Mossback's '36 hours' in Duwumps

A native Seattleite offers a midweek slice-of-life as lived in this 'world-class' town.

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The Washington Park Arboretum scored a mention on two '36 Hours' lists: Mossback's and the NYT's.

A native Seattleite offers a midweek slice-of-life as lived in this 'world-class' town.

The New York Times recently ran a visitor's guide by David Laskin for a quick weekend stopover in Seattle, part of its "36 Hours" travel feature. I thought maybe folks would like to see a midweek slice-of-real-life as lived by a local in this vibrant, world-class, urban amenity-filled burg.

6:30 a.m.: Wake from a dream where I am trapped in the back hallways of Nordstrom's looking for a way out. I find the back door and jump on a passing shuttle bus that takes me on a loop: to Nordstrom's front door! Does Kafka shop here?

6:45 a.m.: Feeling bad that I didn't take out recycling when the weather was dry. Am I a hoarder?

7:00 a.m.: Check weather report: big rain storm coming. Not sure when I'll get around to that recycling. Maybe summer.

8 a.m.: Breakfast of tea, multi-grain bread from Essential Baking smeared with organic peanut butter.

9 a.m.: Medical Dental Building (5th and Olive) for root canal. If you want the deep-bore tunnel done on time, my dentist could do it. My root canal is slightly less expensive.

11:15 a.m.: Admire new plaza (Westlake and Olive) with the refurbished statue of John McGraw, former sheriff and governor who was a booster of big projects. His 1892 campaign slogan: "Build the Lake Washington Canal and Build it for 1893." Nowadays, a Seattle slogan might be something like: "Don't Replace the Damned Viaduct with a freeway, and let's take 30 years to do it while riding our bikes!"

11:20 a.m.: Pick up my car from Pacific Place Garage (600 Pine St.) — something we built with public funds in the olden days. We're not supposed to drive in Seattle anymore, but we still subsidize low rates at this downtown mall parking lot. Don't tell the mayor.

1 p.m.: Can't stop listening to the KUOW Spring Pledge Drive. I'll donate later. I really will. Really. Changing the radio dial is as difficult as taking the recycling out. Then I get it: Listening to the endless pledge pleas is part of the price of quality public radio. By just listening, I am paying.

3 p.m.: Switch to Mariners spring season game. Just isn't the same without Dave Niehaus. Rick Rizzs is comforting because his voice makes me think Dave has stepped out of the booth for an inning and will be back to convince us that the Mariners' stink is Chanel No. My Oh My! Rizzs is a good second banana backed-up by a bunch of third bananas.

3:30 p.m.: Decide to take a walk in the Lake Washington Arboretum (2300 Arboretum Dr. E.). Am always comforted to see the "ramps to nowhere" left over from the days when Seattle stopped "progress." Now, they provide shelter for solo male nature-lovers who cruise the area looking for … well, not wigeons. 

On nearby Foster Island, I notice "Seattle nice" disappears when birds establish a pecking order. A bald eagle swoops onto a branch in a tall tree. He displaces a red-shafter flicker, but then our national symbol of Libyan air superiority is immediately heckled by two crows. It's New York up there: "What are YOU looking at?" "You talkin' to me?" 

Nature can be very un-Seattle. It's not vegan, that's for sure.

7 p.m.: Reading William O. Douglas' Of Men and Mountains. No one is more rhapsodic about the glories of the Northwest wilderness than the homegrown Justice Douglas who, if you believe him, could out-hike John Muir by age 12 after overcoming polio. Several chapters on trout fishing prove that Douglas can be a bore, as can any man who writes or talks about fishing.

9 p.m.: In bed, as all Seattleites should be.


8 a.m.: At High Spot Cafe (1410 34th Ave.) for breakfast club, a group of locals who get together every week to talk about Seattle affairs over granola and fruit under the guidance of civic dynamo David Brewster. It's for Madrona residents only, but I am allowed to come even though I live in remote Madison Park. And it is remote: It takes three buses to get from Madison Park to Madrona.

10:30 a.m.: Attend mayor's "brown bag" press conference to which no one brings brown bags. (Who eats lunch at 10:30 a.m.?) News of the day: got to cut another $16 million from the city budget. People wonder why the mayor is polling 28 percent approval. Mayors Greg Nickels and Paul Schell got similar ratings, and that was without the Great Recession. Being Seattle mayor is a stepping stone to political oblivion. McGinn might get better press if he served us donuts. Can Top Pot sponsor?

Noon: Arrive at Grand Hyatt Hotel (721 Pine St.) for a national conference. Always weird to be treated as an out-of-town guest in your hometown. The welcome packet contains useful information about downtown restaurants, bars, etc. We are encouraged to bar-hop in Belltown, but warned the area is "dodgy" after dark, so "stay in groups." Sounds like the wilds of Tanzania. I'm guessing people will opt for the safer confines of the Cheesecake Factory.

The guide also contains a wonderful tidbit of history. Listed under "Cheap Eats" is the "Original Starbucks" (1912 Pike Place) at the Market. However, we are immediately and accurately informed that this, in fact, is not the original-original Starbucks, which was actually nearby at Virginia Street, but "where it moved to and has been here for decades." In other words, the "original" Starbucks is a reproduction, like those fakes they sell on Ebay.

5:30 p.m.: I pay $23 for a day's downtown parking at Pacific Place. Doh! Who told the mayor?

5:45 p.m.: Listening to KUOW Spring Pledge Drive, still feeling guilty. When is Crosscut's Pledge Drive?

6:30 p.m.: Brenner Brothers, Ezell's Chicken, now I go to the Central District for Ethiopian takeout from Meskel (2605 E. Cherry St.). Love the green chicken.

8 p.m.: Listening to rain pelting down, glad I am not getting soaked while being hunted in Belltown.

Facebook Friend Ron Sims loves to post quotes. Here's one from Vivian Greene: ‎"Life is not about waiting for the storms to pass … It's about learning how to dance in the rain."

In Duwumps, you have to dance or you'll never leave the house.


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About the Authors & Contributors

Knute Berger

Knute Berger

Knute “Mossback” Berger is Crosscut's Editor-at-Large.