One Last Day In Seattle: A Happy Ending

We had come to the end of our time in Washington. It had been an epic two weeks. We’d kayaked, hiked, camped, and road tripped our way through some of the most beautiful wilderness we’d ever seen, but there were still a few things we wanted to do before our Ladycation was over.

Our flight out of Seattle departed at 10:30pm so we had the entire day to explore. We had some things we still wanted to see, but after hiking over 85 miles, what we really wanted was breakfast and a massage.IMG_3935

We checked out of our hotel and headed to Portage Bay Cafe. If you’re ever in Seattle this should be your number one destination for breakfast. Holy deliciousness. Everything is made with locally sourced, natural ingredients, and it’s all incredible. I have never seen such enormous pancakes in all my life, but the best part was the bar. I don’t mean booze, I mean the bar with all the toppings you could ever dream of putting on your pancakes: fruits, nuts, berries, fresh, homemade whipped cream; it was breakfast paradise (did I mention the bacon was also amazing?). We loaded our plates and savored every last bite until we felt like we were going to burst. It was like Thanksgiving; you know you’re full, but the food is so plentiful, and it tastes so good, that you can’t stop shoveling it in your face. It definitely ranks among the best meals I’ve ever had. It was that good. We had to wait over an hour to get a table, and it was absolutely worth the wait.IMG_3948

We hadn’t found a spa in the area with availability (and we really needed some time to digest our meal) so we decided to head to our next destination: Chateau Ste Michelle, maker of one of my favorite wines (their late harvest Riesling is the bomb). The grounds were beautifully manicured, with a large estate and separate building for tastings and purchasing merchandise. There were families dotting the lawn having picnics, or just enjoying the sunshine and scenery. The women were what I imagine when someone says, “ladies who lunch,” so I felt a little out of place in my jeans, Red Hot Chili Peppers tee shirt, and flip flops. I also wasn’t nearly stoned enough, so the noisy throngs of people, and the extravagance of the estate were a little overwhelming. After going through the tasting rooms and deciding we didn’t want to wait in line for one, we went outside, away from the crowds, and walked among the grapevines; even tasting a few grapes before moving on.

Once we got back in the car Lindsey started calling spas again and finally found one with openings. It was tucked into the corner of a nondescript building occupied by random shops and offices. There was a tiny waiting area inside the door, with a tinier desk, and a couple of plastic chairs (normal sized). Everything was a weird pink color, like being inside a bottle of Pepto-Bismol, and it smelled funky. I couldn’t quite identify what the smell was, but it seemed to be a combination of ass and pungent incense (an attempt, I presume, to cover the ass). We kind of looked at each other uneasily, both wondering what the hell we’d just gotten ourselves into.IMG_3965

A very friendly, petite, Asian woman came down the hallway to greet us, and quickly ushered us into our rooms. Minimalist would be a generous way to describe the decor of the room. It was sparse, random, and bordered on bizarre. There were silk roses glued to one wall, on the adjacent wall were bird decals like you’d expect to see in an old lady’s window; a table covered in various lotions and oils sat in one corner, a shabby chair in the other, with the massage table in the middle of the room. It was all a bit confusing and I stood there for a hot minute just trying to make sense of it all. I remember thinking, I’m not even remotely high enough for this.

After I’d undressed and was laying Naked and Afraid on the table in this strange, smelly, little pink room, my masseur came in. Like the woman who’d greeted us, she was petite, cheerful, and, I learned, Chinese. She asked what kind of massage I wanted, how much pressure I wanted, and then she got to work.IMG_3962

I’m not going to say it was a bad massage because it wasn’t . . . for the most part. At first it felt amazing. It was just . . . odd. She kept massaging my bones like she thought they were knots in the muscle–which wasn’t particularly enjoyable–but when she did find the muscles it was fantastic.

Outside the room, this place was hoppin’. I heard at least a half dozen customers come in while I was there and, interestingly, they were all men. Their interactions seemed sort of off to me. Everyone was just a little too flirty and familiar. Sometime around Man #4, I had a disturbing feeling that I knew why this place seemed so strange. It wasn’t the funky smell or the weird decorations. We’d apparently stumbled upon the kind of massage parlor that caters to those wanting . . . uhh . . . release at the completion of the massage; a “happy ending,” if you will. It was all beginning to make sense.

