The Geography of the greater Seattle area is responsible for both our traffic and the beauty of the area. On the West side of Seattle is Puget Sound, the East, lake Washington, the two are tied together by lake Union, the 3 bodies of water started out as separate, but the monetary value that could be realized by attaching the three was apparent, so the Ballard locks were constructed in 1916, which now allows ships and boats to move from Lake Washington, through Lake Union then out to the Puget Sound. 3 bridges cross the North/South bound traffic, those are the I-5 bridge, the Freemont Bridge, and the Ballard Bridge. The Last two bridges raise to allow taller boats to go through.
Mountain ranges are the Olympics to the West, the Cascades to the East. Mt Rainier is in view except on the cloudiest of days, Mt Baker can be seen from many areas of Seattle.
Seattle’s traffic mostly travels north and south, to go east west is done on either of two floating bridges, north is the 520 bridge, the I-90 bridge is on the south side of Lake Washington.
Seattle struggled to make these roads happen, most of our 100 plus years our roads have been under construction and development…… as much as we may cuss at our world class traffic, we also praise our views, I drive daily, the views never get old.
I drive a bunch of different routes during my week, entering now my 2nd year at Metro, I have a few favorites, route 5/21 is my first route, and currently my favorite. I like it for many reasons, one, is that is got the right balance of crazies and commuters, Students and Elderly, family and singles. You can see a lot of different people during a “run” which goes from Shoreline Community College then goes into Downtown Seattle and becomes the 21, then out to West Seattle/Burien.
Often, I start in Westwood Village, a shopping center in Burien. It usually starts with a few elderly women who work at a Hospital nearby, and a homeless person or two, who like this route because of its length, they can catch a good sleep for an hour and a half and be warm, or dry, or at least out of the weather.
I turn a couple of corners and head North up 35th Ave, which drives through a long neighborhood of small Arts and Crafts homes, sidewalks that hold grass and leafy trees. I drop the Hospital workers off at the crest of the hill, the view of the city is in the right side of my windshield. Puget sound is in the foreground, our Port of Seattle there through our front door. Some mornings the cranes are busy unloading and loading ships. A Totem Pole that was once stolen in broad daylight, restored by the criminal, then returned…… (Seattle has all kinds of odd stories).
I go on down the hill, the street is now called Avalon, losing my view to tall condo buildings on both sides, the street gets a bit dark for most of the year. The Buildings grab as much view as they can in all directions, I head down to the West Seattle bridge and pick up a few people at a Park and Ride under the bridge, as I continue onto the entry for the bridge and head back up into the light, I get to the crest of the bridge, on my left is a view of Puget Sound to Canada, on my right is Mt Rainier. The West Seattle Bridge is tall, you’re up there high, you feel your looking down at the city, this is where Puget Sound feeds the Duwamish River as it travels south towards Mt Rainier. Mornings, when the light is just right, you can see the last remains of a few stars, and the glimmer of the snow on the mountain, you took to your left and the windows on the buildings are bright on the back side and are black on the Sound side.
You see ships heading in and out to sea, ferries taking commuters to work, planes heading in and out of Sea Tac, helicopters watching traffic, cars finding places in line. I slow down a bit and take it all in before I pull off the bridge, head up 1st ave where commercial area services the Port of Seattle, past Starbucks headquarters, Showbox Sodo, ( many of Seattle’s musical legends and the worlds, have played at the showbox ) towards the Stadiums, take a right, drop off a couple people at Occidental and Edgar Martinez way, Edgar Martinez was a Mariner won the hearts of Seattleites enough to have a street named after him, a statue of Ken Griffy Jr. poses by the front door of our Ball Park. The size of the Stadiums is stunning, the retractable roof hangs over train tracks that go from Canada, then across the US. The stadium is amazing up close, far away and from the inside. Truly something to see.
Then I head to fourth, take a left, to the backside of Seahawk Stadium then up 3rd through downtown. You can travel anytime through downtown and take in a part of the parade, going past Yesler there is a few missions, shelters, state housing and parks where street people stay, you drop off legal types at the county and federal buildings, you then head up towards the finance district, then through the retail area. Through Bell town, another great neighborhood of condos, apts, restaurants nightclubs and retail, I take a right on Bell street, then head on to Aurora past lake union facing condos that watch Sea Planes, sailboats, houseboats. To the left is the Olympic Mountains that rise over the sound. Then over to Freemont, Freemont is largely an apartment neighborhood with some beautiful old Arts and Crafts homes, was once the Art District of Seattle and called itself the Center of the Universe…… and, as much fun as they have there with their quirky restaurants and bars, shops, street art, statues, parades, festivals and Sunday market, they have a claim on that motto.
I travel up the hill past Freemont, past our Zoo, I often drop families, grandparents, grandchildren, couples and some workers there. I head North through Greenwood, which is where there are a lot of Bicyclists, bicyclists are big in Seattle and now with electric motor capacity, it’s more difficult to gauge their speed as they ride from behind and want to pass when you stop. Many are commuters or Moms and Dads with kids sitting in the storage bay of the bike. I continue north through Broadview, which is almost all neighborhood and a few convenience stores, then end at Shoreline Community College. Which is surrounded by groves of pines.
Usually when I arrive, I’m a couple minutes behind schedule, I drop off some students, a couple of homeless that I might have to wake. This route has a lot of stops a lot to see and a lot of traffic, I get about a 20 min layover to catch my breath, relax a bit before I head back.