We went out west on vacation. I had good intentions of posting a photo a day and maybe even telling some quick story of something that happened as well, but it seemed like once we off a plane in Seattle we didn’t have time to relax until we got back on a plane to come home again.
The sun comes up an hour earlier out there and sets over an hour later, so that, along with the mild temperatures, meant we used up every bit of day doing stuff, only stopping to eat and sleep. On our 7 day trip we used four for visiting 2 different wings of Donna’s family in two different countries, 3 for jamming in some touristy stuff of our own and 2 days for travel (I know that’s more than 7, but I rounded up.) For the first time in any of our numerous visits to the Pacific northwest we actually had a couple days (once again rounding up) of weather that is most associated with that reason, a light rain/mist.
Over the next week I’ll try and pretend that each day is a day from the vacation and do that thing I thought I’d do while I was on vacation.
The above is a Miata of multi-colors spotted while walking off the ferry on Whidbey Island.
–Saturday June 30th Morning–
Last year ASCO offered a deal with National Car Rental, you could join their Emerald Club at no cost and get up to a 20% discount, so I opted in thinking I’d never use it, but it might be worth checking out the next time we rented a car.
As luck would have it, for this trip to Seattle, they we a little less than the price of the second tier agency we usually use, so we stepped up a bit on rental car company ladder.
When the taxi* dropped us off at the rental car place we were surprised that there was not a soul around to help us, just an empty computer terminal and a sea of cars.
*Our plane got into Seattle at midnight Friday, so we took a shuttle to our hotel to get a 1/2 nights sleep. When we got up Saturday morning rather than take the hotel shuttle back to the airport and then get a rental car shuttle from the airport to the off-site rental place we took a taxi to make it one shorter ride instead of two longer ones. I’ve got aninteresting taxi ride story for another day.
Thinking there must be some kind of mistake we go up one flight on the escalator to the rental counters. The nice lady put down her crossword, looked at my paperwork, said that all I needed to do was go back down and pick any car from the intermediate aisle.
There were a bunch of Chevy Impalas sitting about, but then I spotted a familiar profile. It was a 2012 GLS (AKA base model), only a year newer that the Purple Whale, so at least all the controls would be right where I was used to them being. It had only 4,000 miles more on the odometer, so all the interior panel rattles were right where we were used to them being too.
–Saturday June 30th Afternoon–
After we picked up our rental car we drove over to Mukilteo to watch the Yellow Belted nephew James take his weekly Taekwondo lesson. We of course reacquaint ourselves with his little sister Maddy and acquaint ourselves with his newest and littlest sister Susan*.
*I looked through all my photos and I don’t have a single photo of 8 week old Susan. Probably because she spent 90% of the time inside her papoose being toted around and the other 10% she was either feeding (no cameras allowed) or getting her diaper changed (no cameras desired.)
After Taekwondo we all piled into cars for the drive up to Canada to visit cousins. James wanted to ride with Donna and I, so we moved his booster seat into the Gray Whale and the two nieces rode with their parents. Scott and Beth gave us James’ birth certificate for his ID and they said they would go through Canadian Customs first and tell the officer that we had permission to drive James across the border.
As we got to the border there was a few minute wait and when the Morrisons in front of us went through they headed to the left, not to the right which is the road into Canada proper. We we cleared by the same officer and told to go to the right and we could pull over and wait at the visitor center or continue on because our travel companions were selected for searching.
No reason was given for their selection, so it was entirely random or it might have been that when the CBSA Officer asked Scott if they were any weapons in the vehicle, he went, “…Aaah…I don’t think so…”
–Sunday July 1st Morning–
Sunday dawned overcast and misty. While we waited on the house full of people (4 Canadian adult cousins, 2 Canadian kid cousins, 4 American adults and 2.5 American kids) to all get up, get some breakfast and chill until we could head down to the local park for the Canada Day festivities, Donna and I decided to go for a walk and get our first international cache. As soon as we mentioned the word walk, there came a series of small voices, “Me too”, “Me too”, “Me too” & “Me too.” James and Mady and their 2 cousins, Laura and Anna, were coming with us.