At the end of my massage the masseur did the karate chop move–which I didn’t know was really a thing. I thought that only happened in the movies, so I was very confused. But there I was, getting chopped by this tiny woman, in this strange, little pink room in Seattle.

Just when I thought it was over (and, frankly, that it couldn’t get any weirder), she picked up my feet and let them fall to the table. Uh, okay, that was weird. Then she picked them up and let them fall again. What the actual f*ck is happening right now? When she did it a third time I couldn’t hold in my laughter any longer. What was she doing?! It was too much. When I laughed she sort of giggled, and said something I didn’t understand, before telling me to go ahead and get dressed on her way out the door.IMG_3972

I was still befuddled and cracking up when I walked into the lobby and saw Lindsey, who looked like she’d also had quite an interesting experience, waiting for me in one of the chairs. We were given little Chinese mints and sent on our way to ponder what had just happened. We both concluded we had come across an establishment better suited to men with a fetish, but we did feel relaxed, and we couldn’t stop laughing, so all in all it was a positive (albeit bizarre) experience.

It was late afternoon by then, but we still had some time to kill before finding a place for dinner and heading to the airport. We wanted to be outside. It was a beautiful day; our last few hours in the Pacific Northwest. Being inside wasn’t an option. We looked at our map to see what was nearby and found a park at a place called Cougar Mountain. It sort of seemed like destiny.IMG_3985

Cougar Mountain turned out to be mostly residential: beautiful, newer neighborhoods of modestly sized, charming houses on quiet, hilly streets. We parked the car and went for a walk on a short trail, then sat down to kill some time in the pavilion at the trailhead.

As we sat at the picnic table we were so full of gratitude and joy. We’d spent two weeks hiking on volcanoes and mountains, through ancient forests and along the ocean. We’d fallen in love with Washington, with backpacking, and rediscovered why we’d been best friends for a decade. It had been one of the most incredible experiences either one of us had ever had.

This trip transformed me. It’s much easier to get clarity and perspective when you completely disconnect from all the distractions of everyday life: work, family, social media, current events; it all makes the world seem so loud. Leaving it all behind, getting out into the peacefulness of nature for that long, is a truly therapeutic experience. My mind was clear and focused, and I felt an inner peace I’d forgotten was even attainable. It was like all the mental clutter had been washed away.

You know when you clean your house really well, light some candles, pour a glass of wine and put your feet up to admire your work (moms are less familiar with this phenomenon, but I promise you’ll get there)? The laundry is caught up, the bills are paid, the kitchen is full of groceries, and you get to just relax for a minute. That’s how my mind felt: simplified, organized, focused.

As sad as I was to leave, I felt centered. I went home knowing that travel would become a bigger part of my life. I started looking up new hiking trails, places I wanted to explore. Forest bathing is everything it’s cracked up to be, like spring cleaning for the soul. We knew this was only the beginning of our travels, and we couldn’t wait for our next Ladycation!

Huge thank you going out to everyone who’s stuck with me though this whole adventure. I value and appreciate each and every one of you. Though Lindsey and I’s Bestieversarycation has come to an end, I hope you’ll keep coming back for future Ladycation adventures. Next week begins the tale of my 40th birthday adventure trip: Arizona and the Grand Canyon! Stay chill and keep hiking, my friends!

~Steph

Seattle, The Last Hurrah: The Night Kevin Thought He Was Getting Lucky

Leaving Mount Rainier National Park was bittersweet. Though our bodies were fatigued from all our wilderness adventures, we’d loved every minute of it, and knowing our Ladycation was coming to an end was a little depressing.

Despite Lindsey’s blisters, the hike down the mountain went pretty quickly. All downhill this time, it took half as long as going up. And, as an added bonus, the view was improved by two incredibly sexy man-hikers we came upon, who were on their way up the mountain. We chatted with them for a couple minutes, and after what ended up being some very odd flirting that started to feel a little weird, we decided to move on. Sexiness only gets you so far, gentlemen. We continued on our way, made it to the car, and drove back to civilization.IMG_3856

We stopped at a little burger joint in Ashford, just outside the park for lunch, where we devoured our food before driving back to Seattle where we had a hotel room for our last night in Washington. Once we got checked in, our first order of business was to shower. Nothing beats that first shower after days in the wilderness. After we’d gotten clean and fresh it was time to get fancy and go out on the town. Lindsey and I’s ladycations are such a good representation of who we are: strong, beautiful, and active; dirty, natural, real, and sassy; occasionally fancy.

