Seattle is the most beautiful city in America. There, I said it. New York is the center of the universe, San Francisco is the coolest, Los Angeles is the craziest, and Austin is downright chill- but Seattle is the most beautiful.
Correction: Seattle is the most beautiful city in America when the mountains are out.
If you have never been to the Pacific Northwest, you might incorrectly think that mountains are always ‘out’; that they live ‘out’, like Seattle’s gay community. You are wrong. The summits only choose to strut their stuff on clear, sunbeam-saturated days like today. Just like Seattleites, whenever that big blazing sun shows its face, the mountains slink out into the daylight to bask in the sunshine, a.k.a. happiness fuel.
Driving downtown each morning from my northern neighborhood, I cross one of Seattle’s many bridges along with everyone else going to work in the city. And then, “BOOM! SHAZAAM! CRASH!!!” Like gangbusters the Cascade Mountains roar across the eastern horizon with their snow-dusted heads, stretching out like lazy felines across the sky. “LOOK AT US!” they bellow, commanding the attention of motorists, hikers, climbers, skiers and riders. Seattleites ditch work early and head west to ride Snoqualmie, to take the lift way too high into the mountains at Crystal, and to carve the slopes at Steven’s Pass.
“OH YEAH?” reply the Olympic Mountains, jamming their icy peaks into the sky along the western horizon. “RUMBLE RUMBLE, CHECK US OUT!!!” They taunt their eastern counterparts across the Seattle sky, a line of titans towering over Puget Sound. The Olympics call to us city dwellers to come and explore the rain forests, the glaciers, the aquamarine lakes, and the beaches of this top-rated National Park. The diverse ecosystem of the Olympic Peninsula supports species of plants and animals that are not found anywhere else in the world, and the Pacific-pounded coastline boasts numerous ocean-front campsites and hiking trails.
“KAPOW! BOOM! BOOM! SMASH! CRIZZZ-ASH!!!” The ultimate answer is heard. “Kids, kids, you’re adorable! NOW SETTLE DOWN!” thunders Mount Rainier, dominating the southwestern skyline with its majestic persona and ancient presence. The Mountain makes me gasp every time I see it; like a king in his castle the perma-white zenith demands attention and will not have it any other way. At sunset Mount Rainier turns impossible shades of neon pink and fluorescent blue, at which point traffic on all bridges becomes curiously slow and often stops.
At this point, roll down your windows, stick your arms out into the Seattle sky, join the mountains in their celebration and yell your grand reply: “WHOMP! WHOMP! BANG! SLAM! SMASH!!!” You are now a part of the most beautiful city in America, stopped in traffic and screaming at mountains. Congratulations, you’re alive! Now go wake up someone else.