Wednesday, May 05, 2004
My Trip to the Emerald City
My day began at 3 am. Yep, you read that right...3 am. I got to bed around midnight so that gave me a solid three hours of sleep. I don’t do coffee so my morning shower served to perk me up. I felt pretty good considering how little sleep I got.
After my shower I packed the final few items I wanted to take. I made sure I had my airplane snacks, plenty to read, and batteries for all of the electronic devices I was taking—e-book reader, mp3 player and digital camera for all you dirty-minded folks out there.
I was good and spent all week gathering stuff for my trip so rounding up the final items took no time at all. This allowed Mike and I to leave the house a little after 4 am. My plane was scheduled to leave at 5:50 am so we were well ahead of the game. We were so early as a matter of fact that the Delta check-in counter wasn’t staffed. Finally at 5 am the Delta employees arrived and began herding us through the check-in process.
I was glad we arrived as early as we did because the line behind us had grown really long by the time things started moving. Poor Mike stayed there with me until I went to the security checkpoint. I was still restricted from lifting anything over five pounds and he didn’t want me to hoss that checked luggage. He was looking pretty whipped by the time he left.
I managed to get through the security checkpoint with no hassles. They randomly pulled people out of line to inspect their shoes and wave the magic wand of metal detecting over their bodies. Even with all the electronic gadgets I was carrying, I wasn’t pulled aside for further examination.
I found my gate and sat down to wait. A little Delerium (Poem) and a book (Fingersmith) kept me entertained until I boarded the plane for my flight to Dallas.
The plane left OKC and arrived at DFW on time. I had an hour and a half until the flight to Seattle so there was plenty of time for me to reach my gate. Good thing too because it was far from my arrival gate.
After a quick pee, I found my gate and sat down to a breakfast of pineapple and mango fruit cup. I read a little more and listened to the MP3 player. But soon my early morning caught up with me and I stretched out as much as I could across two chairs and dozed for about thirty minutes.
After my nap I felt a lot more awake and made one more trip to the potty. Another thirty minutes passed and they let us board the plane to Seattle. Finally!
I lucked out and got a row to myself. I settled in for a long flight and, once again, started reading my book. I had to turn off the MP3 player because I couldn’t hear much over the roar of the engines.
Around 11 am the flight attendants finally got around to passing out drinks and snacks in my section. Pretzels and a Diet Coke were my special treat from Delta. You could purchase lunch on this flight but I had planned ahead and brought a PB&J sandwich, cucumber slices, more pretzels and another fruit cup. I was pretty hungry by now so I decided I’d have lunch and ate everything but the pretzels.
In addition to having a row to myself I was really close to the bathrooms. Not so close that I would be assaulted by noxious smells but definitely close enough that I didn’t have to walk through half the plane to go potty. That was cool.
I took some pictures out the window with Tracey’s digital camera. For such a tiny camera it took some nice pics. I tried not to get carried away though. I still remember flipping through about forty pictures of clouds after my high school trip to Mexico. Tracey *really* liked those clouds.
My plane arrived on time in Seattle around 12:40 in the afternoon. I *almost* finished Fingersmith. Pretty good considering I was less than halfway through the book when I started this trip.
Now I must admit, I wasn’t nervous about this trip at all. Until the plane touched down in Seattle. Stupid really. I mean, it’s not like I hadn’t talked to Elisa just about every day for the past five months. I felt comfortable enough with her that I made the decision to fly across country to meet her for crying out loud. But still, I was nervous. So being nervous I figured finding a bathroom would be a good first thing to do.
I did my business and then started following the signs that said baggage. I walked for awhile, getting more nervous as I got closer to the gate area exit. And then who should I spy but the Cute Pixie (Emily). She was talking to someone that I couldn’t quite see because they were on the other side of the wall but I figured it had to be Elisa. Yep, as I got closer I could see it was indeed E.
She’d already warned me she was a hugger so I took my hug from both of ‘em and we headed to baggage claim. By now I was a lot less nervous. They quizzed me on how tired I was and I assured them that I felt pretty damn good considering I’d been up since 3 am and had just flown across country. And I really did feel good. That short nap at DFW did me a world of good.
We picked up my luggage and headed to Elisa’s brand new mini-van (woo!). I got a nice running commentary from E about the Seattle sights we were passing on the way to their house.
We dropped off my junk and since I wasn’t the least bit tired they decided to take me to a few places. I wasn’t hungry but Elisa and Emily were so I went with them to a local Mexican restaurant called Jalisco’s. I had a glass of iced tea and they ate lunch. Oh and we chatted a lot. You’ll be happy to know my nervousness was mostly gone by now.
