I’m still getting accustomed to the fact that I can sit down, open my laptop, and write this blog without having to go through the step of writing and then sending it as an email, to the NHRA.com staff. And then I would have to send the photos, in a specific size, in another email. This way is what you’d call “one-stop shopping” and I dig it, but it is taking some getting used to.
As I start this installment, I’m sitting in the American Express Centurion Lounge at SEA (Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, often referred to as Sea-Tac). My longtime blog buddy STP (Scott The Pilot) knows this airport all too well, since he lives in Gig Harbor but is based out of LAX and has to “commute to work” down there whenever he starts a trip. At least that was the scenario when we met at a local bar not too far from here during the Seattle race last summer.
Barbara and I have just completed Leg 1 of our journey to Kauai, having made the short hop from Spokane over here. This morning, in Spokane, the weather was lovely. If by lovely you mean hideous. It started snowing late yesterday but it tapered off just after midnight. Still, I had heard that the forecast was for it to pick back up again just before dawn so my brain automatically woke me up at 2:45, as it tends to do whenever I know I have to get up early. Drives me nuts, basically, because on the nights when I have the iPhone alarm set for 5:00 a.m., I almost always wake up an hour or two early and then just lay there awake watching the phone.
When 2:45 rolled around, I figured I should at least get up and check the weather, so I walked out to the dining room and peered out into the Liberty Lake darkness, and after my eyes adjusted I realized I could still see the front walk so there really hadn’t been any more snow. That realization didn’t allow me to fall back asleep, but Buster and Boofus were still happy to see me come back to bed. One Barbara J. Doyle never knew I had left.
Finally, with a plan that had us set to be rolling out of the neighborhood no later than 7:15, I went ahead and got up at 5:45 so that I wouldn’t be thrashing. And it was snowing. Hard. Little flakes, but lots of them and with the temperature right around 32 degrees it was a prime blast for making the streets very slippery, as a snow/ice mix. Splendiferous!
And, although GEG has improved their snow removal efforts since we moved there it’s still not exactly MSP when it comes to moving the white stuff off the runways and taxiways, so there was that to worry about (because when it comes to travel, I worry. Really. You knew that…)
I logged onto Delta.com and all three of our flights were listed as On-Time, so that helped a little, but first we had to actually make the 20-mile trek from Liberty Lake out to GEG, and my last drive there in similar conditions featured a bumper-cars mentality by a large percentage of the folks (nuts) on I-90, who figured “Aw heck, I got me some four-wheel drive so I ain’t got nuthin’ to worry about and these other idiots ought to speed up and git outta my way” while conveniently forgetting that ice is slippery and while four-wheel drive is really cool there’s no such thing as four-wheel stopping on roads like that.
This morning, it was just as slick but apparently some of the aforementioned folks got the message last week. There were still a few spinouts in the ditch, but by and large the majority slowed down and we got to GEG unscathed.
The planes that fly the SEA-GEG route all day, back and forth, are little regional jets, so then there’s the worry about the flights being delayed with the lousy weather, but the incoming aircraft landed on time and, even with the expected stop at the de-icing pad, we got out of there basically on time. But, if you were a first-time flyer really looking forward to seeing the sights from the window seat of a commercial airliner, that would not have been the best flight for you. Right after wheels up, we were in the clouds almost immediately, and never got out of said clouds all the way across the state. We descended in them, made the hard left turn over downtown Seattle in them (no Space Needle view for me) and didn’t come down out of them until we were almost on the runway. Instrument landings are pretty amazing.
Now, we head to LAX because Delta doesn’t have a nonstop from SEA to LIH. Okay, who knows what LIH stands for??? (Theme music from Jeopardy plays…) Anyone? Anyone? Bueller? The airport on Kauai is in the village of Lihue (Lih-Hooey) and so the airport is known as Lihue and the code is LIH. You’re welcome. I’m a fountain of this stuff.
