Month: December 2017

And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

And The Sun Came Out Today At RedWing Cafe

The Long Way To RedWing Cafe Coffee

Because there is no rain (yet) and to prove that RedWing Cafe coffee isn’t the only thing I think about, I actually took a slightly longer way to the RedWing Cafe this morning. The comparative warmth of the sun peeking through some dark clouds in the distance, and lighter ones close by, made it an easy choice to take longer to get there. In the process, I took some photos of the beauty of this part of Seattle. We’re staying at Ranier Beach and almost every direction we take as we leave the house has a fabulous view of the water.

The view from Cooper Street

There are so many things along the way that seem unusual for this time of year, apart from the weather of course. I didn’t get a photo of it, but there is a huge Holly bush in a front garden on 61st Avenue S. When I say unusual, I mean it would be  ‘unusual’ in my part of the world, but very ordinary in this hemisphere. Trees stripped bare of their leaves; holly bushes; cloudy skies; cold weather; ivy climbing across buildings; moss and wet leaves underfoot. Nothing that we would expect to see this close to Christmas in the Land Down Under, but here, it just looks and feels like winter. Coupled with the sights and sounds of Christmas all around, the winter scenery brings to life all the Christmas Cards ever sent or received.

View from the end of 63rd Avenue

What Better Way To Spend Winter Than Reading

On long, cold winter days there is nothing better than being snuggled up somewhere warm, with coffee in one hand and good book in the other. The trend towards community libraries is something I have noted lately in Australia and it is certainly a big deal here. Conveniently close to the RedWing Cafe is a cute little library that people can borrow from or share books with.

Borrow a book or leave one to share

And Now, The Coffee…

I could have spent hours taking photos of interesting things along the way, but my first RedWing Cafe coffee of the day beckoned. The usual 15 minute walk had dragged out to almost 25 minutes and I was starting to feel the first signs of caffeine withdrawal. So, with my camera securely stowed in my bag, I soldiered on down the last hill. As I turned the corner from Water Street S into 57th Ave S, the RedWing Cafe sign stood out like a beacon on a starless night. I had arrived.

My second Seattle home: The RedWing Cafe

Yes, the sun is actually out; it just looks a bit dreary because the ground is still wet from the recent rain. First task: order the coffee and some coffee cake. Luckily, my favourite table was empty so I made my way over, taking the first layer off as I walked. With coat securely hung on the peg, I retrieved my iPad from the bag.

Coat securely hung on the peg; I’m ready to write

Once my iPad was set up, I had to decide whether to peel off another layer.

Decision made: I’ll just leave my outer jumper on. I’ll wait until the warmth of the coffee warms me from the inside before stripping back to the long-sleeved t.shirt.

With iPad set up, there is only thing left to do

Without coffee, nothing gets written. Period. (Nancy Kress)

That’s better!

And now, with coffee and cake safely delivered, I’m ready to start writing.

Life is good!

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Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

Exploring Seattle – One Coffee At A Time

In Search Of Coffee in Seattle

When you arrive in a new city, especially when staying out of town, you need to know where the coffee is. My first day in the Seattle area was spent in search of a comfy place to drink my morning cup-of-joe, which has become the ritual for kick-starting my heart and getting my eyes not only open, but functioning as they should.

A quick search online highlighted the Stone House Bakery as a place to be able to partake of a reasonable cup of coffee. Google Maps pointed towards the water, which isn’t too far away. But, there were a few twists and turns along the way, including a very steep and slippery path. This was not going to be sustainable long term and certainly not an option for the return journey.

This was a seriously steep and very slippery path

Christmas Spirit

The Stone House Bakery was right next to the bottom of the slippery path. This quaint place reflected the Christmas spirit that is alive and well in Seattle. There is a definite push to go back to the traditional Christmas sentiments of old and this place was no exception. with Christmas spirit hanging off every corner and flat space. Warmth and Christmas oozed from the festively lit windows and we were drawn into the cozy atmosphere that greeted us as we stepped through the door.

An Almond Croissant and coffee sufficed as breakfast – both really good – but as good as everything was, there was something lacking that would prevent us making the Stone House our regular haunt for our morning caffeine. WiFi, or lack of, was just one of the sticking points. When I asked the waitress about the WiFi, the response, as she walked away was, “If I could only remember the password…”. We didn’t see her again.

The Stone House Bakery

The Stone House would become our ‘sometimes’ place.

On The Way Home….

We left the Stone House Bakery and walked along the water for a couple of blocks. To our surprise, when we turned left we found another coffee place – the RedWing Cafe. Unlike the Stone House where we were the only customers, the RedWing was full of people. It looked warm and inviting, so we made a commitment to explore it another day.

Update:

The RedWing Cafe is now my ‘go-to’ place for my morning coffee, except on Mondays when they are closed. On Mondays I will find a Starbucks – not quite the same coffee – but just as good for WiFi and power outlets.

It’s all good!

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And Another Day Dawns

And Another Day Dawns

Another Day Dawns –

8.30 am – eyes slowly open. OMG! We were supposed to meet my travel-buddy’s friend downtown at 10.

Quick shower; throw on some jeans and a couple of layers of t.shirts and jumpers, ugg boots, make-up and I was ready to go – but when I said my eyes were open – they were open; they just weren’t functioning too well. Oh – and I grabbed my coat on the way out the door – and needed it – it was kind of cold at that time of day.

I don’t know how we did it, but we arrived with time to spare.

