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Abide Culture Road Trip Chronicles: Seattle


Rain. Autumn rain. A chilly rain.  Puddles grow as droplets hit and create minute, dispersive waves in pavement pools. The morning is gray and wet. Raindrops fall — in the Pacific Northwest — against a backdrop of dying leaves, proclaiming a long lost summer's end in a canvas of fading greens, vibrant yellows, and burnt oranges; the edges dipped in a crimson red. Sharing a single suitcase for a short stay, Erin and I are packed and ready to leave. After retrieving our rental car, saying our goodbyes, and fueling the tank, we make our way towards I-90. A green light allows safe passage onto the westbound on-ramp towards Spokane.


Rain continues dropping as tires spin and hum, rotating against wet pavement, propelling us forward. Reflective speed limit signs proclaim 70MPH, then drops to 60MPH once we make Spokane. As we wind our way through the second largest city in Washington state, digital tracks fill the cabin's atmosphere with another road trip playlist. The steep Sunset Hill quickly approaches and levels; the prairie and farmlands spread out in a sea of yellowing brush.



Erin isn't feeling well, and tries to sleep as rain continues its onslaught against the car's skin and glass. Band's tracks fade into one another as mile markers pass alongside the highway's asphalt surface. Our first stop is a rest area that we have frequented on many other occasions. The rain doesn't rest as we park and unload, stretching legs and walking towards brick restrooms. There are a couple of older ladies giving away coffee and baked foods, under the rest area's metal roof. I ask them “Are you staying warm and dry?” They reply with a nod and a “yes” and offer me some coffee. “No thank you,” I respond, “I already have some in the car.” As quickly as we pause for a break, we continue on.


Back in the car and merging onto I-90, we make up some lost time. This trip across Washington state is nothing new; the landscape stays the same: white tri-bladed windmills grow like dandelion weeds across the Columbia Gorge; the Columbia River slices jagged and deeply across the land, against rock and dirt: a liquid gash of never-ending water flowing towards the Pacific.

 



The color change from central Washington's dead yellows and browns makes way for western Washington's Cascade Range. Snoqualmie Pass climbs to 3000 feet as rain becomes snow; massive white flakes drop and spiral down upon us as the temperature drops and hovers at freezing. We summit, then drop: unladen semis speed next to us, spitting up slick streams of water across our windshield's glass. Fall and winter blend in a flurry of colors. Gray fog clings and lingers to the mountainside as orange and green mingle in merriment.

 



Slowly, the falling snow melts back to rain and our descent widens the gap from peak to valley. Thick traffic thins as off-ramp destinations beckon travelers. Overpasses give a quick second of rain relief: the constant 'wap-wap-wap' of wiper-blades clear away water and muck, only to repeat the process.

 



Our off-ramp nears and we take the exit. Following the snaking road that carves through a city forest, we finally enter the parking lot of the hotel. Check in and find our room. Erin lays on the bed, still sick and exhausted from the prior night's sleepless slumber. Discussing the afternoon, we leave and make our first stop on our itinerary: the Pacific Bonsai Museum. Rain has turned to a sprinkle as we park and make our way across the gravel pathway, which cuts through a forest of trees: exiting to the museum's entrance. Walking around the collection of growing art, signs tell the story of each tree. Over 150 works of art are on display; some trees over 800 years old. Autumn dyes create colorful masterpieces with these shallow potted creations.

 

Finishing the exhibit, we are stopped by an older, grandfatherley, Japanese man — he is a seller of bonsai and has his wares for sale under a white pop up canopy;  also the gardener for the museum — asks me how many bonsai do i have. I explain to him that I had quite a few, but due to a cold snap in the middle of winter, I lost them all. “But, I am training a wisteria and a cypress right now.”

He then proceeds to tell us how it is going to be very cold in Seattle this year, but he is watching the lunar calendar, and is also watching the weather patterns in Beijing because they mimic Seattle's weather as well. We shake hands and he bows to us and says “goodbye” with a kind smile.

Back to the car, we decide to get some dinner then go back to the hotel for Erin to rest. Back at the hotel, Erin posts a prayer request on social media, a digital prayer chain, for healing.


Family and friends respond with an outpouring of love and prayer — "Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere." [Ephesians 6:18]

The next morning, Erin praises God with a testament to the power of prayer and thanks God for her returning health. An elevator ride down and to the left takes us to the breakfast room where we eat and prepare for the events of the day.



Back on the elevator, to our room, we grab our necessities and make our way to the rental. On the road, the wiper-blades clean the sprinkling rain from the glass allowing us to see the skyline of downtown Seattle. Exit onto Edgar Martinez Boulevard and park at T-Mobile Park. Unload and make our way down the steps and cross the street, walking the sidewalk that wraps around the park where we witnessed when Albert Pujols joined the 3000 hit club, back when it was Safeco Field.


The air is cold and the rain has stopped. Thousands of people line the concrete sidewalks. Smells and sound tickle the senses. Erin buys a pair of blue and green gloves emblazoned with a hawkhead on each glove. The 'Blue Thunder' drum-line performs on the street and marches to the sidewalk, performing for those that stop and watch. We line up, near our entrance and wait while listening. Soon, security opens and we make our way through the metal detectors. Up a couple stairs and through the tunnel. Century Link Field sits in front of us: SEAHAWKS painted in blue, outlined in white, on each endzone; a pair of yellow uprights stretch to the cloudy sky above.


The excitement is infectious. Players warmup. Pete Carroll signs autographs. Back and forth, the Seahawks run through the tunnel, then back out again.

Blitz wanders the field. Wilson and Lockett run back out to the 50 yard line and pray together.

The time-clock counts down as kickoff approaches. Rain pours. Pearl Jam's Mike McCready raises the 12th man flag. Coin toss. Seahawks win and defer. 1st quarter. 2nd. 2 minute warning. Halftime brings on the corgi bowl for entertainment. 3rd quarter. 4th. The final 2 minute warning.

A series of unfortunate events leads to defeat as the Seahawks lose to the Ravens: 30-16. 69,012 souls are in attendance: drenched and cold.

Rain gear covers our jerseys, protecting us from the elements. A Raven's fan stands behind us, foul-mouthed and crude, and starts throwing his beer into the crowd.

Thankfully, my plastic slicker is covering me. A sea of green and blue surrounds us; the opposing team's purple accents the crowd. After the game, we peruse the team store and Erin buys a couple items. Back to the hotel to change into dry clothes, then leave to find food. Dinner consists of Chinese food, which is quickly consumed.


Another hotel night's sleep and another hotel morning breakfast. We eat, pack up, and check out. A small hike around Pike Street Market where Erin purchases some flowers and books, and we leave with the Seattle skyline in our mirrors.


One final stop. The rain slows, but never stops. We park and pay as Erin changes footwear. A paved path directs us towards rushing water. We reach the edge of the pavement: Snoqualmie Falls. A flight of stairs descends to a slope which leads to a lower vantage point.


My lovely, beautiful bride hides under a thin, purple umbrella, safe from the rain falling overhead, but the mist of pounding waterfall sprays from underneath. The spray of the falls mingles with the cold air creating a fog that adheres to trees' foliage that grows on the steep mountainside across from us. Cold and wet, we make our way back to the car. Back to I-90, the cold, autumn rain follows us home.

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