Route 106

We start 106 in front of Seattle’s Historic Union Station, pick up mostly elderly people up that have been grocery shopping. It’s a busy stop, some days 20-30 people with push carts and bags, all very polite as they greet you with bows and hello’s as they make their way to their seat.

Route 106 travels through several historical areas, International District or “China Town” which was before World War 2 referred to as “Japan Town” then runs via “Rainier Avenue” to the nearby suburb city named Renton. 

The International District’s Story is largely the Asian immigration story of Seattle, of which, Seattle could not have been built.

Through Seattle’s growth the International District may have changed  nick names, some configurations have changed, but through it all it has provided mostly the center of Asian Culture or, starting point for many families through immigration programs, grocery stores, restaurants, places of worship, Museums, Galleries.  Japanese, Chinese, Thai, Filipino, Laotian all have interests there. 

We start 106 in front of Seattle’s Historic Union Station, pick up mostly elderly people up that have been grocery shopping.  It’s a busy stop, some days 20-30 people with push carts and bags, all very polite as they greet you with bows and hello’s as they make their way to their seat.

We head east on Jackson picking up a few more shoppers as we turn South on Rainier Ave to begin dropping off our shoppers at nearby condos, apartments, houses. 

 We take a right and face South on Rainier, the view of Mt Rainier commands attention over buildings, cars, people, as we pass through the busy shops, immigration offices and services.  

Martin Luther King Way intersects with Rainier, as we follow it South, the route keeps it’s immigration feel as we pass newer East African neighborhoods with their restaurants, galleries, places of worship and community centers.

Martin Luther King way offers several stops for our Link Rail system, Townhomes, condos and apartments create a lot of density as well a number of streetlights as we continue south.

We take a quick turn east as we begin our way through Renton via Rainier Beach, then up a hill to the somewhat quiet Skyway neighborhood that offers some spectacular views of Lake Washington and while looking North, the Seattle Skyline.

Skyway is a neighborhood that has a great mix of homes, new, modest, lavish often we are picking, dropping off students and commuters of all ages. 

We head East on Renton Ave, then South dropping off the last of our riders at the Renton Transit Station located just south of Lake Washington, Renton Municipal Airport meant for smaller planes.

There are shops, condos attached to the Transit Center.  People transfer to other routes or pick up their cars as they continue on their way.

Hummingbirds and the Surgeon

He retired a few years earlier and had spent over a decade a garden to attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies.

They had me over for dinner as we just finished their project of their living and dining room,  and some window coverings in other parts of the house which was on the bluff just North of Edmonds, expansive view of the Olympics over the Sound.

They owned a NW Contemporary House that was situated in the middle of a large flat of land that he had spent over a decade developing a garden that was meant to attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies.

He retired a few years earlier and was loving that he was able to spend his time in the garden, as well as building his outdoor kitchen that’s back was to the house.  It had a canvas cover that could be used if needed.  He had laid large shale tile on the ground to define the dining area that faced the view, he liked to cook for his guests as we took in the view and the Hummingbirds.

It was spectacular, hundreds of Hummingbirds of all colors, red, brown, yellow, green…. , Butterflies of many types,  darting and floating around all of these flowers and bushes, It was nothing short of magical as you also watched the large container, cruise ships, fishing vessels, day cruisers, sail boats and canoes go left and right on the sound.

Their house was next to a green belt and they had been adopted by 2 cats over the years, I asked if they were a problem for the Hummingbirds and he said, “rarely, mostly they just watch fascinated”

My head was buzzed by a bird then I heard a “pop”, I looked behind me and a bird had hit the glass and was lying on the ground.  The Calico cat was fascinated and looking at the bird, I quickly and carefully picked the bird up, it was knocked out, I held it in my palm and carefully stroked its head, after a few seconds its eye’s began to blink open, it slowly stood, ruffled its wings, tilted its head as it looked at me, pruned itself, then flew a circle around me and landed on my hand again.

Pruned itself once again, looked at me, tilted its head then flew off.

“Aren’t they amazing creatures” he said,

I sat there with my mouth open as his wife squeezed my shoulder and refilled my wine.

