My brain is starting to work in a whole new way; I think I am actually accessing brain cells that have been hibernating for the past 39 years. I am now calculating distances by blocks.
Formerly, I used minutes, as in “It’s about 10 to 12 minutes away,” or kilometres, “Oh, about 5 k’s from here.” But in Seattle it is all about the blocks, because Seattle is on a grid pattern. Ben’s apartment, soon to be my home too, is on West Republican (even though I am not one).
From here, it is 3 blocks to the supermarket, 4 blocks to the post office and a cinema, 4 blocks to the gym (other direction), and 6 blocks to our favourite Asian restaurant and the expensive supermarket with the great wine selection.
Blocks do convert to time and distance though, because 12 blocks is approximately one mile, but of course I work in kilometres, so as I walk these blocks I start doing the conversions in my head. “6 blocks is half a mile and a mile is 1.6 k’s, so 6 blocks is .8 k’s and subsequently, 8 to 10 minutes away – at a steady walking pace.” Ben’s work is about 14 blocks away, so 2 k’s and a good 20 minute walk. Got that?
Last night after work, Ben walked further into the city to buy something, and because he is not well, I offered to pick him up (granted, in his car). This is where the whole block thing gets really useful. Driving in Seattle is easy. Downtown is rampant with one-way streets, but unlike Sydney and Perth and even Vancouver, every other street goes the opposite way. In Sydney, if you need to get to somewhere, you may need to drive 8 or 10 blocks out of your way and then cut back. I call that ‘being stuck in one-way hell’. Here, the most you have to overshoot is one block. Max. Now, that’s thinking.
I use blocks for running too. 6 blocks from here, on Queen Anne Avenue, is the steepest hill I have seen since San Francisco. And it is 14 blocks from the flat to the top. 2 kilometres! Oh, yes, that is a punishing hill. I walked it the other day – then ran it – in chunks – a few blocks at a time. Doubtful if I will ever run the whole thing all at once. I am not THAT much of a blockhead.