• JP

Emerald City trip 2017

Updated: Nov 9


Visiting Seattle, Washington was a very fun way to spend the first 4 days of August, and kick off Senior Year!

July 2017; I hear the words “Joey, Cassie wants to talk to you on the phone” and my Grandmother hands me the phone. It was my biological mother. She lives in Seattle, WA. I hadn’t seen her in years prior to that. The last time I saw her prior to that, was for Christmas Break two or three years prior. She asked me if I had to work during the first part of August. She had bought an airline ticket to come visit us for Christmas again the year before, but she couldn’t use it due to work.

Due to the fact that she couldn’t use those tickets, Alaska Airlines let her re- use them at a different time. She proposed the idea of me flying in, and visiting her in Seattle in August instead. My Grandma’s daughter, Angie, was going to come as well, and visit friends while I was with Cassie, but Angie had a change of plans, and couldn’t go; so it was going to be just me. My Grandma was quite skeptical of me traveling across the country by myself at first, but after Cassie explained what all was involved, and the security precautions that airline had, she eased up on being skeptical, and agreed to allow it to happen.

I requested off August 1st through August 4th from work, just in case the flight got delayed on Friday. I was packed, and ready a week before, so I wouldn’t have to rush at the last minute. Before the trip, I got a brand new phone, called a Sony Experia X. The Experia had a great camera, and I wanted it to take good pictures while I was on the trip. We got the phone in the mail about one week before the trip, and went to the store, to get a glass screen protector put on to protect it just in case I drop it. My flight was scheduled for 6:00 pm Oklahoma time, but I would land in Seattle at just 8:00 Seattle time, even though the flight was 3 hours. Seattle time, is in a different time zone from Oklahoma, which means that the time is one hour earlier in Seattle, then it would be in Oklahoma.

We headed to Will Rodgers World Airport at 2:30 however, because my Grandma’s plan, was to get something to eat in the airport terminal, while we were waiting for the flight. That plan didn’t exactly go as planned though. One other person is allowed in the terminal when there is one hour remaining till boarding time, and we were 2 ½ hours early. I wasn’t very happy that I had waited that long to eat lunch. My Grandma didn’t want to leave the airport, to go eat somewhere, so she just called, and ordered a Pizza Hut delivery from a local store near the airport. After we ate, we were way early going through security, so it only took us 10 or 15 minutes; contrary to how it was in Seattle coming back. Surprisingly, we were actually so early, that there was no line at all.

I always remembered Will Rodgers World Airport from when we went on vacation to New York City when I was 9 years old. I still have a distinct memory of a lobby, with fancy furniture, great big glass windows, and a view of the Midwest City/Moore skyline in the distance. I strolled around, and looked for the spot where our waiting gate was from the New York Trip, but none of the terminal gates rang a bell. The inside of the airport looked different from how I remembered it. Maybe they had remodeled since then. Who knows.

The excitement didn’t really hit me, until about 10 minutes from boarding time. I boarded close to 5:30. The security lady ordered that passengers under 18 enter first. I think she was referring to just the ones who needed help getting to their seats, but I got up and went anyway. She scanned my ticket, and away I was.

The pilot was a really cool guy, and he even let me take a picture of the captain’s cockpit in the front of the plane as I was walking by. I thought I knew what seat I was, but it turns out that I was actually supposed to be on the other end. After I got the whole seat dilemma situated, I just sat, and prayed I wouldn’t have to sit next to someone who is going to be a jerk, and make my flight miserable. I ended up sitting by a middle-aged man, with a mustache that was traveling with his grand-daughter. He was a relatively big guy, but not quite to the point where he crushes me in the seat. What can you do? I had a window seat on the left side of the plane, just behind the wings with a good view, so I won’t complain too much.

When we were coming back from NYC, my ears popped as we were landing from the difference in air pressure, and I remember it hurting really bad. So I bought a bag of double-bubble gum to keep that from happening again. The acceleration when the airplane took off, was allot more intense than I remember it being when I was younger. It pushed my cheeks back, made my face warp, and pushed my entire body back in the seat! In that moment, I thought I had a decent understanding of the G-Forces that a Drag Racer, or Astronaut must go through. I remember looking down, as the buildings, roads, highways, and cars kept getting smaller, and smaller, until they faded out when we hit the clouds. There were allot of desert hills, and mountains along the way. It was so fascinating looking down at the tiny cars, and trucks on the highways. They looked like they were going so slow from up there.

