My flight left Sunday about 3:30, so I had to be at the airport by about 1:30. This kept me from actually staying for our Sunday School class at church. Instead we stuck around for the social time, left a couple of prayer requests (my interview, Derrick's school performance) and got lunch at the nearby Genghis Grill. After that, we went our separate ways, with Tara and Derrick heading to kill some time before the DucKon meeting, and me heading for parking and the airport.
I got to the parking a bit later than I'd wanted, but with plenty of time. I ended up as the only person on the bus, and was quickly at the far end of O'Hare Terminal 3. My flight was on Alaska Airlines, my first time using this carrier. They only have a few flights through O'Hare each day, and use a single gate and mostly American ground personnel. (I'm 90% sure that the customer representatives are Alaska employees, but the baggage and related people were clearly American employees).
I got to the airport with plenty of time, made it through security with no issues (not having a laptop helped a bit, a lot of practice helped even more), and found the gate very quickly. Since the gate was L2B -- just a couple of gates past security -- this wasn't hard.
The plane was supposed to be delayed due to flight conditions between Seattle and Chicago, but the inbound flight ended up arriving on schedule, so we departed on schedule. My only major disappointment with Alaska is that they are still boarding by row number instead of by boarding group, which doesn't change the boarding process that much, but makes it a bit harder to enforce. Unfortunately, my American Advantage Gold expired at the end of February, so I couldn't board early.
The flight to Seattle was mostly smooth, and I was able to spend it reading, listening to my iPod, and watching the world pass below. I did end up springing for a snack box, intending to have that instead of dinner. But that plan didn't work out.
Just before landing in Seattle, it was announced that we'd be parking at gate N3 -- in the North Satellite. But as we were taxiing, the pilot announced that we'd be using D13 (If I recall correctly -- I may have them backwards). However, I noticed as we went past that there was ground crew at both gates, and the crew at the N gate seemed a bit startled to see us drive past instead of turning in.
When I got to baggage claim, I had to wait a few minutes. I did notice that, for a while, there was someone standing where the bags are dumped onto the main belt -- at least in this area, Sea-Tac baggage claim is a complete circle main belt with a couple of other belts that feed bags from the field. For the first few minutes, she dutifully made sure that bags were positioned on the belt so that their owners could easily grab them. But then someone apparently working for the same contractor came up, and they both left leaving about two-thirds of the bags to position themselves, badly.
I then worked my way to the taxi stand in the parking garage. As I was working my way to the head of the line, I noticed that one of the Taxis waiting was a Prius. But I ended up with a normal taxi. The driver took me quickly to the Grand Hyatt in Seattle, near the Washington State Convention center. On the way in, I got a better look at the planes parked at Boeing Field than I ever did driving -- I-5 is on two levels there, and the left lane northbound has a good view.
The Grand Hyatt is a very nice hotel -- as I'd expect from a Hyatt. It is fairly new, and has a number of high tech features, including power driving blinds and separate showers. Unfortunately, the sheer blinds which I prefer to use when traveling alone, didn't provide me with a comfortable level of privacy even on the 23rd floor -- I could see into the office building across the way fairly easily with them shut. The one odd thing about this hotel was that the keys weren't the plastic magnetic cards I've become used to. Instead they were brass keys otherwise similarly encoded.
After settling and unpacking, I decided that I was hungry and wanted something fairly light. So I headed out looking for food. A few blocks down Pine Street, I found the Pacific Place shopping center. Only the restaurants om the top floor were opened, but that was fine. After discounting Johnny Rockets, Todai, two carry out places and a Mexican restaurant -- named "Mexico" -- I ended up at Gordon Biersch Brewery Restaurant. I ordered a Hummus and Goat Cheese Salad -- which came on warm pita slices. I ended up sitting at the bar, and felt a bit guilty since the bar tended had to get a pitcher of ice tea to keep my glass full, but I think I tipped her well enough anyway. In addition to the salad, I broke down and got an order of their apple bread pudding, which was very good -- but was about twice as much desert as I really wanted.
Feeling guilty about desert, and not being tired enough for sleep -- even if it was after 9:00 based on where I had woken up (8:00 if you take the time change into account) -- so I walked a couple of blocks further and found the entrance for the Seattle Center Monorail.
