“Getting there is half the fun.”
(Sorry again folks. No pictures. I didn’t even bring my still camera)
Only a few days went by before the start of the next trip. Do you see a pattern here?
Actually, this was the last of my big trips for a while. After an incredible last couple of months, the season started dying down and bigger trips weren’t going to be the norm, or as so they felt. I was hoping this final trip would be awesome in more than one way.
Man, was it ever!
The closest I have been to the northwest was a stop at Silverwood as well as a layover in the Portland airport. I have never been to Seattle although I did come close when I flew over Mount St. Helens and Mt. Rainer a few years back.
When I first heard that ACE was planning a trip to the northwest I couldn’t pass it up. This would be the perfect time for me to tackle the area. There were some dates being thrown around. Some of them would miss the Puyallup fair completely, while others would miss the Pacific National Exhibition. Luckily the final dates would allow us to visit both.
Everything seemed too perfect before the trip was to start. I got a pretty decent deal on airfare and half of the hotels I would be staying in. My roommate for the trip was Barry Short. Barry would cover the rest of the hotels and other costs. Once I booked my flight, Barry booked his. He sent me his itinerary and it appeared that he would be arriving in Seattle just a half hour after my flight was to land.
The morning of the trip I did the standard thing. I drove to the airport, parked my car in the long term blue lot and took a shuttle to the terminal. It’s pretty bad when you start to recognize the shuttle drivers from spending so much time there, at least in the last couple of months.
I had two flights for this day. I would be taking a quick 45 minute flight to Chicago, then an almost 5 hour flight to Seattle. In between I would have the joy of spending 3 and a half hours in Chicago’s Midway airport. Now, if you told me I would have a long layover in that airport 3 or so years ago, I would have booked another flight. Luckily the airport has been upgraded and renovated. No more wooden seats. There are now plenty of places to find something to eat and the whole airport feels much more relaxed.
Once I arrived in Chicago, I grabbed a bite to eat and found the gate for my next flight. I was so early that there were two other flights to leave my gate before mine did. As I usually do when I have long layovers, I listened to some music before deciding to read something.
I brought the new issue of Rollercoaster! with me. I hadn’t read any of it yet and thought I could read the whole issue before I was to leave. I didn’t get more than the second page before someone stepped on my foot by accident. I could tell this person didn’t even realize he did it. I looked up to see who it was and was quite surprised.
“Marty?” I said.
For those of you that attend ACE’s No Coaster Con in Chicago, you are probably familiar with the brightly colored antics of Marty Moltz. I was really shocked to run into him at the airport. He lives in Chicago so it should be that big of surprise, but consider I rarely run into anyone I know at airports is what made this even more shocking.
Marty looked down at me and was just as shocked to see someone he knew. We started talking. He told me he was looking for his wife, Ann, at the gate. Marty somehow talked her into going on the Northwest trip. Not only was I going to be seeing Marty during the event, but he and his wife would be on my flight.
Once Ann showed up we all sat together and chatted for a while. We just thought it was strange that we were all on the same flight and laughed at the chance that someone else we knew would be on the same flight.
Just as we finished that thought, another enthusiasts we know, Bruce Cassi, showed up at our gate. What are the odds of that? More conversation took place before I noticed something out of the corner of my eye. I looked like a video camera? Could the Airline crew be filming today like they sometimes do at Midway?
I looked up and was super shocked to see Barry Short standing in front of me with his video camera. I was had! Barry sent me a fake itinerary. He would be joining us for our flight to Seattle. He planned to shock me well in advance and didn’t let on that he was up to no good. This is the second time I have fallen for his tricks as he did the same thing to me while on a layover in Phoenix.
So here we were. Five enthusiasts ready to go to Seattle. I was still in awe that I would be flying with friends as I fully expected to be flying alone like I normally do. With the exception of Barry, no one knew we would be on the same flight. I could tell this was going to be a rather enjoyable flight. I decided to grab some footage of everyone that I was flying with. Once I was finished I started to put my camera back into its bag when I looked up and noticed another shocker.
“You have got to be kidding me! Another one?”
Sure as Barry Manilow sings the songs that make the young girls cry (leave me alone, I was having a random moment), I look up and see enthusiasts Mike “Propellerhead” Thompson. No one knew Mike would be on our flight either. Mike thought he was going to be alone as I originally thought. He seemed just as shocked as we all were.
So here we were. Six enthusiasts ready to go to Seattle. Since we were flying with Southwest, we knew we could all sit together if desired. Once we were on the plane we decided to migrate towards the back. Everyone took their seats. Mike and I sat in the same row with a vacant middle seat in between us. We were told there would only be a few empty seats but we lucked out as no one sat in our row, giving us plenty of room.
