Saturday, March 28, 2015

Seattle-B.C. Fantasy Hits Home

By Cal Orey
California Dreaming
I felt at home in Seattle
Leaving Lake Tahoe for a business trip finally arrived on March 20, the first day of Spring. Back home again, it's time to back track and recall my time away playing nomad (like I did in my twenties) in the PNW and determine if Northern California will be left in the dust for the Pacific Northwest.  Early in the morning my bags were packed and I left my Old Tahoe-style cabin, three fur kids, the Lake and towering pine trees. Destination: Seattle and British Columbia for a book signing and book research.
People in Seattle toted Toy Breeds,
not big Herding Dogs like my Aussie

Running away from Tahoe
AIRPORT GAMES... For some reason, I seem to be one of the chosen few by security. There was the Montreal greeting back in September. After traveling 3000 miles it was a rude awakening to be greeted by a customs agent with five words. Instead of "Bon jour, Madam" I heard: "Do you have any pot?" Dazed and confused I sat on the floor, crossed my legs and was grilled for an hour by the mean-spirited French woman who didn't understand why I chose to fly solo to Quebec. After she claimed there wasn't any Mediterranean cuisine in the province, I realized it was best to not fight and eventually I was released.
Waiting for a jet plane

That was Montreal, Canada. I never thought in my wildest dreams such a ridiculous scene would take place at the small Reno-Tahoe International Airport. On Friday morning I admit I looked like the California girl clad in skinny jeans, tee-shirt, lightweight turtleneck sweater, black leather jacket, neck scarf, mittens, combat boots, and a cozy wool black, red and grey checkered jacket (from Quebec City). True, it was 50 degrees but I figured if I layered my clothing and my bags were lost I'd have threads; plus I'd be warm on a chilly plane and in the rain up north.
Standing in line I was cool, calm--no worries. Then, a security woman asked me: "Would you like to be searched?" I answered, "If it's a cute guy." I truly thought she was joking. She darted, "How about a woman?" I said, "Nah, I'll pass. I'm not really into it." She grabbed my arm; I was put in a small cage-like contraption. She wiped both my hands with some sort of liquid, ordered me to lift my arms and spread my legs. I was frisked from head to foot. It all happened so quickly I didn't realize I was suspect. It didn't seem real. After the search, the security woman gave credit to my layering clothes or jacket with zippers galore. I gathered up my garb and felt thankful for less attitude than in the French speaking province.  Perhaps I was mellow because I hadn't had my a.m. coffee. 

My fave hang out at SLC
ONWARD TO SALT LAKE CITY...  The flight was smooth and nondescript. Not sure why frequent fliers label this airport to be tricky because of the sierras into SLC. Now this airport is charming and smallish. Read: No fun plane trains. With two hours to pass time, I made a point to order a welcoming basket of warm tortilla chips and salsa made from scratch. As I sipped a cup of hot chamomile tea my eyes scrutinized the French manicure I got the day prior. Chipped already? So, I paid a visit to the express spa. This is a cool place in the airport where you can get a massage to manicure. A worker fixed the imperfections and I anticipated my flight to Seattle.
Chop Chop
I was there downtown Seattle back in 2006 for a book signing unveiling The Man Who Predicts Earthquakes. This time around it was Bellevue for my Healing Powers Series. And, of course, there is the time back in my twenties when I hitchhiked to the PNW and rescued a small fluffy dog that became my devoted traveling companion across America. So, Seattle, for me, has fond memories.

FLYING TO EMERALD CITY... Earlier in the week the weather forecast was 10 percent chance of rain. By Thursday night that number jumped to 100 percent. Everyone knows Seattle is infamous for grey skies and rain so I wasn't too concerned. After all, I was dressed for the occasion. What I didn't know is that when you have lots of clouds you can have lots of rough air on the plane or as our pilot called it: "It looks like we're coming into some 'light chop'." 
Seattle landing
Oh yeah, baby. The young business kid sitting next to me (I flew First Class because I'm super sensitive and don't want to pick up other people's nervous flight energy) looked into my widened eyes. He said as he nursed his cup of complementary wine, "Chill. It's all good." But I thought, "Is this the same dude who told me a while ago that coming from Dallas was a rough ride?"
Actually, I learned that some turbulence doesn't bother me--like moderate quakes--if and only if others remain calm. Also, the pilot's soothing voice kept me in a good space despite my ignorance of clouds can mean shaky skies. No worries. I equated it to having a root canal and letting the dentist take charge. The only thing though, oxygen isn't laughing gas. But landing safely in Seattle happened.
Hotel room city view made me smile

Emerald City my new home?
LIGHT IN WASHINGTON... Thanks to Day Light Savings it was still light outdoors. I was greeted by terrain different than Tahoe--once touted for its snowfall and now the superdrought. Greenery and rain were a pleasant welcome for me. What's more, I do miss living in a San Carlos bungalow with a view of the hills and train ride to San Francisco. So the picture perfect view of both took me back in time when I was a younger "city girl" and not living in the mountains amid coyotes and bears.

Fifteen years ago, it was my fantasy to move from the San Francisco Bay Area to Lake Tahoe. I was transitioning from a magazine journalist to a book author. While that mission was accomplished I find myself yearning for a new place, a new muse. The question remains, is Seattle the answer?
While there for about half a week I did feel a sense of belonging among humans unlike at Tahoe, an iconic place where I've become a recluse embracing wildlife, companion animals, a sibling, and writing.  I sense it's time for change.

To be continued...

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