Seattle, Emerald City

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I was worried I might not make it to the Emerald City. Every time I made plans in Seattle, something would happen to the scooter. The lesson to be learned here is probably, “don’t make plans!” I try though, I do. Spokane was pretty uneventful, and I already wrote about it. A noteworthy addendum includes the conversation I had with Veronica in Spokane.

Earlier, I blogged that Spokane seemed to be missing some soul, even though everyone was pretty nice to me. IMG_2268Veronica elaborated that most people want to be somewhere else, like Seattle for instance. She said there isn’t a lot of community, but she’s working on some projects that are inclusive and establish a solid network.

I wish her the best! In all of my travels, the best towns, no matter how big or small, attempt to foster good community-through city planning and cultivation of the arts. Examples: music festivals, art walks, bicycle lanes, green spaces, local purchasing, farmer’s markets, restriction of corporate super buildings and condos (which grossly raises property values), abundance of local shops (keeping money in the state).

About 15 miles outside of Spokane, Audrey started wobbling really badly. 6 Grand + a quarterThe day before her tire pressure had been FINE. I let the tire cool and checked it, aghast by the reading-12psi. Filled her up, sprayed some water on the tire, rotated it, couldn’t find a leak. Funny that I got a flat outside of a town that I said had no soul. Tongue in cheek! Anyhow, it was turning into a long ride to Seattle-and I had planned 300 miles that day. Repeatedly stopping to eye the air level, I discovered the leak was getting worse. Nervous of a blowout, I dropped my speed. Barely noticing the view-it looked a lot like Eastern Montana anyhow-I pulled into Wenatchee as it was getting dark.

That meant a whopping 160 miles was left still. None of which would have stressed me out too much had Chuck from Seattle not planned a ride the next day. I got in touch with Chuck and rescheduled YET AGAIN.

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Chuck originally contacted me awhile ago, when I was in Circle, we made tentative plans-the next day Audrey broke down. So that’s just the way it goes. I felt bad, but I had bigger problems-figuring out a solution to the tire. Despite the stress of the day, I saw a shop named Coyote’s Pass and something made me stop in.

The coffee shop was located in a town that seemed to only exist because the byway took a left, then right turn through it. Stich WitchesThe lady inside said they were actually closed, but if I wanted espresso, she would wake up her husband to make it. I told her of my barista experience, so she invited me to pull my own shots. It was nice to be behind the counter again, for just a moment! Ladies began pouring into the shop. I asked if it was they were “Stitch Witches,” and Eunice replied emphatically, “NO, STITCH BITCHES.” This was a playful stop, and I needed the laugh. Thanks y’all.

I checked into a motel and looked up some local merchants. Condatta’s had a website with pictures of the Vino, so I headed there the next morning. Mike welcomed me at the store, commenting on my Transportation Revolution shirt that Gayle from Vespa New Orleans gave me. He seemed like a nice guy, but ran off to do something and left me with a clerk who was also nice, but seemed flustered by my situation. We joked around a bit and he didn’t think there was anything he could do for me. There was some misunderstanding involved on many levels, mainly me just not knowing what the heck was going on with my bike in general. I am still acquiring this information-and what better way to learn. Mike came back and said, “Let’s go look at your bike and figure this out.”

He offered to help, “for the cause, ” saying, “they need some good karma.” Not sure what that means, but I have heard it before on this trip. He put her in the shop and Chris took over from there. The hole must have gotten bigger from the 125 miles on drove on it the day before, because we located it pretty easily this time. Chris set about plugging Audrey up. Then the question came from another guy in the shop:
“So are you just doing this for fun?”
“Nah, it isn’t really a joyride, I’m doing a project.
“What kind of project?”
“Hmm, one where my spiritual, political, and artistic viewpoints intersect.”
“What do you mean?”
“I am riding for Peace, my route makes a Peace sign and along the way I ask people to visualize and define Peace with me and record their answers online so that we have a forum to celebrate diversity-for starters.”
“Oh.” “My friend served in the war. He killed a lot of people. We can’t let them come over here and finish us off.
“Oh”

Awkward. Chris however, steered us gracefully out of that and we had some great conversation for the next hour. IMG_2295Last winter we both went to Maui, so we talked a lot about that and the Hana Highway. Which is one of the most scenic drives you could ever make. He however, proposed to his wife in Maui-big points there. He rides a Ducati and we talked about his dream to ride long distances by motorcycle. I encouraged him to follow his dream. They were great guys. I grabbed some lunch on the way out of Apple Capital. IMG_2301A cool place, worth a visit, I liked it more than Spokane.