When I got to the Seattle Center, I briefly thought that everything was closed except for the gift shop and restaurant at the space needle. I did, however, find the Space Needle was open, and paid for a ticket to the top. I spent about half an hour walking around looking at Seattle at night, and checking out the new interactive displays about the region. After that I headed back to my hotel, ironed my shirts for the morning and turned in.
In the morning, I got up about 6:30 and really got moving by about 7:00. I had already decided that the room service breakfast wasn't a good value, and didn't expect one from the hotel restaurant, an incarnation of Ruth's Criss Steakhouse. Instead I worked my way down Pine street to the Pike Place Market. However, I found that much of the market didn't open until 8:30 or later. I finally found the Tea and Crumpet shop where I got a start on breakfast -- a crumpet with ham and cheese. I'd have ordered Scottish Groat (which I think is basically Oatmeal) had I noticed it on the menu before placing my order. I then found a fruit stand, picked out an orange and had the vendor pick out an apple. I then worked my way back up Pike street looking for a Kinko's where I could print my resumè. After that, I went back to the hotel and got ready for my 11:15 interview.
For the interview I took a taxi down to the Union Station building where I was interviewing. After the interview, which included a lunch at a Thai restaurant in the International District, I took the advise of my last interviewer and caught a northbound bus in the transit tunnel -- which was free since it was during the day.
My interview had ended about 4:00, giving me plenty of time to explore. I went to my room and dropped a few things off -- including the hotel's umbrella which I'd carried needlessly all day. The weather forecasts the previous night and that morning had warned of heavy rain which so far hadn't materialized.
My original intention had been to go down to the Seattle Aquarium and then get dinner at the Pike Place market. However, I ended up stopping several times on the way down the hill looking for either an inexpensive rain coat or more easily carried umbrella, since it was now raining uncomfortably. I finally ended up with a $10.00 compact umbrella from Nordstrom Rack. By the time I found my way to the Aquarium, they were closing in 10 minutes, so I headed back up to the market. About half way up Tara called me back -- she was having to deal with an uncooperative Derrick when I called after the interview -- and ended up talking to her for quite a while standing in the shade of a closed elevator tower, and then as I walked back into the market building hoping for an elevator. I then called her back once I found a place to sit.
The final straw in my afternoon and evening plans came when I could not locate a restaurant in the market that was serving fresh salmon -- probably more because I was looking in the wrong place than any actual lack of a restaurant. So I worked my way back up, knowing that in the worst case, I could find good food at The Cheesecake Factory or someplace like that. I finally ended up finding a good Pacific Northwest/Mexican fusion dish at Mexico, which I enjoyed greatly. I then went back to the hotel, packed and went to bed.
Since my flight this morning was at 8:25, I got up a bit before 5:00 to shower and finish packing. I left the room, checked out and caught my cab right about 6:00 as I'd planned. On the way to the Airport, Tara called to let me know she was home sick, so I wouldn't try her at work.
At the airport, I got checked in quickly -- having taken advantage of the kiosk at the Hyatt that gave me access to the web check-in the night before. The security lines looked a bit bad, but really weren't. My only delay was that I was behind three women who didn't seem to be frequent travelers. In addition to not having tried to get anything out and ready before getting to the screening station, all three of them were wearing shoes that were difficult to remove, including tall rubber boots and extremely high-heeled sandals.
After getting through security, I worked my way towards my gate -- C11 -- stopping at the center court food service area for breakfast. My flight was again nice. I took advantage of a "dig-e-player" which is a personal viewing station loaded with a number of movies and other programs, since I was well more than half-way through my book from the outbound flight. I ended up watching Mister Magoriums Wonder Emporium which wasn't bad, but probably not worth the $10.00 if it hadn't been mostly to keep me occupied during the flight.
After arriving at O'Hare, there was one final glitch. Our bags were delivered to the wrong claim area, with no notice posted either on the boards, or anywhere else. I only noticed the problem when I recognize my bag being delivered to the next claim area over.
Overall this was a nice trip, and I enjoyed being back in Seattle, even if this was my shortest visit. I did learn several nice things about the neighborhood around the Washington State Convention Center which I hope the Seattle 2011 bid brings up to prospective voters.
At the moment, I have mixed feelings about the potential of moving there. On one hand, I think that we'd really love living in Seattle and the job sounds much better than my current one in many ways. On the other hand, I'm not looking forward to moving and loosing some of the connections we have here. At this point until the offer, or "no thank you" comes, it is pretty much just speculation.