Sunday, November 2, 2008

The Seattle Story I

One more long-weekend and one more travel arrangement. This time the long weekend is due to Labor Day on September 1 and as always I and my friends decided to honor all the hard work the laborers, which includes me as well, have done since the last Labor Day by traveling to one of many places where I have not set foot yet. There are so many places and yet we only have so much time (3 days to be exact) and, more importantly, only so much money. About a month before the travel date our planning committee started to –umm, plan. After some detailed analysis and deliberation we concluded that we were indecisive about the location to explore and finally we threw a dart at the US Map (Continental only) and it landed in Seattle, Washington. And thus it was picked by the eternal hand that this trip will be ‘The Seattle Expedition’.
Following my earlier narrative attempt, the story will be divided based on the date. The criterion is chosen purely out of intentional laziness towards creativity and bears no consequence.
Disclaimer: All names, places, accounts and events mentioned in the narration can be partially or entirely false. Reading this narrative can cause extreme nausea, simultaneous boredom and excitement and induce sharp cofee craving. Other Side effects include loss of time, increased knowledge, read rage and erectile dysfunction.
- narrated by Me
August 29: The Arrivals

My recent trip to San Francisco over the previous long weekend was so exciting that I actually performed much better at work after returning from the trip. Food tasted better, water was sweet and the air smelled of fresh city pollutants. As the next three-day-holiday approached it was time to get packin. Just thinking about the City of Seattle was an energizing activity. Seattle has a vibrant demographic with a fascinating history. It is well known for its enticing natural scenery and rich culture. Nicknamed ‘Emerald City’ it is the home of aircraft giant-Boeing and software giant- Microsoft and more recently gaming giant-Nintendo. It enjoys a wonderful, moderately cold weather with high winds, with only 52 days of sunshine per year on average. I don’t know about you, but I love cloudy days.
This time our gang was made of four people. The most handsome, tough, sensitive and intelligent guy in my work cubicle- ME and then three more of my friends from college. Ironically, since they are my friends it makes them seem much cooler than me. Unlike the last trip, there were no glitches with weather and the travel plans were nicely set in tarmac and ready to hit the run way, except one tiny problem. I had moved to a different apartment since the last trip, and hence I can’t ask my old roommate to drop me at the airport, because it would be awkward. Since I don’t have a car, I was pondering my options. One way was to beg my current roommate who was really busy that week or I could beg to a colleague at work. I am not a big Fan of begging unless it’s critical, and since this was critical I did. But they said no. One of my pals from college had moved, for work assignment, to the city where I live and now we both needed a ride to the airplane station (you don’t complain for Train Station?!?). As the departure date grew near the anxiety was too much and I decided it was time for some desperate measures. I tried to convince one of my friends in our travel gang that instead of him taking the flight from his city itself, he should drive his car two hours to my place, pick up me and the other friend and then catch the flight at the phoenix airport. It was sort-of-a sinister plan, but I am sure God would understand my situation. Guess what? It worked. On Friday, August the 29th, like clock work, I finished my day at the office early, headed home, got ready and without a worry; I was at the airport, Late. You see, in our detailed preparation we forgot the fact there would be other vehicles in the road during our travel to the airport and as it turned out, there were plenty of them. By the time we moved through the traffic and reached The Sky Harbor International Airport, we only had about 15 minutes to board the plane. After a quick exercise of running through gates and jumping over other luggage, stranded babies and old people we caught the Alaskan Air- Boeing 737 in the nick of time. The travel plan and the airplane were still on the Tarmac and within minutes they both took off.
Four hours later, at the SEATAC airport we touched down for what was to be one of the most gratifying experiences that I have ever had with nature. We reached Seattle around 10 pm and the first step was to pickup the rental car. Whenever we rent cars, we always end up paying the under-age fee which is very annoying. For every driver under 25 years of age they charge us with that fee everyday. The DMV (US license office) says the legal age to drive is 18. Where did the rental companies come up with the number 25? I am guessing the next thing would be to charge people over 50 over-age fee. Anyway the good news was that one of our gang members had reached the 25 mark on that exact same day and hence when we picked up our Dodge Nitro we saved up some cash on it
Next stop-Dinner. Before that we checked into our hotel room, a standard Motel 6 with comfy beds, and unloaded our luggage. My first impression of the town was not a good one, but not without reasons. The neighborhood looked spooky and the roads did not seem to be used that much. There were quite a few dark areas and I was hungry. That day, dinner was at Denny's. I love these eateries. Places such this and I-HOP are closely designed and operated mirroring an American way. There would be no tacos or beans, no noodles or kabobs. There are pancakes, syrup, scrambled eggs, hash browns and coffee – truly American. Served warm at 11 at night it’s the kind of food that fills you with promise and optimism. An hour later, filled with promise and optimism we went to bed, only to realize that coffee is a sleep deterrent. Ha Ha.
But seriously, don’t drink coffee before bed.

Coming Up:
Our first day at the wonderful city of Seattle where we pay visit to a volcano belt in cold weather and hike up a mountain that would leave us craving for hot chocolate. Was it as gratifying as I mentioned earlier or was I just making things up? Check back for the next installment of “The Seattle Expedition”

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