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Traveling Light

One of the basic principles in traveling is to arrive at your destination with your luggage. Most times, when luggage is missing, it's the fault of the carrier. It is rarely one's own fault. And when it is, one especially feels like a dope. This recently happened to me on a train trip heading to Vancouver, B.C. for a weekend. Luckily, if I can count such idiotic circumstances as luck, Amtrak had not yet negotiated convenient links from Portland to Vancouver without a bus ride or an overnight stay in Seattle. I'd rather stay in Seattle overnight and continue on the train to Vancouver, along the outstanding coastline, rather than by bus along I-5, so there I was in Seattle with no luggage.

This predicament was discovered about ten minutes out of the station and I was lucky enough to have an efficient Amtrak representative, who did not laugh, call the Portland station, describe my bags, and have them put on the next train, which would arrive at 10 p.m. that same night.

No problem. Except that I was supposed to go to a reception in the evening and mingle with nicely dressed folk and eat fancy hors d'eouvres in the Presidential Suite of the Edgewater Hotel, where I was staying.

The Edgewater, built on a pier, is the only hotel in Seattle directly on the waterfront. Some may recall the famous 1960s photo of The Beatles fishing out of the hotel window. I'd like to fish from my window, or at least relax in my lovely warm room looking out on Puget Sound, but being prudent, I thought it best to run uptown and try to find something more suitable than jeans and a sweater to wear to the reception.

I headed out along the waterfront and got only two blocks when it began to rain. Hard. I flipped my hood on my raincoat over my head and continued to the public elevator that would take me to the covered walkway over the road and railroad tracks to within a few blocks of Pike Place Market. Then, only a few more blocks to downtown I was sure I could find something. As I hustled by, hunched against the rain, I glanced at the Pike Place clock. Great. If I hurried, I had just enough time to get back to the hotel and take a shower before the reception. Forget the clothes. I'd be fine.

Taking a shower and washing one's hair in a hotel is not a problem without one's luggage. Most places you can rely on shampoos and conditioners and a hair dryer. How blissful I was in that shower. How foolish I was looking in the mirror afterwards. Just how does one deal with one's hair without a brush or comb? Call the desk. Ask for an emergency toiletry kit. Done, easy. However, I must not have made it clear that I needed the items as soon as possible. Oh, well, a little ballpoint pen parting and finger-combing would have to do.

O.K. so I was a little out of dress-code and uncomfortable, but after one stupidly muttered, “I left my bags in Portland,” I thought what the heck, are they going to slap my hand if I reach for a crab puff: "Excuse me, missy, what do you think you're doing?! Didn't you have the good grace to change your clothes?"

Thank heavens they had the good grace not to notice.

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