Round The World and other travels

A frequent flyer's collection of trip diaries

This is: Voyage of the Glaciers (2015)

North of the border

It was the final day of my road trip and one that would end with me temporarily outside the US. There was no rush to get up and absolutely no hurry to hit the road; traffic permitting, I was less than an hour from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, better known as Sea-Tac.

I had breakfast in the hotel's formal dining room. While this option was undeniably pricey, it was worth it. This was a luxurious venue with great views, comfortable furnishings, sterling service and nice clientele. What's more, the food was wonderful too; my classic Eggs Benedict main course was cooked to perfection and beautifully presented. As forecast, the weather today looked completely different from previously, with largely grey skies - in this case caused by clouds, not smoke. After eating, I went for a short stroll to see the falls again, and I was surprised to find how warm it still felt.

Checking out at 1130, I retrieved the car from the valet parking people and drove a mere 1.1 miles to the little town of Snoqualmie, where I was able to visit the Northwest Railway Museum. This was very much an active preservationist venue that also laid on short steam train runs on weekends. There was no charge for simply looking around.

I then moved on to North Bend, another very short drive. Here I found the other end of the short stretch of operational railway track, following which I had a look around a substantial 'outlet village' of factory shops. I resisted the temptation to make any purchases, however,  as I knew that my suitcase was already attracting 'HEAVY!' stickers.

I joined I-90, but quickly left again when I spotted a Starbucks sign. A leisurely coffee helped pass more time, a commodity that I seemed to have in abundance today. Traffic quickly became stop-start when I resumed my journey, but I found my way to the airport without a hitch, using a combination of I-90, I-405, and highways 518 and 99. Surrendering my trusty rental car with the usual twinge of sadness, I made for the terminal and had a particularly easy passage through Security, thanks to TSA pre-clearance.

Finding myself airside and not entitled to any lounge access - a trend which seems to be increasingly common these days - I passed the time by wandering around and occasionally sitting down to do a bit of reading. I had an Asian 'meal-in-a-box' to serve as dinner, made up of a vegetable spring roll, some barbecued chicken and noodles. I attempted to buy some duty-free bubbles for the cruise, but was thwarted by the inability (or unwillingness?) of the shop staff to deliver my purchase to the 'B' gates. In due course, I made the short hop north and across the border to Vancouver, on a Delta-branded regional jet.

I thought it was going to be one of those challenging passes through immigration when the agent took the briefest of glances at my landing card, looked me straight in the eyes and said "So I'd like to know what brings you all the way to Canada for one day, Mr xxxxxxx"; however he seemed entirely happy with my answer that I'd come all the way from Seattle to join an Alaska cruise, even if it did open with the mildest of digs at his assumption about my point of origin. Thereafter, it was an easy matter to collect my luggage and make my way to the Fairmont and Room 1122 - Bruce had already texted the details.

After briefly settling in, we went down to the Fairmont's beautiful lobby bar, Jetside,  and had two rounds of Manhattans (with Canadian rye whiskey) along with some fried chicken, while we caught up on each other's news. The cocktails were beautifully made and the bar staff incredibly attentive; we even had visits from two different managers to check that everything was to our satisfaction. There could be no possible doubt; it absolutely was.

Friday 28 Aug

Miles driven: 42

Road trip total: 1,180

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