My friend Tammy still lives in Alaska but comes to the lower 48 for a good bit of the summer. Last year we met in Oklahoma after she visited her father in Missouri but this year we both had crazy schedules and it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get together. She said she was going to be in Seattle for a little bit and why didn’t I try to come up and meet her there? I thought it would be too difficult and/or pricy but managed to find mileage tickets on good ole Alaska Airlines so I booked my flights and went up to see her for a few days. We had a great time just hanging out and talking about life.
Flying out I was at the very back of the plane and the toilets stunk to high heaven from the beginning. I don’t know if the plane had already flown somewhere else that day or if there was some sort of problem, but it was very stinky. I was seated on the aisle and the middle seat was empty, with a young man who looked maybe 13 in the window seat. The rest of his family were sitting behind us. He was wearing shorts and flip flops and commented that the plane was hot. I told him it would probably cool off when it got started and a lot of times it is really cold on planes which is why I carried my blanket with me. He looked at me like I was a little crazy but then it did get really cold and he commented later that he was freezing. He put on a hoodie but no long pants. Much to my surprise, with about 30 minutes left on the flight, he moved to the middle seat, put on his seat belt and asked if he could share my blanket! I was kinda taken aback by it and had recently been reading articles about women being molested on planes so my mind was going a mile a minute thinking it through. On the one hand, he was just a kid and innocent, right? On the other hand, it just seemed awkward! I started to just give him my blanket but I was cold myself so I did pass some of it over to him and let him share it. Thankfully he kept his hands on the outside! I hate to be suspicious but you just never know! And then I felt bad for feeling suspicious. Luckily all was fine and we landed soon!
I didn’t get in till after 4 PM so the first night we went to eat Thai food and then took about an hour’s walk around Tammy’s neighborhood before settling into her condo. The second day we decided to take the Light Rail to the University of Washington station and then walk another mile and a half to the Japanese Gardens. The Light Rail is great and we were happy not to have to drive. On the other hand, it was already hot when we got off and we were sweaty and tired by the time we arrived at the gardens. What were we thinking?! The gardens were pretty but I imagine more colorful and lush in the spring. Of course, here we were, walking around some more in the heat! We definitely got our exercise that day. We decided we were NOT walking back to the train station and we were hungry so we took a Lyft to a place called the Skillet Grill for a late lunch. Really cute diner type place and we enjoyed our food. Meanwhile, Tammy had texted her son Jack who lives in Seattle and he said some other friends, Derick and Hannah, were visiting him so maybe they could meet up with us after lunch. Derick and Jack grew up together in Unalaska and I knew both of them when they were kids…now they are 20-somethings. Hannah is Derick’s girlfriend whom I had met once when she came to Unalaska with him to work for the summer. It was a nice surprise to get to see all three of them and catch up on their lives. After our visit, Tammy and I walked to another train station, passing by the statue of Jimi Hendrix. Pearl Jam was in town doing two benefit concerts to combat homelessness but they were sold out and we didn’t have the energy to go to the stadium and wrangle with scalpers. Sure would have liked to have seen them, though!
Jimi and me
Pearl Jam ad
Looking down from the bridge
Little Free Library
Jane and Tammy
Jack, Derick, Hannah
The next day we were tired and slept in; it was hot again so we decided to go to a movie instead of venturing outside for long. Then had some Mexican food for dinner and called it a night! My last day there, we had arranged to have lunch with several friends and my cousin so we left the condo early, rode the Light Rail to the waterfront area and walked a few more blocks to Ivar’s Acres of Clams. It was great fun catching up with my friend and former coworker Pipa, who now lives in the area, our cruise friends Linda and Ed who came over on the ferry from Sequim, and my cousin Rob who lives in Seattle. Rob has autism but is very gregarious and knowledgeable about a number of topics so he fit right in and made friends with everyone over lunch. We then walked to Pike’s Place Market and wandered around a bit while visiting some more. Rob had to leave for an appointment and soon after that we walked Linda and Ed back to the ferry so they could return home. Pipa hung out with us for a couple more hours and we enjoyed catching up on everyone we knew back in Alaska, had a snack and some tea at Top Pot Donuts, then found another former Alaska “youngster,” Emma, at her place of employment and visited with her for awhile. We missed a few friends who couldn’t make it but I was super happy to get to see the ones I did!
At the waterfront
Pipa and Ed
Tammy and Rob
I took everyone bags from Seek the Peace
Linda and Ed
Tammy, Jane, Rob, Linda, Ed
My cousin Rob and me
Pipa, Tammy, Emma, Jane
Tammy and Pipa
I had a late night flight to return to Dallas and we were sitting around Tammy’s condo waiting to go to the airport when she got a text from another friend saying someone had just hijacked a plane from SEA TAC and the airport was shut down! What in the world! Tammy doesn’t have a TV so we started searching on the internet and could find very little information. Meanwhile we were semi-panicky because her condo is RIGHT by the airport in the flight pattern and we were half afraid this guy might fly the plane into the condo development or crash into it. I called Rich and asked if he’d seen any news about this and he had not. I don’t think he thought it was real at first because he flipped through the channels and couldn’t find anything. He looked online and we all found some vague stories without much detail. Our friend texted Tammy several more times saying that fighter jets had been scrambled and then that the plane had crashed or been shot down. We then heard that the airport was open for take offs but had a backlog of planes trying to land. Eventually we decided we should go on over and try to see if my plane was going or not. It was super weird and we were a little freaked out, that is for sure. There was a lot of traffic piled up around the airport but we eventually got in and I went to check on my flight. I had told Tammy if it was delayed too much, I was just gonna see if they’d let me rebook for the next day. She said she would circle around and wait to hear from me. When I got to the desk, I was told we were “on time” and only Alaska Air was delayed so I decided to go ahead and try to get home. Went to my gate and there were no seats at all. There were lines everywhere of people waiting for customer service to rebook their flights. We actually boarded on time but sat at the gate for another hour. The pilot came on and said he assumed we had all heard about “the incident earlier” and that we were delayed because the baggage handlers had a big stack of bags they were trying to get to various airplanes. I was sitting next to a cute kid from Alaska who was on his way to college in Colorado–he said he had flown in from Anchorage earlier and sat on the tarmac for three hours while they waited to deplane. (Thankfully he didn’t ask to share my blanket!) Eventually we took off and made it to Dallas at 7 AM, about an hour late, so it could have been a lot worse. Rich was there to pick me up and we came home and went to bed since neither of us got much sleep overnight.
I was really sad to hear the recordings of the guy who took the plane; it sounded like he was struggling and I wish he had been able to get some help before ending his life this way. Very thankful no one else was hurt. Although that was a very surreal ending to my trip, I had a lovely time and it was a nice respite from my busy days here.