Sunday, June 24, 2012

Oddfellows, a Great Space: Seattle WA

I love when I find a good hang in another city. You know what I mean... the place you return when you revisit because it makes you feel a little bit local. For me, Oddfellows in Seattle is just that place.

So, on a recent trip when I was left me to my own devices for a couple of hours, I immediately headed over. There is much to eat and drink, with a Northwest emphasis on sustainable, local ingredients. But what I love most about this place is the space itself.

A word that comes to mind is expansive. The big, high-ceilinged room is artfully decorated with vintage objects, salvaged light fixtures and fresh flowers. Then there’s the generous floor-to-ceiling windows, which were wide open on this fine late-spring afternoon, breaking down the barrier between diners and passersby, making for a delightful cafĂ© experience.

It was a slice of heaven to sit at the rustic bar, nibble my marcona almonds and sip my icy pilsner. I can’t wait until next time.

Oddfellows Cafe + Bar
1525 10th Avenue East
(Capitol Hill)
(206) 325-0807

Sunday, June 3, 2012

All Aboard! Amtrak Cascades Portland to Seattle

Over Memorial Day weekend I took the Amtrak Cascades to Seattle. And although it may sound clichĂ© – train travel really is more romantic than air travel, and in some ways, car travel too (unless you’re on some life-changing road trip with tons of tunes on your iPod). 

This whole train thing was pretty easy and fun. I purchased my ticket online in advance. ($85 round trip  – about the same as the gas now that we’re at $4.00 a gallon) and parked in the nearby Station Smart Park (two nights cost me $14.00 dollars). I took my laptop and logged into Amtrak’s wi-fi – which works OK if you keep your internet activities simple.

The retro hit I got from the railway was also cool. Hurrying into the historic Union Station, greeting the clerks in their hip little caps, the hustle-bustle to board. Why, even slipping your ticket into the nifty little slot above your seat has a charming vintage feel.

Plus, I don't feel like I'm going to die on a train. They just seem more friendly and approachable than planes. For some reason, a head-on collision with another train seems less likely than plunging into a death spiral at 30,000 feet.

Really, the only tough part was that, since it was a holiday weekend, the dining car was crowded on the way back. After standing in a line that wasn't moving, and while straddling two cars, motion sickness set in. So, fearing I might toss my cookies,  I returned to my seat empty handed. Next time, I'll remember to bring my own snacks.

And You Can Meet the Darndest People
On the way up to Seattle, I sat next to a musician/writer by the name of John Roderick, a witty, intelligent fellow on his way back from performing a reading at Back Fence PDX. During the ride, Mr. Roderick was nice enough to introduce me to Klout scores. So, in honor of that, I’ll mention his band’s site, (The Long Winters) and his Seattle Weekly column. (Although this guy’s Klout score probably doesn’t need much help from me.)

The highlight of our chat was when Mr. Roderick described the Seattle Public Library designed by Rem Koolhaas as “a wayward space station on a planet that nobody likes, and that nobody wants to trade with.”

This guy is funny. I know I’ll be at his reading next time he takes the train to town.