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T minus 3 days: Seattle

The last couple of days have certainly been an adventure, and I haven’t even done any riding yet!

After spending Monday frantically taking care of a bunch of last-minute things (picking up my boxed bike from the bike shop, writing a welcome letter for my tenants, packing everything I need for the ride into two 40-liter saddle bags), I was lying in bed at 3am yesterday morning unable to sleep. Well, as it so happened, I was originally supposed to depart Boston at 9am and connect through Chicago, but last Thursday American Airlines decided to cancel the Chicago-Seattle flight and rebook me on an 8am flight to Dallas. As a trade-off, it made my ticket fully changeable in case I didn’t like that itinerary. So at 3am, I got online to see what I could change it to, and a 6am flight to Dallas was available. Since I figured I wasn’t getting any sleep anyway, I changed my flight to 6am, called a Lyft, and at 4:15 I was at Logan checking in my bike.

Now, one nice feature of the American Airlines app is that they let you track your checked bags. So while I was connecting through the terminal at DFW, I could see that my bike had been loaded onto the plane in Boston and had been taken off the plane in Dallas. But half an hour later, I had boarded my flight to Seattle, the cabin door was closed, and the app gave no indication that my bike had been loaded onto the plane. 10 minutes past our scheduled departure time, the pilot came on the PA and announced that we had had to wait for them to load a final bag, and we could now push back. Sure enough, the app showed that my bike had just been loaded. It still mystifies me what AA could have been doing with my bike for 42 minutes between when they took it off the Boston flight and when they put it on the Seattle flight. I know they’re capable of doing bag transfers much tighter than that.

Secure in the knowledge that my bike was going to make it to Seattle, I was able to relax a bit and enjoy my lunch. I also got to avail myself of the Alaska Airlines lounge in Seattle while waiting for my cousin to pick me up. Sure beats sitting around the baggage claim area. Once she was en route though, I headed down to pick up my bike.

You may notice that there are some white stripes on the box that weren’t there when I checked it in. The TSA apparently thinks that a bicycle is a highly dangerous object, so they took the whole thing apart and put it back together again at some point in transit. Thanks, TSA!

The rest of the day was a bit more mundane. My cousin picked me up, we dropped my bike off at R+E Cycles to be reassembled and tuned up, and I went back to her place for a much-needed nap. Thanks to the late sunsets in Seattle this time of year, when I got up I still had plenty of daylight left to take a walk around Green Lake.

If you’re ever in Seattle, it’s a lovely area, and I do like hanging out away from the touristy parts of the city.

Come nightfall, I headed over to Ballard to check out a couple of the more than a dozen (yes, a dozen!) breweries in that one neighborhood. First up was Obec Brewing.

The brewery specializes in Czech styles, including a pilsner, a Czech amber, and a dark lager at the time of my visit. Based on my experiences with some of their other styles though, they should probably stick with the Czech beers.

More exciting though was NW Peaks.

They did a really good job with a range of styles, including (in descending order of my preference) the Redoubt Red, the Dunkel, and the Scotch ale. The red ale is particularly remarkable because in my experience red ales tend to either be Irish reds, which are bland and undistinguished, or hoppy reds, which have IBUs in the triple-digits and are completely undrinkable. (Of course, I find most beers over 50 IBUs to be undrinkable.) One way or another though, these guys make a very tasty, balanced, drinkable red ale, and I really appreciate that. NW Peaks will definitely be on my list for a return visit the next time I’m in Seattle.

And after all those adventures yesterday, today was surprisingly chill. I slept in, took a couple of walks, and hung out with my cousin’s husband who happened to have the day off work (and who happens to be a beer snob for Washington and Oregon beers and gave me a number of suggestions for breweries to visit). Oh yes⁠— and I also picked up my bike from the shop! Something about being back in possession of my reassembled bike made this whole thing a lot more real, and it’s starting to sink in exactly what I’m getting myself into. We shall see where I wind up…

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