Cyberless In Seattle (Updated)

We didn’t have access to the internet while we were in Seattle, hence the hiatus in our live broadcast. But we flew in to San Francisco this evening after an amazing weekend in grunge-tastic Seattle.

Thankfully (and disappointingly) the BBC weather forecast for Seattle and SeaTac airport was awry: we had no snow; we had no rain. The weather was familarly Scottish: overcast and cold. Our reception there, from both Team Lothian and Team Powell, was quite the opposite.

But not, however, by the airport security team. I’d foolishly left my Swiss Army Knife in my hand-luggage bag which, of course, got picked up on the x-ray. I felt so foolish, but the security guy was really cool about it all. I had three options: (1) check my baggage in to the hold, (2) have my knife destroyed, or (3) mail it back to where we were staying in SF. After some deliberation with Jane I took option three, and I was given an envelope onto which to write the address of the guesthouse. And a pen. Then I legged it down an escalator, past baggage reclaim to the US Post Office. Except it wasn’t what I was expecting. In the UK if it says US Post Office it implies that there will be humans there, not a massage great big, automated vending machine that sells a million different types of stamps in small packages. I took a guess, fed in a $5 bill, punched in the co-ordinates for the stamp I wanted and soon was legging it back up the corridor towards security. Did I mention I had only 15 minutes to do all of this in?

The second time I went through security I was stopped again. This time my belt had set off the door-frame metal detector. But why hadn’t it been set off the first time I went through? Surely this was worrying. If my belt had been snuck through the first time but not the second time, what else was being smuggled through security undetected? The flight was uneventful: we boarded; we sat; the plane took off; we sat some more; the plane landed; we disembarked.

Jane and I were picked up in his Honda van from the airport on Saturday afternoon by cousin Gary Lothian and driven to his house in north Seattle, where we met his lovely wife (I know they read this blog!) Megan, and her companion dog. They have an amazing house, filled with books, music and laughter; just our place. Gary is also a Tom Waits fan, so we listening to some Waits as sung by an all female group, the name of which escapes me. We drank and nibbled, and chatted and laughed. It was so good to meet them, such a delight to make a personal connection with family on the other side of the world and to get along with them so easily.

It was easy to see that we were related when the rest of the group arrived about 90 minutes after they were supposed to. The Late Lothian family meet The Late Saunders family. We were joined by John Lothian, James Lothian and family, and Shari. The drinking continued; more nibbles arrived; and the conversation flowed. Photographs were shared and new ones taken. Far too soon people had to leave, and shortly after the house was emptied Gary drove us the 3.3 miles north to Edmonds and deposited us with my old friend from National Youth Choir days: Mark T. Powell.

Snow-attle

Last night I was woken again by my mobile phone; this time from a couple of text messages from Jane’s sister Soo. Now those I didn’t really mind, but tonight I’m switching my phone to silent.

We’re now packed and ready to fly to Seattle; we’re just taking a couple of small bags so won’t have to carry much luggage around Seattle on Monday, or wait at the baggage carousel when we arrive. I’ve rung Gary Lothian, and he’s coming to the airport to meet us. According to the BBC Weather website it is currently snowing at Sea-Tac International Airport; and Gary confirmed this. Warm jackets and Doctor Martin’s boots it is then.

If I’m able to update my blog while we’re in Washington State I shall. Otherwise I’ll write up our adventures of Northern Exposure on Monday evening (PST).

Snow-attle

Last night I was woken again by my mobile phone; this time from a couple of text messages from Jane’s sister Soo. Now those I didn’t really mind, but tonight I’m switching my phone to silent.

We’re now packed and ready to fly to Seattle; we’re just taking a couple of small bags so won’t have to carry much luggage around Seattle on Monday, or wait at the baggage carousel when we arrive. I’ve rung Gary Lothian, and he’s coming to the airport to meet us. According to the BBC Weather website it is currently snowing at Sea-Tac International Airport; and Gary confirmed this. Warm jackets and Doctor Martin’s boots it is then.

If I’m able to update my blog while we’re in Washington State I shall. Otherwise I’ll write up our adventures of Northern Exposure on Monday evening (PST).

Tour Guide

I was woken at 03:30 (PST) this morning by my mobile phone ringing out the melody to “Ashes To Ashes” by former San Francisco band Faith No More.

“Hello?” I questioned, blearily.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” said a male Yorkshire accent.

“What!?” I said, two-thirds disbelief, one-third bad line.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” the Yorkshire accent said again.

“What?!” I said again, still unable to hear properly what had been said.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” he repeated a third time, not really taking on board that he had clearly dialed a wrong number.

This time I heard clearly what he’d said. “NO!” I exclaimed. And then followed it helpfully with “It’s three o’clock in the morning!”

It was now clearly his turn to say ‘what’.

“What?!” he said.

“It is three o’clock in the morning!” I repeated.

“What!?” he said again.

“I’m in San Francisco,” I clarified. “It is three o’clock in the morning!”

“Oh. Sorry.” he offered, and hung up.

I went back to bed and reviewed our conversation. I realised that I had just paid 45p/minute to tell Alan Tillich’s friend what time it currently was in California. You don’t get many nights like that.

Later the same morning Jane and I stepped out into the sunshine and made our way back down to 1300 Columbus Avenue, to meet up with Jane’s folks at their (an) hotel. I’d offered to be their basic tour guide for the day; having visited SF before. And to be fair, I think I did an okay job.

Following a rather poor start (we only got as far as the coffee shop across the road from the hotel) we took a cable car from the Hyde Street terminus (where they turn the cable cars around by hand on a turntable) to somewhere a couple of blocks from Grace Cathedral, the magnificent gothic-looking (poured concrete) Anglican cathedral on the top of Nob Hill. We spent quite some time there, looking around the building, lighting candles, and lastly Peter and Dorothy walked the Labyrinth. Jane and I, meanwhile, sat on the font steps and waited for them; it felt like we were waiting for our kids who were still playing at the religious play park.

