Friday, November 14, 2008

Here we go!

We are on the train, on Thursday morning, heading home. It’s been a very busy few days since last I wrote.

On Sunday, as I said, we went to the wildlife park. Monday was the day we went to the Space Needle. Now, that is an awesome building! It’s about 650 feet to the very tip of the needle. The viewing platform is about 500 feet high. It took us about 43 seconds to go, by elevator, from the bottom to the top.

We stopped on the way and rented another wheelchair for the week so that I didn’t have to walk very far. Jill (who was driving most of the time) dropped Norm and I off at a convenient spot then Eric took the car and parked it while Jill and Norm got the wheelchair set up.

Between the 3 of them, they treated me very well and pushed me all over the place, wherever I wanted to go. I was not “allowed” to walk anywhere unless there were stairs. And they avoided stairs with a passion!

When we got our tickets for the Space Needle, we started to the elevator we were supposed to go to when the ticket attendant called us back. He hadn’t seen that I was with them, in the wheelchair. Because of the chair, we got a discount on my ticket (about 50%) and were taken to a special elevator where I didn’t have to wait as long.

When we were ready to go back down, the elevator attendant took us to the beginning of the line!

At the top, we were able to walk 360º around. They had interactive screens with live action camera and also screens where you could push an icon to see a certain section of the area with information for that area.

After we got down, I thought we would be going to the Pike Fish Market. But No! Eric had a surprise for me! We went to the Science Fiction Museum! What an awesome place THAT was!! It had music, uniforms, masks, weapons, storylines, bunches of stuff! Eric was so excited to surprise me and I enjoyed it thoroughly (thank you, again, Eric!). I finally took control of the wheelchair and rolled myself around – Norm never went where I wanted to go and Eric was having so much fun looking at what he wanted to see. That way I could look at things as long as I wanted and not get anyone impatient to move on to something else.

Then it was time to head home for supper and conversation until bedtime. We took Jill to a “road house” for supper for her birthday, which was the next day.

Each day seemed to work out the same – we had a breakfast, then headed to the place we were going, didn’t eat lunch and were ravenous by suppertime! Although the day we went to the wildlife park we took sandwiches but didn’t eat them until almost 5:00!

Tuesday, I thought we would be going to the fish market, but no … another surprise! We went to a winery – the Chateau St. Michelle. It was a rather short tour, as they were not bottling, yet, but very interesting. We got to taste 3 different wines and I fell in love with a nice sweet desert wine (I love sweets). Eric and Jill got several different wines, we got a bottle of the sweet stuff.

Then headed home for supper (without lunch, again!). Because this was Jill’s birthday, she chose a Sushi bar. This one is very interesting (have I used that word before?); the chefs were in the middle, forming all kinds of sushi and putting the plates on a conveyor belt to go around the room. People sat at bars or in booths and grabbed whatever they wanted to eat. There were, of course, no utensils except chopsticks. I haven’t used them for a long time but had not forgotten how. Norm used his fingers most of the time, but I did get him to try the chopsticks for a little bit. I have always not wanted to try sushi, but was assured that it is not always raw fish! There are cooked things, too. It’s just the way things are cooked, I think.

I never ate anything raw, but I did have pork wontons (special name, can’t remember), battered shrimp, and shrimp that was filleted and put on rice so that it looked like a real shrimp. Now, I like terryaki, but they didn’t have that sauce; the waiter brought me some sauce they use on eels (euwww!) that was very much like terriayki and if I forgot it was for eels, I could use that. Shrimp, rice and that sauce was very good. We had very finely sliced cucumbers in a vinegar / sugar dressing that was good.

I ate too much, even though I thought I’d have to take Eric’s way out. He offered to take me to McDonalds if I didn’t find anything I could eat at the Sushi Bar. Didn’t happen! They also had cream puffs for dessert.

The way this bar works, you pick up the plates you want, stack them in a corner and the waiter comes by and counts plates. The plates are colored coded as to price, running from $1.50 to $4.00 a plate. Because you are eating a little bit at a time, you don’t realize you are full until it’s too late!

When we got home, the kids put out shrimp and crab for an evening snack. The seafood is really cheap, compared to what we pay in Minnesota!

