jamie posts

Vacation to Seattle

I recently got back from my visit to Washington State. It was a pretty good trip, with lots of mountains, trees, and water, as well as sitting in a car. I managed to take 1050 photos there, and to lose my brand new cell phone, purchased just before the trip. And I got to see brother Jamie for the first time since perhaps March when he left for Seattle. I had to skip my classes for the week, but it was at a not so important time in them.

My mom and I both flew up, separately, on the Saturday before last. I felt very cramped on the flight, but luckily the seat next to me was empty, giving me extra space. I had a small dinner of a microwave type fried chicken sandwich with tiny salad and M & Ms. I read my psychology book (for class) for a while, and somewhat watched without sound one and part of another movie. I think I dozed off briefly. I also watched out the window quite a bit. It was dark out for much of the flight, but seeing the small splotches of lights on the ground here and there was interesting. The clouds near Seattle were quite lit up, which was quite a site.

Mom flew up well before me and had to get to the condo we were staying at before I arrived, so I had to stay in Seattle for the night. I stayed at Jamie’s house (it took some time before the trip to convince him this was the way to go). It took some time to meet up with him, hauling all my stuff on the bus and then around the city looking for him. My new cell phone helped greatly with our meeting. We took the bus down to his house. It’s a small trailer, a large towable camping kind retrofitted to sort of have the normal fittings of a house, but somewhat crappily. I was skeptical when he said it would be hard to sleep more than two people there, but he was right. We ate pizza and I was introduced to the TV show the Office.

I slept poorly and for a short period of time before hauling my gear back to the bus. Jamie had to stay and work the next two days, so it was just me leaving. I asked the bus driver how to get to the Amtrak station, and luckily it was the last stop on that line. Unfortunately, when I got off, there was no clear indication where it was. It took me some time of walking around, but I found it in a small, nearly not labeled building a little ways away. My mom called me as I was looking for it: she thought the train left an hour before it actually did, and that I should already be on it. She called just as a bum looking guy was approaching me, and he said something like have a good trip and walked away after I had been talking for a little while. I had to take the train to get nearer to the condo, a two and a half hour drive away. The train ride was quite comfortable, much more spacious than the plane, and there were not so many people in it. We picked up more at other stops, but I still was able to keep my whole two seats to myself. I slept for a while. I also watched the scenery. A man near me hadn’t payed for a ticket, and then was caught smoking in the bathroom, much to the consternation of the train workers. At our destination, he was seen sitting with a guard, apparently awaiting the arrival of the police, who showed up just as I left.My mom was there in Bellingham waiting for me. She had gotten lost on the way and had to buy a $5 map just to find the place. She brought her GPS unit, named Yoda, but he was of no help. She had rented an SUV, and we left in that.

We went back to the condo, about a half hour away, near the small and isolated town of Glacier. It was in the mountains, primarily a ski area. The area is remote enough that not only did our cell phones not work, our GPS units didn’t either. The satellite radio in the car cut in and out, though it did this even in places nearer Seattle. We spent the day staying in the area, going around the mountains. Many of the roads going up the mountains were one lane, and after a while they often turned into rough dirt/stone roads. We had to turn around the first one we went up because it was washed out at one point. It was quite hard turning the car around in the narrow one lane road. It was very cloudy, the clouds engulfing the mountain tops. We were quick to get above the level of some of the clouds. Much of these mountains were covered by trees, mostly conifers. But at the tops of some of them was snow and rock. This was my first good view of some snow capped peaks: I had been up top of one in New Mexico, but it had been at night, and I had seen some from planes before as well. There weren’t a lot of them, just a at most a few visible at a time. Later that day, when we drove up near the skiing area, we came to a small lake that had a nice reflection of some mountain tops. It’s called Picture Lake or something like that, and is supposedly the most photographed of that sort of lake. There were little birds near us that flew quite close. We also saw a decently sized waterfalls, evidently where many people had died.

Unfortunately, it got dark before 1700, so we didn’t have much time to see things. It and the clouds also made for slow shutter speeds on many the photos throughout my trip.

We ate dinner at a local restaurant called Graham’s, somewhat famous for having been in an early movie. It was a somewhat interesting place. The menu was part of a newspaper that told the history of the restaurant and some other informational tidbits. It had a small variety of somewhat strange items. I went with a stir-fry like dish which my mom had the night before and recommended. It was pretty good.

