Sunday, February 26, 2006

Another Driving Adventure

I thought it would be nice to show you some pictures of where I live, so I'll try to remember to take my camera when we are out and about. But, here is the first one for you. This is the view from our bedroom window, the front of our complex. Not very exciting. And yes that is what it usually looks like, grey and dreary, although in this picture there is a little more light than usual trying to filter through, the oppresive Seattle air would never allow the sun to shine all the way through but sometimes it is permitted a small peak.
Yesterday we went to the zoo for the first time here in Washington. I have never been to a zoo with snow on the ground. There
wasn't much but it was still quite strange. They actually warned us to walk carefully because it might be a little icy and slick. So, I bundled up the girls, figured out how to get there and headed out for our adventure. It's actually a really beautiful zoo, even in the winter. (Their Orangutan exhibit sure beats The Phx Zoo) I'm sure in the summer, with everything in bloom and green it is absolutely gorgeous. It will be fun to make a whole fun day out of it, I can't wait, but that wasn't yesterday. It was freezing!! Why does it have to be so cold? It's completely unnecessary. Although they do have some cool animals that we aren't able to see in Phoenix. Like, a snow leopard and penguins. We didn't get to see the whole zoo because, like the unprepared mom that I am, I forgot to bring adequate snacks to tide the kids over past lunch time so, we headed home...or so we thought.
You know in your life when they tell you that even one little mistake can lead to horrible consequences. Well, the same theory applies to driving in Seattle. First of all, nothing is marked here, no signs telling you where you are, where you are going or what lane you should be in. No, that's not completely true. There are signs, they are just stupid or meaningless. For example, there is a sign in my town that says 405 OK (405 is the name of a freeway, and apparantly it is okay to drive on it) What the hell? That doesn't even make sense! There is another sign on the Alaskan Highway, wait I will get to that in a bit.
So, apparantly when leaving the zoo, one lane can either go straight and under an overpass or the same lane can go through the intersection and ontop of the overpass. Well, note to everyone...when leaving the zoo, don't go straight!! It will eventually turn and take you to the longest road in the history of roads to ever not have any way to get off of it. At some point I was thinking it will let me make a left turn and I can just flip a U, but no. There is an enormous horrific concrete wall dividing the street, which after driving for 10 miles became a freeway, which then 10 miles later became a highway. Yep, still no way of getting off! Oh, at this point we are now halfway around the entire city of Seattle, driving on, what Steve mentioned to me just 4 days prior, an elevated highway so unstable the city wants to tear it down and build it underground. You guessed, still no turn off. We have passed all the stadiums, we can no longer see the downtown, we've passed all the ferries and cargo ships. The highway turns back into a street, and we are finally able to make a left hand turn on what street? Diagonal Way! Does that sound good to you?
We eventually make our way back onto the highway from hell, the Alasken Hwy. Oh, did I mention that the people in the car consist of myself, my friend Josh from Arizona, a 4 year old and 11 month old? We saw a sign for the 220, which is what we wanted, it said "220 - Right lane", so we stayed in the right lane, but nothing happened, no 220 appeared. So, we decided we were not going to take that Hwy/Rd/Frwy/Ave thing all the way back to the zoo. With our luck we will just make the original mistake again and relive my own hell.
So, we venture into Downtown Seattle. This is not good, and I will tell you why. Seattle is built on a 90 degree angle! Your car has to magically climb mountains disguised as common roads. It is completely terrifying to drive there. As I wait at each stop light, shaking, my heart about to pound directly out of my chest, I'm just praying that my brakes are working perfectly because kiss ass behind me hasn't given me much room for error. When that light turns green, my feet have never moved so quickly from the brake to the gas, all the time releasing the clutch perfectly as to not stall and careen 10 blocks backwards straight into the ocean or lake or whatever enormous body of water surrounds Seattle. I hate those hills, they scare the crap out of me.
We eventually make it onto the correct freeway (apparantly, when they said 220 -right lane, they meant g
et off in downtown Seattle, go straight, make a left on Mercer, then a right on 2nd Ave. straight again, then another left on 1st and a right turn onto the freeway entrance which is largely and clearly labeled but completely obvious. And that is how you get to the 220 by staying in the right lane.) We returned home, that should have only take 20 minutes but turned into 1 hour. Fun!!
Today, with Steve, we went and saw Sqwahomie Falls, I ahve no idea how to spell it and I'm not going to find out how right now, I'll let you know in another blog. It was really pretty. The upper deck lookout scares me to death and I wouldn't let Steve stand near the edge (even though there is a fence) because he was carrying Avrie in the backpack and I'm a paranoid freak. We hiked down to the bottom of the falls, Cailin in the backpack and Avrie in the sling. The walk down was, as it always is, fast and fun. When you have to walk back up those hills. Yikes! Plus with Avrie in the sling, I felt like I was going hiking 9 months pregnant. Good exercise and gorgeous. Completely worth it!
Well, Avrie has nursed about 5 times since I have started typing this, she is now NAK (nursing @ keyboard), so we will now say goodnight.


HLH said...

Am I the only one who reads your blog anymore?! Too bad, cause you are a funny writer. Penguins, I wish our zoo had penguins.... Sorry about the hills/clutch thing, doesn't you car have the anti-hill cluth where it won;t let you roll backward? Hey, if nothing else makes you feel better, it could be San Fran!

I'm so glad I am not the only one who won't let my husband get too close to the edge of anything with young child in hands/arms/back.

The kids look adorable as ever :) Have you taken them on the ferry to Bremerton yet? THere isn;t much to do on Bainbridge, but Bremerton has fun shopping and stuff...maybe it would be better when its warmer.

April Lady said...

I miss being with you when all of these crazy things happen. I'm jealous of Josh! I wish I could have been there, although I hate the cold. I've realized lately how much spare time I have now that you are gone. Apparenlty I spent a lot of my time blabbing away to you.
Avrie is getting so big, she doesn't look like a baby anymore. Her features are changing.
I was taken by suprise to see a picture of you on your blogg, and i am embarassed but not ashamed to say...I started to cry. I haven't seen you for so long and missed you so much when I saw your face. Life's just not the same without you in it fully present. I can't wait to see you when you come to visit. Screw the business, just stay at my house and visit me. I guarantee you I need you more than your dad's business.
I love you and I miss you more than you could possibly know.

Sara said...

I read your blog and miss you too, Jenny! I love the pictures, and I am glad you are enjoying the beautiful place where you now live (except for the driving!) It is really scary to drive a clutch on steep hills. I once had a really bad experience with Scott driving a clutch near the ocean in flipflops...

Lisa said...

I love this one! There's nothing like being completely lost in a strange city and wondering if you're ever going to see anything remotely familiar again! Just consider it as the best way to learn your way around! Next time you're stuck on that ave/hway/freeway/st again, it won't seem quite so foreign.

Lisa said...

oh! and for the driving uphill from a standstill, you need to use your emergency break, rev up the engine a little and start taking your foot off the clutch; when you feel the car wanting to move forward, let go of the hand break and you won't slide backwards even an inch. I'd find a small slope near your place to practice this on first, though...before going out in real traffic.

JRV said...

Thanks for the tip. I will definitely practice before venturing off into downtown. Or, I can just convince Steve to buy me and Automatic :)