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 had a pleasant stay with Shannon’s parents out in Edwardsville, and visited the city for two days. We brought along gear and rented bikes from Big Shark so we could ride with Ryan and Charlotte on the Riverfront Trail we once knew so well. It surprised both of us how short it now seems.

New Orleans

Day drinking and nice dinners, as usual. Somehow it feels like we weren’t away for long.

Wednesday: Preservation Hall - fun tourist fodder Thursday: DJ Bird and The Stooges at The Well - amazing NOLA experience with great music, as a king I felt like a celebrity, even among members of Zulu. Then Le Bon Temps Roulé Friday: The Broadside to see Sweet Crude - a very different amazing local experience, an outdoor venue with…neo-cajun? Saturday: House party and porch concerts in the Milan neighborhood, then Tipitina’s where Bobby did his thing and took to the street to secure tickets to the sold out Galactic show. The opening act, Jarekus Singleton, was amazing in person though I’m not getting the same vibe from their recordings.

  1. 6 nights at Pan Pacific in Seattle
  2. 2 nights at W Loop in Chicago
  3. 5 nights at Edwardsville in St. Louis
  4. 7 nights at Broadmoor in New Orleans