After an overwhelming first day of traveling across the country, accidentally running red lights in a clown car, and getting lost downtown in a heat wave precariously close to passing out from low blood sugar or dehydration or both, my trip was off to a less than stellar start. (If you missed the first recap, check it out here.) It could only get better from this point, right??
So I went to a conference each day in Everett. (You didn’t want to hear about it did you??)
Back in Mukilteo
Beaches and Lighthouses
I quickly learned that the majority of the conference attendees were locals and there wasn’t going to be a group gathering to socialize over drinks or anything at the end of each day (which obviously suited me and my hermit persona just fine). Instead of locking myself in my hotel room though, I decided to wander around the nearby area and happened upon a really cool historic lighthouse park and a beach scene completely different than the white sands and high rise condominiums I’m used to on the Gulf.
This little treasure had a grittier, rocky-type sand with massive driftwood logs and stone fire pits where all different types of people were grouped up doing their thing. I’m pretty sure everyone had come out to give thanks for the rare June sunshine. It would definitely be the place to hang out with some friends around a fire while somebody plays guitar late into the night. Props to the kiddos splashing around in what I can only imagine would be the equivalent of a Southerner’s Polar Bear Plunge.
Ivar’s Seafood RESTAURANT
Lo and behold behind the little street vendor I’d grabbed dinner at the night before was an actual sit down restaurant. I swore to my friends that I would give eating by myself a chance on this trip so why not go ahead and get it out of the way. The food was AMAZING (I mean…LOOK at that piece of halibut crusted with crab. And yes, that’s also my appetizer of portabello mushroom and fresh mozzarella flat bread (or what’s left of it) back there. If I was gonna eat, I was gonna EAT if you know what I’m saying). After I got over everybody watching me (weirdos), the eating alone part was…tolerable. Still didn’t like it though. But done. Check it off the list.
Books, Boats, and Blankets
For the most part, my afternoons consisted of getting comfortable, flipping the fireplace on, opening the doors so I could hear the water, and curling under a blanket with my book. I even ordered pizza one night so I’d get that extra food hour in the room. I am 100% not ashamed of that.
The hotel was situated beside the Whidby Island Ferry so every 10 minutes or so another boat load of cars would drift past right outside my room. Excuse the sap, but looking out across the water at the boats and sunrises and sunsets were some of the most peaceful moments I’ve had in a while.
Seattle – Attempt #2
One of the friends I made at the conference (yes, even I can make friends) happened to work at SoundTransit which operates the commuter buses into Seattle. She convinced me on the last day to give the city one more shot and even gave me directions to the nearest Park and Ride where I could catch a bus into the city. I know this will come as a shock, but I haven’t done a lot of public transportation (does the shuttle from the resort to the Magic Kingdom count?) so I was a little nervous about proper protocol (do you have to pull the little string to get them to stop? Are you supposed to be friendly to the surrounding passengers or pretend like they’re not there? Is this a no eye-contact situation?!)
I managed to make it to the right station and began the hour and a half ride into the city (trying to look as uninviting as possible in the hopes that the seat next to mine would remain unoccupied (it didn’t)). I had no idea which city stop would be closest to where I needed to go so I just hopped off at the first one and prayed Siri could get me there without taking me through too much sketch (There should be an option for that. You know, like, shortest route, shortest time, least sketch.)
Anyhoo, hubs had booked me a seat on a Seattle Ride the Ducks tour (go ahead and get your chuckles out of the way…it was exactly like what you have in mind) and by the time I got off the bus I had approximately 15 minutes to go a little over a mile in unfamiliar territory. Y’all….I could probably RUN a mile in about 15 minutes right now… Walking and stopping at crosswalks and consulting Siri?? How I made it in time I’ll never know. In hindsight, I maybe should’ve taken a cab, but my trusty phone managed to get me there just in time to use the HoneyPot (the person that named the port-a-potties in Seattle “HoneyPots” is probably laughing all the way to the bank) and climb aboard for departure.
Ride the Ducks
I can’t begin to tell you how cheesy this city tour was. Home grits was COMMITTED, y’all. I’m talking different costumes for different areas of town and everything. There were times when we’d pass locals that would glare or shake their heads in disgust at the Copacabana music blaring from the speakers of the WWII replica amphibious open air vehicle we were cruising around in.
BUT, I was sitting down, it was relatively comfortable, and if you listened carefully there was actually a good bit of city history and trivia mixed in with all those bad puns and costumes. Turned out to be a great way to see a lot of the city in my opinion. I’d do it again.
