The next day we all boarded the Empire Builder and started chugging westward. You know what would be real nice to have? A high-speed rail system, that's what. Traveling by train is pretty easy but a trip halfway across the country takes a full two days and that includes a grand total of twenty minutes of actually exiting the train to hop around the platform and watch people smoke. We didn't get a sleeper car because they are crazy expensive; that worked out ok because the seats are pretty big and they recline nicely. The best part is the scenery, especially once we hit Washington. Anyway, it worked and we got to Seattle, where my sister lives and Christopher had arrived the night before. We stopped by the house in the woods that she is fixing up to be the Amazing House in the Woods, then we went to her house on the lake that is her current domicile. We met her dog, Emma, a very charming chocolate lab. A good deal of her charm involves her insistence that you share her appreciation for a very slobbery Eeyore toy that has mysteriously escaped the disembowelment all her other toys meet straightaway.
We ate and ate and ate and then we went to mass downtown where we churched and churched and churched. It was in a gorgeous cathedral with excellent music, which was crucial because we were there for four hours. On Christmas we were joined by my niece and nephew. We opened presents (Victoria's wardrobe tripled in the space of two hours) and deep fried a turkey. This is fun! I was in charge of watching the oil heat up, so J brought my iPod out with some speakers and we had ourselves an oil-heating dance party. The sun went down and my sister cracked open her stash of glowsticks just as it was time to lower the turkey into the vat. Bad dancing makes for good turkey, let me tell you. After dinner we played games, I think. There was a cheesecake, I know for sure. Then Chris's girlfriend arrived and we had more present-opening and food-eating.
The next day we went back downtown and checked into a hotel. We shopped a little, then the boy part of our group went to a sports bar and the girl part watched Cinderella by Rogers & Hammerstein. We went to a restaurant after that, and the next day we went on a scavenger hunt. My sister handed us the clue sheet and a map at 1pm and we were supposed to meet again at 3pm, working in teams. That morning, V, J, and I were walking to the market when we passed a wig shop. J's brilliant suggestion was that we three form a team and play as Team Wig, which would mean that we were automatically winners regardless of the hunt's outcome. In the end, Brian joined our team even though he was wigless. It was ok, since we needed a photographer for most of the clues.
The scavenger hunt was awesome! The weather cooperated by lightly raining Seattlishly throughout. Victoria lost one of her false eyelashes near the end, so we renamed ourselves Team Wink. After that, it's kind of a blur. I think some of us went out one place, some went out somewhere else, some of us watched The Muppets again, and then the kids and I repaired to the hotel while the grownups went to a speakeasy. I know the speakeasy people had fun, but we watched The Tower Heist on TV and it was better than I thought it would be.
Some of us went to the YMCA the next morning to play basketball; some of us got doughnuts from Top Pot instead. We checked out and went to the aquarium before hitting the market for lunch. Then we went back to the house and messed with Emma while watching Christmas movies and talking about packing without actually packing anything.
The next morning we shoved all of our stuff into bags and toddled off to the airport (after a hearty breakfast, of course. I am afraid to step on a scale now.) The flight home was uneventful and lightning fast compared to the trip out. I hope I can convince my sister's family to visit us sometime to return the favor, although it will be hard to compete with a city like Seattle. We had a blast.