On our return to Seattle, friend Boyd very kindly offered to not only let us use his apartment’s parking spot again, but also take up a bed in his guest room. After sleeping in the back of a slightly stuffy and damp van since Milwaukee, we enthusiastically accepted.
We arrived in Seattle early that afternoon, long before Boyd finished work, so we decided to leave Fuego and stretch our legs around town. We visited a shop or two before the sun started to set and the evening chill swept in. As we still had a bit of time to kill before Boyd got home, we decided to wait out the last hour in the comfort and warmth of the Seattle Public Library.
Now, we’d seen a lot of homelessness during our travels, across many countries and cities, but issues with mental illness and homelessness seemed noticeably bad in Seattle – or at least more concentrated. We’d learned along our way that in countries like the USA and Canada, the homeless are forced out towards the coast to escape the harshness of winter; and extreme winters too, nothing like what we experience back in Australia.
So, as we made use of the library wifi, it became increasingly apparent that like us, many homeless use the library for not only warmth, but amenities like the internet and bathrooms. We spent an hour or so relaxing before it was time to leave, but before I did, thought I’d quickly duck off to the toilet, a decision I quickly regretted.
As I entered, the strong stench of dampness and body odour hit me harder than a freight train. There was what was obviously a homeless man, with bare, painfully red and swollen feet, using the hand dryer to dry his damp socks. The smell was overpowering, so I quickly did my business and got out of there before I passed out from holding my breath too long. That image will stay with me for some time, I’m sure.
The next couple of days were spent really just enjoying having somewhere other than the confines of Fuego to relax, as well as the remainder of our travel admin before crossing the boarder back into Canada. Apart from that, we did visit Red Mill Burgers, known for having some of the best burgers in Seattle. One last bite of Americana before departing? Don’t mind if we do!