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In the Almost Live! zone

March 24, 2009

The sun was shining on Saturday. Let’s not waste it, I think as I wheel the GTS out of the garage.

The original thought was to stop by Cycle Gear in Auburn, in order to do some product research. But more thinking resulted in more places to stop. Like IKEA in Renton.

IKEA in Renton

IKEA in Renton (Orin O'Neill photos)

Saturdays are usually the worst days to go; at least finding a parking spot would be easy.

Parking the GTS was easy

Look closely—the GTS is in there somewhere

The item I was looking for was plentiful, a good thing because it seems a bit fragile to bungee-net to the seat. No problem, I can come back during the week after 6:00 pm. The place is practically deserted then, and the Swedish meatballs are usually fresh. I loves them meatballs—I’ve been known to make a trip to IKEA just for the meatballs. And I can bring the Estate. It was made in Göteborg.

The GTS at Kent Station

Kent Station, where you catch the Sounder commuter train to Seattle

Heading south, next stop downtown Kent. Yes, the place, along with Auburn, so routinely slagged upon by the cast of Almost Live!, these days gaining more respect. Kent Station is a cluster of stores and offices near the Sounder commuter train stop and King County Regional Justice Center; ShoWare Arena is the new home of the Seattle Thunderbirds hockey team. It’s all within walking distance of lots of housing. Lots of people think this kind of development is really cool, though few of those people would actually be willing to live in a place like this. I did, back in the ’80s, and after five years I couldn’t wait to get out.

ShoWare Center parking lot markings

ShoWare Center's parking lot is well-marked

East Valley Road becomes 84th, then becomes Central Way as it enters the city limits of Kent. I used to work at a company headquartered here called Pay ‘n’ Pak, long since out of business. While the physical area hasn’t changed that much, the language on most of the signs sure has. ¿Hablas español?

Keep going south, and Kent becomes Auburn. While everything in Kent seems relatively new, Auburn has plenty of reminders of the Kent-Auburn Valley’s past. You’ll still see small farms in Auburn, a reminder that the valley used to be one of the most productive agricultural areas in North America, its truck farmers selling their produce at places like the Pike Place Market. There’s still a drive-in movie theater. In fact, there are six.

Valley 6 Drive-In, Auburn, Wash.

The Valley 6 Drive-In, in Auburn, Wash.

Or I should say, the six screens and projection/snack bar buildings are still there. I don’t know if they still show movies. Heading further south, you encounter Auburn’s Auto Row. “Little Detroit of the West,” the advertising used to say. Surprisingly, a remnant of that era remains.

The Roberts Motors sign on Auburn Way

Roberts Motors' old sign—historic preservation on Auburn's Auto Row

My first new car was a 1980 Honda Civic 1300DX, which I bought at Hinshaw’s Honda. They’re still in business, though they’ve replaced the old car/motorcycle showroom with a building that looks like a gigantic Dairy Queen ice cream cake, the new design for Honda car & truck (I still can’t quite wrap my brain around that idea) showrooms.

My mission at Cycle Gear accomplished, I spy a KFC and remember the $2.99 Mashed Potato Bowl Combo special ends Sunday. Time for lunch.

“You must get a million miles a gallon with that thing,” says the man getting into the Kia Rio. “Seventy-five to 80,” I reply. He’s quite impressed by the top speed and horsepower figures. Have a safe ride, he says.

Unlike most KFCs, this one isn’t dualed with another restaurant. And there are pictures of regular customers on the walls. This must be a neighborhood gathering place. But there are no dogs. Favicon

One Comment
  1. March 24, 2009 6:53 pm

    I would say you’ve made a good choice to get the $2.99 Mashed Potato Bowl Combo Special, Orin!


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