Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Seattle: Hotwire, BoSox, and more..

Once upon a time, on a Tuesday, a boy (J) and his wife (B) and his mother (M) drove to Seattle. All three were going to a night game between the Mariners and the Red Sox, and then the married couple were attending the following day's matinee while the mother explored Seattle's underground.

Driving towards the border, J & B debated whether the Peace Arch or the Truck crossing would be faster. Voices on the radio declared there to be minimal waits at all border crossings, so the Peace Arch it was. As they neared the border, the digital sign had the Truck crossing as a fifteen minute wait and the Peace Arch as N/A. Sweet. Easy peasy. All other times, N/A has meant less than five minutes. Not this time. One hour and thirty minutes later they entered the states. Holy frickin' crapola. Not fun. But they were through and had Tulalip on their minds. Lunch buffet, baby!

While the buffet was busier than expected, the wait wasn't too long. The reason for the busyness was discovered when paying the entrance fee: Tuesday is Seniors day. Seniors get three bucks off. That would explain why there were a lot more older people than usually seen there. And M barely qualified to get the discount! The buffet was partially under construction; it seems a Mongolie Grill is on the way and is to be included in the general price. J & B are excited at this prospect.

After eating, the married couple wanted to show M the one and only machine gambling game they enjoy playing: Multi-Game Game King. Wouldn't you know it, M, who was tentative from the get-go, doubled her money. She walked out of there a full dollar richer. Attagirl. J & B each lost a dollar rather quickly thanks to the damn quarter minimum.

Getting into Seattle and finding the hotel - Sheraton - was something J wasn't very excited about. J & B have passable knowledge of downtown Seattle, but driving into town during rush hour and not knowing exactly where to go or how to access the hotel - Sheraton - for parking was weighing on the mind. In the end, it all went incredibly smooth. It truly could not have gone better. Off the highway, circle the block kitty corner to the hotel - Sheraton - because of one-way streets, pull into the driveway, and they're there. Valet takes the car, and into the hotel - Sheraton - they walk. It was after the ensemble had checked in and received their room cards that the trip became pretty crappy.

Have you ever used It's a website that gets you a hotel room at a discounted price. Hotels would rather book rooms at a discount than have rooms sit empty, so booking through hotwire matches your stay dates with certain hotels' availability and pairs you up. After you've selected certain criteria - general area, amenities such as swimming pools, etc - you get told what type of hotel to expect (Holiday Inn, Sheraton, etc), and the cost. Once you confirm, you get an email telling you the exact hotel and you're set.

J & B had used Hotwire on their last trip to Seattle and had been happy enough with it that they used it for this trip. Last time they hadn't cared for a swimming pool, and had saved money because of it. This time, though, they wanted to swim, so paid extra for it - an extra $100 or so. Well, upon entering their room, B took a look at the guest book and read that the gym was closed for the summer. Those that wanted to use the gym could use a neighboring hotel's gym at no charge. The swimming pool was within the gym area, so we wondered if we would have to go to a neighboring hotel to swim. B called guest services and inquired. The pool was closed, she was told. Do we get a pass or something to use a different pool? No, the guy answered. You don't get anything. So we paid extra for a swimming pool and you're screwing over your guests like this? Well if you had read the website.. Kthanxbi.

You'd think that if a major amenity like that was unavailable for such a long time, they'd take that off their Hotwire availability. J & B quickly decided that in the future they'd stick with a certain hotel that they've stayed at many times that is affordable and with swimming pool. Stupid Hotwire.

Heading downstairs to leave for the baseball game, the three amigos asked guest services if there was a shuttle for the baseball games. They were told there wasn't because of the free bus system. Along 1st and 4th Ave in the downtown core you can get on the bus for free. The free zone ends just a couple of blocks before the stadium. J & B have been to and stayed in Seattle many times, and up to then had never known about this feature. The three of them walked to 1st (baseball pun!) to use it, but the traffic was miserable, so they quickly decided to walk it and got there much, much faster than the first bus would have.