Just Me and My Buddy Blueshirt at the Space Needle
I debated a lot whether I should do the Space Needle. It’s definitely the first thing most people think about when they think Seattle. But $30 is a solid chunk of cash just to ride up an elevator for a good view. In the end, the fact that it’s highly doubtful I’ll ever have a reason to head back to the Pacific Northwest is what won me over. That and I needed some proof that I got out of my hotel room.
“Would you like a free digital print to commemorate your visit?” “Oh umm…no thanks. It’s just me.” “I’ll take one with you!!” “Oh…yeah I’m not really….” “I insist!” Meet my new friend….Blueshirt (we’re obviously besties which is why I’m using her nickname). Sidenote: If a pic with a random Space Needle worker in front of a greenscreen with interchangeable Seattle backgrounds while looking a hot mess doesn’t perfectly sum up this trip, I’m not sure what does.
Once you’ve walked around the Needle a couple of times, that’s kind of it. I told a friend that it felt a little like Sleepless in Seattle except that nobody was coming to meet me. I MAY have gotten a little lonely and homesick up there. I saw a nice older gentleman trying to take a selfie (kudos, sir), offered to take his pic, and then got a non-selfie pic out of the deal myself. Again, hot mess but at least it’s documented.
The Transit Book of Lies
I’d planned to eat fancy that night, but it was starting to get dark, I hadn’t packed for the early flight out in the morning, and I didn’t like the idea of being stranded in the city waiting on an unfamiliar bus. Since they don’t pick up at the same place they drop off (that would be too easy) I referred to my trusty transit schedule book and found the closest stop (over a mile from where I was, of course).
Everything looked a wee more “not-the-area-I-should-be-in” as the sun went down. I tried not to look too much like a tourist but I kept having to discreetly pull my phone out to check the map. And in true, Solo in Seattle style, when I got to the intersection where my bus was supposed to pick up according to the book, there was nothing to confirm I was in the right spot. I noticed something farther down the block that looked promising, but when I got there it turned out to be a different bus system altogether (they have 3 different systems in Seattle you guys and they do NOT all go to the same place!!!).
I waited, I looked around, I walked this way and back, crossed the street, pulled out the damn book again, and was almost in tears after about 30 minutes of trying to find anything similar to what I needed. Remember it’s getting dark. I even broke the tourist safety code and started asking people (none knew where the SoundTransit buses picked up which I thought was highly suspect).
Finally, a homeless-ish dude and his wife (girlfriend? sidechick?) approached me and asked if I needed directions somewhere. I knew I was supposed to avoid eye contact or say no and walk away but I DID need help and if they wanted to mug me at that point, as long as I could keep my phone and $4 to get back to the hotel I.DID.NOT.CARE. They pointed to an area about a block away which did indeed have a bus similar to what I needed, asked for money (I gave them a $20 which hubs was flabbergasted about, but heck I was grateful and it’s not my place to judge whether they needed it or not) ran to get on said bus, and finally took a breath for the first time in an hour.
Stuck in Dallas with No Mountain Dew
The thing about trips is that the “getting home” part is usually this weird in-between stage where you can’t quite relax because you’re not home yet, but you’re also no longer in adventure-mode. I’d booked an early flight to get me back in time to see the babies before bedtime, so I had to get up and out before 4am (Btw: WHY was the interstate crowded before the stinkin’ sun even came up?! Crazy Coasties.)
By the time I flew in to Houston I was cranky, tired, and less than pleased to extend my already long layover by a couple of flight delays. And I’m so sorry to the poor cashier that caught my “WHY WOULD YOU NOT SELL MOUNTAIN DEW?!?” tirade. Seriously, y’all. Coke could not pay them enough to make up for the lost profits from not selling Mountain Dews. Who is their business manager?! They should post that mess on the airport website. Or send a notice when you’re booking your connections: “Please be aware that DFW airport does not sell Pepsi products of any kind. Plan accordingly.”
I have never been as excited to be back in Birmingham, AL as I was when that plane landed. I didn’t even care that the handle had broken off my new luggage when it came around on the carousel. It was bright and shiny and red and ready to be wheeled to the tank for the last leg of the trip home.
It might not have been five days of bliss, but I survived. There were parts I absolutely loved. And all kidding aside, the less than fun situations weren’t necessarily bad as much as they were new and a little uncomfortable for me. I’ll never have a first time flying by myself, or renting a car, or eating alone again. And I’m TOTALLY ok with that. Check ’em off the list!! But I AM glad that I was forced out of my comfort-zone a bit. They don’t call them growing pains for nothing right?
Washington is gorgeous. Alabama is home. And I’m glad to be back.
Until next time,