On Saturday I bid adieu to Seattle’s iconic Alaskan Way Viaduct, along with the Battery Street Tunnel. Both of them were not considered up to current seismic standards, and are being replaced by the new State Road 99 Tunnel, which is scheduled to open today. Read more about it here.
It turns out that I wasn’t alone in wanting to say goodbye. It’s estimated that 100,000 other people walked the tunnel and viaduct this weekend. I’m sure many of them felt a lot more nostalgic than this relative newcomer did. The viaduct had been around since the 50’s, after all.
I was enjoying taking in the view for the last time, and marveling over the massive construction project. I had also expected a different kind of celebration. I was disappointed.
I was expecting food trucks and vendors and souvenirs. There were more port-a-potties than there were food trucks, and there wasn’t a single souvenir to be had. There were a few musicians here and there, and a smattering of antique cars. That’s about it.
I did enjoy checking out the graffiti in the tunnel. I think the city missed a great historic opportunity there. The tunnel is eventually going to be filled in with the debris from the viaduct and sealed off. They should have handed out sharpies and allowed people to write on the walls. Imagine what a treasure trove that would have been 500 years from now, what a time capsule, if we humans have managed not to completely destroy life as we know it. Archeologists would have been fascinated with what we found important enough to say, one day in time, back in 2019. So while others were feeling nostalgic, I was feeling kind of sad at historic opportunities missed.
And then I ran into a coworker. He was standing mid-tunnel, next to the office door. That’s a room most people don’t even know exists. I certainly had no idea. So he let us peek inside. How many people have come and gone in that office over the years? I wonder. I felt privileged to get a glimpse of this lonely little room.
But even better, my coworker had a sharpie. And I took advantage of it.
So, if you are reading my humble little blog post 500 years from now, first of all, nice to meet you. Second of all, if you’re excavating the Battery Street Tunnel, just outside the office door, you might still be able to see my graffiti. “Barb Abelhauser, Bridgetender, 2019”. That was me. I was there. In that tunnel. Saying goodbye.
Here are some pictures from the experience.
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Isn’t it strange to watch a movie that you absolutely adored at another time in your life, only to discover that now you find it creepy? Sadly, I’ve had that experience on more than one occasion. It makes me wonder who I used to be, and why I used to think the way I did.
For example, as a kid, I absolutely adored Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. But now there are a couple scenes that give me the willies. The first is Chu Chi Face, in which the Baroness Bomburst is clad in a bustier, and strikes sexy poses as she and the Baron pretend to be all lovey-dovey, when they actually despise each other. In fact, while she seems to be sexually wooing him, he’s attempting to kill her. Soft porn, anyone? The second is the Child Catcher number, in which he baits children with candy only to then abduct them.
And then, of course, there’s Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Three words: The Tunnel Scene. It’s a combination of a sick acid trip and a disturbing poem. It’s downright twisted. Willy Wonka was clearly a warped individual overall. I would not leave my child in a room alone with him. Factory inheritance be damned.
Later, when I was older and should have known better, I got taken in by the movie Grease. In which Sandy, a sweet, clean-cut girl, is groomed into thinking that the only way she can get her guy (who, incidentally, is a not-very-bright thug wannabe, as played by cult member John Travolta), is by transforming herself into a frizzy-haired, spandex-wearing, overly-made-up, cigarette-smoking, high-heeled temptress. “You’re the One that I Want.” Great message for the girls of the world. “Feel your way,” indeed.
I know that my earlier acceptance of certain scenes were a product of the times in which I was living, but jeez…
She lead me across the country and she helps me find my way around this new befuddling city of mine, so I’m really extremely dependent upon the voice that comes out of my GPS. I’m truly grateful for all she does for me. But there are also times when I want to slap her silly.
She has a cruel sense of humor. I think she knows I’m mildly dyslexic. She loves to say, “Turn left” when her map is clearly indicating that I need to turn right. I have learned the hard way that when that happens, you must ignore her voice and follow her arrows.
She has also led me to open fields and insisted there were roads where no roads have ever been. Once she led me to the edge of a cliff. GPS Girl is not to be entirely trusted. But she knows she’s all I have. I’m also weirdly connected to her because she was a gift from my late boyfriend.
Yesterday GPS Girl and I were deep into the hate portion of our love/hate relationship. I was trying to get to a building downtown where they were giving city employees free flu shots. Oh, she got me there all right. But how do you explain to her that the parking in downtown Seattle absolutely SUCKS? Getting me to the front door isn’t good enough. I then have to find a place to dump my car. That’s not her fault, technically speaking.
But as I drove around and around and around, hearing her smug tone as she said, “recalculating” was setting my teeth on edge. And then at one point I turned into a tunnel under a building, assuming it was a parking garage, and it turned out to be an on ramp for the interstate. Who builds a skyscraper over the top of an on ramp, for crying out loud? And since I was in a tunnel, GPS Girl went silent. She hates tunnels. I didn’t know where the hell I was until I was across the canal and miles away from my flu shot. When she woke up again, she tried sending me the wrong way down several one way streets, and up off ramps. I was beginning to think that she was seriously effing with me.
I had no choice but to ignore her instructions. She started to sound increasingly irritated. “Turn around when possible.” Why? So I could go back to the wrong way street? We were at an impasse. So GPS Girl pulled out the ultimate trump card; something I had never seen her do before. “There is no route to your destination.” In other words, you can’t get there from here. You’re on your own, Choochie.
So I did the only thing one can do when one has seriously pissed off one’s partner. I aimlessly drove around in circles, keeping quiet, until GPS Girl had a chance to calm down and reconsider her actions. Finally she told me how to get back downtown.
It was probably my imagination, but she sounded a little sheepish. Apology accepted. For now.