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Stranded in Seattle
Posted By: Howard, on host
Date: Sunday, September 16, 2001, at 17:24:10

It's nice to get back to Rinkworks. I have this little "Where were you when . . . " story. Willette and I made a rather routine trip out to the Seattle-Tacoma area to visit her aging aunt and uncle. We flew into SEATAC, rented a car and drove to their house where we spent a couple of fun days. Then we drove up to the Olympic Peninsula, visited the nationa park and took bunches of pictures. Next stop was Mt.Rainier, the 14,000 ft. snoozing volcano with glaciers on top. Both the mountain and the peninsula were spectacular, but Willette had a rotten cold and felt miserable, so I suggested that we cut the trip short and head home. We drove into Seattle and checked into a hotel not to far from the airport.
The next morning, we turned on the TV and after that, nothing was routine anymore. I channel-hopped past a movie that showed a large building burning. Then I realized that the special effects were just a bit too good, and went back to see that it was no movie. They were telling that an airplane had hit one of the WTC towers and within minutes an second plane hit the other one. Airports were halting take-offs and planes in the air were being ordered to land.
After we found out that we weren't flying home, we looked at other options. We could go Amtrack, but it was pretty expensive, and wouldn't get us very close to home. We considered taking the train to California and waiting for the planes to start flying again. But even that was too far and we had no idea how long it would be before we got home. We even considered buying a car, but we had one rented, so we could just extend the contract and drive home in that. It was a Nissan Altima which we got for the economy price because they were out cheap cars.
So away we went. Down hwy 5 to Portland and up the Columbia River valley. We were on the Oregon side of the river so that the North Cascades were across the river on the left and the South Cascades were on the right. Spectacular. We crossed Oregon, Idaho, Wyoming, Utah, and Nebraska. Then we turned south touching Iowa and Kansas before crossing Missouri into Illinois. Then it was down across Kentucky into Tennessee and home. We didn't stop for much besides food and sleep, but it was an enjoyable trip. We saw a bunch of great rivers including the Columbia, Snake, North Platt, Missouri, Mississippi, Ohio, Tennessee, and Cumberland. There was only a little mountain driving and the roads were generally very good.

We kept up with the terrorists attacks by TV in the hotel rooms. The radio was pretty useless except for NPR which was not always in range. There was a little rain one morning, but otherwise the weather was perfect. We drove through a little duststorm in Wyoming and enjoyed dodging the tumbleweeds.

It was odd looking at a broad blue sky with no vapor trails. We saw a small single engine plane circling a landing strip, but no jets until we spotted one landing at Lincoln, Nebraska.

Our daughter, the flight attendent, was safe at home, but she lost a good friend who was working one of those flights out of Boston.

I think we were very lucky. We could have been in Canada, where border crossings became a five- hour wait. We were also lucky to have a car already rented. Some stranded travelers didn't get one. We were lucky that the highjackers weren't looking for planes in Chicago a few days earlier.

It's good to be home.

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