A Semi-Regular Mix of Written and Video Documentation of My Travels

WA Day 5 - Botanical Gardens, Burgers, and Bright Greens

Today started with a bit of serendipity when it turned out the coffee shop I was starting with, the Copper Kettle Coffee Bar (a bit of a tongue twister, huh) happened to be located in the Bellevue Botanical Garden. The Botanical Garden hadn’t really been on my radar but I ended up really enjoying it. The Copper Kettle also turned out to be great, and in an even weirder twist of fate the barista happened to be from Ireland and got a huge kick out of me speaking Irish to him. We ended up chatting for a bit which was a lot of fun, and the coffee itself was very good though perhaps a bit overshadowed by this absolute beast of a cinnamon roll:


I decided that while I devoured that cinnamon roll and sipped my coffee, I might as well enjoy the beautiful day and stroll through the gardens. Immediately upon entering, I saw this lumpy, dead-eyed frog statue and I knew I had made the right decision.


The gardens were bright and colorful, and highlighted lots of local fauna as well as a few specialty gardens showing plants from non-native environs including an Alpine Rock garden and a small Japanese Garden. They also had something called the Ravine Experience where you could walk out over a 150 ft. suspension bridge into a 1/3 of a mile trail through a woody ravine. I didn’t do it, unfortunately less because of the bridge and more because I didn’t think I’d have time to do that trail loop, see the rest of the garden, and do everything else I had hoped to do today, but it seems beautiful. As it was, I had to content myself with all the natural beauty that blooms at ground level, and it made for a very peaceful and serene morning amble.

Amidst all the natural scenery, the gardens also had some fun man-made additions. Some highlights for me were a gorgeous stone fountain in the central courtyard which was designed to look like water was just naturally flowing from the rock and some impressive precariously stacked stone cairns complimenting a woodland garden.

The most striking installation in the garden was a sculpture called Night Blooming by Taiji Miyasaka and David Drake. This 10 ft tall wooden dome is made of interlocking wedges of salvaged timber. From the outside it sort of resembles a surreally large hornet’s nest, but inside the specks of light that make it through the wedges resemble a dazzling mini solar system. It’s a very neat trick from a deceptively simple work of art, and it’s proven so popular that it’s remained a fixture of the garden long after it was initially put up as part of a special outdoor exhibit on works of wood in 2014.

Even the maintenance shed in the gardens had a bit of whimsy to it, as I was briefly very excited to have stumbled across a Hobbit Hole in real life.


After that I made my to what one of my friend’s from Washington called the Best National in the World, Olympic National Park. The only slight hiccup is that Puget Sound happens to be in the way, so my options were to either take a ferry (which is what he recommended) or take a rather circuitous route. I opted for the long drive, because it would give me an excuse to see a bit more of Olympia which I otherwise wouldn’t do. Hindsight being 20/20 I probably should have listened to my friend and taken the ferry (and also probably an earlier start) because while Olympia is perfectly pleasant, it is still a normal enough city while the park really isn’t like anywhere else in the world. What can you do?

I did enjoy my little Olympia detour though. I started with some excellent coffee from a classy little espresso bar called Dancing Goats Coffee Bar, mostly because they had such an excellent logo:


I then got my Americana on by going through a classic old-timey burger joint called Eagan’s West Side Drive-In. This no frills local throwback doesn’t do a whole lot, but they do it real well. I got a beautifully greasy hamburger, some nice and crispy crinkle cut fries, and a soft serve vanilla (not pictured because it was the first to go). Locals might get a little made at me, because I did not get their signature “goop” sauce, but as someone who doesn’t really like any condiments I don’t think a special concoction of several was going to be up my alley but godspeed to all “normal” humans out their who want a little sauce on their burgers. It was a quick and dirty fast food lunch, but it really hit the spot.


From there it was on to the National Park! Olympic National Park is one of the biggest ones I’ve personally encountered coming in at a whopping 922,650 acres much of which is classified as wilderness, perfectly preserved and untouched by civilization. The biggest draw, which was unfortunately on the complete other side of the park from where I was, is the wild 20-30 mile stretches of pristine Pacific coastline bordered by rare, lush temperate rain-forests. I would have liked to have seen all that, but as it were I just had to make do with beautiful soaring trees, many of which were over 150 ft. tall!

The highlight for me was a special lookout point in the nearby town of Hoodsport, that allowed for some truly breathtaking, audible-wow-inspiring views of the park and the crystal clear waters of Lake Cushman. You know a place is really really gorgeous when even my shitty photos look like they could be the back drop of a motivational poster:

As amazing as what I got to see was, a quick google search of some of the areas in the park my friend recommended revealed that I really did miss out on walking through a fairy tale land:

After taking in the vistas, I made my way back along my circuitous route to Seattle for the night’s open mic. I somehow made it back with a little time to spare, so I went to a funky barcade near where the mic was called the Raygun Lounge. I had a great dark porter from Snoqualmie Falls Brewing Company, and got far too hooked on this spooky little number with some of the more intense gameplay accessories including multiple levels of bumpers accessible through a “Hellevator” ramp. It was pretty high tech for something so silly.


After that, I met my buddy Jacques at a cool local spot called Rachel’s Ginger Beer which was just a block away from the mic. The place featured some excellent freaky animal wallart and more flavors of ginger beer than I had ever seen before so it pretty instantly stole my heart. They had a lot of ginger beer based cocktails as well, and although I believe it makes a fantastic mixer I was just sort of in the mid for some pure gingery goodness so I got a glass of their blood orange ginger beer and my taste buds did not regret it.