Reptilians and a Guy with the day off

There are times when you ponder when we are still human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.

There are times when you ponder when we are still Human, and if one can come back from not fitting that definition.  I have partook in casual drugs in my life, and believe moderation and light use is part of the human experience, alcohol, weed, pretty mild stuff when enjoyed lightly, there are those that are more bold in their “exposure”

At the corner of 3rd and Pike, across the street from me, a young blond girl struggled walking with her 2 pair of shoes, her lace up heals wrapped around tight jeans, with the heals sideways dragging on the street to the outside of each foot wearing tennis shoes,  ever see that video of the husky wearing shoes?  This is how she moved. 

Behind her, an older man in at least his 70s, long hair and long beard, worn jeans that sagged, way down, whitey tidies……. He was bent forward with his butt against the building, rubbing it up and down, drooling.

The blond started to cross the street towards us, busses slowed and let her go, her movements were reptilian.  Think of the Chicken picking its way through the yard. She walked towards me, I looked into her eyes, it was disturbing how vacuous and empty those eyes were, a woman standing next to me gasped and moved behind me, the blond strutted by me, walked to the building behind put her hand on the wall, turned left and  continued up the street.  I had a chill from the encounter.

At Aurora and 105th I approach a stop light, there is a middle-aged man dressed in torn clothes, long blond hair and unshaven with a spotty beard.  He slowly spins with his arms stretched out wide, comes to the edge of the curb, steps back as he turns, comes around and steps onto 105th, a small Honda swerves left to miss him making the car in that lane stomp on his brakes, send the car behind him into my lane, missing my bike rack by inches.  The man freezes in the street as horns blare. He stares off in the distance unaffected and unaware of almost being hit, and the situation he caused.  A few weeks later he boards my bus at Northgate, pays his fare in coins and stares forward all the way to 3rd and Pine.  I saw no change of expression in his face. He stood up his face still forward as he walked past me and out the bus.  I did not watch to see where he went.

In Freemont, a Saturday afternoon I pick up a 20s something guy, wobbly drunk and openly friendly, says, “man, I don’t have any cash on me, beer is expensive” I smile and hand him a transfer. “Thanks man, I’m drunk … just sorta happened, kinda” a s he took a seat near the front. He burped loudly and said, “oh man, I’m sorry, this is kind of embarrassing” thinking of nothing else he could say, he blurted out “GO Hawks”!! the Bus was silent… he waited a moment,  then said, “Ok then, I get it, I’m drunk, how bout politics. Trump, sheesh, am I right”? silence, “I mean seriously, Jesus”! silence, then he said, “ok, pardon me, Love you guys”

An older gentleman was getting off the bus and leaned into me as he said, “you have an intoxicated young man there”  He seemed to expect me to do something about it, all I said was, Yes, I noticed.

The young man stepped off the bus in Ballard, thanked me for the ride, As I waited for the light to turn green, I watched him go into a coffee shop.

While Stopped

a Lovely brunette in her mid twenties is turning as the seamstress pins the hem

I pull into a stop on Greenwood Ave, I have a view of a Bridal Gown store, a lovely Brunette in her mid-20s is turning as the seamstress pins the hem, her Mom is taking pictures with a camera, a friend takes pictures with her phone. On my left I’m passed by an electric bike with the cargo spot in front carrying a set of what I think are twins, toddler age, I begin to get ready to pull out and am passed by a small car with a husky hanging out the window, he barks at the lady riding the bike, she veer’s to the right but manages to avoid hitting a parked car.  Across the street the Fire House doors begin to open, a siren turns on and the flock of pigeons lined on a power line take flight.

