seattle is in one word - EXPENSIVE! I decided I’d rather invest in some food for the inner man than pay to park an inanimate object in some space somewhere. 

A Vegetarian Dinner with a Group of Eclectic People

We got back to my son’s house and he had some errands to run. So, I took that opportunity to do a little email catching up and resting a bit before we were heading out to meet some folks for dinner as a vegetarian Asian restaurant.

The one thing I have to say about the folks in Seattle is they are very eclectic. One of them, Pete’s friend, Jess, is a recording guy like me, only several decades younger. We’ve had some stimulating conversation already, to say the least. Jess’s mother, Ande, was there. She is a retired teacher, I believe, involved a variety of post retirement business opportunities. Her daughter, Amanda was there, a 19 year old aspiring entertainer. Then there was Roxanne, a young Asian woman, I’m not sure I caught exactly what she was doing, perhaps, a student. Then there was Frankie and Eleathra - and I’m not positive of that spelling or if I even got her name correct. Frankie is a cartoonist for comic books and Eleathra, I believe has a bed and breakfast.

With eight people around the table, six of whom were very unique and interesting - well, actually seven counting my son, Pete - attempting to keep up with the myriad of topics and parallel conversations was a real chore. I can honestly say there was plenty of banter and laughter. The food was excellent, I gave out another of my Living Free business cards that stimulated more conversation and upon disclosing about my nomadic lifestyle, landed me an invitation to use a small rural cabin near Bellingham, WA when I’m in this region again. 

New Friends I Hadn't Met, Yet

Meeting people is, for me, so enjoyable. It’s really like they are all friends, I just haven’t met, yet. The people here in Seattle that I see on the street are diverse in ethnicity and national origin. They dress and appear very eclectic and unique. I guess I would compare this to some degree with the Greenwich Village of my youth. There is a certain youthfulness and vitality here. Everyone I’ve been meeting is busy in some manner. Perhaps some of this has to do with the young technology businesses located here, chief among them being Microsoft. But, add to that Amazon, who is also headquartered here and groups from Google, Facebook, Adobe and other companies. The only major airplane manufacturer, Boeing, still has major operations here. Seattle is also a large shipping port both by ships and air. And, there is a tremendous love of the outdoors, athletics, hiking, camping and similar activities. Skiing isn’t too far away and with the lakes and Puget Sound, water sports abound.

Other than the traffic and congestion and not being familiar with the way the city streets are laid out, I have a positive feeling about Seattle, as I did when I was here in 2005. I can see why my son has selected it as his base of operations for the past nine years. 

There's more to come in future posts including my upcoming tripon Saturday to Newberg, Oregon near Portland. There I'll have a reunion with an Air Force friend I haven’t seen in 42 years.

One final note, I have photos I've been taking to illustrate this trip. Unfortunately, the computer I brought along with me, my netbook, is not functioning properly at all. I'm composing this post on one of my son's computers. However, he and I are not compatible on all our software, thus, I'm learning new systems as I'm working on my various projects. So, the photos and video clips I'm capturing will appear at some time in the future.


Shannon said...

Pictures! That's exactly what I was scrolling down to inquire about! I couldn't LIVE without pictures, and I was curious to see some of the things you saw in Seattle :-) Sounds very interesting. Have a great weekend!

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Pictures soon, Shannon. Maybe next week. My son is working another of his computers that will have Windows 8 on it - pre-release version - another learning curve, Yikes! I got some shots of the majestic Mt. Rainier today. I'm on my way to the Portland area tomorrow morning for the weekend and maybe some pictures of Mt. Hood while I'm down there.

Anonymous said...

My wife and i have a bead store on the same floor where you ran into brooke and karen.....come say hi next visit..
fellow nomads
ram and nina
i am in india /kerala and shall be returning soon.......

Ed Helvey - Professional Nomad said...

Hi Ram and Nina,

Thanks for dropping by my blog. I know your store. Cairn took me over then when I was visiting with Brooke and her. She wanted me to meet you, telling me about your nomadic wandering. Sorry I missed meeting you that time. I look forward to meeting you when I return to Seattle, probably sometime within the next year. Enjoy your travels.