Day 2, Seattle to Alki Beach & Wallingford Neighborhood, 27 miles
A visit at Suzanne’s, the eve of the big tour. I’ve stayed here how many times, shared stories and laughs and insights, sought support from a dear friend, spent time with her precious children. And landed after returning from my cycling adventures. And launched many a tour. A tradition.
This evening, a special moment, now again exploring my solitude, easing the wound of a broken heart. The children’s presence is heightened in my awareness, as they greet me again. I’m in tears as I retire to the guest room, feeling open and fragile and so grateful to have a heart that feels. A shopping excursion to Safeway is silly and frenetic. How I remember shopping with my family. A late evening violin practice session reveals a delightful improvisation. https://www.instagram.com/p/BZVSYy0nx-IeIaKVcdyARUwkGJCWVbg0iBCrSg0/
Talking into the wee hours, then sleep. I need sleep. But I think of the train ride. Ok, a bit more time for sharing, soon I’ll be away. At last, my head hits the pillow, but fitful rest, short, I’m worried about missing the early train. Up and out the door, kids getting ready for school. Just before I leave, Leah rushes over and thrusts a florescent lime green stuffed animal into my face.
“Maaa” she says in baby talk. I ask her who this is. “Maaa” more baby talk. In hand gestures and miming, I surmise I am to take this creature with me. Who is it? No name, so I call him Squiddie. I’m delighted to take this gift, and rush out the door. A new friend to join my trip. I see the light-hearted comedic potential right away. Squiddie selfies. Please indulge me, dear reader.
The train to Seattle is uneventful, restful. I catch up on some calls, writing, but spend most of the ride pondering. What am I doing here, again, setting out on a bicycle to explore this world? Will I be lonely? Miserable? Or find the friendship I always do, on the road, meeting hundreds of people along the way.
First stop, the AirBnB in Alki Beach. The host has flaked out, doesn’t have permission from her roommate to rent out the living room couch. Ouch. I cancel, write AirBnB a scathing email, describing the debacle. Strange that this one is called a “Superhost”. Perhaps this is a new roommate?
No matter. The sun is out, so I ride back towards Seattle, stop for coffee and reconsider my lodging. I log into Warm Showers (www.warmshowers.org) and send off a few emails to potential hosts. I receive a reply quickly from Jeff in Wallingford. Near to the Luminata festival that Sarah invited me to. Sweet!
I ride back across the bridges, then up through the downtown, past the Space Needle, around Union Lake, then the Freemont Bridge. I’ve been in Seattle only a few times, and now it’s seeming familiar. Conquering street with pedal power, and a fully loaded touring bike. I’m feeling strong, my power and confidence returning.
I arrive and meet my hosts, Jeff and Karin. I am immediately showered with the unbelievable hospitality that Warm Showers members share. Pay it forward for touring cyclists. My own room, linens, shower, oh, they are heading out so here’s a key. All to me, a relative stranger. With a bicycle. And stories.
They leave, and I’m left in this house, feeling at home in a stranger’s residence. This is sublime. I text Sarah, realize I’m running late. I rush out, stopping for tacos. Across the street, I see another photo op for Squiddie, the Octopus Bar. This is going to be fun.
The Luminata festival is a bit disappointing, large crowd, not as many lanterns as we expected. But here we are, old friends catching up again. Sharing stories of cycling and heart and art. I met her years back, on a dating website, and then we have crossed paths on our various exploration and adventures. Like last year, at Half Moon Bay, into Big Sur. After the parade and conversation has lulled, we part ways again, wondering how our next serendipitous meeting will happen.
Back to the house, Jeff gives me a piece of pie, shares his recent touring tales with me, just having cycled across the country to New York. His eyes light up, I recognize the joy and freedom sparkling there. Thousands of miles, powered only by legs and passion and determination. These are the cyclist’s dreams. And the reality of the tour. I’m all the more eager to begin in earnest tomorrow.
So at last, to bed, after planning tomorrow’s ride with Jeff. Ferry to Vashon Island, then ride down towards Olympia where I’ll meet another friend. I tuck myself in, but not before another selfie with my new friend, Squiddie. I feel warm, loved, and young. So young, again. Thank you Leah, for sending me off with Squiddie. We are going to have some adventures together!