Sunday, 8/1, I got on a plane at the absurdly early hour of 6 am, which of course meant that I woke up at 4. I took a cab, to leave my car so that Jimmy could pick it up to do some overdue maintenance. I had a brief layover in San Francisco, which mainly consisted of rushing to the next gate, which seemed to be miles from my arrival gate. I got into Seattle on time, around 10:30. I got my checked bag and went out to wait for the shuttle to my hotel. It took a while for the shuttle to arrive. If I had been going to Dollar, I could have gone 10 times. When the shuttle finally did arrive, it turned out that its first stop was a different hotel, and up the street the other direction from my hotel. If I had known where it was beforehand, I could have been at my hotel long before I walked there taking the shuttle. I was glad my room was available when I got there, because I was ready for a nap, having only slept a little bit on the plane. After I woke up I took a city bus to downtown, and got off at the Pioneer Square neighborhood. On a recommendation from a friend, I took the Seattle Underground Tour. The tour did actually offer quite a bit about the history of Seattle, but the tour guide probably thought she was a lot funnier than I thought she was. Most of her terrible jokes were tortured puns I could see coming from a mile away. I did find the information very interesting, but to me the delivery was horrible. After the tour finished, I headed to the sound and started walking north. Since I didn't want to stop in any more obvious tourist traps, I kept going and eventually found myself at Pike Place Market. Since it was already after 6 pm, everything was closed, so I didn't get to see it in action then. However, the brewpub there was open. I sampled several of their beers, but none were exceptional. I got a gyro for dinner from a Greek place nearby, then started back toward Pioneer Square for lack of any other ideas. I went to the Smith Tower, which was the tallest building in the city when it was built in 1914. I got up to the top just before sunset, and the man working there was very informative and did not try to rush me out at all. I took a whole bunch of picture of the skyline, and attempted to photograph Mt. Rainier, but it was almost the exact same color as the sky, so only a couple of pictures came out at all. I took a bus back to the hotel, where I had a couple more beers at the bar. If I had known how much they charged for the first one, I probably wouldn't have ordered a second, but oh well. I went back to the room around 10:30 and quickly fell asleep reading my book until Stefan arrived and woke me up.
Around 8, Stef and I went off in search of breakfast. We had a pretty leisurely breakfast, I ate far too much, then we walked back to the hotel and waited for Sean and Marisa to pick us up. When they arrived, our climbing odyssey began.
On Thursday, 8/6, after a few scenic stops, Sean and Marisa dropped us off at the Greyhound station in Yakima. We locked up our big bags and went off for some lunch, which included a couple pints of beer. Once again, google failed me, pointing me to a long-closed brewpub. The restaurant that had taken over the place was okay, though. It was a converted railroad station, and they had a railroad DVD playing on one TV. We went back to the station and waited for the bus, which was running a little late. I hadn't even thought of the possibility, but the bus was fairly full when it showed up, and Stef and I weren't able to sit together. Having spent almost every minute of the previous four plus days with him, this really wasn't a problem. I did manage to finish reading my book, Nathan Rabin's The Big Rewind, his memoirs, which I enjoyed immensely. When we got in to Seattle, Stef was not too keen on walking, with his knees in pain, but it was only about 5 blocks to my hotel. I checked in, we dropped our stuff, and then went to a beer bar a block away. The bar claimed 160 beers on tap, but several of the beers I asked for (most not on their list) they didn't have. They did have some pretty good dinner, though. We just stayed there until almost midnight, then back to the hotel. Stef then left, taking a taxi to the airport to just sleep there until his 6 am flight back to Austin. I was barely awake at that point to begin with, and just went to sleep.
On Friday I was still really feeling the after effects of the climb. My quads were sore, and I still had the one minor blister on my right foot. Around 8 or so I started wandering toward Pike Place in search of breakfast. I saw the world-famous fish market, then found a deli and got a bagel with lox that I ate by the water. I picked up some tape from a drug store and headed back to my hotel, where I wrapped up my two little toes on my right foot to avoid bothering the blister. Not having a particularly strong conviction as to what I wanted to do for the day, I set off toward the REI flagship store, about a mile away. I stopped in another outdoor store nearby first, one really geared toward serious mountaineering. They had on display a down suit that had been to the summits of Vinson Massif and Everest many times. The REI store was pretty nice. The coolest part, to me at least, was their giant indoor climbing structure. If it hadn't been for my core legs and the 2-hour wait, I probably would have given it a shot. I had some lunch at a wrap place in the store, then started the ~1 mile walk to the Seattle Center, home of the Space Needle and other stuff. After wandering around and taking some pictures, I was lured into the Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum by an exhibit on Jim Henson. I took a pretty quick tour of both. The Henson exhibit was fairly small, and the whole space wasn't really that big. The SciFi stuff was pretty scattershot, more of an overview of the whole of SciFi than really getting too into things. The EMP seemed more geared toward musicians, with numerous recording areas. It also had sort of a local musicians hall-of-fame, which was interesting enough, but not that exciting to me. I had no interest in spending $16 to wait in a long line to go up the Space Needle, so I walked on toward the water and the Seattle Art Museum's Olympic Sculpture Park. There were some nice pieces, but nothing that blew me away. I headed south from there along the water, then headed to the SAM proper. Their collection is pretty diverse, also with quite a few nice pieces. They had a special exhibit up of Andrew Wyeth works, but it really wasn't that big. There were a few Helga paintings. I went back to my hotel, but it was pretty late in the afternoon, so I didn't take a nap or anything. I went to the hotel restaurant and had happy hour beers and a rather filling appetizer for dinner. I went out walking again, so I could take a look and some pictures of the library. I then went to a fairly "corporate" brewpub for a couple of pints. When I got back to my hotel I decided to check out the pub that was more or less in the basement. They had one of my favorite English beers on tap that I've never been able to find in the US. I was really tired by that point and should have just had one, but I figured since it was a rare occurrence I'd order a second. I didn't even drink half of it before my eyelids started getting pretty heavy. It was only just past 10, but I paid and went up to my room and crashed out.
Saturday I woke up on the early side and caught a bus to the airport around 7 for my 9 am flight. I wound up having a bunch of time to kill in the airport, but I'd rather be early than late. Thankfully, the flight home was direct, non-stop, since Alaska Airlines had- during that week- started direct flights between Austin and Seattle. I got back in to Austin around 3:30, and Jimmy picked me up and gave me a ride home. Since my house was 90 degrees, I just dropped my stuff and went to hang out with him. That evening he had a bunch of friends over for grilled fish they had caught on their vacation the week prior.
Unfortunately, due to an unexpected tire problem and wanting to get it fixed properly, by finally fixing the alignment, Jimmy still had my car at his shop all week. Since my Fat Boy was in the shop as well for its 100,000 mile service, I drove the Night Train to work all week. I would have ridden my bicycle one or more days, but since we just moved into a brand new building and the showers haven't been completed yet, I figured for everyone else's sake I wouldn't. It wasn't too big of a problem, other than the fact that it was somewhere around 100 degrees every afternoon- with the exception of Wednesday when I got rained on.