The Sledgehammer – Version 2.0

August 26, 2010

Some of the Perks and Pitfalls of Life in Downtown Bellevue

Filed under: Bellevue — Tags: — Brian Lutz @ 1:04 am

A few nearby places that I'm pretty sure I can't afford. Ever.

It’s been about a month now since I moved into my new Downtown Bellevue apartment.  To be perfectly honest, I still haven’t quite gotten everything where I’d like it to be (mostly this is just a matter of  getting rid of a few more boxes of stuff I don’t have any room for) but I’d say I’ve had a chance to settle in by now and get used to the new place.  As I’ve said before, this place has a lot of nice features, but it does also come with a few quirks as well.  Nothing I can’t live with of course, but there are definitely a few things that have taken a bit of getting used to.  At the risk of tossing out yet another list of random stuff here and calling it a Blog post, here are a few of the things I’ve learned in the time that I’ve lived here:

  • Although you couldn’t really tell from looking at it on a map, Downtown Bellevue is bigger than it looks when you start getting around by walking instead of driving.  For example, when you look at the map, the distance from 112th Avenue to Bellevue Way appears to be four blocks (give or take a street or two.)  When you start messing around with the distance tools on Bing Maps and measuring things, you begin to realize that the actual distance between the two streets is at least half a mile, possibly even more than that.  When you start adding cross streets and other walking around to that, it can really start to add up.  For example, yesterday I took a walk out to Meydenbauer Park by way of a slightly meandering path through Bellevue Square and Downtown Park, as well as what turned out to be an unnecessary detour that resulted from blindly following signs (the signs direct someone who follows them to the parking lot, which as I found out through unfortunate experience was not necessary when I was walking.)  When I figured out the distances to and from the park and took into account some of the alternate routes and detours along the way, it turned out that what I originally thought to be a relatively short walk was over four miles in length.  
  • Even though Downtown Bellevue seems to often be touted as being where all the “action” is, in reality there’s also a whole lot of space in between.  Sure you have the Bellevue Collection and the Bravern (and to a far lesser extent the Bellevue Galleria,) but beyond those there are a fair number of nondescript office buildings and parking garages, which just don’t provide anything that’s going to be of much interest to a wandering urban dweller.  There’s a fair number of restaurants scattered around, but most of these seem to be either high-end places that you might take a date out to for a special occasion but probably won’t bother with if you’re out and about looking for a bite to eat, or fast food places that cater mostly to the office-dwelling lunch crowd.  Most places in the latter category tend to be open only on weekdays, and may close as early as 2:30 in the afternoon, which again makes them somewhat useless when you’re trying to grab some dinner.  I know I’ve ranted a time or two on this Blog about the lack of non fast food places on the Eastside open late, but around here there seem to be a lot of places that don’t even bother staying open until 9.  It’s kind of ironic that I can think of at least half a dozen places nearby where you could go get a Chinese foot massage at 10:30 at night, but can’t think of a single place to get Chinese take-out at that same time.
  • I suppose that this means I should probably consider cooking and eating in more often than I do.  The kitchen in my new apartment is much nicer than the one in my old apartment, except for one thing:  There’s a lot less storage space in the new one (plenty of counter space though.)  As you’ve probably figured out by now, a lack of space seems to be a bit of a running theme in the new place.  To make up for the shortage of cabinet space I’ve had to put one of those 4-shelf wire racks into the front hall closet and put most of the food on that.  This mostly takes care of the food storage issue, but doesn’t leave much anywhere for the golf clubs.  I suppose the logical thing to do would be to just chalk up the whole golf thing to a painful learning experience, get rid of the clubs and move on, but right now I’ve found a semi-servicable place for them in the bedroom closet, so they’re still around on the off-chance that I ever manage to suddenly find the patience to learn how to swing a golf club without accidentally maiming innocent bystanders.  Even so, I suspect I’m a lot more likely to master cooking than I am to master golf at this point…
  • Even the frequently spectacular view from my apartment comes with a few drawbacks, as I have recently come to realize.  For one thing, even with the blinds fully closed, I find that a fair bit of light still gets into the room at night thanks to the relatively high ambient light levels outside.  This doesn’t bug me much, but for someone who likes sleeping in a really dark room this could be an issue.  A bigger issue is sound, which is something that’s a lot more noticeable on a daily basis.  With I-405 just a couple hundred feet away from the window, a lot of the road noise tends to come through even with the windows closed.  Usually this isn’t an issue, but there’s also two hospitals directly across the freeway from here, and those have a tendency to attract ambulances at all hours of the night with sirens blaring.  And the most direct route to get there from southbound I-405 takes most of these directly below the window.  I suppose this is one of those things I’ll eventually learn to deal with (after all, the alternative usually involves a lot more dead people, which typically isn’t a good thing to have around) but it does tend to be a bit of a nuisance.

All things considered, I’m quite enjoying the new place, even if it does come with a few tradeoffs.  It’s also giving me a chance to do a lot more exploring around Downtown, which should lead to some upcoming Blog posts here which I hope will be of interest.

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