I don’t know about you, but I’m a lot more social when I’m on vacation than I am when I’m at home. I just like people more when I’m on vacay. A perfect example of this would be a trip I recently made to the gas station to get a pack of smokes. That’s all I wanted. I didn’t want to leave my house at all, but addiction’s a bitch, so I put my big girl pants on and got in the car. Once I got there an old, toothless, drunk woman in front of me in line wouldn’t stop talking. I assume it was a misguided attempt to seem sober (something she most definitely was not), but I really just wanted to get my smokes without having any actual human interaction.

This dirty, old, hot mess of a woman was talking the cashier’s ear off about her mother who’d died of brain cancer (9 years ago). “They gave her 2 months, she lived 2 years—and I mean she was up and walkin’ around, ya know? She was good. Those doctors don’t know anything.” I felt so bad for the cashier, who looked like she was in her own personal hell, but all I wanted to do was pay for my smokes and go home. Instead, this lady kept looking back at me while she talked, like she wanted to let me in on their conversation. No thanks, hard pass. I did everything I could to ignore her, including staring at the candy bars (I don’t even like candy bars) like I was trying to eat them with my eyes. I would’ve bought the whole damn rack of ’em to keep from talking to that broad.IMG_3861

Had I been on vacation, however, I would’ve had a much different reaction. Generally, I’m in a better mood when I’m traveling. If a stranger tries to talk to me while I’m in a new city, I jump at the chance. It’s a part of the experience. I should probably try to live everyday that way, but Cleveland. . .

We had dinner reservations at The Pink Door, and figured we’d just play it by ear after that. We arrived at the restaurant in an Uber whose driver dropped us off right by the door, despite there not being an actual street there, but an alley that was strictly for, and crawling with pedestrians. We certainly know how to make an entrance. After ordering a cocktail at the bar, we were seated on their outdoor patio. Although we were disappointed that we didn’t get to see the burlesque show, the food, atmosphere and service were perfecto.IMG_3869

Lindsey had heard from some friends about a bar at Pike Place Market, nearby the restaurant, so we walked over to check it out. Il Bistro is an easy-to-miss spot right outside the entrance to the market, sort of underneath it. It has a hip, almost speakeasy feel to it. Though they serve food, which we were told is fantastic, we arrived too late to order, and were still full from dinner anyway. We just wanted to get our drink on.

Once we sat at the bar the cute, young bartender came over for our drink orders. He was tall, sexy, and gave off a hip vibe that befit the establishment he was slinging drinks for. He just seemed to somehow go with the place. He was charming and gracious, no doubt because he knows that flirting is the best way to elicit tips from drunk women. I told him to make me something sweet, that I liked strawberry, and I have no idea what he made me, or what was in it, but it was freaking delicious, and very strong. He’s like the Walter White of bartenders: an artist.IMG_3877

There were all sorts of people in the bar. Because we were on vacation, and also because we were drunk by this point, we started chatting up the people around us. Lindsey was talking music with a guy in a baseball cap with a flat rim, and I got to know the couple next to me, Dirk and Andrew. We chatted and laughed and drank for hours with our new friends; Dapper Dan, smooth as hell, moving behind the bar like some sort of bartending ballerina (minus the tights). Lindsey wanted her drink carbonated and voila, Dan made it so. It felt like we were at the center of the activity, like our vibes were drawing people to us. We were having a fabulous time.IMG_3892

I noticed an attractive man sitting alone at a table near the bar. He was well dressed, in his late 30’s, with dark, salt and pepper hair, and a beard. We made eye contact a few times before I went over and sat down at his table. I’m not sure if he wanted that or not, but I’d had enough of Dan’s cocktails to not particularly care. I had become the drunk old woman in the gas station. Those in glass houses. . .

I introduced myself. He said his name was Kevin, that he’d just gotten off work, and wanted to have a nightcap before heading home. When I asked him what he did for a living and he told me he was a wine sommelier I decided meeting him was fate. I love wine, he knows wine. Destiny.IMG_3874

I chatted with Kevin for a while while Lindsey chatted with some of the other bar patrons until the bar was closing, and it looked like our night had to end. But we were still enjoying ourselves so we decided to simply move the party elsewhere.

