Sunday, May 12, 2013

What a Weekend!

Wow. I'm starting to write this post from my last flight of the weekend, but I'm guessing I won't finish it until possibly tomorrow...or since I'm splitting this up anyway maybe I'll get the first part done, at least. I am exhausted...happy, but exhausted. Actually, while I am tired right now, I'm fine. I think I'm making myself more tired just thinking about the hour-plus drive I have to get back home, bedtime with two kids and no husband (he's currently somewhere above Canada), and the unpacking and laundry I will need to do before I can go to sleep. I've had approximately 11-1/2 hours of sleep since I woke up on Thursday morning. Normally I'm only getting six hours or so a night right now, and I really need more than that, but this is ridiculous. I will venture to say at this point that it was worth it, but like I said in my last post, there was a time where I was convinced it wasn't. I am definitely in no rush to hop back on a plane, and when I do I will probably be a little more firm on knowing when I'm flying before I book. Aside from the craziness of my flights out, every other part of this trip went as well or better than expected. Thank God.

My flight landed a little after 1pm on Friday afternoon. I called my parents while I was waiting for my rental car and found out that Carter hadn't been sleeping much and Jacob had gotten poked in the eye at one point while he was playing with his little friend Nora down the street. Still, things were going pretty well. It took a while to get my car, but I was able to add a day on to the front of my non-changeable reservation. Alamo was a little more hands-off with the actual pick-up of the car than Enterprise had been on our Atlanta trip. I found that weird, but in the end it was fine. I figured out that I'd have just enough time to head down to Tacoma to visit the glass museum, then start my three-hour drive up to New Westminster, BC, to meet up with Craig. I'd miss out on dinner out, and most likely the evening activity of a movie (which never ended up happening anyway), but I figured the chance to go to Tacoma was pretty unique, so I had to do it.

The half-hour drive to Tacoma was quite a bit longer than that, thanks to traffic and a challenging GPS moment where it kept trying to send me down a closed road, but I think finally got there around 3:30 or so, giving me about an hour before I ideally wanted to be back on the road. The glass museum looks pretty impressive from the outside, with this giant cone structure. 

And, of course, I'm used to the Corning Museum of Glass, which is huge and amazing. This one...well, not so much. Turns out one of the galleries was in transition, so there was really only one open gallery to see. I got a discount on admission—and really, if I hadn't gone in, I'd have wondered what I was missing—but it was relatively unimpressive. The stuff I did see was pretty, but expecting more I sort of flew through it all and then realized there wasn't anything else to see in the museum itself. I could have sat and watched the glass blowers in action, but I've seen that before and I was more interested in seeing the stuff outside anyway. Strangely, some of the things for sale in the store were cooler than what was in the museum. Alas, too pricey and too hard to get home!

I headed outside to see the outdoor displays, most notably the Dale Chihuly Glass Bridge. My love affair with Chihuly began back in college when I randomly went with some family to his traveling exhibit at the Albright-Knox Art Gallery in Buffalo. I'd just finished an art history class and jumped at the chance to go the museum, but I discovered Chihuly's amazing work and I've been hooked ever since. I seek out his pieces whenever I visit a new city—like in Vegas (his work is on the ceiling of the Bellagio lobby, for example) or at the Turning Stone Casino near Syracuse--and went to his exhibit at the Pittsburgh Botanical Garden the weekend before I found out I was pregnant with Jacob. Seven years ago as we passed through Tacoma on the train between Seattle and Portland, we passed under the Glass Bridge, and I swore to myself that I had to come back and go there. When this trip cropped up I didn't even think about it until my boss mentioned it and I found out Tacoma was so close to Seattle.

Anyway, the glass bridge features two separate sets of Chihuly pieces. One set is a few dozen glassed-in cubbies filled with large flowers-in-a-vase type pieces. Most of them are about 2-3 feet tall, and a few others are probably closer to 4-5 feet. They are colorful and unique, and the wall of them is probably a good 10-12 feet high and, oh, maybe 50 feet long? It was gorgeous. 

