16 April, 2012

Towards Seattle and other thoughts

Here I sit in the turret window of our Seattle apartment. It's raining. They told me it would do this. A lot. It hasn't so far but I get the impression from overheards and from the pastiness of the semi-clad Seattleites that the past week of lovely sunshine may be unusual.

So. To be chronological about it. Last Sunday we got up, packed, and left our hilltop flat in Portland, heading north along Highway 30 rather than the Interstate. On the advice of friends we are trying not to do too many journeys solely on Interstates/motorways on the grounds that we will see more of the "Real America" this way. I think this is true. I also think the Real America needs to fix its architecture. There's something about many American towns' commercial areas that makes them all look like colourful industrial estates. I think it's the single buildings with obligatory car park all the way round, no pavements/sidewalks, huge often horrible signage, and no sense to what businesses will be in what area. So you get poshish restaurants next to car dealerships next to the local branch of a bank next to Dairy Queen next to a quilting shop. I find it really hard to work out when I'm in the middle of these places. The concept of parking to walk around a town just doesn't work. This isn't true of everywhere and possibly not true of all of any of these places, but they do make you work to find the nice bits. And I often haven't found the nice bits at all.

After hugging the Columbia River along its more industrial edge we crossed the bridge just near Rainier and drove into Longview and on towards Interstate 5. We picked up some lunch and headed to the Mount St Helen's Visitors Center at Silver Lake. I wish I could say we took some good pictures but the ones of the mountain really weren't very good at all. The Visitors Center was fascinating with a large display on the 1980 eruption which Tom and I remembered. Emilia was particularly drawn to the tale of Harry Truman, the man who wouldn't leave Spirit Lake and who was never seen again after the eruption. I wish we had had time to go closer to the mountain but we were due in Seattle that afternoon. I imagine our visit to Lassen has shown us what the volcanic desolation looks like to some extent.

So again we took 5 and headed north, looking east regularly to see the mountains as we drove. Rainier is HUGE!

And then Seattle, with its spectacular setting of mountains and water all around.

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