For the umpteenth time since starting this blog, I spent a few days in Seattle last week visiting my grandparents. I’d been planning on visiting Seattle some time this year since the rest of my family went out last summer (leading to much jealousy on my part), but last August, my dad reminded me that my grandparents aren’t getting any younger (Grandpa, in fact, will turn 97 on Saturday), so I decided a holiday visit would be in order as well as a trip next summer.
I was not at all sad to leave Chicago behind for more moderate temperatures, because the 35 degrees or so that I arrived to in Seattle was downright balmy compared to all two degrees I left behind in Chicago. (Seriously, it was so cold when I left Wednesday morning that it wasn’t even warm inside O’Hare. I left my hat and gloves on until boarding the plane, which definitely overcompensated and was SUPER toasty for all almost-five hours it took to get to Seattle. Speaking of which: it took my outbound flight 4:42 to get to Seattle, and we never topped 500 miles per hour for the duration of the flight. The flight home, on the other hand, took only a touch more than three hours (3:15), and featured speeds of over 700 miles per hour. Shoutout to the jet stream for getting me home so quickly.)
I had a few hopes and dreams for my Seattle trip, but only enough to take up about half a day of activity, so I spent a lot of my time out west just sitting around and talking to my grandparents. It occurred to me somewhat recently that my grandma is likely a treasure trove of information in the family history department, and I was delighted that she shared stories of her mother and her grandfather, and even a few stories about my actual grandpa (my biological grandpa died 10 years before I was born. The grandpa who’s turning 97 is technically my step-grandpa, but he and my grandma married before my parents even met, so even though he’s not biologically my grandpa, I consider him to be my grandpa) and his family, which was really cool. I learned that my great-great grandpa was a photographer in Denver, lost all his money, and moved his whole family (including my great grandma) to Los Angeles. Great-Grandma somehow found her way up to the Seattle area, which is where my grandma has lived her whole life. I learned that my actual grandpa fought in France and Germany during World War II (I knew he fought in World War II, but I didn’t know any specifics of it) and that he went over right after the Battle of the Bulge. I learned that my actual grandpa’s father and my actual grandpa had their own lumber exporting business (which makes sense, given that they lived in Seattle), and I got to hear one of my favorite stories of my grandma’s, which was about the early Boeing Christmas parties. Her dad, my great grandpa, was one of the original employees at Boeing (though I’ve heard he refused to ever fly, because he didn’t actually believe planes could work. Must be where I get my flight anxiety from 😛 ), and back before it was a gigantic company, Mrs. Boeing would buy every child of a Boeing employee, including my grandma, a personalized Christmas present. As time went on, the gifts became more generic–all of the children between this age and that age got toy A, for example–but I still thought the whole thing was so cool to learn about.
A bunch of the family came over to Grandma and Grandpa’s on Thursday morning, which gave me the opportunity to finally meet my cousin’s baby–not really a baby anymore at one and a half, but still plenty entertaining. After spending time with the family, I went to downtown Seattle for my all-important clam chowder run at Ivar’s on the Sound.
Never gets old.
I got a side of fries with my chowder, not because I needed or even particularly wanted it (though I did eat about two-thirds of the order), but because I wanted to feed the seagulls. The clam chowder at Ivar’s in the best in the world (and yes, that is a hill I will die on), but feeding fries to the seagulls is the whole reason to go to Ivar’s, as far as I’m concerned.
I also had to make a run to the market, of course, to restock my MarketSpice Tea supply, watch some fish throwing, and generally enjoy myself. I considered visiting the original Starbucks while I was there, but the line, unsurprisingly, was insane, so I passed. Maybe someday.
After visiting downtown, I went over to the Bellevue Botanical Gardens for Garden D’Lights. I went to Garden D’Lights in 2011, the last time I visited Seattle around Christmas, and thought it was so cool. It’s not like ZooLights or something like that where the trees are all covered in lights; instead, the show is full of sculptures made from Christmas lights. It’s really something, and if you ever happen to be in the Seattle area around Christmas, I can’t recommend it enough.
I spent nearly all of Friday hanging out with my grandparents and helping them take down their Christmas decorations, and then at 9 p.m. headed back to SeaTac for what I consider to be my first ever true red eye flight. Obviously, the flight I took to Scotland seven years ago was an overnight flight, since I believe most flights from the U.S. to Europe are overnight flights, but I don’t feel like it really counts because 1) it took off at like 7 p.m. in May, which is hardly nighttime and 2) there was no other option. This flight to Seattle was the first (and possibly last) time that I ever chose to take a flight that left–LEFT–at 12:34 a.m. (that’s 2:34 a.m. Chicago time, in case you were curious). What an experience. I was barely conscious boarding, but then, naturally, as soon as the safety presentation ended, I was wide awake. I did eventually fall asleep for I’m guessing roughly an hour (I have no recollection of hearing 11 songs on the Hamilton soundtrack, my in-flight entertainment selection, so I assume I must’ve slept through them), but that was only one third of the total flight. We landed way ahead of schedule, which was awesome, but it sure was weird walking through O’Hare and realizing everyone else had already gone to bed and woken up, whereas I felt like I hadn’t even gotten to the bedtime part of Friday yet (even though it was Saturday morning at that point). I got home, took out my contacts, fell into bed at 7 a.m. (yikes), and didn’t get up until 2:30 that afternoon. Not my normal hours, that’s for sure! But, it was worth it to see my grandparents. Even though it feels like they’ll be around forever, I know that’s not actually going to happen. Each trip is special, and I’m glad I was able to make it out there this year 🙂