The middle of the bridge features two giant towers of teal glass chunks. 

The far end has a section with a glass ceiling full of smaller, random pieces of glass. It's a feast of color and reminiscent of one of my favorite parts of the Buffalo exhibit. Each section is unique, and everything is so colorful. I could have stood there taking pictures for hours.

As I wandered across the bridge, I looked a the windows of a building on the other side, Union Station. It's a classic old building, and it now houses a courthouse. In the one set of giant windows, I thought I could see something, so I decided to go down and check it out. Sure enough, the building was a treasure trove of Chihuly installations. Between the architecture and the artwork, it was absolutely breathtaking. There was a chandelier (my favorite type of his work)...

...a metal circle full of snaking glass tubes...

...a wall of Chihuly's inspiration paintings, glass spikes in front of one window, and the pieces I had seen through the other window, giant flower shapes...

It was a feast of color amidst the white backdrop. The funny thing is that because it's a courthouse, I was instructed by the security guy that I couldn't take pictures of his station or the words “US Courts” below the one window. Odd, but okay. I wandered around that lobby for a while, taking pictures from new angles and thanking my lucky stars I walked that far. I briefly considered doing a cell phone tour to find more pieces around town, but decided it was time to be getting back.

I stopped at the one other outdoor installation by the museum, some clear glass structures in fountains, and bemoaned the fact that I wouldn't be there to see them in the dark, because I'm pretty sure they'd be gorgeous lit up.

I headed back to the car and started my trek back through Seattle to BC. I knew it would probably be a haul because it was approaching rush hour and my route (right up I-5) was directly through the city. I did run into some traffic, but all things considered it was probably better than it could have been. I think I was probably on the better side of the highway and lucky that it was Friday. Driving through the city made me wish I had more time there. I noticed lights on at the baseball stadium and wished I could go to a game. I saw the Space Needle, which is so iconic and cool. It brought back memories of our trip there and made me want to visit Pike Place Market, the place that made me fall in love with digital photography. That was my first trip with my first digital camera, and some of the pictures I took outside the market are still some of my favorites. It didn't hurt that the weather was picture perfect and the trip outstanding.

Once through Seattle, I stopped for dinner at Jack-in-the-Box. My goal on most trips (being as frugal as I am) is eating at whatever famous chain I can't eat at in Rochester. In Atlanta it was Chick-Fil-A and Mellow Mushroom. In Orlando it was Cici's, Chipotle, and Sonic (and thankfully, we now have those first two in Rochester). In Toronto it's Pizza Pizza and Marche'. I know these cities all have fantastic gourmet cuisine, but I don't really want to pay for it and my limited taste buds aren't worth it anyway. Anyway, my dinner was greasy but good. Ironically, the restaurant was in Everett, WA, the actual home of the team the Knighthawks were playing.

I continued on for a couple more hours, enjoying the gorgeous mountain views and the pleasant evening weather. I finally crossed over the border—man, those crossings are uneventful compared to the ones by us!--and within about 20 minutes or so I made it to the hotel. I immediately ran into a couple people I knew—one coach and one of Craig's co-workers—and finally made it up to Craig's room. It was nice, and it had a balcony overlooking the river. 

We ventured out for a bit, just walking over the pedestrian bridge to the New Westminster train station, where there were some stores and restaurants. We figured we could get a snack and some breakfast for the morning, and Tim Hortons fit the bill for both. We headed back and went to bed around 10:30. My first sleep in about 40 hours, and it was glorious. A comfortable bed, no baby monitors, no kids, and no stress. I slept deeply for eight hours. Even though I woke up at 6:15am (remember, that's 9:15 Eastern time), I felt amazing. I figure it's the best night of sleep I've had in at least six months. It was a great start to a great day, and I'll tell you all about that in my next post...

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