The Two Walks: The Walk You Take With Your Friends, And The Walk You Take Alone (Or the story of New Year's Eve) / by Kevin Swantek

The Walk You Take With Friends:

At 11:30 on New Years we all left a friend's house on Queen Anne to begin the long half mile walk to Kerry Park to watch Seattle's fireworks at the Space needle. For anyone unfamiliar with Kerry Park, it is a vantage point from Queen Anne that looks down on Downtown Seattle. One can see the Space needle, The Great Wheel, the P.I.s old globe, and as a brilliant backdrop you can also see Mt. Rainier. It's a spectacular view, and there's a reason that so many people use Kerry Park for their wedding photos. 

The walk to Kerry Park was a lot of fun. Everyone had there solo cups in hand, and we all chatted as we walked down. I was talking to a dude who's a photographer in LA, and also does some roadying. I believe he was up visiting friends and family for the holidays. I also met chick who does hair and costume work for local theater. I always like meeting new people.

View from Kerry Park

View from Kerry Park

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The walk took about twenty minutes. We arrived at Kerry Park about 10 to midnight. I hard to know if it's merely hundreds, or thousands of people who turn up to watch from there. When we arrived, the spaceneedle was still clearly visible, and we could even see the The Great Wheel lit up on the waterfront. Sparklers started getting handed out by a friend, with a bag of quaint fireworks, and the champagne was cracked. Somewhere during all of that a wall of fog rolled in, and the Spaceneedle disappeared. By the time the countdown began, it was really just some fuzzy glowing lights going off behind the fog. That's not to say the experience wasn't still magical. Some where in the crowd some let  off a japanese lantern into the sky. The loan lantern floated up into the sky, quickly disappearing into the fog. I tried to get my phone out fast enough to take a picture, but couldn't. As everyone cheered to ring in the new year, we lit our sparklers and toasted with champagne. After the Spaceneedle fireworks were over, we began our walk back to the house.

Halfway between Kerry Park and the house we stopped at an empty baseball field to light the few bottle rockets we had. The fog was so thick that once we we're on the field it was like we were in our own little entertainment bubble. Everything outside of the bubble didn't exist anymore. It looked like everyone was having more fun with our own personal fireworks show, than we did watching the Spaceneedle fireworks. After the the bottle rockets were gone, and the last of the other little crackling fireworks were set off, we finally left our fog bubble for the house.

At the house everyone chatted a little while longer, before slowly beginning to trickle out. It was about ten to 2 a.m. when I finally set off for home. Earlier that night I had bussed it to the restaraunt we met at for dinner, and bummed a ride to the house. So when I left I didn't really have a plan as to how I would get back to Greenlake.

The Walk You Take Alone: 

I quickly decided after leaving my friend's house that I would walk from the top of Queen Anne to 15th Ave. W to try and catch the D Line bus. Timing wise this ended up being a good decision. Almost immediately after reaching the bus stop the bus arrived. The bus was pretty full, with riders in various states of soberness and drunkeness. While on the bus I used the One Bus Away app on my phone to see when the 48 bus would run at my second stop. I half-knew already that the 48 had stopped running for the night, but had hopped that maybe it would still be running. It was not. I then had to make a few mental calculations, and decided to get off the bus at 15th Ave. W and 65th. From there my plan was to walk east over Phinney ridge back home.

At this point it was about 2:30 a.m. At the time I didn't know the technical distance between there and home, but I knew it was do able. It turns out it's about 3.1 miles from where I got off the bus to my apartment. As I started walking I ran into two of 6 people I'd see out that night. One of the guys was standing, smoking a cigarette, and the other guy could barely stand. I was very thankful to not be that guy. I continued on a few blocks before trying to call a cab. The line was busy. I continued to walk, and flagged down a few cabs who were responding to calls, so they couldn't pick me up. At that point I fully committed to walking the rest of the way. 

Walking up Phinney Ridge isn't terribly tough, but it's a pretty steep grade, and when you just want to get home, it's not the most fun. Once I got to the top of Phinney, and started heading down the otherside. At that point the hard part was over, and I only had 2 miles left to go. At the bottom of Phinney, where it meets Greenlake, I saw a young bearded man in a trench coat, with a backpack walking past me in the opposite direction. He had a little bit a serial killer look, so I stayed on alert. At this point the fog was thickening again, and the road around the lake was beautiful and eerie. It was a great opportunity to take some photos with my phone.

As I reached the southern most end of the lake on Greenlake Way, I saw a guy walking off the beaten path with a flashlight (weird), and the silhouette of a couple walking the inside path of the lake. It was nice to know that at 3 a.m. I wasn't the only one still out. I didn't see another living soul on the last leg of my walk. It was a good opportunity to think about what I wanted for myself this upcoming year. Did I really want to be walking home alone next New Year's Eve? Did it matter that I was walking home alone this New Year's Eve? What do I want to be doing with my life? Where do I want to be 10 year? The only answers I came up with were that no I didn't mind walking home alone, and it would be nice if I wasn't walking home alone next year. Truth be told, when I got home at 3:30 a.m. I wasn't thinking too much about of that. I was just happy to finally be laying down in my bed. And then I just had to be up by 10:00 a.m. so I could meet friends for coffee and American Hustle.

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Overall I was happy with my New Years. I spent time with some of my very favorite friends, and also had some time alone to think about life. I suppose the two walks are a metaphor for how I live my life. Maybe my New Year's resolution will be to walk alone less.