Return to the USA

21 nights starting

Shannon and I revisited familiar places to celebrate being “set free” by vaccination.


Seattle is both comforting in familiarity and surprisingly different. Pioneer Square is even more full of tents and even feels dangerous. Downtown retail is clearly struggling, and 3rd Ave is as sketchy as ever. But South Lake Union is clearly under the protective umbrella of Amazon and has plenty of businesses open (most a new location of well-established restaurants from other neighborhoods). New skyscrapers abound and Godfather Bezos is providing security services. The Amazon banana cart pedals around giving out free food in a shiny, sterile corporate city less than a kilometer from tent colonies. It’s gross.

Capitol Hill, though, is very much itself. There’s more street art than before, maybe lingering from the Autonomous Zone. Cafe Flora remains one of my favorite places to eat in the world, and the views on the walk from the Sound side of the hill to the lake are still exceptional.

The US culture shock is intense and I am glad to have left, yet I still love this city and consider it (a) home.


We noticed over the years that Chicago got quieter. There was less honking, drivers seemed less aggressive from a pedestrian POV. That wasn’t true this trip. Coming from Seattle, the urban canyon is less impressive. The river bridges and architecture, though, will always make this city a gem.

The reason for our stays here have always been the convenience of visiting grandma Betty along the train route to St. Louis. This first visit without her is sad, and I wonder if we’ll ever have cause to return.

St. Louis

We stayed with Shannon’s parents out in Edwardsville but visited the city for two days.


  1. 6 nights at Pan Pacific
  2. 2 nights at W Loop
  3. 5 nights at Edwardsville
  4. 7 nights at Broadmoor