Field Work

Done did the Puyallup and saw much.  The transition out of the Seattle bubble couldn’t be any more dramatic than when I-5 dumps you out on Federal Way’s Enchanted Parkway—shown above—and yes, that’s a Fatburger right next door to LA Fitness.


A few miles further south on S.R. 161 in Milton—when will we stop building stuff like this?


And this.


Drive-thru espresso—American ingenuity at its finest.


Hope and pray for no foreclosure.


On a pedestal, where it belongs.


Will the jet builder fare better than the car builder?


Another crisp, fresh  auto dealership denies the future.


A house in Puyallup.


A church in Puyallup.


Inside the gates, oh, the humanity.  First of all, can someone please explain why carnies have such awful teeth?  And apparently I didn’t get several memos, like the one about how the body-piercers and the Seahawks-shirt-wearers have merged into the same tribe.

On the other hand, the sea of people testified to how some things never change:  teenage girls will always feel the need to plaster their faces with makeup; the black heavy metal concert tee will never—NEVER—go out of style; Huey Lewis and the News will be relevant forever.

In one of the livestock barns (the best part of the Fair) I overheard a woman telling the story of the big grey horse in the stall behind her, how it was going to be sent to the slaughterhouse but at the eleventh hour somebody called somebody who called her daughter, who then begged to be allowed to take the horse, and they did, and the horse was delivered on none other than Christmas Day, and it was so malnourished they could see every vertebra and rib, but they nursed it back to health and here was that same horse today, an award winner.  That’s America.


And lastly, a little culinary tease for y’all, a carnival specialty:  funnel cake.   The stomach says no but the tongue says yes.  Perhaps this has something to do with the carnie teeth woes.

36 Responses to “Field Work”

  1. spencer


    Do you enjoy anything?

  2. dan bertolet


  3. Renee

    Great post, Dan!

    Maybe you could do some field work at Bellevue Square Mall next time. ;)

  4. Joshua

    I believe Dan enjoys smothering kittens.

  5. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Great idea! We drive usually get a bunch of people together and drive around near Bell Square in late December. Just for the fun of it. I hear there are shops inside, maybe we’ll go in someday.

  6. Joe G

    I wish I could have been along on this ride. I have heard of this mythical place they call “Puyallup” but have never seen it.

    The pictures bring back memories of growing up in the California suburbs. Oh the horror.

  7. Ellery

    Will this not all be wiped clear by the next lahar?

  8. seven

    You done did the poyallip?

  9. MJH


    You missed the batch plant right next to the strip mall where LA Fitness is – land use regulation at its finest. That’s a mighty fine looking Jiffy Lube though, thanks to Edgewood’s design guidelines which are obsessed with pitched roofs-what better way to capture “small town”, right.
    Ahhh, the Enchanted Parkway – niether a parkway nor enchanted.

  10. wes kirkman

    Is that drive-thru espresso one of those special ones…wink wink…nudge nudge

  11. Sivalinga

    Whew! At first glance, I thought that Ellery@7 was referencing the Mahar

  12. Ross

    That car in the pedestal picture is great. That is the only spot you photographed that is the least bit interesting. It has character. The rest of those areas suck.

    The architecture of the suburbs generally suck. That is why so many people want to live in the city. Yes, a lot of folks like the big house and the big lot, but there are lots and lots of people who have to settle for a house in the suburbs because they can’t afford a house in the city. This is true in Seattle and even more the case in the Bay Area. This is why it makes sense to increase the density of the suburban areas by adding small houses on small lots, surrounded by green space and shops on the street (instead of adding density by just building big apartment buildings with huge parking lots). The demographics have changed — the suburbs are just as diverse as the cities (or very close) but the architecture isn’t even close. Walking by houses and shops in the suburbs is boring — in the city it’s fun.

  13. old timer

    It looks like it was a classically beautiful PacNW day for your outing.

  14. David Sucher

    Like I been saying, urbanity all comes down to the location of the parking lot.

    Try and make it more complicated and you lose much of the population.

  15. chrispy

    I was in Provence last year and was surprised to see areas like this. We all seem to think this is an inherent American problem. Alas, it is not.

  16. chrispy

    @1: Dan loooooooooooooooooooves McGinn. At the expense of all else, I guess.

    So much love for McGinn, there’s just none left for Astro Auto Wrecking. He hates hardworking, blue-collar Amurcans.

    He hates Freedomâ„¢.

  17. spencer


    (your) sarcasm aside, that is really sad.

    I’m sure there is something you passed worth complementing? I’m beginning to think your bias is limiting your vision of the whole world.

    Did you get out of your car for enough time to visit with people? did you meet some carnies, auto mechanic, exerciser? Did you enter their world or only pass by as a voyeur?

    How about stop to question what you were exposed to that draws so many people to go to these places? do they have meaning to those people? Do they value these places and why or why not?

    It’s all to easy to “arm chair” critique with one liners, kitschy photos and stereotypes. Like you’ve been asked before, dig a little deeper.

  18. Bill B

    Seems like Dan ought to take his sermonizing down there. They need a lot more help than Seattle.

    And all the work up here ain’t gonna fix them. Or L.A.

    But wait, didn’t that futurist say McGinn will save the planet?

  19. Dan (not that one)

    “when will we stop building stuff like this”?

    When it stops being successful.

  20. Joshua Daniel Franklin

    Unfortunately, there’s a lot of unfinished McMansion sprawl around the country that argues that what’s built has little to do with what’s successful. More like “when it stops being a cheap buck with risk we can pass on to someone else”.

  21. ph

    i’ve been driving that road to see my grandfather for 30 years … it used to be much the same, only more REAL AMERICA as they say. it’s kinda sad to see how an old country road has transformed over the years. jet chevrolet has been there, as has the car-on-a-stick — though the car used to be pretty beat up, a rusted-out hulk. but the new grassy planting strips, the expanded mall and outlining malls, road-widening and useless sidewalks have turned the gritty goodness into more banal ex-urbs.

    the enchanted parkway used to be like something out of hansel and gretel — as a kid it was kinda edgy, almost scary, but in an enticing way. now i take 167 to get to sumner.

    putting all of that aside, the photo essay is pretty lame. you seem to hate the puyallup church and home in a guilt-by-association way, which is really not honest or helpful. the church alone is so much better than the ballard denny’s that everyone is crying about. i am an urban [liberal/socialist/elitist], but i don’t discount the value of our outlying areas, or the history and honesty of the county fair.

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