The night before I had some great, cheap Thai food and talked to the owner for an hour-about her two week cross country travels with her husband. She encouraged me to go to Thailand. Will do! It’s also really scenic there, the terrain had begun to change about 20 minutes before I wobbled into Wenatchee. I let Chuck know that I was grabbing a fast lunch, taking on the 160 miles into Seattle and hopefully still making the scheduled dinner at least. Doubtful. But I gave it my best. The drive was so incredible, I was totally amped for it. Soon, I was surrounded by fragrant evergreens and high peaks-some even sno-capped. It was really a dream ride, lots of accessible pull-offs and even a manageable speed limit. IMG_2316

Leavenworth was twenty minutes down the road. It’s a Bavarian themed village, everything looks like candy. It’s hard to believe you are looking at a McDonalds or Starbucks because of the clever woodworking. Really a trip. I would love to go back and camp in this area, off US 2West. 2West is another beautiful route-you can take it through the entire Northern part of Montana and hit Glacier Park-a true wonder in this world. I smoothly sailed through the windy curves and the 5,000 ft. altitude of Stephens Pass.

I knew at some point along the way, I WOULD get to the Emerald City. IMG_2321

Finally, I arrived, set with a new pair of sunglasses that a gent offered me for free. He was quite the dazzling roadside vendor, clad in pink. Our conversation went like this:
“Wow, I’m so glad you are here. Pretty prime location to sell polarized sunglasses, eh?” (headed West into the setting sun)
“You know I rode one of those scooters 450 miles when I was 16.”
silence after I hear his coming of age story.
“Where are you headed?”
“Seattle.”
“Where did you start?” IMG_2368
“Washington D.C.”
“Oh, well the glasses are free.”
“Thanks so much.”
He actually wrote me the other day, hoping I might have a cute brother. Sorry. Only child.

On Friday, now a week later than my original ETA, I finally met Chuck. From this point on-Seattle held open its arms to fling overwhelming amounts of generosity my way. Chuck was waiting by his shiny, red Vespa 250CC, in front of Cafe Racer’s. IMG_2463A pretty intuitive, friendly guy he wanted to make sure I had some good espresso while in his town. After a double shot, he mentioned that it was Memorial Day weekend, so if I needed any scooter servicing we should visit Ducati Seattle right away. On the way over, we detoured through Fremont, self proclaimed as the “center of the universe,” and also home to their own troll. IMG_2371The clouds were fluffy and hanging low, but there was no rain. I enjoyed the up and down roads and the city looked fun to explore.

As soon as I introduced myself at Ducati, David Roosevelt switched into high gear. IMG_2419Actually, I suspect he always operates at that speed. He’s charming, witty, professional, and really kind. Audrey was put on the ramp and left in the expert hands of Robert. IMG_2394He checked her valves, did an oil change, and replaced the bike tire. I got the money’s worth on that back tire- 6,200 miles. I appreciate their quick and skilled service. Wandering around the store a bit, I met a lot of cool friendly people. Ducati is pretty bad ass-they make some impressive machines. I sat on one for a photo, loving the fantasy of owning it, although, personally, they just aren’t comfortable. There were a few chances to play with the crew over at Ducati. David was really thoughtful, inviting me to their BBQ on Saturday, so I could meet some more folks and have some delicious food and even some cake that his wife made. IMG_2404They were fun and obliged me a photo of the crew sitting on Buddy’s. I was staying right down the street, at the Courtyard Marriott, as a guest of Bucca di Beppo’s.