We called my dad, as we did every night. We lost cell phone service near a strange tree with blue christmas lights in the middle of nowhere at the side of the road on the way to the condo, so we usually tried to call before that. There was a phone at the condo area, a regular phone put in a payphone like terminal for the whole condo to use. We had to use a long distance card with it the couple of times we called from there.

Synopsis of rest of trip, perhaps to be filled in later
Long drive to shore. Saw Deception Pass, a passage of a river through a narrow gorge, with turbulence that turns over kayaks. Saw a few beach areas, view over bay.

TuesdayDrove to Seattle to pick up Jamie. Took ferry to Orcas Island. Drove up tallest mountain on the islands there. Nice view around, across bay. Could see many big snow capped mountains off in distance. Tried to get into rec room at condo for quite some time, but must have closed early.

Showed Jamie mountain area, mostly what we had seen already, but a bit more. Went up Twin Lakes road. Made it over several rough washed out spots of road, but had to turn around at one very bad one. Got somewhat good views, but was cloudy and of and on raining, preventing good mountain-top views. Jamie and I played ping-pong and swam in pool.

Were going into town, so I brought my cell phone. Set it in car next to me, was last I saw of it. Went through Canada to a small bit of the US on a peninsula off of Canada. Got stopped at first crossing, didn’t hear what guy said, so waited in car for a long while before I went into the nearby building, at which point I was told that we were supposed to have come in. The cop guy there seemed to have a strange air of importance, and told me to keep my distance when I got close to him to point out our vehicle. Soon after we were let leave. Other three crossings much less eventful. All had long waits, especially last one, with long lines of cars. Bought no MSG ramen soup at gas station that Jamie ended up getting. Rocky beach on peninsula with lots of seaweed, giant driftwood, plenty of birds on water, decent view over bay of some islands. Not very worth trip through border crossings though.

Power went out, so woke up 45 minutes late on big driving day. Checked out of condo, drove down past Deception Point towards Olympic Peninsula. Saw sea lions or something in water as drove past, but construction plus missed exit prevented our stopping. Took ferry (much shorter ride) to Olympic peninsula. Walked short way onto 6 mile long sand dune thing with light house on its end. Saw seaweed, giant driftwood. Drove up mountain road to dam, small and uneventful, turned around. Went toward another mountain road, road closed, had to turn around. Dark, had to head to Seattle. Long lines with huge number of cars took ferry to Seattle. Dropped Jamie at home, went to hotel. Briefly used free internet, slept well in bed.

Dropped my luggage at Jamie’s. Had pancake breakfast with Jamie. Mom left for early flight, dropping Jamie and I at REI store. Spent much time there looking at ultralight rain garb and the many, many other camping items. Very nice place. Bought small duffel I later used in place of another, slightly smaller and less handled bag, for the flight. Also some camping soap and a durable reflective blanket. Walked around town. Tower had too long lines, though view would have been nice, passed on it. Took space train further downtown, saw Pikes Market. Top floor had food with lots of fresh fish, fruit, also crafts. Narrow lane very very crowded, difficult to walk. Maybe four other floors with antique and other type shops in old-time mall-like setting. Played instruments for a while at Lark in the Morning store. Walked for a good while till found Teriyaki restaurant, ate large meal that I couldn’t finish. Walked good deal more looking for wooden boat place, couldn’t find it. Dark. Went to coffee shop to use internet to find best bus schedule for me to catch my flight. Also looked for shop with used camping gear, but was too late to visit it. Went back to Jamie’s home for a while via bus. Didn’t get to do much other than repack my gear better before I had to leave for my bus. Bus was rather late. Gear easier to carry with better packing, still rather difficult, especially first one which ended up fairly crowded. Second one, guy saw my transfer slip was old, had to pay but couldn’t find money with all my stuff, had to pay on exit.

Plenty of time waiting in airport for flight, read psychology book. Flight boarded slightly late. Rather empty, after women moved, had my row of three seats to myself. Looked out window at darkness a bit. Soon lay down across three seats, fell asleep. Slept till descent approaching Cleveland airport. Woke with sharp pain in ears, like they really needed to have popped many times over the flight, but couldn’t because I was asleep. Every once in a while the right would make strange, loud noises. Ears didn’t pop till after got home and slept. Arrived early. Dad picked up, drove me straight home. Stay awake for a bit unpacking and looking for cell phone. Fell asleep and slept till 1500 or so when parents called. Invited me over for dinner of chili. Looked completely through Mom’s luggage, still couldn’t find phone.