August 15, 2007
Yesterday I got back to the office after a very long weekend away for a family reunion at Mr. Karen’s sister Kathy’s house. Despite it being just a long weekend, I managed to take 309 pictures, the sorting through of which is one reason I am only just now getting this entry up, the other being I got at least that many e-mails which I had to deal with on my return. (The pictures that made the cut are all here.) Mr. Karen and I were supposed to fly to Seattle last Wednesday night after work, and we did indeed go to the airport then but did not fly because for once we had flexible travel plans and volunteered to give up our seats in exchange for two $300 vouchers and first class seats on a flight Thursday morning. (Our hotel for the night was already paid for which made the deal a little less valuable but still worth it.) Oh, how I wish I had unlimited funds and could afford first class on every trip. We got to sit in those nice wide seats a little longer than planned; after taxiing away from the gate, we had to wait while a problem with the paperwork was checked and then return when it was determined the real problem was too much dry ice loaded in the forward cargo hold. (At no point was my real concern addressed—I’d seen the boxes labeled with “dry ice” and “seafood” waiting to be loaded and have no idea what seafood needs to be shipped from Detroit to Seattle. Zebra mussels?) We did finally take off and then got to eat second breakfast with metal utensils off a ceramic plate. I also got a fair bit of knitting done. (The TSA did not so much as blink at my metal needles. I was ready to explain them; I was ready to unscrew the tips and surrender them. I needn’t have worried. Why they are on the approved list while my 4 ounce bottle of saline must be banished to checked baggage I do not know, since I could sure do more damage with the former than the latter if I were so inclined.)
There was another delay getting cleared to land in Seattle (operations had slowed while an aircraft in distress was handled), but we did eventually arrive only about an hour or so later than planned. Our luggage had gone ahead and flown in the night before; we spotted it in the baggage office corral as soon as we got there but had to wait for the attendant to show up and release it into our custody (if it had not been locked up, I would have helped myself). Getting the rental car went smoothly until it came time to actually get the car, at which point we milled around the empty garage with all the other people looking for a full size vehicle. The couple who’d arrived ahead of us talked the attendant into letting them have a minivan, and he offered us the same deal when I went to inquire about when some more cars might arrive, so I took the minivan. I looked at the guy’s nametag so I could send a thank you e-mail praising how helpful he was, but it just said “TRAINEE”. I sure hope he didn’t get in trouble for giving away the free upgrades.
We only had a few hours before we had to be back to the airport to pick up Mr.’s mom and dad and sister (Joan, Dale, and Fay, for future reference), which was just enough time to go to Tacoma, see some interesting stuff, and eat lunch. We started at Union Station, showing our id to the guard (the station is now the entrance the federal courthouse) so we could get up close to the Chihuly glass pieces and paintings inside. Then it was across the Bridge of Glass, which is not actually made of glass but which does showcase more Chihuly work, to the Museum of Glass, where we watched art being made and toured the gallery, which contained no Chihuly at all (there were some books of his in the gift shop though). I appreciated that the exhibit space was small enough so I didn’t feel overwhelmed and found the suggestion on one of the signs to describe the work first rather than rushing to “I like it” or “I don’t like it” a good one. After the gallery, it was back out into the glorious not too hot, not too humid summer day to get lunch and then drive along the water to the park where we would have gone to the zoo if we’d had time but we didn’t so we’ll have to go back another day.
Driving back up to SeaTac, we were astounded by how bad the traffic was heading in the other direction and thankful it wasn’t so jammed going north. What was jammed was the cell phone waiting lot at the airport. There was a guard stationed to make sure people didn’t just park willy nilly on the adjoining pavement, so we went ahead and parked in the regular pay lot and went inside to find Dale and Joan with their luggage. Fay showed up not too long after that and we all piled into the minvan (good thing we got one, too, since five people and our bags pretty much filled up all the available space). I was worried about rush hour traffic, and indeed the feeder road to I-5 was backed up and not moving, so Mr. Karen navigated as I drove an alternate route through the city which turned out to be quite pleasant. I wasn’t worried about stopping for dinner, but I should have been since it ended up taking hours, literally, even though we were almost the only customers there. The food was excellent, so maybe next time we could call ahead and get it to go. By the time we got to Kathy’s, it was way past my bedtime and we still had a half hour drive to our hotel (that’ll teach me to procrastinate when making reservations). It was past midnight (3 a.m. body clock time) when we finally got to bed.
Because of the late night, we slept in longer than I’d planned, which meant I dropped Mr. Karen off at Kathy’s later than planned before heading up to Vancouver to spend the day with selko (I know her journal says “unselko” but I knew her first on a message board as selko, so selko shall she be.) I made matters worse when I either missed a turn or failed to make one—I’m still not sure which—after crossing into Canada but eventually I got where I was supposed to be. We had a nice chat before heading out for a delicious lunch at a tea shop (I had a very nice plum and pear tea to go with our finger sandwiches and sweets) followed by yarn and fabric shopping. It was an afternoon of true temptation, but I exercised enough willpower to only end up with five balls of wool and a handful of fat quarters. By the time I was done fondling the yarn and fabric, it was really too late to visit the museum we’d planned to see so we’ll have to do that next time. Instead, we just did a bit more chatting before I headed back to the border. I’m pretty sure I didn’t make all the correct turns going that direction either, but I did end up at the crossing I planned to, so that’s the important thing.
When I got back to Kathy’s house, the pre-reunion was in full swing and there was some disappointment that I was not the pizza delivery person arriving to feed the hungry crowd. The pizza did show up soon after and we ate and watched the sunset from the deck before Mr. and I headed back to our hotel. Saturday was the actual reunion, when everyone who’d been there Friday night gathered again and waited for the four people who hadn’t been there to show up, which they eventually did but not until we were well into the eating portion of the program. Of course there was plenty of food so it’s not like we ran out before the stragglers arrived, so no harm done. The rest of the day passed pleasantly, with more eating and broken up by chatting and knitting and taking pictures and snacking. Sunday morning the Friday night crowd (minus one nephew who had to work) reassembled for breakfast before small groups started splitting off. One family headed to eastern Washington to continue their vacation, and Mr. Karen and I headed back to Seattle to spend the day before our plane left while the rest of the folks headed up to Mt. Baker.
The weather in Seattle was very cooperative; for the fourth day in a row I had no use for my rain coat. The crowds were not as cooperative; the zoo was mobbed, so instead we went to the locks, where we squeezed into one of the last parking spaces available. We saw many boats, some with dogs, and many fish, some in the fish ladder. Then we headed back to the zoo, going around to the other side this time; parking was still tight, but we managed to snag a space just as someone pulled out and strolled through the rose garden (free) adjacent to the zoo ($15, not worth it for the hour we had left). When we bought our plane tickets for this trip, the only way we could get the price into reasonable territory was to fly at odd times, which is why we ended up getting on a plane to come home close to the time we usually like to go to bed. When we arrived back at Detroit Metro, the shops had all closed and the train had stopped running and most of the planes were sleeping. The baggage handlers were evidently anxious to get home, too, because our bags showed up fast. I was glad to get home, but not glad about the heat and humidity here; it took a while to get the house cooled down enough to sleep. Fortunately we’d taken Monday off so we could turn off the alarm clocks, though Mr. Karen, being dedicated, went in to work in the afternoon while I stayed home and unpacked and relaxed.