Dennis picked us up in Mazama, Washington. He was driving all the way to Burlington, where we were planning on going anyway. We would be catching a shuttle to the Sea-Tac airport from there. How convenient! We rode along with Dennis for the next few hours...
Dennis shared stories with us of dancing the lambada and salsa in the night clubs and of his travels to over 40 countries. All of these stories were very interesting, but I couldn't help but notice how he tended to say, "Long story short," excessively. I found myself keeping track of each instance. Between naps, I believe I counted the phrase about 57 times! It was probably closer to 100 times though because I dozed off quite a bit! To this day I can't hear that phrase or say it without cringing!
|A sign outside a gas station. Convincing? Even the smallest town's convenience store tries to use sex to sell.|
Long story short, Dennis brought us right to the front door of Bellair Charters in Burlington, Washington. We bought tickets and waited a half hour for the bus to arrive. Then we boarded and were off for Seattle!
The shuttle brought us directly to Sea-Tac airport. We had a flight out of there early the next morning. A woman departing the airport, named Elise, let us use her phone to call Dick. Then we found our way to the SoundTransit light rail station. We rode this for 10 minutes into Seattle, watching the sunset, until we reached the station near Dick's place.
We got off at our stop and walked up the street to Dick's. He greeted us along the way and joined us for the last couple of blocks until we reached his house. Inside we met his wife, Mona. They directed us to the guest room and then we decided to have dinner. Mona stayed behind, feeling tired and ready for bed. She and Dick had been going door-to-door all day, helping with a local political campaign. We went out for Mexican food with Dick, just down the street. Then we returned to their house and prepared for the flight the next day. Dick allowed me to use his computer and helped me with scanning a document and e-mailing it to my father. We played with their cat, Princess Diana, for awhile, then we took showers and went to bed.
The next morning, we woke up before Dick and Mona did, leaving them a note before heading out the door. As we returned to the same light rail station, it began to rain. Here it was, October 15th. On the exact day that we would be flying out for Vegas, we knew for sure that the snow would really be coming down heavily in the North Cascades. God's timing was impeccable, as always.
Minutes later, we were wandering through Sea-Tac. We checked in some luggage, found the gate, and then boarded the plane. We took off from Seattle just before dawn.
|Leaving behind Seattle and the Puget Sound.|
Freebird and I took up an entire row on the plane and passed the camera back and forth during the whole flight. We watched the gradual change of scenery, as the lush Pacific Northwest slowly transitioned into the dry desert of the Southwest.
|A rainbow in the clouds.|
|Lake Tahoe, bringing us back to where we started the PCT together.|
|Freebird lounging with my mp3 player and checking our current location in the sky.|
|The Vegas Strip.|
|Landing on the runway as another jet is taking off.|
As we walked through the gate, and my mp3 player shuffled to Pink Floyd's "Money," we were greeted by rows and rows of slot machines. Welcome to Vegas!
We picked up my pack at the baggage claim, in a room full of overpowering, loud music and flashy signs advertising various shows and concerts at Vegas. A Britney Spears banner looked down upon us. Men who appeared as if they were in the Mafia, sporting shades, slicked-back hair, and formal attire, awaited tourists to give them limo rides to the local casinos. In their hands were signs or iPads with a person's name on it. The money that people will pay to feel special... Compared with the quiet solitude of nature, this was overwhelming. But nonetheless, this was certainly quite an experience and we had fun with it while we were there!
We spotted an elevator to the side of the baggage claim with glass windows and decided to go for a ride! A woman's voice would say, "Going up," or "Going down." So we rode on the elevator for awhile and mimicked her voice... "Going up! Going down!" Another passenger saw that we were having a good time and recommended to us what he said was the best view of the Vegas strip, seen from the 6th floor parking garage. We pushed the button for that floor, yelled, "Going up!" one more time, and got off of the elevator.
That man was right, that was a great view of Vegas. We turned around to head back to the elevator, and two guards passed by us. They held machine guns! You don't see that everyday in the states! They looked the other way and avoided eye contact while passing us, which made it obvious to us that security had sent them to investigate! Surely someone had watched the surveillance video of us playing and laughing on the elevator and became suspicious. What does that say about our society?
We returned to the deafening baggage claim and ate lunch at the Starbucks there, as there was no other place within walking distance of the airport.
Once the time had come to leave, we walked outside and met Buzz of St. George Express, who would drive us to Zion National Park. From the start we realized Buzz to be quite humorous and amusing. He would definitely be quite entertaining over the next few hours. He gave us water, and once all the passengers were there, we headed off to Zion.
As we drove along, when we weren't napping, Buzz gave quite an informational tour of the area. Freebird sat "shotgun" and stayed awake the whole time, laughing and joking with Buzz.
|An arch that Buzz pointed out to us.|
The last of the other passengers were dropped off in St. George. Now that they were gone, our jokes could really become more inappropriate! Buzz stopped at a gas station to fill up the tank, while we went in to buy ice cream. The rest of our drive, being in Utah now, we joked about Mormons and having multiple wives, among other things. It's probably best that I leave out the details!
Buzz drove us through Springdale, situated on the border of Zion, and took us all the way to the front gate. He then returned to St. George. From here, we talked to others and began to make some tentative plans for that night and the next few days. We took the free shuttle back to Springdale, found a room at one of the recommended motels, and stocked up on food for the journey ahead through Zion National Park.