Seattle is the Big City of Choice for most Missoulians. I've only used it before as a gateway to the Cascades and Canada, but found it was fun in its own right. The city has dense and varied neighborhoods which are great for walking (and walking was about the only thing I could afford to do there). It was fascinating to get on a bus at University Station downtown surrounded by men and women in business suits, and get off three stops later in Chinatown, the only whitey in sight.
The occasion was annual meeting of the Council of Science Editors. The three-day meeting, held at the Sheraton downtown, was the first time in ages I've met with a group of work peers. The industry is primarily concentrated in Washington, D.C. While I did meet attendees from Nigeria, Nepal, Mexico, and Ethiopia, the crowd was decidedly institutional, and held a provincial view of the rest of the world. Coming from Montana, and mixing with such a group -- well, it was interesting to see so many career-focused go-getters, let's put it that way. Most of the people I talked to had, it turns out, heard of Montana, but were quite surprised to learn that there was a science journal there (probably about the reaction I would have if I met someone from Indiana who said they like to climb mountains). Anyway, I was there to learn, and I let people talk about themselves, and mostly when I asked what it was like to live in Baltimore (or Arlington, Alexandria, D.C., etc.) people began by talking about their commutes.
(View from the 21st floor of the Sheraton: not Missoula.)
In three days I estimate I walked 25 miles. I hiked up and around Beacon Hill and Coleman Park. I drank my body weight in coffee. I ate four bánh mì (Vietnamese sandwiches--frikkin awesome). I fended off a homeless person on Capitol Hill. I had an engaging talk with a girl about something besides babies and avalanche conditions. I actually got on a bus and asked the driver, 'Does this go to Chinatown?'. I found that the best mocha latte in Seattle is actually no better than the best mocha latte in Missoula, although in Seattle you drink it in a cool converted warehouse and pay 50 cents more for the 16-ounce size than you do in Montana.
(Looks better, but tastes the same.)
Watching big city traffic puts me in a trance: probably what it's like when Seattlites go camping and stare into the campfire.
Or is it? Is this what people in Seattle think of when they think of Montana? These billboards are everywhere in Seattle.
So ended three days in The Big City. I planned to walk around more downtown and go to Queen Anne, a historic neighborhood. But, of course, it began to rain. I trooped out to the airport on the cool light rail, only to have the sun come out. Anyway, I never get tired of watching departure boards and taxiways.