Saturday, June 4, 2011


An Inside View of the Fremont Starbucks
(This and all subsequent images in this post are Hawaiian Odysseus photos.)

You can go to most major cities in our great country and notice the same phenomenon--every neighborhood will have its own distinct personality.

Fremont is no different.  

Then again, it's because Fremont is...well...DIFFERENT

It's about 66 degrees inside this coffee shop as I write this post at twenty minutes until 4 PM.  Outside, it's at least ten degrees warmer.  A beautiful and picturesque Pacific Northwest day has finally graced the area, and people cruising the sidewalks are bringing their own quantum mechanics theory to the forefront--i.e., shorts are getting shorter, and legs are getting longer.

No apologies...a guy like me feels right at home in this hamlet.

I'm sidewalk-shopping from my window vantage point here in Starbucks.  It's interesting to note how much difference a little bit of sun makes.  The Seattleites are out in droves.

Pardon me for just a few seconds while I check out the Mariners' score.  These guys have won  five or six series in a row, and maybe--just maybe--they'll have it in them to sweep a team (in this case, the Tampa Bay Rays).  Back in a jiff...

Nope, the Mariners lost today's game, 3-2.  The fourth and final game of this particular series will be played tomorrow afternoon.

Okay, so where was I?  Oh, yeah, in the middle of blogging about Fremont. 

Sorry about my peculiar ADD approach to writing today's post.  But I did this purposely to illustrate the very nature of Fremont.

In a nutshell, the local denizens proudly proclaim in their brochures their inherent right--THE FREEDOM TO BE PECULIAR.

There are several noteworthy indications of this belief that I hope to illustrate with the photos that follow.  I already hiked through parts of the town earlier in order to take a set of photos, but for some reason, the pictures never appeared in my camera's memory.  Ah, well, I'm not complaining--I'm thankful for an excuse to give this town another touristy go-around.

Friends have told me that there's a local celebration each summer in this town known as the SUMMER SOLSTICE PARADE AND PAGEANT.  This event is sponsored by the Fremont Arts Council.  While this event provides its attendees with lots of enjoyable and entertaining activities, the most memorable characters that have truly put Fremont on the map are the NUDE SOLSTICE CYCLISTS.

For those of us who grew up in the sixties, perhaps the best comparison I could draw for you is to think of the Fremont population and lifestyle as throwbacks to the HIPPIE GENERATION.

But one must guard against overgeneralizing the area.  Not unlike what is occurring in the region I presently reside in--the Rainier Valley in southeast Seattle--Fremont is experiencing its own form of gentrification.

Along that line, one of the recurring themes of the Hawaiian Odysseus posts is the metaphorical image of a giant straddling the Pacific with one foot on Kauai and the other foot in Seattle.  With that in mind, I find the turn of the (19th - 20th) century buildings, simply renovated and now the sites of dozens of small businesses, very similar to the "Old West" architecture in Kapaa town where I grew up,  

Indeed, even the relentless traffic--compounded even more when the Fremont drawbridge goes up to facilitate the passage of tall boats through the Lake Washington Ship Canal--is reminiscent of the huge vehicle congestion in the middle of as well as just outside of Kapaa.

Also, there's the water...the beautiful expanse of aqua, azure, turquoise, and emerald green, mixed with the foundational elements of murk and mud...that paints the final cosmetic makeup on this peculiar neighborhood town.

Leaving Starbucks and am now making a more involved and observant tour around town.  First, an external shot of the coffee shop...

 Starbucks in Fremont.

In keeping with its bohemian, artsy reputation, it would only follow that Fremont has its very own rocket ship.  When the great quake hits, the Fremont locals will be well prepared.

Blue Moon Burgers
featuring Long Valley Ranch's 100% beef
from free range cattle; no additives, no b.s. (well...)

One of the several restaurants in Fremont with outdoor seating.

Again, in keeping with the theme of this post...

I really appreciated the creativity of the merchants--not just their wares, but also the names they chose for their respective businesses.

Peet's Coffee & Tea--
the very best mocha and a quietly superb inventory of great teas and coffee beans.

Soft-spoken art abounds even in the A-frame billboards.

