Seattle, Day One | Capitol Hill

For most of my adult life, all I knew about Seattle was that it came recommended by a college roommate with excellent taste, and thus I knew it must be an excellent city. QED. When that same friend got hitched in the Pacific Northwest—conveniently, right after my younger brother moved to Washington—building a Seattle tour around her wedding was an inevitability. I needed to finally see what this PNW fuss was all about.

As the trip approached, my natural tendency to make things more complicated than they need to be had emerged; I’d learned just enough about the city, as they say, to be dangerous. You could accuse me of helicopter-parenting Dan’s and my three-day Seattle itinerary, and you wouldn’t be wrong! Of course, I’ll also use my friends Maggie and Catherine as scapegoats—when prompted, they both provided me with a full summer’s worth of spot-on recommendations—for the ballooning of our itinerary into a full-on logistics briefing.

But what a beautiful logistics briefing it was! We began in Capitol Hill.

Our first day started and ended at Melrose Market—for lunch at Homegrown, and then for the most carefully-prepared dinner I’ve ever eaten at Sitka & Spruce. (It was presented with an equal amount of care, too: by the chef himself! Talk about a full-service establishment.) In between meals, we took advantage of happy hour at the Pine Box, the second stop in what is seemingly a fledgling cross-country tour of funeral homes converted into bars—hey, Brewery Vivant! We’ll be back.

My brother joined just in time to lead us on a walking tour of his intimidatingly cool neighborhood: first along Broadway, the main drag, and then traversing side streets for detours through some Capitol Hill gems. We hit up Molly Moon’s for an instant-gratification sugar fix (balsamic strawberry ice cream? If you insist), and Cupcake Royale for a delayed-gratification one (their Blueberry Brown Betty’s streuseled brown sugar-cream cheese icing would have to wait till after dinner).

The Elliott Bay Book Company provided sustenance for our summer reading lists—it’s a sprawling but really well-edited shop, so I shouldn’t have been surprised to finally find the hilarious memoir I’d been searching for without success. And its travel section was so amply stocked with funny Bill Bryson titles that I couldn’t help buying this one on impulse. But soon, all three of us were back to our old tricks at Montana, for pre-dinner dive-bar cocktails made with Rachel’s Ginger Beer.

That was about all the Capitol Hill we could manage in one day, but we returned on our last night for takeout Marination Station tacos eaten in Cal Anderson Park, plus a couple of Belgians at The Stumbling Monk, where tablefuls of people were busy playing chess and Magic, and I could actually hear myself talk. I liked that very much.

I took these photos in the Japanese Garden at Washington Park Arboretum on that last day. It was here that we paused before heading back into the bustle of Capitol Hill; anyway, after a full day’s drive back from our camping expedition in Olympic National Park, we were too unshowered to interact with much other than carefully-manicured trees and koi. Walking through the gates of the garden, I knew instinctively that it was the kind of place I’d want to revisit often—much like the city itself.

Camera: Mamiya 645AF
Film: Kodak Portra 400