Seattle, finally!  Rollin through seas of pine and Douglas Fir, through modest villages named “Weed” and “Riddle,” meeting full-service gas station attendants with the scoops on road conditions and local dives.  Relieved of 13 van hours, some of our bagged-eyes iron out smoothly from beautiful forested views.  Stay on frequency, I’ve planned a recon mission around 12:00 to local uncharted skate traders in our area around the historic Moore Hotel colony.  Will report back before load-out.[SUPPLEMENTAL:  mmmm coffee!]

(((much much MUCH later)))

It’s hotter than SF out here, blue skies and a unique air.

“Yeah, I dunno, some kind of a heatwave…”  “Better than rain for sure!” …

“Hotter than usual” …  “Need Sounders tickets?” …

We check into the downtown Moore hotel two blocks from the water.  The whole place has an eerily vintage feel, with boldly dark hues and leopard carpet.  FRESH!

We catch some of the noodles/Pillows as they return from the Mariners vs Royals  game, which Ichiro homered and they won!  After a long stroll, we refuel at Ivar’s Acres of Clams for fish n chips.

The next afternoon, I am glazed by sweat after just 3 blocks, constantly shaking off guilt that I should be practicing and not risking injury skateboarding.  But as in life’s endeavors, all thought vanishes for those few moments of flow that joyously lock into your being.  Whatever that means, let’s go skate!  I waited at this intersection (Pine and 5th maybe?) where all traffic lights, for some weird curse/blessing of the universe, froze red.  With a running start, I hoped I wouldn’t fall too hard, or that I might’ve fixed the light, or that I may have distracted some of the drivers from texting behind the wheel.  Reality?  Just another poser bombing a shallow hill-to-flat only to pick up and walk up the other side.

Picked up a skate key though!  The boutiquish Goods and the up the street 35th North are sick shops!  There’s also a badass music store right next to 35th, Zion’s Gate Records! 

Cruising Seattle!

Later on, Derrik, Tom, and I grab food from Dog Japon, an Andrew Zimmerman stop.  To your left is the Matsuri: chicken apple sausage with scallion, wasabe mayo, carrots, nori, and grilled onions.  Totally hit the spot, as we walk all over downtown counting Starbucks cafes and strolling through a Saturday flea market.

El Corazon is part of a building that’s seen almost too many years.  At all ends of a maze of stairs and corridors are rooms big and small, creaky steps and boards, and a stage and floor that have endured many metal shows.  I felt at home instantly, with the latest Blind video blasting on one of the staff’s laptops during load-in.  Other than the heat and some mistakes on my part, everything was awesome: the very energetic Seattle kids poured into the place after everyone’s smooth soundcheck finished.  I guess we’re doing something right when kids are shouting “HEY!” on every snare hit without being prompted.

In being the smallest venue on the tour, it is also the most intimate and personal, having a close view of the band playing from anywhere on the floor.  After a sidestage view of Noodles, I hit the merch table to hang out and talk with some of the kids, before watching and flip-filming the Pillows, who actually awarded fans’ patience outside the venue later with some autographs!  I had a rare opportunity of being backstage to observe them right before they entered the stage.  At the point the crowd was chanting “PILLOWS! PILLOWS!” Sawao stood with eyes closed, head down, and one hand on the wall, the rest of them at the ready.  In one fluid motion he opens his eyes and leads the band onto the stage.  Shin pumped up the crowd midset by jumping up stage and slapping on his Mariners hat, swinging his sticks like Ichiro!  The most fiery crowd on the whole tour they were, jumping and crowd-surfing about the steaming venue!  Felt good to finally get outside…

At the awesome 24-hr restaurant 13 Coins, we drink and snack after the show, as some of the Delicious crew will return to Japan.  I meet and chat with a new Seattle resident, tech guru/gamer Gene Pencil, as Ayumi offers an extra Manny’s lager to me!  I am absorbed in Gene’s story of his move to this city; I very much consider doing the same!

We had the entire next day to explore Seattle once again, chilling at the bottom of the space needle and getting lost in the EMP rock museum, zoning out on Nirvana videos and watching the Jimi Hendrix Experience in the theatre.  We stroll about and my awesome cousin Joevana joins us for pizza at Serious Pie, before she lifts us to the airport for our 10pm flight to New York.

As much as my excitement for the next city beckons, I’ve definitely enjoyed Seattle the most, and will make it back here on the way to Canada next road trip!


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