Breakfast was at a diner called ‘Geraldines’. I ordered a Cappuccino, as usual, only to be (apologetically) told they only had filtered coffee. The coffee arrived and was drinkable, but didn’t quite cut it as my usual caffeine-kick-starter. I’d forgotten how Diners work and the coffee kept on coming, but I called it quits after the first cup.

University of Washington

The rest of the day was spent exploring the University of Washington Campus. I took lots of photos of the magnificent buildings, interspersed with the occasional squirrel or bird. The only disappointment was that the fountain was turned off – I guess the University grinds to a halt over the holiday season, although there were still people around – probably tourists – like me.

Two squirrels scamper across the path

No fountain today…

 

I managed to get a photo of a bird in flight.

As we made our way away from the main hub, we stopped at a Deli for a cold drink. Unlike the other days, today had  warmed up a bit, due apparently to a prediction of rain for the next week.

The University of Washington precinct covers a large area and has a very ‘cozy’ feel; lots of coffee shops for hanging out in that are very user-friendly, with free WiFi in most of them.

A quick stop at Trader Joe’s for some groceries and then back to the cafe opposite the Deli we’d stopped at earlier. I knew they had free WiFi because I’d been using it while we were at the Deli.

Beautiful Seattle at night.

Dinner at a Thai Restaurant near the bus stop was the perfect way to end the day.

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Seattle Adventure – The Sequel

Seattle Adventure – The Sequel

It pays to attend to the tiny details when planning a Seattle adventure.

But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,

And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy!     Robert Burns

The famous words from Robert Burns’ poem ‘To A Mouse’, written in 1785, were never more meaningful than at the moment I arrived in Seattle to start my new adventure.

The lead up to meeting my friend in Seattle included very regular communication between us – one of us in the US and the other (me) in Australia.

Departure Plans Okay –  Arrival Plans In Need Of Tweaking

Plans were created and confirmed – flight details exchanged – and everything coordinated, almost to the minute.

We would meet at Seattle Airport on Tuesday 12 December; one arriving from Brisbane at 9.30pm and the other from Santa Rosa at 10.30pm. The first one to arrive would wait at the Baggage Claim area for the other.

Simple!

The one from Australia was leaving Brisbane Airport at 10.30pm Monday, so they would meet the other in Seattle on Tuesday night, right?

Departure from Brisbane Airport

W-R-O-N-G!!!

Neither one of us considered that quirky little thing called the International Date Line, even though both of us have crossed the line from both directions, many times.

After a two-hour delay in Honolulu I arrived in Seattle, stressing about not being able to contact my friend to let them know I’d be late, only to discover they weren’t in the designated meeting place. Understandable; I figured – they were probably looking for me somewhere else. With the free SEA-TAC WiFi I was able to call them on WhatsApp, our favourite form of communication.

Now you really have to use your imagination here because I want you to picture the scene that played out with that call. It goes something like this… Oh, and a key to the scene is the timing – approximately 11.40pm Monday night.

Phone: “Ring, Ring”
Friend: “Hello”
Me: “Where are you?”
Friend: “California”
Me: “Why are you in California?”
Friend: “Because it is Monday night. Where are you?”
Me: “At the Baggage Area in Seattle ……. Airport (the penny started to drop)”.
Friend: “It isn’t Tuesday yet”
Me: “OMG! How did we get that so wrong?”

Baggage claim area at SEA-TAC

Designated meeting place in Seattle Airport – Empty!

Next Problem…

Midnight was fast approaching. The accommodation was booked for Tuesday night and I had no phone – only Internet, thanks to the free WiFi at Seattle Airport. Options started flying around my head faster than the Bullet Train from Shanghai, including the idea of spending the night and the next day at the airport. But I was in desperate need of a shower and sleep, not necessarily in that order and neither of which were available at the airport, so I decided I should find a hotel online and hopefully they’d have a shuttle, since Uber wasn’t going to be a starter without a contactable phone number to communicate with. And I knew that once I stepped away from the free WiFi, I was well and truly on my own.

In the search for a phone I came across the Luggage Storage area that had two uniformed gentlemen attending it. I asked for directions to somewhere to buy an American SIM Card, or to a pay phone – either would do. I explained the dilemma that I found myself in and one of the kind gentlemen offered to show me a feasible solution. He escorted me to an area where a number of hotels offer a free phone service for the purpose of booking a room in an emergency. The hotels even offered a free shuttle service. A quick call and I had secured a hot shower, a bed and the means of getting to them.

The descent into Seattle Airport provided a spectacular view of the city

Problem solved!

As I waited in the designated area for the shuttle, it occurred to me that in my haste to find the solution, I hadn’t actually taken much notice of the name of the hotel. Buses came and went; some with hotel names on them, some with numbers in the window. Luckily the number 63 was the only thing I remembered from the conversation with the hotel. After about 40 minutes the shuttle arrived. Of course, if it had arrived before midnight it would have been an elegant carriage driven by two beautiful white horses. Disillusioned, I climbed wearily into the shuttle heading for the low budget hotel, instead of the Palace.

The shower was hot and the bed was warm – and that’s all I cared about until 9 o’clock the next morning when I opened my eyes to a brand new day and a brand new adventure.

And the moral of this story is:

  • Pay close attention to details on flight plans
  • When you cross the International Date Line from one side to the other, make sure you know which side is a day ahead and which one isn’t
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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 0 comments