Eventually we made it. We unloaded our cases, said our goodbyes, and hurried inside as we realised that Dad was driving off without paying for the car park and was going to get stuck at the barrier.
Coffee time at Brum
Eventually it was time to board. After a brief discussion with the man who had altered his own ticket and taken Hayley's window seat (we let it go), we settled down onto our first flight; Birmingham to Amsterdam. Despite it only being an hour's flight, they still managed to try and feed us cheese, which was going to become a theme for the entire trip. Tempting though it was, I managed to resist the dry cheese sandwich, mainly on the basis that I don't like cheese.
Clog slippers at Schipol Airport. Genius!
We browsed the shops at Schipol, but other than clog slippers and a book by the unfortunately named author 'Dick Swaab' (Tales From Inside the World of Genito-Urinary Medicine), nothing really caught our interest.
Finally it was time to board. We lined up and made our first friend! A little old Dutch man was going to visit his daughter in the U.S. He needed to get a connecting flight at Seattle and was worried about finding it because of his difficulties with the English Language (he could speak it, but not understand it, apparently). He asked if we could help, which of course we agreed to because we're extra helpful like that. It's our dad's genes, we just can't fight them.
On the Amsterdam to Seattle flight, Hayley had yet another interesting neighbour. Fortunately this time they were separated by an empty seat, as this man put his red fleece blanket over his head and left it there for the entire flight. So why the relief over the space in between? Well, that was due to the occasional rhythmic shaking action that his blanket was doing. You know, almost as though he was...I don't know...polishing something? Rapidly.
We flew Delta airlines, who apparently have the most diverse cabin crew ever. Half of them were bordering on geriatric, and the rest were made up from a selection of overly camp homosexuals and men with dreadlocks. It was like being in an episode of a comedy. Not that I'm complaining at all - no, it's just an observation. After all, who would complain about cabin crew who serve red wine by the half pint?
Anyway, after we'd been served our wine and another cheese sandwich, Hayley settled down with her eye mask, earplugs, neck pillow and red blanket tucked up under her chin with her seat belt fastened over the top. It would be a fair assessment to say that she looked as though she were on her way to A&E on one of those ambulance chairs. It was quite entertaining to see her jump as she de-masked to find a strange woman sitting between her and Mr Blankey-wankey, watching the TV. She left again once the film ended.
More meals with cheese content followed, before we finally arrived in Seattle at 11am local time (7pm back home), after a 10 hour flight.
Seattle at last!
Passing through immigration, we found ourselves with a large, jovial, officer, who confessed his love of Corrie to us, and made us smile for our official photos! He also asked why we were going to Port Townsend, as that was listed as our first destination. We thought this didn't really bode well; did he know something we didn't?
Finally it was time to collect our baggage. Hayley's fears that her £20 suitcase was going to be spewing her underwear out everywhere, proved to be unnecessary, as both cases arrived unscathed (and mine was still as large as ever - what the hell had I been thinking?). We trundled off towards the exit, but before we could get out, we were told to put our bags back on another carousel. I put mine on, then decided it was a mistake and took it off again (until a man in a uniform told me off!). As we crowded onto a little underground-type train, everyone was talking about what was going on (even the woman with the elderly pug in a bag. Had she really been on a plane with it like that?!). When we reached our destination we were finally able to reclaim our baggage for a second time. We never found out what the purpose of it all was.
Next stop: car hire. After a quick couple of ups and downs in the elevators, and circuits of the arrivals lounge trying to find the rental desks, we sorted out the paperwork and followed the girl's instructions, heading out of the airport to catch a bus to the car-hire lot.
Waiting for the bus at SeaTac - WiFi, how I missed you!
The first real excitement was seeing a real cowboy while we waited for the bus! Well, when I say real, obviously he wasn't riding a horse and rounding up steers, but he was wearing a hat and boots - good enough for us Brits!
The bus arrived and dropped us off five minutes away to collect our car - a Chevy SUV.
Oh no - sunshine and no driving gloves!
Hayley's first attempt at adjusting the seat, resulted in her pulling out a handful of wires, which didn't work - surprisingly.
First job - check the manual to find out how to move the seat and take the parking brake off.
Finally we worked out how to take the brake off and move. The next part of the journey was about to begin!