Living the Scientific Life (Scientist, Interrupted)

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Seattle, Washington.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

This will be my last photoessay from my Seattle visit. I sincerely hope I will be able to return for more visits, but because my life has gone the way it has, I think of every visit to Seattle (or elsewhere) as my last, so leaving is intensely sad. Of course, this does not mean that I don’t also love NYC, because I do, but Seattle is a physical reminder of happier and more successful and hopeful times in my life, of my many friends who are so precious, and of the familiar pathways I’ve walked.

Even though this was a morning flight, the dork person sitting next to me inexplicably shut all the window blinds, so it was impossible to see anything. Since I was trapped in the middle seat (GAH! Torture, especially if you are six feet tall!), I was in no position to complain, although I considered doing so, anyway. Since I had forgotten to bring my book, I kept myself busy during this five-and-a-half hour flight by watching CNN news on the postcard-sized TV. However, when we crossed the Cascade Mountain Range that separates the eastern and western portions of the state, a reverent hush fell over the passengers. I looked up and saw they all were leaning towards their windows. This could only mean one thing: home!

I could not resist; I reached across the person snoozing next to me and opened the window blinds. (Yes, I know this is rude). But the weather was as perfect as I’ve ever seen it for autumn in Seattle, and the passengers could see stunning landscapes for a hundred miles or more in every direction. Surely, Seattle is the most breathtakingly beautiful city that I’ve ever flown into.

The pilot appeared to share my opinion because he circled over the forested mountains to the east of the city, announcing over the intercom system the identities of the major (volcanic) mountain peaks that we could see, and he then swung low over the city so we got excellent views of the scenery — mountains, lakes, rivers and the city itself. Even though I was trapped in the middle seat, I still managed to snap a dozen or so reasonably good images. Predictably, the person sitting by the window next to me got more images than I did, as well as a lot of fine video, so if I had not been so rude as to open the window blinds, he would have missed the entire show.

Northwestern Seattle, Washington, from the air.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

In the above image, you will see the northwestern region of Seattle. The city of Seattle proper is located out of this image to the lower left (south, in this image). You can see the Space Needle (white flying saucer near the center) and the nearby Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame (the bright red, blue and white blob that looks like melted candle wax to the right of the Space Needle), the Seattle Center, the former grounds of the 1962 World’s Fair (clustered around the Space Needle and extending to the left) and the Seattle Center Food Circus (that white tent-like building to the upper right of the Space Needle), Seattle Center Memorial Stadium (to the right of both the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project), and the waterfront bordering on the Puget Sound (do you see the grain elevator in the water? That’s where a pair of peregrine falcons nested when I lived in Seattle).

Seattle, Washington.
Driving north into the city along the I-5 freeway.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

This is one of the first images I snapped of Seattle from the ground. My friend, Mike, met me at the airport and he drove north along the I-5 corridor from Seatac to Seattle. The traffic was unfortunately heavy, so nearly all of my images– all of them, splendid — had either a fir tree, a car or a semi blocking, blurring or otherwise spoiling the picture. Nevertheless, I still managed to get a few reasonably good images, two of which you are seeing in this photoessay.

As you can see in these images, a large cloud moved in and surrounded the heart of the city, providing a romantic mist for a few minutes before disappearing, leaving behind only warmth and endless sky.

Magus Books, University District, Seattle, Washington.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

The first area in Seattle that I went was my former home, the University District. Mike and I walked around on “The Ave” (University Way) and many of the side streets, looking around and taking pictures. Above, you can see one of the classic old/used book shops in the U-District: Magus Books. When I was an undergrad and grad student at the UW, Magus Books did its part to separate me from whatever remaining income that the University neglected to take.

Generally, I hate the vines on this building because they are an invasive (introduced) plant species that provides homes for hundreds of tree rats, but when their leaves reveal autumn’s glory, I suspend my dislike and photograph the building.

My first meal in Seattle: Pho Bo.

University District, Seattle, Washington.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

I had not eaten all day, so I was ravenous. Mike asked me what I would like to eat, but I drew a blank (probably because I was faint from hunger). He suggested that we go to my favorite restaurant on The Ave, a Vietnamese Pho restaurant. For those of you who don’t know, Pho is a soup (originally based on beef stock) that contains a wide assortment of vegetables and spices, and it is often topped with raw beef slices. Most Pho restaurants also make variations with chicken and even a variety of vegetarian Phos. This is a soup that you can dress up with all sorts of toppings; mint leaves, plum sauce, red (hot) sauce, pepper seeds, soy sauce, etc.

From what I’ve learned from my Vietnamese friends, Pho is a soup that was traditionally served for breakfast throughout Vietnam.

Since I have never found a decent Vietnamese Restaurant in NYC, especially one that serves pho that is of the caliber of those prepared and served in Seattle, this meal was bliss.

So I ate too much.

The restaurant where I ate also makes their own (exquisite) cream puffs and serves one complimentary cream puff with every meal. If you look closely at the picture, you can see a tiny cream puff peeking out from the upper left hand corner near the rim of the bowl. Yum!

Big Time Microbrewery, University District, Seattle, Washington.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

After eating too much, Mike and I walked around the University District for an hour or so, and he told me all the gossip about the various shop owners on The Ave — most of it was very amusing. But soon, I was tempted to return to my favorite pub in the United States: the Big Time Microbrewery. The Big Time is one of many dozens of microbreweries in the Seattle area, and because they brew their own beers, they don’t sell any of that nasty Budweiser Light and Miller Lite crap that is the accepted standard in NYC. Instead, their beers are uniquely theirs; bold, hoppy and very tasty and most of them will give you a memorable hangover if you are out of “drinking practice” (as I am, ouch).

Big Time Microbrewery, University District, Seattle, Washington.

Image: GrrlScientist, 26 September 2008 [larger view].

The above image is how I remember some of my favorite times in Seattle: sitting in the Big Time, my hunger satiated by a bowl of Pho, drinking beers with my friends and talking about science, research, politics and life in general. These times are so incredibly precious and astonishingly rare, although they seemed as though they would last forever when you are in the moment because they fill up your senses so completely.

Comments

  1. #1 Mike
    October 14, 2008

    The ivy over Magus Books is now a solid red, and if you look closely I think you can spot some adventitous ferns and the like which are still green.

  2. #2 "GrrlScientist"
    October 14, 2008

    where’s the pictures??

  3. #3 David Harmon
    October 15, 2008

    Since I have never found a decent Vietnamese Restaurant in NYC, especially one that serves pho

    Three words: Flushing Main Street.

    Seriously, there’s at least two excellent Pho houses on Kissena Boulevard down there. I’d bet there’s also some decent places around Little Korea too, but I used to have lunch down at FMS twice a week….

  4. #4 Mike
    October 15, 2008

    The ivy is so uniformly red you could just photoshop your own pic and it would look about right, except for a some green spots growing out of the raingutter. In Seattle volunteer ivy and ferns will grow in the mortar between bricks if it’s close enough to a dripline.

  5. #5 Sandra
    October 16, 2008

    I like Nha Trang Centre in Chinatown (there’s also a Nha Trang Baxter) for when I need my pho fix.