Operation: Seattle Skedaddle (another quick 3,348 mile road trip)

Part 1

I recently lived in Seattle after relocating there from Rhode Island. While there I attended art classes at the University of Washington, eventually earning a certificate in Natural Science Illustration.

I enjoyed my time in the Emerald City. A friend who lived there advised me it’s “quirky and crunchy” and she was right. It’s true Seattlites are obsessed with coffee, yes especially Starbucks. In nearby Bellevue there are a pair of the iconic stores less than 350 feet apart. But the area doesn’t get that much rain, and the summers are actually quite dry. The soggy stereotype comes from the nagging mist that can fall all day. It’s somewhere between fog and drizzle, so fine you can stand out in it and barely get damp. I used my umbrella much less than I thought I would. Though I did need it when Seattle was hit by a weather system known as a “pineapple express”.

The art classes were interesting and educational. Whereas Rhode Island’s RISD classes had a creative inclination U-Washington’s classes were more scientific and methodical. They often incorporated actual specimens into the lessons (which we kept), like these:

From left to right we have pine cones, hermit crabs and tiny horsecrabs preserved in alcohol in a glass jar, garlic clove, muskrat skull, scarab beetles entombed in Lucite, chicken skull, bobcat and cougar claws, shark tooth, a cat vertebra (the instructor cheerfully informed us “the tendons and ligaments were removed using beetles!”), ammonite, and several shells. (Not pictured: horse skeleton.)

But after a year I felt it time to pull up stakes and move on. Thus began what I called “Operation: Seattle Skedaddle”. Where did I wind up? Read on!

I packed up and moved out of my townhouse one evening in early July, heading east on I-90. After a few hours I stopped for the night in the small town of Ellensburg, Washington. Eastern Washington is quite arid, and the entire state was under a severe drought at the time. The humidity was 14% when I photographed this scene outside my hotel window, and the smoke from forest fires could be seen in the distance.

But the sunsets were purdy:

I never did find out what prompted the traffic advisory:

Next to the hotel was a small Indian casino. It was eclectically decorated. Here’s an old pay-phone booth (Kids! Ask your parents!) converted into a wildflower holder. I’m unsure what the chain is for, presumably the cattails were caught trying to escape and were subsequently locked down:

Here’s eastbound I-90 as it crosses the Columbia River (right to left) and bends north.

Just past this is the Wild Horse Monument. It has a sculpture called Grandfather Cuts Loose the Ponies, a line of four foot steel horsies overlooking a cliff:

In this part of the country highways like I-90 tend to be straight, flat and nearly empty. This, combined with no radio stations or other entertainment, could make one’s mind wander. Mine did. I had my camera with me and experimented taking photographs through my windows, putting my car on cruise control and giving the steering wheel slight nudges with my knees as needed.

The white deer is made from pipe cleaners by the talented artist Floppy Belly. I had him on my dashboard for the entire trip and came to think of him as my mascot.

Next up: movin’ through Montana!