We’d heard from one of the people in the bar about the Great Gum Wall of Seattle that was literally right around the corner. How I’d not read about it during my research is a mystery. Obviously we had to see it, so Kevin walked us there and Lindsey and I each added a piece of gum to the collection. At the time, we found it hysterically entertaining (in Cleveland I would’ve simply found it disgusting).IMG_3915

We’d planned on taking an Uber back to the hotel, but Kevin offered to give us a ride, and we were more than happy to take him up on it. I’m not 100% sure what Kevin’s expectations were, but going back to a hotel with two drunk women. . . I can guess. And although this guy was totally sexy, and my occasional irrational optimism causes me never to travel without condoms, once we got to the hotel, it just seemed weird.

Neither Lindsey or myself had any interest in getting nekkid, we were only interested in going to sleep. We hung out for maybe half an hour. We talked a little bit and smoked some weed, but without the noise and energy of the bar (and with our buzz fading), we were sort of ready to just go to bed. Being in that hotel room, staring at the empty beds, may potentially have put Kevin in the mood to get freaky, but we were looking at the beds like, I want to be so up in you. . . Alone.

Poor Kevin. He probably thought he was about to have a threesome, but ended up going home without so much as a peek at our boobs to put in his spank bank. Sorry not sorry, Kev, but thanks for the ride home and for being a gentleman. Despite his probable disappointment, it was a great memory to take home from our last night in Washington.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you’ll come back again next week for LadycationSunday when Lindsey and I’s adventure concludes. Hint: It has a happy ending.

Follow Ladycations to stay up to date on my latest trips, tips, and tales. Stay chill and keep hiking, my friends!

~Steph

Sleepless In Seattle: Tale of the Two Tired Tourists

By the time we left Winston House for some Seattle tourist stops I’d been up since 3:00pm (Seattle time) the previous day, 27 hours ago. I’m pretty sure the only thing keeping us going was adrenaline and sheer determination. A wise person would’ve called it a night. Call us fools, cause off we went to traipse all over the city.

Nirvana, Kurt Cobain's house in Seattle, Washington
Selfie outside Kurt Cobain’s former home.

Our first stop was the former home of the talented and tormented Nirvana front man, Kurt Cobain. It’s located in an upscale neighborhood, on a tree lined street that twists and turns past mansions with iron gates, and overlooks Puget Sound. The house itself is mostly obscured from view by trees and a tall fence that’s crawling with shrubbery. I can’t imagine living in a house you know will be gawked at by throngs of 90’s grunge fans. Maybe they’re Nirvana groupies.

The garage where Kurt ended his life has since been demolished. Near where it once stood is a memorial of sorts. Up on a hill, next to an old, tall tree, sits a single bench. I remember standing there and thinking that the whole place seemed to capture exactly who Kurt had been. It was picturesque, quiet under the embrace of the tree. The bench was covered in graffiti, poems and notes of sorrow and gratitude, half smoked joints and empty cigarette packs, the remains of burned out candles and long dead flowers. It was beautiful and messy; chaotic, anguished, yet filled with a simple kind of sweetness.

Our next destination was strictly for me and was a total nerd-out moment: the home used for the exterior shots of Meredith Grey’s house in the first season of Grey’s Anatomy. I love that show. And yes, I still watch it, so I was pretty stoked. We didn’t stay long, just long enough to take a couple selfies while I geeked out a bit before moving on in our explorations.

Kerry Park is a popular stop for tourists and is only a few blocks from the Grey’s house. The park is small, more of an observation area with a sculpture than a park, but the view was spectacular. High above the city, the park looks out over downtown and the Space Needle as well as Puget Sound. On clear days, which unfortunately, that day was not, you can even see Mount Rainier in the distance. But, with the smoke coming down from the wildfires burning north of the border in Canada, the entire western half of the state was blanketed in a haze.

We sat down and watched the ferry boats coming in and out of the city, taking some pictures and realizing how extraordinarily tired we were. The sleep deprivation was catching up with us hard and fast.

We needed to get moving so we left for dinner. We thought we’d have enough time to explore the downtown area before heading to the restaurant, and were counting on the walk waking us up a bit. Our reservations were at Matt’s in the Market which is downtown in Pike Place Market. I’d read Pike Place was a must-see when visiting Seattle and Matt’s had received stellar reviews. It was one of two dinner reservations I’d made for our trip, the other being for the final night. Somehow I’d convinced myself that our reservations at Matt’s were at 9:00 when, in fact, that was the time for our other reservation. I didn’t realize that until the restaurant was calling and asking if we were planning to show up for our 7:30 dinner slot.

