US trip 2013: Day 9: Saturday 9 March

10 03 2013

Last night, some of us stragglers from the conference took a cab to Blue Moon Burgers in Capitol Hill, Seattle.

We’d been told that they had awesome burgers — including a burger with peanut butter!!! Yes, you heard that right… a burger with peanut butter. Amber and I both had the El Diablo Azul burger — a burger with jalapeno and other chili things on a ciabatta bread roll — and shared a side of chili cheese fries. Let’s just say that Australians have NO IDEA how to make chili! (as in chili con carne). The burgers were great, but very filling.

El Diablo Azul burger

El Diablo Azul burger

Chuck and Dave both had the Code Blue burger — two huge burger patties, with slabs of thick crispy bacon, cheese, and peanut butter smeared over the bread roll. No, I didn’t taste that heart-attack-waiting-to-happen (maybe that’s also why they called it ‘Code Blue’), but Dave said it was delicious.

Code Blue burger

Code Blue burger

Needless to say, we were all STUFFED after our burgers, so we walked back to the hotel (a good mile, but all downhill, and much easier to do with a chatty group of friends). Oh, and I stupidly also had a malt thickshake (mint flavour) with my meal. ‘Stupidly’ because that thickshake was a meal in itself! Decades ago, Kris, my US roommate, bagged Australian milkshakes and tried to make me a malt thickshake to prove how ours were so pathetic. I’ve never had a proper American malted shake before, and she was SOOOO right! So right that I sent an email to her in Australia to tell her how fabulous they were and how right she was all those years ago 😉

This morning I was up bright and early to catch the 8:00 am shuttle to the Seattle-Tacoma Airport. Dave was also on the same shuttle; he was flying Alaska Airlines to San Diego, while I was on American Airlines to Dallas Fort Worth.

I checked in at the American counter and asked where the lounge was — the check-in lady laughed as she sputtered that they didn’t have a lounge at that airport and hadn’t had for 13 years. She said American only had two gates at Sea-Tac. So I wandered into the food and shops area and had a breakfast quesadilla from a Mexican place — scrambled eggs, minced chorizo, and sprinkling of cheese on a half tortilla, folded over and put in a sandwich press. Within a minute it was done, and cut into three, ready for me to eat with some hot salsa and sour cream. It wasn’t bad!

Sea-Tac provides power to the waiting areas at the gates really well. Unfortunately, I didn’t take a photo, but in essence, they have a set of seats with power outlets and USB power in a panel under the seats; the power is supplied to several of these panels in a set of seats from a single cord off a pillar. This means that quite a few people can power devices at the same time and not fight over a power outlet.

The plane I was on

The plane I was on

The flight took off pretty much on time, and I chatted with the chap next to me — he lives in Spokane, WA and works for Boeing. He was on his way to Seville in Spain to do an audit on one of Boeing’s suppliers. As we were flying along he was pointing out the various mountains, ranges, rivers, etc., which was great as I would’ve only been guessing what was what. It was a perfectly clear day and Mt Rainier was in all its glory. We also passed over the very wide Columbia River and the Snake River in Idaho, and the chap (I never did get his name) told me some of the geological history of some of those landforms. He’s hiked in many of the areas he was pointing out, and he swapped seats with me a few times when we were near Mt Rainier so I could get some photos.

mt_rainier02

mt_rainier01

mt_rainier04

mt_rainier03

Columbia River

Columbia River

As an aside, American Airlines First Class (equivalent to Business Class in Australia) served us a hot meal of blackened BBQ prawns (they were really nice and fresh, which is hard to do with prawns if they’ve been cooked or left sitting too long) and grits and a corn and bean mix — all on proper china and with metal cutlery and a real glass for wine! I thought all US flights had banned all that years ago, so it was nice to see its return.

The flight was uneventful — those 4 hours sure go by faster if you have someone interesting to talk to. When we were about 175 miles out from Dallas (the pilot told us how far — I sure didn’t know!), the pilot told us we’d be circling round a big storm and coming in from the south instead of the north-west and that would add about 10 minutes to our trip. Very soon after we were skirting alongside a MASSIVE cloud formation and could see why we were going around it. Put it this way, the clouds were higher than we were, and we were flying at 35,000 ft. They were BIG anvil-shaped clouds, probably 40,000+ ft high (no pictures, unfortunately). I think everyone who saw those clouds was really pleased the pilot went around! Our landing at Dallas Fort Worth was through some very thick lower level cloud, and it was grey and threatening on our arrival.

After picking up my bags and getting on the shuttle bus to the rental car centre, I got my rental car and got on the road heading south out of the Dallas/Fort Worth area. It was still very grey and threatening, with very low clouds. Those clouds got darker and darker, and yes, the day was ending too, but those clouds were quite ominous.

As I was driving and wondering where to pull in for the night, an emergency alert came over the car radio about severe thunderstorms, quarter-sized hail (about 20c piece), 60 mph (110 km/h) winds etc. It was for a particular county, but I figured if my car radio had picked it up then it might be close-ish. So I beetled on down the Interstate until I saw a hotel chain I’ve stayed at before, in Waxahachie. My intention was always to stay somewhere south of Dallas and north of Waco, so that fitted. I’m pretty sure the storm that the radio had warned those in the area about was the same one we’d gone around an hour or so earlier in the plane.

I’m now ensconced in my room with NO intention of going out until I leave tomorrow; I’m on the second floor of a 4-storey hotel, and my car is parked away from trees with its nose just under an awning right up close to the building, so here’s hoping the storm warning was for somewhere else and that all is safe tonight and in the morning. That said, in the past few minutes there have been some decent thunder rumblings….

Oh, and someone has WAY too much time on their hands… this was in the bathroom of the hotel I stayed at in Waxahachie:

hampton_inn_elephant02

Yes, it was a towel folded into an elephant. Not sure about the tap position though… 😉


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One response

11 03 2013
treadlemusic

Your travelog is awesome! And the Mt Rainier photos are incredible (most that I have seen have been covered with fog/clouds. The US burgers/food seem to be “supersized” everywhere here! Unless one is able to order from a kids menu or they have a “Junior” sized category I find all servings to be quite generous!
The storms keep rolling our direction. I believe the Midwest is going to get part of that storm group you experienced only ours will be in the form of 9″ of snow starting around 7 CDT tonight. The rains we have been having for the last day has taken our snow from 12″ down to 5″ but it’s super slick out (only 36F). The day March came in it was definitely a “lamb” but has ramped up to “lion” ever since!! Safe travels…….blessings, Doreen

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