Artist Transportation in Seattle

 In Weekly Forum Discussion

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog post about living in Seattle this summer. This is a three-month house sitting gig with two terriers, one block from the 230-acre Washington Arboretum. I am staying in the family’s four bedroom house in Montlake, and it includes the use of the family car.  It’s great to have the car for grocery shopping, errands, and to drive 30 minutes out of the city to visit with friends.

For the past week, my artist dates have been exploring public transportation in Seattle. As I said, the car is great, but whenever possible I like to access public transportation for environmental reasons, and for easy access to the city. It gives me the freedom to hop on and go wherever I want to go without thinking about moving the car to different locations. Whenever I am in Los Angeles, New York City and Washington, DC, I use public transportation all the time. I have also learned that it is a natural way to get exercise, to slow down, and to feel and notice what is going on around me.

There is a bus stop half a block from the house, two bus stop hubs which are a 10-minute walk away, and the University of Washington, light rail stop (LINK)  is a 20-minute walk (unless I take the 48 bus on the corner which drops me off in front of the light rail. Hahaha! I am already getting the hang of this system. I feel like a local of this city!) So many discoveries!

One day, I walked to the LINK to purchase an ORCA card and used it to travel downtown to see a movie. (The ORCA card is a universal prepaid card for buses, light rail and trolleys). I adore that the symbol is the Orca Whale! The spirit message: “Whale teaches you to listen to your inner voice.” Yes! That is what I am doing on my artist date!

On the walk, I noticed a sign with the words, “Sidewalk closed ahead.” My intuition compelled me to cross the street and follow the signs for the detour. The first discovery was the Montlake Ferry Station. There it was! By following my intuition, I found it! The day before I had been searching for it, on the other side of the street. The GPS was really confusing. One sign pointed down, but I couldn’t figure out which road would take me down. This was at an intersection with highway ramps, several streets merging, and lots of traffic. I asked people on the street, but no one knew where it was. I was very excited to find it! By following this compelling pull to explore this side of the street, I found it! That opened my world with more choices for easy travel. And, now that I see it, I can see why the sign pointed down. There is a long staircase that leads to the highway under the bridge, and there is a small location for the stop.  I needed a new view and a new perspective. Hmm…I wonder where in my life I need a new view, and a new perspective. Something to contemplate. That is the beauty of the artist date. The metaphors for life are everywhere!

Walking over the busy 522 highway, I found the location of the Sidewalk Closing. There was no crosswalk here and it was a six-lane road and intersection. My choices were to follow the Detour sign or retrace my steps to cross two more streets and continue on the other side. Listening to my body wisdom, I decided to follow the Detour sign and explore something new. How marvelous! The detour led me through a neighborhood with beautiful houses and gardens, which led to two paths to the lake. I walked along the edge of Lake Washington and discovered the Lake Washington Ship Canal Waterside Trail and Marsh Island, a future place exploration.

Following the detour signs back to the main road, I walked across the Montlake Bridge and paused to look at the ship canal with sailboats and kayaks gliding along the water, and disappearing under the drawbridge. The sun was dancing with the water and adding sparkles that bounced up and down with the light wind.

At the Link Station, I purchased the Orca Card, and learned the system of tapping the card then going down three escalators to the Light Rail. Two stops later, I arrived at Westlake Station. Wow! Another amazing thing: I chose the coolest station – the walls were decorated with art deco paintings. The colors were bright, and it felt as though the place was filled with sunshine. I forgot for a moment that I was underground. Pop culture icons, such as Marilyn Monroe and Alice in Wonderland, and Seattle landmarks like Pike Place Market, are all in the paintings. Tiles carved in the shapes of leaves, vines, and flowers decorate the walls. Later, I discover there are 1,264 handmade terra cotta tiles throughout the building. Quotes are at the entrance and exit, and there is a lot of public artwork – I can’t take it all in on this first visit.

This transit stop is part of the Downtown Seattle Transit System, an underground tunnel with light rail and buses. Standing and watching the people, buses, and light rail, I feel as though I am watching a ballet. Two conductors are standing at the side, answering questions, announcing buses and light rail, and helping people as they arrive. As each bus pulls up, the conductor yells out the number, “Bus 255 is arriving.” A group of people step forward, each one tapping their card on the conductor’s hand-held machine, board the bus, and the doors close. The bus filled with people pulls away from the station as the next bus floats into place, and the dance continues. It only takes a few minutes to fill up each bus. With electric buses and zero emissions, there is no smell or noise to rise above the voices of the people. It feels smooth, and light, and bright.

This time I chose to take the 255 bus to the Montlake Ferry Station instead of returning on the LINK. My body is tingling with anticipation, as I hear the announcement of my bus number. Clutching the Orca card in my left hand, purse strap held tightly in my right, I tap the machine, smile at the conductor, and board the bus ready for the 10-minute ride.  Leaving the underground tunnel, the sunlight hits the bus and I can see the buildings of the city, sparkle. After a few minutes, we merge on to the highway and I have a different view from the bus. We are closer to the water and we cross several bridges. Only one stop until we arrive at Montlake.

On the short walk back to the house, I stop at Fuel Coffee to enjoy an Americano with cream, and sit down to read a few more pages of the book I am carrying, The Tao of Pooh, by Benjamin Hoff.

“Say, Pooh, why aren’t you busy?” I said

“Because it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“Yes, but…”

“Why ruin it?” he said.

“But you could be doing something Important, “I said.

“I am,” said Pooh.

“Oh, Doing what?”

“Listening,” he said.

“Listening to what?”

“To the birds. And that squirrel over there.”

“What are they saying?” I asked.

“That it’s a nice day,” said Pooh.

“But you know that already,” I said.

“Yes, but it’s always good to hear that somebody else thinks so, too,” he replied.

Tomorrow I will explore the 48 bus, transfer to the 11 bus and explore the Northwest Film Forum in the Capital District. I will be doing something important. Listening, and knowing it’s a nice day.

Written by: Andrea Hylen; Heal My Voice

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