Monday, April 02, 2007

The Influence of Seattle on the Rest of the Country!

After thinking about my trip to Charlotte, I decided the positives outweighed the negatives. I did get to be with my husband and he told me he was happy he didn't have to suffer the flight cancellations alone. He has traveled so much by himself over the years. Being in Charlotte was pleasant and relaxing and warm. And I am always curious about different cultures. Unfortunately, anyone who travels around our country finds things are becoming homogenous. The malls have the exact same stores and streets are lined with the exact same fast food places.

I love Seattle and its culture but I would like to keep it to ourselves. I want us to be unique. I would like every city to be unique so that when we travel somewhere else, it would all be new and different. We did manage to find restaurants with Southern cooking and local ingredients but there were moments where we could have been in downtown Seattle. For example:

1. Starbucks. The hotel where we stayed had a Starbucks kiosk and the rooms all had packets of Starbucks coffee. For this, I was grateful. I really really like good coffee. Actually, the cruise we were on in February had a Seattle Best Coffee (SBC in local parlance) on the ship. There was no line and the latte's were terrible, though. On the streets of Charlotte, I noticed a couple of Starbucks as well. I used to go to the original downtown Seattle Starbucks when it was still the only one on earth.

I do believe that the Puget Sound area maintains uniqueness by the shear number of coffee places. I do not see this anywhere but here. As I drove to my church this morning for a meeting, I counted the coffee shops or drive-thru kiosks in ten minutes between my house and my church. TEN--yes--ten places to get a latte. Three of these spots are Starbucks. I did not count the Starbucks under construction nor did I count the Starbucks at one end of Mukilteo Speedway or the Whidbey Island Coffee Company at the other end of the Speedway near the ferry. They all have lines. We are uber-caffeinated. I also realized there is a significant gap between coffee places right where our church is. A drive-thru in our parking lot might just be a good money maker. I can see it all now---"Lattes for the Lord!"

2. Nordstrom. I remember when it was our own local department store along with Frederick & Nelson and the Bon Marche on three different corners in downtown Seattle. Frederick & Nelson was quite upscale but it went out of business. The Bon was taken over by Macy's and Nordstrom has spread everywhere. The malls in Charlotte have a Nordstrom and Macy's as does the Mall of America in Minneapolis.

3. McCormick & Schmick's. I guess the original seafood restaurant was in Portland, Oregon but it spread to Seattle shortly thereafter. We have three or four in the downtown area. Sure enough, M&S is one of the main "uptown" restaurants in Charlotte. We ate there one night mainly because they had great patio seating and we wanted to be outside.

4. Dale Chihuly. This has been a complete surprise to me. I wrote about how the casino at the new expensive hoity toity Atlantis resort in Nassau, Bahamas had one of his glass chandeliers. I really did not realize that he was known throughout the world for his glass art. To me, he is a local Seattle celebrity artist. There I was in uptown Charlotte at a Southern arts and crafts museum when I noticed the gigantic white chandelier in the lobby was none other than---a Chihuly. I could have been standing in the lobby of Benaroya Hall in Seattle. The people I was with were from the East Coast and were big fans of his work. Who knew?

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116.5 x 120 x 96"

Well, I am home now and drinking my own coffee made from Starbucks beans. I miss the 80 degree weather I experienced last week. As a matter of fact, it snowed here in Mukilteo last night. Yes, it was just a skiff and the sun came out but I still had to wear gloves on my walk today. Spring is here and our state flower, the rhododendren (rhodie in local parlance) is blooming all over the place. I took these photos in my yard just a little while ago.

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