Tag Archives: West Seattle

How the Bus Fam celebrates a sunny day

I am not a fair weather bus chick. I love my city (rain, clouds, and late-spring chill included) and my carfree life no matter the season. I’d be lying, though, if I said that I didn’t prefer getting around during time of year when it’s light both early and late and there’s a high probability of sunshine.

During the months between May and October (aka, bus chick high season) life on the ground is lovely–far, far prefarable to life trapped inside an exhaust-spewing metal box stuck in baseball traffic. We walk more than we wait (truth be told, except in extreme weather conditions, I do that year round), worry less about how late we get home (sadly, bedtimes still exist during DST), and spend as much time as we can outdoors.

On a beautiful day, there is plenty of occupy us in our own corner of the city. We are spitting distance from five great parks. We can walk to a city pool. We can take the 27 down to the lake and put our feet in the water. (Almost as often, if we have time, we walk all the way down there–and back.)

But sometimes, much as we love our neighborhood, we get tired of beating the same paths. Sometimes, on a sunny day, we have a hankerin’ for an adventure. Today was one of those times. So, we bus types rose early, threw on some playin-outside-in-the-sunshine gear, and did what we do best.

First, we caught the 27 to 3rd & Yesler, then walked to Pier 50 to catch my beloved Water Taxi.

My city

View from the Water Taxi







Busling love, love, loves the retro paint job on “his” Space Needle.

Busling's Space Needle







It was Chicklet’s job to find the mountain. Hello, Tahoma!

Hello, Tahoma!


On the other side:

On the other side


At Seacrest, we caught the (free!) Dart shuttle to the Admiral District.

Shuttle to Admiral

We stopped at the church where my mom’s ashes are buried to bring her some early Mother’s Day flowers.

Flowers for Caroline

Then, we played (and had a snack) at the park near Hiawatha Community Center, which is one of Chicklet’s favorites.


By the time we caught the shuttle down to Alki, it was still early.

Shuttle back to the beach

Gorgeous but still a little chilly







Chillin at Alki

Good name













After plenty of good sand and water time–and after a quick stop at the cafe formerly known as Alki Bakery–we caught the 56 downtown.

And, they're spent!

Despite an extra-long wait at 3rd & Yesler (27 was 18 minutes late, and nothing else was coming), we made it home in time for Busling’s nap.

Perfect, perfect day.

A nice ride if you can get it

This evening, we Saulter siblings (well, three of us, anyway)–along with our respective SOs and Chicklet–convened in our original neighborhood of West Seattle to celebrate our father‘s 70th birthday. The plan was to meet at a restaurant on Alki–as good an excuse as any for Bus Nerd and I to try the Water Taxi shuttle for the first time. (Yes, I’ve been riding the Water Taxi for years, but since my dad lives across the street from the Seacrest dock, and I only ride my favorite floating bus to visit him*, I’ve never had occasion to use the shuttle. I digress.)

Some advice to Water Taxi riders who have to get somewhere (for example, a restaurant that doesn’t hold reservations and won’t seat a party until everyone has arrived) by a specific time: Get your tails off the boat and to the shuttle stop ASAP, or have a backup plan.

We were somewhere in the middle of the pack of passengers disembarking, and by the time we made it to the shuttle, it was full. The driver told us she only had room for one more person, and–oh yeah–hers was the last shuttle run that evening. Have I mentioned that bus service from Seacrest to the beach is all but nonexistent? Back in the old days, Nerd and I would have probably just taken a cab, since we didn’t have time for a long walk, but, of course, we had Chicklet in tow and no car seat.

Fortunately, we had a rarely available option: nearby family. I rode the shuttle with Chicklet while Nerd hightailed it to my dad’s place to hitch a ride with him. The reservation was preserved, and a good time was had by all, including–and especially–the guest of honor.

P.S. – For those who are wondering: We took the 56 home.

*I usually ride the bus to other destinations in West Seattle, since riding the Water Taxi tends to take longer. Pier 55 is a decent walk from 3rd Avenue, and the WT schedule rarely lines up well with the schedules of the buses I ride downtown.

