Monday, June 29, 2009

SEATTLE: Day One, Part One

Waking up in Seattle is a vacation if nothing else happened all day. The view. The air. The weather. Did I mention the view?

Russ found a variety drug store across the street from our hotel while I was stirring, and picked up a Diet Pepsi Max for me and some packaged pastries. Starbucks Coffee in the room. We didn't want to load up too much since we had such a big day planned.

First off, we took the monorail to the Seattle Center to pick take the tour via land and sea on the WW2 Ducks Amphibious Landing Craft. Or Ducks for short. This was one of our favorite activities of the vacation, because the tour guide understood our kind of crazy. He gave us a great tour of the sites, but we also got to sing and interact and just be goofy.

It was during one of these goofy songs (I think it was YMCA, complete with arm motions), that an elderly pedestri-woman shook her head at us in disdain and asked us, "What in the WORLD do you think you're doing?" All the while scolding us with her pointed finger.

Oh well...I guess what sounds like fun to some people sounds like noise pollution to others!

One of the best parts of the tour was when we drove from the road, right into the water and toured the water's edge of Seattle. There are some parts of the town best viewed from the water.

And then, there's the water.

Sun rays warming the face. Moist air cooling the flushed skin. Slight waves rocking the boat. Nature alone is enough.

But there's more. Float planes. House boats. Floating homes (we learned the difference!) Fancy yachts. War vessels. Deadliest Catch ships.

We learned to be able to spot our hotel in the skyline of every tour, of every walkabout.

The tour guide showed us the home of Sleepless in Seattle.

Just so much. Before noon on Day One!

Back on land, almost sad to know we were headed back to headquarters.

Oh...and every time we drove by a Starbucks Coffee (almost every corner), we were coached to shout out "cha ching!" Fun, funny, and so true!

I highly recommend this tour, and suggest you do it early in your vacation so you can get oriented on the Seattle basics. A must do!

Saturday, June 27, 2009

SEATTLE: Travel Day

Over the next few days I'm going to write about some of the highlights and insights of our recent vacation to Seattle. Russ and I have traveled many places, but never to the northwestern part of our country, so this was a real treat. We have been planning this trip for over a year now. It was originally scheduled for last August, but a series of events put our trip on hold. So, let's begin!

We flew out of Harlingen, TX around 5 PM Central Time, with a brief layover in Houston. No real time to get a meal there, and we weren't really hungry. But we often experienced the pit-of-the-stomach hunger while flying due to in-air snacks limited to nuts and soft drinks. Risking it, we boarded essentially foodless (a few cookies stashed, just in case). So we were pleasantly surprised when their "snack" consisted of a delicious cheeseburger and fresh green salad, and a chocolate bar for dessert.

We landed in Seattle around 10 PM Pacific Time, after being in the air about five-and-a-half hours total. One thing we realized is the older you get, the smaller and less comfortable those seats in the plane become. So, we walked off the plane a little bit like Frankenstein and Bride of Frankenstein!

The buses were about to close, and didn't sound all that special to take anyway, with our baggage and my wheelchair. We planned to take a taxi, but when we hailed one, he refused to take us due to my wheelchair, even though we showed him it folds up easily for stowing. He said he could call a van for us from the same taxi line, but it could take a while.

This limo driver kept bugging us to ride with him. Finally he quoted us a price just $13 more than the absent van, and after that long on a plane and desiring to get to our room, we succumbed. So this was our first ever limo ride.

The driver decided to be our first Seattle tour guide as well, so there was no glass window between us and the front to provide privacy for our ride to the hotel. That's okay, it was enjoyable to get a sneak peak at what we had in store for us over the next 8 days. And the city was beautiful at night!

We arrived at the Westin, greeted by the valet. That is the last real memory I have of the night. I know we went to the registration desk. We struggled with our luggage up to the 39th floor. We performed the perfunctory oohs and ahs much like a fireworks display when we viewed our room as well as the room's view. But truthfully, that last 15 minutes felt like sleepwalking as if living out a dream sequence compared to the vivid memories of the days that followed.

We sunk into what Westin calls their "heavenly bed" and "lights out."