Thursday, April 2, 2015

Chasing the Blues After the PNW Trip

By Cal Orey
Homesick to Ready to Go Again
You, like me, may find out it's a Catch-22 deal when you travel. Before you catch that jet plane pre-trip anxiety sets in. Perhaps even more challenging is returning home and sliding back into the daily grind. So, as I wiggle in and out of the structure of writing books, articles, and promoting my Healing Powers Series at another signing on Saturday, it's easy to go back to when I was gone.

Hello Seattle: Once I arrived at Sea-Tac Airport, it was easy breezy. Taking the airport train to grab my luggage brought back memories of the Atlanta airport's Plane Train. (I was in love with the Deep South during my trip to Quebec last September.) My bag greeted me and the threat of losing garb for Canada did not happen. Still light outdoors I grabbed a taxi and headed for the first destination: Bellevue. 
A room with view 
I had requested a high room with a view and I got it. Once unpacked I got cozy (traveling solo is fun because you don't have to compromise) and made the decision to chill until the morning. Note to self: A sign of growing older. In my twenties, I'd head out to wherever the action would be. 

Good Morning:  Room service was on my mind (a cup of Joe, actually) but the prices were sobering. When I was told a kid's size waffle and coffee would be $38 it was enough to wake me up. I settled on java and a bagel: $15. Since the Barnes and Noble book signing wasn't happening until 2 PM, I was ready to meet Bellevue face to face and run errands in a mixture of sun, rain, and wind.  

After I got some hair stuff for my curly locks , paid a visit to a local chocolate shop for a few yummy truffles, I  wanted to swim. Unfortunately, I discovered the pool was shallow, small, cold and not on the premises. As I found out this unsettling news I wandered into an empty convention room. A huge buffet with bread, vegetables, cheeses, and hot homemade potato chips was lined up in front of me. I thought: "The hotel gods are apologizing for the lack of swimming pool." So I put together a handsome plate of good food (covered nicely with a black cloth napkin) and headed back to my hotel room. 
Since I slept in, time was running out and it was time to get dressed and head out to the booked bookstore event. It was only a few blocks from the hotel but it was windy with a capital W. I didn't want to look like I flew in on my own plane from Tahoe. Downstairs I welcomed a cabbie but he didn't want to take me the short distance so he acted like he didn't know how to get to the popular bookstore. I moved down the line to the next cab behind him and he pointed me back to the first driver. I got it. They didn't want to lose their place like ducks in a row because they were waiting to catch the big fish (such as an airport or train run). This little fishie moved into the hotel and told the concierge; they got me rolling. No questions asked. I felt the driver's attitude and it was a Bellevue miracle that he found the store so quickly.

A friendly "fan"
The Book Signing: In the parking lot, I got my first introduction to the world of PNW "designer dogs"--small pooches clad in clothes. Yes, people tote  'em everywhere. It was another cue for me to feel a void that my canine companions (100 pounds together) were hundreds of miles away from me.  This is the hardest part of traveling and I prefer to be in the company of a pooch or feline.
The store for humans was quiet for a Saturday. It could have been because of the rain. Or not. But as a veteran of book signings I know all too well that you never know what to expect. No worries.  While the professor's husband whom purchased each one of my books made me smile, so did this friendly woman (she loves the chosen topics in my work). 

The format of this signing was "meet and greet" which is fine with me. It allows the author to chat one-on-one with customers and often draws a crowd who want to join in the conversation and fun. 
I've done many bookstore signings where there are rows of people and I read and do a Q and A after. Each format has its merits. Overall, the signing was stimulating, ego-boosting, and sold a variety of the Healing Powers Series (VINEGAR was not there). I treated some Washington book purchasers with gourmet coffee and/or chocolate.
My Night in Bellevue: After the book event, I left with foraging healthy food on the brain. Room service wasn't on my list  but dining out felt right.  I was leaving early in the morning for B.C., Canada, and a light dinner seemed in order. Someone suggested Joey's. I obliged.  Once entering the full sports-type bar I felt I had aged decades. The music was loud and intense. The servers were bubbly, blonde, and young. 
I was a fish out of water

I ordered a Spinach Salad. I wanted a baked potato but for some odd reason they were non existent. I was served skinny fries well-done. Not my fantasy. Also, I noticed that all the fresh greens were paired with fruit not vegetables. Perhaps this is a Seattle trend. (I felt my palate longing for Lake Tahoe (we do have real potatoes--bakes and home fries) eats at home or out.) Worse, there was no regular chamomile tea. I was served fruity concoctions. That said, my meal was lighter than envisioned. I should have ordered the sinful chocolate dessert.
King Street Station (Seattle)

Getting Ready for a Train Ride: My fantasy of taking the Amtrak to B.C. was hours away. Going out on the town Saturday night wasn't in the cards. Images of John Steinbeck and Charley on the road came to mind. I felt my age was present; but my senior dog and young canine were back home. I missed the boys and my kitty Zen; crawled into bed feeling a void. With great expectations of Canada I turned in early after requesting the hotel for a wake-up call at 4:00 AM. Overall, it was a day and a half in Bellevue--sweet but I was looking for excitement in another country, tea book research, and a visit to the Vancouver Aquarium to feel at home.

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