Thursday, December 19, 2013

Under the Wings in Seattle

I groaned when Karen announced her flight from Seattle to Iowa would leave at 6:50 AM.  She had the direct route  -- similar to my attempts to draw a straight line -- Seattle to Los Angeles.  Change planes.  Los Angeles to Minneapolis.  Change planes.  Minneapolis to Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  But then I remembered it took Lewis and Clark a few more hours to make a similar trek and they didn't get to see the lights of LA en route.

So, on Mandy's suggestion we booked a room near the airport through Airbnb.  We got an unbelievable rate (the low side) and Mandy (who lives in Seattle) could sleep in that morning.

Airbnbs are rooms that homeowners rent out to travelers.  We wanted to be close enough to SEATAC so I wouldn't get lost on the way and airport proximity this one had.  I could almost near the pilot tell the flight attendants to take their seats as each landing jet passed overhead.  Did it have to be so noisy?  Obviously the problem was the room window was open.  I'd just close it and...  OK, Don, you can do this.  You've closed a significant number of windows in your lifetime so this shouldn't be an issue.  But, what do you grasp to pull the window inwards.  Seconds ticked by, then minutes, more minutes.  Then I did the unthinkable.  I called for reinforcements.  KAREN!  Alas, we could not pull the window to the latch.  Finally I noticed the closing apparatus sitting in a nearby pile.  Surely, the home owners would know a way when they came home.  Eventually we gave up waiting for them and spent a restless night uner the wings of the big jets.

At least we could be clean while we lay awake.  We'd take showers.  There we discovered another quirk about this Airbnb.  The glass door at the bottom of the shower stall had some sort of "I won't" pact with the window.  It wouldn't seal -- meaning more than a few drops made their escape onto the slanting floor of the room.  Now when I entered the bathroom I did not make a full assessment of the living conditions.  There were hooks on the back of the door, but as Karen will attest, I couldn't find a jar of jam in a refrigerator even if it contained nothing but a case of them.  So, of  course finding the hooks was way beyond my skill level.  Thus, I laid my clothes on the floor downstream from the shower stall.  Remember I said the floor sloped.  Also remember I said more than a few drops escaped the stall.  I'm just glad no one saw me walking around with that large water stain in such a strategic location.

Six fifty doesn't sound bad until you take into consideration that half the planes departing Seattle on any day schedule their departures within three minutes of six fifty.  That translates into long lines as TSA inspectors check everyone's shoes for unpleasant odors.  We decided to cut it short and shoot for getting Karen to the airport somewhere around 5:15.  It was an easy run -- hardly a car on the road until we reached the approach to the airport.  Aaacckk.  Four lanes of cars in the dark, every one knowing exactly where they were going -- all timed to the last millisecond to get dropped off -- all racing at 70 mph while I poked along at 25 desperately reading lane signs, each seemingly hovering over the line between two lanes -- arrivals, departures, rental car returns, lost drivers -- walls of cars darting off one exit to be replaced by another wall entering on another ramp while those racing cars weaved around me like a spider encasing a fly in it's web.  Driving this route in the dark at 5:15 AM must be a requirement for the designers of video games.

The fact that you're reading this is proof that I survived although I wasn’t exactly in control of the situation.  Once again my Guardian Angel had to take the reins.  Next time Karen can add one more flight to her itinerary -- perhaps one originating in Coldfoot, Alaska.

Lacking any photos from this portion of our road trip, this seems like a good time to add images of several of the paintings I completed at Cape Meares, Oregon and Olympic National Park in Washington.  I didn't post them earlier due to the large number or irresistible photos Karen took during these segments of our trip.

                          Cape Meares  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel

                Cape Meares Shoreline  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel

On several different mornings I wandered from the cluster of houses and vacation rentals marked on Google Maps as Cape Meares -- down to the long sandy beach on the north side of actual cape.  Warm shirt-sleeve temperatures, the roar of the surf with waves racing up the beach only to ebb before reaching the logs on which I sat while painting these images -- I can't imagine a better way to start a new day.

                             Cheese Country  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel

Before driving to Cape Meares, Karen and I were told the drive between nearby Tillamook (famous for it's cheeses) and Portland was a beautiful route.  In the end, we opted to travel along the coast, but on one day I set out to spend a few hours painting at least one canvas along that route.  Much to my dismay, I immediately ran into construction with a flagger ahead.  Not known for a lot of patience in these situations, I set off on a side road.  Sure enough, a pasture framed by a low mountain (by Alaska standards) caught my eye.  I did take one liberty with this one, though.  I moved the barns.  I didn't think the cows would mind.

                         Wild Water at Rialto  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel

Onward from Oregon, Karen and I drove north to Rialto Beach, near Forks, Washington and part of Olympic National Park.  There, a steeper beach seemed wilder, the driftwood more massive and piled higher.  It's one of our favorite beaches.

                             Along the Hoh  9 x 12 inches  Alkyd on Raymar Panel

Karen knew I wanted to paint in the Hoh Rainforest in Olympic National Park, yet she has vertigo and gazing skyward at enormous old-growth trees would be her undoing.  So, bless her heart, she insisted she wanted a day of down time lazing around our B and B, Manitou Lodge, while I fulfilled my longing.  It rained most of the way to the Hoh, then quit and bathed the forest in sunshine as I drove into the Park.  However, it took me awhile to find a suitable location.  I'm a shy painter and try to avoid places where I'll be discovered.  The Park road is narrow with virtually no shoulders.  Most pull offs had multiple parking lanes, even though cars were few and far between.  I kept hunting -- until I found one track where I could pull off the road, wander into the forest and set up.  I couldn't have been more content although the sun disappeared shortly after I set up my easel.  Still, the rains remained a bay until literally the moment I returned to the car to head home.  And then it just plain poured.  Nice timing, I'd say.


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