I grew up a baby boomer suburbanite. I lived most of my life in the country. Yet, I love the city.
Cities offer so much to see and do, places to visit, museums and art galleries, zoos and concerts, professional sports and excellent restaurants, and a cross-section of the world’s cultures, races, and religions. Given all of that, I’m still contented when in a city to simply stop, look, and listen to all that is happening around me.
In this particular case, my wife and I and our tour-guide friends were waiting at a light rail stop in Seattle, Washington when I spotted these reflections in the windows of a hotel and office buildings across the way. The scene created its own living urban art.
During our brief tour of downtown Seattle, Washington, our friends guided us to Gum Alley. They just smiled and said we had to see it. I had no idea what to expect, but they were right. We had to see it for ourselves.
Officially named “Post Alley,” locals have dubbed the narrow street “Gum Alley” for a good reason. Apparently, it’s a Seattle “thing” to stick chewed gum onto the brick walls of the buildings that serve as the bounds of this public right of way. Its beauty is art deco personified.
Believe it or not, these walls had been cleaned of all of the gum postings less than a year ago. The young lady in the photo was actually posing to have her picture taken by a friend. As often is the case, I just happened to be at the right place at the right time to capture my Photo of the Week, “Stretching It.”
We committed to going to our friends’ wedding anniversary celebration long before we knew about the total solar eclipse. We merely had to tack on a day to our itinerary to view this exciting, much-anticipated event.
Neva and I saw this trip to the Pacific Northwest as an opportunity to finally see the State of Washington, one of seven in the U.S. I had yet to visit. Now the list is down to six.
If you know your geography, you’ll realize that Washington shares much of its southern border with Oregon. We had long wanted to visit other friends who lived in those two states.
Traveling is in our blood. Neva and I both like to visit new places. When renewing friendships is also involved, the trips are all the more pleasurable.
First on the agenda was an extended visit with one of my college roommates and his wife in Spokane, Washington. They had visited us a few times in Ohio, their native state as well. We quickly got to see Spokane up close and personal. We also made a day trip to some historical locations in Idaho’s beautiful panhandle. The scenery was stunning, the history engaging, and the local folks as friendly as could be.
As pretty as the tree-studded mountainsides and luscious valleys were, the renewed fellowship with Joe and Janis was so much sweeter. Conversations and stories tumbled out as if our separation had been 10 hours not 10 years.
From Spokane, we steered the rental car west through pleasant evergreen forests into the expansive dry plains of The Great Basin, passed sweeping irrigated fields that stretched for acres and acres. The state had kindly marked each crop with signs on the fence that separates the interstate from the fields. It also eliminated the necessity to stop along the roadway.
We crossed the mighty Columbia River much easier than Lewis and Clark ever did. Soon after we drove through parched grasslands still smoldering from recent wildfires.
Rose garden, Manito Park, Spokane, WA.
Coeur d’Alene River Valley, ID.
Columbia River along I – 90.
Edmonds, WA harbor.
City art, Seattle, WA.
Colorful Pike Place Market, Seattle.
The Seattle icon.
Drift Creek Camp.
On the beach.
We found the home of former Holmes County friends nestled among tall evergreens. Bob and Becky were equally gracious hosts, showing us their beautiful new hometown of Edmonds on the Puget Sound. We packed in more sightseeing in a day than I could have imagined. Seattle is also a beautiful, bustling city with excellent public transportation. A dollar can take you a long way there.
We attended the weekend anniversary celebration of the bride and groom of 60 years, Larry and Mary Jane, at the remote church camp they had run for a few years after moving to Oregon. It’s not often you get to spend a weekend on a coastal mountain reminiscing with friends and connecting with new friends surrounded by a lush rainforest and a gurgling mountain stream.
With the Great American Eclipse the next day, our hosts at the camp kindly made arrangements for us to stay with friends in Albany in the agriculturally rich Willamette Valley. The weather there tends to be clearer than days along the Pacific Coast where the camp was located.
It couldn’t have turned out better. Albany was in the path of totality, where the moon completely blocked out the sun. In our locale, the sun went dark for two minutes. We had incredible views of the eclipse, including the Diamond Ring, Bailey’s beads, and the corona.
The total solar eclipse, with all its dazzling attributes, was a celestial complement to our Pacific Northwest trip. The joyful renewing of personal relationships, however, eclipsed the eclipse.