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News / Clark County News

From the Newsroom: More about my Seattle trip

By Craig Brown, Columbian Editor
Published: February 24, 2024, 6:03am

On a recent Wednesday, I was so excited to come to work, I could hardly sleep the night before.

This was highly unusual. I enjoy my job most of the time, unless the syndication company hires a new author to do the crossword puzzle. But I don’t lose sleep over it.

However, this was a special occasion. Four of us from the newsroom were racing from Esther Short Park to the Space Needle to settle the question, “What’s the fastest way to get from Vancouver to Seattle?” (If you picked up this section of the paper before the front page, the answer is on A1.)

When transportation reporter William Seekamp first floated the story idea, I was quick to approve, and also quick to volunteer. I had assumed I would drive, because I own both the newest car and the biggest car in the group. But William asked me to fly instead.

I don’t mind air travel, and my frequent flyer account can always use a few more miles. So I eagerly assented.

Planning the trip was next. We knew that we’d have to set our departure time from Esther Short Park around the bus schedule; there are only four bus trips per day and the bus leaves from downtown Portland, not Vancouver. We had to allow time for reporter Sarah Wolf to get downtown in rush hour traffic to get the first bus.

So we selected 7:15 a.m. as the departure time. There’s a flight from PDX practically every hour. I booked the 9 a.m. flight. But how should I get to downtown Seattle from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport? A taxi or ride share service seemed expensive, so I looked at the Sound Transit light rail line, which I had ridden before when I went to see a Mariners game. My decision was solidified when I realized I would need to get off the train near the downtown monorail station. The monorail is the iconic way to arrive at the Space Needle.

Traveling turned out to be so easy. On the appointed Wednesday morning, I arrived at the park too early, so I went for coffee. It was just turning daylight when photographer Taylor Balkom snapped our photo before he headed to the Vancouver Amtrak station.

I decided an ordinary traveler to Seattle might use the airport’s long-term parking garage, so I drove there. It was a new part of the airport to me, as I am more of an economy parking person. I walked right up to the TSA identification check, and there was no one ahead of me as I took off my coat, shoes and belt and went through the metal detector thing.

The flight wasn’t full, so no one was next to me and I got to sit by the window. Sea-Tac was packed, and we used one of the gates where you have to take the subway to the main terminal, but I was out of the airport quickly and the walkway to the light rail station was easy to find.

Having heard horror stories about Portland’s light rail and also Seattle’s Westlake Station — my destination — I was on the lookout for trouble, but the train was pleasantly clean and mostly empty. At Westlake, a bunch of signs pointed me to the monorail platform.

The weak winter sun was shining when I walked up to the base of the Space Needle. I hadn’t been there in probably 20 years, so it was fun to admire it. The revolving restaurant at the top is gone, but there’s still a food court inside the nearby Armory building where I waited for the others.

After lunch, William drove us all back to Vancouver. Our luck continued; traffic kept moving at freeway speeds as we traveled down Interstate 5. I felt sorry for Sarah, William and Taylor, who had to spend all afternoon in the car with the boss, but I really enjoyed myself!

We got back to Vancouver in time for me to go through my email and voice messages. That night, I fell asleep in my chair not long after supper. It was a fun day, and I hope you thought the story was fun, too.