We headed uphill first, so that the way back would be all downhill. There were about 5 caches within a mile of the house, but mostly the kids were more interested in being kids, so we headed for a park where they could blow off steam. Donna and I pushed swings, spun merry-go-rounds, teetered totters and made sure no one wondered off. Finally the rain and wet pants convinced the kids to head back home, but we walked right past it. There was another small park in sight just down and across the street from the house. More playing and whatnot ensued.
We didn’t mind this detour at all because this park also held a geocache. I headed off, GPSr in hand to look for it with James and Laura. Laura spotted the camoed lock-n-lock first behind a fence post. Laura grabbed a hockey trading card and James took nothing. We had accidentally left behind at home all the SC State Park schwag we had collected to drop in the caches out west, so I dropped in a couple of American quarters for trade. And as I was explaining the whole trading thing, take something, leave something, she put the card back and picked up the 2 quarters. Oh, well, they’ll catch on later.
In the photo above, from left to right: James, Laura, Morris the Moose (the RCMP mascot), Anna, Morris’ handler(who makes sure he just eats bear kibble, not little kids), Maddy and lastly, some random passerby.
–Sunday July 1st Afternoon–
After our walk to the parks with kids and visiting the local Colqitlam Canada Day festival, we headed into downtown Vancouver to see that city’s parade. A dozen of us took the train, I don’t know what the total was, but it couldn’t have been too bad as an adult fare was less than $2.50 one way. The thing that was very intriguing was there were no turnstiles* and no conductors. I asked our host, “Why’d we buy tickets?” Her reply was, “Just in case a random Traffic Mountie asked for them.” Another fine example of the Canadian’s inherent politeness.
*They are working on installing turnstiles and they should be in place sometime next year.
First stop was to pose in front of the Olympic Flame from the 2010 Winter Games. As you can sort of tell, this is ground zero for the festivities even though the parade route is a couple of blocks over.
We made it over to a corner that was lightly populated near the end of the parade route that had some nice steps for viewing over the folks that would be lining the curb. We hadn’t planned our timing very well as we neglected to get dinner before heading downtown, so our choices were limited, but as it turned out their was a famous Canadian hamburger chain restaurant just a couple blocks away. We left the bulk of the group behind to keep claim on our spot and four of us headed to McDonalds.
We were not the only ones who were grabbing a bite to eat before the parade as the line was nearly to the door. I didn’t think we’d get anything to eat in time to see the parade, but apparently this wasn’t their first attempt at handling a huge crowd in a hurry as we made it out the door in about ten minutes. There was another line inside that was a little shorter, but a lot slower, the line to use the Ladies Room.
We got back to our corner with time enough to finish most of fast food before the parade, but it was no longer sparsely populated. It was jammed with seemingly more people than live in our fair city of Aiken. The parade included everything from a Scottish Pipe Band to a Chinese Dragon to Imperial Stormtroopers and after watching nearly the whole thing (or as much as we could handle), we headed for the train for the ride back to Colquitlam.
By the time we got back to the house, no one really wanted to head back to the park we were at earlier in the day to see the fireworks, so we sat on the back deck drinking wine and telling tales. Turned out it was a good thing that we didn’t go, as they cancelled the show because some knuckleheads jumped the fence surrounding the fireworks.
Actually the tour only covers a little more than a tenth of that figure at 2,173 miles, but on yesterday’s short flat stage from the Provence of Kroger to the department of Boardman the Purple Whale crossed the 20k mile figure.
As we do every year we’ve upgraded our cable package so we can watch the bike race. What started as the Outdoor Life Network and morphed into VS (later they spelled it out, Versus) is now this year the NBC Sports Network. NBCSN doesn’t show as many repeats as Versus did, so it is not as convenient for us to watch the weekday stages. Last year Versus had a 2 hour show be tween 5 & 7PM, but this year we have to wait until 8:00PM.
