In Pursuit of Unplugged
By Richard Porter
The days are getting shorter. The nights are cooling. I close my windows in the evening and wear flannel shirts instead of shorts. Goodbye salads and fresh berries. Hello soups and teas.
Here’s what I’m doing this autumn and winter: I am not diving headlong into my phone. I’m not streaming endless Netflix in a perpetual reality-aversion hideout scenario. Just because the weather is “Washington weather” doesn’t mean that I’m dead for crying out loud.
Nope. This year I’m unplugging from the Digital Void and intentionally engaging with the world and my fellow humans. Hibernation is not an option.
Join me as I fully embrace the dark season in search of warmth and light, meaningful experiences and community.
Stargazer Records in Snohomish
I find myself on a side street that runs perpendicular to Snohomish’s main drag of Avenue A. Stargazer Records is sort of a speakeasy experience. You need to know where to go and when to go there. That’s part of the fun – it’s almost like a secret that’s too good to let out.
Stargazer Records is a family-owned and -operated business that sells new and used vinyl records. Their rows of records offer a spectrum of genres, but classic rock seems to be the most prominent.
I luck out with a nearly-mint copy of Springsteen’s Born to Run.
Records aside, Snohomish is a great wintertime day trip destination. I like food. I like coffee. I like weird old antique stores that plunge you into the headspace of bygone Americana. I recommend giving Snohomish a try when you need to go somewhere for novel experiences. You’ll see.
127 Avenue C | Snohomish, WA 98290
Gathering Space at the Muse Whiskey and Coffee
It’s a rainy day on the Everett Waterfront. One of those days where the marine layer is thick and foggy and deadens the sound except for the lapping of waves on the riprap breakwater of the harbor.
I step inside the historic Weyerhaeuser Building at Boxcar Park and into the otherworldly realm of The Muse Whiskey and Coffee. Is it an upscale bar and coffee shop? Yes. Is it a series of comfortable rooms filled with jeweled-toned furniture, chandeliers, and silk-embroidered wallpaper? Yes. Does it have a golden vault where wine club members can rent a private storage locker for their vintage bottled beverages? Yes.
But mostly I’m here for the coffee and the vibe.
The Muse Whiskey and Coffee is a place where I meet up with buddies on a drizzly day. The plush layout invites a lingering conversation or an epic board game session. I know and recommend this place as a great seaside venue to unplug and make social connections. Or I can process my thoughts for artistic inspiration.
You, too, can find your muse at the… well, you know the place.
The Muse Whiskey and Coffee
615 Millwright Loop N. | Everett, WA 98201
Get Inspired at the Cascadia Art Museum
I discovered the nonprofit Cascadia Art Museum a few years ago. It’s a fine collection of curated Northwest art, highlighting famous regional artists while also elevating the work of overlooked or underrepresented artists. The galleries here invite introspection, and the classy gift shop is incredible (hint: Christmas shopping). The vibrant colors and bold shapes of a museum are just what I need on a rainy day. Plus, it’s like a block from Top Pot Donuts, so….
Cascadia Art Museum
190 Sunset Avenue | Edmonds, WA 98020
Bouldering at Summit Everett
I get the winter blahs. If you’re familiar at all with Western Washington during the “off season” you know what I mean.
But in recent years I’ve had to check that assumption. What is an off season? Can’t every season be “on” in its own way?
Which is why I like to climb in the great indoors at Summit Climbing Gym in downtown Everett. I love that it’s in an urban area so that I don’t have to drive to a remote trailhead and hike to a rain-slick boulder. I love that I can work my upper body and core and break a sweat. I love the feel of chalk on my hands and the thrilling, dizzying sensation of ascending a challenging bouldering problem.
I climb to feel the good-tired of being alive during hibernation season.
Summit Climbing Gym
2820 Rucker Avenue | Everett, WA 98201
“Hope is the thing with feathers”Emily Dickinson
Udon Noodles at Katana Sushi
That is all. That’s the whole thing. It’s an experience unto itself. It’s a full and self-contained activity, full stop. I can’t give away all my secrets, but this is one that I personally find to be failproof.
2818 Hewitt Avenue | Everett, WA 98201
As we’ve seen, there’s much to do in the colder, darker months. But sometimes the only thing that’s better than doing is not doing. Not to go all Zen on you, but inaction and close observation can bring a fulfilling sense of mindfulness to your daily life. Highly recommended.
Which is why I like to bird watch. I don’t get extreme about it. I don’t have a laminated guide or an app. I simply like to walk at Spencer Island or Langus Park and pay attention to what I can see. The wetlands and waterfront reveal their avian inhabitants to me when I’m patient and still: red-winged blackbirds, Canadian geese, cormorants, blue herons, and starlings. I can’t name them all, but that’s not the point. The point is to be there and look carefully.
“Hope is the thing with feathers,” as Emily Dickinson said.
Spencer Island Park
5033 4th Street SE | Everett, WA 98201
The unplugged experience goes on and on. These are things that I’ve come up with, but I like the challenge of watching and being open to more. When you set down your phone there’s that initial wave of anxiety. But if you can get through it and come out the other side there’s great freedom. Time moves at a comfortable pace. Sometimes I forget about time.
I’m out here this winter being present. And maybe I’ll see you, too, in the wild world we call “in real life.”