After lunch they took me to the Pike Place Market. We wandered for about an hour and a half and Elisa and Emily bought a bunch of food. I didn’t buy a thing sad to say. I must have been too overwhelmed by everything. But wandering around was fun. I got to eat far too many warm cinnamon sugar donuts. And it was fun to watch Elisa and Emily buy all their foodstuffs (and tea).
Shopping completed at the Pike Place Market, we headed back to the Hoelscher-Hull residence. Emory and Grandma came over and after I was introduced, E and I headed to Central Market to pick up a few things before dinner. I’m almost positive I’ve seen this grocery store profiled on the Food Network. It was freakin’ huge.
When we returned from grocery shopping, we all had a very informal dinner of things that had been purchased at various shops at the Pike Place Market. Pretty damn good food it was too.
The rest of the evening was spent chatting. I think I ended up going to bed around 1:30 Seattle time (3:30 Oklahoma time). Damn amazing that I was able to stay up that late and be coherent.
Saturday morning arrived and I felt well-rested. Even though I went to bed late, not being woken up by Cal in the middle of the night helped me get some good sleep. We ate breakfast and were planning on hitting the Seattle Children’s Museum to see the Jump to Japan exhibit. Grandma wanted to go also so we decided to wait until the dishwasher repair guy showed up at her place before leaving. Of course, the time he gave her was between 8 and 12 so we figured there was going to be a bit of a wait.
This turned out to be a great time for Elisa and I to hit Best Buy and look at their PDAs. Elisa wanted something she could read e-books on. She’s been printing them out and, as you’ve probably guessed, has accumulated a huge amount of paper.
Best Buy’s selection was kind of lame. They had more cell phones than PDAs. We headed to Office Depot and Staples next. They had a larger selection and their prices for Pocket PCs were comparable. She decided on one and we went back to Best Buy to purchase it so she could take advantage of her rewards card (money back for every $100 you spend). Several hundred dollars later and Elisa was now the proud owner of an HP Pocket PC.
As luck would have it, the dishwasher repair guy arrived while we were gone so the rest of the crew was ready to go to the Children’s Museum by the time we returned.
The Children’s Museum is located at the Seattle Center. The Children’s Museum was remarkably uncrowded considering it was around lunch time. I can only surmise that perhaps the beautiful sunny weather was keeping people outdoors.
We browsed around the Children’s Museum a bit and I took a bunch of pictures of the Jump to Japan exhibit. The cat bus was way keen and the museum store even had some neat Studio Ghibli merchandise. I even managed to pick up My Neighbor Totoro on DVD.
It was around 1 o’ clock by the time we finished at the Children’s Museum so we went to the food court for lunch. I picked some cheap Mexican food (enchilada and a taco). I asked the guy behind the counter which of their bottles of hot sauce were the hottest. One of them was an habanero sauce so I picked that one and dumped some of it on my enchilada.
Now I can handle hot stuff. I don’t seek it out and put it on everything I eat like my dad does but I can hold my own when it comes to spicy food. Elisa thought it might be a neat idea to try my enchilada with the habanero hot sauce. She took one bite and had a hard time swallowing it because the woman cannot handle hot things.
Truthfully the habanero sauce was hot but it was a mild habanero sauce. It burned my tongue nicely but I didn’t break out in a sweat. That’s a sure sign that something is *really* hot. Anyway, it was pretty damn funny and if I’d been thinking I would have had the camera ready to snap her picture with that mouthful of hot food.
Once we finished our lunch we headed outside to the Space Needle. Elisa was feeling like she didn’t want to deal with the motion of the elevator so she and Grandma stayed on the ground while Emory, Emily and I went to the top of the Space Needle. Again, the crowds were minimal so we didn’t have to wait in line very long to get on the elevator.
Since the day was sunny the view from the top was very clear. I snapped a few photos but we only walked around three times because that high up the breeze was a little chilly. At the bottom there’s a huge gift shop and I picked up a shirt for mom and a shot glass for my mother-in-law. Totally spaced on getting a Space Needle pin for my pin collection though.
After all that excitement we decided to head back to the house so all of us could rest. Also unbeknownst to Elisa, Emily wanted to prepare a surprise for E’s birthday celebration scheduled for that night. I was supposed to distract Elisa once Emily gave me the word so they could get things set up.
