Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wednesday 4 June (pt2): Seattle – Private Property

From Ye Olde Curiosity Shop it was a quick uncurious walk to Pier 52, where the ferries leave from. I'd just missed one to Bainbridge Island, and the next one was running late, so I had some time to sit and laptopulate. As well as take some pictures. Several signs stated that the current maritime security level was MARSEC1. Three more and all ferries launch a pre-emptive strike on Vancouver.

Bainbridge Island is the nearest island to Seattle city centre. It's a 35 minute ferry ride and it's free to come back, but not to go. Due to delays, I didn't have a huge amount of time there. I would probably come back with a bike next time and get further into the island which is supposed to be very pretty. This time I walked around the harbour and attached village.

The island is a sleepy little place that is home to many commuters (being so close to a big city) and does try to look tourist friendly. The scenic harbour-front walk starts off being very well sign-posted, but every so often you meet a private property sign and have to go on a non-harbour-front detour. In fact the who walk end unceremoniously with a sudden dead-end and a sign stating "Private Property - NO Trespassing. End of Waterfront Trail."

No detour, no ceremony, nothing. The picture even shows two walker with a jagged red line through them they way pictures of people always appear in The Omen just before they are decapitated gruesomely. Somehow you are not made to feel welcome on Bainbridge Island.

It's not that the locals are unfriendly, it's that they are at work in a high-pressure lawyer's office and paid quite a lot for their little plot of land, thank you very much, and don't want to have it soiled by the likes of you admiring for free what they will still be paying off in 40 years time. The harbour seems to be about 90% private property and 5% sludge. The other 5% is very nice and well signposted.

But as I said, the main attraction is supposed to be the beautiful countryside elsewhere. And next time I'm looking forward to visiting another village memorably called Creosote. One good thing I will say about it is they can spell there. The Harbour Inn was spelt like that. With a u.

In decided to head back early as my ferry had been 15-20 minutes late and the ferry after the next one would cause problems if it was also late. Unfortunately the next ferry was bang on time and I missed it. So I grabbed decaf coffee (Catherine has since pointed out I seem to think about coffee once every three minutes) and a breakfast cookie (breakfast I only think about once a day; twice on special occasions). The latter was twice the size of a regular cookie and made with things Americans might have for breakfast, such as oats and peanut butter.

I laptopped and listened to a hillbilly-haired taxi driver on his cell phone. I was sure he said he'd just got out of prison. There seemed much less people waiting to go back than there had been coming over. Even the cleaners were bored. When I moved seats to get more light, I left a leaflet behind on the chair. It got eagerly snapped up within a couple of minutes.

Of course the next ferry was late due to low tide. It was indeed not very full, but waiting on the other side to board was a huge throng of commuters. All of them oblivious to the thoughts I'd had of kicking over their private property signs.

As I was running late, I walked quickly. Past the numerous Fish and Chip stalls. I was pleased to see they call them chips, but only when they come with fish, otherwise they are still fries.

We had one more night in Seattle, and to save money we moved out of the conference hotel into something with a star or two less and a price to match. It was next to a demolished building and didn't give you a free newspaper. But it did provide breakfast and have free internet, so its clear the extra stars (and money) are for providing newspapers and not being next to derelict buildings.

After checking in and spreading our stuff around the room, we went out to find food. Our first choice turned out to be a very noisy baseball bar-cum-restaurant. Baseball is kind of like cricket for the common man played on a diamond instead of a line and featuring higher balls and more shouting. We ate some wonderful seafood at McCormick's Seafood Bar washed down for me with a watered-down Guinness (I suspect that's how American's like it, after all they drink Budweiser with pleasure) and then a much better Sam Adams. Served in pint glasses as well. Having overfed, we dodged the zombie-like hobos and headed for an early night.

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