I spent most of the three hours either watching from the window, or playing Need For Speed on my Tablet. Those seats, weren’t very comfortable after the first hour. My back, felt like someone was pressing down on it as hard as they could.

Halfway there, we passed over the famously known crater in the Western part of the U.S. I remember seeing a television program, where they were talking about it, and they think that a massive meteorite hit there several decades ago. That crater was massive! It was at least a mile wide. Even from the sky, that is big!

The sun started to gradually fall, and the sky was starting to mellow into the dusk red/purplish color that it always does. Right about that time, we heard “This is captain speaking, we are about 45 minutes away from landing in Seattle ...” What a relief that was. My back, and neck felt like I had been sitting there for days. 20 minutes before we landed, we passed the famously known Mount Saint Helens, and Mount Rainer.

The plane was turning left, and it “banked”, giving me a beautiful view of Mount Rainer directly out of my window.

We weren’t as close to Mount Saint Helens as we were to Mount Rainer. We could just see the top of Saint Helens sticking through the clouds. I took some good pictures, and I still treasure them to this day. As we started slowing down, and lowering, I was so ready to get up, and move around for the first time in 3 hours. The landing wasn’t quite as intense as the takeoff.

When I walked off the plane, there was a staircase to the ground, and they let us just walk on the tarmac to the terminal entryway doors. There were aircraft taking off behind us, and you could feel the shockwaves from it.

Seattle-Tacoma Airport is HUGE. It is at least three times larger than Oklahoma City. Restaurants, Bars, souvenir stores, they had it all. After I finally found my way to the baggage claim, I suddenly saw Cassie, her boyfriend Perry, and their dog waiting there. It took us forever to find my bag, because there were so many people crowded by the conveyor belts where you pick them up. After we picked it up, we walked out of the airport, and through a big parking garage to a bridge. I called my Grandma on Facebook Messenger, because the cell service was poor due to the crowds, but they had good Wi-Fi Internet connection there. I told her I made it okay, and we were heading to Cassie’s place for the night. We crossed the bridge, over a bustling city street, into a glass building across the street, where the Subway train station was located.

Cassie gave me a card, that had the acronym “ORCA” on the top, with a barcode on the back. She said that an ORCA Card was how I would pay for busses, trains, and transportation while I was there. The next train pulled up, and we hoped on in. The train had a long route before it went downtown, near Cassie’s place. They had to go to several stops around the outskirts of the city, before it turned, and started heading downtown. We were on the train or an hour, but it felt like an eternity. My feet were hurting from all of the walking I had to do all day, and I was just exhausted in general.

It was a very tiring, and grueling day. We got off the train in a valley, and we had to wait for another one to take us a little bit closer. We got off the last train, and walked in to Cassie’s apartment complex at about 10:00 pm Seattle time, but it was 11:00 Oklahoma time. We got settled in, and Cassie had an air-mattress that I used.

It wasn’t the most comfortable sleeping arrangement ever, but something was better than nothing at this point. I was so tired, that it only took a few minutes after taking my pills, for me to fall asleep. Normally, I have to take Melatonin at least one hour before I plan to go to bed, or else I won’t be able to get to sleep. I slept in their living room, beside the couch all here nights I stayed there. Surprisingly, I actually wasn’t very sore the next day from all that went on during travel. Cassie cooked breakfast, and we mostly just talked about school, and different ins and outs before we headed out to look around the city. Their small dog, “Buster” was their service dog, and for some reason he didn’t like me too much at first. He always barked when I walked by to use the restroom. This would change as the trip went on though. We walked down the hills, toward the ocean water-front.

Seattle has hills, that are the steepest I have ever seen. I wouldn’t be surprised, if some of those hills aren’t over 45’ degrees high! There would be a hill, then it would level, for a stoplight/intersection, then the next hill comes. Cars were parked on the sides of the road, and it looked like they were going to roll backwards all the time. It was pretty much all hills, everywhere.

