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What I did on my summer vacation — Seattle Waterfront

September 4, 2022 | Family,Seattle,Seattle Waterfront,Summer,Traveling

We spent a day on the Seattle Waterfront, taking a harbor cruise and taking a spin on the Seattle Great Wheel. We also got something to eat and did some shopping. I had to buy at least one thing with Bigfoot on it.

Posted by Becky @ 1:54 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — Chihuly Garden and Glass

September 2, 2022 | Chihuly Garden and Glass,Family,Seattle,Summer,Traveling

We visited Chihuly Garden and Glass, and these photos don’t do any of it justice. If you ever get a chance to see any of this in person, it’s totally worth it. It’s unreal, otherworldly, and beautiful!

Posted by Becky @ 10:25 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — Space Needle

August 29, 2022 | Family,Seattle,Space Needle,Summer,Traveling

Posted by Becky @ 1:02 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — Museum of Pop Culture

August 22, 2022 | Family,Seattle,Summer,Traveling

My main photos at MoPOP. And we bought Jimi Hendrix playing cards. lol
Posted by Becky @ 3:27 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — Scandinavian Specialties

Family,Scandinavian Specialties,Seattle,Summer,Traveling

Verdens beste kake (world’s best cake) is a delightful treat, and this one was delicious with a cup of hot coffee. We stocked up on brunost and leverpostei (which we accidently left in the fridge at our last hotel), Kvikk Lunsj and Gjende cookies (which, of course, we call Gjendem cookies.)
Posted by Becky @ 3:06 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — downtown Seattle hop-on hop-off bus tour

August 14, 2022 | Family,Seattle downtown,Summer,Traveling

Fountain in front of the Seattle Public Library, where we parked and got on the bus tour.
Starbucks union strikers.
There are so many trees downtown.
This is in front of the Museum of Pop Culture. I had to explain to the kids what it is.
The Seattle Great Wheel, which we got to ride the next day.
We would also take one of these cruises the next day.
Posted by Becky @ 3:14 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — Amtrak’s Starlight Coast trip from Los Angeles to Seattle

August 13, 2022 | Amtrak,Family,Summer,Traveling

In our room.
Funky clouds out the window.
One of the stops.
View out the window.
Mountain flowers.

And all the food!

Posted by Becky @ 12:41 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — LA

August 12, 2022 | Family,Los Angeles,Summer,Traveling

The good parts …

View from our hotel in downtown Los Angeles.
Posted by Becky @ 6:57 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — part 4


Dream vacation, nightmare travel planning

A few days before our trip, I asked, “I just realized we have 2 or 3 ferry rides from Seattle to Victoria. Should I book those in advance? Or will we be OK to show up, buy tickets, and wait for the next ferry?” And she did NOT say, “Yes, I would highly recommend buying tickets in advance.” I already knew those words were in her vocabulary, but she didn’t choose to use them here. Nope. She didn’t answer my question at all. I was slammed with work before I left, so I didn’t have time to check on it myself or to keep after her for an answer. She sent me a link to scan passports and vaccine cards to prepare to get into Canada, and I spent what little time I had taking care of that. In any case, I had almost SIX HOURS to think about this whole thing while waiting for a ferry. We showed up before 4 p.m. at Port Angeles for the 5:15 p.m. ferry, but it was full. So, we waited on standby, not knowing if we’d even get on the 9:30 p.m. ferry. (The last one.) I had a lot of time to think how much it would cost me to get a hotel room in Port Angeles (I called and they had rooms available) and to eat the cost of the hotel and whale-watching boat tour in Victoria. We got on the 9:30 p.m. ferry and had to drive in the dark to find our hotel and check in after midnight. We were up bright and early the next morning to eat our lovely breakfast (it was an adorable B&B and I wish we could have spent more than a few hours there) and get to the pier for our tour. The tour was four hours of wonderful information and education about whales and other animals we got to see. I would absolutely recommend it.

The trip back to Seattle was brutal. We had bought ferry tickets ahead of time this time, but the 3 p.m. ferry was already full, so we got on the 7:30 p.m. ferry. After the two-hour ferry ride, it was dark, and we still had two hours to go. I was so tired, I stopped at a gas station for coffee and a power nap. It was after midnight when we got to the hotel, but they had a shuttle service that would pick us up at the airport (which is something our travel agent should have told us) after dropping off the rental car — which I did that night instead of with all our luggage the next morning. When it was all said and done, I hit the pillow at 2 a.m. and got a couple of hours of sleep. The shuttle (which was free) took us to the airport the next morning. Because they “aren’t allowed in there” to drop us off at Delta ticketing, we got directions for how to navigate from where they dropped us off to the ticketing counter. I had meant to pay for priority when checking in for our flights, but I couldn’t find how to do that on my phone. So we had to stand in line for an uncomfortably long time. Then we had to search for TSA PreCheck. It was a relief to get to our gate in time.

Then came Atlanta. People who help with travel planning do important work. I had physical challenges to deal with on this vacation, and the lack of information and misinformation I got gave me several sleepless nights and extra stress. That culminated in a panic attack in the world’s busiest airport. I really did try to power through everything, hoping whatever mistakes happened wouldn’t ruin my entire dream vacation. But it’s when I look back now that I realize those mistakes by that travel agent weren’t just inconvenient. They did me actual physical and mental harm. Yes, I have some beautiful photos and some great memories, and I’m glad for that. But the “service” I got was harmful. I want to continue traveling, and I still need help with planning, but I’m scared now whether I’ll be able to find anyone trustworthy.

