Up around 0100, pile into the family schlepper and then it’s off to BWI, courtesy of daughter Jennifer. It’s a two-hour haul, using a path that doesn’t involve too many main roads. Not that it would matter, at that time of the morning.
We get to BWI around 0330 – plenty of time for our check-in at 0629. We say good-bye to Jennifer, and go to the United kiosks to check in.
Check-in is trouble-free, but security turns out to be a bit of an issue. Aaron has packed I-don’t-know-how-many books into his backpack that is to serve as his carry-on, and the TSA x-ray machine apparently cannot see through that much paper. So the backpack gets flagged, and poor Aaron has to account for himself. Lisa escapes unscathed, but I get a mini-patdown because I had left a pair of foam earplugs in one of my pockets.
Minor problems, all in all, except that Aaron lays into me a little because I ask, more or less rhetorically, what they could possibly have found in his backpack that would be objectionable. He finds my question problematic because he anticipates what he calls one of my “political rants,” which he thinks are ever so slightly biased. (They never are, of course.) But he calms down when I explain that I was not planning to rant, rave, or anything else, and then he explains the problem with his impenetrable books. (And no wonder they’re impenetrable: they’re mostly philosophy and legal stuff.)
Off toward the gate to wait for our flight. Flight 1127 takes us through Los Angeles to San Francisco, for a total travel and layover time of seven hours and six minutes. We switch planes for a two-hour flight to Seattle (1180), arriving roughly at 1630 local time.
What to do? We have about 26 hours to kill. We make hotel reservations for the night, rent a car for the day and, following a phone conversation with buddy Ken and buddy-wife Lauren, we drive to Tacoma to see the new Casa Murphy and, of course, the occupants.
The new Murphy home is a jewel. It’s actually a picturesque older house that Ken and Lauren have already upgraded quite a bit. But apart from the house itself being really neat, there is a million-dollar view from the front porch. The house sits high on the side of a hill, overlooking Puget Sound, Fox and McNeil Islands, the eastern shore of the Olympic Peninsula, and the Olympic Mountains in the distance, with the setting sun beyond. A real stunner, and my heart begins to bleed again for Washington State. I only spent seven years there (1968-75), but it’s still home, and always will be.
When we arrive, Ken is preparing to fire up his old barbecue: it’s dogs (not Sirius Black or his senior canine co-inhabitant, Oscar), burgers and fixins. We get a tour of the house, take in the view, then settle down to chitchatting, for which there is way too little time.
I think wistfully that I could spend the rest of my life living next door to Ken, who is the brother I never had. Makes you think about life’s priorities…
Much too soon, it’s time to head back to Seattle and the motel. The drive along I-5 remains familiar. Tomorrow, we must be out of the hotel by 1100, return the car by 1630 and be ready to board our flight to Brisbane by 1800. This leaves a few hours of free time; and before we settle in for the night, we decide that we will go to Seattle Center to visit the EMP Museum.