You would think that walking downhill wouldn’t be very hard at all, but it actually was very physically demanding balancing yourself down those steep hills. Cars were everywhere, and there was also a big, electrical cable system hanging above the streets, with a tether hanging off of them. Those were the electric power-supply cables to the busses. The busses actually had cables that were attached to a guide on the overhead rails, transferring the power. I have never seen something as intricate in my life. I don’t know how those bus drivers managed to make such sharp turns. The busses were about as long as one and a half regular school busses, and almost twice as tall. The intersections were very narrow, and with cars parked at the side of the road, the drivers only had an inch or two to spare when they were turning. Somehow, they still do it nonetheless.

We walked all the way down the hills, to the waterfront, where it is finally flat. On the way there, we crossed Main Street, and you could see the Seattle Space Needle standing tall about 5 or 10 blocks down the street. One thing that I remember from the trip, was that there was allot of homeless, and poor people with signs requesting that people donate on the sidewalks. I was not used to seeing that in Oklahoma, so that was quite a bit different to me. Cassie always gave a dollar or two, because she used to be in their shoes, and knows what it’s like. I kind of felt bad for not giving some, but I was trying to save for souvenirs. I brought $200 with me, and I had to make it last for the whole 4 days of the trip.

There was a tunnel that we walked through, underneath an overpass that had 3 different levels on it due to the heavy Seattle traffic. As we crossed over, we came to the Ferry Boat Dock Station. We walked along this balcony walkway alongside the building, that gave us a pretty sweet view of the Seattle Great Wheel, and city skyline. The Ferry Dock Building, was a wood structure, that looked like something you would see in Hawaii, or Daytona Beach, Florida. It had an old-fashioned look and feel to it. There were picnic tables, and umbrellas just like you would see in the movies.

We bought our ferry tickets, and waited on the other side, with a spectacular view of a shipyard to the left of the Ferry Dock Station. Sure enough, a great big ferry boat arrives. Underneath us, was a line of cars waiting as well. The ferry boats have 4 decks; a bottom deck for cars that looks like a small parking garage, a main passenger deck, a top deck, and then a deck at the very top where the crew works. That ferry boat was massive. It was about as long as a high school football field from one end to the other. They had an observation deck on the front, and the back, where you could walk out, and look at the scenery. The ferries in New York were nowhere near that big! When you walked along the sides of the ship, there were table/booths along the outside wall like a fancy restaurant, with giant glass windows that had amazing views where you could look outside.

It was a very enjoyable ride across the harbor. As we disembarked from the station, I walked to the rear observation deck, and just stared at the Seattle Skyline, with the Space needle towering above the rest as it got smaller, and smaller.

It didn’t feel like we were going very fast, but that wind would blow in your face, and make it feel like we were going 100 miles an hour. We were going to a small town across the harbor, called “Bremerton”. It was a 45-minute ride, because of the islands that we had to zig-zag around, before we got there. During the ferry ride, I uploaded photo’s I had took on the trip to Facebook, and then plugged in my phone to let it charge while the photos were uploading, as I just walked around, and watched the scenery around us as we were headed there.

Bremerton had a very modern looking boat dock that was different from Seattle’s. We docked, and saw an old warship on the far side of the marina boat dock. It towered above everything else around it.

It was a long walk down the boardwalk to the ship. When we got close, Perry told me that the name of the ship was the “U.S.S. Turner Joy”. The owners of the Turner Joy made it a memorial, and now allow the public to make a donation, and take a self-guided tour of the ship. Before you get to the ship, there is a life-sized statue of a warship propeller, in memory of military veterans in the Vietnam War.

It was a super cool experience to see exactly what the sailors would’ve saw that were on the ship back in its wartime days in Vietnam. They anchored the ship to the edge of the dock, where you can climb on, and go to the lower decks, where the crew’s bunks are, the captain’s quarters, the control bridge, and even look inside of the control room where the on-board missile, and torpedo launcher was operated back in its day. Before we left, I got a selfie standing on the bow of the ship, looking at the control bridge.

