Posted by: silverstar98121 | December 13, 2008

Polar Expedition, Seattle Style

So here I sit, my mitts wrapped around a cup of Rainy Day gourmet cocoa, eating a bowl of smoked salmon chowder, and trying to thaw out. It’s really cold and wet here today, 36° F. with winds in the 15-20 mph range with gusts up to 45 mph.  All right, I hear you people back East sniggering, and the ones in Alaska and Alberta laughing out loud and slapping their thighs. But this is Seattle. It rarely gets that cold, and it just feels like snow in the air. The forecast is for 1-3 inches overnight, with temperatures dipping down to the 20’s. Which is enough to bring the city to a standstill. Not only do most of the transplants come from places they don’t learn to drive in  snow, but the roads are built straight up and down the hills. Steep hills. Lots of them. But I went Christmas shopping anyway. 

I had to go to the fabric store in Ballard. And I knew the weather report was nasty, so first thing is to bundle up. Out come the long johns, on go the insulated boots. New coat, hat, gloves, check. Heavy coat for Friday, check. And we were off. Now riding Epona to Ballard in the summer is a pleasant journey. Riding Epona to Ballard in what was happening today is nucking futz. So off to the bus we go. 

The bus is three blocks from here, and usually runs about every 15 minutes. Not today. I sat at the bus stop for a good half-hour, while it was raining buckets and the wind was blowing off the bay right  at me. Thank goddess for bus shelters. I got so cold I could barely load Epona on the bus. I was slightly defrosted by the time we got to our stop, but still cold. First order of business is lunch. So we stopped in at the Great Harvest Bread Company for a sandwich, bowl of soup, and a mocha. The broccoli-cheddar soup was really hot, and by the time I finished it, I was feeling human again. 

On to the fabric store in search of a parka zipper. And found just what I needed. And yarn. Lots of yarn. Must knit and crochet. Good thing it was the cheap stuff, and that I can’t afford the good stuff.  I can’t keep a knitter’s stash, like some people, I don’t have a room or closet to stow it in. But I have to have a little bit, so my hands are busy when I watch TV. 

One thing I noticed both last night and today is how empty the stores are. You could have shot a cannon in the mall last night and not hit anyone. Hardly anyone in Barnes and Noble. Hardly anyone in the fabric store, and only about half the amount of  merchandise, too. Ominous. Not even the DIY people are buying. The last couple of years I couldn’t have gotten my scooter in that store, it was so crowded. Long lines at the fabric cutting table. Not this year. Cordons set up to direct non-existent lines. Ghosts of Christmases past, circa 1930. 

My hands had gotten really cold, so after the fabric store, I decided to go to REI to get a really good pair of gloves. This was a two bus ordeal. I had about twenty minutes to wait for the second bus, so I went into Trader Joes. And bought some cookies. I think every shopper in Seattle was there. They are spending what money they have on food, apparently. Went out to wait for the bus. And it didn’t come. And it didn’t come. While we were waiting it started raining heavily, then turned to sleet, then snow for about five minutes. Or just long enough to panic all the drivers. And finally, twenty minutes late the bus  showed up. And we were off again. Thank the goddess of the hearth the bus was warm. 

By this time, the mocha and soup had kicked in, and I really had to pee. So I race up to the second floor, and do my business. And since I’m up there anyway, I decide to see about buying some socks. Very expensive socks. I’m going to pin the pairs together because I can’t afford to lose any of them. But they will be warm. And they were on sale. Protip: Don’t wear cotton socks with insulated boots. It doesn’t wick and your feet get cold.  Wear wool. Actually, wearing cotton anywhere you might get wet is risking hypothermia, because it doesn’t wick, it just sogs. There is a saying in the outdoor community, “Cotton Kills.” And you can die if you are wet, the wind is blowing, even at 60° F. And now I have to confess I had on a cotton sweater, because I made the mistake of buying them some time ago. What saved me in this weather is the waterproof, breathable coat from Columbia. So now I have some yarn that is not cotton to make sweaters with. And some proper socks for being outdoors in the winter. Or summer for that matter. 

And then down to find gloves. Oh, yes, I found them. And they were mighty expensive. Good thing they handed me a 20% off coupon at the door. The gloves are  a lot warmer than the other ones, which have now been relegated to my spring coat. I also can’t afford to lose  the new gloves, either.

Then back out to wait for the bus. Or not. I see by the schedule that it’s another 20-30 minute wait. So I head off downtown. By the time I’d ridden the six or eight blocks, I was cold again. And only half-way home. Wait, I can ride the monorail home! Yes! Definitely worth a buck not to have to ride the rest of the way. So glad to be home in my warm apartment. I think tomorrow is bread baking, blogging, sewing, knitting, wish I had a fireplace day. Hmm, maybe a screensaver…


  1. We’ve experienced the same thing around here. Go into the shopping malls and no people. Strange. We just look at each other and say, “okay, this is the part when the zombies come out.”

  2. when i was running with the trainers, they told us “cotton is rotten” – and i found that to be true. being cheap and lazy over-scheduled, it took awhile before i spent the cash on good gear – and it was worth every penny. lasts forever, and keeps you warm and dry! your purchases will serve you well!

    you didn’t make it to Archie McPhee, but it sounds like you live close enough that you can just about go any time! (sigh) i want to work there…

  3. We had the same forecast as you, and really didn’t get much of anything either. Wind, rain- but no snow and no freeze. If it’s going to get close to winter weather, I think we should at least get snow for a couple of hours for the kids.

  4. Kitty- The zombies were there in the form of store clerks. They were so bored you had to wake them from the dead to get service.

    Daisy Fae- If it had been a nice day, even for a Seattle winter, I’d have gone to Archie McPhees. But it’s a bit of a ride away on a different bus route, and not of the same priority as my other errands, unfortunately. They’re moving next year to Wallingford, a one-bus trip, so will make the journey then. I’ve also ordered a pair of wheelchair weather chaps to keep my legs warm. Wish they were already here.

    Sal-Yeah, we need a couple hours of snow. Of course, last year I was at the grocery store when it started to snow, so I had to ride home in it. Not. Fun.

  5. I had heard the forecast for Seattle and immediately thought of you. The nice thing about days like today is looking back after they’re over.

    Glad to hear you’re getting suitably geared up too.

    We’re on a cold slide here now as the temp has dropped steadily all day from -24 C. It’s now nearly -30 C. Midkid is working the door at a club in the city; this requires her to be outside. According to her facebook update she’s wearing all of her clothes tonight.

  6. if you don’t want to lose your gloves you can sew them onto the sleeves of your coat with elastic – that’s what my mother used to do when I was a child….

  7. Brr, that is a miserable sounding day although you seem almost cheerful about it. I admire that.

  8. We used to have ‘idiot mitts’ as kids, nursemyra. A length of string or wool attached to both mittens and then threaded through our coat sleeves so they dangled out of each sleeve.

    Silverstar, everytime I mention how cold I am (the thermostat says 12ºC in my bedroom in the morning) Canadians and Brits scoff at me for my lack of stamina. I think they are missing the point that I’m talking about the temperature INSIDE my house.

    When I was a kid it often got down to -40º in winter (C or F – it doesn’t matter at that point) but the houses were always toasty warm. Here I’m wearing three layers of t-shirts/sweaters and a scarf, with the rest of me under the duvet, and it’s just about cosy.

  9. “idiot mitts” oh dear I’m laughing in a most unpc way….. 😉

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