It’s a beautiful grey morning in Seattle. Our guide Gentry told us yesterday that Seattle has more than 200 overcast days each year. Today is no exception. The grey mist is swirling around the other buildings that make up our view. We see people standing in many of the windows and briefly wonder about their lives. Are they families on holiday, famous people trying to stay incognito, or just people like us waiting for the cruise ships to disembark?
We phone Murray to arrange our rendezvous this morning. “Hello? Hello? Sorry, the reception is bad here in our stateroom. I’ll try out on our balcony.” I have a fleeting uncharitable thought that it might just be nice if a certain person happened to fall off a certain balcony into the bay. We took a similar cruise a few years back. It was lovely, but our room was only called a Cabin, and we had to drill holes in the wall to get a view of the passing world – I’m not jealous – that’s a sin. “Our personal steward is collecting the bags in an hour and a half.” Still not jealous.
We remember how long the disembarking process takes and head down to the bistro for breakfast. All around us are happy Americans pouring maple syrup on their pancakes and bacon. Hmm, tempting. There’s a Latino guy named George cooking omelettes over a little gas stove in the corner. He’s a whiz at flipping and folding everything in his little pan. We are just seated at our table with plates of fresh cooked goodness when my phone rings. “Hi, it’s Murray. We’re all done and ready to be picked up. We can grab a cab to your hotel if you like.” I think about the twenty-minute drive to the cruise terminal. I think about my steaming fresh omelette. I’m tempted to think about the balcony again, but that would be a sin. “Sure, that works for me.” We are all reunited a short time later. Hug, hug. “Great to see you. Can we use the Wi-Fi in your room?” Our little travelling band is back to normal.
When everyone has finally finished checking emails, updating statuses, or more important still, following the last few points of the Wimbledon final, it’s time to hit the road. We check out and ask for the car to be retrieved. It arrives at the kerb a few minutes later and now fewer than three of the parking guys materialise from nowhere. “Do you need help with your bags?” No, we’ve packed these babies so many times we can do it blindfolded. Then they ask a really odd question. “Do you need any TIPS or recommendations on things to do around town today?” (Their emphasis, not mine.) We aren’t staying in town so why would we need recommendations? “No thanks, we’re good.” These guys sure are unfriendly now – must be the overcast day.
All aboard the Dodge and we’re back onto the I5 heading north. The road is still busy. There’s a high proportion of big RVs and cars loaded with boats and other recreational gear. We realise that the world must remain in balance. If five thousand Canadians head to the US beaches and shopping malls for their summer break, an equal number of Americans must go the other way to look at the mountains and bears.
At last, we reach the border. It’s Canadian immigration this time. The lines are much shorter and in a few minutes we are back in the land of Canucks and kilometres. Good to be back eh?