And then it was baseball time! BoSox, baby, BoSox! The night before the Sox had shutout the M's four-zip and in the eighth inning of Tuesday's game the score was four-zip in favor of the Sox. Say it ain't so. In the bottom of the eighth the M's scored two, and the final was 4-2. When the BoSox play at Safeco it's a fun time. Throughout the city all day you see people wearing BoSox hats and shirts. Boston will get a run-scoring hit and there will be a loud cheer, and then the cheer fades as loud booing takes over. In the top of the first the first two Boston batters were retired, but then Drew spanked one to deep right, Ichiro's territory. Ichiro went, back, back, back, jumped with his arm stretched well above the wall and from the centrefield seats it looked like he had it. After he returning to turf the whole stadium was quiet, waiting for him to grab the ball out of his glove. He never did. Homerun it was.

The next morning began with checking the bags with the bellhop and asking how long the car could be valeted for. Answer: until 6pm. Cool beans. J & B and M walked to Pike Place Market for brekky. There is a smallish place there that J & B had been to once before. It serves good food for cheap and has a stellar view. Don't know the name of the place, but from the famous fish-throwing place just head down the corrider in the direction of the water. M was smitten with the place. She ordered tea and loved how the server brought her her very own teapot, instead of just a cup with a tea bag in it, which is the norm elsewhere.

From there they headed to Pioneer Square, where the Underground Tour office and starting point is located. M secured the last ticket remaining for an upcoming tour start time and J & B headed to the stadium once again.

It was a much more captivating game, which was announced early on as the 5000th regular season affair for the Mariners. Cool. Yesterday's play where Ichiro jumped and just missed robbing a BoSox player of a homerun was almost identically repeated. The key difference was this time he caught that ball! It was an awesome catch! The BoSox scored two in the third, the M's scored one in the fourth. The BoSox scored one in the sixth, the M's immediately scored two of their own to tie the game.

It had crossed J's mind that if either of the games went to extra innings - which would be great! - it'd be better if it was Tuesday's night game, because Wednesday was get-back-home day (and the car had to be gotten by 6, remember). But it was only the sixth, plenty of time for the tie to be broken. No runs in the seventh. No runs in the eighth. No runs in the ninth. Extra innings...(!) With an eye on the time, options were considered. At twenty to six B (& J?) would leave and speedwalk to the hotel. Phone contact was kept with M who was keeping herself busy at the predetermined Starbucks meeting place. J & B cursed each pitching change that slowed the game down. Neither of them wanted to leave the game before it was over. It was the BoSox in extra innings for crying out loud! Just before twenty to six the BoSox rallied and scored three runs in the twelfth. YES! Of course, in the bottom of the inning the M's just couldn't go quietly. They sparked a rally of their own and got two men on base. J pointed out to B that a homerun would tie the game. She gave the dirtiest of dirty looks. The bases were now loaded. A homerun would now end the game. Ditto an out. Get on with it dammit! But no hits other than a homerun - please. It was an out. Game over.

J & B booked it to the Starbucks, collected M, and the three of them booked it to the hotel. They arrived less than ten minutes past six and if hotel staff had said anything about extra charges for late car pick-up they would have faced three extremely angry people with foam at their mouths and ranting unintelligibly except for the words "swimming pool". The posse figured the hotel would be lenient, due to extra innings if nothing else. Fortunately, not a word was said.

They drove north to Bellis Fair, shopped a little, ate a little, and then crossed the border - minimal wait - and returned home. Actually, a quick word about the border northbound. There were two lanes, equal length, of cars. They chose the righthand lane, which was fortunate as it moved significantly faster. They eventually figured out why: as the lanes approached the border gates, the righthand lane separated into three different lanes, while the lefthand lane remained as one. You'd think with four gates open the two lanes would separate two and two, but no, the lefthand lane got screwed.

Two Detected Errors from the trip: Access Prohibitied and SORRY FOR ANY ANY INCONVINIENCE.

J & B each released two books during the trip and one of J's has already been journalled!

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