We were tempted to try their live streaming, but try as I might I could not find any information if I could replay the stage when ever I wanted, Like 5:00PM…
Alrighty now. The 5 pairs of glasses for Home Try On arrived Thursday afternoon. If you remember, I mocked them up a short time ago, and it is amazing how different they look in person.
It is also amazing how different they look when photographed in natural light:
#4 was supposed to be a Percy in Charcoal Fade, but it was unavailable, so I substituted the Crosby in Burgundy Fade. This turned out to be my least favorite frame, the color was too dark and the fade wasn’t much of one.
I showed them around at work to a few folks (of both genders) and most people agreed that the Reynolds in Striped Evergreen was the one they liked the best. I’m thinking that the main reason for that is they were the smallest and the least bulky of the five.
My favorite, sorta, was the Sinclair in Midnight Blue. I liked the shape, but the color was too dark for me. Unfortunately the other 2 colors this model is available in are probably too dark as well (if the colors match the ones on the different frames samples I got this time.) Next in line would be the Wiloughby in the Tenn Whiskey Fade, but that is almost too dark and then 3rd would have been the People’s Choice, the Reynolds.
I’ve lined up 5 more choices, including the elusive Percy in Charcoal Fade, with a few lighter colors. If the Percy isn’t available I’ve got a couple substitutes, but I hope it doesn’t come to that.
When I had my eye exam, I had them order up three pairs of frames for me to look at from my usual EasyClip collection. I really like that the magnetic sunglasses are integrated into the total design. Well, I never heard from the vision place, so I started the Warby Parker frame shopping.
On Saturday my driver’s license renewal application came in the mail. Rather than take the DMV’s eye exam it is easier to get your eye care professional to fill out that side of the form, so we stopped in on the way hometo get that done. While there I asked whatever happened to those frames I wanted to see. Turns out they had one of them, but were waiting on the other two before letting me know.
I tried on the one pair and didn’t really care for them, so we started trying on some of the other glasses with magnetic sunglasses that they had in the store. None of them floated my boat. Then we moved onto some of their sort of retro frames with not much more luck. At this point I was getting tired at staring at my own face (as I’m sure you are too) and was about to close my eyes and pick something at random, sort of a Pin The Glasses On The Man game, when Crystal who was patiently helping us out said, “I’ve just thing for you.”
She came out of the back of the store with three pairs of frames. The first one was OK, the second the same, but number three was the winner, the Eddie Bauer 8206 in Tortoise/Sapphire.
What about sunglasses you ask? Why Transitions of course.
Started up, went down, back up, still up.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1161
–Monday July 2nd Morning–
Today was a travel day. Brother Scott and family were headed back to Snohomish while Donna and I were headed to the San Juan Islands.
We drove the 141 kilometers from Colquitlam, BC to Anacortes, WA and got in line for the 2 o’clock ferry to Friday Harbor. We were towards the end of lane 6 and we waited while they were loaded lanes 1, 2 & 3 (4 and 5 were empty.) Watching all those cars drive on we were kind of worried we wouldn’t get on board and have to wait until 4:45 for the next ferry. Donna got out of the car to go ask the ticket seller lady if we would get on the current ferry. She asked Donna if we got a ticket of a number, “A ticket,” replied Donna. “You’re getting on this ferry,” came the reply. See, fortunately for us, the M/V Yakima holds up to 114 cars.
Because we had a late start (about 10:00AM, which seems to be the typical Northwest start time, both American and Canadian) we planned on eating on the ferry. Definitely not haute cuisine, but it would have to do. I opted for a sausage dog and Donna was in a quandary as what to get until she spotted soup pots on the other side of the serving line. She noticed they had one of her favorites, split pea soup, and asked me to pass her a small paper bowl that was located on my side of the line. I lobbed one to her, but it bounced right off her hand and landed smack inside the middle of the clam chowder tureen. Ooops.
