Shobhit and I came to a mutual decision about our travel this weekend that honestly kind of surprised me: we'll stick with the plan of flying to Spokane tomorrow, and picking up a rental car at the airport, instead of writing off the one plane ticket I paid for (getting the other with SkyMiles) and driving the entire way.
I started by asking him, "How much do you think you'd spend in gas driving from Seattle to Spokane, and from Spokane back to Seattle?" Using the latest gas prices at Costco, which are always markedly lower than anywhere else, he calculated it would be at least $50-$55.
Now. Enterprise Rent-a-Car has a base cost of roughly $30 per day, but once needed insurance was added, my two-day rental last December came to about $115. Let's knock $30 off of that for this year's estimated cost, since Shobhit's Costco membership this year actually got us two days for the price of one -- for that base cost, anyway -- so that makes it $85. $55 versus $85? That's thirty bucks difference. And even though we'd get to Wallace at least as quickly -- if not earlier -- by driving the whole way, flying is still way more comfortable, and probably less stressful. I'm all for only have to drive the last 80 miles of that trip, rather than the entire 361 miles. To me, that's totally worth thirty bucks. Okay maybe thirty-five.
To my surprise, Shobhit actually agreed. And this was before I even narrowed down the difference to thirty bucks -- last night, forgetting about the two-days-for-one Enterprise deal, I was thinking the difference was more like fifty. And I said, "I'm still leaning toward flying rather than driving." And Shobhit said, "Me too." Well, will wonders never cease! Shobhit and I had our fair share of bickering again last night, about unrelated things, but this was a nice moment.
So, then plan is set. I'm going to make the eggnog quickbread Mom and Bill like so much after I get home from Happy Hour with Laney tonight. We'll likely leave the condo tomorrow morning sometime between 8:30 and 9:00, to take Light Rail to the airport, and catch a flight at 11:17. Flight lands at 12:32, and I figure we'll be heading out of the Spokane airport in our rental car at roughly 1:00. Presumably we'll be pulling into Wallace, Idaho around 3:00. We're going to stop at the Costco in Coeur d'Alene to get pizzas to bring for dinner at Mom and Bill's, like we did during our visit in May.
Nikki has already confirmed she and TJ (and Cheyanna) are planning to come visit on Sunday as well, which made me very happy -- and I'm sure will make Mom and Bill happy too. I messaged Nikki about this a couple of months ago but only got confirmation the other day that "unless there's a drastic change in the weather," they're coming on Sunday. Luckily, the weather seems to be cooperating nicely. I'm sort of ambivalent about the weather, actually -- the huge Winter Wonderland I experienced last year had its harrowing moments (namely when I nearly was unable to get out of the hotel parking lot) but it was also adventurous and fun and yielded tons of great photos. I'd kind of like to experience that with Shobhit, who is coming along for the winter visit for the first time ever. On the other hand, if that were happening, Nikki and TJ would be far less likely to make it. And if I have to choose between snow and Nikki, well, I guess I choose Nikki.
And then on Monday, we drive back to Spokane in time to catch a 1:04 flight scheduled to land at SeaTac at 2:29, so we'll likely be back home by about 4:30 that day. Ivan asked me more than once yesterday via Facebook Messenger, before I knew for sure, what time we'd be back. He said he was thinking of taking a "mental health day" off work and wanted to go see I, Tonya -- which I've now told him three times does not open locally until January 5. He's obsessed with this movie (and Tonya Harding) and I'm not sure he really believed me. "How do you know this?" he asked. Well, that's the release date on SIFF's website, and if it were playing anywhere else then show times would be up by now. I was kind of assuming he thought we'd go together, but that's obviously not happening on Monday. He still wanted to know what time we'd be back even after I made that clear, and I'm not really sure why. Certainly his casual boyfriend from Port Orchard will be over again this weekend, but I really doubt he'll stay the night Sunday night, as he'll need to be back to teach on Monday morning. Also I'm going to want to process and upload and caption pictures on Monday evening after Shobhit and I get back.
The top and middle photos in today's entry, by the way, are actually from my trip to Wallace last year -- both of them taken at SeaTac Airport. The photo below was taken on my way to Spokane; the photo above was taken on my way back. I was just saving these until either the next time I visited the Inland Northwest or the next time I wanted to use Christmas or winter-themed photos. Sometimes I save them for an entire year, if the holiday in question is too far behind before I use them all up. It's why I'm using a lot of wintry and/or Christmasy photos these days -- I don't want too large a backlog after the holidays are over, that I would then need to save until next year, when I'll wind up with a whole new crop of them coming anyway.
I actually expect to have more photo sets for Christmas this year than usual, largely because I've already got three so far, and one of those was for Candy Cane Lane in Bellevue, which I only went to once before, back in 2012 (the year I had a record nine Christmas photo sets, and I don't expect that record to be broken any time soon). Although I only had four in 2015, I had six photo sets each for the holiday seasons in 2013, 2014 and 2016. I'm likely to have at least seven this year though: "Seattle Holiday Sights" (including Black Friday and other random stuff); "Candy Cane Lane"; "Holiday in the Park"; "Christmastime with Mom and Bill"; "Gingerbread Village"; "PCC Cookie Exchange" -- our new, lighter version of the work Holiday Party -- and finally the basic "Christmas" set.
