Posted by: Sally Ingraham | December 2, 2008

The Great Turkey Day Marathon

Thanksgiving Day this year found me trotting up Pike St. around 8:30 in the morning, looking for an open coffee shop. I finally found one on the corner of Pike and Broadway, and gave thanks. Catching my breath from climbing yet another of Seattle’s sloping streets, I got an apple fritter to accompany my coffee, and then (sniffing as unobtrusively as possible) I plotted my next move.

Me with a...donut?The holiday hampered my options, but I had already determined to find Volunteer Park, in the Capitol Hill area, and visit it’s Conservatory which claimed to be open year round. After breakfast I followed Broadway through Seattle’s “funkiest” neighborhood, lusting after the many thrift shops that were closed for Thanksgiving. I eventually found the side street I was looking for, and soon enough I was walking through the park, snapping photos of the Space Needle from high above it.

The Conservatory was steamy and full of bromeliads in one half, and cacti in the other. My sniffles diminished somewhat while I was there, so I took my time taking photos through a foggy lens, and just sitting and watching the sun come out again (incredibly) over Seattle.

Colorful NeighborhoodI left the park and consulted my map, a glossy illustrated thing not drawn to scale, and decided that the Washington Park Arboretum looked close enough to walk to. After all I had the whole day to fill, and not a lot of options. I took off up 10th Ave. and walked and walked and walked, passing through pretty neighborhoods full of cute houses, catching increasingly distant views of the Downtown buildings, and relishing the miles my feet were tamping down.

It took me a long time to find the Arboretum, due to that silly map leaving out all of the minor streets I found myself on. My excellent sense of direction, and the help of an extremely nice young woman, prevailed however, and a few hours later I entered the park and collapsed thankfully down on a bench inside a lovely pagoda.

What followed was a “classic Sarah” move. Tired and sick regardless, and with five or six miles already between me and the hostel, I looked for the most interesting route back. Retracing my steps is never an option! A thorough perusal of the map led me to realize that the University District, an interesting area I had deemed too far away to explore, was now only a bridge-length away. Even better, I could then walk down the other side of the Lk. Washington Ship Canal and find Fremont, another famous Seattle neighborhood.

And so my Thanksgiving Day walk turned into the Great Turkey Day Marathon. I wouldn’t be surprised if I eventually walked 10 to 12 miles that day! I crossed the water on Montlake Blvd. N.E. and then took N.E. Pacific and Northlake St. all the way down, passing Lake Union and getting marvelous views of Downtown and the Space Needle.

Fantastic CastleIt was of course farther than I had hoped, but right when I was getting a little discouraged, I stumbled across another of Seattle’s park – the Gasworks Park. Right on Lake Union, it had a hill that offered fabulous views of the city, and an intriguing array of rusty old gas chambers and pipes that looked like some kind of fantastic castle.

I left with my imagination rekindled, and finally pulled into Fremont, Seattle’s “quirkiest” neighborhood before the cutoff time of 3 – which was when every coffee shop in the city seemed to be closing. After refueling I dutifully made a circle of the area, checking off the 53-ft. high Russian rocket, the statue of Lenin, and the Richard Beyer sculpture, I crossed the Fremont drawbridge and began the seemingly endless walk back to Downtown.

My ultimate goal for the day was to go up to the top of the Space Needle, and I needed to get there before 5 in order for my Go-Card passage to work. Time seemed to be racing away, the light was already beginning to fade, and my poor tired legs didn’t seem to be able to move fast enough. Skirting around the bottom of Queen Anne hill, I made the turn onto Broad St. and almost squealed out loud as the Space Needle came into view . I actually made it there with an hour to spare.

View from the TopI dragged myself up the ramp to the elevator and collapsed against the wall, only to leave it moments later as we reached the top, 520 ft. above the city. I made a circle of the O deck, and bought the “I made it to the top” T-shirt, feeling extremely entitled.

Then, because the Monorail doesn’t run on Thanksgiving, I trudged all the way back to the hostel, making it in time for the feast that was so kindly prepared by the staff and some of the other lodgers of the Green Tortoise. I took my cold to bed soon after, determined to squeeze the last goodness out of a real bed before I inflicted myself on my train seat mates.

Although I was sore the next day, I was extremely satisfied with my Seattle adventures. I checked out of the hostel, bought snacks and Ny-Quil, and found my way to the train station. My cold had appreciated a day of fresh air, and packed itself neatly away for the next leg of my trip. As the Coast Starlight – train number 11 – pulled out of the station right on time at 9:45 a.m., I bid farewell to Seattle. Fittingly enough, it shed tears over my departure, skies clouding over and classic Seattle drizzle washing the windows of the train clean.

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