Donna snatched the bowl out quickly, but the cashier sprang into action, she commanded the woman next to Donna to close the lid on the Clam Chowder and shouted to the kitchen, “We need another Clam Chowder on the line!” all the while giving Donna and I a withering look. Fortunately she only charged us for the single cup of soup and not a whole pot of the stuff.
–Monday July 2nd–
We love Bed & Breakfasts when we travel and try to make them account for at least 40% of our overnight stays. A lot of times they work out to be about the same cost as a nice hotel room.
One of the downsides to B & B’s is that you never know what you are going to get. I imagine it is a little like internet dating, it is pretty easy to enhance your perceived positives and downplay or outright omit your weaknesses. That said, we have only been really disappointed twice, once in Arkansas and once in New Mexico.
A big positive for almost everyone, but is very often another downside for us, is the breakfast. At these types of lodgings, breakfast is usually served late, a lot of times it won’t start until 9:00AM. We are early risers so as to jam as much fun as we can into each day of vacation (we can rest at work.) Plus breakfast is typically something fancy and very rich, not our usual bagel, grits or cold cereal repast. We always wished we could find a B & B without the second B, that way we could eat what we wanted and when we wanted and now that we also have to tack on Donna’s new dietary restrictions, finding that sort of place would be awesome. Enter the Juniper Lane Guest House in Friday Harbor on San Juan Island.
On the internet it looks perfect, B & B style rooms, nice price, free WiFi, a casual common area, cool concept and with access to a full kitchen all day. The inn is far enough from the town, but not too far to be inconvenient for shopping or dining and the innkeeper is friendly, inviting and has a very laid back west-coast vibe. We managed to have both breakfasts and one lunch in the house’s kitchen.
The only negative about the Juniper Lane Guest House was because the summer weather on the island is such that it begs to have the windows in the room flung wide open, meaning you hear any traffic that passes by right out front on one of the island’s main north-south routes. And as it turns out, there is quite a bit of traffic on that road until late at night.
Move this building about 50 yards further off the road and it would probably be in the top 5 places we have ever stayed at.
–Monday July 2nd Afternoon–
Because the sun sets so late at this time of year that after checking in we even had time to go out, do a load of clothes, explore the touristy part of the town of Friday Harbor and pick up some stuff at the grocery store for snacks & a meal or two. After all that there was still time left to explore the island a bit, thinking of where we might go when we had more time on Tuesday.
While the hoi polloi and day trippers gravitate towards Friday Harbor, all the way on the north side of San Juan Island is Roche Harbor, a resort and it (from my limited observation) attracts the more tony crowd. We had dinner at a cafe out on the pier there and they didn’t turn us away.
As a bonus, while Donna and I were on our west coast road trip, so were the Red Sox allowing me to listen to the ballgame on the internet at the seeming normal time of 7:00PM. If you could call it a bonus, they lost 4 of the 6 games they played against Seattle and Oakland.
Lime Kiln Lighthouse
–Tuesday July 3rd Morning–
The Day dawns cloudy and misty, but undaunted we set set off for the south end of the island to do a geocache or two. We drove as far as we could on that end of island and were going to go find Cape Cache work our way back to Friday Harbor. As we drove it was sprinkling lightly, but when we parked to caching it started to come down heavier than we wanted to endure just to find an ammo can.
We turned around and drove about a mile back and the rain eased back to its previous drizzle level so we stopped, thinking of walking on a trail along the coast to the Cattle Point Light. Drizzle, wind and mid fifties temps sent us back to the car after about 100 yards of trail. As we drove up the hill away from Cattle Point I pulled over and took a couple photos of the light.
Next stop was the American Camp of the San Juan Island National Historical Park. By now it had stopped misting so we headed out for hike on the park’s trails. We visited Grandma’s Cove and then promptly missed our turn for the trail to South Beach ending up at the site of the actual American Camp. We did still manage to get a couple miles of walking in anyway.
We never did make it back to the British Camp on the north part of the Island that we briefly poked our head into last night. The reason for these two camps had to do with the wording of an 1846 treaty between the US and England setting the boundaries between the two counties and in 1859 brought them to the brink of war once again over the killing of a pig.