Okay, Beanie’s birthday was over – she is called Beanie because when she was tiny, she was so silly that Norm called her Jilly Bean. It went on to Beans or Beanie. The grand-girls call her Auntie Bean. We moved on to Wednesday, our last day.

Norm and I got up early and packed. We took Eric to an interview with his school counselor about job hunting; while he was there, we planned on visiting a Bonsai (outdoor) garden.
However, it was too wet to go, so we grabbed some bungie cords from Home Depot, picked him up, and headed home for lunch.

Eric and Norm packed the car and put the wheelchair on the top with the bungie cords. Even though it was raining, the wheelchair was not that wet; plus we had brought towels along to dry the seat.

NOW we went to the Pike Fish Market. This is the world-famous spot where the vendors through fish across the way. If you want a salmon, someone will pick it up and shout “Salmon going to Minnesota!” and through it to the guy who wraps it. I didn’t get to see it but Norm did (but didn’t have the camera with him).

The market also has vendors of all kinds. Tourist goods, fruit, vegetables, baked goods, other fish stands. We made it only through the top level; there are two levels of vendors. I found what I was looking for to give to Jody for babysitting, again. Jody, come get it quickly so I can show others!

After we finished there, we put the wheelchair back on the top. (I say “we” – I am a good supervisor!) Then headed to the train station to check in. Jill and Eric stayed until they called us to board, and then headed home. Jill claimed she was going to take the wheelchair to work today (Thursday) for fun. It was rented for a week, so she had no hurry getting it back.

When we upgraded from couch to sleeper, I decided to spend the extra and get the deluxe accommodations – with a bathroom (and shower) in the room. We got to our room (upper level) and settled in. The steward came by with champagne for us!!! There were bottles of water sitting in beverage containers waiting for us.

Going by sleeper is more expensive, but it is worth it (I speak with one night under my belt). We get 4 meals (and the dinner last night was steak!) and even a wine and cheese tasting event this afternoon. Our steward came by last night after our movie (I borrowed Seabiscuit from Jill and put it on the computer) to make the bed. In the deluxe suit, the bottom bed opens into a double bed, so we didn’t use the upper bunk.

It was pretty comfortable sleeping last night. I had a restless night only because of the noise of the train and the rocking motion. It will take some time to get use to that. However, there is a full moon and when the clouds were scattered, I could see some of the mountains and scenery.

This morning we got dressed and went to breakfast, then had the steward put the bed up for sitting as a lounge. I am now sitting on the chair with the tray down to hold the computer – I am listening to Beethoven’s 5th, which is a fitting piece of music to have for the scenery we are watching. As I am writing, we have just passed the Continental Divide, which is about 5200 feet high, so we are now heading down the mountain. The Rocky Mountains are awesome! We have had some sun but not much. It is snowing right now, so the pictures I am taking have drops of water from the window in them.

We will head down to the plains of Montana, which are not quite as awesome, but still pretty.

We have had, besides our meals (which are wonderful in themselves) a wine tasting fun event. We had cheese, crackers and wine. The wine steward (called himself King Louie and I will not dispute that – he knows a lot about wine) would talk about the wines (we had four) and what cheeses to eat with them. At the end of the tasting, we had a trivia contest and the winners got a bottle of wine, as the staff doesn’t like throwing away good wine. We had 2 passengers at the table with me and I’ve forgotten their names already (sorry, guys!) because of the flush of wine in my system. One was a man who lives in Rochester, MN and travels with his father (or father-in-law) when he wants to travel from one place to the other. He and Norm have a lot in common in their coffee tastes. The other was a lovely young woman who lives in Seattle and was traveling to Chicago to visit relatives. We all agreed that the sleeping cars is the ONLY way to go. The gal said “Yes, it’s more expensive, but it’s a vacation onto itself!” I agree.

Of all the people we have shared a table with for meals, they were the most delightful.

I will post this when we get home, Friday morning, then put the pictures on later – the slide show I use sometimes takes a long time to get organized, depending on the amount of pictures I have, and there are A LOT!!!


It is a beautiful snowy day right now; the visibility is rather poor, most of the time, but still fun to watch. You have a beautiful day!

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