The Hawthornes arrive in Seattle.
First, we drove around a bit to shoot pictures and try to find a hotel to stay in.
Mount Rainier. Looming in the distance. Mount Rainier, located 54 miles southeast of Seattle, is the most prominent mountain in the contiguous United States and is a massive stratovolcano. A stratovolcano is a tall conical volcano built by ejecta from a volcanic vent piling up around the vent in the shape of a cone with a central crater. Stratocones are large cylindrical structures built up around a main tubular vent by more than one eruption and can form large mountains. Stratovolcanoes are characterized by a steep profile and periodic, explosive eruptions. Typically, the lava that flows from stratovolcanoes cools and hardens before spreading far due to its high viscosity. Mount Rainier is considered to be one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world. Because of the large amount of glacial ice, Mt. Rainier could potentially produce massive lahars that would threaten the entire Puyallup River valley. Lahars are a type of mudflow or debris flow composed of pyroclastic (volcanic) material, rocky debris, and water. Mount Rainier has 26 major glaciers and 36 square miles of permanent snowfields and glaciers, making it the most heavily glaciated peak in the lower 48 states. Two volcanic craters, each more than 1000 feet in diameter, top the summit of Mount Rainier, with the larger east crater overlapping the west crater. Geothermal heat from the volcano keeps both crater rims free of snow and ice and has formed the world's largest volcanic glacier cave network within the ice-filled craters, with nearly 2 miles of passages.
If you're familiar with Seattle, then you'd know we're heading out of Seattle. We're heading South, and sometimes West, squinting in the setting sun which is dancing off the bug-stained windshield, in bumper-to-bumper traffic at 5PM rush hour. (Why do they call it rush hour? We are creeping.) Unpleasantries are exchanged. Tempers are raw. Nerves are frayed. Now, why are the Hawthornes leaving Seattle after just arriving? There's a story. To celebrate our arrival on the west coast, Mr. Hawthorne wanted to treat me to a waterfront hotel room tonight so I could get my picture of the sunset - sort of a matching bookend to my pictures of the sunrise over the Atlantic with which I started this trip. Since day one, I've been doing all the navigating and I've been calling the Choice Privilege number every afternoon to arrange accommodations for the evening, all the time in search of those elusive POINTS which will eventually earn me a FREE room for the night. And I get every possible discount available to me which usually cuts the hotel room rate down at least $20. Today, Mr. Hawthorne wanted to make the reservations and I hesitantly ceded this one responsibility over to him. He said, "Screw the Choice Privileges. Tonight I want a waterfront room so you can get your picture of the sunset over the water." Now, I don't like to nitpick, (OK. Nitpicking is second nature to me.) but, technically I wanted a sunset over the PACIFIC OCEAN, not the PUGET SOUND. I know they're both water, but still ... one's an OCEAN and the other is a SOUND. There is a difference. Mr. Hawthorne checked on his Garmin, picked a hotel, called them, and made the reservation. The Seattle Marriott Waterfront. On the waterfront. With a waterfront room. We get to the Marriott and there are bell hops in monkey suits waiting to open my car door for me. I don't like this. This means tipping. And they have valet parking. Which means I have to pay some monkey $35 for overnight parking and for the opportunity for them to rifle through all my shit. I ask for the luggage cart. Oh no. They'll bring all my luggage up to the room for me. There's another tip. Now, we've been traveling almost a month. We started out with the back seats down so we have full access to the bed of the truck and it is full. We have a well-developed system of how to unload and pack up the truck. I'm feeling a certain amount of anxiety about this. We pick out what bags we need and set them on the sidewalk in front of the hotel for the bell hops to bring up. Anybody can walk by and abscond with our bags. I am getting nervous here, but Mr. Hawthorne insists everything is fine. I sideways-talk to him, under my breath, "I do NOT want to stay here." The place has the stench of snoot. He says, "Relaaaaaaaax. It'll be fine." I do not like this turn of events. I am getting increasingly nervous. He hands over the keys to the truck (After I've checked the mileage - Paranoid? Moi? Mais non.) to the 16 year old bell hop, who I'm sure will take our vehicle for a joy ride then when I call him on the extra mileage will conveniently explain that the parking area is off-site. I'm getting that gut-feeling I get that means nothing good will come of this. I grab four of my bags. I don't care about my luggage with my clothes. I can always buy more