No longer able to do any exploring, we drove downtown and parked at The Market right around the corner from the restaurant. However, despite the GPS telling us we had arrived, we couldn’t find it to save our lives. There are alleys and buildings on several levels all over the place and we couldn’t figure out which one housed Matt’s. We were feeling all kinds of embarrassed when we called the restaurant to tell them we were lost. The hostess looked out the window and saw us standing there, looking confused, and graciously directed us to their door.

The restaurant is in a renovated warehouse. It had high ceilings and large windows overlooking the market. It smelled incredible when we walked in and we probably would’ve been gushing about it had we not been borderline comatose from exhaustion.

We sat at a table by a window and struggled to make conversation throughout the whole dinner. We tried, but our brains were working so slowly that just absorbing the words the other person was saying was hard, and it didn’t leave any energy for translating the words’ meaning. Our bodies were shutting down and we had to fight just to keep our eyes open. I can’t even imagine what we must’ve looked like to onlookers. A lesbian couple who got in a fight on the way to the restaurant? Dawn of the Dead? Two terminally ill women eating their last meal? Not exactly the life of the party, that’s for sure. I was too tired to even drink.

The food was exquisite. We ordered the cheese platter as an appetizer, and my entree was an expertly prepared filet mignon that practically melted in my mouth. Unfortunately I was too tired to fully appreciate it and couldn’t stop thinking about that hot tub waiting for us back at Winston House. I wanted to savor every bite, but instead found myself scarfing it down in order to be finished and “home” quicker. I just wanted someone to come carry me to the car, drive me home and tuck me in. I felt a little guilty wasting such a delicious meal on someone who could barely taste her food because her taste buds had gone night night.

We didn’t stay in the hot tub for long after we got back. We were afraid we’d pass out in there and drown, so we only stayed in long enough to smoke a little indica and let the water soothe our achy, fatigued bodies. It was the most perfect way imaginable to end our first day of Ladycation. When we did finally crawl into bed that night we were out within seconds of our heads hitting the pillow. We had to rest up for our next adventure: kayaking the San Juan Islands.

Dispensaries and The Winston House: 420 Friendly Seattle

We made it! There are no words to describe how happy we were to finally have arrived in Seattle. We were already over an hour behind schedule when we landed. We had sights to see and dinner reservations that night, but before heading to our Airbnb to freshen up we had some serious business to attend to: cannabis dispensaries. I’d made a list of places to go while we were in town, the first of which being the closest to the airport. We plugged the address into the GPS and were there in less than 20 minutes.

Being a connoisseur of the devil’s lettuce who doesn’t live in a state with recreational cannabis laws, walking into a dispensary is like walking into a dream. We opened the doors and the aroma washed over us like a green wave, every pore in our bodies could smell it. It’s a little overwhelming, as a newbie, to have so many choices, but once I’d experienced it, going back to clandestine exchanges seems unfathomable and ridiculous.

On our way to our second dispensary stop, Dockside Cannabis, our AirBnb host, Sebastian, was texting with Lindsey. Turns out, he was already going to recommend we go to Dockside, and even had a coupon for us to receive 20% off. A weed coupon?! We didn’t even know that was even a thing. Sebastian sent us a picture of the coupon so we could use it when we stopped and we were all set.

There’s a reason both he and the internet recommended Dockside: it’s amazing. Not only is the selection one of the best you’ll find, but the prices are competitive and the staff is both knowledgeable and friendly. We spent over half an hour perusing their selection and asking questions about the various products and strains before making our purchase and heading to our accommodation—where we would learn the quality was also top notch.

Mary Jane
My goodies from Dockside Cannabis.

The Winston House is located in the Beacon Hill neighborhood of Seattle. Nestled on quiet, dead end street, the unassuming house is more than it seems when you pull in the driveway. We followed the path around the back of the house to our room’s private entrance, off the large deck. The deck, surrounded by grapevines and encompassing a large tree that towers over the property, has a table and chairs and a salt water hot tub that make it the perfect place to unwind after an adventurous day.

We stepped into our room and were utterly delighted. It was well appointed with a king size bed, desk, mini fridge, microwave and large, private bathroom with a luxurious double shower. We were blown away. It was so much more wonderful than we expected!