More on these guys up ahead...just follow the arrow.

At the Fremont Cigar.
That's Ed on the left and John on the right.  
John's handsome grandson didn't want to be left out.  

Hey, folks, if you're ever in the Fremont area, please check their store out.  Ed and John are from eastern Washington (as am I), and I had the pleasure of seeing their innovative talent and creativity at work.  They actually make stringed instruments that have a surprisingly wonderful acoustic sound out get this!...RECYCLED TOBACCO BOXES!  And what's really terrific is that they only started putting these instruments together last week.  AMAZING INNOVATION, that's for sure!  I teased them about how appropriate their work is when you consider the PECULIARITY of Fremont, and they good-naturedly agreed.  A great pair of guys doing wonderful work and, of all places, right there on the sidewalk...which makes it really fun for the tourists and looky-loos like me with cameras at the ready.

Just two wild and crazy banjo-pickin' guys!

Aren't these terrific?  

This is ground-floor productivity.  I'm just honored that Ed, John, and John's daughter and son-in-law were kind enough to permit me to take photos of their tiny but nostalgically appealing shop.  I'm blessed to meet people like them who are open to this kind of old-fashioned "you scratch my back, I'll scratch yours" business acumen.  The parallel contemporary phrase is "win-win."  

In today's economically challenging era, Americans would do well to honor the small businessmen and promote the style of the old days when the founding fathers and, later , the early pioneers of this country practiced a very simple bartering system.  I was grateful for this very sort of exchange which took place this afternoon between these wonderful "transplanted" eastern Washingtonians and me...I bartered my marketing (this blog and its social media links to Facebook and Twitter) in exchange for their willingness to provide me with literary and pictorial substance for my blog.  If it results in even just one person making it over to Fremont sometime and saying, "Hey, Ed and John!  I read about you guys online in this crazy blog!" I will be one happy Hawaiian.  

With my upcoming move back to Walla Walla County, it may be some time before I make it back to visit these guys, but I'm going to bring my ukulele with me so we can jam right there on that sidewalk.

Products for sale at the Fremont Cigar.

Looking at all the cigars inside the cigar humidifier.
These are some primo quality cigars, alright!  
(Sorry about the flash!  I had to take this photo through the glass door.)

A Collector's Item--
TIME Magazine Cover of Secretariat

Carlos Fuente of the Dominican Republic--
Cigar Entrepreneur Extraordinaire!

Poster of Frank Zappa in a Compromising Moment--
Cigar, Frank?

Stone Pony

Tawon Thai--
One of several outstanding Fremont restaurants.

Yak's Teriyaki--
Generous portions of Japanese and Chinese cuisine.

Shades of James Joyce!

Flying Apron Bakery--
I love the creative name!

Law Offices

One of several quaint sidewalks in Fremont.

Jive Time Records

Caravan Carpets

This gorgeous carpet adorned the sidewalk in the vicinity of
Caravan Carpets.

Why, Comrade Lenin, what in the world are you doing here in Fremont?

The Notorious Fremont Troll.

That's what happened to my VW!

Just a simple small town look...ah, but what action!

These Fremont locals were waiting to catch the express bus to Hawaii.

Heading south on Fremont Avenue.  
Queen Anne Hill up ahead forms the southern boundary of Fremont.

Turning around, I took this photo of the Greek restaurant, COSTAS OPA, across the street.

As I headed towards the Fremont Bridge, I turned to my left and saw the lofty Aurora Bridge.

From the vantage point of the Fremont Bridge, I took this photo of a small pleasure craft headed west on the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Another boat, this one headed east, with a kayaker attached.

From where I stood on the east side of the Fremont Bridge, I photographed the opposite side of the street, or the west side of the bridge.

  Another boating family.

A better shot of the Aurora Bridge with Capitol Hill in the distance.

A shot of the marina on the north bank of the Lake Washington Ship Canal.

Finally, an underbelly photograph of the Aurora Bridge.

The weather was perfect for my project this afternoon in Fremont.  All told, I must've walked close to five miles today.  It was great exercise and well worth the effort.  I captured some great images, met some wonderful people, and added precious memories of the Emerald City to my growing collection.

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