Because we are already planning a week’s visit next year and would like a quieter place to stay, right after leaving the park’s borders we see a sign for the Olympic Lights B & B. We wanted something a little further from the road, well this one certainly fits that requirement, it is behind a gate and is about a 1/4 mile down a private one-lane road. We invite ourselves inside and met the inn keepers and like what we see, so this might be the place for 2013.
After leaving the B & B, Donna realized we were only a few hundred feet from a geocache. The rain had quit, so we thought, “What the heck.“I parked the car and we bushwacked into the wet weeds. As we wandered deeper into the woods I realized that even though the rain had quit we were not to be spared getting soaked. Once at ground zero we made short work of finding the container and signing the log. By the time we got back to the car after wading through the knee high weeds our jeans were soaked all the way up to the pockets. So we headed back to the guest house to take a break and change into some dry clothes.
This morning was the monthly MMC Breakfast event. Because we weren’t meeting for the drive to breakfast until 7:30 Donna and I decided on a pre-breakfast at our more typical 6:00AM time at DD. We split a bagel and had our usual morning beverages, Donna’s hot chocolate and my coffee.
We made the meet & greet, and in not too short an order our line of 5 cars made the brief drive to Harlem and our breakfast spot, the Red Oak Manor Bed & Breakfast’s Acorn Restaurant. The first order of business for our host was to fill the coffee cups of the majority of the eleven members present. And the coffee kept coming for the whole hour or so we ate, chatted and even had a brief meeting. I bet we consumed over a hundred and twenty seven thousand milligrams of caffeine with all that dark amber fluid guzzled.
The Emperor passed the 127,000 mark on the way over to Augusta.
Started up, went down, still down.
Miata Top Transitions since 10/24/08: 1162
We were up early this morning to get in a short bike ride, so we could be home in time to see the finish of the Tour de France.
Next year we probably won’t do the cable upgrade to watch the race. There isn’t any tension or suspense any more, the guy who wins is **SPOILER ALERT** always the guy wearing the yellow shirt.
–Tuesday July 3rd Afternoon–
After relaxing for a bit and changing into dry clothes we headed into Friday Harbor for lunch. We first entered an open air place right across from the ferry landing and sat down waiting to be acknowledged. After a bit and not getting a visit, we asked someone who looked like they worked there what the deal was. They said they weren’t open yet, but we could wait where we sat for about 20 more minutes if we wanted. We didn’t want.
Wandered around town for a while looking for other options, but finding the same sort of not yet open vibe nearly everywhere except for the few places that were serving breakfast. When a half an hour passed we returned to our original place. Donna wanted some Dungeness crab and what I really wanted came from a a different part of the restaurant. They could bring it out to me, but it had to be rung up on a separate bill. Sounded like too much effort to me, so I opted for the Fish & Chips (turned out later this was a lucky thing.)
We were served our lunches on paper plates and given a plastic fork for our utensils. For my fish and chips that wasn’t an issue, but to get the most out a crab you need a couple of extra items. When our server asked if there was anything else we needed I asked for some malt vinegar for my chips and Donna asked for a nut cracker or hammer and a seafood pick. My wish was granted, but the server told Donna that they didn’t have those utensils.
The top of the crab had already been separated and each leg segment had a saw cut in it already making for easy access to most of the meat, but there were a few knuckles and other places that refused to grant access to the succulent crab. For this we had to use the bottom of the Malt Vinegar bottle as a hammer. Good thing they make them out of sturdy glass…
And when they say Market Price on the menu, they mean YIKES! Our lunch with two soft drinks and tip came to $56.
–Wednesday July 4th Morning–
We were up at the crack of dawn to catch the first ferry of the day off San Juan Island. At the 5:40AM departure time there is very little stirring on the island except for the 5 of us in the ferry line up area and the guy operating the coffee stand just across the street.
