Final day

Since today is the last day, and checkout time is noon, we can sleep in later, so I decide to watch Troy on HBO. I’ve seen it before in the cinema, and have the DVD, but I’ll watch it again, as it is a decent action film and features two of my favourite actors. I set up the cabinet doors so the light is blocked for Scott to sleep. I see that the street outside is wet. Does that mean that it rained? About time, as I was hoping it would be raining while I was here, but I don’t see any.

In the morning, the street is still wet, so perhaps it rained a bit more, but still nothing in the sky, very disappointing. After the last shower, I start packing for the return. The bath towels are on the wimpy side, but the hand towels have a nice fluffy thickness. We plan to leave our bags in a locked closet next to the concierge podium and go walking for breakfast, pictures, and possible gifts. Scott plays some DS Lite brain training and finishes his chocolate cake from last night. I finish the Minute Maid Strawberry Passion and pour the rest of the Big Fizz down the sink drain as we don’t want to finish it this early in the day (there’s only about one cup worth left).

We check out shortly before noon and try to kill time with the lobby computers. I get through the bare minimum of online activity and Scott takes an hour crafting a response to something, blocking me in so I can’t leave the business center. After we leave the bags in the closet, it’s off for breakfast. Right outside the hotel is a congregation of motorcycle cops. Yesterday, as I took a picture of the 5th Avenue Corner Café, some guy told me to not have the cops catch me taking pictures of buildings or they’ll take my film. He said it happened to him before and with the President visiting next week, they are extra vigilant and cautious. How can a picture taken the week before be more dangerous than one taken two months before?

Scott no longer needs a doughnut after the chocolate cake, and we get back to Fisher Plaza and Café Darclée, with Scott debating about going next door to the Grecian Corner for a spanakopita, which he has been thinking about for over a week after becoming aware of it from Iron Chef America.

We take a short side trip into the neighboring Sport Restaurant & Bar, where KOMO news shoots some of its sports reporting (Fisher Plaza is also home to the KOMO studio building), so Scott can look for gifts (he finds two). For some reason, a large part of the restaurant is reserved by a Penn State alumni crowd to watch the college football game. I say “for some reason” because there is no reason to expect such a large group of Penn State alumni to be found in Seattle.

Back in Café Darclée, it is much busier than last time, probably due to a weekend lunch crowd. Last time, our order was taken within a minute of seating. This time, several minutes passed before I asked for menus, and then went back to the counter to order. There are only two people, one doing the food, the other preparing the drinks, both working the register and delivering to tables, so the slow service is justified.

Scott orders the Classic BLT, I have the Panino Campagnola and a French Hot Chocolate (á l’Ancienne). I rarely imbibe hot drinks, though I figured I should try this here. While we wait for the food, I head back to the Sport Restaurant & Bar for a gift as well. Since the gifts are done, and we are eating now, there is no need to head towards the waterfront for gifts, and therefore, no Ivar’s clam chowder in a bread bowl.

Back to the hotel to kill more time before retrieving our bags and finding the bus to take us to the airport. It is only 3pm and the flight is not until 7:39pm. I guess we’ll be getting there three hours early, as recommended by the TSA. We sit on the lobby chairs and couches, browse the bookshelves, look at the wall art, and check out the parking garage.

When we dropped off our bags, I asked where to catch the bus to the airport and got a direct answer. When we picked the bags up, a different guy was on shift, and he was much less certain about the bus, telling me that the hotel recommends guests to take one of the airport shuttles (cost: $10.25 per person vs. $1.25 for the bus). I like the first guy’s answer better. Of course, this means that he also ends up wrong. We walk an extra eight or nine blocks looking for a bus stop that will get us to the airport.

On the bus, we end up sitting in the pivot point of those double-length busses that have the accordion-like pivot joint. Nearby me, I overhear a conversation between a local and two older Australian tourists who are heading home after six weeks in the US, mostly on the east coast, and are heading to San Francisco to connect to Sydney. I wonder if they will be on my flight.

