Time travel has never been easier. You only have to sit in a narrow tube with people who seem to have three elbows to jab into your ribs for the duration of your journey, and suddenly you are three hours in the past. I arrived in Seattle yesterday with little trouble, though as someone who has never been an avid fan of flight – mostly because of the numbness that sets in after hour two – I was glad to be off the plane. The view of Mt. Rainier from the window almost made me forget the pins and needles. The mountains of the western coast never fail to surprise me, as I grew up navigating the smooth slopes of the Appalachian and thus have little familiarity with the sharp edges of the Rockies, Olympics, and Cascades.

My friend and old roommate B. picked me up and took me on a driving tour of downtown Seattle before we settled at The Palace Kitchen, a restaurant run by some well-known chef that many of my friends may recognize (if I could remember the name). I have no talent for this kind of knowledge or recollection, though I do know a good dinner when I taste one. This was a good dinner. Halibut on a bed of “bread salad” – a concoction of bread, olive oil, peas and beans, with goat (?) cheese. The service was kind, present but not rushed, and the open kitchen and pleasant acoustics provided a wonderful atmosphere. An amazing meal – B’s generous introduction to his Seattle lifestyle.

This morning B. dropped me off at the train station, laden with coffee and doughnuts from the local shop. On the advice of B. and S. (B’s wonderful girlfriend), I had booked “business class” Amtrak tickets, which afforded a very comfortable ride up the coast towards Vancouver. If ever I was to recommend a train ride in North America, this one currently tops my list. The ride is scenic, with the gently lapping waves of the Sound matching the lull of the train. There are few spots along the entire trip that do not beg for a photograph, and the temptation to just look out of the window won out enough that I only saw about half of the “in-train movie”: Million Dollar Baby. These were nice enough distractions when I wasn’t tweaking my presentation for tomorrow.

I’m booked in at the Ramada downtown, which is right around the block from one of two conference venues. After slightly overshooting my stop on the AirTrain (the local Metro), I finally made my way to the hotel, which seems to be in a slightly less tourist-laden part of town. Local pizza shops are scattered around (a high student population, perhaps, eating the 97 cent slices of pie), and there are enough used book stores within 100 meters to keep me occupied during downtime. Since the Ramada is about half the cost of the other hotels I looked at, it seems like a pretty good deal.

Vancouver seems like a great city so far. Walkable, with adequate public transportation, and residents who have been nice enough to direct a wayward tourist. After I stop by the registration desk, I plan to grab a quick bite to eat and take a short walking tour before the 7pm keynote.


One Response to Time Travel

  1. gzombie says:

    Well, that sounds awesome! I need to get back to that part of the world some time. I haven’t been there since I was six months old.

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