Sunday, December 28, 2008

Back to Seattle – Thursday 12-18-08

I got up early enough to have another round of hotel waffles, which I brought back to my room. I called Delta at the appointed time of 8:05 am, three hours before the 11:05 am flight I wanted. Sure enough, I am on hold for almost a half hour. But I got a seat, center seat, no problem, only an hour and forty-five minute flight. Oh, and the departure is 20 minutes late. No problem, I’m on.

Gear packed, I head to the airport. Drop off car. Kiosk – boarding pass. TSA, “Any liquids?” I’m thinking quickly if toothpaste is considered a liquid. “No”. No laptop either. Starbucks. Gate. All is well, still 20 minutes delay. Then it becomes an hour delay.

The boarding begins after the hour or so delay. We get cozy, buckle in. My seatmates on either side are a nice average size and friendly. Ah oh, the captain is at the front of the plane preparing to make an announcement. Whenever there’s a captain’s announcement, it always starts with “Folks …” The announcement is that SeaTac is closed temporarily because of blowing snow and stuff. We won’t push back until it opens, which will be in about two hours. So ‘folks’ you can deplane if you want, but stay close to the gate in case we get to shove off sooner.

I take a chance because I’m starving after all the delays and head down the concourse for some food. I find the Wall Street Deli and order up a ham & cheese (provolone) on sourdough. I have to say that it was a great sandwich. Wall Street Deli is now on my list of approved airport eateries.

I munch my sandwich, read, and briefly chat with some familiar passengers. The news from home is not good and I’m wondering if I can even drive home whenever we finally dock at SeaTac. It’s 27 miles from SeaTac to Edmonds and it’s been snowing heavy.
Two hours later we’re boarding. I got to my row and there were totally different people sitting there, two young women and a young girl in my center seat. They asked if I could move because it’s the young girl’s “first time flying.” Geez, they gave me such a pathetic, pleading look, as if I really cared where I sat because I already had a crappy center seat. Apparently, they had it all worked out and there was an open aisle seat a couple rows up. An aisle seat, score! It was next to a young couple flying with a six-month old baby girl. I’m a dad and crying kids are like background noise even though my two boys are well past the crying baby stage. I had an aisle seat and noise canceling headphones, I was set. The baby didn’t cry that much at all and the young couple were very nice.

Salt Lake to Seattle is a relatively short flight, maybe an hour and forty-five minutes. We landed smoothly on SeaTac’s new third runway (34L), my first time landing on this runway. I glanced out the window and indeed there was a ton of snow everywhere. I deplaned and after a short walk down Concourse A, I realized I had left my jacket under the seat in front of me. I went back to the gate and after almost all the passengers had deplaned, the first officer emerged with my jacket.

All carry-on luggage allowed me to skip baggage claim and head straight to the shuttle stop. I plant myself and my baggage a respectable distance from the curb, yielding room for folks to walk by on the sidewalk. Some clueless man comes up and plants himself and his baggage right in front of me, him standing about a foot in front of me. I had at least a ten foot radius of space around me before he showed up. I wasn’t moving, he’s a twerp, and I’ve had a long day. After a few minutes he had to step back to make room for folks to get by with their luggage, and so he bumps into me. I look into his face, which is now six inches away from mine, and say “Hi”. He harrumphs a little and moves a comfortable distance away from me.

The Doug Fox shuttle shows up and I’m the only passenger. The roads are covered in packed snow. The Doug Fox parking lot looks like a vast mogul field of buried cars. My Corolla is buried in about six inches of snow. I grab the snow shovel from the trunk and dig her out and also a path back to packed snow. Will she start? She’s 19 years old with 240K miles and has been sitting in the lot in subfreezing temperatures for over five days. I pump the pedal a few healthy times because she has a carburetor. She slowly cranks, nothing yet. I give up and release the key for another try when she comes to life. First time! She’s a keeper.

The roads around SeaTac are covered in packed snow but drivable. I get on the freeway and it’s a little better. I keep to about a 35 to 45 mph pace, like the majority of people on the freeway. A few folks go too slow and others too fast. In my head I’m planning the least hilly route home.

I get off the freeway in Lynnwood and the roads are real slippery. I slide uncomfortably well at a signal, almost sliding into the intersection. I won’t do that again. I get to the neighborhood and at the last little hill there’s a Prius sitting halfway up the hill with his flashers on. I stop a little more than a hundred yards away and wait. This is a hill that will need a running start for momentum to carry me up the last hill, basic Newtonian physics. I grow impatient waiting for the Prius to back down for another try or give up. I get out and walk up to the Prius. The gentleman rolls down the passenger window and tells me in a Middle Eastern accent that “I lost traction.” Great. I walk back to my car. Finally the Prius backs off and turns down a side street. Now’s my chance. I get up a good head of steam and hit the hill. I’m up it, no problem. In two blocks I’m pulling into the garage. The whole family comes out to greet me. I am ecstatic! I poor a beer and relax.

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