The funny thing about a walk is that you can start out with a goal and a direction and all of a sudden you're sidetracked. You start out with an idea of the area to cover and the places to share and pretty soon even the most familiar haunts reveal new sides and previously hidden faces. I was going to walk across a wide swath of the north end neighborhood I am most familiar with. After all, I've lived in Ravenna-Bryant for most of my close to 30 years in Seattle. I figured I could give you a pretty quick tour, but I covered just a few blocks in about an hour. Ravenna is the neighborhood north of the University District, bounded roughly by 20th Avenue Northeast on the west and 25thth to the east. There is a small business district along 65th Street Northeast. Bryant is the residential area east of there, surrounding the elementary school of the same name. On this day, folks are gathered for breakfast at Ravenna's Varsity Restaurant on 65th. The weekend breakfast ritual is longstanding. It is indulgent, friendly, community oriented. It keeps couples together and friends in touch. I remember back when I first moved here, my now wife and I used to go to a place on Roosevelt Way called the Café Popcatepetal. It had the best huevos rancheros I've ever had. They made the transition to Seattle much tastier. Ravenna's Varsity Restaurant has been serving the classics for decades. You can get various permutations of eggs, along with fluffy pancakes, waffles, biscuits and gravy, urn coffee. The restaurant used to be in a one-story building, circa the 1940s or '50s. It was built of wood and stone and set back off the road with the expected parking lot in front. It is all changed now. A new building is here with that glass, brick, and folksy modern look of the new city that is being built around us. The radiator shop with the parked cars in various states of undress is long gone. The parking is underground; the restaurant shares space with a piano school and three stories of new apartments above. The apartments have small balconies. On nice days, young people look down from their decks and I get a feeling of New York in the tenement 1920s mixed with the back streets of Barcelona. The building is one of three that have changed Northeast 65th into a denser and more urban street. Next block east, Saxe's Nursery has vanished and is now the site of Saxe Apartments, with a Garlic Jim's pizza delivery and a family restaurant and bar, The Pied Piper, from the folks who brought you the Montlake Ale House and The Madrona Eatery and Ale House. The greenhouses have given way to dense townhouses filling the block, with the garages off a narrow central courtyard, like a small but less inviting version of a European hill town. Somehow in all this development the Chevron station has held on to its corner location at 25th Avenue Northeast and 65th. Well, who isn't passing through in a car at one time or another? The Varsity Restaurant has changed, too. You get espresso now, fresh baked goods, and fresh fruit. This is, after all, a restaurant situated almost halfway between Whole Foods and PCC. There has been a help wanted sign in the restaurants window since it reopened, I think. They have been looking for a dishwasher, looking for a cook. Heading west, you can walk by any number of other places to pick up breakfast, or some modern American variation thereof. Muddy Waters, the relatively new drive-up espresso, has the staples of muffins and breads. The Bagel Oasis has been around a long time with hot, fresh baked bagels, smoked salmon shmear, coffee. The Crepe Café and Wine Bar serves banana and chocolate crepes. Add to these options Zeeks Pizza, Osaka's Japanese Restaurant, and Hot Dish, the third restaurant to have a go on the site where the still-missed Ravenna branch of the Santa Fe Café once held sway, and you can see how easy it is get sidetracked and get fat. Good thing we are walking. Dotted among the newer businesses are older ones. Here is Glenn's Barbershop. Though a Vietnamese woman named Dao cuts hair at the single chair, with its fake wood paneling peeling off the wall, the place still has that old clipper and a crew-cut feel to it. It is flanked by a nicely appointed chiropractor's office on one side and the Ravenna Alehouse on the other. It used to be the Ravenna Tavern, one of the many familiar dives that dot our neighborhoods. They have added a few taps and call it an alehouse. The Ida Culver house is expanded. The older wing, once open just to retired teachers, now faces a four-story senior housing center, open to all who can afford it. Up the street, Ravenna Carpet still has the barking dog in the window. The windows of McCarthy and Shiering Wine Merchants are still lined with the giant Salmanazars of Champagne. Or are those Balthazars? And who drinks that much champagne? On Ravenna Avenue, a few pre-gentrified business hold on. M&L Records sells some old toys, models, and collectible lunch boxes. Mostly though, they sell vinyl. Old records by the bin load. Jazz fans and novelty record collectors look no further. Next door is Jim's Auto body shop, and then National Barricade. Apparently since 1951, if you wanted to put up some metal fences or needed a few pallets of red cones, this has been the place to come. This is also a street where one of those one-story apartment buildings that used to dot Seattle still stands. These designs for lower-cost housing, with a common yard, are falling to the developer's ball. An old brick building houses the private Perkins School for Children, and at the corner, far from its original and secret origins, Ravenna Lodge, or so the plaque below the roof's peak reads. "No. 275 F & AM." The Masonic insignia is there, too. Looks like the masons are long gone. It is apartments and storage now. Plywood covers the holes where second-story windows used to be. A fan is shoved right up to the hole, venting the upper story. For reasons of history and opportunity and proximity to nearby synagogues, one block on 65th has become something of a small Jewish and European center for