June 23rd, 2009

christmas 2008

PNR, day 21: closing out the West Coast...

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Downtown Seattle from atop the Space Needle.
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Fish at Pike Place Market...and boy, did they stink.

I left my brother's place after he left for work. I grabbed a few things, and then did something important and overdue: preventive maintenance on my car. I brought it in to Jiffy Lube and had the oil changed and some other stuff done. The last thing that could afford was a vehicular failure, especially considering my distance from home and what I was about to put the car through. After that, it was clear sailing to Seattle - until I left I-5. I trusted the Garmin over the road signs to get me to Seattle Center, and that proved deadly, as I ended up going down what seemed like every under-construction street in downtown Seattle. Upon reaching the target, I took in some of the various things in the immediate area. At KeyArena, I paid my respects to the departed SuperSonics. It's a toss-up between the situation there and the Browns in 1995 as for the worst treatment of a city by a team owner. Of course, I went to the observation deck at the Space Needle and took in the views. I still give the edge to the Gateway Arch. While the Space Needle does offer a full 360 degrees, the higher Arch makes the view just a bit better.

I then headed downtown and checked into the Pioneer Square Hotel. I had some options from here; my brother's friends had given some suggestions, and I also consulted Razzy, who is native to the area and recently moved back there. My next stops ended up being Qwest Field and Safeco Field, and then I went the opposite direction and hit up Pike Place Market. It's a nice little collection of shops - and boy, you could smell the seafood on the top floor. Having grown up near the sea, I've been in plenty of fish departments before, but this place gave off one of the strongest odors I've ever smelled. Having gone south and then north of my hotel, I went south again for dinner - to the Pyramid Brewery. While not explicitly based in Seattle, it has many locations on the West Coast and all the beer is locally brewed, so it was good enough for me. I headed out to try to find something worth partaking in, but it was Monday night, and nothing was jumping. I stopped off at a convenience store in search of some Rainier beer. Just as I call Yuengling "Vitamin Y," denizens of the P-N-Dub refer to Rainier as "Vitamin R." I had to settle for Red Hook; I was quite surprised to learn it was brewed in Washington, as I thought it to me exclusively native to the New Hampshire Seacoast. I simply took the six back to my room and downed it. Try as I might, I couldn't get to sleep early. Fortunately, I had already planned to shorten the following day. It would be necessary, as I certainly didn't get a whole lot of rest before starting the most arduous three days of the trip...

Pictures: Day 21 (Seattle)
christmas 2008

PNR, day 22: this is when it gets dicey...

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Spokane River Falls, Washington.
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Lake Coeur d'Alene, Idaho.

The fourth week of the trip began with its hardest and most taxing stretch. Over three days, I'd go over 1,650 miles, from Seattle to Minneapolis. Two of those days would have only twenty-three hours; I'd be transiting Pacific-to-Mountain-to-Central Time in thirty-six hours. The first of these days was originally scheduled to take me to Bozeman, Montana. That would have made it the longest day of the trip, and required a very early start out of Seattle. I thus decided it'd be better to only go to Missoula, and leave the really long leg for the following day.

That was a smart move, because I didn't leave Seattle until 10 a.m. Pacific time. Unlike the prior week, I figured out how to use the lap tray I bought in Solvang, so I was able to get food and eat on the fly. I made a couple of brief stops for pictures and relief, but the first significant one of the day was in Spokane, where I admired the Spokane River's falls. Once that was done, I pressed on into Idaho. I hit the rest area, simply to establish boots on the ground in the state - with only seventy miles of highway, it was necessary to ensure that. But not long after I stopped for gas in Coeur d'Alene - and couldn't help but take some time out to admire the views along the city's namesake lake.

But there was distance and elevation to cover - to be exact, a lot of both. I had to press, even though much of my body didn't want to. The fatigue was compounded by two things. One was the road construction that, I later learned, is endemic to western Montana this time of year. The other was being caught behind a truck towing a boat who refused to exceed forty-five miles per hour, without the ability to pass him. I got stuck once, got around him, but took a rest stop and ended up behind him again. By the time I finally reached Missoula at 8 p.m. Mountain time, all I wanted was a meal and a room. I was fortunate to find both just off Interstate 90. I ate at Hooters and then checked in and got some rest, knowing the next day would be early and long...

Pictures: Day 22 (Washington, Idaho Panhandle, Western Montana)