Closer to home than my previous trip, on a drizzly September weekend with rain in the forecast I attended the Pacific NW Writers’ Association writing conference at a hotel on International Boulevard across the street from SeaTac airport. Getting to a destination closer to home proved more challenging than taking the train to another city. It occurred to me how great it would be if there were similar concentrations of conference facilities adjacent to Amtrak stations. The location was ideal for anyone traveling by plane. Not as much for getting there by ground.

Again, I loaded my rolling backpack bag, this time including a raincoat. I also tucked in a cooler bag with frozen green smoothies to supplant a couple of notoriously egg, dairy, and pork heavy hotel breakfasts, another climate mitigation effort. The hotel I chose to stay in a block away from the conference is more environmentally astute.

The journey there went smoothly, other than having to schlepp my bag down three flights of stairs due to a broken elevator at the LINK light rail terminus at the airport. More steps to count!

I made my 10k step goal each of the four days of the conference with walking to and from where I stayed.

Transit challenges

The toughest part of the journey was returning on a mid-day Sunday when at least two sports teams were playing and offramp closures were in effect for efficient rerouting of freeway configurations. Traveling weekdays means clogged freeways. However there are also many more transit options designed to meet the weekday nine-to-five commuting load.

Bus connections on Sunday were far less frequent. Due to getting stuck in unusual Sunday traffic, those schedules got delayed. I missed one bus, then another, due to each bus I needed to take to the next connection arriving later than scheduled. Then the bus after the one I missed was late. It took me four hours to make what is typically a one hour drive on a Sunday. It may be it would have been longer anyway with traffic. At least I kept one more car off the road (you are welcome!). I also made good use of that raincoat I had packed.

Surprises for the pedestrian observer

Here is my public thank you to the kind person who pulled up to the curb alongside me in her Prius and offered me a lift to where I was going. I could not tell by my brief glimpse through the car window if I knew her. If she stopped because she knew me, my gratitude is undiminished. This was when I was trundling my bag on its wheels option up the sidewalk the final half mile from bus stop to home.

By this point it felt as if it would have taken more effort to load my bag and myself into her car and then unload at my destination. I was so close. I also did not know if she would have been going my way or out of her way to deliver me to my door. I hope my declining her offer was not off-putting.

yarrow millefoil growing between curb and sidewalk
Nature finds a way

Because I was on foot for the final leg, the little flowers growing up through the sidewalk seams became an unexpected delight. Leaving the noise of traffic on the arterial I turned onto the quieter residential street with only a few more blocks to go. I could feel my breath deepening as I got farther from traffic fumes. Pavement freshened by recent rain is a smell that evokes home for me.

A decorative water bottle crushed
A decorated bottle wasted.

We miss so much when enclosed in a vehicle. Also missed are opportunities for small actions that can make a difference. The trash spread by crows invading a neighbor’s collection bin was something I could remedy since I was on foot. A colorful plastic single use water bottle crushed on the roadside was another item I could prevent from being washed away to contribute to the garbage patch of plastics in the ocean. Fine print on the label read, “We exist to advance the sources of Creativity … Refresh your mind and restore your body.” This message was contrary to the reality. Wouldn’t it have been more appropriate imprinted on a durable reusable bottle someone could refill and enjoy again and again instead of tossing aside.

The cheery greeting of a front garden filled with bright flowers welcomed me home at last. Seeing these flowers planted in memory of a friend’s son, and our restorative garden from the point of view of neighbors who walk by, refreshed my mind. My body would soon be restored by sleep after hours of taking responsibility by taking more footsteps to reduce my footprint.


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