Sunrise I’m at a stop, facing Mt Rainier, the foot of the mountain is pink, then is dark blue at the summit, the mountain dominates the seen as the buildings, cars, people become unnoticeable,  sheep clouds are red underneath, then cotton white at the top.  I watch the blinking red lights of a plane as its on its way to Sea Tac, my window is open, and the air is fresh as it gusts in my window. The early Seattle city planners designed the road this way and this is why we call it Rainier Avenue

I’m headed down a hill and stopped just before a busy intersection downtown, it’s Game day,  there is a Seahawk fan in full garb, hat, coat, shorts, shoes and socks in hawk colors throwing a football to other fans across intersections, he points at me, I shake my head no, and he throws the ball over my bus and to another person dressed in garb on the other side.  The crowd laughs and he throws the ball over to another corner, as I wait for the light, the ball has been thrown 4 or 5 times to different people.  There is a dog pulling at the leash wanting to get into the game, a street singer saws “Go Hawks” on her microphone, the crowd yells “Go Hawks.”  There is an old gentleman at a bus stop bench sleeping.

I’m at a stop that is by the front door of a small chain restaurant, they have a line on Sundays that goes about a half a block, people are drinking Starbucks, couples are meeting other couples, a family of 5 is carrying presents as to celebrate a Birthday. Inside the restaurant the tables are full, the windows are slightly fogged.  At the door the hostess is calling the next table. I pick up a couple that just finished eating and they ask me if I go near the zoo.  A younger man wearing a hoodie and headphones pushes by without paying or caring that he knocked food out of their hand, walks towards the back, they look at him briefly, shake their heads then find a seat in front. He gets off later at a busy downtown stop and pushes through the crowd, another younger guy swings back at him and hits him on the shoulder, he ignores it and goes into a drug store.

The crosswalk is full of people dressed in various types of garb, going left, right,  phones, briefcases, purses, wheel chairs, bags of food, clothes, dogs on leashes, hats, sunglasses, scarves set up multi moving patterns of color that hints of the stories they are telling.

Route 40

You’re not alone, your dog goes with you. In the Jungle, there are dog parks, dog cafes, where people meet and exchange info or relax. Fast food is being redefined as healthy food and is being served up quickly, vegetables and fruit is passed out for free off food carts to walk by’s. Workers are dressed in Jeans and comfortable shoes, tee shirts and button downs. Facial hair, people who are trimmed well, and those that are not. It seems to be all about come as you are.

Route 40 might be one of the more interesting and diverse routes.

It travels from Northgate Mall, (1st Suburban Mall in America) to Downtown Seattle.

I can’t talk about route 40 without mentioning Paul Allen.

Paul Allen might be best known for being a cofounder of Microsoft.  Here in Seattle he is loved for keeping the Seahawks in town, saving them from moving to another city by an owner who was only interested in the profit.  Paul made sure the Seahawks were Seattle’s team by being the perfect owner: Deep pockets and forward thinking enough where he truly believed the Seahawks home was in the hearts of the 12th man.

A new stadium was built, state of the art, a practice facility was built, state of the art.

He enacted a business plan to attract players that included that they would be treated well.   He as much as any of the players won our Superbowl and there by securing Seattle’s Sea Hawk worship.

Paul Allen didn’t stop there, he invested in South Lake Union, he saw an opportunity for growth and development for our high-tech industry made a deal with Amazon and buildings that would house people and offices were built. Amazon being what they are, were not interested in just business as usual, as much as they have changed retail, they are also changing the way business is done.  When you go into what I call the Amazon Jungle, you walk about 20 years into the future of how we will do office work.  Spaces there are less about cubicles and more about being able to move person to person.  You’re not alone, your dog goes with you.  In the Jungle, there are dog parks, dog cafes, where people meet and exchange info or relax.  Fast food is being redefined as healthy food and is being served up quickly, vegetables and fruit is passed out for free off food carts to walk by’s. Workers are dressed in Jeans and comfortable shoes, tee shirts and button downs.  Facial hair, people who are trimmed well, and those that are not.  It seems to be all about come as you are.

Starting at Northgate Mall I head south and west over to North Seattle Community College where I drop a few students and teachers, pick up commuters and continue west.  I cross Aurora, stop, pick up a few more commuters and some street people, head towards Ballard. First is our Crown Hill district Dicks Drive Inn will be on my left, ( another Seattle Landmark, the burgers are not to be missed) a couple of grocery stores, restaurants, ma and pa businesses mixed with apartments and condos.

Taking a right onto 85th, I’m driving in a neighborhood with a mixture of homes from different era’s.  Arts and Crafts, Modern, International, NW contemporary, mostly a higher income neighborhood.  Here I’m picking up older commuters or students.

