Beating The Heat In Seattle

When I started writing about “surviving Seattle” it was all about the rain, cold and moldy feeling that hangs over the city’s reputation. So, after living in Saigon for three years, it feels a little cheeky to talk about a heat wave in Seattle. Relatively speaking it should be nothing but a breath of fresh air, but it’s worth thinking about surviving Seattle in a different way this year. Today is the 10th day of 90F+ temperatures in the last two months and the forecast for the next four days is more of the same. We’re out of practice here, and without air conditioning or trade winds to cool things off it takes a little effort to think about cooling strategies. As a warm weather person I love these days but it’s no fun, even for me, to sit indoors and sweat it out.

Condo pool

I’m lucky; my own strategies start right at home. Our condo complex has an outdoor pool and I start every day, June through September, with a wake up swim. The pool is half the length of an Olympic short course pool, 12 ½ meters, and though it’s no good for serious lap swimming, but it’s a challenge to do them underwater. It takes me 20 minutes to do 50 laps, and I have the pool all to myself. The sun pops up over the top of the building next door at exactly 7:10 this time of year. At 7:30 the noise curfew is lifted and the seaplane fleet from Kenmore Air has lined up ready to takeoff as soon as the clock strikes 7:30. I love to watch them break free of the water and climb out over the city. Such a great way to start the morning and a reminder of what a great place to live.

Kenmore, the town, is a perfect location for us. It sits midway on the Burke-Gilman trail, part of a 50+ mile multi-use Rails to Trails recreational system. The Burke sits on the other side of our condo, so we can ride right out the gate and onto the trail – no schlepping of bikes or having to deal with car traffic. Yesterday I rode 15 miles south to the Seattle Tennis Club and watched part of the Washington State Open and the Blue Angels practice for their show on Sunday. From the stands this was my view:


It was hot in the stands, but the ride itself is shaded most of the way by large deciduous trees. I stopped for a Jamba Juice cooler at University Village Shopping Center and then rode the rest of the way home. What way to get exercise, beat the heat, watch top-level tennis, and enjoy Seattle.

Much as I love the outdoor stuff I know it’s not for everyone when it’s 90F. There are other ways to beat the heat and we’ve tried many of them. Two weeks ago my grandson, Will, was visiting and since he lives in rural Idaho we were thinking of things we could do that were a little out of his wheelhouse. He’s very bright and advanced for his 12 years so we proposed a Shakespeare play. He had seen, and liked, Romeo and Juliet so it wasn’t that big a stretch to suggest Shakespeare in the Park’s version of As You Like It. Grab a blanket, bring a picnic, and sit on the lawn at Richmond Beach Park. It was a hoot and the actors and minimal sets were very good. Orlando was a hunk, Rosalind a beauty, and the audience appreciative. Here’s the fight scene.

As You Like It

These alternatives don’t need to be highbrow. When it’s hot in the afternoon there’s always a 4:00 movie in an air-conditioned theater. Last week we saw a funny little Swedish film called The 100 Year-old Man Who Disappeared. It was light and crazy and, like all good films, left the audience with a little to chew on. And if 4 o’clock movies aren’t your thing, Seattle is the heart of a Happy Hour movement where every good restaurant in town is offering good value for showing up early. In the hot weather my appetite turns down and two meals a day, a late breakfast and early snacky supper, take care of the hunger and calorie count very well.

Speaking of eating and the bike trail, two of our favorite stops within 10 miles of home are Woodinville’s Hollywood Tavern, an upscale bistro that used to be a biker bar and the 192 Taproom, a craft brew taproom that was once a plant nursery. I especially like the 192. It’s enormous sawdust and wood chip yard full of unmatched white plastic chairs and tree stump tables is a magnet for the bicycle crowd. Late in the afternoon and every weekend a vast inventory of leaning or hung bicycles piles up along the chain-link fence while their owners check out the latest craft brew and listen to local bands take the stage in the sawdust yard for an open mike opportunity to go public. Some are good, some bad, but it’s always fun to have music with the brewski. Too bad this photo wasn’t taken on the weekend when the bikes hide the fence and the building.


There are other ways to beat the heat and have fun – ride the trail around to Golden Gardens on the Puget Sound side of town, stop at Westward to enjoy happy hour with your feet in the water and your ass in an Adirondack chair, or stop to admire the Fremont troll or Wall of Death under two of Seattle’s many bridges. Whatever works for you to beat the heat is great, but don’t complain. Enjoy. Remember the rains will come.

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