I always look forward to our travels for many reasons, including the fact that it gives me a chance to get out of my comfort zone and sample a little bit of the unusual, unfamiliar, exotic, diverse, and colorful. Plus, you never know who you might see chillin' outside at the corner cafe. I was pretty sure at the time this was Stephen King, but upon further review I believe I may have been mistaken.
Since we're on the subject of cafes, we have some good ones around here that are fun and even somewhat eclectic, but restaurants are different in the city. We were guests of our son at a new popular French-themed eatery called Toulouse Petite. The outside looked somewhat rundown by design, but inside it was...well...the word that comes to mind is 'electric.' The patrons were many and varied. Young professionals from the neighborhood who were casually dressed, out of towners like us in all manner of cruise wear and travel duds, businessmen in coats and ties, and women in their little black dresses. ooo-lala! Another characteristic of this place, as well as others we visited, was the high energy and excitement that filled the room. Everyone was talking. Not in whispers as you might expect in a dimly lit upscale establishment. It was rather loud, even boisterous at times. But it was never annoying. Conversation is an important part of the atmosphere, and everyone shared in it equally. The vibe is totally different from what we're used to here in Hometown, USA.
Another common theme running through many parts of this city is the vibrant, and sometimes unusual colors. I look for that wherever I travel, and I was not disappointed on this trip. Even small local shops on side streets sported vibrant colors or colors that were just slightly "off" for lack of a better word, but always charming, fascinating, stimulating, inspiring or any number of other adjectives.
Diversity is the other overriding theme of any large city. Seattle has plenty of diversity. It so happened the same weekend we were there the Hempfest was taking place. In keeping with my never ending search for unordinary or varied cultural experiences, we decided to attend. My main motivation, as well as my son's, was to see if we could find some local art to add to our collections. My wife was hoping to find some unique hand made jewelry. Also, to be completely honest, I was hoping to go back to a simpler time and hang out again just for a little while with some free spirited eccentric flower children, otherwise known as Hippies. A friend recently posted the following on Facebook, and this is what I thought I would find:
Mostly what I found, however, were disheveled grubby people begging for a handout or well-off kids in stylish clothes huddled in their own little cliques trying to act cool and blend in. I was so disappointed. There were a couple of exceptions, though. The Peace Pirate for example, who had his own style of art that I thought was rather creative. He used old junk vinyl record albums and painted classic album covers and artists portraits on them using intricate paper cut-outs he had made. Not particularly avant-garde or astonishing, but a pretty cool idea. He was a nice guy. Humble. Unassuming. Just a guy in the park working on his art. My son and I each bought one of his works. Mine was a portrait of Bob Dylan, of course.
We were also lucky to discover the TabbyCat Pickling Company. A groovy down-to-earth bunch who really did have some great pickles. I chose "Mother's"... a crunchy garlic dill with just the right amount of jalepeno mixed in. Delicious! I knew I couldn't get it through airport security so I took the jar to Fedex/Kinko's and had it shipped home. That's how good they are.
Hello, my name is Mr. Tabby Cat. Some say I'm a gentleman and scholar at that. The gentleman in me is kind & fair, the scholar has the wisdom of love to share. When these two come together as one, I can create my own twist on what's grown in the sun. I hope you enjoy to the very last bite, this purrfetly pickled delicious delight.
(verse and photo courtesy of tabbycatpicklingco.com)
Another fun event we took in was a KISS / Motley Crue concert at a huge outdoor amphitheatre south of Seattle. I know. I know. At our age! But we had a great time. Besides, I think some of the band members were older than us.
So, the moral of this story is....well...I guess there is no moral to this story. If there's anything I would hope you take from it, it would probably be to suggest that you get out of your comfort zone on occasion and try something new. Or something old but that you haven't done for a long time. Also, become more aware of your surroundings and take note of everything going on around you. Especially the sights and sounds. Just be in the moment. You may have heard this described as being mindful. I know that may sound a little silly, but you will see and hear things you might otherwise miss. You may even be inspired. That inspiration will take on a different form for each individual. Don't we all need a little inspiration every now and then? It's just a matter of what you do with it when it comes. So go ahead. Go out and be inspired!