One of the great things about riding the Washington State Ferries is that while you are going one way, there is another ferry going back the other, thus usually creating a nice chance to get a photo.
Once you arrive in Anacortes, WA there are two ways we could get to Snohomish and Donna’s brother’s house. First option is due east to I-5, south on the Interstate, then a short jog east again (50 miles/1 hour & 8 minutes.) Or WA-20 West over Deception Pass onto Whidbey Island, this changes to WA-525 South to Clinton where you catch a ferry to Mukilteo and finish up zigging east through Everett (78 miles/2 hours & 16 minutes.) Guess which one we took? Right, the slow way, down Whidbey Island to take a second ferry.
We had had a light breakfast at the Juniper Lane Guest House about 3 hours earlier, so at around 8:30 we were getting hungry again. Fortunately for us we happened to be passing through Freeland, WA and we stumbled on the sort of place we would take the MMC for breakfast if it wasn’t a 4 day drive one way, the Freeland Cafe. Both Donna and I had typical morning fare, but the fellow at the table to our right had this dinner plate heaped high with something odd looking for breakfast, something off the Hawaiian Style section of the menu called the Loco-Moco. Two eggs, a hamburger patty over rice smothered with gravy! I’m betting this place could be featured on one of those Food Network shows, but I’m also betting they wouldn’t want to be.
–Wednesday July 4th Afternoon–
After a brief argument with the car GPS we finally made it through Everett to Snohomish and the home of Scott, Beth, James, Madilyn & Susan. We had several hours to kill before we headed off to Beth’s parents Annual 4th of July shindig, so we needed to occupy some rambunctious nieces and a nephew. Well one niece, the other was happy & contented inside her pouch. Actually not that niece either as she is just happy to be near people being happy. The nephew wanted to go looking for treasures, AKA geocaching, so I looked up some easy finds along the Centennial Trail which starts in downtown.
I loaded caches into the GPSr while they loaded snacks, scooters, trikes and baby support supplies into the family SUV. Then we all piled in for the short trip to the trail. Not too long after we got walking we discovered a cache near the river and with that goal checked off everyone was pretty content to just walk, talk, scoot and pedal for about a mile or so until we found a playground. This captured everyone’s attention. “Oooh, can we play?” “Can we huh?” Can we?” “Watch this!” “Push me.” “Swing me!” “Spin me?” After about an hour the adults were worn slap out from watching the two kids play, so we headed back to the car. There was one small item left on everyone’s wish list before returning home…
And a stop at the Snohomish Scoop & Sweet Shop fixed that right up.
–Wednesday July 4th (Cont.)-
Beth wondered in an email to us several weeks prior to our visit as to why we would want to go to her parents 4th of July cookout as there would be nothing but rednecks there. I don’t know, everyone we met there seemed perfectly normal to us. Maybe, as Jeff Foxworthy would (did) say, “You might be a redneck if you are surrounded by rednecks and don’t notice.”
The food was the usual fare for a cookout, hot dogs, chicken and a plethora of side dishes found anywhere you find people eating outdoors. There was one unusual thing that did set this gathering apart from any other cookout I had attended — Slug Races.
Slugs are the Official Gastropod of the state of Washington and they are everywhere, so it makes it easy to round up a racer. An official race course consists of a set of concentric circles marked off on a white surface. The smaller circle is the starting area and the larger circle is the finish line. The distance between the two is directly proportional to the patience of the race jockeys.
In the photo above the slugs from left to right are exactly in the order of their finishes. Nephew James’ slug, Slimy Speedster, was the winner, my slug, Galloping Gastro, placed a distant second and Donna’s Movin’ Mollusc showed in third. The other two contestants never left the starting gate.
We finished the day off back just up the street from Scott and Beth’s house at their church where we made s’mores and watched the night sky explode with light. Because they live on a small ridge that overlooks the Snohomish River Valley we got to see thousands, of bursts of light from right next door, to the glut exploding over the Tulalip reservation to the massive show over the town of Everett.
