I went for the monorail first, having been told by the desk clerk that Pike Place Market opened early and closed early. So I wanted to jump on the monorail, check out the market, walk the waterfront and take the ferry to Alki Beach. But when I saw how beautiful the morning was with the crisp sunlight, I knew I had to go to the Space Needle while I had the advantage of this morning sun.
I am terribly afflicted with a fear of heights. I've had the fear since I was a child. I still remember the time during a family vacation when we stopped to climb a ranger tower. It was one miserable flight yet I couldn't take two steps up. I could see the space between the steps and my legs trembled and my blood coagulated at the soles of my feet and I couldn't move.
I've been up to Sears Tower and the Hancock Building in Chicago. When relatives or friends come to town, you have to take them to one or the other if not both. I have had instances when the wind was so whipped up I swear I felt the Sears tower weave. Those were the times when I literally could only stand by the elevator, not daring to go near the windows.
But this is my first time in Seattle and I can't NOT go to the Space Needle. The elevator is open as it climbs up to the top. As we started up at 10mph, the guide telling us some facts about the tower. As the door closed and we rose all I heard was "The tower is 47yrs old...." Then I saw Puget sound and my feet started to melt. I looked over my shoulder only to find that the others had pushed themselves to the back of the elevator and had created room for me in the center. I stepped back away from the view wishing the ride would end quickly.
Then I took the monorail downtown. I entered the mall and someone placed a real fresh flower lei around my neck. As I rode down the elevator, I joked with a couple about being lei'd in Seattle.
By the time I made it out of the Westlake Mall, there was a soft but slowly building drizzle. For some reason, the hills and the odd angled streets seem to twist me around. Chicago is built in a grid system, it is easy to navigate, with the exception of a few diagonal streets, you go north, south, east & west in a straight line.
I walked two blocks in the wrong direction. When I discovered I was going the wrong direction did I do an about face and walk back? No, I stopped, checked my map, checked the GPS on the phone, scratched my head, adjusted my baseball hat, checked the compass on the phone, looked at the street and walked down another street before I crossed back over; all the time, marching with a decided purpose, which is really the trick to avoid panhandlers and such.
I wandered around since the rains continued to build into a torrent. There were so many little stores to see that I didn’t eat lunch until 2pm. I was distracted by the elderly Chinese man playing ditties on a traditional on stringed Chinese musical instrument. It looks like a 1 string guitar but played with a bow.
I found a small Chinese man selling beautifully framed traditional Chinese watercolors and I saw a bamboo tree. The next thing I see; he’s got 4 different paintings laid out in front of me. I came here without any preconceived notions of buying anything like this. Instead, after futile attempts to choose just one, I bought two, he gave me a discount. They always give a discount when you buy multiple items.
Besides, support the arts.
He ran in the rain to get more cardboard so he could really pack them well. His wife painted the canvas and he made the frames, simple clean lines along the edges on a glass cover. It was beautiful. He also wrapped it so well, I resisted the temptation to open it at my hotel to see them. I’ll wait until I find a place for them before I unwrap them.
I wandered further down resisting all the great looking things that were on sale. Until my eye snagged a table of leather bound diaries. I have this fascination for writing implements, specialty paper/stationary and blank journals. The woman made the journals from hand made paper, sewn into the leather by her own hand. The journals were either closed with a leather thong(traditional) but she also had placed semi-precious stones on the cover to use as a closure. My eye went to this bright white journal, my hands slipped forward before I could help myself and it caressed the soft leather.
“That’s elk, that’s why it’s so smooth.” She told me. It is also the most expensive of all the other leathers. Of course it is.
But it called to me and I knew of someone who I thought would really like it. The artist didn’t even know the name of the semi-precious stone, it just was. It added to the almost mystical call of this beautiful leather journal.
Journals are entrusted with the wishes of our lives, the worries and the cares, the joys and the sorrows. They are the record of what we’ve done, how we felt and where we were in that brilliant moment in time when we set pen to paper and open our hearts.
When I finished lunch I was going to head back to get some more donuts from Daily Donuts, but the sugar content on those things caused my sugar to surge so I went to get some toffee covered peanuts and caramel covered cashews instead. They are nuts and will be good for me(denial!).
By the time I got back in my room, get ready for my 3am wake up call for my 4am car service for my 6am flight, I was exhausted.