From there Jacques and I made our way to the open mic at a cozy spot called Scratch Deli. It was an early-ish mic, but it still attracted a solid crowd and had the vibe of a really fun house show. The hosts were the very funny Maddie Downs and Travis Watt, and they opened with probably my favorite bit of the night, an extended improvisation where they just pretended to be really sweet and supportive parents of all the little open mic-ers. It’s hard to articulate, but they just really nailed the mannerisms of goofily loving parents to a T. I had also met and chatted with Maddie and her fiance (now husband!) Daniel O’Connell at an earlier open mic, because they were both really hilarious and she remembered me and gave me a little extra time because I was traveling which I thought was awfully kind.

It was a relatively short mic but a quality one. My favorite line of the night was from a guy named Chris Minea, because I think it was the most unexpected punchline given the set-up which is always commendable: “I think it’s really gross when people talk about eating placenta. Because you're white and I know you're not seasoning that shit.”

Other highlights:

Phil Ganz- I have a moss like personality. Peeping Tom is too fun and playful a term for what it is 

Jack Landison- Officers of the court should have really sweet dance moves so they can really say you've got served

Ara Disante - National Geographic is just showing animal porn for free. Probably because they're amateurs 

Antioch Montoyo (I’m sure I spelled this wrong)- (RE Caitlyn Jenner) it's a sign of how far transgender women have come that we have our own Sarah Palin

Keegan O’Neal- I got sort of hit by a Prius 

Bobby Higley- I was raised Mormon. Was anyone else here abused?

Eliot GB- (RE being ethnically ambiguous) walking down the street it's like a racial slur roulette 

Daniel O'Connell- I started real young with jokes like saying "do you guys still hate bed time!"

My own set went pretty solidly, though I think I started to lose the audience’s attention a bit towards the end which is more on me than them. I managed to still find some jokes that Jacques hadn’t heard yet though, so that made me happy.

After the mic, I had a nice time chatting with the other comics for a bit before heading back to Jacques’ place. One of his co-workers was having a birthday party so we decided to head on over. I should have known what to expect going to a party with Jacques from college, but somehow I was still unprepared for just how much more energy he has than me. I did my best to keep up, but after an undisclosed number of drinks the night became a bit of a blur.

I know that at some point we left the party with a couple of his friends to go clubbing (we used a ride-share, no way was I driving tonight), which is about as far removed from my natural environment as you can get. I just sort of bobbed along in one small square of floor-space people-watching all the impressively creepy dudes trying to dance up on girls while Jacques kept buying me more drinks. I try to never say no to free anything, but I’m impressed I made it through with the contents of my stomach still inside me.

At some point they called last call, and we went out on the street so Jacques could pursue his holy grail of late night drunk food, the Seattle Dog (see Regional Observation). At the time, he was pretty drunk as well so he didn’t explain what made a Seattle Dog different then other hot dogs, but he did make clear his fondness for them. We tried a couple different late night food vendors, before finding one that had Seattle Dogs (I was beginning to question the veracity of such a thing existing at all). Jacques was incredibly happy, but I didn’t have because I intended to keep my no-puking streak going. I did however witness a fascinating display of a mixture between good samaritanism and drunken confusion. One highly inebriated college-aged girl was sitting on the sidewalk, so a college aged guy asked her if she was alright. She immediately perked up and wanted to keep clubbing despite every place starting to close and her not being a state to do that. He asked her if she wanted him to order an uber for her, but another passerby, a less drunk but still kinda drunk older lady, just heard him asking the very drunk where she lived, and got worried that he was trying to pick her up so she stepped in to make sure the girl wanted to be with him. Everyone then got kind of confused, and it became a sort of Mexican stand off of booze and good intentions. It all got sorted out, but besides being kinda funny, I think it was really sweet that so many people were willing to see a potentially bad situation and jump right in. It’s really wonderful seeing people looking out for one another. Plus Jacques got another Seattle dog, so the night was truly a success.

Favorite Random Sightings: Pho Ever (honestly surprised I haven’t seen that pun more); Advanced Skin (not for amateurs); A truck with the entire Pledge of Allegiance and two skeleton hands giving the middle finger on it (not sure what the message there is); ill Eagles (clever pun, say it out loud)

Regional Observations: Seattle Dogs are hot dogs with cream cheese, onions, and usually jalapenos on them. Nobody is totally sure how this started

Albums Listened To: Sultans of Swing by Dire Straits (just Money for Nothing); Summer Mix by Various Artists ( a mix CD my sister made me when I first started driving, lots of good memories); Summer of Love the Hits of 1967 by Various Artists (Disc one

)People’s Favorite Jokes: I didn’t get any today so here’s one from the world wide web:

A man entered the bus with both of his front pants pockets full of golf balls and sat down.
The puzzled woman next to him kept looking at him and his bulging pockets.
Finally, after many such glances from her, he said, "It's golf balls".
Nevertheless, the woman continued to look at him thoughtfully and finally, not being able to contain her curiosity any longer, asked."Does it hurt as much as tennis elbow?"

Songs of the Day:

I always enjoy that the lyrics of this song were just something Mark Knopfler heard a crazy guy saying at an appliance store

I love that Eugene Hutz asked two older Eastern European street musicians if they wanted to join a punk band and they not only said yes, but have been core members ever since

Little Baby Alex Chilton

Joseph PalanaComment