Maybe it’s the heat, or maybe having slept in the same place for more than one night is making me complacent, but I’m feeling particularly lazy today. My mind is hazy, I find myself reading slower. Each day I worry a little less about Trump and, even more astoundingly, I’m not even offended that the Cubs are losing right now.
Yes, I think I’m finally in vacation mode.
I started out my day at the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. This is a truly amazing place in downtown Seattle, but not quite for the reasons they’ve intended. The roastery, only a few years old, was opened up by Starbucks with the intention of re-establishing the company’s image as a quality-focused coffee establishment. They’re trying to re-capture the snobbiest coffee connoisseurs, or, as they put it, go “back to their roots.”
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery is a large complex that includes the roastery itself, a central cafe (with massively overpriced pastries), an “experience bar” where curious patrons can sample different roasts of high-end coffee from a variety of brewing methods, and a sort of gift shop that includes not only an array of (overpriced) coffee paraphernalia but also t-shirts, posters, growler jugs, and other items clearly calculated to pique the interest of hipsters (there was even a custom bicycle available for $1,499). The Roastery presents itself as a tribute to coffee, but it’s really a tribute to marketing, something Starbucks has always done extremely well. In that respect, I sincerely respect the Starbucks Reserve Roastery. The space is wide and ornate while still inviting and the displays are meticulously-crafted works of retail art. You get the feeling that you’re in a museum, the kind of museum that would normally charge $28 for admission. The baristas at the Experience Bar are friendly, knowledgeable and passionate and it is pretty cool to watch the giant roaster/conveyor belt in action.
That being said, I repeat my caveat that the marketing and presentation is more impressive than the coffee. I’ve had brews from their Experience Bar before and while they’re dramatically better than any drip coffee you’ve had at a regular ol’ Starbucks, I’ve had much better cups of specialty coffee. In fact, just a block away from the Reserve Roastery is Victrola Coffee Roasters, a much smaller, more humble, more honest place to enjoy a cup of coffee. They too roast their coffee in-house, and one can enjoy a good view of the action while sipping on one of their delicious brews.
When I felt good and caffeinated I took off for Discovery Park, one of my favorite public parks/hiking trails in Seattle. I took my time, stopping at every shaded bench to read and relax. Tomorrow I hit the road again and I wanted to keep things as chill as possible.
Walking along the main trail I spotted an offshoot that led down a steep bank, through the woods and then directly to the beach. I decided to check it out.
The side-trail was a blast – it was so steep and sandy I basically had to slide down on my butt – but when I reached the wooded area I scraped my left arm against an exotic leaf of some kind. My arm began to sting and I broke out in a rash. I sat down on a log for a few minutes as I contemplated what to do. The rash was annoying but not necessarily painful. I poured some water on it and after a while it became only a mild nuisance. I walked on and began to enjoy the beach.
[Note: for what it’s worth I did some research later and found out what got me was a Stinging Nettle. Apparently it’s not serious.]
The whole little episode brought home a fundamental truth about my journey: for better or worse, I really am on my own. I have no health insurance, so anything bad that happens is something I’m going to have to deal with. There’s always a way. The pioneers found a way to get by, didn’t they?
I spent about two more hours at Discovery park, slowly making my way along the beachfront, visiting the preserved lighthouse, watching the children play and the bikers bike and the dogs splash in the tide. Now I’m hanging out at another beach, Alki beach to be specific, waiting for a friend to show up for drinks.
It don’t get much better than this, folks.