My new job has sent me to a city, far from my home in Seattle, to learn about the Airbus 330, one of the planes in the fleet that I see frequently in Seattle. I can’t say what city I’ve been sent to, because it would give away the name of the company; suffice it to say it’s on the other side of the country from Seattle, and it’s kind of hot here right now.
I’m also going to confess that I’m so mentally fatigued by all the technical data that I can’t put thoughts together to write a “life lessons” style blog post, so my readers will have to settle for a travelogue this week. Because I’ll be here for almost a month, I’m trying to live a bit like a local, so I am getting some good blog fodder.
Oh, and BTdubs, if you’re planning to rob my house, don’t bother, I have a house sitter and several attack cats.
While I was in the process of planning this trip I got a lot of advice from my coworkers, all of whom have varying degrees of comfort with urban living. I ran straight to the United States’ third largest city immediately after high school and then moved to a smaller, but still city-like, city in my thirties, so not only am I comfortable in cities, I prefer them.
Accordingly I took some of the co-workerly advice with a grain of salt. Specifically the advice that I would be instantly murdered the minute I poked my nose outside my hotel room door, and the advice that I do nothing but go to class then come home and sit in my hotel room until it was time to go to class again.
So, with a week under my belt, here have been my experiences:
Monday – took a cab to Wal Mart to buy some breakfast foods and snacks. Thought my life would end when the cab driver turned left into oncoming traffic, but he caught his error just in time and I survived. I did however decline his suggestion that he wait for me and drive me back because I figured I might not get lucky the next time he drove into traffic. Loaded up with yogurt, snackable veggies and a giant tub of peanut butter I spotted a hotel shuttle from my hotel chain. Best kept secret of hotel shuttles – wave a $5 or $10 bill around and they’ll take you pretty much anywhere you want to go, even if you’re not technically staying at their hotel.
Tuesday – I had shipped my mountain bike out with me because I knew that if I was going to be away from home for a month I would need to have a way to get exercise and to indulge in my favorite outdoor activity. Since I’m not raking in the Microsoft bucks any more (though my income is perfectly respectable) I’m loathe to spend money when there’s a free way to get the job done … so, I was determined to pick up my bike case by using all the available shuttle services, and my legs.
So, hotel shuttle to airport, additional shuttle to international terminal (after an incredulous discussion with an airport employee who explained that the international terminal was a 10 minute drive from domestic), scary walk along .5 mile airport access road with no sidewalks … pick up bike case, lug bike case back through series of cargo and airport employee parking lots (much safer than access road but somehow seemed eleventy billion miles farther), heave bike case onto shuttle back to domestic (picking up mad props from the driver), drag it to the hotel shuttle pickup area where the shuttle driver kindly loads it with the suitcases, and finally shovel it onto the elevator and up to my hotel room. Total cost – the $5 tip to the hotel shuttle driver for stuffing the case into the back of the van for me. I would have tipped the airport shuttle driver, but they’re not allowed to accept tips.
By Wednesday I had the bike assembled and set out to find the light rail station nearest to my hotel. It seemed like it was a whole lot farther than it appeared on the map, but this turned out to be because the one road that passed over the road I took from my hotel turned out to be the road I was supposed to turn on … so I overshot by about 2 miles. No matter – I got some exercise and ascertained that pedaling to the light rail wouldn’t be too much of a hardship. Despite the dire warnings from my coworkers, the worst thing that happened was that a few middle-aged-to-elderly drunks congratulated me on my bicycling skills, in rather colorful terms.
Armed with my new light rail knowledge, on Thursday I set out to find a set of urban mountain bike trails that I read about online. This involved taking two trains and a bus. By the time I got the correct area I didn’t have a lot of daylight left. I realized later that I had also been going by directions from last decade, which didn’t account for a new paved trail that had been built in the last 5 years or so. The upshot was that I didn’t find the actual trails until it was nearly dark – making this ride the exploratory prelude to a better ride the following week, or so I hoped.
Tune in again next week for more postcards from my eternal business trip and find out how those urban trails worked out for me.