Ya, I know this sounds decadent. It was. IMG_2491And I loved it! David set the wheels in motion for that happening. He arranged for me to meet Tracy, who ushered me over to Bucca di Beppo’s for a family style meal, as her special guest-the restaurant was actually closed for lunch. This block was my slice of Italian heaven. The food was so damn savory and I gobbled massive quantities up while chatting with Chuck and the cool lady who does scooter rentals. The food coma set in and then Tracy informed me that I was to stay over at the Marriott, her treat. I asked if I could marry her. She’s taken. πŸ˜‰

That night I enjoyed cruising around the city, with Audrey fully unpacked and raring to go after her tuneup. I wound up at a hot spot in town, not too far from Broadway, on Pike Street. It was Friday and everything was in full swing. I just did some lurking along with other people and shared some random laughs and conversation. I did some writing back at the hotel, inspired by the nice 5th floor view. IMG_2481Audrey was safely locked up in one of the meeting rooms downstairs, at the suggestion of Michael-a most courteous and intriguing hotel manager. I do want to thank everyone of the employees for being so helpful and interesting. We spent a lot of time talking, they were genuinely curious and supportive. Michael witnessed a couple of P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER moments in the lobby, like one when I started talking to a lady who it turns out, was from Norfolk-not to far from my hometown. She took a postcard and then quickly filled out her own card for me. It had BE THE CHANGE YOU WISH TO SEE IN THE WORLD on the front and funny enough, a Michael Jackson quote on the inside, from, “Man in the Mirror.” Ghandi and Jackson, prophets.

Those are the moments that make up my life these days- genuine conversations, random people, BIG SMILES. I don’t know that my words could ever do justice to the fun and depth of these shared moments. IMG_2483I only hope to offer this feeling and wisdom to others, that’s why this project means so much to me. More than anything, I hope that people fill out those postcards and gift another person with their insight and take the time to define peace on this website. I envision other readers sharing the perspectives I experience as a way to participate in this epic journey.

Saturday I set out looking for a cheap barber shop to tame the shaggy mane. IMG_2427Rudy’s Barber shop had many locations, but the Fremont one would give me a chance to better check out the hip, artsy area. This Barber shop is such a great concept. They have the best stylists, the best hair products and do away with the frills. IMG_2426You walk in, sign up on the list, and wait your turn. Within 15 minutes, it was my turn. Amanda, my stylist, donated a haircut, but otherwise it would have been just $17.

I snapped some photos of Fremont, including this infamous statue. Just a little time was left before I would meet up with Chuck and some others for a late afternoon ride. IMG_2440

We met at Cafe Vivace-and I WAS ON TIME, ON THE DOT. Now, Cafe Vivace makes my heart throb. The owner is David Showmer. I had to read parts of his book and watch his video before even touching the espresso machine back at the Mudhouse. Those guys are totally ROCKSTARS. IMG_2744Going here was a pilgrimage for me. Oh, and the espresso-hands down-the best. I was worried about the consumption of a few customers that I noticed, but hey everyone seems a bit amped here in the Pacific North West, yours truly included. Just look at all the writing I am doing. πŸ™‚

A bunch of people began pulling up on scooters, very exciting to me. IMG_2450Really dig group rides! We all sat in a circle and I was asked some very thoughtful questions about the trip’s impetus and then we saddled up. The ride took us all over town, up and down hills and around several of the glimmering lakes. It was a fantastic way to see Seattle and we rode at least an hour. The group then headed over to a restaurant for some grub, brews and more conversation.