This was going to be one of the longest flights I have taken in the country. It was supposed to be just less than 5 hours. While everyone else tried to sleep it off, Mike I stayed awake the entire time chatting about various trips. When we talked about the 2001 European trip we did, Barry woke up and made a comment like, “You guys are STILL talking about that trip?”
I guess you had to be there. =:^)
I don’t talk on flights much as I am usually listening to music or sleeping. Mike was nice to talk to and he made the flight seem to go by much faster than it really did. As we were making our decent into the Seattle area, we couldn’t see a thing due to the cloudy nature of the area. After all, we were in Seattle and rain was in the forecast. We weren’t going to let rain spoil our time.
We knew we were going to land very soon. We kept our eyes peeled out the windows to try and get a small glimpse of where we were at. Just as we decided to give it up, we broke through the clouds and the entire city of Seattle made a striking, visual welcome. We were right over downtown. I had only seen it in pictures and movies but the city looked much different than I thought.
We arrived a few minutes later and most everyone took their separate ways. Mike headed to the rental car area as well as Barry and I did. Once we were there we ran into two more enthusiasts. Deb Oliver and Bob Velbeck. It was great to run into more friends. Bob and I greeted each other with a line from a Type-O-Negative song like we usually do, although I can’t really type it here as it would probably be censored.
Barry and I made our way to the Hertz rental car area. It was kind of a hassle to get our car as we were told to go to one desk, than another, then we had to walk back to the first desk to get the keys. We probably didn’t help matters by reading the incorrect signs or we would have probably gotten to our car much easier.
We walked up to our rental car and were surprised to see a different type of sedan we were used to. The last couple of trips I did resulted in two Ford Taurus’s and a Buick Le Saber. This time we would be driving a Suzuki Verona. I don’t think I had ever seen one of these on the road. It was loaded and was quite comfortable. The down side was I had to learn how to control some stuff. Usually buttons and levers are in the same position. This wasn’t the case with this car. Never the less, it was a rental and by the end of the trip I would be used to it.
Doing non-coaster things is pretty rare on most of the trips I do. Barry came up with an idea to actually do non-coaster stuff and check out Seattle a bit. We made our way from the airport into Seattle. I couldn’t believe how beautiful this city was. The skyline was much larger than I expected. I also expected the famous Space Needle to be very close to downtown but it was more off to the side. Speaking of the Space Needle, we made our way over to it and found a place to park.
The coasters in the area were closed at this time but we had another agenda. Barry was pretty psyched to check out the Experience Music Project. I honestly didn’t know what to expect as I haven’t heard much about this place. I kind of thought it would be like the Rock-n-Roll Hall of Fame but wasn’t sure. I need to get up to Cleveland to check that out as well.
We walked up to the bizarre, shinny, oddly shaped building and made our way to the entrance. Just as we were ready to walk in, we ran into two more enthusiasts. Jan and Mac Rush from Arizona. They weren’t going in but were just leaving the Space Needle. We talked a few minutes before they left and Barry and I went inside.
I think I paid $20 or so before we headed upstairs and into the heart of the place. We could have purchased a personal computer “thing” that would explain the exhibits to us via headphones, but we didn’t want to pay the extra dough.
I honestly didn’t have many expectations for this place. I thought it might be cool, and there was some of it that was, but it really didn’t have a lot of, edge IMO. If you are into looking at a lot of rock memorabilia, then this place is for you. I enjoyed some of it but I guess I expected it to be more interactive. We walked through every exhibit which included rooms about The Beatles, Jimi Hendrix, and Nirvana among other things.
When we walked into an interactive music jam area, I became more excited as this was my thing. There were some “pods” where people would face each other and play various instruments. I tried the electronic drums first. You can play along with a computer which gives you some lessons, or you can just jam by yourself.
When I got the chance to get into the guitar pod, I was kind of bummed to see the guitar mounted for right handers. Sure, you could move the guitar up and down but you couldn’t flip it over for lefties like me. I tried to play by sliding underneath the guitar mount and play that way but it didn’t work. I did like the fact that there was a subwoofer under the area where you stand so you can “feel” the music a bit, but I couldn’t really play anything due to the lack of a rotating mount. Considering that three of the main exhibits in the place were focused on three lefties players (Hendrix, McCartney, Cobain), I guess I expected to see a set of for left handers.
We ended seeing almost the entire place in less than 2 hours. Once we left, we took some time to shoot some footage under the Space Needle before getting something to eat. We both decided to pass on going up into the Needle and walk around the area instead. As we were shooting more footage, we ran into enthusiasts Carole Sanderson, Lee Coletti, and Dave Bird. All three of them had just come down from the Needle and had tickets to check out the Science Fiction Museum. None of them were interested in checking it out Lee and Carole gave us their tickets. Thanks!
