Seattle Sat

July 17, 2010

Sat in Seattle. It started out gray and now we have afternoon sun. We drove to the Oakland airport Friday morning expecting to get stuck in traffic — instead we sailed on through and got to the neighborhood of the rental car return center an hour early. Prepared for this eventuality, we stopped at Arrowhead Marsh, about two blocks from the rental center. The marsh is part of the Oakland estuary system, and we saw lots of birds there, including scores of Willets — large, longbilled shorebirds with distinctive wing patterns — Marbled Godwits, Dowitchers, some scaups, a nice looking Ruddy Duck, assorted swallows and field birds, and the fabled Clapper Rail, a large, long-billed mud hen endemic to California. We have looked for the rail a few times before without luck, but Pam spotted it and we got some good looks. After that we drove to the rental return, hustled our baggage to and onto airport shuttle, hustled the bags (including two camping packs) off the shuttle, wheeled over to the baggage check-in, disrobed for the TSA, then finally settled in the waiting area near the boarding gate.

The flight was full and uneventful. I reread a large chunk of the Song of Roland while the teenage girl seated next to me played a variety of games on her ATT cellphone. I restrained my grief at the death of Roland so as not to disturb her concentration. Pam read a mystery novel. My brother Paul and sister-in-law Barbara picked us up at the airport and we’ll be staying with them this week. Next Saturday we will fly home to Fairbanks.

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