A long walk back across most of the terminal and a tram ride to Terminal N and we get to the empty gate three hours early. E-check in takes a couple of minutes, and the security checkpoint only had a handful of passengers, so we had lots of time to wait. I had to quickly drink the Minute Maid Orangeade drink before getting through security, so I didn’t have time to savor it. The only other time I had orangeade was a Snapple Orangeade I found at UC Berkeley about 12 years ago. I’ve been searching for the flavor ever since.

Scott and I sit for a little over an hour, playing DS Lite and I read the newspaper, thankfully the Seattle Times from the hotel, as USA Today does not have a Saturday edition. For dinner, I would rather not have Burger King again, though having it be the first and last meal lends itself to some poetic symmetry. The bakery would be acceptable, but Scott chooses The Edge Sports Bar, perhaps to watch college football. Our original gate seats were across the way, very close to a television. I moved to the other end because it had the only free wall outlet, should I choose to use my laptop during our long wait.

What do I find on the menu? Ivar’s own Clam Chowder in a Bread Bowl, there’s an easy choice for my last meal. Interesting that even though food is a low priority, it is often what is remembered. We take our time and stay so Scott can watch more football. At halftime of the Ohio State – UT Austin game, we return to the gate, though I’ve lost my prime seats near the outlet, so no computer use tonight.

My seat assignment is 34A, which ends up being in the last row, left corner. That’s usually where I like to sit in the cinema, not so much on an airplane, I prefer an aisle seat. Seated next to me is Scott, then a new dad on the aisle with his wife and baby across the aisle. They ask Scott to move across the aisle so they can sit together, so now I can’t leave because the three of them take up two seats. The baby is very grabby and the wife keeps elbowing me for the next forty minutes. In addition, my corner seat is the only one where the audio jacks have been removed, so I can’t listen to the television audio, radio programs, or even the pilot-traffic control feed. I haven’t been on a plane where the pilot allowed this on the radio for years, there is a radio channel for it, but it is the pilot’s choice to allow it for the passengers. When I turn the overhead light on for reading, the wife turns it off. This happens three times over the next twenty minutes. The baby is crying and the parents are very loud talkers (Japanese).

About one hour in, I get asked by these parents to move so a friend/relative of theirs can sit near them. Nice guy that I am, I do so, and he proceeds to grab my computer bag from under the seat and drag it into the aisle to take with me. I move three rows up to an aisle seat (31D) with a working audio jack, but most of the new preview programming is over. On United flights, the in-flight entertainment is supplied by NBC, so we get an episode from season 2 of The Office (US edition) which I have seen. I don’t know why I watched it, I’m not a big fan of the show. However, since it was started late, we don’t even get to finish the episode before it must be shut off for final descent.

The flight is scheduled to depart at 7:39pm. On the plane, the pilot tells us it is a flight time of 1 hour, 36 minutes, and we land at 9:40pm. Not too bad, though you hope the estimates to not be off by 33%. Outside the baggage claim is the island to catch the airport shuttles, in our case, the Marin Airporter for the return to Larkspur, where we will get picked up and brought home.

Trip Statistics:

My mobile phone lasted the entire trip on one charge with juice leftover. At home, I get maybe 36 hours before a recharge is necessary.

I took a total of 481 photos (averaging 96.2 photos a day), keeping 379 photos.

I walked, I don’t know, about 10-12 miles a day? I didn’t bring the pedometer.

Scott is a longtime friend and neighbor, he has a video game related blog, found at http://thegamepad.blogspot.com, and he is a Senior Editor for Amped IGO news.

Thank you all for coming along on this trip with me. Hopefully this first attempt at travel blogging went well, and hopefully I will get a chance to do more travel soon. I do apologize for one posting a day, but being away from the computer while I am out the whole day makes it difficult to make multiple postings. More convenient internet access may change that in the future. I also apologize for the change in verb tenses. I usually write the way I speak, but I have been told that my style tends to turn people off, so for this blog, I tried to take a more casual, stream-of-consciousness tone. Since I am recalling events of the day, the verb tenses change to express what I did, what I had planned to do, what I was thinking of doing, or what I was doing at a certain time, so the tenses change accordingly. I don’t apologize for all the embedded links, that was all in the pursuit of humor.

I’ll do my best to keep posting here, even though I’m not officially “traveling,” so please keep coming back.

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