As I head South on 24th towards Ballard, I pick up groups of people and start to see the dogs who come with their mates to work for Amazon.  I like to be introduced to these dogs and claim the dog’s way of paying fare is to say hi to me…. Some lick my hand, some like to be petted.  Gigi a toy poodle kisses me on my cheek. A young man with a Borzoi has no interest in me or anyone else and enters my bus as his partner pays human fare.  A squiggly mutt is happy to see everyone, and this is the best day enters and wines as people reach down to say hi to him, his mom says good morning as she giggles at her dog.

In Ballard on Market street a few more commuters then I head south towards downtown Freemont, I pick up more people, a few leave who work at google, or facebook, or leave to enjoy shopping, or a walk by the Ballard Locks.

I go over the Freemont Bridge and hope that it doesn’t stop traffic, raise and let a ship pass.  I head south past lake Union, past marinas, restaurants, high end Condos with fantastic views of Lake Union.  (Lake Unions Gasworks park is where Seattle has its 4th of July fireworks).  When I reach South Lake Union my bus is often at standing room capacity.  I start dropping people off in the Amazon Jungle at dog parks and cafes, office buildings and workspaces.  Seattle’s diversity is on display here, its progressive acceptance of all that is human, people from all parts of the world, gays, lesbians, transgenders, black, white, brown, all cultures and back grounds come here to do business. Most are younger than 40, they have their computers, tablets and smart phones. They are dressed casually and behave professionally and are personable.  Their Dogs wag tails and are part of this parade.

I tell people that to come here is to see what business would be like 20 or 30 years from now.  I hope the world truly does follow this path, and I believe Paul Allen is as proud of this accomplishment as any of his.

I drive up to 3rd ave and drive south, by then its just a few people, a couple of commuters and street folk, they go where they need to go, then the bus is mine while I lay over at one our bases.

Route 5/21

The Geography of the greater Seattle area is responsible for both our traffic and the beauty of the area

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.    

Transit Transients

I have been driving for Metro for about a year and a half now, Love this job. Driving has always been fun for me, and adding on the parade of people on a daily basis in a large beautiful city like Seattle, is the extra foam on my Macchiotto. Thank you for dropping by…. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do.

Three afternoons a week 3rd and Pine is my bus stop to load Orca cards, I watch people come and go, and have come to regard this as “the Parade”. Friday as I arrived a homeless man had been sleeping on the sidewalk for a reported 3 hours, a puddle of Urine had started to leak out from beneath his pack….I called it in , a supervisor arrived and let me know they had moved this guy earlier that day.
At the crosswalk another man was pushing his wheel chair that had run out of power, I ran over to help him out of the street .. he had been pushing it for a few blocks with no where to plug it in to get a quick charge and no one helped him, as I got him off the street he was so out of breath he could hardly speak, I pushed his chair to his shelter… The Police and Aid cars were busy at the McDonalds entrance with a person that overdosed…..
There were a small herd of pigeons picking at food droppings, one of the smaller ones only had a stump for a leg, no foot and painfully hobbled, came across a crumb and was pushed away by a bigger healthier pigeon….
A retired couple from Czechoslovakia asked me for directions to the Museum of Flight…… they loved Alaska and were looking forward to seeing more of Seattle until they flew into New York to visit relatives……… A woman of plus 70 with a cane gave a young 20s girl some kind of muffin from her bag….. Young lovers met there after work embraced as though it had been days, a bicyclist with a speaker turned up too loud rode by too fast bumped a young mans pack, skidded to a stop and apologized…… another man that resembled the guy that plays aqua-man had a huge Newfoundland, black with paws larger than my hands were getting attention and praise…….
a Seagull dropped his mark next to a small group of Chinese women that made them laugh as they stepped back…..
This was about 45 mins on Friday.

I have been driving for Metro for about a year and a half now, Love this job. Driving has always been fun for me, and adding on the parade of people on a daily basis in a large beautiful city like Seattle, is the extra foam on my Macchiotto. Thank you for dropping by…. I hope you enjoy these stories as much as I do.