As it turned out, distracting Elisa wasn’t necessary because she and I spent several hours in the office dinking with her new pocket pc, installing Webtrends and just goofing off on the computer in general. Every now and then I could hear quiet rustling coming from the living room and the sound of a tape dispenser being used.
Finally Elisa’s presence was requested and she saw the birthday cake and presents and forty balloons hanging from the ceiling over the dining table. And of course she was pleasantly surprised.
It was late and lunch had been big enough that ate leftovers from the night before for dinner. I was happy with that and it allowed me to eat the huge piece of cake E gave me.
E got some keen presents and Emory helped open all of them. Emily even managed to surprise her with some nifty Seattle themed gifts. All in all, a very nice birthday celebration.
Elisa and I then headed back for some more computer geek time. We chatted a bit and went to bed a bit earlier than the previous night. It had been a long day.
Sunday was scheduled to be rest day. I made biscuits, bacon and gravy for breakfast. They turned out pretty good.
Elisa and I dinked on the computer some more and then in the afternoon we all went for a walk to the local elementary school—Sacajawea Elementary. We also wandered around a small city park adjacent to the school. The day was sunny and warm and it was peaceful and relaxing.
Elisa and I made another run to a grocery store. Can’t for the life of me remember the name of the place but I found a Wiggles DVD there that Cal didn’t have so I bought it. I also bought some beans so I could make beans and cornbread for Monday’s dinner.
Sunday evening we had Italian sausage sandwiches (with red peppers and onions) and zucchini sautéed in fresh dill for dinner. That was supposed to have been E’s birthday meal but it got pushed back a day due to time constraints.
Sunday was also the day I managed to bean Emory in the nose and eye with the Frisbee. Fortunately she never knew that there was a little scratched spot on her nose with, gulp, blood.
After Emory went to bed, Elisa, Emily and I sat in the office while Elisa looked over information for the proposed Disney World family vacation in February, 2005. I think we settled on a week and a place but I was so tired by the time things were finalized that I didn’t write any of it down. Oh well, there’s plenty of time....
Monday was shopping day. Emily went to work and Emory went to daycare and Elisa and I went to Archie Mcphee.
We arrived at the store around 10:30 am and had a great time buying gifts for people. I picked up a few things for Duncan and a t-shirt for Mike. I bought a few things for myself too. I wish I had taken pictures of inside the store but I ditzed out and forgot.
By the time we finished shopping at Archie McPhee it was close to noon and time to meet my friends from New Mexico, John and Gina for lunch. They live in Kirkland which is on the outskirts of Seattle so we decided to leave a little early to get to their apartment a little before the scheduled 12:30 meeting time.
Thanks to Gina’s excellent directions and Elisa’s stellar driving skills we made it there in one piece. Elisa was surprised at how close they lived to some good friends of hers. Nifty!
John was still at work but Gina and John’s mom, Nora, were at the apartment. Also at the apartment was Diego, John and Gina’s seven month old baby. I’ve seen pictures of him but this was my first time to meet the kid in person.
Let me tell you, this kid is a charmer. He’s got that wonderful chunkiness of a breast fed baby and he laughs and smiles at everyone. Definitely a happy and incredibly cute baby.
We chatted a bit until John made it home. I got to hold Diego which was really nice. It didn’t make me want to have another kid. Even if I had wanted three children I think dealing with the Lord of Chaos would make me rethink that.
John arrived and after more hugs, we piled into E’s spiffy mini-van and headed to Thai Kitchen.
I’ve only eaten Thai food once so I took John’s advice and got the lunch special. It came with chicken and vegetables, phad thai, rice and soup. It was pretty good. I got mine three stars worth of hot, following Gina’s lead. John, stud that he is, got the lunch special five stars worth of hot. Nora and E got theirs with no stars.
After eating a three stars Thai lunch I can safely say that I could have handled four easily. Not sure about five, but four would have been do-able because three stars wasn’t that bad. I liked everything except the phad thai. That was just a little too sweet for me.
So more chatting, eating, watching Diego eat and laugh. I got to hold Diego some more. We had a very pleasant lunch and I was happy to see that John and Gina were doing so well. John is employed by a games company doing programming. He told me the name of the company but I’ve spaced and can’t remember it.
E dropped John off at his work and we drove back to their apartment and dropped Gina, Diego and Nora off. I popped in to pee and then we were off to Toys in Babeland.
Toys in Babeland was a heckuva lot of fun. Once again, we picked up gifts for others and ourselves. It was nice to be able to handle some of the things I’d only viewed on-line. I was supposed to get a picture of the try-out room but forgot. Damn.
