Two weeks and two days in Seattle and Los Angeles...
AS 365 SJC-SEA L 17:53 A 19:52
The agents at SJC were very friendly, and the kiosk check-in worked perfectly. On the down side, I couldn't get upgraded, and the line to get through security was absurdly long. We boarded our 737-400,(N797AS) through both doors, and the plane had the new seats (mine was 23D). Load was 138/138, but the flights was not overbooked, and we departed on-time. After takeoff, I put in ear plugs due to the snoring man in 23E, and took a Nat'l Geographic from the rear magazine rack. A roast beef sandwich with a large chocolate peppermint cookie was served. The whole thing was wrapped in cling wrap and placed on a napkin...no little basket and heaven forbid, no prayer card!!! There was one beverage service and the full can was offered. The F/As were more than happy to provide additional beverages on request. We arrived at 7:35, and parked at gate C-9 ten minutes early.
The bags from 365 came off almost too quickly...they started coming down even before our flight was listed on the carrousel display.
Up in the Emerald City, I enjoyed magnificent weather, with temperatures in the 70s and not even a drop of rain. The first weekend of my visit was "Seafair," which is often associated with hydroplane races. However, the Blue Angels also perform, and I viewed one of their practice runs over Lake Washington. Its always amazing watching those six F-18 Hornets slide right into place (and stay there), especially during the maneuvers where they fly in formation in such unstable positions (inverted and/or with gear down). Their official title is the "US Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron," which is more telling of the true purpose of their performances. The "Blue Angels" have a busy schedule, with seventy performances per year.
The "Music Experience Project" was also on the agenda, and being a fan of both classical and modern music, it was quite worth the visit. The structure was designed by Frank Gehry, who also designed this Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA. The architecture of this Paul Allen financed, 140,000 square foot museum is seriously bizarre, as it should be, IMHO. Its very expensive to get in ($20), so I became a "roadie" (out-of-state member), as I'll need several trips to see the whole place (even three hours didn't do it justice). Included in the admission fee is a headset with a high tech controller (called a MEG) that can be pointed at the various exhibits for in-depth information. There are small exhibits on pre-20th Century music, but the focus is on the history of blues and rock. There is a full restaurant, and a theater that houses guest seminars and free concerts in the evening. One enters into the exhibits through the "Sky Church," which features the world's largest indoor video screen (its designed to provide a visual compliment to the blaring music).
I also had time to visit a picturesque town of Langley on Whidbey Island, and I would certainly recommend it to anyone passing through the area. The "Inn at Langley" is a good spot for a romantic (and expensive!) weekend, and the town has a pleasant assortment of shops and galleries. We had lunch at "Cafe Langley," which was absolutely outstanding! I would take the ferry back over there again just to eat at this restaurant, which offers Pacific Northwest cuisine with "Greek influences."
I attended the 8/11 Mariners game at Safeco Field, which was against the Cleveland Indians (Yawn...). Well, the tickets were free, and the seats my friend and I were in normally cost $32. In fact, we even got free parking on the street, so I guess it wasn't so bad . The stadium holds 47,000, and has a retractable roof. Since the weather was good, the only thing the roof did was echo the sounds of passing freight trains into the stadium.
I made my usual journey to Mt. Rainier for hiking. I hiked from the Sunrise Lodge up two the "Third Boroughs" which is a considerable hike (roughly 3.5 hours round trip, if you keep a good pace), and even in this late in the season there were patches of snow along the trail. The views of Mt. Rainier and the Cascades are spectacular, and the trails pass by rock formations, lush meadows and mountain streams.
During the trip, I made time for plenty of biking and water-skiing. Also, on 8/13, I ran in the "Swedish SummerRun" which helps raise money for cancer at Swedish Hospital (my mother had extensive cancer treatment there, several years back). I've enjoyed it in the past, but it apparently was too successful. Way too many people showed up, the T-shirts and water bottles were quickly snatched up, and the volunteer coordinators saw their reservoirs of patience run dry. Its a 5K, with many hills, and I think I'll just give them a donation in the future.
8/13/00 AS 584 L 17:33 A 20:06 N972AS (This MD-80 was delivered in 1994, and is one of three that feature enlarged fuel tanks, as it flies the LAX-ANC red-eye)
As usual the Seattle gate agents were very friendly, and we had no problem getting a wheelchair at the ticket counter for my mother (and this one was actually in functional condition ). The arriving aircraft landed early from Phoenix, but had to wait for two planes to push back before it could reach gate D-10. Once it did get there, the turnaround progressed at a leisurely pace. I'm not sure why, but Alaska just can't seem to turn these planes around very quickly at SEA. It took 52 minutes, and what should have been an on-time departure ended up being twenty minutes late. I think it would help things if carry-on luggage restrictions were more rigorously enforced.
The plane was full, but not overbooked, and it was a 2hr 12 minute flight to LA. Once in-flight we had wonderful service. Two packs of almonds and multiple drinks were served. For dinner tonight, we had a choice of curried shrimp, or steak. (Do they EVER serve anything else???) Anyway, we started with a salad full of veggies and butter lettuce, and a large, hot sourdough roll. The shrimp came with rice and veggies and was tasty and fresh. I skipped the dessert, which was some sort of berry pie. Coach had a dinner basket (pasta bowl and some other packaged stuff). After landing at 8:16, our taxi to gate 30 was pitifully slow, and ScAir Force One was visible out of the corner of my window for some time. Baggage arrived quickly.
I don't have anything too remarkable to report from LA (this was the business end of things, although it was not related to the Democratic Convention). I did see a great concert at the Hollywood Bowl on 8/15 (LA Philharmonic, with Enrique Diemecke conducting and Nicolai Lungansky on piano for Rachmaninoff's Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini and his Symphony No. 2).
OK, so that brings me to 8/18, and my flight back to San Jose. Just a few observations and a question:
1) American appears to have their new "one-stop" curbside check-in out there, but they couldn't give me my boarding pass there, and I had to wait in line forever at the gate. I somehow figured this wasn't supposed to happen, but could anyone shed some light on the matter?
2) Alaska no longer offers curbside luggage check-in at LAX, even though they do at their other airports. What's up with that?
2) Do noon-hour flights out of LAX EVER leave on-time? Not in my experience. My flight on Friday was no exception, AA flight 2760 took off about an hour late due to the (usual) congestion.
3) The airplane was an ex-QQ MD-90, and the interior was a total hodgepodge. It had the old Reno Air seats in First, but with more legroom, the previous generation AA bulkheads, and the nice, thick QQ seats in coach, except they were upholstered in new AA fabric. And, thankfully, "coach had more class" on this airplane.