Owning a car is a privilege, no? So why do I try to keep as much distance as possible between me and the driver’s seat of my Subaru Forester? It has nothing to do with how—I’m sorry fellow Subaru owners—profoundly uncool I find my car. (Witness the teal green exterior paint, the mini-vanesque contours, the hotel-carpet zigzag pattern on the seats.) I don’t really care about cool cars, and my uncool one is easy to drive and it tends to work.
My aversion to it stems, instead, from the fact that driving somewhere generally means I’m leaving the city. And leaving the city means I’m going to get lost. Scary lost. I’ve U-turned that Forester again and again in Eastside strip malls and South End shipping yards. I’ve scoured the streets of Bothell at speeds low enough to suggest a drive-by in search of a grocery that turned out to be in another end of town altogether. I’ve inadvertently toured long stretches of Woodinville farm roads, reclining horses yawning at me as I squinted at address numbers adhered to fence posts.
I didn’t grow up here, people. And I get lost. And lost is exactly what I got last week I set out for the opening party of new Renton tasting bar/bottle store Vino at the Landing.
But after an hour-long tour of the city’s quieter office parks and car dealerships (What’s up, Renton Kia?), I did finally make it to the Landing which, I was surprised to find, is a sprawling outdoor shopping mall. (I had pictured something watery, maybe with a boardwalk.) Smack in the center of this “urban village,” Vino sells a mixture of New and Old World wines and a solid selection of Northwests, (including an $8 by-the-glass offering of Thurston Wolfe’s pinot gris/viognier—such a nice, light wine) along with an unsurprising but tasty assortment of upscale snackies: truffled popcorn, panini, caprese salad.
I’ll be honest. The store is cute and all, but I’m not driving back to Renton for panini and wine—they have those things in my neighborhood. But my guess is that the wine people of Renton now have the social hub of their dreams—Fridays at 5, the shop is doing a “meet the winemaker” tasting events and more such programs are in the works, and I overheard one guest inviting another to join a social club called the Eastside VIPs. Now, that’s an organization I might attempt to infiltrate—I’m curious to see what those Eastsiders are up to—but I know I’d take a wrong turn somewhere en route to an event and end up lost on a winding country road, cursing at lazy barnyard animals.