Seattle has needed light rail for a long time. It has an excellent bus system but it is hampered by the traffic even with HOV lanes. In 1993, the state legislature authorized a single transportation agency to cover the Puget Sound counties of Pierce, King and Snohomish. In 1996, voters approved the addition to the sales tax to cover the costs. Over the years, many improvements have been made to bus service between the area and train service (Sounder) between Tacoma and Seattle and Everett and Seattle. Ground was finally broken for light rail construction in 2003. Fast forward to July 2009 – passengers boarded the trails for the first time on Saturday July 18th.
G wanted to go downtown to the Out to Lunch concert to see California Guitar Trio. Yes, it was the hottest day in Seattle’s history but we decided to brave it. It was also a public transportation day for us. We took the bus downtown from Shoreline. Only 1/3 of the Seattle Metro buses are air conditioned and we didn’t get one. We made certain we sat on the side opposite of the sun. The windows were already open but since it wasn’t an express – the bus never got going enough to create a breeze with the frequent stops.
The concert was great. Best of all, it was cool and shady at 2 Union Square but you couldn’t avoid the occasional gust of hot air blowing down from between the buildings. After lunch, we walked down to Pike Place Market and had lunch at El Puerco Lloron – excellent Mexican food just below the market. G loves their Chile Rellenos and I love their Taquitos Machaca (soft shreaded beef tacos) with a scope of guacamole. Next a climb back up and out of the market to Gelatiamo, hands down, our favorite gelato in Seattle. I had a scoop of mango and blackberry. The blackberry is excellent and perfect for an over 100 degree day.
I got the crazy idea of riding the light rail to Columbia City to go to the Wednesday Farmer’s Market. It is a small but vibrant market with a strong neighborhood feel. The Columbia City Station is just two blocks away from the market.
The University station was just a block from Gelatiamo. The tickets are super easy to purchase using the touch screen ticket machine. They take debit cards. We got two round trip tickets and went down to the transit tunnel. How exciting! We love riding metros and light rails on our trips and now we had one in Seattle!
The train goes under downtown using the shared bus and train transit tunnel and stopping at Pioneer Square and Stadium next to Quest and Safeco fields. Then on to Sodo station near Starbucks headquarters before turning east and entering the tunnel below Beacon Hill. Gorgeous views over Sodo to the skyline of Seattle. The ride to Columbia City was smooth and quick.
I did not expect the rush of heat when we exited the train. Of course there is no shade around the open stations and the heat was pounding up from the new white concrete. The market was two blocks from the station along Edmunds Street. It was surprisingly busy at the market given the heat. But everyone was quickly making their purchases and leaving. The vendors were busy spraying and icing their produce. We got a mixture of eggplant, peppers and corn for BBQ and an icy lemonade.
We just missed the train on the way back. While we were waiting to cross over to the platform, we were able to check the artwork on the Edmunds (south) side of the station. I really liked the stone lion carved by Norie Sato and Mara Smith. We were too hot to walk to the North and see the artwork along Alaska Street. I want to go back to see the shovel.
It was our luck that the Mariner’s baseball game had just let out when we returned. We decided to catch the Express bus back to Shoreline and got off at Pioneer Square station. This was a smart move since the bus was empty and there were enough seats for the crowd from the game. It was also smart because the Express bus was air conditioned. Just what we needed after walking around on the record setting 103 degree day in Seattle. We also found out that the Sound Transit ticket works as a 1 zone transfer on Metro so we saved some money on the bus ride home.
And here is California Guitar Trio doing one of our favorites – Walk Don’t Run originally by the Tacoma band – The Ventures. Perfect for a hot summer day.