A few years ago I traveled to Seattle at the end of September to join a four day bike tour in the San Juan Islands, and was rewarded with excellent early autumn weather. Sunny, dry, goldi-locky riding weather, with late season berries waiting to be eaten off the bush by the side of the road.
Alas, payback is a bitch.
A couple weeks back at the end of October, I went to Seattle again to visit with relatives for 8 days, and maybe get in some riding while there. Well, it rained every day. I mean it rained. How many days? Every day. My cousin Laura Jean, who lives at Alki Beach, said it was the wettest October in who knows how long, even though it didn’t even start raining until mid-October. Tofuri, dude. I brought road shoes, road pedals, a pedal wrench, a couple of road kits, sleeves, leggings, vests, and a list of places to rent a road bike, but this velobum does not like to ride in the rain. More specifically, cold rain. Sorry, I’m not one of those hardman Seattle commuters with poncho and fenders. So the riding part of the trip got washed out, c’est la vie.
But a good time was had nonetheless. I got to couch surf at the beach shack of my cousin Laura Jean with a picture window view of the Seattle-Bainbridge ferry and the Olympic Mountains, just a short walk from a comfy and rustic outpost of Pioneer Coffee Roasting Company. I got to visit with my nieces Kate & Liza, along with their girls Ally, Gigi & Coco J, went to a Halloween party at bar on the edge of Capitol Hill where I met up with Jeanne K (the sister of my late brother-in-law Robert) to listen to her son Michael Cadiz on guitar in a costumed pickup band named “Bath Salts” cranking a set of fun, well-played thematic pop songs like Monster Mash, Ghostbusters, Season of the Witch… Here is a small set of pictures with the relatives.
Jeanne and I met up again the next day to visit with her son because I wanted to see the Cadiz Guitar factory. Since Michael is a very accomplished guitarist, he has expanded upon that talent by starting a business making classical and steel-stringed parlor guitars. It’s a one-man operation in a walled-off corner of his apartment that is just about big enough for one man, supplies and tools. Check out his factory website at michaelcadiz.com.
I also got a chance to have lunch with Jeanne and talk with her at length, something we have never done despite knowing each other and living semi-parallel lives for over 40 years. Where does the time go? My sister married her brother in 1971, so that’s about when we met, both of us teenagers. When I was briefly studying at Western Michigan University, I believe Jeanne was studying at Kalamazoo College, just a mile down the road. Later we were both studying at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor for an overlapping period. Both of her children are musicians, my daughter is a drummer. We share two nieces and a nephew. We’ve had chances to talk briefly at weddings and funerals over the last 15 years, but never just the two of us without any distractions. So it was really nice to be able to do so over spring rolls and pho at a Vietnamese restaurant near downtown Seattle, just don’t hang too long or you’ll get a painful parking ticket.
Prior to the trip I headed to Sam Ash Music and picked up a soft case for my Yamaha FG-110 guitar. I wanted to play some open mikes in Seattle, so I paid for early boarding on Southwest to ensure overhead space for the guitar, and got the soft case to ensure no grief from the boarding agents. Five locations tolerated my covers – Conor Byrne in Ballard, Molly Maguire’s in Phinney Ridge, Tim’s Tavern in Greenwood (say hi to the host Linda Music Lee and check out one of 30 stage wigs she might be wearing), Shadowland in West Seattle, and Hopvine in Capitol Hill.
I was playing Hopvine on Halloween, so in the spirit I included The Devil’s Right Hand by Steve Earle in my set. Afterward when I sat down to finish my draft ale, a pub crawler at the next table offered to buy me a drink in appreciation for playing a Steve Earle song. That’s my kind of thank-you sir, so I asked him for a shot of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey and off he went to the bar. Moments later he returned to say they just laughed at him when he ordered the whiskey – oh yeah, “Hopvine” = “hop”+”vine” = beer & wine. Silly me.
Crikey, I just about forgot this is a bike blog. Since it was raining every day, I spent a lot of time doing non-bike things, like the open mike stuff, practicing songs for open mikes while sitting in LJ’s beach shack watching the rain fall on Puget Sound, slurping chai lattes and americanos while web slurfing at Pioneer Coffee, driving around visiting relatives or looking at the city, and meeting LJ for after work drinks at Hooverville Bar. One day though, it did clear up at bit in the early afternoon, a momentary lapse of rainfall (apologies to David Gilmour). I rushed back to LJ’s place, kitted up and pulled out a Specialized mountain bike she has in the garage. I don’t recall why she has it since it’s too big for her, but that doesn’t matter, it was there to be ridden. I wrenched on my road pedals, raised the saddle and off I went for ride around West Seattle and Alki to see some sights, take some pictures and burn off some of those Jack Daniels calories. Here is a set of pix from the ride.