–Thursday July 5th–
After yesterday’s action packed 17 hour day we wanted to take it easy, so we slept in and after breakfast took a nice little walk around Mukilteo. Up until then we weren’t sure what we would do with the Morrisons today, but when we discovered that there was a great beach, with some fire pits, a nice little walking trail, public restrooms and most importantly, a playground, right there, we knew.
Donna called Scott and said come on down, where we spent the afternoon eating hotdogs and s’mores, watching people and boats, and playing and relaxing.
As a capper for the afternoon we boarded the ferry, passengers ride free on this route, and took it over to Whidbey Island. Upon arrival we walked over to a small public beach near the landing and spent an hour or so skipping stones and chatting (and playing for the kids) until we caught the ferry back to Mukilteo.
It was then we said goodbye to the kids and their parents until next year. Back at the hotel we packed up and chilled, prepping for tomorrow’s long plane ride back east.
–Friday July 6th–
Travel Day. We had a leisurely breakfast at the hotel, packed the car and looked at the time. It was an hour trip to the airport and 5 hours until the plane took off. We always like to get to the airport early because you never know how long it will take to get through Security, but 4 hours was a bit too much.
So we broke out the map and the ferry schedule. It is always enjoyable coming into Seattle that way because of the great view of the skyline. We hugged the coast as best we could from Mukilteo to Edmonds which took us along quiet neighborhood street past homes with views we wish we could afford.
After a wait of 20–30 minutes in Edmonds we were directed onto the M/V Spokane for the half hour ferry ride to Kingston. Once back on dry land there was a short 16 mile drive to the Town of Bainbridge Island for the next ferry ride. We just missed the 10:25 to Seattle.
Because there was about an hour before the next departure, we took a walk around the ferry loading area and stumbled on something you don’t very often, a bicycle garage. Folks who live on Bainbridge Island and work in Seattle will ride their bike to the ferry, walk on the boat and walk (or catch a bus) to their office in downtown. You basically rent a vertical rack to hang your bike on with a small locker for helmet and shoes, etc. They have room for about 75 bikes with 10 or so set aside as first come first serve. While we were chatting up the fellow in the back room he told us there was a short trail that would take us over to the historic part of the town if we wanted, so just to stretch our legs a bit, we walked it part way before turning around and heading back to the car as we didn’t want to miss this ferry.
When we drove off the M/V Tacoma we were deposited into downtown Seattle at 12:05PM on a workday. The car traffic was thick as we edged up Marion St the 4 blocks to 2nd Ave where the GPS was telling us to turn right. At each light it took at least two cycles to get through because pedestrians have the right of way and there were herds of them walking to get lunch, so only about two cars could turn at each green.
We finally made a right on 2nd Ave. and the GPS said, “Turn right on Columbia St.” Once on Columbia St the GPS said, “Turn right on 1st Ave.” OK, we’ll play that, but it sure seems like we are going in a circle. On 1st Ave it said, “Turn right on Marion St.” Alrighty then. Once on Marion, sure enough it said, “Turn right on 2nd Ave.” It was taking us in a circle! I told Donna to hit the mute button and I drove up to 4th Ave. and turned right, which was heading south and in the general direction of the airport. We drove past Century Link Field (home of the Seahawks) and then Safeco Field (home of the Mariners) and got lucky; there was a sign for I-90 & I-5.
We were now had about an hour and half until our plane took off and we still had a 15 minute drive to the rental car return place, return the car, catch a shuttle to the terminal, check our bags, clear security and walk to the gate. Getting tight. But that bit of luck in finding the Interstate entrance kept right on coming. Traffic on I-5 was backed up going north, but south was moving smoothly. Dropping off the car was the usual easy and there was a shuttle bus waiting on us. Bag check-in was painless and we were startled to find the usual Disney-esque winding queue for security to be non existent. We ended up making it to the gate with about 15 minutes before first boarding call.
Turned out we even had more time than that, as departure was delayed by about 30 minutes because the plane wasn’t ready, but that experience was a little too close for our comfort.
