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Pedestrians Beware! {The Celtic Swell}

August 16, 2011

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I am living proof that riding a bike is… well, is not like riding a bike. To be fair, even as a kid I wasn’t all that good at it, but last summer when B and I bought new bikes, I discovered that it was a lot harder than I remembered. It wasn’t hard like starting all over from the beginning. I remembered how to do it. I was just really shaky and a bit of a menace to pedestrians, other cyclists, pretty much anyone or anything in my path. B, by contrast, hopped on after who knows how many years and rode off practically with his hands above his head. I told him no one likes a show-off.

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Fast forward a year and my situation has improved… slightly. My tendency to aim right for whatever it is I’m trying to avoid has diminished a bit, but I still can’t look around and enjoy the view when we ride along the waterfront. I’m too focused on the pavement in front of me. I can negotiate around people a little better, but not that well. Nonetheless, B decided I was ready to make the journey to the King County Water Taxi stop downtown and to Alki Beach. I wasn’t so sure.

I’m pretty sure bike riding is supposed to be relaxing… at least the kind of riding my beach cruiser lends itself to. For me, it’s a stressful, gut-churning activity. I keep doing it, though, still at least a little convinced that it will get better with time. Thanks to a not-so-nice weather day, there weren’t a ton of tourists out on the day of our adventure. That was a good thing for me and for them. Even though I was slow, my timing turned out to be pretty good as we just had a short wait for the water taxi. Even on an overcast day, it really is quite a view.

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Instead of heading right down to the beach, B led us on a detour to Jack Block Park. Away from all the people, I confirmed my suspicion that my fear has nothing to do with the bike. It’s my fear of hitting someone that’s the real problem. I’m not sure that’s any better, but at least I know I’m not quite as uncoordinated as I thought.

By the time we made our way down the waterfront (with B checking behind him every 30 seconds the way a dad would with his kid who just got their training wheels off), we were both pretty hungry. We’d wanted to try The Celtic Swell for awhile, but we just never seemed to be on Alki when it was time to eat. Thanks to the off-hour we were eating, we snagged a patio table without any trouble.

First order of business, beer. Guinness for me, Harp for B. I think the pint I had at Bandit’s was a little bit better, but this one was a close second. We also ordered some potato bread. I hadn’t actually heard of it before, but it was really good and it tastes exactly like it sounds… like a cross between a potato pancake and bread.

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B was excited for Bangers and Mash, but sadly it’s on their dinner menu and we were a couple hours too early. Our super awesome server checked to see if we could get it early, but in the end, we both ended up with the two piece fish and chips. It’s ok. It’s just a good reason to go back.

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The portions are very generous. You can choose between a 1-3 piece portion. I’d definitely go with one the next time. I’m no fish and chips connoisseur, but the fish was light with not a lot of heavy batter and the fries were crispy and nicely seasoned.

I really wish I hadn’t thrown away my receipt with our server’s name on it because she was awesome. There was more than just a moment when we seriously considered foregoing the ride home and calling a cab so we could stay at Celtic Swell longer.  They had live music at 8:30 and that definitely sounded worth staying for, but we quickly realized that if we kept ordering drinks at a pace that wouldn’t make us a cheap nuisance, we’d be belligerent by the time the music started. Instead, we opted to ride home and save the cab ride for another day with better timing.

We made it onto the water taxi just in time. The ride back was no less stressful than the ride there, but I did it. Hopefully next time I’ll have made a couple more practice runs close to home. Think positive thoughts for the pedestrians in my path!

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