Pacific Northwest 2012 – Day 1

Time for another adventure! This time I am heading back up to the Pacific Northwest – Seattle and Vancouver, BC. I have not been in Seattle since 1994, and Vancouver in 1987 so I was excited to re-visit some classic locations and make new memories. Daniel and I were flying out early to Seattle on Alaska Airlines. We got a killer deal from Alaska (RT only 198 after taxes!) which helped make this trip a reality.

We got up at 430 to get ready after a day of packing and relaxing. I have two weeks off from work, which was supposed to be for an Italy trip with my Mom and Aunt, but after that fell through, I decided to keep the time off and do a small trip and spend the rest of the time just enjoying time at home. Our ride was there right on time at 5:30 which got us to the airport just before 6am for our 7am flight. One of the things I love about SNA is that when you have assigned seats there is not need to rush, and if you are not at peak travel days, the TSA check is pretty easy.

Our flight up to Seattle was smooth with no major turbulence. I was a bit disappointed since I had a window seat and all I could see for most of the trip was clouds out the window. We did do a nice flyby of Catalina Island as we took off, but before I could get a decent photo, we banked away towards the North.

We landed in Seattle and despite some mobility issues from Daniel, we made it to the shuttle for the rental cars without any issues. I had rented the car from Hotwire, which gives a great rate, and once again, I got Hertz. It seems like I always get Hertz as the last three times I have used Hotwire I got them. The last two rental experiences have been so-so from Hertz, so I was a little leery of what to expect in Seattle. As I was waiting in line for an agent, another agent approached me and took me to a kiosk where I was directed to talk to an agent via video screen. The whole experience was a bit bizarre to be honest including having to flash my driver’s license to a camera, but everything was sorted and I was on my way. I was sad that I was stuck with another Chevy Cruze, and I think next time I rent, I am going to try and avoid it. When I rent cars, I like to sample different ones and this was the second time driving the Cruze so I was over it.

We had 90 minutes to kill before Jonathan arrived from San Francisco, so Daniel and I went to Denny’s for some breakfast and then over to the grocery store to get water and ice tea for the driving and our stays for the next 6 days. Jonathan sent a message he had landed so we headed over to the Cell Phone lot to wait for him to get off the plane and collect his things. As we were waiting, I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the lady next to us in a Camry was having some issues getting her car started. Whenever she would press the start button, her car would make a noise like when you try and start a car when it is already on, but her car was clearly not on but in some sort of limbo accessory mode. I could overhear that she was trying to pick up her elderly father who was waiting outside the terminal, so I offered to help her get her car working. After fiddling with a few things, I was no more successful getting it to start than she was. I then offered to take her to get her dad to bring her back to her car.

So Daniel and I headed to the terminal to pick up the lady’s dad. It turned out he was near Jonathan so Daniel waited with him while I collected the dad and took them back to their car. When we got back I helped out as I could for a bit, but the lady then thanked me for the help but she wanted me to get on with my vacation and assured me she would call her roadside assistance people to get help. Her dad then offered me $5 for the help. I politely refused three times, but in the end took it. I am not sure if I will ever use the good Samaritan money. I think I’ll just keep it in my savings tin until I can donate it or something. I then headed back to the terminal to get Daniel and Jonathan and we were off to Seattle to our hotel.

I was a wee bit nervous going to the hotel since I have never stayed in Seattle I didn’t know if the hotel would be in a good area or if it was crap. Thankfully, our Courtyard Marriott turned out to be great. We arrived and our room was ready to go and on the top floor. I didn’t want to pay for the lake view, but our view of the city and the Space Needle was just fine. We crashed out for a bit before Jonathan asked if we wanted to go out and walk around. We decided to head to Pike’s Place Market and the Space Needle to get our tourist yearnings out of our system. Due to our early flights, it was only 3pm by the time we headed out. It was a warm day in Seattle, so we just needed to hydrate.

It took us about 30 US Minutes to get to the market. I’m always amazed at how much I will walk when I am somewhere other than Los Angeles. Then again, LA is not exactly walking friendly, especially where I live. Once we arrived at the market, we split up as Jonathan had some food, and Daniel and I went searching for some Soft Serve. Not finding any, I decided to get a slice of pizza at the DeLaurenti market since it looked so good. I’m glad I did because it was pretty good.

Once reunited, we walked through the market and saw the folks at the City Fish Co. throw some fish around for the tourists and finally ended up at Victor Steinbrueck Park which is right next to the market and also happens to be where I filmed a segment of Dome to Dome Twice back in 1994. I also saw a spot in the market that I filmed so I did my best to recreate the footage from back then. When I get home I will need to compare it. After the photo and video, we continued up the shoreline by taking the stairs down to Alaskan Way and walking down to the Olympic Sculpture Park. It’s named because there are sculptures and you can see the Olympic Mountains – not because there is a Mary Lou Retton statue here. We took a breather under some trees in chairs and I phoned my Mom to see how she was doing and then also just to rub it in a bit that I was in Seattle.

Once rested, we headed to the Seattle Center and the Space Needle. We paid the fee and headed up to the top. We were not originally going to spend much time up there, but since it was almost sunset, we stayed over an hour and I took way too many photos just to try and capture the different lighting on the city and the sunset. By the time we got to the bottom it was almost 8 and I was starving! Jonathan led us back towards the hotel through a scary pedestrian undercrossing that was pee-scented, but thankfully deserted. We ended up at a place called Tutta Bella, conveniently above a Whole Foods where I had a calzone which was great.

After dinner, Jonathan made a quick stop at Whole Foods and we headed back to the hotel where we promptly crashed after a long, exhausting day.