A Ride in a Truck – Seattle

My people in Seattle have an affinity for vintage things – clothing, furniture, Airstreams, and a truck. Yesterday we took a ride in the vintage truck.

Ryan’s Roaring Ranger

Bench seats are kind of a thing of the past, although I’m not sure why. The fun of searching for seat belts, finding the right spot for sitting in the middle (straddling that big lump on the floor), and the comfy lean off the edge of the passenger seat – I kind of miss all that, and it was fun to be reminded. Come to think of it, any vehicle where I can look to the side and see two people in front with me, instead of just one, is kind of special, don’t you think?

Our outing was to an island, which is also kind of exciting. Southward from West Seattle, right below Lincoln Park, is the Vashon Ferry landing where two large ferries go to and fro on a constant schedule. The distance is short and takes only about half an hour, including the loading and offloading of cars, trucks and buses. It was not a particularly busy day so we did not have to wait in line (that happens, and did happen on the way home).

The truck was the chosen vehicle for this trip because there was a task. Our first stop was to re-position the vintage Airstream that Esther and Ryan have on their property. It didn’t take long and I don’t have pictures of this complex, logistical feat of trucking. Suffice it to say that I heard Ryan lovingly commending his truck for doing a good job.

Next, for the daily walk, we drove down Vashon Island to a connecting island park – Maury Island and Maury Beach. It was a lovely place to get close to the water and I totally satisfied my obsession with rocks and driftwood while there. The walking part was not as horizontal as we would have liked so we didn’t get in lots of steps. The beach was entirely smoothed stones with no sharp edges. It might seem that would make comfortable walking, but no. The stones roll out from under your feet with every step. They are fascinating to look at though, and I kept finding favorites.

The water was beautiful and clear. A few people were boating, tubing, swimming, sailing, and thoroughly enjoying the day.
However I was concerned that this one guy kept stalking this woman…

Before heading back to the mainland we had dinner at Casa Bonita Mexican restaurant. So good! I’m even getting hungry now thinking about my leftover fish taco waiting in the fridg.

It was another fine day in Seattle, spent making memories with people I love. I may even have spoke lovingly to the truck myself, for the nice ride, just sayin’…

Times and Travels: Vashon Island Get-Away

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On the way to Vashon on the ferry. Mt. Rainier faintly in the distance.

I come from a place where you hardly ever call anything an island. People tend to laugh if you call it anything but a “key”. Here in the PNW there are lots of islands around and in Puget Sound. People will laugh if you call the place we went to this morning Vashon Key.  It’s an island.

We rode the early ferry from West Seattle to the dock at the east side of Vashon.  The ferries are part of the transportation system and very well maintained and operated. Cars, buses and semi-tractor/trailers were lined up on deck for our 20 minute trip across the Sound.  It’s Friday, so there isn’t a crowd like there probably will be on the weekend.

This was the morning that Ryan Bruel was scheduled to receive the keys to his new property. But first things first – breakfast at Cafe Luna in the town of Vashon.  The signs on the way warn travelers that this is a rural area, although I’m not sure what danger that poses. The small town has a library, numerous businesses, a grocery, some artist shops, a school – pretty much what is needed is what is found there. I imagine there has to be some degree of self-sufficient mindset for a person to live comfortably on an island.

At Café Luna we ordered breakfast burritos, fresh quiche, hot from the oven and our latte’s. Esther walked around the corner to her favorite bakery for a Bob’s Burger.  The food and the atmosphere were good introductions to the island.

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Ryan’s cabin is midway between Vashon and the ferry dock, so we back tracked and pulled into the drive marked by the mailbox with the red butterfly. The roughly 3 acre property was owned by an elderly man until it got to be a project he could not keep up with. It is mostly forest, except for the drive and the clearing where the cabin, garage, and small studio sit.  I’m sure the buildings were built back when there were few codes to follow, and there have been additions and remodels since then, none of professional quality. This is to say that there are quaint surprises in many rooms of the main cabin.

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Kitchen – all

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Vintage decoupage knife block coordinate with vintage wall paper

The realtor and some helpers were there taking away some of the old appliances, and removing layers of old carpet. There were newspapers between the layers dating from the early 1990’s.  It will be a cabin suitable for camping and will provide years and years of interesting renovation projects for Ryan and Esther.

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Small loft areas adorn both ends of the main cabin, accessible only by ladder. Curious little spaces (with questionable usefulness since bathroom vents into this one…)

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Ryan and Esther, in the last moments of their comparatively restful life before property renovations

Codes now will prevent them from building new structures on the property but they can fool around quite liberally with what is already there. The separate studio is a sturdy one room log cabin and even though it has only one chair in it at present, it stirs my imagination in all kinds of interesting ways.

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the log cabin studio – how could you not be inspired to write here?

