I love Tacoma and while a long commute will probably doom any plans to settle there, I look forward to our many weekend trips there. With two years living in the great northwest tucked in our back pocket and more trips to Tacoma to count. It’s easy to appreciate the area’s laid back vibe and somewhat close proximity to our home. The problem, if you can call it one, with visiting any particular area is that you often find yourself visiting the same spots and doing the same things. And while repetition can often bring one temporary comfort, it can also produce torturous results. (Ever see the movie Groundhog Day? And while we did manage to include a couple of regular stops including High Voltage Records and Bluebeard Coffee, it was our breakfast at Marcia’s Silver Spoon Cafe and its industrial surroundings that really had us foaming at the mouth.
It goes without saying, that, as much as visiting those old comfortable might have it’s perks, the practice itself gets old rather quickly. So, instead of visiting the same places over and over again, try turning your chosen navigation app. off and let you natural sense of curiosity take over. Getting lost is often the best wsy to find yourself an adventure to remember. It can also net you a few more favorite places to go to.
Whenever leaving home with my wife. she always conducts a thorough search of what travels through the front door. “Keys? Check. Wallet? Check. Cell Phone? Check.” Anything beyond that, though, gets serious scrutiny. With my computer, hard drive and oversized headphones already packed and prepared for our end of the day stop for coffee and several hours of power writing and internet obsessive searching, the mere mention or sight of my camera bag usually brings on a scowl and interrogation as to what the hell do you need that for? (Now, granted, over the years I’ve added extra lenses, flashes and other tricks of the trade to my arsenal. Thus adding noticeable weight and the need for a bigger camera bag.)
However, despite a growing bag of tricks and a hard drive that’s busting at the seems, I still live and see through a photographers eye. After decades of shooting, I still feel the draw of documenting the places I’ve been and the things I’ve seen. Still, that look I get from my wife coupled with the desire to travel light, I’m learning to enjoy things with documenting them. And while I often regret leaving my camera behind, having my cell phone handy allows me a little creative relief. I snapped these shots just off 6th Ave. in Tacoma while returning to our car. It reminded me of my younger days going to hardcore shows throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut.
In support of Independent Bookstore Day, a celebration of books and the independent spirit that comes with owning, operating, working or choosing to shop in one. We headed to Tacoma to join in all the fun. Everything from the old school printing presses set up in the adjacent parking lot to the record, book and comic shop was so much fun. Though we missed the opportunity to take home the tacoccentric Tacoma shirt. We stayed in a line long enough to make one our own take home prints on one of the Wayzgoose! Letterpress machines. After that, it was off to Wooden City Bar for Pizza , Foss Waterway Seaport and a long look at the Tacoma Bridge before heading home. And though the rain the weather girl promised did come. It was hardly enough to put a damper on our plans.
As the dusk began to fall over the warm, sunny Tacoma sky and we continued to explore the industrial area just across the Tacoma Bridge. My wife kept asking “Do you smell that?” “It smells like shit.” After checking the bottom of my shoes and my tighty whities. I confidently replied “That’s horse shit.” Quickly and visibly puzzled, she cocked her head before asking “How do you know the difference between the smell of dog shit and horse shit?” Knowing an answer was required. I quickly replied “I grew up in New York City.” Despite that lingering smell and the questions of it’s origins. I really enjoyed my time under and around Tacoma Bridge.
While it’s seldom discussed outside the photographers circle. I am pretty sure there is something equivalent to a photographers boner. Though not thoroughly researched. I can assure you that there are a number of subjects that bring tingles to my lower parts. One of them is industrial photography and the kind that just might include a little trespassing. As someone who, at the age of seven considered construction sites part of his urban playground. I have a long history of being both physically and creatively drawn to industrial types of art, architecture and style.
Deciding to turn down a different street, take a different route and cross that bridge yesterday in Tacoma paid endless dividends. While we had already been having a stellar day of beautiful weather, good food, record shopping and coffee. The tail end of our visit, was by far the most rewarding. My eyes lit up as I spotted a collection of out of commission train cars just outside one of the industrial parks businesses. loudly urged “Stop.” “Stop.” “Stop the car.” As I jumped out of my seat toretrieve my camera from the trunk. Though I can’t wait to go back and further explore that particular area. I feel lucky to have a few worthwhile images to go home with.
Though our last several trips to Tacoma, Washington featured everything from sporadic rainfall to torrential downfall. This weekends attempt spared us of any such weather tantrums. Truth be told, I didn’t feel a drop until we walked back to our car to begin our voyage back to Seattle. During each prior trip to the area. My camera, perhaps due to the rain, never left the comfort of our cars trunk. Each time we’ve visited though, the talk of returning during dryer days to enjoy the areas personality and old world architecture.
If by any chance you find yourself in the area. Be sure to grab a bite at Alma Mater’s Honey on Fawcett Ave. Go crate digging at Hi- Voltage Records on nearby 6th Avenue. Window shopping on Antique Row and of course exploring City Hall and train station for starers. And while such sunny days may not show themselves anytime soon. During the times we’ve recently visited, all be it wet ones. We’ve seen enough to carve out a nice enough visit tht will surely endear us even more to an area we’ve come to love. Until then.
As we were driving in the pouring rain. I turned to my wife and asked if she preferred the year round rain of Seattle or the often bone chilling winters we got used to experiencing during our many years on the east coast. While I was almost certain of her answer. I was somewhat surprised by the break neck speed in which she answered. Considering the amount of time she spends complaining about the constant rain one has to get used to when living here. I can imagine her daydreaming about the bone chilling cold we endured while experiencing Christmas in Boston a few years ago.
xBeing that we’ve had to abort a Christmas visit to Portland Oregon and detour today’s drive to Olympia Washington today. I can relate to her frustration. Luckily, we decided to shorten today’s trip before it really started. Deciding to cut it somewhat short while filling up our gas tank at the local Costco. Though the rain would follow us on our reshaped visit to Tacoma. By the time we reached Broadway’s antique row, that rain seemed to dissipate to a few drops. I recall my wife commenting on how it was still raining as I began to retrieve my camera from the cars trunk. Just as I closed the trunk, the sky opened and began to pour rain down on my head as if the Gods were planning all along to exact revenge on me for all my recent fist shaking and thoughts of eternal damnation. Regardless of the weather or any vengeful acts by the Gods that be. We both love traveling and visiting Tacoma. We’ve promised to return under less threatening skies. Until then.