This smart, lively bunch of people ride with the West Enders club. IMG_2477For some well documented scenic pictures of the ride, I recommend Fuzz and Judy’s Flickr stream, which you can access by clicking on this link. Chuck had found out about P.E.A.C.E SCOOTER through a local scooterists blog, who happened to be out of town that weekend. Sorry I didn’t get to meet you, Orin-but thanks for putting me in touch with such great people. Helena did an impromptu interview series of questions. “What places have I like the most?” “What have been my biggest obstacles?” “What’s my favorite accessory?” “What method do I use to pick my routes?” It was an enjoyable way to spend the evening. Jaclyn and Sami were the youngest in attendance. They ride on the back with their parents and have even been to a rally. IMG_2478These kids are golden. I felt a bond with them-it was nice to see the way they admire me, but even cooler that they opened up to tell me about their own personal stories and goals. Thanks so much everyone for treating me to a night in Seattle!

Ralph led me back to the general location of the hotel and we made plans to meet the next day at Bumbershoot. I spent the night catching up with friends, on the phone and email. Also, just meeting many of the eclectic crowd staying at the hotel. It was really bustling, being Memorial Day weekend and Bumbershoot was only a quarter mile away. One character I met was named Cecil, he saw the scooter and asked if I had a minute to talk. A solid hour later he offered me an intel job. Cecil talked at me a lot. His viewpoint of international relations and national security was very conservative and very classical. Although, I was able to consistently interject points that show times have changed, and our foreign policy must utilize more principles of non-violence. One example I made was in reference to his idea that the brutal bombing of Nagasaki helped quell the Japanese-it stifled their aggression and humbled them. He believes we always need such direct force to protect national security. I demonstrated how times have changed based merely on our conversation. 62 years ago, a man of color like himself and a white woman would not have had the freedom to converse so openly. The times, they are a changing, in our history we have glimpsed examples that create win-win situations versus ones of total dominance. Cecil filled out a postcard for me, and he defines Peace as strength through national strategy. Oh, Cecil’s boss is a Bush appointee. It was a cordial, interesting conversation. There were also some rock stars and party hards staying at the hotel. Bumbershoot was in full swing, the last hurrah of everyone’s summer.

This was a very cool arts and music festival-glad I had a chance to attend. The concert grounds spread out from around the Space Needle. In an environmentally creative manner, the city preserved and incorporated components left over from the World’s Fair in 1962. The area is fun and touristy, with lots of exhibitions and the Experience Music Project- a goofy building with hordes of cool stuff inside. I appreciated that, unlike many East Coast festivals, there were no grimy road kids walking around hustling drugs. Drum Circle #2While partying was in full swing, there was nothing shady or sloppy happening. It was great to finally meet my minimum of one summer music festival a year. There were lots of good eats, as food vendors offered up really savory, diverse and cheap food. The “Indie Market” was a cool bazaar of unique gifts in the DIY vein. There were long lines to get into comedy shows, in fact, I missed Janeane Garafalo twice. I suppose the people of Seattle needed to laugh more-as they were looking pretty serious in their fancy pants and glasses. IMG_2522The long wait for the West Coast Poetry Slam yielded more amazing slam poetry than I heard last time at the Nuyorican Poets Cafe in NYC. The sprawling grounds did buffer the volume from each stage, but proved difficult to traipse in enough time to catch a majority of the acts. So I focused on the major ones of my interest and used the in between time to meet people.

I wrote about the show a few posts ago, but I would like to thank Ralph again for offering me a ticket on Sunday. We made quite the odd couple. He kept up with me zooming around and even played some skee-ball with me! Closing song, another frameHe’s a quiet but smart guy who had never attended Bumbershoot, even though he grew up in Seattle. It was an enjoyable day of music, he was lucky to catch two of the best night acts-Andrew Bird and Zap Mama. Spent some time in Flatstock, like I mentioned previously, but hold on to that, because a couple of interesting connections came from meeting people there, which I will discuss later.

My visit in Seattle was a chance to unpack the bags, stay central, relax, explore, and fill my music jones. It offered an opportunity to adjust to the West Coast and for my Art Peace Project to connect with many progressive people. My roomie Wendy did try to connect me with some of her friends, but I spent a lot of time at Bumbershoot and missed out on of them. Thank you to all the generous people who showed me, in many ways, both materially and conceptually, what Peace means to them-and for supporting my cause whole heartedly.

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