It pays to attend to the tiny details when planning a Seattle adventure.
But little Mouse, you are not alone,
In proving foresight may be vain:
The best laid schemes of mice and men
Go often askew,
And leave us nothing but grief and pain,
For promised joy! Robert Burns
The lead up to meeting my friend in Seattle included very regular communication between us – one of us in the US and the other (me) in Australia.
Departure Plans Okay – Arrival Plans In Need Of Tweaking
Plans were created and confirmed – flight details exchanged – and everything coordinated, almost to the minute.
We would meet at Seattle Airport on Tuesday 12 December; one arriving from Brisbane at 9.30pm and the other from Santa Rosa at 10.30pm. The first one to arrive would wait at the Baggage Claim area for the other.
The one from Australia was leaving Brisbane Airport at 10.30pm Monday, so they would meet the other in Seattle on Tuesday night, right?
Neither one of us considered that quirky little thing called the International Date Line, even though both of us have crossed the line from both directions, many times.
After a two-hour delay in Honolulu I arrived in Seattle, stressing about not being able to contact my friend to let them know I’d be late, only to discover they weren’t in the designated meeting place. Understandable; I figured – they were probably looking for me somewhere else. With the free SEA-TAC WiFi I was able to call them on WhatsApp, our favourite form of communication.
Now you really have to use your imagination here because I want you to picture the scene that played out with that call. It goes something like this… Oh, and a key to the scene is the timing – approximately 11.40pm Monday night.
Phone: “Ring, Ring”
Me: “Where are you?”
Me: “Why are you in California?”
Friend: “Because it is Monday night. Where are you?”
Me: “At the Baggage Area in Seattle ……. Airport (the penny started to drop)”.
Friend: “It isn’t Tuesday yet”
Me: “OMG! How did we get that so wrong?”
Midnight was fast approaching. The accommodation was booked for Tuesday night and I had no phone – only Internet, thanks to the free WiFi at Seattle Airport. Options started flying around my head faster than the Bullet Train from Shanghai, including the idea of spending the night and the next day at the airport. But I was in desperate need of a shower and sleep, not necessarily in that order and neither of which were available at the airport, so I decided I should find a hotel online and hopefully they’d have a shuttle, since Uber wasn’t going to be a starter without a contactable phone number to communicate with. And I knew that once I stepped away from the free WiFi, I was well and truly on my own.
In the search for a phone I came across the Luggage Storage area that had two uniformed gentlemen attending it. I asked for directions to somewhere to buy an American SIM Card, or to a pay phone – either would do. I explained the dilemma that I found myself in and one of the kind gentlemen offered to show me a feasible solution. He escorted me to an area where a number of hotels offer a free phone service for the purpose of booking a room in an emergency. The hotels even offered a free shuttle service. A quick call and I had secured a hot shower, a bed and the means of getting to them.
As I waited in the designated area for the shuttle, it occurred to me that in my haste to find the solution, I hadn’t actually taken much notice of the name of the hotel. Buses came and went; some with hotel names on them, some with numbers in the window. Luckily the number 63 was the only thing I remembered from the conversation with the hotel. After about 40 minutes the shuttle arrived. Of course, if it had arrived before midnight it would have been an elegant carriage driven by two beautiful white horses. Disillusioned, I climbed wearily into the shuttle heading for the low budget hotel, instead of the Palace.
The shower was hot and the bed was warm – and that’s all I cared about until 9 o’clock the next morning when I opened my eyes to a brand new day and a brand new adventure.
And the moral of this story is:
- Pay close attention to details on flight plans
- When you cross the International Date Line from one side to the other, make sure you know which side is a day ahead and which one isn’t