My dad‘s family has been in Seattle since the early 30’s. My grandparents originally settled in a home mere blocks from where I live now. Dad was born at Harborview, grew up in Seattle and its environs, and raised his family here. And yet, I get most of my (considerable) Seattle love from my mother, a Northwesterner by marriage.
Truth be told, my dad is a bit of a Seattle hater.
To be fair, his hateration is less about the place, which he reveres, and more about the culture. Let him tell it, it’s lack of leadership and foresight that has led us to the current sprawling, transit-deprived, farmland-encroaching, treeless mess we’re in. There is also some complaining about the lack of a “scene.”* Tough words, coming from a guy over 70. I digress.
Every time my dad visits Portland (which is a lot, since one of his closest friends lives there), I have to hear about what a great time he had, and which jazz clubs he visited, and how much better Portland is than Seattle and blah, blah, blah. (In case you missed it, I’m a bit sensitive about such comparisons.) He called me last week, after his most recent visit, to rave about the street fair his friend took him to.
“Do you know they have a street fair once a month down there?”
“But Dad, we have those, too. Remember? Seattle Summer Streets?”
“Yeah, but all they do at those is…ride bikes and stuff.”**
It’s usually a good idea to attend an event before making those kinds of judgments, but hey. Who am I to disrespect an elder? He continued.
“And you want to talk about public transit…”
I braced myself for the long list of Pdx’s PT virtues, but was instead treated to the tale of how he’d made it all the way from his front door to Portland without setting foot in a car: Short walk to Seacrest Water Taxi dock>Water Taxi to Pier 50>Longer walk to King Street Station>Amtrak to Portland’s Union Station.
The car-free adventure ended there. Dad opted to have his friend, who lives right in the city, pick him up. The streetcar apparently doesn’t run close enough to his friend’s house, and he wasn’t up for dealing with the less discoverable and predictable bus. Go figure.
I was impressed with my dad’s adventure*** despite its anticlimactic ending, and I told him as much. I even offered to come up with a catchy nickname for him, like “Train Dad” or “PT Traveler,” but he’s not so into nicknames.”Just call me the transportation expert,'” he said. And so I will.
*Oh, and he does tend to hate on Seattle sports teams, which used to make me mad, back before Clay Bennet and David Stern stole my Sonics. These days, I’m numb. But that’s a discussion for another venue.
**I think he appreciated the commerce at the Pdx version. He got very exicted about the booth that sold old records for $1.
***I should note that my dad has had many more officially adventurous adventures (hoo boy–has he ever!) than taking the train to Portland, but hey. He could have just hopped in his car and headed down I-5. I think it’s cool that he didn’t.