Monday, March 2, 2020

Whirlwind trip to Seattle

Last week was very busy. That's because Older Daughter and I made a quick trip to Seattle.

Older Daughter, as you may recall, is staying with us while job-hunting for a nanny position in the Emerald City. The job search had been on hiatus, however, until the weather cooperated. To get to Seattle from North Idaho requires crossing Snoqualmie Pass, famous for heavy snow and treacherous road conditions.

She applied with two nanny agencies, and both were impressed with credentials. However one of them wanted to interview her in person before they matched her with a prospective family. Older Daughter invited me to go with her -- a little excursion -- and we made plans to drive.

Unfortunately Snoqualmie Pass wasn't cooperating. We had to leave last Sunday to make it to Seattle for the Monday interview, and with Snoqualmie out of the question, we had to take a detour around the Cascades. (White Pass along Hwy. 12 wasn't in any better shape.) Our best choice was to head south along Hwy. 395, pass through the Tri-Cities area of southwest Washington, travel toward Portland along the Columbia River, and then head north again through Olympia, Tacoma, and finally Seattle. Total travel time: ten and a half hours.

So off we went. It was a very, very windy day, which caused no problems until we approached the Tri-Cities area of Washington. Suddenly we were in the midst of dust storms and tumbleweed.

Tumbleweed was slamming across the highway in what looked like an eerie dystopian video game where the players must dodge the explosive monster plants or whatever. But of course, we couldn't dodge, not while traveling at 65 mph down the freeway. Instead, we just had to accept slamming into them.

The plants tumbled across the highway and piled up on the barrier between lanes. Can you see how the dust is obstructing the view beyond the highway?

Tumbleweed also piled up along fencelines.

At one point, visibility diminished to the point where cars were pulling off to the side.

Most of the tumbleweed went beneath the car, but one particularly large and vicious plant with a stem at least two inches across skidded across the hood of the car and slammed into the windshield so hard we marveled it didn't crack it. It wasn't until later we saw it had left a series of gouges on the car hood.

As we crossed and then paralleled the Columbia River, we saw the water was remarkably choppy.

Gradually the weather improved as we headed west. When we stopped at one point to stretch our legs, we noticed tumbleweed fragments caught in the grill of Older Daughter's car.

Other vehicles were similarly decorated.

Fortunately that was all the drama we experienced on our trip to Seattle. At last, late on Sunday afternoon, the towering downtown of the Emerald City loomed before us.

We booked ourselves into a modest motel. The next morning Older Daughter had her interview with the nanny agency, and she aced it. With her qualifications (four years as a live-in, two years volunteering at a women's shelter daycare, certified graduate of the nanny school, and endless other certifications under her belt, including CPR), she's golden in the Emerald City.

We celebrated her successful interview by going out for sushi, Older Daughter's weakness.

With an afternoon to ourselves (it was too late to leave for home), we then indulged in my weakness: the Woodland Park Zoo. I'm crazy for zoos but seldom get to visit one.

And of course...

After the zoo, Older Daughter wanted to venture into the belly of the beast, downtown Seattle. (I love how this photo turned out -- so very very urban!)

The reason was, she wanted to see something she'd heard about, an automated store called Amazon Go.

Frankly, we were underwhelmed. It was nothing more than an overpriced convenience store...

...and cameras and sensors were everywhere, including the ceiling. Shudder.

Some random city sights as we headed back to the motel:

And sadly:

The following morning we left for home at 7:45 am, right at the height of rush-hour traffic. Such is life.

But the downtown was beautiful, gleaming in the morning sun.

Ditto the Space Needle.

Even prettier, Mt. Rainier.

This time we were able to take Snoqualmie Pass, since it was clear. What we thought interesting was this: Within one hour of leaving the motel, and despite all the traffic and highways, we were deep into the mountains.

This proximity to wilderness areas is precisely what interests Older Daughter about Seattle. She missed wilderness while living in New Jersey, and looks forward to hiking opportunities.

Here's the Snoqualmie Pass area.

The view from the east side of the Cascades.

The drive back across eastern Washington was mind-numbing but uneventful.

The Columbia River was calmer than the last time we saw it (much further downstream).

We even caught a glimpse of the wild horse sculptures that decorate a hillside in this area.

Can you see the sculptures in the distance on the hilltop?

Oh, and here's a new addition outside of Spokane: a massive Amazon fulfillment center.

So that was our whirlwind trip to Seattle. Older Daughter is now undergoing the tiresome necessity of background checks, reference checks, and other factors. She has her eye on one particular nanny position, so we'll see what comes of it.


  1. It appears that older daughter no longer has the Saturn that she first purchased. I also seem to remember something about a pickup truck. I don't know if you have dent-less hail repair out there but that may be an option for her hood.

  2. OD (and you) absolutely need to visit Dusty Strings over in Fremont. They make hammer dulcimers and harps. They also sell a number of other instruments (guitars, banjos, harmonicas, etc.)

  3. Seattle is indeed the belly of the beast. Bend might be suited to her tastes. I don't know if there is a nanny agency, but the outdoor opportunities here are legion! DWLee333

  4. "...nothing more than an overpriced convenience store..."

    Convenience stores are already 'overpriced'.