Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pacific Northwest Trip March 2010 Day 1 Friday March 12

This is the first of a series of posts dealing my sixth trip to Seattle as an adult and first of two trips that year. I’ve made minor corrections to these reports. Also, I’ve added additional thoughts with the hindsight of three years later or to add further clarification. 

I was hoping to get a good night's sleep last night to be ready for the trip, but it was lighter than usual outside, then a bottle(?) dropped causing a woman to curse, then more glass shattering for a while probably at the garbage bin.

I worked at Pacific Peoples' Partnership.  I was out of milk so ate breakfast at McDonald's.  A woman slammed the door as she exited and then later returned and violently knocked down a garbage bin before being escorted out. 

[NOW: This is the McDonald’s at Douglas & Yates, downtown Victoria.  At the time I was volunteering with Pacific Peoples’ Partnership as part of an unsuccessful attempt to get back into work with the government.  I’ve since returned to volunteering there though no longer as part of a formal process.] 

Okay, the above two bits are technically not part of the trip, but they happened today and I thought you'd all find them interesting.

So I left work and made it to the Victoria Clipper ferry terminal around 3:40.  My friend Troy, who is also going to the same convention but staying at a different hostel was already there so we chatted until it was time to go through Immigration.  As with the Coho you go through Immigration on this side and then Customs in the US.

[NOW:  Troy was at the Green Tortoise, which I used to go to but will no longer do so due to reasons outlined in previous reports.  My main reason for taking this trip was the Emerald City Comic Con, hence the convention reference above. Because I was juggling this and my volunteering efforts and because it was off season, I opted for the more expensive but more direct Clipper ferry this time.] 

The Immigration line opens at 4, an hour before the ferry leaves, and it really needs that time due to the number of people; I got a really happy guy luckily.  The Clipper boards by group numbers and Troy and I were both Group 5.  Consequently while I did let a window seat, it was on the left side rather than the more ideal right side.  Also in the five hours since the ferry would have arrived, no one had cleaned the windows.  The seats are somewhat like an airplane, only without the seatbelts.  Moving around opportunities are minimal and yes, there is a tray for food.  Selection was minimal but actually comes with more items than you'd think from a Light Dinner section.

While Troy and I were talking we were talking we were often interrupted by a woman making announcements who repeated herself a bit. I want to stress that she repeated herself a fair bit.  She really repeated herself a lot.  She also talked fairly slowly.  At one point she talked at length on how this was the last announcement.  There was a pause and I attempted to talk to Troy again but then the last announcement from her resumed.

 But the most interesting bit of news was that a piece of wood had gone into the engine as the ferry was arriving in Seattle.  Nothing serious happily. 

The ferry arrived a little after the schedule 7:45 time, but the lady who had previously announced that she had given her last announcement made a new announcement indicating that the people without checked in luggage had to wait until baggage was ready; people without baggage could leave.

Half an hour later the people with baggage were allowed to leave the ferry to pick up our baggage and go through Customs.  I took some pics of the baggage pick up area but had to erase them.  The Customs guy said that the no photos rule had been announced but I'm pretty sure I recall most of what slow and repetitious woman said.  In fact I have bits of info regarding a tulip festival not for a few more months permanently burned into memory thanks to her.

[NOW: Perhaps fortunately her specific points have actually faded; it’s more the general experience of her announcements and not what she actually said that’s stuck.]

 Customs went okay beyond the above and I finally made it out of the Clipper building 55 minutes after the ferry's scheduled arrival in Seattle.  All talk the whole trip from Clipper arrival was 5 hours.  My usual route (ferry to Port Angeles, transit hopping, then ferry from Bainbridge to Seattle) is a little over 8 hours but I get to move around a lot and explore towns along the way.  Any guesses as to which is my preferred means of getting to Seattle now that I've sampled both?

[NOW: Ironically, my next trip to Seattle required a new longer route because they cancelled one of the bus runs.] 

I actually recognized the "Enter as strangers, leave as guests" slogan at the hostel before I saw the actual hostel sign.  When I arrived at City Hostel Seattle the manager, Nancy, who hadn't actually met me during my July trip, correctly guessed my last name from previous correspondences with her and gave me a warm welcome.  A security guy also apparently remembered me.  During my various visits to the Green Tortoise the people there never seemed to have any strong opinions one way or the other that I was a returning guest so this was a very nice change.  The previous visit the hostel was in a remote area of Ballard; this time it's in Belltown, close to Seattle Center.

My room has four people max which is nice.  After storing my stuff it was 9 pm.  Heading out, I passed the Chief Sealth statue (from whom Seattle gets his name) and got a shot of the Monorail passing over the statue.  This being night it's probably a neon white blur over the statue, but appears to still be a nice shot.

I visited Silver Platters (bought 3-movie set of SS-related 1970s exploitation films), visited Seattle Center and got some nice night shots.  The International Fountain, which first caused me to fall in love with the city was at low power but still running).  I visited Easy Street Records and got some more cult films including a 50-DVD set for $9, then returned to Seattle Center for some more pics.  The Space Needle  looked really nice at night as did the fountain in front of the Space Needle (Robert S. Wright I think; the water looks a shiny yellow at night).  And Pacific Science Center looks great at night as well.  Sadly the International Fountain's lights were off, but I managed some okay shots by positioning the Space Needle in the background.

At one point I saw an animal (cat?) passing through the amusement park side.  It went under the gate labelled "Enter" so it was considerate at least.  I got some refreshments at Seattle Center and then returned to the hostel.  There's more computer terminals this time and the computer screens are incredibly wide.

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