So here’s hoping the flight to LAX is on-time, smooth, and maybe (just maybe) even a little worthy of sightseeing from seat 1-D. Then, a one-hour layover at LAX until our nonstop to LIH departs and guess what? Really, guess what? Have you guessed? Well, ladies and gents, boys and berries, that flight has lay-flat seats in the front cabin, where we will be seated. That’s the way it’s listed, anyway, so I’m hoping it’s true. With millions of miles of air travel under my belt, including many long trans-Atlantic flights and many flights to Hawaii, I’ve never had the pleasure of a lay-flat seat. If it’s true, I’m going to try it in every possible configuration. Whee…
We’ll get to LIH around 9:00 pm, pick up our car, and drive over to the Marriott on the beach by my sister Mary’s place. Then… An entire week on the Garden Isle. Beaching, hiking, driving, eating (and yes, drinking), and sleeping with the sounds of the surf taking us to la-la land.
Time to wrap this segment up now. It’s not the prettiest day in the history of Seattle, but on the same account I can venture a guess that it’s also not the sort of day to which Seattleites are unaccustomed. It does rain here. One summer during college, when I played for a month and a half with the Cheney Studs, based out of Edmonds, Wash. just up the road on the other side of downtown, I think it rained every day. And we played through it. On July 4th, we had a fire built in a metal trash can, right in the dugout, just to keep warm. And when I peered in toward the plate from centerfield, I had a hard time seeing the hitter because of the drops of water cascading off the brim of my hat. It was special…
I’ll get back at this on the flight down to LAX, and hopefully get it posted from there. Aloha!
Somewhere over Northern California…
Other than a short moment of broken clouds over Oregon, this one is going much the way the first leg went. Solid clouds, and now we’re probably somewhere just west of Reno, but on the California side. On FlightAware, one of my favorite apps for my iPad because it’s more accurate than most flight tracking deals, they include weather radar on the map image and there appears to be a be a big storm around San Francisco, Sacramento, and that whole part of the state, so I could see that our route of flight had been altered to the east to miss that. Kind of bumpy again.
So here’s the noteworthy thing about the transition to this blog. I’ve found it a little difficult to simply slide back into the relaxed conversational “stream of consciousness” style I used so easily for 10+ years at NHRA.com, and at first I wasn’t sure why that was the case. And then it hit me that I’ve been blogging here for a long time as well, but this blog formerly known as “Bob On Baseball” was much more formal story telling, in a real journalistic sense. So, when I’d open the page to start writing “Bob’s Blog” here my brain would apparently decide that I was still writing in the previous style here. Interesting, to say the least. I gotta loosen up!
Here’s an update on the Kickstarter campaign: About a week in now, with (I think) 41 days left to go and we’re just around 1/3 of the way there. Probably about 30% to be accurate. I think that’s fantastic, and now while I’m in Hawaii for a week I think I’ll just let it cruise for a bit and then ramp up the promotion of it again as we get closer to the finish line.
I was thrilled, the other day, to see that Ron Capps, Antron Brown, Jeff Arend, and Doug Herbert all jumped in to post a link to my “Bats, Balls, and Burnouts” Kickstarter page, on Twitter. That was fabulous, and that So Cal cat named Del (he of the two World Championships) sent me a text yesterday saying he was going to try to give me a boost as well, on social media, but AB, Ron, Jeff, and Doug had beat him to the punch so he wanted to let things settle again before he went for it. Friends and colleagues, but mostly friends. Thanks, guys!
And remember, if you’re interested in helping me bring this book to life (it’s not cheap to write and publish a book!) and you can spare a dime, the Kickstarter campaign is here:
We don’t have that long of a layover at LAX, so I probably should get this posted while I have the in-flight WiFi service up and running. We have zero plans for the week, but we’ve been to see Mary and Lonnie on Kauai before so we know what we’re in for. Eat terrible food, stay in our room a lot, never touch those evil Mai Tais, dress formally, watch a lot of TV, that sort of stuff. Not!
Whale-watching season is just kicking off in the islands, so we’ll definitely be hitting a few of the prime beaches, looking for those incredible behemoths of the deep. Seeing whales for the first time, during our trip a year ago, was a highlight of my life. I can guarantee Barbara would say the same thing. If you’ve never experienced it, put it on your bucket list!
Oh yeah, we are working on getting a photo gallery function here, so look forward to that. Right now, all I can do is post stand-alone pics, but we’re on it.
Oh, and don’t forget to follow me on Twitter. Did you forget? Well, don’t! @BobWilber5
Back at ya with tales of adventures on Kauai as soon as possible.
Did I mention the Kickstarter thing?
Bob Wilber, at your service.