Once we settled in we went out to the sit on the deck and sample some of the greenery we’d purchased. We sat at the little table next to the hot tub, admiring the grapevines and the property beyond. A little while after we lit up a pre-rolled sativa joint, our host and his friend, Hannah Rose, came outside on the balcony above and greeted us. Sebastian was just as wonderful as we knew he’d be. Gracious and welcoming, full of helpful hints for navigating Seattle and its many attractions, and willing to help make our stay perfect in any way he could.

Hanna Rose was absolutely delightful. She was naturally beautiful, intelligent, free spirited, kinda whimsical, and seemed to emit a bright, positive energy. She was doing yoga stretches and asking us about our plans for the trip while we relaxed in Sebastian’s backyard oasis. She was charming. It was one of those times when we immediately felt a connection, like we were kindred spirits, with this random new person. Obviously, we were high, so that may have been contributing to the experience, but that doesn’t diminish the loveliness of Hannah Rose.

It was a hot August day in Seattle and we were getting pretty sweating. Our new friend had just the solution: a water pitcher dumped down our chests and the backs of our necks. It sounds strange, I know, we had a moment of, “uh, what?” but that cold water trickling down our bodies was invigorating.

Eventually Hanna Rose went back upstairs and left Lindsey and I to contemplate the rest of our evening. We were still sitting at the table when Sebastian came down and went into a small room on the back of the house. He came back out and over to the table to chat. We’d been conversing for a few minutes when he finally looked at me and said, “Sweetie, I’m sorry, I’m totally gay so don’t be embarrassed, but the snap on your dress is undone and your boob is out.” I looked down and confirmed that yes, my boob was, in fact, just hanging out for all the world to see (I mean, it was covered by my bra, but still). I’m one classy broad.

After we all had a good laugh at my wardrobe malfunction we got to talking about what Sebastian was doing in the mystery room. Turns out, he’s an alchemist. Lindsey was ecstatic, that’s right up her alley.

He took us into his workshop to show us what he was working on. It was a small room filled with beakers, hoses, vats and other sciencey stuff. It looked like some crazy, Breaking Bad type of thing, like Jesse Pinkman’s basement. It was actually a lot more innocuous than that: he was extracting the scent from lavender (I think) to be put in essential oils. His extraction process involved using methyl alcohol and the smell was overpowering. It felt like the fumes were seeping into my system through my skin and getting me high(er). I had to step outside for some air pretty quickly. Very cool to see that process in action, though, it was fascinating. We were honored that Sebastian shared it with us. It’s amazing how a boob slip can bring people together.

We freshened up and decided to explore the rest of Sebastian’s place before leaving for dinner. Through the door in our room that connected to the rest of the house we were led to a hallway. There was another guest room and laundry, along with a spiral staircase that led upstairs to the main floor of his home. We walked up the stairs, admiring the stained glass windows, and emerged in the kitchen; a large, open room with an island and separate eating area that opens onto the balcony. To the right was the living room with its vaulted ceilings, wood burning stove, and comfy couches.

Sebastian’s style is eclectic and bohemian. There is so much to look at in his home, from the books to the collection of pipes, bongs and vapes, the art and antiques, the entire place is interesting and fun.

Knowing what an incredible place we had to come back to made going out even better. Sebastian left everything we could’ve needed for our stay, even picking up a case of La Croix for Lindsey. We were so grateful for our time at Winston House. I will definitely stay there again on my next trip to Seattle.

Our Adventure Begins: How It Almost Didn’t Happen

The big day had finally arrived! After months of research, planning and anticipation, Ladycation 2017 was finally about to begin. Since 2017 marked my best friend, Lindsey, and I’s 10th year of friendship, we called this trip our “Bestieversarycation.”

Our flight departed at 6:30am, which meant a very early start to the day. We figured the chances were pretty slim that we’d be able to fall asleep early enough to be up by 3am so we went a different route. We napped the afternoon before our flight and stayed up all night, hoping to catch a nap on the plane. I worked third shift so it was my regular routine. Midnight was my noon. Lindsey, however, was used to normal person hours. I was amazed by her ability to rally.

Another reason I wanted to stay up was that once we returned from our Bestieversarycation, my life would be dramatically different. My daughter was leaving for her own adventure: college. So we planned a ladies’ (and one uncle) night at my place the night before our flight. That night will always be a special memory. We laughed, we cried, we reminisced. There was a lot of love in my house.