Gina and Beth are coming to see downtown decorations -- including the Gingerbread Village -- on December 23, though, and depending on what all we see, that could yield another photo set of its own. That would make eight. I'm also going to Seattle Center's "winterfest" with Laney on December 17, but whatever photos I take on that day will likely just go into the "Seattle Holiday Sights" photo set. In any case, seven or eight, I'll have a lot of Christmastime photo sets this year.
I would even love to go see the Argosy Christmas Ships concert happening at Myrtle Edwards Park tonight at 9:25, but since I need to get home to make the eggnog quickbread, I don't think that's going to happen.
The photo below, though -- that one is from the photo set yielded by last night, when Shobhit and I went to Holiday in the Park -- my fourth time, his first -- the full photo set of which can be seen here. Another surprise to me last night was that of all four times I've now gone to this event, this one yielded the most photos, at 30! The 2012 set had nineteen; 2013 had 23; and last year's 27. Usually the more I go to an event that doesn't change much, I take fewer pictures each year, not more. But I have to give Shobhit some credit here: more than anyone else, he often gives me ideas as to what might make good pictures. And I took quite a few shots inside the Volunteer Park Conservatory in particular.
Christmas means essentially nothing to Shobhit and always has; it only means as much to him as I manage to drag him into every year, basically. I really only convinced him to come with me last night by mentioning that it would give him a point on the next Social Review (which he'll also get for all three days of travel this weekend, by the way). He seemed to like the event okay, but wasn't especially enthusiastic about it. I'm not sure he'll be super keen on going again in future years -- and, honestly, I may wait a few years to go back again myself, unless another friend really wants to go. I skipped 2014 and 2015 (although one of those years it was only because an expected wind storm, which never actually materialized, prompted them to cancel it) and could easily take a break again. On the other hand, if I happen not to have other plans the same evening and have nothing better to do, then why not? So we'll see, I guess.
In any case, after I got the first load of laundry into the dryer -- I normally would be doing the laundry this weekend but we'll be out of town -- Shobhit and I walked to Volunteer Park. It was while walking there that we had our little discussion about sticking with the plan to fly to Spokane. Once at the park, we watched a little bit of the choir singing carols under the canopy in front of the Seattle Asian Art Museum, and then we got in line to get our free cookies and chocolate milk.
A new addition this year: a Darigold booth. After going to the first booth and having quick and easy access to all manner of cookies, the Darigold booth had a very long line. It moved pretty quickly, and instead of the hot chocolate I usually get, I had a little cup of eggnog they were also handing out. Shobhit went for the hot chocolate instead, but we disappointed to find it not just lukewarm, but legitimately cold. Free or not, that kind of sucked. It was probably hot at 6:00 but by now it was closer to 7:00.
Then we went over to the Volunteer Park Conservatory, which is always packed with a beautiful holiday display of a large train set wrapped around decorated Christmas Trees. Again the line was long, probably because of our arriving halfway through the event rather than at the beginning as I usually do. It was still worth going through, I think, and Shobhit actually seemed to enjoy himself in there, and I got lots of good pictures -- 20 of the set's 30 shots are from the visit to the Conservatory alone.
At one point, a woman in line ahead of us turned toward me and said, "You're Laney's friend Matthew!" She explained that she sings in the Seattle Women's Chorus with Laney and sees me on her Facebook page a lot -- which would be because of how often I post pictures there, tagging Laney on them. Come to think of it, a lot of people's Facebook pages get probably half or more of its public activity, viewable by their other Facebook friends, just because of my posts tagging them. That's certainly the case with Shobhit, definitely with Laney, sometimes with Evan and occasionally even with Ivan, although I don't take lots of pictures of him (although with him, sometimes, there are short bursts of several photos, because he'll randomly ask him to take them -- such as when we went to Neko Cat Café).
Once we were done there, we walked back over to the carolers at the museum, and we caught the first four songs or so by what has traditionally become, in effect, their headlining act: the "Beaconettes," an acapella group of ladies who wear big beehive wigs (wrapped with Christmas lights when they perform around the holidays) who are always a crowd favorite. Even Shobhit, who is often difficult to please with entertainment, was amused by their Pacific Northwest living-themed parodies of Christmas carols.
Then we walked up the water tower. There were two guys up there, one black guy just sitting on a bench doing nothing in particular, and one white guy clearly up there just to smoke his joint. I took some looks at the view I always admire from up there, particularly of the Seattle skyline, and then we walked back home. It was about a quarter after 8 by then, and I went to work on editing and uploading the photos, although I didn't caption them all until this morning. I attempted to finish he laundry before going to bed but couldn't make it; the second load wasn't dry and I was too tired by around 10:15 so I just asked Shobhit to bring it in when it was done.
[posted 12:33 pm]