clothes. I carry in my two camera bags, my laptop bag, and my "briefcase" with all my notebooks, my address book, and the log in ID's and passwords of all my online accounts which I set up before I left so's I could pay the bills while away. Now, get a mental image here: We're on the way to our waterfront room. I'm lumbering along behind Mr. Hawthorne with bags draped over each shoulder, unbalanced, and trying not to bounce off the walls. Mr. Hawthorne's hands are free and he's happily strolling down the hallway. What's wrong with this picture? Finally, the mental daggers I'm projecting into Mr. Hawthorne's back register and he asks me if I need some help. "No thank you," I tersely reply. "I have it all under control." I can do passive-aggressive along with the best. My trepidation is increasing. My palms are sweating. The corridor is closing in on me. We get to the room. I have a fairly good sense of direction and already I'm having misgivings about this room. I know where the waterfront is and this ain't it. We enter the room. The first thing I always do is plug in my laptop. Then, I walk across to the balcony door. I open the balcony door and walk out the eighteen inches to the rail and look across the expanse. Directly across to the other side of the hotel. We are facing South. We were so looking forward to seeing the sunset over water. Mr. Hawthorne had thought of this night as a celebration - the half-way mark of our journey and we were going to celebrate with a bottle of champagne. I call out to Mr. Hawthorne to come check out this situation. "Buh buh but they assured me this was waterfront." Well, if I leaned out over the balcony and Mr. H. held my legs and I twisted my torso enough, I would be able to see water. Then I asked Mr. Hawthorne the $20,000,000 question: R: "Just how much is this room?" Mr. H : "Uhhhh. $259." A: "WTF!!???!!! How the hell could you get a hotel room for two hundred fifty nine freaking dollars? What on earth were you thinking? Are you friggin' nuts?" I turn off my computer. Pull out the plug. Stuff it back in the case. And tell him, "That's it. I'm not staying here." Then he tries to smooth it over. "Wait just a minute. Lemme call down to the desk and talk to them." He calls the desk, saying he requested a waterfront room and didn't get it and what will they do about it? They offer him free valet parking. They take off the $35 that we shouldn't have had to pay in the first place. Mr. Hawthorne jumps on this deal like a monkey on a cupcake. I am ready to resign myself to the fact that I will be staying in this damn hotel for the night and be absolutely miserable the entire time to be nice for Mr. Hawthorne's sake, because that's just the way I am. I'm still fuming about the $259. "I do NOT want to stay here." He assures me it's a one-time thing and it's only for one night. I begrudgingly accept this and, pouting as only I can pout, pull my laptop back out and plug it back in. Now, here's another jolt for you. We've been in the room now for 20 minutes and the luggage still hasn't been delivered. I add that little item to the list of things I'm bitching about. I turn to my rock. My computer. Fie! I can't log on. I call the front desk to get the log in information and I am told ... get this ... the internet is $12.95 for 24 hours! Excuse me??!!?? I have to pay $12.95 in ADDITION to the freakin' $259 to get internet? I've stayed in some of the finest dumps across this great country of ours, NEVER paying more than $100 a night. And I've ALWAYS had free internet. Some bad, some poor, some mediocre, some good, and some excellent. This was the straw that broke Rosie's back. $12.95 for internet service was the deal breaker. I pack up my computer and leave Mr. Hawthorne in my dust. I couldn't get out of that Marriott fast enough. Mr. Hawthorne calls the front desk, telling them not to bother bringing up the luggage since it had been in absentia for 30 minutes already and to bring the truck back up. We were leaving. And so that's our story. We left Seattle after being in the city for only about 40 minutes. We couldn't stand it any longer. I didn't care about seeing Pike Place Fish Market since I wouldn't be taking any fish back with me. I didn't care about going up the Space Needle to see Seattle. I've already seen much grander - made by God himself, no less. And we drove 3 more hours during rush hour traffic to get to Hoquiam, Washington for the night. Marriott? You lost $300+ over $12.95 internet. Idiots. Oh. BTW, I'll never stay at a Marriott because of this experience. They charged my Discover card not only the $259, but also charged me an additional $100 - for what exactly, I still don't know. That hold was on my Discover for several weeks. I had to go through Discover card to get it taken off since I could never get through to Marriott to resolve the matter. Screw Marriott. Poor Mr. Hawthorne. He was just trying to do something nice for me. He should know better by now.