Last Night With Liv
Quality time with my beautiful, bright, driven and hilarious daughter, Olivia, before she left for college.

Leaving my daughter behind, I cried pretty much all the way to the airport. It was such a mix of emotions; excitement for our trip, anticipating all the experiences my daughter was about to have, anxiety over her being so far from home, and the mix of sadness and pride that accompanies your baby growing up and leaving the nest. To be honest, I don’t know how parents have been doing it for thousands of years, cause if I hadn’t been preoccupied with going on vacation I would’ve locked myself in the house for a week and done nothing but cry, eat my feelings and drink an exorbitant amount of wine.

We arrived at the airport around 4:45 and were immediately struck by the long line at check-in. It made us nervous, but not as nervous as the TSA line. It seemed endless, as if it wasn’t even moving. We watched the minutes tick by as we inched, oh so slowly, towards the body scanners and X-Ray machines. It felt like we were in slow motion.

Finally, after waiting seemingly for an eternity (I’m nothing if not melodramatic), we made it. Or so we thought… I went through the body scanner and, of course, my crotch set off the alarms. Why is it always the crotch? I don’t have anything out of the ordinary in that area, I assure you, but every damn time I go through that machine my crotch lights up like Vegas and I get an up close and personal encounter with a TSA agent. Every. Single. Time.

Between the long lines and my uncomfortable TSA groping we were running short on time. I went to grab my bag and put my shoes back on so we could run to the gate. No such luck. My bag was being taken by TSA for inspection. Of course. Our departure time was quickly approaching and here we were, stuck watching this man go through every single thing in my suitcase with painstaking scrutiny. It was my half ounce bottle of dish detergent, apparently, that looked nefarious, “Looked a lot bigger” on the X-ray, he said. I could not roll my eyes hard enough. Finally, we were cleared. I slipped on my flip flops, grabbed my suitcase and we literally ran all the way to the gate.

When the gate agent saw us running towards her she told us to slow down, we’d already missed our flight.

Traveling Besties
Making the most of our four hour delay by day-drinking at the airport bar.

I don’t even think I can list all the various emotions running through me at that moment. I was angry, felt sadness bordering on despair, was scared we wouldn’t be able to re-book, and was nervous about the time crunch this would put us in when/if we did get there. I was really trying hard not to do what I usually do when things don’t go as planned: throw a tantrum. But I was only partially successful. Though less than courteous to the gate agent who was (thankfully) able to get us re-booked on another flight, I didn’t verbally (or physically) assault anyone so I’m calling it a win. Unfortunately, we had four hours to spend in the airport until our new flight took off, so we did what any grown-ass women would do: we hit up the airport bar. We weren’t in Washington, but we were on vacation. Cocktails at 7am? Yes, please, and keep ’em coming.

Our newly booked flight’s layover on the way to Seattle was in Minneapolis and was considerably shorter than our original flight’s layover had been. That wouldn’t have been a problem except that the flight from Cleveland to Minneapolis and the flight from Minneapolis to Seattle were on opposite ends of the airport, and in completely different terminals. We were cutting it way too close for two women who’d just missed a flight.

Since our plane from Cleveland to Minneapolis was smaller than the plane we were originally supposed to take I had to check my carry-on at the gate. When we landed that meant waiting for them to bring it up from the belly of the plane. We had exactly 20 minutes until they ended boarding our plane to Seattle so, while I waited for my bag, Lindsey ran ahead to beg them not to leave without me.

Just The Tip
Mount Rainier’s peak was playing peekaboo above the forest fire smoke that blanketed Washington on our arrival.

The minute they finally brought up my bag I was off… and all out booking it. You know in the movies when you see people barreling through the airport, knocking people over and jumping over obstacles to catch their flight? That’s what I felt like. I could almost hear the dramatic music in my head. I was glad I’d taken up running the previous year so I was up to the task, but I was desperately regretting my choice of footwear. Do you know how hard it is to run like the wind while simultaneously trying not to let your flip flops fall off your feet? It’s a miracle no one was injured. And I made it to the gate with both my shoes.

When I arrived at the gate I saw that I could’ve slowed my roll a bit. The line to board the aircraft looked like the TSA line in Cleveland. I hadn’t missed it! We boarded the plane for the final leg of our journey to the Pacific Northwest, which, thankfully, was considerably smoother than its beginning.

Be sure to read what happened when we landed in the next installment!