Act Two: The Birthday Trip

Blog Entry 10/6 for Saturday, 9/20.

*sigh* Back to reality. The previous two days of doing nothing were really nice, but I had agreed to give Ali, my oldest daughter, a traveling vacation for her birthday this year, and today was the day my promise came due. She was scheduled to arrive at Sea-Tac around 12:30 PM, and so I spent the morning getting everything packed up and loaded in the truck. (Not that there was much to pack or load, but I’m sure you know how these things go.) Eve and Rick were leaving today, too, to drive home (straight through!) to Illinois, so they were also packing. The plan was for all of us (Rick, Eve, Mike, Loni, Bella, Sharon and me – with Ali, after we picked her up at the airport) to take our respective vehicles and meet at the Space Needle around 1 or so for some sightseeing before heading off to our respective destinations that night. There were some mixups and snafus…

In addition to my own stuff, I had volunteered to carry Eve’s and Rick’s bikes in the truck so they’d be secure while we were gallivanting around on foot in Seattle for the afternoon. There wasn’t any problem with that, but it meant that my emergency-equipment box was behind three suitcases and under three bicycles. Normally, this wouldn’t present any difficulties – I mean, how often is the stuff in an emergency box needed, right? ::nods:: Yup, today. I guess it was because the truck had sat for two and a half days, and it had rained, and the engine was wet, and the electric cooler had been running all that time, but for whatever reason(s), the new battery that had been installed prior to my big trip (as blogged about here) didn’t have enough oomph to crank the cold, damp engine fast enough to start it. Ultimately, I ran the battery down to where the starter solenoid just clicked and fizzed. Time for a jump start.

Rick volunteered Eve’s car for the jump, but I’d have to dig out my own battery cables. Fine. When got to (and opened) the emergency box, I saw my fancy-schmancy “Rescue Yourself” lithium-ion mini battery kit, and decided to give it a try. As insurance, I also got out the jumper cables – no sense in climbing through all that stuff in the back of the truck twice if I didn’t have to. I hooked the rescue battery up to the truck’s battery and turned the key. WOW! The engine turned right over and started up almost immediately! So I can officially recommend the battery kit I bought, and will be buying kits for all my kids for Christmas (Ali, Eve, Char – take note).

Once everything was running, packed, loaded, etc., the next step in the plan was to meet Ali at Sea-Tac. Rick was, again, using his cell-phone Google GPS and I was following him, except for a while when I forgot I was following *him* and ended up (sort of) following a car that had moved in between us. That was fine, until said car moved over to the left lane (so did I) and then into the carpool lane (I didn’t because I was flying solo). As I accelerated to keep up with it, I wondered what Rick was doing and when he was going to move back to a lane I could follow him in. At about that point, I realized that the car I was following had the wrong license plate and *wasn’t* Rick and Eve. Oops… So I looked over to my right to see whether I could move back to the lane I had been in, and there were Rick and Eve, waving at me. <<blush>> I waved back, slowed down, and fell back into line behind them. I managed to snag a decent (?) picture of Mt Rainier while on I-5 (with Eve and Rick in her car in the lower right of the picture):


We got to the airport a little late; Ali had called me to let me know she was on the ground already. Naturally, the arrival lanes were all full of cars and people, but luckily she saw me approaching and moved out to where I could just stop, jump out, throw her stuff in the back of the truck, jump back in, and drive off like that had been the plan all along. Rick and Eve were a little bit ahead of me, but they had also managed to stop, so we were together as we left Sea-Tac for the Space Needle.

We found parking not too far from the Needle and managed to find adjacent spaces. Mike, Loni, Sharon and Bella joined us a short time later and we all boarded the monorail to go to Pike Place for (a very late!) lunch. We ended up at Lowell’s, a good place to eat and watch the container-ships be docked (we did both – this is Sharon, Rick and Eve enjoying their meals, but the ship was washed out by the sunlight):


After eating, we moseyed back to the monorail stop and rode back to the Space Needle. It’s still awe-inspiring, even though I’ve been up it before. The views from the observation deck were wonderful – including this one of the painted spiders and their shadows on a building’s rooftop.


Afterward, as we were saying our mutual goodbyes, I found a way to prop my camera on a post and snap a couple of group pictures. This is the better one. From left, we are Bella, Mike, Loni, Eve, Rick, Sharon, Ali, and, uh, whats-his-name. 😉


Eve, Rick, Ali and I went back to our vehicles, where we transferred bicycles and hugs. Rick and Eve then departed east on I-90 toward Illinois, while Ali and I turned north on I-5 toward Vancouver, BC. It didn’t take us all that long to get to the border, but then we spent an hour in line waiting to *cross* the border. There were other options, which I think had shorter wait times, but since I didn’t know anything about the local roads, or where they led, I decided not to try one of them. When we got to the Canadian side, their Border Patrol equivalent asked us several questions and then let us through. We drove on up to Vancouver, where I had made a reservation at a Best Western –

…for the *following* night. Yep, we had no place to stay because I had made the reservation for the wrong night, and the hotel was filled up when we got there. Their desk person graciously let me use one of their public computers to find an alternate room, though, so it was only about an hour or so later that we *did* have a room and were in it getting ready for bed. Of course, that hour was midnight instead of 11 PM, but still…

So that’s how Act Two of my latest trip began – with a couple of goofs and a late night. Fortunately, I didn’t make the booking mistake again, but the late nights turned into a recurring theme. *sigh*

In our next episode, we see our plucky heroes visit the H. R. MacMillan Space Centre, get themselves back into the US, and drive all the way to Astoria, Oregon. Until then… 🙂

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