Where to stop for a pre-56 hot chocolate

A coffee, et cetera (actually, more like et cetera and coffee) shop on Admiral Way, west of California:

Coffee shop on Admiral Way
Alki Mail & Dispatch, on Admiral & 47th
Walk-up window
A “walk-up” window

How could I not stop? It had a door–actually, window–bell–and a very friendly owner. That figures. Anyone who designs his business for pedestrians has got to be good people.

Carfree Sundays, part III

The third and final carfree Sunday took place in my original neighborhood of West Seattle, so I didn’t mind the two-bus ride (4 + 56) to the festivities. (Then again, what’s two short rides compared to an unobstructed view of the Sound and the Olympics? I digress.)

West Seattle’s event was fun, but not as fun as Columbia City’s. (Thanks to the weather, Capitol Hill wasn’t even in the running.) Some reasons why:

• It wasn’t really car free. The far east lane of the street, which was separated from the activity with cones, remained open to all traffic. It wasn’t nearly as freeing or novel to play in the street with a line of vehicles inching by a few feet away.
• There wasn’t a concentrated point of activity. The street was closed (well, sort of–see above) from Seacrest Park on Harbor Ave all the way to the mini Statue of Liberty near the end of Alki Ave. Most of the activity was happening near the south end, so folks who jumped in farther north were likely disappointed.
• There was no music. This made a huge difference in the atmosphere and (my) general enjoyment.
• The majority of attendees were riding bikes. Don’t get me wrong: I have nothing but love for my bike nerd brothers and sisters, and I certainly don’t begrudge them the chance to take advantage of a chance to ride–free of worry–in the street. As a pedestrian, though, I was somewhat ill at ease. It felt more like I was walking in the bike lane than attending a street festival.

Of course, all those issues are minor and can be worked out on future carfree days. On to the photos:

Carfree Sundays poster
“If Seattleites drive every vehicle 2,000 miles less a year (about 20 miles a week), we can meet our current climate pollution reduction goals.”
Open street
Street skateboarding
Street hula

I didn’t see the Undriving folks from Sustainable Ballard this time. (Maybe they decided one trip to West Seattle was enough for this year.) The “Yes on Prop 1” folks were out in force, though.

Mass Transit Now!

Despite the concerns of its manager, business at Duke’s didn’t appear to suffer:

A crowded patio at Duke's

The best thing about the West Seattle carfree Sunday was, of course, the view. There’s something about the combination of water, mountains, and sunshine that inspires romance.

Carfree Sunday street art
Carfree Sunday street art
Bus luh
Waiting for the Water Taxi shuttle: bus (stop) luh

Me? I’m having a romance with my city. I’m proud of our first attempts at carfree days and looking forward to more next summer (or sooner!).

Not that kind of transportation

My parents recently moved to a condo on Harbor Ave., the main drag between the West Seattle Bridge and Alki beach. Despite the fact that two buses–the 37 and the 53–stop mere steps from their door, it is nearly impossible for me to visit them.

Of the two routes, only the 37 goes downtown. Unfortunately, it runs to downtown only in the morning, from downtown only in the evening, and only eight times a day each way (twice a day each way on Saturday). The 53 goes to the Alaska Junction, which is a transfer point to buses that go downtown, but it does not run at all on the weekend and runs once an hour–between 8 AM and 4 PM–on weekdays.

Every time I have bused to my parents’ new place, I have been forced to take the 55 to the Admiral District at the north end of West Seattle. This gets me close enough to walk or meet them somewhere. Yesterday, when the 55 I was riding was stopped at the intersection of California and Admiral, a city worker on a Segway scooted past my window on his way to check the gas meter.

While I am sure that (expensive) personal transportation devices help city employees work more efficiently, I find it impossible to believe that more efficient gas-meter-checking can rival the impact of, say, improved bus service in commonly visited areas of town (it’s the beach, for heaven’s sake). Perhaps we can start directing some of those “discretionary” tax dollars toward Metro.