PacNW 2016: Episode III: Q and Jaspher

Kelly and I are both introverts by nature, but we are capable of adjusting our psyches to extroversion on a temporary basis. At parties, for example, one of us can often chat in a convivial manner for several hours before having to spend twenty minutes in an unoccupied room looking at the contents of our host's bookshelves. Still, a full weekend at a convention hotel full of fangirls can be a bit stressful, so a few days of relative quiet beforehand might be a good idea.

And for once, we'd planned things out to provide just that kind of quiet before Bitchin' Party got underway. By arriving in Seattle early on Sunday morning, we'd given ourselves time to get our circadian rhythms more or less in sync with our environment. We'd also gotten to spend a couple of days as a couple, doing a couple's vacation, and now we got to spend a few days in a slightly more social mode before the con began on Thursday: Jaspher and Q were in from Alabama.

Like us, they had found an Air BnB residence, but it was up the side of the next ridge west from our own. The steep up-and-down (plus, yeah, a little lingering jetlag) left Kel and me a bit worn out by the journey (despite the view of Mt. Rainier), and by the time the four of us hiked down to Columbia City for sushi at Wabi-Sabi, Q and Jaspher were similarly fatigued. Still, we had a great meal and agreed to meet at the train station on Wednesday morning for an adventure in the city.

Our first stop was Pike Place Market, partly so that the three fiber artists in the crew (i.e. everyone but me) could visit the local yarn store. Having finished my airport read (Andy Weir's engaging can-do SF debut, The Martian), I instead chose to duck into a bookstore and grabbed Douglas Brinkley's biography of Rosa Parks and Alex Haley's The Autobiography of Malcolm X, figuring they'd keep me busy for a few days, at least. We also opted to make a quick stop at the rest rooms, which displayed a disturbingly urgent bit of mosaic artwork:

I don't think anyone can view this scene on the wall without thinking "That baby is going to explode any second."

Once the yarn shopping and pit stopping was over, it was time to head down for the second of our City Pass adventures, a cruise of Elliott Bay along the city's shoreline.

(L-R: Jaspher, Kelly, and Q)

Our vessel, the Spirit of Seattle, had about 200 people on board, so we probably shouldn't have been shocked when one of them overheard Kel and Q talking about fannish matters and turned around to ask, "Are you here for Bitchin' Party?" Sure enough, it was another fangirl, and while the newcomer and our three con-goers chatted, I was free to again marvel at the nature of Seattle's commitment to Scenery.

First, there were still the Olympic Mountains across the sound:

But when you looked back at the city, you could see the equally Scenic snow-capped peaks of the Cascade Range:

Nor was the harbor itself Scenery-free. I'll spare you the mediocre photo of the life bird I spotted on the water (my first Red-necked Grebe), but let's face it, no photographer can ignore a group of basking California sea lions:

I was also somewhat fascinated by the Imperial Walker-like cranes that loomed over the harbor, not to mention the pleasant LEGO-style arrangement of cargo containers:

I was also happy to get this pic of Q and Kelly cheerfully sailing the harbor:

DSC03077.JPGUpon our return to shore, we moved a couple of piers northward to the Seattle Aquarium (City Pass ticket #3), which was filled with a variety of delightful exhibits. Alas, neither of the Giant Pacific Octopuses was all that giant (both weighed in at about 30 pounds) or all that active, as the loosely piled heap of tentacles below demonstrates:

DSC03105.JPGWe did, however, get to watch sea otters, and Tufted Puffins, and various tropical fishes, and jellyfish as well:

Eventually, however, the most welcome sight became this one:

Yes, it's a bench. One carved in the shape of a sea otter, but a bench nonetheless. We were tired and footsore and ready to head back to our rooms for the night. Thursday would be the day when Kel, Q, and Jaspher would move to the hotel in Issaquah where the con would be held (starting on Friday, at least unofficially), and I'd be on my own. Tom and John had graciously extended my reservation through Sunday night, so I wouldn't have to pack up yet, but once Kel left, I'd be more or less on my own until my birding guide, Tina, met me on Friday morning.

Or so the original plan went. That night, Tina contacted me to ask if I was free Thursday afternoon, because there were some spots in a couple of municipal parks that offered really nice birding. They hadn't been part of our planned excursions to the desert (Friday) or the Oregon coast (Saturday), but she felt bad about not showing them to me. With Kel & the others heading off, I saw no reason to say no, so Tina agreed to pick me up at 5:00 the next afternoon.

Late the next morning, Q and Jaspher appeared at our door; their reservation ended at 11:00 a.m., so we figured our room would be the best place to leave everyone's luggage before they took the Uber to the hotel. That also gave us the chance to make one more walk through the neighborhood; we wanted to show Q and Jaspher the beauty of the Lake Washington area, and we wanted to have one last helping of home fries at Both Ways Cafe. The former was met with approval, particularly when we found this odd but attractive vertical moss garden:

DSC03129.JPGThe latter, however, met with outright enthusiasm as the four of us downed piles of home fries, as well as omelets and coffee and anything else we could fit into our gullets. We also got to document the proper way to avoid waking up a tired Jaspher by carefully not breathing on him:

DSC03127.JPGBut soon it was time to mosey back up the hill. I figured--correctly--that we would all relax or perhaps nap briefly, and then I'd bid adieu to the trio for a couple of days. What I didn't figure was what I'd be up to myself during those days, because there was no way--absolutely no way--that I could have foreseen the experience of birding with Tina.

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This page contains a single entry by Peter Cashwell published on April 23, 2016 12:01 PM.

PacNW 2016: Episode II: Earth and Sky was the previous entry in this blog.

PacNW 2016: Episode IV: Parks and Recreation is the next entry in this blog.

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