Looking For Quacks In The Pavement

Planes. Trains. No automobiles.

I ignore this journal for weeks on end, and then I decide to post an epic. Go figure, eh?

The Kaseya road show event was scheduled for Tuesday morning, 8 o’clock sharp. My boss, John, gave me the go-ahead to register several weeks ago, then decided he’d attend as well. The debate about possible transportation methods went back and forth from driving up the night before, to flying, to taking the train, back to driving, then driving up the morning of the event, then back and forth some more.

Come Sunday night, John sent me a text advising me to come to work Monday packed for a drive up after close of business. Okay, sure, I packed my bag. When 5 o’clock rolled around, John came by the office to pick me up.

What we did not do, however, was make way to I-5 for a three-hour drive north. Oh, no. Instead, we pulled into Hillsboro airport and rolled out the Cessna two-seater he’s been flying around in lately.

Those of you who know me well are guessing at the panic levels I started wrestling with at that precise moment. But… I’m a grown-up, right? (Right? Okay, you, over there… stop laughing. I mean it! Don’t make me come over there!) And this is a perfectly safe and expedient way to get from city to city. You bet.

Thing is, John had looked at the weather reports and decided that things would be plenty clear enough to go up Monday evening and come back Tuesday afternoon. No worries! So he had the plane fueled up, went through the preflight checks, fired up the bird and got us into the air.

Oddly enough, I was only white-knuckled for about the first quarter hour. (“I’m in a tin can, thousands of feet above the ground, and there’s NOTHING UNDERNEATH ME AUUUGH!”) After that it became kind of fun to listen to the radio chatter and try to spot the company we were keeping up there. Mental discipline was involved, yes, in deliberately not thinking about certain panic-inducing facts. And, let’s face it, the view is gorgeous on a partly cloudy summer evening while flying over the Pacific Northwest. I even managed to snap a few pictures, though the propeller was a bit of a nuisance at first. Eventually I got a shot out of the side window that I was somewhat happy with:

That’s the Tacoma Narrows, new bridge and old, from a bit more than 3,000 feet up and some distance away. A while after this, we made a rather entertaining landing at Boeing Field (oh my, but those little planes can turn on a dime if you stand them on one wingtip in the air…) and wandered off toward downtown Seattle.

Via public transit. See, John wanted an adventure. (And wanted to avoid paying parking fees. And dealing with traffic.) So he chose the Seattle-area “Metro” system as his inauguration to the wonderful world of riding the bus hither and yon. Yes, as expected, we ended up with a half-drunk and mostly-loony shift-worker across the aisle from us. “Whoah!” “Wow!” “Whee!” every few minutes… I’m glad it was a relatively short trip to downtown, is what I’m saying.

Now, I like to walk. John likes to walk even more than I do, apparently, because he had no problem hiking about a mile each way to and from our dinner destination, Daniel’s Broiler on Lake Union. (Steak, $40. Blue cheese topping for said steak, $5. I shudder to think what his glass of wine cost.) The hike back burned off some of those calories at any rate. Besides, the weather remained utterly gorgeous and we looked forward to the prospect of a nice conference the next day and a quick flight home afterward.

Naturally, then, the next morning I woke to rain going sideways outside the hotel window.

Oh, and the hotel hosting the Kaseya event? About ten blocks away from our hotel. Through that sideways rain, of course, and forget using the umbrella or the hood of my jacket… it was nice, I quipped later, of Seattle to make sure I bathed an extra time that morning.

I’m grateful to the Kaseya folks for feeding me breakfast and lunch. Also, they put on a good presentation and I’m quite excited about some of the new toys I’ll be getting my hands on. In October. No, really, in October. We know this because Gerald Blackie made a humorous point of answering all release-date questions with those two words. (I want the Enterprise Monitoring module in the worst way, I tell you.) I learned a couple of new tricks for scripting as well. Win-win all around, really.

For the entire duration of the event, however, my eye kept wandering to the very large tree blowing around wildly in the lousy weather just outside the window. This was not flying weather. After some debate, John decided to see if we could snag a seat for me on the next Amtrak Cascades train heading to Portland. (He’d be staying an extra day so as to fly the plane back to Hillsboro where it belongs.) It would be very last-minute, thus something of a gamble, but as it was mid-week I figured it a reasonable chance to take.

So at about ten ’til 2pm we entered King Street Station, which has apparently been under reconstruction since shortly after the turn of the century. The 20th century. (Still, guys? Really?) We were just in time for what should’ve been the 2:20pm run, which was “about half an hour behind schedule” at the time. John procured me a ticket and said his goodbyes, then I sat down to wait for the boarding-pass cattle-call.

I didn’t wait long. Only a few minutes after I sat down, they announced that boarding passes would be handed out starting at about twenty minutes past 2pm. Nearly half an hour, mind you, but the huddled masses must have been yearning quite a bit because the line formed quickly. Not wanting to end up with a truly lousy seat, and taking in the vast hordes involved, I quickly got myself standing in line. I figured I’d be there for twenty minutes or so, then I’d get my pass and sit back down again or be boarding soon after.

No. Oh, no.

I didn’t move from an 8-foot-by-8-foot portion of the floor for an entire hour. And that was just to get the boarding pass, which they didn’t start handing out until nearly 3:15. The train itself didn’t depart until quarter ’til 4pm, almost 90 minutes late. (This didn’t endear Amtrak to me or to the lovely Kylanath who’d agreed to meet me at the Portland end of this journey.) Never mind that I got stuck in the car with every last one of the antsy rugrats in the entire train. Hey, this is what headphones are for… and I’ve got to plug the Sansa Fuze 4GB music player, because: Finest portable player I’ve owned yet. 800 songs, Ogg Vorbis friendly, a good randomizer, and it just kept on playing and playing for all four hours of the trip. Yes, we didn’t pull into Portland until 7:45pm.

Along the way, however, I couldn’t resist the urge to take this picture:

That’s the same bridge as before, but this time at mere feet above sea level… three thousand feet below where I was the day before. I’m a sucker for these bookending events, what can I say?

At any rate… Kylanath met me in Portland, we scampered to (barely) catch a bus out of downtown, she fed me Japanese food and then we wandered home to sleep. Adventure, complete.


  1. Spud

    …I hear that tale of woe, and the first thing that crosses my mind is: “You were in Seattle? Dude!”

    • GreyDuck

      Had we but driven an automobile, I’d have been all over the “Hey, can we swing through Redmond…?” Sorry, man.

  2. Lil

    Two-seater airplane? NOT OKAY! I’m leery enough of trusting commercial airline pilots with my physical safety. And after this weekend, the next time I get on a plane of any size, there will be tranquilizers involved. (Not because of the pilot, but the passengers. Grrr.)

  3. Sis

    wow i can’t believe you did that. I’m so proud (having landed on a moving aircraft carrier) I feel like my big bro is growing up 🙂 I miss you guys 🙁

    • GreyDuck

      Landing on a carrier, NO THANK YOU. *grin*

      • Sis

        but wait, it gets better. I landed on the carrier 2x and was launched off once. Way better then a roller coaster ride.

        • GreyDuck

          See, I don’t /like/ rollercoasters. *grin*

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