The trip to Washington started off poorly and went downhill from there. Waking at 4:30 a.m. in order to get to the airport two hours early (thanks Osama!) we drove in darkness. Upon arrival I discovered that the park 'n fly lot had moved- somewhere. We had an address and a good city atlas, but the street listed wasn't in it. Driving around a bit, as long as we dared, we finally gave up and went to the regular long-term parking ($116, ouch!) We checked in and got through security- thank goodness we didn't need a strip search! Starving, I grabbed a pastry from a terminal vendor and as we headed for the gate I had just enough time to choke it down. It tasted as if it were made of cardboard. Thinking I may have gotten the display by mistake, I entertained the idea about returning it but boarding had already commenced. The line stopped when a slacker-boy tried to take his Himalayan-Expedition-size backpack in as carry on luggage. It was TWICE as big as the sample box. Once on the plane we were serenaded by Kenny G on the intercom, played at earsplitting volume in an endless loop. After about the twelfth iteration, we received the announcement that we are delayed due to "a late luggage arrival." Thanks again, slacker-boy! Finally Kenny G stops and we take off. My sinuses go into spasms from some unknown irritant. My shirt, which was hot in the morning humidity, is now no match for the freezing jet.
We landed at Sea-Tac, the Weaver grabbed our luggage while I dealt with a chirpy rental-car clerk who grilled me about my sons' procreational activities(?!). I decline the comprehensive insurance, finding out later that she added it anyway ($150!) The shuttle bus takes about forty-five minutes to arrive and hauls us to another county to pick up our "car": A Suzuki L7 SUV (they must have a good sense of humor in their marketing department.) We drove off in this boat, wallowing our way downtown and parking in the most expensive ($5 an hour) ramp I could find. We go out, explore Pikes Place Market, and then realize that it is HOT! As in all-time record breaking HOT! A fish market is not the best place to be when the temps approach 100°. Still, we persevere. "Perhaps there is some shade in the SAM sculpture garden?" I suggested. On the map it seems that the "Garden" is only a few blocks away. Very long blocks as it turns out. The park is brand new, the only foliage consists of knee-high shrubs. There was a tree, however: AN ALUMINUM TREE! We gave up on downtown Seattle, and went back to the monster-a-go-go vehicle. I checked for my credit card to pay for the parking, but both it and my DL were gone! Frantic, I retraced my actions, all the while thinking: without my cards I can't get back on the plane, I can't get my car back, I shouldn't drive, I-YI-YI... and then I spot them (I had to place my wallet on the console earlier when we entered the ramp- I had unbuckled my seat belt and opened the door to be able to get down low enough reach the ticket dispenser.) The missing cards had fallen in a 1/4 inch wide slot between the console and the parking brake! I made a paper "scoop" and managed to get the License out, but the credit card went UNDER the console. We moved the seats back and forth, tried to fish something under the console (the parking brake certainly wasn't moving!) but to no avail. On the plus side, we found a bunch of stuff from previous people who had the same problem, including a CD. On the minus side, it was by The Ramones. By this time I "wanted to be sedated", so we went to our motel. There we met our son for dinner and afterwards, as he and The Weaver returned to the Motel, I walked over to a nearby drugstore to buy a screwdriver- hopefully it would allow me to remove the console's cover. As I waited in line, a loud CRASH startled everyone:
An elderly man had evidently misjudged his parking space and ended up in the store. Perhaps he thought it was a "Drive-Thru".
And then my luck changed.