Today was a loooong travel day for Team WestEnders...beginning at the unholy hour of 5:30 a.m. with a very sleepy bunch stumbling out of bed, throwing themselves together and heading to the airport. Well...it's more like 3 of us were silent and sedate...while Husband chattered non-stop in the car as the sun came up...even when I steadfastly refused to answer him, because it was freaking EARLY and I hadn't yet had COFFEE, for crying out loud. (Damn "morning people"...)
Anyway, we ended up cutting it closer than we usually try to, because we didn't want to leave the house any sooner than absolutely necessary. So we viewed the line at Security with relief...all approximately 20 people...even though Husband swears it was the most people he'd ever seen waiting at RDU. (We're still kind of conditioned to remember, and expect, and plan for the nightmare we used to regularly face at BWI--where in the past we had the stressful experience of being hustled out of the enormous queue in order to be specially processed and hustled away in time to make our flight.)
Not that it was without its...challenges, mind you. The TSA personnel seemed to have difficulty figuring out how to deal with our intrepid broken-legged-one. "Can he walk on it?" (Um, noooo, hence the, you know, "helpful crutches"...) Meanwhile the rest of us did the obligatory "remove sweater, shoes, belt, toiletry bag"...oh wait...that was just ME. I don't know if regulations have changed since last Summer, or perhaps there were stricter protocols because of the holiday weekend, or the recent attack in Istanbul, but they even made me take off my FitBit, which has never happened before.
However, we made it in plenty of time, and they even let Riley (and the rest of us) pre-board, to avoid being potentially flattened by the crush of humanity on a very full plane. (Was that dramatic? Did I mention I'm tired?) Oh, except I didn't get on with the boys--I took a few extra minutes to stand in line at Starbucks for my long-overdue java fix. Then we were treated to possibly one of the quietest flights I've ever enjoyed (No lie--nary a peep from any of the numerous children we'd seen at the gate...who remained completely undetectable for the duration of the 3-1/4 hour trip. Little angels, all of them...thank the friendly sky gods...I offer up my complimentary, miniscule packet of snacks-I-can't-eat as a tribute...)
Then...Denver. Let's just say it was the "less pleasing" leg of our trip. It started when the jetway's wheels got stuck before it reached our aircraft, so they couldn't allow us to exit. We sat for quite some time while they tried to get this worked out (including, apparently, calling in an engineer whose job it is to help maintain this equipment). Eventually the pilot sheepishly announced that we'd have to move to another gate. All of this was taking precious minutes away from accomplishing the truly critical goal: eating some real food before having to embark on our next flight. As luck would have it--or...NOT--the Denver to Seattle portion of our journey was delayed by some vague "mechanical issue" that prevented us from leaving on-time.
Meanwhile we were equally horrified and fascinated by a toddler who threw the mother of all tantrums in the interim. I mean, ear-splitting shrieks, fountains of tears, rolling on the ground. I sort of nicknamed him...Demon Spawn...under my breath...and wouldn't you know, he was sitting DIRECTLY ACROSS FROM ME once we got situated. But...guess what? He must have gotten it all out of his system, because he was perfectly well-behaved on the plane. Sure, his mother let him play games on her phone the entire time...and kept feeding him M&Ms....but trust me, to the rest of the passengers, this counted as AWESOME parenting in this particular case.
Next we landed in Seattle (yay!) and found our way to the rental car outpost. I'd reserved a "full-size" model, but we were slightly confused when the nice employee pointed us toward the section we needed and said what sounded suspiciously like, "Pick the one you want, and you're good to go." I'm sorry...what? We get to choose? Now picture the Male Posse, wandering up and down the aisles like the proverbial kids in a candy store...with me following behind, going "NO! We may NOT take the Mercedes!" We settled on a lovely, practical...Hyundai Sonata. But you would have thought it was a luxury car, the way the boys oohed and aahed over the back seat--"It's HUGE! We have cupholders! It's soooo comfy!" (Yep, easily amused, they are...)
Moving on, our first order of business in the borrowed wheels was to locate our hotel, which proved quite simple, since I'd purposely booked one close to the airport, for convenience sake. (And incidentally, it's a darn good thing this wasn't complicated, as we'd now been up for about 12 hours...and counting...) Once ensconced in our room, the serious task of choosing a dining option commenced in earnest. Yes, we felt a little silly--like 80-year old Early Bird Special seekers--since it was all of 4 p.m. and we were starving for dinner...but lunch (such as it was) had been in a whole other state...and time zone...so what can you do?
However...it took a bit of...creative negotiating...to home in on a viable restaurant. Not surprisingly, there are plenty of seafood eateries--probably highlighting local, fresh-caught offerings--but, um "vegetarian". So Husband looked up menus on his phone, and would call out items he thought I'd like: "Spinach salad with oranges!" (can't have citrus); "Stir fried veggies with soy sauce!" (nope, no soy); "Portabella burger!" (only if it's a gluten-free bun); "How about fries?" (not allowed white potatoes, only sweet potatoes); "Veggie tacos!" (no tomatoes...peppers...corn...or cheese). Finally he hit upon a nearby joint called Sharps Roasthouse, where there was a salad that was more or less acceptable, ingredient-wise, to my current restrictive eating rules (and it ended up being yummy, so it was all good in the end).
Even though he'd just been fed, Derek was still concerned that, because it was so early in the evening, he'd need another snack before turning in for the night. (I'll concede that this is a fair point for a teenage boy...) So we visited a grocery store and foraged for stuff we could keep in our hotel room. (For me, gluten-free cinnamon raisin bread and almond milk...and Clif bars, Planter's nut packs, pretzels, and Gatorade for the men-folk.) And if you need an illustration to show you just how loopy Derek was from his exhausting day of gallivanting across the country: as we were carrying the provisions up to our room with the boxes precariously stacked, he almost dropped one, and exclaimed, "My nuts keep threatening to fall off!" (Then cackled at his own joke...sigh...)
Finally, we're ending Day 1 of the Seattle Sojourn by doing something totally exciting, really scintillating...watching the Orioles vs Mariners baseball game on TV. Hey, we don't get Os coverage anymore in North Carolina, so this is actually pretty cool! Not to mention relaxing. And we need some sleeeeep before we hit the ground running tomorrow for our first official day as Pacific Northwest tourists. So, peace out for now...East and West Coasts!