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complete with minimalist decor…

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One of many ancient guardians of the property

The forest around the clearing has numerous giant, old growth trees.  There is also a protected wetland and a green algae pond. The predominant ground cover is blackberry bushes. The clearing has been recently cleaned of growth but I can envision how fast it will come back and become wild again.  For people who have been living in the city, working at tech jobs in stressful environments, the Vashon Island get away is going to be an adventure of a whole different sort. That’s what they’ve been wanting.

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The lovely mystery pond – nobody knows what’s in there.

How to Have a Great Time Exploring Seattle without a Car

Don’t get me wrong, I love driving a car and there are those rushes of freedom it can give you. On the other hand there is a whole different kind of freedom that you feel when you don’t have to have one and can still get around. And this is especially true here in Seattle where you might end up spending as much to park your car as you do to own it.

My goal yesterday was to explore and use mass transit and foot power to do it. I started out by researching at www.metro.kingcounty.gov where I was able to access a trip planner and locations where I could buy an Orca pass. I started the day walking uphill (puff, puff…) to the Safeway Grocery on California Ave. where the transaction was processed. The pass costs $5 and I decided to put $30 on it toward transit fares. Now, anytime my husband or I come to Seattle we can ride the bus without having to search for the right amount of cash. It worked great on all the rides I took, even the ferry, and each time I had it scanned the remaining amount was displayed. I know I am going to like this system.

No fuss bus pass No fuss bus pass

My online trip planner gave me details on which bus to take and where to wait for it. It was only half a block away and I was only there a few minutes before a small bus pulled up. It wasn’t what I was expecting so I didn’t get in, but the driver wasn’t satisfied to see me standing there. She was my first really interesting encounter of the day. She had to know what bus I was waiting for and where I was going, after which she told me to get in or I would be waiting forever. She drove the water taxi, which she said was free. I didn’t argue. I got in.

This amazing driver went on to practically read the minds of people at all her stops, telling them which buses ran on weekends, where they could access them and how to get where they wanted to go. She had been driving her water taxi route for years and was a wealth of information. Water taxi’s are not well explained in the online trip planner (she told me this) and as you will see later, I still don’t understand them.

This ride took me around West Seattle with a great view across the water of downtown and the harbor. It ended at a business district called the Junction where I was to catch the C line to the Fauntleroy Ferry station. The C line is a bus on steroids. The vehicles are huge, sometimes double buses, and they are fast, serving commuters between major areas. I had to use my Orca pass for this ride – the scanner was on the bus.

Marathon man and others leaving the Vashon Ferry Marathon man and others leaving the Vashon Ferry

It always works well for me when I’m not sure how to proceed, to pick someone who looks like they know what they’re doing and follow them. My victim this time was a man with a backpack who strode away from the Fauntleroy Ferry stop with confidence and headed toward the water. A backpack in the city can mean you’re homeless or you’re simply a person without a car to carry all your stuff. This guy looked fit so I assumed he might be the latter. I was right, as my conversation with “Mr. 15 Boston Marathon runner” later revealed. He probably had a car but he hardly ever uses it, preferring to run/bus to his lawyer job and his weekend home on Vashon Island. He had already done his 9 miles that morning.

We walked onto the Issaquah ferry, again using the Orca pass at the turnstile scanner. What a beautiful day to be out on the water! The crossing took only 20 minutes, start to finish, and was super relaxing.

On the ferry to Vashon Island On the ferry to Vashon Island
Lot on Vashon where you can park your car... or your deer. Lot on Vashon where you can park your car… or your deer.

Vashon is not a suburban area. It is more like country. I walked uphill a short ways to a parking lot but there were no business districts close by (there were deer strolling between parked cars) and it was time for me to find food before heading back. Easy to find, because it was the only one, was the Family Mexican Restaurant at the ferry dock, right on the beach. This is what I ate and it was good.

Super nachos. Yes, I would do again. Super nachos. Yes, I would do again.
An interesting view while dining. An interesting view while dining.

The ride back to West Seattle was a mirror image of the ride to Vashon. Passage on the ferry is bought round trip and there are no pay stations on Vashon so I just walked on the boat with the other foot and bicycle passengers. And thinking to backtrack the same route I had taken, I boarded the C line bus again. The Orca pass can also be scanned at some bus stops, before boarding the bus. I guess this is to save time at the busiest places?

Although this bus was headed in the direction I wanted to go, I may have gotten off too early. The sign at the stop indicated that the water taxi picked up there, and the schedule online said it came every half hour on Sundays, but after more than an hour of reading my Kindle, there still was no water taxi. Thankfully these days we have smart phones with GPS and if we are smart enough to use them they will point us in the right direction.

After walking to a familiar intersection, I gave up on the bus altogether and walked all the way home. Such a nice day, why not? I was able to finish my route by coming down through Schmitz Park, an awesome forest in the midst of a city. According to my fitness app, again on my smartphone, this was my best day of exercise for a long time, 13,500 steps or about 6 miles. I had a great time and saw a lot of West Seattle. Just sayin’, walking is still a reasonable way to get around (if you’re not in a hurry).

If you’ve had an interesting walk lately, where was it?