We left Toys in Babeland around 3:15 and decided to look for sheep. The perpetrators of LITTLE BO SPAWN or WHERE O' WHERE HAVE MY WOOLIES ALL GONE deserved a reward for crafting such a twisted story. But what kind of sheep should they have? We didn’t want tasteful sheep. We wanted something kitschy and fun.
First we hit a Big Lots and found some sheep mugs. They weren’t quite right though. Big Lots also had some large plastic sheep planters. But those would be hell to ship.
Next we stopped at a Walgreen’s and lo and behold found five stuffed sheep—three Lamb Chop dolls and two strange looking big head sheep. We hit three other Walgreen’s but none had more sheep. Tons of bears, dogs, cats, cows, you name it, but not sheep.
Our last place to hit was Fred Myer and we actually found one small stuffed sheep named Ewenice (seriously). This left us with six sheep but seven people had worked on the story. I promised Elisa that I would send her a special sheep later and we headed back to her house.
Since I was supposed to make cornbread for everyone I talked them into letting me make beans for dinner that day. Cornbread, rice and beans go really well together. I put the beans on in the crockpot in the morning so by the time we returned to the house they were done.
Elisa put on some rice in their nifty rice cooker and I mixed up the cornbread. Now I must bitch. The two grocery stores I went to had crap selection when it came to cornmeal. I ended up getting some medium coarse ground cornmeal. As a result, I was less than thrilled with the way the cornbread turned out. It was crunchy. Ick. But the beans and rice were good. And I picked up some Cholula to spice up my own bowl of beans so dinner didn’t turn out too bad. Oh and E still has a really wimpy tolerance for spicy food....
After dinner I did my Beyond Uber update, chatted with Mike via Yahoo IM and then Elisa and I went to the basement to sort through our loot from the day of shopping.
We sorted through all of the purchases and divvied everything up. Then we arranged each person’s stash attractively in front of the large stuffed sheep and took pictures. We also gathered up some boxes for mailing the loot. Then it was off to bed early because tomorrow I was heading home.
Up early so I could say goodbye to Emory before she headed off to preschool. Evidently the little minx wanted to barge in on me in the shower to say goodbye. Now I’m used to kids seeing me nekkid but that probably would have surprised the shit out of me.
Emily took Emory to school and Elisa and I proceeded to pack up the boxes for shipping. Emily took the day off to spend it with Elisa (for the big birthday) and after she returned home, Elisa and I headed to the Post Office with the packages.
Once that was done we returned to the house and chatted a bit. I had already made sure all of my luggage would close so I was just killing time until they took me to the airport. I ended up taking more back with me than I brought. Go figure.
We left in time to get me to the airport two hours before my flight. Traffic wasn’t too bad and I checked right in at the Delta counter. Then it was time for hugs goodbye.
I was really sad to be leaving Seattle and it was hard not to cry while saying goodbye. It’s not that I was sad to be going home. I was sad to be leaving a good friend.
I headed to the security checkpoint and luck was with me again because I wasn’t singled out for an individual search. I did have to take my shoes off this time though and send them through the big scanning machine.
I found my gate and sat down to wait for a few hours. I ate one of my fruit cups, an applesauce and a few pretzels for breakfast and read my book (Tales of the Slayer vol. 2).
My flight, heading to Salt Lake City and then on to Boston, left on time. Since the flight was eventually ending up in Boston it was big and jam packed with people. I didn’t have a row to myself sadly. And I spent the flight reading my book. I could have watched a King of Queens episode because this plane had these cute pop down television screens. Headphones cost $2 but if you had your own headphones those would work as well.
The plane stopped in Salt Lake City where I had to change flights. Not many people want to travel to Oklahoma City so the plane they put me on was dinky. Being so small it was naturally full. I bought a sandwich in the airport for far too much money and ate it on the plane. This flight wasn’t even going to have food for sale. Just snack mix and drinks. Woo hoo!
As with all my traveling this trip, my flight was uneventful and it even arrived fifteen minutes early. Mike, Duncan and Cal met me at baggage claim and we headed for home sweet home. I ended up not getting to bed until around 1 am because I was either really wired from all the caffeinated Diet Cokes I drank during the day or I was still on Seattle time or both.
All in all it was a fun trip and I’m glad I went. I loved meeting the three E’s in person and being a part of Elisa’s dreaded 40th birthday was an honor.
posted by Tamara - 8:54 PM -- Link to this entry
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