Beside the ship, there is a small gift shop building full of t-shirts, and other cool U.S.S. Turner Joy apparel. While we were there, I saw a glass dolphin for sale that caught my eye. It was really cool looking. It was turquoise/teal blue, with a galaxy-like formation of white crystals inside of it. I was planning to buy it, but Cassie offered to buy it for me as a gift. I still have that dolphin sitting on the mantle in our living room for all to see to this day. When I think of souvenirs that remind me of the trip, the first thing that comes to mind is the glass dolphin from the U.S.S. Turner Joy Gift Shop.

We stopped by a local ice cream shop that Cassie & Perry enjoy going to, called “Cold Stone Creamery” in Bremerton afterwards. I had a strawberry cone, which was actually pretty good. I get why they would like it there now.

When we got back to Seattle, we went souvenir shopping by the coast for a while.

I bought a Seattle mug, and a shot glass with the Seattle skyline on it for our collection back home.

In my family, it has always been a tradition to buy a commemorative shot-glass every time we travel, and add it to our collection of shot glasses from past vacations/trips on top of the cabinet in my Grandparent’s kitchen back home.

The next morning, we were going to see the Space Needle. They saved the best part of the trip for last. I was the first one awake, and I could barely contain the excitement! Right after breakfast, we headed on out. We took several different busses, and every time I could see it over the buildings, my heart would start racing.

It was a beautiful sight to see in person when we got there. We got a group picture with the tower from the fountain in front of it, and then headed around back, to the admission gates.

We went relatively early in the morning, to avoid long lines. They gave you a wristband, and waited for the next group to come down, before you went to the top. The elevator was see-through, and it was a thrilling experience looking around, and seeing the buildings get smaller, and smaller. Once you get to the top, there is a small museum that has interesting facts about the tower, and then there was an outer deck circling around the entire tower, where you could walk out the doors, look over the rail, and stare at the city below. There was a steel fence to ensure that no one falls, but it still terrified me to look over the rail.

It sure seems like more than 520 feet in the air when you’re actually up there!

The picture I remember the most, was a shot I captured from the rail, looking at the harbor in the distance. You could see a ferry boat sailing outward, but it looked like it was barely moving at all.

Perry said that normally, he can see the mountains in the distance when he goes up there, but that week, there was mass amounts of smoke in the area from fires in British Columbia up North. After we had seen everything up there, we just hung out in the park next to the tower for a while before we headed to a place called “Madrona Park”. Madrona Park is on the Seattle side of Lake Washington, with a great sightline of the city of Bellevue on the horizon.

The reason why we visited there, was for an event every year at Lake Washington, called “Sea-Fair Weekend”. They host Hydro-boat races, all kinds of sporting events, and the Blue Angels flight team! I wasn’t there for the hydro-boat races, but we were there for Blue Angels practice. Unfortunately, I came on a Tuesday, and left on a Thursday, so I didn’t get to see the big show that weekend. But it was still pretty awesome. While we were walking in downtown Seattle between bus/train routes, you could see the Blue Angels zig-zagging between the buildings to put on a show for the Seattle locals. They were flying so incredibly low to the ground, that you could see the pilots inside of the plane when they banked through the turns! But if you blinked, they were already gone! When they flew by, you didn’t really feel the force until about 2 seconds later. You would be watching them go by, expecting it to be incredibly loud, and it isn’t half-bad, until all of a sudden, 2 seconds later, the noise / force hits you, and it is a thrill like no other! It was so entertaining watching them fly all day, practicing the stunts for their show on Sunday. They are a lot faster in person than they look on camera! We sat by the shore, and watched the airplanes fly over us for hours. It looked like a crowded parking lot of boats on the water, watching the air-show as well.

After Blue Angels practice was done, Cassie and I took a bus all the way to Tacoma, Washington about an hour away from Seattle, to meet one of Cassie’s old friends, Mellissa for dinner at a Mexican restaurant that they used to go to. They had really good food there, and I enjoyed it. I was friends with, and knew Mellissa through Facebook a few years prior to this, but I didn’t get to meet her in person. I was glad that she offered to drive us back, because an hour long bus ride, was brutal.

I wish I could have stayed longer than I did, but I had only requested off for 4 days at work, and had to work again. Friday morning, I grabbed my bags, and we headed to the subway to take me back to Sea-Tac Airport.

