I love Seattle. The first time we visited Keeley I instantly fell for this city by the Sound. I love the charm it seems to hold on to, despite the high population. Infused with tree huggers, dog lovers, chic shops and quaint cafe’s on every corner, filled with sweets and coffee…oh, the glorious coffee. If we ever have the opportunity to do so, I would move there in a heartbeat. So when Tom told me he was going there for a conference, I instantly asked if I could tag along. He would be working most of the time but I was still excited that we could see Keeley and experience northwestern life for a few days.
This was Ella’s first time on an airplane. Something I was very nervous about. I had read several tips on how to travel with an infant but Tom and I were still relieved that the plane ride would only be an hour and a half. I made sure we had plenty of treats and toys and books to distract her and a minimum of 5 binkies. Despite a few squeals of unhappiness, the flight out actually went pretty well. In fact, the only real problem we had was that Delta kept trying to bump Tom up to first class and leave me with an 11 month old in coach. Tom had to tell at least three different people that he appreciated the fact that they were bumping him up (he’s a medallion member because of all the work trips and therefore gets perks when they are available) but, sorry, could he please be put back in coach. “You see, I’m traveling with my wife.” The Delta reps would look at me and shake their heads. “That’s too bad.” Needless to say I was pretty annoyed that I was apparently causing all of these problems. However, Tom was great and insisted on being with me so after asking a nice woman to switch seats we were crammed into coach with a wriggly baby. Again, very happy that the flight was only an hour and a half.
We had some drama once we landed, with the car rental company, but eventually we managed to make it to Seattle and then over to the dog lounge to pick up Keeley. A very happy reunion ensued. Ella was a little nervous of Auntie NeeNee (she’s recently entered the Separation From Mom Anxiety Mode) but after we got to Kee’s house and she was licked from head to toe by Lola and Alice (both dogs, in case you were concerned) she warmed up. Soon she was climbing all over NeeNee, stealing her phone and jabbering away to her, apparently filling her in on the last 10 months.
Tom’s conference started on Monday so we spent most of Sunday together, having a late anniversary celebration. I had booked a brunch cruise around the harbor, not really knowing if it would be worth the money but hoping we could have a nice afternoon as a family. It turned out better than I had hoped. We boarded and were instantly guided to a spot for a souvenir photo, which I later forked over $10 for one 5×7 copy. I had contemplated taking a picture of it, like Alex did the last time we had one of these, but it was a good shot and we were in a good mood.
Ella, of course, was the life of the party. She is anywhere we go. People stop to say hi to her and tell us how adorable she is. I know, I know! We did good! Stop with the compliments already…sheesh! Okay….you can start again. She even got a smile and a soft chuckle from the drummer of the jazz band as she was shaking a sugar packet along to the beat of their opening song. Oh yes, you read that correctly. This was no ordinary cruise…it was a JAZZ cruise. Despite my usual aversion to jazz, I really enjoyed the band and I thought it was the perfect addition to floating along in the harbor, looking at enormous homes and stuffing ourselves with good food. We ended the afternoon with a walk through Pike’s Place Market and picked up some georgeous flowers for Keeley for $5. That’s right people…. $5 for a bouquet that would have cost at least triple that here in Utah. Did I mention I love Seattle?
The rest of the trip seemed to go so fast. Tom worked most of the time but he joined us when he could. Ella and I spent a lot of time with Keeley, just talking and walking around the city, exploring different shops and places to eat. We managed to get in quick visits with Derek, Will and even a brief hello to CJ. Derek came shopping with us and even discovered Ella’s new toy, a monkey named Ricky that apparently loves swing dancing and taking care of business. Will’s visit was limited because he was working at the time, but we loved the experience of Blue C and it was even better to have brief visits and hugs thrown in. Blue C is a sushi place where the chefs are in the middle of the room and a conveyor belt surrounds them with seating on the outside, allowing you to pick what you want and then pay based on the color of the plate. Very fun and also good for us sushi novices to actually see what we were about to try. They had lots of non-fishy items so that’s what Kee and I ate but Tom is brave and he tried all sorts of scary looking things. I even managed to try a piece of tuna but only because Tom promised to give me a short backrub and my VEGAN sister was telling me I needed to try new things. It was okay. It didn’t make me want to puke. CJ’s visit was right after the restaurant. She came with Derek and we all walked to the club where the young, childless people in the group went to a concert and the old folks, tired baby in tow, went back to the hotel.
Blue C was just one of the amazing places Keeley took us to for food. I mean, I wasn’t expecting too much in that department considering the live caterpillar incident from the last Seattle trip. However, I didn’t have one strange experience this time around. In fact, I ended up gaining 3 pounds and was surprised it wasn’t more. I just couldn’t help it. Everywhere we went was too good to pass up. We had fabulous Puerto Rican food, amazing noodles at In The Bowl, decadent desserts, yummy tamales at the Patty Pan Grill and so much more. I know I wouldn’t eat like that all the time if I lived there but not dieting is probably one of the best parts of vacation and completely worth it.
I also found my new favorite place to shop. Trader Joe’s. I had heard about the store from various sources and even seen a bit about it on the food network, but this was the first time I had the chance to be a patron. After about 2 seconds I realized I love Trader Joe’s. I desperately hope that there will be one near our new home out East. I had a hard time not throwing everything I saw into our basket, knowing that I couldn’t possibly shove it all into our luggage. I did pick up a few things though and so far I’ve been extremely pleased. We’ve managed to demolish all the rice crispy squares and the pistachio toffee and I’m pretty sure that the Three Buck Chuck (the famous cheap, but tasty wine) will be next, along with the artichoke antipasto. I also picked up a few things as gifts to thank my parents for watching Porter and then left, mourning the fact that in a few days my choices for groceries would be limited to Albertsons and Wal Mart.
We ended our last night, all sitting together at Madison Market, Tom and Keeley eating vegan ice cream and me eating organic cookie dough. Ella was tasting everything, watching herself in the window, being the star of the show as usual. The next day, Keeley, Ella and I had breakfast in the window of The Globe and then I dropped her off at work and said goodbye. I’d like to say that I smiled and hugged her and told her I was proud of her but it was more of a blubbery mess than that. I was crying and trying to avoid looking straight at her (because I would cry more) and I think I managed to get “thank you” and “I love you” out coherently but I’m not sure. Ella gave loves too but she was much more mature about the whole thing. I managed to check out of the hotel and waste some time at Pike’s Place Market before it was time to go get Tom from the conference and then we were off, waving goodbye to Seattle and Mount Ranier and in the air in no time.
The trip home? Not as successful as the trip out. Tom and I did get seats together after only one request to change but this flight was small and crowded and it was Ella’s bedtime. You would think that would mean she would sleep on the plane. Oh no. She wouldn’t sleep because there was no place for her to stretch out. She would have to be touching someone and heaven knows, there will be no touching of Ella when she wants to sleep! The screaming didn’t last long but only because Tom decided it didn’t matter if she was full of sugar, he was giving her his Biscoff cookie no matter what I said. Of course it worked. She was subdued for the rest of the flight and everyone was only slightly annoyed. It seemed to take forever to get to our car and make it home but all three of us had a collective sigh of relief once we made it over the threshold. Ella was able to stretch out in her crib and avoid all human contact and we were able to plop down on the couch and bask in the glow of Tivo.
For a “work” trip, turned into a mini vacation, it really was pretty awesome. I’m wondering how future trips to Chicago/Wisconsin (longer plane rides) will go though…I guess it depends on how many 3 oz bottles of children’s Benadryl I can shove into a plastic baggie and still pass through airport security.
(You can see pictures of our trip here)