Thursday, February 10, 2011

To Seattle... and Beyond!

The Vacation Equation goes a little something like:

Free Time + Money = Travel

Right? But as we all know, free time and money rarely overlap in a blessed eclipse. It's usually something like:

2 Days + 25 Loads Of Laundry = Weekend

Rent + Utility Bills + Completely Unfair Parking Ticket + Dear God Why Is The Verizon Bill So High = Whole Paycheck

And this explains why, in the 7 years between my college semester abroad and our honeymoon, I'd taken zero vacations.

While on said honeymoon, I recall many moments when, bathed in sunlight and half in the bag from morning mai tais, I'd look over to Devin and gurgle, "We should do this more often."

Yes, yes we should.

And then we didn't. We returned home to our routines and yet another year flew by with my luggage gathering dust. Determined not to continue with this disappointing trend, I decided it was time to book a flight to someplace. Why not Seattle? I'd only been meaning to visit my friend Courtney and her husband Matt for... oh.. 6 years. And now, as a bonus, she had a baby for me to meet.

So one morning in late October, Devin and I woke up at some terrible hour to take the early flight from LA to Seattle, flying Virgin America for the first time. I hate to admit I can be won over by purple cabin lighting and shiny white plastic seat backs, but, yeah it was like flying in a spaceship. Weeee!

Once we landed, we took a bus from the airport to Court's house. We're not frequent bus riders, so our getting on the correct bus was something to celebrate. As our hosts were at work, we let ourselves into their home, snooped through their personal effects, regrouped and then set out to explore downtown Seattle.

Again, we successfully landed the right bus and made our way to the tourist traps. We spent some time meandering about in the public market, where an endless line up of attractive hippy-types offered samples of apples and pears.

After lunching on clam chowder, fried fish sandwiches, and beer, we were about ready for a nap. But just in the nick of time, Courtney got out of work to meet up with us and breathe some new life into our trip. Hopeless tourist portion was over. Now it was time for some locals to show us around.

I should mention that because I'm as prolific a photographer as I am a traveler, I have a limited amount of photos to document the trip. And because they were all taken by Courtney, she's not in any of them. Whoops.

One of my favorite things to do in a new place is to drive and walk around for hours on end. Fortunately, our hosts were happy to oblige and we toured various neighborhoods and landmarks.

Here we are at Gas Works Park, a recreation area made on the site of a crude oil and natural gas manufacturing plant.

It was situated right on the edge of the water. Some cool things about this - sea planes just dive right in and land here, though when they're incoming it feels as though they might totally miss their marks and crash. Also, there are floating homes lining the shores. Matt pointed out which one he thought was the house in Sleepless In Seattle.

If you look just beyond the ham in the foreground of this picture here, you'll see some of the floating homes.

We also checked out Ballard Locks, where underwater viewing stations let you check out the salmon trying desperately to swim up stream.

It made me sad to think that after all this struggle they're just going to mate and die. Sort of symbolic of our own journeys as people. Huh? Am I bumming you out or what?

How about we just play with some puppets in the gift shop?

At the end of our busy day it was time to unwind at the Elliot Bay Brewery in Matt & Courtney's neighborhood, West Seattle. Here, I was allowed to hold baby Leo after my first beer (but before my next three glasses of white wine). I think he liked me.

Before flying back to LA, we stopped by the Experience Music Project, a music museum. In the center of the whole thing was this installation of hundreds and hundreds of guitars, with mechanical arms that plucked and strummed the strings to perform a live song.

In another exhibit, guests are invited to step into a recording booth, pick up guitars and drum sticks, and make up their own songs. This picture is the perfect visual representation of what our song sounded like.

I was sad to wrap up the trip after only two days. But I think it did its job of reminding me that the only thing really standing in the way of a vacation isn't time or money, it's my own initiative. Lesson learned. I don't want to miss out on the good stuff any more!

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