Wednesday, July 4 2012
location: rural Hurley Township, Ulster County, New York
Sarah the Vegan only drives vehicles having automatic transmissions, so we took the rattly old Subaru up to Albany late this morning to catch our flight to Philadelphia on a small prop plane, the first leg of a two-leg air excursion to Seattle to attend the wedding of Gretchen's good friend Mary. Both Gretchen and I took ambien for the long six-hour Philadelphia-to-Seattle flight, though I didn't end up sleeping very much. I was in the middle seat of a three-seat cluster, the least-comfortable spot there is.
The goal for today was to simply land at the Seattle airport and then stay at a cheap motel nearby.
Gretchen had made a reservation at Americas Best Value Inn in the city of SeaTac (yes, that's an actual city and no, the name of the motel does not include an apostrophe). Gretchen had secured our room for something like $50, so we didn't expect much. Superficially, it didn't look too bad. It had a large bed, a bathtub, cable teevee, and free WiFi. But it stank of the kind of cheap fragrance that cheap motels use to conceal incomplete janitorial services. To mask that smell, we resorted to burning pages from Gideon's Bible, specifically Leviticus chapter 18 (the one wherein Yahweh obsessess about hot man-on-man action and other bronze-age perversions). Neither of us had a lighter, so Gretchen borrowed one from a dude who was cleaning out a shipping container used as a maintenance shed. She was, of course, sure that the dude thought that she wanted the lighter so as to enable her to smoke marijuana.
As for SeaTac, it's is mostly just a container for the SeaTac airport, its various services, and the quickie-built communities housing its low-wage employees, so finding ourselves at a SeaTac motel without a car turned out to be more austerity than the kind we're used to.
SeaTac turned out to be one of the least pedestrian-friendly cities in a country full of such cities. There is no downtown and no businesses are designed to be visited by pedestrians. In support of its many low-wage residents, there is a municipal bus that makes regular runs up and down International Blvd, but the walking that remains after taking the bus seems engineered for punishment. Blocks are long and businesses surrounded by vast tracts of inhospitable parking lagoons. Imagine being a pedestrian on a road that for some stretches is ten lanes wide. That's International Blvd.
We wouldn't have found any of this out had it not been the Fourth of July and the unified service that delivers food to the SeaTac motels been closed down for the day. Our fantasy of cheap Chinese food and bad cable teevee wasn't going to be as easy as initially thought. Gretchen did a bunch of research and managed to find an Indian restaurant that seemed to be open, so we took the bus there. Only after wading through a quarter mile of parking lot and seemingly-uncrossable streets did we discover that the location of this restaurant was evidently different from the one Gretchen had called. It was closed, and the taqueria "nearby" didn't look too appealing (though it seemed to be popular with a large late-arriving contingent of Asian women).
We decided to walk (as best we could) back southward on International Blvd. to see if we could find any restaurants suitable to our needs. This wasn't like walking in a conventional downtown, of course, where shops are within steps of each other. When one is strolling through SeaTac every new business scrolls into view exceedingly slowly. Miraculously, though, we soon came upon another Indian restaurant called Best of India. The manager tried to tell us they were closed, but he didn't know who he was dealing with. Gretchen had, after all, argued me into our first kiss back in 1988. Without too much persuasion, she managed to convince the manager and what I took to be his family to make us some curries. Judging by how long this took, they must have made them from scratch.
Back in our motel room, we burned more Leviticus (the flames were now reaching into Chapter 19) and I did some research using the internet to see if convenience stores sell beer in Washington State (one can't always take something so simple for granted). Confirming that I would likely find beer at the 7-11 (a half mile away), I set out on foot. Others were on foot as well, mostly walking to or from an ongoing fireworks display not far to the east.
The Indian food was pretty good, by the way, though the beer left something to be desired. I'd bought a sixer of Deschutes' so-called "Chainbreaker White IPA," which is brewed with mysterious "spices" for a not-especially IPAesque result. (Later I would start liking it; it's best served somewhat warm.) I'd also bought Gretchen a 24 ounce can of Miller Lite (the smallest unit I could get it in).
The Bitterroot Range(?) viewed from the air.
East of the Cascades, even fairly mundane ridges were still capped with snow.
Mountain Rainier from the air.
There sure is a lot of "forest management" happening down there.
We burned pages from Leviticus 18 in Gideon's Bible to mask the cheap perfume smell of our room.
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