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The sights, the sounds, the smells

March 6, 2007
Read All About It newsstand

The Read All About It newsstand at Seattle's Pike Place Market (Wikimedia Commons)

Heading south on 1st Avenue, the smell became overpowering as I got closer to the Pike Place Market.

Being out in the open, as you are on a scooter, means you experience sights, sounds and especially smells that don’t penetrate the sheetmetal and glass of a car or a bus. In this case, however, there was no escape from what one would think was a seriously failed septic tank.

Except this is the middle of the city… we have sewers. EWWWWW!!!!

I was headed for the Read All About It newsstand at the Pike Place Market, hoping they’d have the Sunday Spokesman-Review, the only daily newspaper in Spokane.

Like everyone else on 1st Avenue, I park illegally right in front of the place, taking off my gloves but leaving the helmet on in case I need to make a quick exit to avoid a ticket.

Hmm. They have the Sunday papers from Missoula and Great Falls, Mont., and the Columbian from Vancouver, Wash., not to mention papers from France, Germany, Italy, Russia and the Middle East, but no Spokesman-Review. Okay, I’ll just go to Broadway News on Capitol Hill.

There are few vehicles downtown, but traffic seems to be seriously constipated. I discover why at the forced right turn at 2nd & University: 2nd is lined with school buses, most of which are facing against traffic, in roped-off passages patrolled by traffic cops.

Okay, I just need to get to Marion Street… that gets you to Madison (Street!!) after a left/right jog on 6th Avenue. Getting to Marion, not a problem.

Getting up Marion—problem.

The stretch between 2nd & 3rd is a little steep, but not too hard to deal with when you have a clutch. Between 3rd & 4th it gets much steeper, but it’s wide enough to easily pass the vehicles stopped in the middle of the road, in the middle of the block.

My luck runs out at 4th Avenue. I have to stop. There’s a tall Sprinter van in front of me, so I can’t see the light… I have to go when he goes. Luckily there’s no one behind me, so there’s no chance of getting run over if I screw up the clutch engagement.

We go, slowly. I pull to the right to see what’s in front of the Sprinter, and wonder of wonders, the lights on 5th & 6th turn green before my eyes. Everyone in front of the Sprinter peels off to the right to make the right at 6th, while I fall back slightly so there’s room to maneuver in case this particular Sprinter van is the ultralong-wheelbase model and can’t make the corner.

Luckily, it’s a short one, so he and I easily make the jog onto Madison. Unfortunately, traffic is moving even more erratically, heaving and lunging in a way bearing almost no resemblance to what the traffic signals say. Times like this, I admit, make me miss my ET. At least the numerous uphill stops will be good practice; also good is the tolerance for slipping a wet clutch offers.

It seems like an eternity before the BROADWAY sign appears (trivia tidbit: by ordnance, Seattle’s Broadway is not a street, avenue, way or place… it’s just “Broadway”) . Things don’t seem to be moving any better, however.

By the time the clot reaches Pike, I spot an opening and lunge for it. I’m free! I’m moving! The PX’s engine is getting some air! Again, the ET was better at this kind of lunging, but no matter, I can now devote my attention to finding J&S Broadway News.

I pass the four (out of 16 in the whole city) motorcycle spots, which I believe are at Broadway & John, but that’s too far from my destination. Luckily, there’s an open spot in front of the storefront next door to J&S. I don’t have to park illegally, but I make sure to stay seated on the bike as I take my helmet and gloves off. That’ll leave more time to pop into the store, get an S-R if they have one, and split.

They don’t have the Spokesman-Review, either. They do have the Oregonian, and the San Francisco Chronicle. Oh, well.

There used to be a J&S Fremont News, but it closed, due in no small part to the construction on the approaches to the Fremont Bridge. Lately, Capitol Hill has been sprouting more empty storefronts, which has Hizzoner Da Mayor and others at City Hall calling for a “revitalizaton” of Capitol Hill.

For a city that claims to be friendly to small businesses, Seattle sure does a great job of killing them. Fremont News because of the bridge, Capitol Hill largely due to a failure to keep the rowdier of the street denizens in check. In the latter case, City Hall sez build more gazillion-dollar condos on Capitol Hill and everything will be fine.

At least until they start ripping up Broadway to build the light rail line. Favicon

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One Comment
  1. March 6, 2007 12:25 pm

    Hi, I stumbled upon your blog today! It’s great. Always in need of a good scoot blog and a Seattle one to boot.

    Susan
    Yamaha Vino 125
    West Richland WA

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