–Friday June 29th–
When we arrived at the Atlanta Airport we pulled into the first available long term parking lot. I grabbed the ticket and hung a left and immediately noticed an empty spot to the left. I pulled in and we unloaded the luggage. As we walked back towards the center aisle we noticed a slightly better lit spot along the fence near the entrance ticket booths. So I moved the car and after 4 tries of backing it in, I got it centered and straight enough to not be embarrassing.
Made note of our row number (17) and assuming it worked like it does at most airports we rolled our luggage to the center aisle to get to a shuttle bus shelter. There were no shelters, hmmm. We wandered back and forth a bit looking, but the only thing we saw was a small building that had a shuttle bus parked near it. As we headed that way we noticed a shuttle bus coming our way.
It drove right by.
So we continued our way to the building where Donna found a locked door and when she tapped on a window, she was ignored. Returning to the center aisle we saw another shuttle bus. It saw us and promptly turned down a row, drove to the end aisle, drove a ways and came back out in the center aisle past where we were!
About then a young couple showed up in their car and told us they thought we needed to be way down on the other end where there was someone directing cars into parking spots and that is where the buses picked up people. They offered us a ride, but we declined, it was only about as many yards away as what the temperature was, 107.
As we walked towards where we were supposed to go, we noticed for the first time the traffic director guy who was all gesticulating like a Bermuda traffic cop, but with a lime green vest, instead of a snappy uniform, and matching lime green gloves, instead of white. Once on the bus, the driver asked where we parked and I explained our spot. He wrote down 18A on a magenta square of paper.
–Friday July 6th Really Late–
We collect our luggage and wheel out it to the curb where there are three Park-N-Fly buses just waiting. As we approach the first one drives off, so we go for the closest bus. The driver next to the door shakes his head and points at the other bus. As we head forward, that bus starts to move. Great! As we start to turn round, we realize that it was just pulling up to fill the spot vacated by the previous bus. Sheepishly we turn back around and get on the (now) first bus.
The very cheerful and personable driver asked for our little pink ticket with our row number. We waited a few minutes and a couple of young guys, then a young husband and wife duo boarded. As they handed her their tickets, she closed the door and off we went. I guess at this time of night on a Friday, the occupants of three cars is a full load.
The driver tells us we’ll go to our car first. And because of the time of night, she will stay with each of us until our car starts for safety reasons. We drove down “our“row, but there was no Purple Whale. It wasn’t because it had been stolen (I hoped) because this wasn’t really our row as there weren’t any tickets booths right behind it. But because we came in at mid day and it is now dark as dark can be and the bus didn’t come in the same way we drove in a week ago, I’m a little disorientated as to where we actually are. The driver cruised the next row over and asked me to hit the door lock button, so we could find the car by the flashing lights. No lights.
On to Plan B. We head off to find the two guys’ truck. We are looking for a beige Ford pickup truck. We cruise down the row that was written on his ticket. The driver asks, “Can you see it?” He replies, “I can’t see anything. The windows are so darkly tinted.” She calls back, “Use your clicker.” He goes, “My truck doesn’t have that.” So now there are 7 sets of eyes peering into the darkness looking for a brown pickup truck. The young husband calls out, “Is that it?!” Nope. The driver asks, “Is that it?” “No.” We cruise down the adjacent row where finally the fellow calls, “There it is.” The shuttle bus driver asks, “Did you pull through?” “Ahh, yeah,” came the reply.
The wife of the other couple says, “We did too.” So now the driver knows to go down Row 3 instead of Row 2 that was written on their ticket and we make short work of finding their red Chevy Cavalier. Back to finding the Purple Whale.
We tell our driver that it is backed into a spot next to the incoming ticket booths. We tell her it is across from a trailer or something and she says, “We don’t have no trailers here. Maybe it is the company building.” We head back down to Row 17 and there in all its flashing turn signal glory was our car. We say, “Thanks,” as we exit and hear the driver muttering under her breath, “Those idiots need to start writing down the right numbers…”