Soon, Barry and I found our way to the SFM. We ended up walking through the entire thing in about 45 minutes. Both of us left pretty disappointed although I could see the place being incredible for the die-hard science fiction fan. The one thing that did amaze me was rather cool looking orb projection screen. There are a 3 or 4 projectors that project images on a large globe resulting in a cool effect. When they projected the moon on it, you could walk around the entire globe and see the moon from different sides. While the effect was cool, it wouldn’t be enough for me to re-visit.
Once we left the SFM, we headed over to the Fun Forrest Park. It wasn’t open but you can walk right through it. We sat and watched as a group of guys finished taking down a Fabri Booster. As we were sitting down watching, the truck driver for the ride came over and chatted with us for a few minutes. He said he was taking the ride down to Texas and wanted to know if we were lawyers. What was that all about?
Barry and continued walking around before we found a rather large arcade. Inside we found a Dance Dance Revolution machine (5th mix). I couldn’t pass it up and decided to play a game.
That was a mistake.
While I love playing the game, I don’t like playing the game covering my ears. This was by far, the loudest DDR machine I have ever played. There is no doubt that people from all over the area could hear it. I am talking hundreds of feet away. By the end of my game my ears were ringing like I had just left a Man-O-War concert or something. Ouch!
Barry I walked a few streets down and into a Tower Records that Mike suggested we do. This was a strange record store as it nothing more than a trailer with a ton of stuff. I almost purchased a few DVDs but passed on it once I realized I could get the same DVDs back home and probably much cheaper.
Barry and I decided to leave at this point so we headed back to the airport area and check into our hotel. A nap was in store next. We must have been more tired than we thought because we ended up sleeping for 5 hours. We had planned on getting dinner at around 7:00pm but we slept right through that.
We thought we could find at least one place open so we headed down into the lobby on our way out. In the lobby was a large picture of the Seattle skyline with a large mountain in the background. Since we didn’t see the large mountain we thought it was superimposed. I have heard a lot about Mt. Rainer but we didn’t see any signs of it this day.
We drove away from our hotel until we found the one place we knew would be open during the late hours. Denny’s. When in doubt, find a Denny’s. On trips like this they can come in handy.
Once we ate, we went back to the hotel and fell fast asleep. That’s the one thing that happens when I fly out west. Jet lag. It never fails. When it’s like 10:00pm out west, it’s 1:00am Eastern time. The first day of a trip like this usually ends the same way. Sleep and lots of it.
One incredible fair with incredible rides.
Thanks for reading,
I absolutely love Seattle, so much that I still seriously think I'll be living there (again) someday...
The pass we got wasn't good for the aquarium but we did see a different one that included it. I wish that we had more time in the city, as being big fans of aquariums, we would have definitley checked it out. We went to the one in Vancouver that Sunday after Playland and had a great time. We've been all over the country this year and I must say that Washington just edges out Colorado for most beautiful state we visited. All of the water and trees everywhere is quite a sight to behold.
I did hear a lot about the aquarium before I went, but I didn't think I would have enough time to check it out so I passed on it.
I never got to see that Booster run as it was being dismantled when I arrived, but I did ride one in Belgium. It ended up being the most intense ride I think I have ever ridden. The positive G's were so strong that we were yelling to be let off the ride a couple of minutes into it.
Never been to the Northwest (yet) but I hear it's VERY beautiful.
Keep em coming!
Also available are Citypasses which include admission to the Space Needle, Pacific Science Center, Woodland Park Zoo, Museum of Flight, Argosy Harbor Cruise, and Seattle Aquarium.
Anyway, I hadn't even noticed that Booster was gone until I read this and I'm there nearly every day. If I knew y'all were coming, whenever this was, I'd have been able to provide passes to y'all for IMAX movies and things like that.
I suppose I should quickly relate my own pre-Con Seattle stuff. I flew up to Seattle on Thursday morning. My plan was to rent a car for the day and check out some of my old haunts (I lived in Seattle for a time, in the early 90's, when the whole "Seattle Grunge Scene" was actually just taking off and it was still cool to see Pearl Jam and Soundgarden, and Kurt Colbain was still alive... But I Digress).
So my flight gets into SeaTac. I go to the surprisingly empty rental car counter, where the really cute, friendly girl asks me if I'd like to upgrade my economy to a convertible, because it's "one of those rare days where I CAN rent you a convertible in this city". I figured, what the hell.
What a great day it turned out to be! Driving around the Pacific Northwest with the sun out, the top down, getting a massage, hanging out with Nasai for the afternoon. Yeah, I could get used to that :)
*** Edited 10/21/2004 12:55:34 PM UTC by GregLeg***
The trip was early September. There are a few other Coasterbuzz folks that I had no idea that lived in the area or I would have probably met up with them at some point. Sorry. =:^(
I hope you move back out here. I could use the company.
Tina, you need to visit. There's all sorts of stuff we can do together!!!! :):):)
BTW, don't invite Maddie to the Puyallup. She'll break your heart!
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