Impressions of Washington

I spent a few days in Washington recently. Though my time was short, and I failed to see many things I wanted to see, I did notice many things about the 42nd state that I appreciated. To be fair, the three days that I did most of my exploring were absolutely spectacular from a weather perspective [1]. The beauty of the Pacific Northwest captivated me. I love the water and conifer-covered coast.

Here are some observations about Washington and traveling:

The roads around Seattle have raised markings. Brilliant! Little bumps, they are effective in letting you know when you hit a line, be it the center or side. My rental car was a tiny Ford Focus, and I was able to quickly calibrate my vehicle width by driving close to the center line and then the outer line. My only complaint with the raised road markings is that at times they are not clear, especially when it comes to when passing is permitted. I think a raised center line makes a lot of sense and should be used in Pennsylvania.

The raised road markings in Seattle.

Many right turn lanes at traffic lights have yields. I noticed many traffic lights in suburban Seattle have a right turn lane that arcs away from the the T intersection. The lane is independent of the light, with a yield sign. It then extends as a merging lane. Most times this made right turns high speed affairs, which I appreciated. No stopping needed. Here is a fast Paint sketch of one of those intersections.

The right turn lane.

Bananas treated as individuals! Maybe I am sheltered, but I had never seen bananas sold as individuals before. Every store I have purchased bananas in before my trip to Washington sold them by the pound. But in Seattle I saw them being sold by count. Is this a big step for banana rights? Every banana has the same value.

Each banana is valued equally.

Mac and Jack’s African Amber Ale is good. Very good [2]. Every three of the four days I was in Washington I had at least one of these. My last one was in the Seattle Airport. I drank it slowly, savoring it. The waitress saw how slowly I was drinking it (things were slow in the restaurant, so she was watching me) and walked over.

Waitress: Is there something wrong with your drink?

Me: No, it is perfect. I am savoring it. I’m leaving for the East Coast tonight, where Mac and Jack’s African Amber does not exist.

Waitress: I guess you’ll have to come back.

Me: It’s looking probable.

I found the place the sidewalk ends. During a running excursion in Renton I encountered the end of a sidewalk. It gave some closure to my running circuit. I was amused by what I found at the end of the sidewalk [3].

Where the sidewalk ends in Renton.

.”]

The nine of spades at the end of the sidewalk.

Is it better to have unpleasant flights at the beginning or end of a trip? My trip out to Seattle went relatively smoothly. The return was not so smooth. On my Seattle to Philly flight a baby was seated in the row behind me. It cried. Frequently. But I was able to live with the that. The more annoying thing was the baby’s father, seated directly behind me, who kept kicking the back of my seat. And then about an hour into the flight he started farting and laughing hysterically. Frequently. It was not cool.

In Philly I was supposed to have a three hour layover, then fly to State College. The plane I was supposed to take landed a bit late, so the departure was pushed back 30 minutes. The crew boarded the plane, the luggage was loaded, and then a mechanical issue forced the flight to be canceled. The next flight to State College also had a mechanical issue, so I ended up with a stand by ticket for the next flight. This plane filled up, leaving me in the terminal. So I got the next flight. There was some doubt about whether or not that plane would be coming in, it was a sweet sight to see it pull up to the terminal.

The plane arrives!

I spent just over 9 hours and 30 minutes in Terminal F in the Philly Airport. Since my flight from Seattle had been a red eye, and I do not sleep well on planes, by the time I got into State College I had been awake for more than 30 hours

I’d rather deal with a bad trip at the end than at the beginning, by the way.

All in all the delay in Philly wasn’t too bad. I got some work done (though my concentration wasn’t the best due to lack of sleep). I also started conversations with random people in the terminal and got to hear all sorts of interesting stories. Oh, and I got to experience a terribly awkward moment. I was sitting in the terminal beside an elderly woman reading a book, a romance novel. I was reading too, but not a romance novel. Suddenly the woman started crying, evidently something in the storyline was too much to bear. She tried to suppress her sobs, but she was shaking and making muffled crying sounds. I turned to make sure she was okay, and she pulled herself together to give me an embarrassed look and a gesture signaling she was fine, but then fell apart again. This lasted for about five minutes. She then put the book down, regained her composure, and carried on like nothing had happened. We had a conversation about flight schedules, rental cars, and business commuting. I resisted the urge to ask her about her book. I really wanted to ask her about her book.

[1] Locals told me I was seeing the very best weather Washington has to offer.

[2] It’s not just me saying this. Check out their 98 overall rating at RateBeer.com

[3] I really like the number nine. So much so that it genuinely makes me happy when it turns up. I’m not superstitious, but 9 is just so dapper and stately it is impossible to see it and remain neutral. I use playing cards of the number nine as bookmarks. My favorite card is the nine of hearts. If you’re ever playing poker with me at my house, and you’re hoping for a straight that involves a nine, you might want to fold (the 9 you’re looking for might be on my bookshelf).

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