Top Ten Things I Wished I Had Known about Seattle When I First Got Here

My 4 year anniversary at Microsoft was Sept 17, so this post is just a little late.

Number 10:  How the Metro Bus System Works

My first year here there was an alias you could email your street address and building number to, and they would give you the Metro bus route(s) to take.  Since I lived off of Avondale Road at the time, I only had to get on one bus that stopped practically in front of my building.

So there I was that morning getting off of the bus, so proud of myself converting to life in the big city.

That evening, I went right back to the place where the bus dropped me off.  (has anyone found the flaw in my logic yet?)  I got on the bus and we traveled quite a ways away from Avondale road.  As we got closer to Bellevue Square Mall with fewer people on the bus, I became afraid.  Next thing I knew, everyone got off the bus and I’m sitting there like a deer in headlights having no clue what to do. 

The bus driver says, “Um, you have to get off here.”  I said, “Um, why aren’t we going back to Avondale road.”  He thinks about it for a few seconds and says, “Um, don’t you know you are supposed to be on the other side of the street?”  I scream, “WHAT?  No one told me that.” 

The bus driver helped me figure out how to get home.  I guess they get 1 or 2 deers in headlights every month or so.

The next morning I email back the alias…

You didn’t tell me I had to be on the OTHER side of the street to go home.  It took me 1.5 hours to get home.

If I recall correctly, the response started off with

LMAO.  But now you know how the system works! 

I know somewhere on Microsoft Campus this email thread is printed on someone’s door.  Thankfully, my alias has changed since then (when I got married), so no one knows that was me.

No, I never took the Metro again (not by myself at least)

Number 9:  Vanilla-flavored Lattes

The first time I ever walked into a Starbucks was out here in Bellevue.  No clue what I was doing.  I ordered my first Mocha the hard way (by first attempting to order a Chocolate-flavored latte).  We don’t have coffee shops in the south.  We have Waffle houses!  =)

Jeremy introduced me to a Vanilla Latte, in which I’m in his debt.

Number 8:  Spinning Classes

Oh, is there no greater joy during the gray-days of winter than to be able to do spinning classes?   These are specialized stationary bikes that really mimic road bikes where you can clip in and feel like you are actually riding.  You can apply pressure via a brake system to increase or decrease resistance.  Think of it as a stationary bike on steroids.

Number 7:  IKEA

Never heard of IKEA before I moved out here.  Why oh why did I buy all that stuff from Target?

Number 6:  Indian Buffet

Mmm.  Indian Buffet.  Seriously folks, if I never had Starbucks before, why are you surprised about Indian food?  At least I learned at my internship at UMass (once again the hard way) that Indian Jones does not accurately portray Indian cuisine.

Number 5:  Tiger Mountain Hiking Trails

Before Kyle got out of the military, I wanted to go hiking, but had no idea where to go.  Finally a group at work, namely Josh and Gretchen et al, got people together and we started hiking.  Tiger Mountain is only 20 minutes away from campus.  West Tiger 3 is an awesome hike.

I eventually decided to go do Search and Rescue training a few years back.  I got lost in my own floor (in my own building) walking out of a conference room yesterday (Chetan caught me), yet for some reason I thought I could rescue lost people out on the mountains.  Yes, I failed, more like I quit.  Stupid rusted cans laughing at me as I stepped over them.  I blame it on being anemic.  But I digress…

Anyways, the Tiger Mountain Trails are awesome.

Number 4:  Smart Wool Socks / non-cotton socks

It was at Search and Rescue Training that I learned about the horrors of cotton and cold weather.  Being from Mississippi, the King of Cotton and the second state to secede from the Union, I’ve never heard cotton and bad in the same sentence.

When I got my custom-made road bike (I was in a motorcycle accident right before moving out here, so not all of the settlement went to student loans), I learned about the horrors of cotton socks.  They made fun of me when I said my feet got cold.  They said, “well of course, you’re wearing cotton socks.”  I said, “there are other types of socks beside cotton ones?”

Number 3:  Trader Joes

How awesome is this place or what??  It’s a grocery store, but beyond that, I don’t know how to describe it.  I think it is an organic food / natural food place, but all I know is that I love the type of food that they sell.  Really good chocolate-pecan pie this week for turkey day.

Number 2:  Marymoor Park

Part a:  The Velodrome

Friday nights (and maybe Weds too) in the summer they have track bicycle racing.  How cool is that!?

Part b:  The 40 acre Dog park

Miss your dog from home?  Just go to the dog park and hang out and meeting tons of dogs.  There’s even the river for the retrievers to jump in and fetch tennis balls.  The hounds probably love going through the bushes after rabbits or whatever wildlife lives there.

Part c:  Easy access to Redmond Town Center

Watch the soccer games.  Watch the radio control airplanes dogfight.  Play fetch with Fido.  And then walk the 5-10 minutes to the Redmond Town Center for more socialization with Fido.

And the number one thing I wished I had known as soon as I moved here:

The 25.1 mile trail from Marymoor Park to Gasworks Park in Seattle. 

I brought my piece of junk bike from Mississippi up here during my move.  I tried to ride up and down Avondale Road, but obviously that wasn’t fun.

Someone along the way told me of the Sammamish River trail that connects to the Burk-Gilman trail.  I had no clue what they were talking about, but eventually I found it from Marymoor (of course, it was right there at the Redmond entrance).

So, I’m riding down the trial thinking, “wow, if only I had this when I was a kid riding 50 miles a day out of boredom.”  And then, just like in the Blind Melon “No Rain” video where the little lost bumble bee finds all of the other bumble bees in this park, I turned the corner and saw the Woodenville / Bothel park.  There were hard-core cyclists talking, people having picnics, rollerbladers, joggers, people tossing Frisbees (or do I have to say Universal Flying Discs).  The sun started shining brighter, the air was crisper and warmer, and I knew I had finally found the place where I belonged.

Eventually, I built up the strength to make it to Gasworks park.  I have chronic tendonitis in my shoulders (I decided at the age of 13 I would play basketball, so I took this old basketball goal to a pecan tree, tied a rope to it, and pulled it up the tree.   I succeeded, but it wasn’t worth it).  I can’t stay in the cycling position for more than 5-10 miles without having to stop and stretch.

Gasworks park was amazing.  I had no clue what awaited me when the trail ended.  I just got off my bike and followed the crowd.  When in doubt, follow the person in front of you (unless you are getting on the bus to go home!)  And there Union Bay opened in front of me and I saw the Space Needle.  There were sailboats in the bay and sea plans were landing next to them.  I just sat there in disbelief that I lived in a place like this.

Funny how the majority of the items on this list involve either food or exericse. =)

Comments (5)

  1. I’m moving over in January so this should come in handy…

  2. saraford says:

    A friend told me my first year here that he wished someone would have told him that people snowboard or ski during the winter.

    I’m from New Orleans, so i’m about as comfortable in the snow as the N.O. Saints are at a NFL playoff game. Sad analogy, but true.

    I would have added "Winter Mountain Sports" to the list, but the last time i tried snowboarding, i went back to Bellevue in an ambulance. =)

  3. TAG says:


    In my first day in Seattle I also was lost becouse of getting out of bus early.

    Have to spend 1.5 hours walking to find a phone at gas station.

  4. kfarmer says:

    Have you ever watched the Nutcracker at the PNW Ballet? I have.. It was a mindscramble!

    Seriously — Maurice Sendak did the set, if it’s the same set I saw. Very appropriate.

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