A Quick Trip Home: Travel Blog Part 1

Last week, I flew home to Washington State to attend a snow skills class at Snoqualmie Pass. I flew in a few days early to spend time with family and friends before my Saturday morning class.

Homeward Bound

I boarded an early morning flight in Nashville, and after an uneventful flight, landed in Seattle at 9:55 a.m. Just late enough to miss the 10 a.m. shuttle to Tulalip. The next shuttle departed at 11:30 a.m., so I sat down in an airport restaurant called De’Lish and ordered a veggie burger with fries and a local porter. At 11:10 a.m., I paid my tab and left to catch my shuttle to Tulalip.

The Bellair Shuttle wasn’t the usual bus today. In its parking slot sat a sleek black bus with dark tinted windows. I asked the driver if I had the right bus and he gestured me aboard. The interior reminded me of a limo or party bus. It has black leather seats and hot pink lighting above the stowage bins that ran down the length of the bus. I found an empty row halfway down the aisle and tossed my backpack on the window seat and sat down.

Rush hour had already passed so it was an easy drive up I-5. I looked to my left and could see the Seattle skyline come into view. It was a beautiful sunny day, unusual for February. As we entered Snohomish County, I could see the familiar evergreen trees lining the freeway as we continued farther north. Entering north Everett, I had clear views of the snow-covered Cascades.The bus pulled into its slot at the Tulalip Casino and I hopped off. My parents greeted me with big hugs and I tossed my luggage in the back of their SUV. We spent the rest of day visiting family.

Training While Traveling

I stayed at my parents’ home; they don’t live far from Snoqualmie Pass and are close to great walking trails. I wanted to make sure I got my daily mileage goals accomplished and it didn’t take much to convince my dad to join me on my morning walks. He already had a daily walking routine and it wasn’t much of a stretch for him to walk a few more miles. My parents have been working on their health and fitness for the past 18 months and have made amazing progress!

Centennial Trail

On Thursday morning my dad and I took a six-mile walk on Centennial Trail, an old Burlington Northern railway that was repurposed in 1989 to become a community trail. It runs nearly the entire length of Snohomish County, starting in the city of Snohomish and ending at the Skagit County line. I used to walk this trail regularly when I lived in Lake Stevens. We decided to walk the Arlington-Marysville section. I like this section because it feels more remote than other sections farther south. It is heavily treed, not as populated and very quiet.

It was cold and sunny that morning, so we kept a brisk pace to stay warm. My fingertips were freezing, and because I’d forgotten to bring my gloves my dad offered his pair. I happily put them on. The clear, sunny day caused all the vegetation to glisten in the early morning sunlight. As we passed over a flowing stream, I paused to listen to its soothing sounds before continuing. I was disappointed when we came to a section that had been recently clear cut by a nearby property owner. Thankfully, it was a short section of trail that was affected, but it will take decades to return to its previous state. About halfway into our walk I could feel the effects of the three cups of coffee I consumed at breakfast and needed to find a place to pee. I started to get nervous when I couldn’t find a suitable place to go. On my left was a steep hill covered in dense blackberry vines and to my right a steep drop-off. We walked about a mile before I found an access trail to a pipeline just below us. I followed the trail down and found a large fir tree to squat behind. Happy and relieved, I made my way back up to the main trail and we continued for another mile before turning around and heading back to the truck.

Around the Neighborhood

On Friday, I had plans to meet my friend Janelle, so my dad and I opted to stay closer to home for our morning walk. My parents live in a large, heavily wooded neighborhood; all the homes are on plots ranging between two and seven acres. Depending on the route you can easily rack up several miles just in the neighborhood. We laced up our shoes and headed out the door about 7 a.m. We walked at a brisk pace as my dad talked about all the changes in the neighborhood in the past two years. We weaved in and out of cul-de-sacs and up forested streets. As we passed a section of uninhabited woods, I glanced to my left and noticed two deer standing about 15 feet from us, staring in our direction. I stopped my dad and instructed him to look to the left. He hadn’t noticed them standing there and was surprised to see them. They must have grown accustomed to humans because they did not run off until we started walking again. It’s not uncommon to see them in the neighborhood; the covenants don’t allow fences to support wildlife and keep the wetlands protected.

Visiting a Friend

I was excited to see my friend Janelle again. When I lived in Washington, we spent a lot of time hiking near the Mountain Loop Hwy. She’s the one friend I can talk about hiking gear with who won’t get bored and is always up for a trip to REI. She had been following my blogs and was excited to hear about my upcoming hike on the PCT. We sat at her dining room table to catch up on the past 18 months before we jumped into PCT talk. She asked about gear, logistics, and resupply, and offered to trail angel for me in Washington and Northern Oregon! We reminisced a bit about our previous backpacking trips and decided a trip to the local REI was in order. At this point, I have everything I need for my trip, but it’s always fun to walk around a Seattle-area REI store. The ones I’ve visited in other states don’t compare and don’t carry as much merchandise. On this trip, I walked out with a knit hat and a pair of socks. It was getting late so we said our goodbyes and I promised to send her updates from the trail. I needed to headed back and get some much-needed rest before my snow skills class the next morning.

To be continued.

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