The day I’m about to describe is one that I could have only had in Seattle. It’s one of the most charming things about this city. I’m coming to realize that it has a culture, a vibe, and an attitude all its own.
I was casting about for something inexpensive to do, and was reading about various attractions around town when I discovered that the library offers free passes to museums! Sign me up. So off I went to the website in question and checked out what museums were available that day. I found one that interested me and punched in my library card number and…nothing. Huh?
I called the library and we finally figured it out. I was trying for a museum that doesn’t have an agreement with the King County Library System. Oh no. I would have to use my Seattle Public Library card. Wait. What? There are two library systems in Seattle? Oh, and they’re both open 7 days a week?
You’ve got to understand. I come from Jacksonville, Florida, where there’s a lot more people and yet only one library system. There, they can barely stay open for 5 days a week, their hours are constantly being reduced, and every year when the city council is dealing with the budget, the library is their first target for cutbacks. Branches keep getting closed down, and they sure don’t offer free passes to anything.
So with tears of joy in my eyes, I went to the Seattle Public Library and got my card. As with the King County system, the parking lot was absolutely packed and the place was a hive of activity. That’s also something you rarely see in Jacksonville. Many people there don’t hold reading anything beyond the sports page in very high esteem. Here in Seattle, the most literate city in the country, our libraries are considered vital. So I got my library card and my museum pass. (And the museum deserves a blog entry of its own, so patience, dear reader. That’s for another day.)
I hadn’t even gotten to the main event and I already felt like celebrating, so I asked a friend to recommend a restaurant near the Ballard neighborhood, and he recommended Highliner Public House at the Fishermen’s Terminal, just south of the Ballard Bridge. Getting there was a bit of a nightmare, which is also oh so Seattle. There was construction going on, and an insane detour, and traffic was backed up for miles, but I wasn’t in any particular hurry. I just kind of sat behind the wheel of my car and enjoyed the Ballard vibe. This historic area is fisherman’s central. Its Nordic history gives it a feeling all its own. You get the sense that the people here are used to working hard in raw, wet weather, and that appeals to my Danish heritage quite a bit.
I approached the restaurant with a certain level of trepidation, because I absolutely hate eating alone. I feel like I have a spotlight shining on my pathetic solitude. So I brought a book. But I enjoyed the people watching too. At the table next to me were four men in town for some convention or other. One was holding forth about something every technical. I have no idea what it was. I heard the word “centrifugal” being bandied about. What a refreshing change from Jacksonville, where the most popular convention is “Christmas Made in the South”.
And there were several mixed race couples. That simply isn’t done in Florida, at least not with any degree of comfort. Here it almost can’t be avoided, and I love it.
I ordered the seafood pot pie, which is described as “scallops, prawns, bay shrimp, crab, and cod in a creamy blend of cream, herbs, and seasonings served in a puff pastry shell”. Believe me when I tell you that this was the most delicious thing I have ever eaten in my entire life. I nearly swooned. The seafood here is very fresh, as one would expect from an area with one of the largest fishing fleets in the world.
As an extra treat they also provided me with a postcard (below) that includes the Ballard Drawbridge where I sometimes work in the background. I can’t wait to come back and get another one, and post it inside the bridge tower. It makes me smile.
Back in my car as I headed to the museum I thought about how every experience I had that day was uniquely Seattleite. I am definitely here. I’m definitely in it, baby! And I’m enjoying every delicious bite that I take out of this city so far.