commerce. On one side of street we find the Bagel Oasis, the bagels fresh and hot much of the time. Nearby is the Morning Star Bakery, lauded for its German rye and pretzel rolls. Across the street and sharing the bottom floor of an old orange sided building are Leah's Kosher Bakery and Deli and The Tree of Life Judaica and Books. Leah's bakes challah, knishes, and strudels. It is mostly takeout, but they have a few tables inside and outside for sit-down. The Tree of Life sells books, Menorahs, and other cultural finery. Before Leah's moved in next door to the bookstore, they were across the street. At the time, there was a store selling Irish crafts, music, and clothing. I liked to think of the store owners sharing a pint of Guinness and a knish at the end of a long day. This part of 65th is tree lined and narrow. The traffic has to slow down. There is still parking on the street. The intersecting roads lead to small houses ringing Ravenna Park to the south. To the north, the small craftsmen houses of the 1920s and '30s share the blocks with the Boeing cottages of the '50s, plus a few brick Tudors and split-levels. Of course, more than a few have been bought, torn down, and replaced with the mega McMansions of modern times. Behind the building housing the bagels and the sushi is the old Ravenna School. It is housing for seniors and disabled people now, with a senior center and a newer wing, the Ravenna Community Center. There are still remnant fences from its day as an old school, and I am pretty sure that swing set has let many generations of kids launch themselves into space. It is also old enough, relative to the newness of parts of this city, that the play structure is still made of wood and the slide is metal. I am sure someone has slated the structure for replacement with new, safe materials. There is nice public art around the playground. A tiled wall features the work of school children. The artists are grown now, and some will drop by to show off their work to friends. A pole vault stands as a gate to the playground. A plaque notes it is set at the height of the Olympic record for 1986 – 19 feet, 8-1/2 inches. Farther along the walk is a plaque noting the world record in long jump and another for the triple jump. At the entrance to the center is one more piece of public art, or is it a fancy bike rack? It is a stylized yellow metal sculpture of a bicyclist, hair blown back by wind. Back on 65th, some of the older craftsman-style houses have been turned into professional offices, most for alternative health and well being. Signs for healing abound. One of the longer-running yoga centers is on 65th. Most mornings on my way to work, I look in the window of The Center for Yoga to see the stalwarts already hard at breathing. The Herbalist sells homeopathic and naturopathic pills, tinctures, and teas, as well as natural cosmetics, flower essences, and books to guide you in your quest for a healthy and purposeful life. You can step inside for a sample of a spring cleansing tea on this day. Up ahead is the Three Graces Salon, and just behind it, The Tummy Temple, enticing you with colon hydrotherapy. A statue of a fairly svelte Buddha beckons. Did he go for the therapy? But let us leave health concerns behind for now. You can come back for your acupuncture and massage therapy. At the corner of 20th Avenue Northeast and Northeast 65th Street, we are again at the intersection of nostalgia and change. There is an old toy store in a dilapidated two-story building. Toy store isn't quite accurate, though the place is called Gasoline Alley: It's Kid Stuff. Inside are shelves of toys and games and plastic cowboys and ceramic likenesses of Beetle Bailey and Dino the Dinosaur. These are not toys to be toyed with, however. This is big business. Well, as big as a business can be that notes with pride on its oft-closed door that its hours are between whenever and sometimes. If these toys come alive at night, they probably just sit on their shelves and talk about the differences in factory production quality between China and the U.S. and the impact eBay has had on the pricing structure of the nostalgia market. So what was that? Five blocks? See what I mean about getting distracted? Hungry again? Ron Sher (no relation, and besides, he spells his last name wrong) has taken the old grocery store on the corner and is using the same tricks of design he used at Crossroads shopping center in Bellevue to build community. It starts with the mural on the once blank wall that presented itself ungracefully to the street. Now it beckons with swimming ducks and friendly mountains. At the corner, tall windows have been cut into the wall. These are festooned with posters announcing the latest artistic endeavors of our region. You can attend a dance at the Moore or enter the upcoming milk carton derby. Inside, patrons are sitting at a long counter. It was rough-cut plank, sanded and coated to make it smooth. Anyone driving or walking by would look in at a forest of legs. People sit at stools, eating, reading, and typing away on their computers. It is an oddly welcoming site, all those legs bumping and shifting behind the glass. Head around back to the entrance, where an outdoor room beckons. They have put up large lathe arbor over small metal tables. There is a water bowl for dogs; vines are growing on the structure, even a snag has been planted in one corner, an invitation to even the least literary of birds. A Stellar's Jay was scolding from the perch, perhaps upset that another copy of Still Life with Woodpecker had left the building. It is a bakery, it is a bar, it is a place to sit, and finally it is a bookstore, used and new books side by side. Come in, nosh, browse, buy. It's a gathering place. Book groups debate themes at tables interspersed among the bookshelves. Readings and concerts are regularly offered. A person could get lost wandering the fiction collection. OK, I can see some of you want to get a brownie and go through the Northwest history section. Just remember, you have to carry any books you buy.