October 11 2011 by Jason Fogelson
After a good night's rest, I wake up for a quick breakfast in the BEST WESTERN PLUS Harbor Inn's dining room. They have a cool, build-your-own egg sandwich system that everyone is trying, and I can't resist, either. An egg fried in the round, a sausage patty, a slice of cheese and an English muffin, assembled and tossed in the microwave for a minute, and you've got a breakfast that McDonald's can only dream about.
I check out of the hotel and load up the Electra Glide for the last time. I'm pretty proud of my packing this time. I have worn every item of clothing that I packed. The only way to get more efficient is to start wearing clothing twice, or a mid-trip wash. For a six-day ride, I'll stick with the "just enough" system. Next, I'll need to hone the other junk I carry.
I'm flying home today from Seattle Tacoma International Airport. I have six hours before a car service meets me in Bellevue at Eastside Harley-Davidson. I've noted on the news that there is a major bridge closing in the area today -- the very bridge that I'd usually take from Seattle to Bellevue. So, I'll need to leave Seattle 90 minutes before my car service arrives, to make sure that I have time to unload the bike, repack my luggage and check the bike in at the dealership. Because of that same traffic situation, it's going to take me an hour to get to Seattle from Edmonds this morning. That leaves me with three and a half hours in Seattle, which should be just right.
First, I ride directly toward the Space Needle. The Seattle icon is about to celebrate its 50th anniversary, as the 605-foot structure was completed in December of 1961 and opened to the public on April 21, 1962. On a clear day, I might budget time to go up to the Observation Deck, and maybe even sit in the revolving restaurant. But today is one of those gray, foggy, drizzly Seattle days.
What I really want to see is a museum in the shadow of the Space Needle: The Experience Music Project. This interactive museum is "dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in popular music." As popular music is one of my main passions, I'm eager to explore the artifacts, memorabilia and interactive exhibits on display. The main exhibit during my visit is dedicated to Nirvana, the ultimate Seattle grunge band. I explore the museum with my mouth agape, thrilled to see popular music treated with such academic respect, but in an environment that encourages interaction and wonder from visitors of all ages. I also dip a toe into the adjoining Science Fiction Museum, which houses a display of artifacts from the recent Battlestar Galactica series (which I love!). I don't have time to explore the Avatar exhibit -- I'll have to make another visit for that.
The mist has lightened and the fog has lifted, so I decide to walk to my next target: Pike Place Market. The Market has been in operation since 1907, and still retains a lot of the flavor of an old-fashioned open air market from the early 20th century. Fishmongers yell, announcing their wares. A cheese maker offers samples. Small local craft stores, magazine stands, chowder huts and, of course, coffee roasters are jammed in side-by-side. A rich mix of locals and tourists wander the crowded marketplace, celebrating fresh, local food and goods. It's the kind of place I wish I lived near, just so that I could soak up the atmosphere on a regular basis.
I decide not to fight the crowds in one of the Market's restaurants, because my time is getting tight. Instead, I walk a few blocks back toward the Space Needle and get a table at Etta's, a less-crowded local hangout. Tom Douglas, a local restaurateur, is the owner of Etta's, and he's a proponent of the Slow Food movement. Sustainable ingredients, locally-sourced. I have an iceberg wedge salad and a Bay Shrimp sandwich, and it's delicious.
I have just enough time to walk back to my bike, parked in a public lot near the Space Needle. I suit up for the ride, and navigate my way through heavy traffic back to Bellevue and Eastside Harley-Davidson. After checking in the motorcycle and repacking my belongings for travel, I have a few minutes to sit down and reflect on my trip.
I have seen such a wide variety of places during the past six days. I've gone from mountains to deserts, from harbors to cityscapes, all without ever leaving the State of Washington. I've ridden on some fantastic roads, and I've found several spots that I will revisit. Washington has amazed me with its abundance, with its variety and with its friendliness. I'm very glad that I took this ride.
Now, it's time to go home. The only question that needs to be answered: Where should I ride next?
Miles Traveled: 53
Total Miles for Trip: 946