Looking back now, I see that the point I should have walked away, giving up her nonrefundable fee and paying whatever penalties there were, was when she didn’t update her system, which then threatened to cancel everything — and she called, expecting me to do something about it. But it was 1 month from our vacation, and I had no way of knowing how many mistakes she would make and how devastating they would be. Or maybe the time to walk away would have been after her I’ve-done-this-for-10-years snit. Yeah. That’s the one that should have done it. Sigh. Live and learn — and hope to do better for myself next time.

Posted by Becky @ 6:25 pm | Comments  

What I did on my summer vacation — part 3

August 11, 2022 | Family,Summer,Traveling

Dream vacation, nightmare travel planning

A few days later — less than two weeks after I contacted her — I had my reservations for the train, hotels, and rental car. I was getting excited! She was still working on several things — insurance, rides from airport to hotel, hotel to train station, and train station to airport. She was able to get the Victoria hotel that initially told her they were full. So, we were rolling right along. I asked for info about getting TSA PreCheck, which we got, so I gave her our numbers for the travel reservations.

There was trouble booking one of the cars, and I learned that my card had been deactivated. The company switched it from a MasterCard to a Visa, and I had somehow missed that. So, I called the company, and they sent me a new card, which I got in a couple of days. I asked her if she wanted me to send copies of the new card, and she said, “I don’t think there is anything left to pay for at this time. Do you?” (📌) I sent her a copy of my new card, anyway, for booking some other unrelated travel, which had a whole other set of mistakes, but that’s another story.

🚩🚩🚩Then came time for her to charge my card for the rest of the big trip. And guess what? She hadn’t updated her system with my new card, so the automated system she uses tried to charge the old card, and it was declined. I got an email and a voicemail at 7:21 a.m., telling me, “We have a problem.” She said I needed to call back ASAP because she didn’t know how long it would be before the system would automatically cancel everything. No need for coffee that morning to get my heart pumping. I called her back and asked her why she wasn’t using my new card for this. She didn’t think she had it. I reminded her I had provided her with all the required information and it was up to her to fix this problem. She did.

Then my daughter’s summer schedule changed, and she wanted to join us for a week, so I asked about that. The agent gave me a few options for flights, and I made it clear that I was willing to spend more on plane tickets to get my daughter to the Seattle airport at a decent time of day. One of the options had her arriving at about 3 p.m. So what did she book? The one that had the plane arriving at night. Because of delays, I got to pick up my daughter 📌at the airport in the middle of the night.📌 I think her flight finally got in at 1 a.m.

Before that happened, though, my son and I took off from TLH to LAX. We got there as planned with no delays. We only had to wait a few minutes before our car arrived to pick us up. We got to the hotel before check-in, but she had a room ready for us. I was messed up by the time change, and I didn’t even realize we were early. The hotel and service there was great. In the morning, the bellman got us a car to the train station. Checking in there went smoothly, and we even got free drinks and snacks in the Amtrak lounge. (I didn’t know about that.) Red Cap service took us to the platform where we would board. (I didn’t know about Red Cap service until then.) We got settled on the train, and it took off. Because we had a bedroom, we also had an attendant. (I didn’t know about that either.) The travel was nice. I got a little claustrophobic when I first got on the train, but I was able to work through it. The food was great. Our attendant, Cesar, was superb. I made sure to tell him that (and tip him).

Our train’s arrival at the King Street Station was delayed, so instead of getting there at 7:51 p.m., we got there at 8:25 p.m., the time our ride was scheduled to pick us up to take us to the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport to get our rental car. We exchanged phone calls, and she said she would be there soon to get us. After getting our luggage (two big checked bags each and two carry-on bags each, as well as a backpack and bag), we loaded all that into the car that picked us up and unloaded it all again at the Delta departures sign where the driver dropped us off. We walked inside, and I kept looking for a car-rental desk. We walked the length of the airport – with all our bags – to get to a shuttle. I was exhausted by this time. I called the driver and asked why she didn’t drop us off at the car-rental area. “We aren’t allowed in there,” she said. Sigh. She also told me to double-check my car bill, because I had been booked and paid for 5 people. At this point, I don’t even know why the agent did that. I haven’t found anything about it in my receipts and emails. Only thing I can figure is she was booking something for 5 people in that other trip and got confused with the numbers. (She messed up several other things numbers-wise, so maybe that’s just her MO).

Back at the airport, we found a place to sit to wait for the next shuttle. When it got there, we loaded all our luggage and then unloaded it all again when we got to the car-rental place. We wheeled all our luggage up to the desk, and I got the contract for the car. Did I already say I was exhausted? We lugged all our luggage to an elevator and into a parking lot. It was not immediately clear where our car was. I asked someone working there how the numbers worked. We eventually found our car and then loaded all our luggage into the car and took off to find the hotel. It was about a 20-minute drive, and we checked in around midnight.

NOTE: The Seattle airport was not user-friendly for us. There was the whole shuttle thing and drivers “not being allowed in there.” And when we left for home, we had a helluva time finding TSA PreCheck, which they tucked away in a corner waaaaaaay at the other end of the building. I might be wrong, but I would think a travel agent might know some of this and be able to mitigate or at least warn clients about it. (I had asked for airport assistance, but she didn’t note that on my reservation, so we didn’t get it.)

We got all our luggage up to our room on the 11th floor in the hotel. Imagine my surprise when I opened the curtains, looked out the window and saw … the King Street train station RIGHT NEXT DOOR. We could have walked about two minutes with all our luggage from the train station to our hotel, checked in, gotten a decent night’s sleep, and worried about the rental car in the morning. This is so egregious that it felt intentional. I mean, nobody can screw up that badly, can they?

Oh-huh-ho. But of course they can.

More later …

Posted by Becky @ 7:19 pm | Comments  

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