Lessons learned in the great state of Washington

I’m back from a nearly two-week long vacation in the Pacific Northwest, mostly Washington state. Here are a few impressions, some of which I might elaborate on sometime:

- There’s far more traffic in Washington than I had ever imagined. The Seattle area resembles Route 9 during rush hour.

- People don’t speed much in Washington. They also don’t use the horn much, either, not even in Seattle.

- The northwest corner of Washington, the area outside of Seattle, looks like paradise.

- Eastern Washington looks like South Dakota, only drier. I had no idea.

- Apparently, Mexicans aren’t the only humans who are able to cook food, make beds, and clean rooms.

- A poorly made dike is known as a “Scandinavian shovel-up.” I blame Danes and Norwegians.

- Least unexpected headline in a Seattle newspaper: “Big-time pot growers use Seattle-area homes.”

- We live in a Microsoft world. Eddie Bauer is moving its headquarters into a 28-story office tower in downtown Bellevue east of Seattle. The apparel company will occupy 13 stories, while the other 15 will be taken up by Microsoft. Eddie Bauer sold its former head office in Redmond, Washington, to, yes, Microsoft.

- Seattle’s downtown has a very visible population of junkies, prostitutes, pimps and gang bangers. Of course, Kenmore Square has a highly visible population of beggars.

- La Conner could just be the best representative of Small Town America that I have ever seen.

- The corn boom is over hyped, maybe even wildly so.

- There are several Indian reservations in Washington, and most of them seem to peddle gambling, tobacco, fireworks, and cheap gas. It’s quite amusing to see a dozen or more shacks selling fireworks right next to a gas station. A libertarian Utopia, I imagine.

- Dick’s in Seattle has the best fast-food hamburgers and milkshakes I’ve ever consumed. It also has very good fries.

- Life is slow in Eastern Washington (by which I mean everything east of North Bend). So slow that my inner East Coast douchebag prompted me to demand a refund from a severely under-supervised Dairy Queen restaurant that wasn’t able to produce coffee in 20 freaking minutes.

- Washington is dotted with small Espresso kiosks. They’re everywhere out there and I had never even heard of them two weeks ago.

- Safeco Field is a terrific ball park.

- The Seattle Mariners have an outfield that triple-handedly destroyed the Boston Red Sox and turned David Ortiz and Manny Ramirez into Big Pop-up and Manny Flyball. Painful to watch, I must say.

- The Silver Cloud hotel is right across the street from Safeco Field and should be considered by visiting Sox fans. Tremendous place.

- Olympic National Park is the Washington, D.C., of the West Coast, a place that all Americans ought to visit. Stunning beauty. Amazing.

- Seattle’s so-called walkability doesn’t measure up to Boston’s, in my opinion, but I am a big time homer.

- That said, this was the first time in my almost ten years in America that I returned home thinking that maybe, just maybe, Boston’s advantages over the rest of the world maybe aren’t all that.