04 July 2006

More Seattle moments

My day was spent at Pike Place Market, Pacific Science Center (where I saw the Game On exhibit, with playable demonstrations of video games from Pong through Xbox 360), Gasworks Park, DiAnne's residence (where I was joined by DiAnne's husband, son, and a friend named Henry from Portland), and back in Capitol Hill area at a number of bars, including the Wildrose.

Here are some observations I've made in and around Seattle:

I've noticed a very strong progressive streak here. The pro-Bush bumper stickers, so common back in Southern California, are nowhere to be seen in Seattle. I found very few of them, only well outside, and only on cars from red states. Most Seattleites still carry on with their Kerry bumper stickers, and Capitol Hill was full of posters calling for helping the Democrats retake Congress, demanding W's resignation, and so forth. I've even found a message on a BMW dealership driveway, written in chalk, calling for bodily harm of W! It's nice to see the progressives fight back, and keep the state of Washington delicately balanced against the reactionaries east of the Cascades - for now.

Capitol Hill area feels just like San Francisco's Castro district, and I love it. There is the commercialized Broadway, which corresponds to Market Street in San Francisco, and there are the more local drags such as Pine and Pike Streets, corresponding to Castro Street in San Francisco. Seattle's edge seems to be the presence of the Wildrose lesbian bar, but in both cities, men own the bar scene.

Seattle area's geography makes the area compact, especially east to west. Unless I am traveling south beyond Tacoma or north into Snohomish County (I am not covering the latter on this trip), distances are short. Traffic sometimes gets pretty horrible, to Los Angeles standards, even on this weekend, but otherwise it's a pleasure to drive around town. Oddly enough, the cheapest gas stations are near the airport, where one would normally expect stations to rip off returning rental cars.

Gentrification is everywhere. Expensive condos are taking over both downtown and Capitol Hill. DiAnne actually welcomes the development though, because more younger people will be attracted to Seattle - the professional types who tend to be open-minded and vote Democratic. Higher population density will also spur mass transit development, she says. Prices seem to be pretty high, though more affordable than California levels.

I am falling in love with Emerald City, even with the unusual heat wave. I look forward to coming back for more (and hopefully covering Portland and Vancouver as well the next time). In the meantime, my final full day awaits, in the form of a road trip to Mt. Rainier and Mt. St. Helens.