On my last day in the great state of Washington I finally ticked another goal off my list:the Fremont Troll. Oh yes, it was everything I envisioned.
But first- I nearly missed the last commuter train (and only train) into the city that morning. I had planned to meet up with two friends from my Wisconsin days for lunch and some city exploration. Since it was my last day, and because our previous plans to meet up had all been foiled, I was pretty set on not missing that train. I ran to the station. And I made it.
My friend Cyrus picked me up from the University of Washington stop on the Link line. We parked and walked down what I guess is referred to as The Ave. The Ave is a street in the district of the UW that has all kinds of shop and cafes. We stopped inside a fragrant smelling biscuit place for about two seconds before Cyrus declared that we were leaving. When Stevie found us she suggested we get bahn mi’s from a little place instead. Oh, that made my heart sing, that’s for sure. I’ve only been a little bit obsessed with trying to create the perfect bahn mi sandwhich at home. I just can’t get that darn tofu consistency right! The restaurant Stevie took us to was small, busy, and hot. The woman at the register who took our orders addressed Stevie and I as “sister”, and Stevie as “Miss Stephanie”. The sandwiches didn’t take long to make and turned out to be quite sizeable. We took them and walked to a little wooden seating area in a small harbor. The sun was out and the air was warm. It was a perfect place for lunch. After that Stevie went back to class and Cyrus and I were left to wander. As any respectable tour guide would he insisted on finding a spot to view “the mountain” which is, of course, Mt. Ranier. It was a rare sunny day and the visibility was unbeatable. We walked around the UW campus trying to catch that glorious view. The campus was stunningly beautiful; it would have looked right at home with Hogwarts.
We finally did find that view! My one photo, snapped with just my phone, doesn’t do it justice at all. Mt. Ranier is what we would called a fourteener, or a mountain that is fourteen thousand feet. It’s pretty visible from most places around the Pudget Sound in western Washington. This volcanic mountain stands alone from the other mountains in the Cascade and Olympic ranges. On grey days it is all but obscured from view. This was not a grey day, thank goodness. After our mountain viewing we tossed around some ideas about what else to do on my last whirlwind day in the city. I though, Of course, I’ve still never seen the Troll... Cyrus was all for heading over to Fremont for a viewing. “We can see their statue of Lenin too,” he said.
Fremont calls itself ‘the center of the universe’. No really, look it up. This eclectic neighborhood in west Seattle prides itself on public art and quirky shops. The enormous statue of Lenin was originally created and installed in Poland, but after one short year communism was on the outs and the statue had a long journey here and there before landing in Fremont. That is just one of many stories about the crazy kinds of things you’ll stumble across in that part of the city. There’s a wide variety of food on every block, and the inhabitants are only too happy to live in their strangely decorated apartment buildings and cross their fancy bridges. I don’t mean to sound bitter, just a little jealous perhaps. One of the excellent places we visited was called Ophelia’s Books and was a shop with two and a half (a loft) floors crammed with used books. I didn’t even know about the spiral staircase leading to the basement until I couldn’t figure out where Cyrus had gone and I nearly fell down the stairs. Among the shelves down there I heard the distinctive munch munch of a rabbit and sure enough there was a nicely sized hutch housing two happy looking bunnies. A bookstore and rabbit home all in one? Needless to say I happily purchased a t-shirt with their logo and a rabbit from a beaten up old cardboard box full of book related clothing.
Cyrus took me back to the train station and I caught the Link to the Sounder and then road it back to Puyallup. My aunt and uncle were at an orchestra concert that my cousin was playing in, so I walked the short distance back to their house. It was a lovely night; not too cold, clear sky with plenty of stars, and an overall feeling of accomplishment. This trip was tremendous. I don’t take vacations to relax, I take them to explore and experience, and I feel like I did both to the fullest extent. I was able to spend time with family that I don’t often get to see, and friends that live far away. I was able to tick some things off my list that had been growing a little dusty on said list over the years. I saw new places and even got to leave the country for a little while! Traveling solo has become second nature and I don’t know why I ever doubted that I could do it in the first place. Yes, this trip to the PNW was everything I hoped it would be. When can I go back?