I added Tacoma to my list when my friend Molly invited me to stay with her while she visited the area for work. It's a quick trip from Portland, so I took back roads all the way, avoiding the rain-soaked highway. I stopped to see the World's Largest Egg in Winlock and the visitor center for Mount St. Helens National Volcanic Monument. I watched a terrifying film about the 1980 eruption and was sort of glad that the rain and fog would keep me from visiting the mountain itself, just in case.
Molly is the kind of person who not only doesn't bat an eyelash when you announce that you need to go for a long walk, she will walk you until your legs fall off. So, that's what we did. We were staying on the waterfront, right next to a wide path full of dogs and their people, bikers, kids, and runners (insane people). The sun was shining and it wasn't too cold (for me, anyway); it was good to be out in the air and moving again after a day in the car.
The next morning I went into town and had a coffee, then wandered around the Old City Hall Historic District, ogling buildings and signs, walking down the Spanish Steps, and peering into shop windows. There weren't a lot of people out, but almost everyone I passed smiled or said good morning. It's a strange impression, but this town felt so clean to me. The sidewalks were wide and free of litter, everyone was so nice, and it all just had this freshly scrubbed feel that I can't exactly put my finger on.
Tacoma is the hometown of Dale Chihuly, whose work I've been lucky to see in a few places during my travels. There's a glass museum across a pedestrian bridge that features a couple of Chihuly installations, but I'll get to that in another post.
I went to Seattle with Molly to attend her work meeting. On the way to the venue a cab drove right up over one of those giant concrete balls, just like the ones in front of Target, and came right for us on the sidewalk. Thankfully, there was also a large concrete planter, which saved us from being squished. I'm sure Molly is still having flashbacks about nearly being run over. I was so wrapped up in puzzling over how the whole thing was possible - it was a Prius, for Pete's sake! - that I didn't feel afraid.
I tend to become calmer as things around me escalate, but you'd think a car coming straight at me would invoke some sort of flight response. I'll just file that one away to mull over at a later date.