From Grace Cathedral China Town is only a short hop, skip and a knee-racking steep-hill descent. We did the tourist-y thing and walked the length of Grant Street, straight through the heart of China Town. The smell; the colours; the remarkably different architecture. We picked up a number of gifts for people back home, and I found somewhere that sold Chinese Mah Jong cards.

By this time we were getting tired and in need of some sustenance, so our visit to Coit Tower was postponed to another day and skirting Telegraph Hill we made our way to Fisherman’s Wharf, and back to base camp, the Holiday Inn. Peter and Dorothy made their way back there before us (Peter had only arrived in the USA last night and was getting tired); Jane and I wandered around the tourist-tastic Pier 39 where I picked up (and bought) a mid-grey SF 49ers fleece top, Jane bought a fabulous red hat (not SF 49ers) and we discovered where the sea lions were hanging out. Well, you do when you’re on holiday, don’t you.

Choosing the path of least resistance we dined at the hotel before Jane and emerged into a now rain-drenched San Francisco and hailed a cab. Any romantic idea of a long walk back to Pacific Heights, or a ride on the MUNI streetcars was dampened, and instead we had to endure the manic driving of a taxi driver who spent a heart-stopping moment fishing in his coat pocket for a ringing mobile (cell) phone. The minutes after he had found it were no less fraught as he demonstrated his inabillty to carry out two complex tasks simultaneously: steer and speak into a cell phone. The wheel-spins were many, but to be fair I don’t think that had anything to do with him speaking into his cell phone: I think he was just a shit driver!

Tomorrow we fly to Seattle to meet up with more family, this time on the Lothian side, and Mark T. Powell (exNYCgb) and his family. According to Dave Gorman Sea-Tac airport is the most cinnamon-est in the world; we’ll let you know if we agree.

Tour Guide

I was woken at 03:30 (PST) this morning by my mobile phone ringing out the melody to “Ashes To Ashes” by former San Francisco band Faith No More.

“Hello?” I questioned, blearily.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” said a male Yorkshire accent.

“What!?” I said, two-thirds disbelief, one-third bad line.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” the Yorkshire accent said again.

“What?!” I said again, still unable to hear properly what had been said.

“Is that Alan Tillich?” he repeated a third time, not really taking on board that he had clearly dialed a wrong number.

This time I heard clearly what he’d said. “NO!” I exclaimed. And then followed it helpfully with “It’s three o’clock in the morning!”

It was now clearly his turn to say ‘what’.

“What?!” he said.

“It is three o’clock in the morning!” I repeated.

“What!?” he said again.

“I’m in San Francisco,” I clarified. “It is three o’clock in the morning!”

“Oh. Sorry.” he offered, and hung up.

I went back to bed and reviewed our conversation. I realised that I had just paid 45p/minute to tell Alan Tillich’s friend what time it currently was in California. You don’t get many nights like that.

Later the same morning Jane and I stepped out into the sunshine and made our way back down to 1300 Columbus Avenue, to meet up with Jane’s folks at their (an) hotel. I’d offered to be their basic tour guide for the day; having visited SF before. And to be fair, I think I did an okay job.

Following a rather poor start (we only got as far as the coffee shop across the road from the hotel) we took a cable car from the Hyde Street terminus (where they turn the cable cars around by hand on a turntable) to somewhere a couple of blocks from Grace Cathedral, the magnificent gothic-looking (poured concrete) Anglican cathedral on the top of Nob Hill. We spent quite some time there, looking around the building, lighting candles, and lastly Peter and Dorothy walked the Labyrinth. Jane and I, meanwhile, sat on the font steps and waited for them; it felt like we were waiting for our kids who were still playing at the religious play park.

From Grace Cathedral China Town is only a short hop, skip and a knee-racking steep-hill descent. We did the tourist-y thing and walked the length of Grant Street, straight through the heart of China Town. The smell; the colours; the remarkably different architecture. We picked up a number of gifts for people back home, and I found somewhere that sold Chinese Mah Jong cards.

By this time we were getting tired and in need of some sustenance, so our visit to Coit Tower was postponed to another day and skirting Telegraph Hill we made our way to Fisherman’s Wharf, and back to base camp, the Holiday Inn. Peter and Dorothy made their way back there before us (Peter had only arrived in the USA last night and was getting tired); Jane and I wandered around the tourist-tastic Pier 39 where I picked up (and bought) a mid-grey SF 49ers fleece top, Jane bought a fabulous red hat (not SF 49ers) and we discovered where the sea lions were hanging out. Well, you do when you’re on holiday, don’t you.

Choosing the path of least resistance we dined at the hotel before Jane and emerged into a now rain-drenched San Francisco and hailed a cab. Any romantic idea of a long walk back to Pacific Heights, or a ride on the MUNI streetcars was dampened, and instead we had to endure the manic driving of a taxi driver who spent a heart-stopping moment fishing in his coat pocket for a ringing mobile (cell) phone. The minutes after he had found it were no less fraught as he demonstrated his inabillty to carry out two complex tasks simultaneously: steer and speak into a cell phone. The wheel-spins were many, but to be fair I don’t think that had anything to do with him speaking into his cell phone: I think he was just a shit driver!

Tomorrow we fly to Seattle to meet up with more family, this time on the Lothian side, and Mark T. Powell (exNYCgb) and his family. According to Dave Gorman Sea-Tac airport is the most cinnamon-est in the world; we’ll let you know if we agree.