Before we got to the main mono-rail train that took us there, we had to take a second underground subway to the nearest mono-rail station. When we got up to get onto the mono-rail, that is when I lost my phone. I got on the train, sat down, and reached into my pocket to check my e-mails, and realized that it wasn’t there. I panicked, and asked if we could take a train back at the next stop, to go get it. Cassie and Perry both agreed that by the time we were back, it would already have gotten picked up by someone, but I wasn’t as convinced. I still believe, that if we had gone back, I could have found it, or asked lost and found. But, that was a moot point. I still had my tablet to give me something to do on the flight, but I had nothing to keep in touch with my Grandparent’s back home. I borrowed Cassie’s phone, so that I could change my Facebook, email, and google passwords, (which automatically logs me out of my account on all devices.) to ensure that whoever got that phone, couldn’t hack into my accounts, and personal information; along with calling my folks to let them know that the only way I had to contact them once Cassie left the airport, was through Facebook Messenger on my tablet with the Airport’s Wi-Fi. It was a good thing that I had already uploaded all of my pictures from the trip to my Facebook account as we went along, so I didn’t lose the memories from the trip along with the phone. Due to the fact that I was a passenger on the flight, and they weren’t, I was directed to a security checkpoint that was quicker, and faster, so I could get to my Terminal Boarding Gate in time. Cassie and Perry, had to go through the general public security checkpoint for non-passengers, that had a longer waiting line. For about 30, or 45 minutes, we lost touch. I ran to the restroom after I made it through, and couldn’t find them again for a while. I didn’t know if they had gotten frustrated with the lines, and already left, or if they were somewhere in that big-city style airport looking for me.

We hung out in the food court for a couple of hours after we got through security. My flight was scheduled to leave in 2 hours. We ate at the Wendy’s booth, because literally, EVERY seat was taken. That dining room was about the size of a football field, but it still wasn’t enough for that Friday crowd. Cassie and Perry said their goodbyes, and left the airport about an hour after we got done eating. Perry had to go to work, and Cassie was going to take care of the dog. Sea-Tac is so big, that it took me 40 minutes to find my gate.

I found the gate, sat down in the waiting area, and everything was going fine, until I begin hearing conversations about the flight possibly being delayed. It turned out, they were right. Sure enough, I hear the most amazing words ever over the speakers. “…Delayed ...”. They then moved us to a different gate. This backed up the flight for an hour. This happened again with only 15 minutes left. then again, and again. Every time I turned around, they were delaying it again. It wasn’t very hard to tell, that the service attendant lady at the counter, definitely woke up on the wrong side of the bed that morning. Every time someone would ask what the status of the flight was, she would get a sarcastic attitude, humiliate them, and tell them to go back to their seat. Alaska Airlines (at Sea-Tac Airport, anyway), had the absolute WORST customer service I have ever seen before. During the 6-hour long delay, I strolled around the airport, checking out all of the stores, and buying souvenirs. Every 30 minutes, I would walk back by the gate, to see how close we were to boarding time. I bought several glass Space-Needle paper-weights to give to friends and family back home. I should have better planed this, because having all of that glass in my carry-on bag, made it very heavy.

My flight was scheduled for the morning, but we didn’t leave until 6:00 at night (7:00 Oklahoma time). After I had spent all of my souvenir money, all I could do, is sit, and watch other planes take off while I waited. I kept myself entertained with video games on my tablet most of the wait. That was definitely toward the top of the list, of the longest days of my life.

When everyone was seated, the captain told us over the speakers, that a landing gear malfunction was the reason for the long delay. They had to replace, and fix several other parts of the airplane in Portland, which was his last stop before would have got to us.

We landed in Oklahoma City at 10:00 at night in Oklahoma time. My Grandma was waiting at the airport, and we went straight home after I loaded my bags in the car. I couldn’t sleep, because I was still adjusted to the earlier Seattle time, so I was awake until close to 2:00 in the morning. Despite the long, tiring day coming home, that was a very fun, and exciting 4 days in Seattle. If I go a 2nd time in the future, I’m going to stay all weekend, and longer overall, hopefully during the Sea-Fair events.

Overall, I definitely recommend the place for those who are wanting to travel somewhere new/different.