In the Land of “It Depends”

A friend told us an interesting story the other day that shed some light on a very important aspect of traveling – perspective.  We all know every human has his or her own perspective.  All of our visitors are unique and their homes are as unique as ours is.  The region that our friend was referring to in particular was that which she calls the “Flat Lands”.  The Flat Lands are the Midwestern heart of America where the Great Plains roll into the horizon and (from what I’ve heard) the roads remain straight and perpendicular. If you can see a flat horizon out your window, you might be in the Flat Lands.  The “Flat Landers” are the people of this land.   If you measure distance in miles and have a habit of punctuality, you might be a Flat Lander.  And as her story goes, on a flight into Seatac Airport one day she couldn’t help but overhear two Flat Landers’ plans for a “little side trip” from their Seattle business convention.  The colleagues planned on hopping from Seattle to Port Angeles, across the Strait to Victoria, British Columbia, skipping over to Vancouver, British Columbia, and jumping back down to Seattle… …in one day. It was about this time that our friend intervened. “Excuse me,” she said as she tapped one of them on the shoulder “I’m sorry, but I heard your plans and I must tell you that what you are wanting to do is impossible.”  Now there’s little doubt the two colleagues were probably shocked by this Washingtonian’s interruption but fortunately they let her continue.  She explained that when a visitor looks at a map of the land around the Salish Sea, it seems like one actually could drive from Seattle to Port Angeles and through Canada in one day.  But here maps are misleading, miles are measured in minutes, water gets in the way, and we start our travel plans with “It depends...”.
Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

Hood Canal Bridge connects the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas.

From a Flat Lander’s perspective, if point A is 60 miles from point B and the speed limit on the highway is 60 miles per hour then (if the rules we were taught to rely on in pre-algebra still hold true) it will take one hour, unless it’s snowing that is. (We Pacific Northwesterners respect the Midwest winters.) Well, that is fine for those people fortunate enough to live with those straight roads and flat horizons.  But from our perspective, the answer to the same question is much more complex and, it seems, much less satisfying to our visitors.
Washington State Ferry

Washington State Ferry unloading its passengers. http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/ferries/

Let’s say for example, point A is Seatac Airport and point B is Victoria, B.C.  In just over 150 miles a traveler could experience a traffic jam or a ferry wait, a backup at the Hood Canal bridge if it opens for a ship, another ferry wait, a 90-minute cross over the Strait of Juan de Fuca, and finally standing in line to go through international customs and disembarking.  That’s not including any other stops.  If we used the same math equation above, the entire trip should amount to no more than 2.5 hours, but to quote our well-intentioned friend, that would be “impossible”.  If none of the hurdles above hinders the trip then the speed limit most definitely will.  Most of the highways on the Kitsap and Olympic Peninsulas are one-lane county roads that meander through small sea-side towns and curving hills.  No zooming through at 60 mph the whole way here.  And, if you’ve been following any of our other blogs, you’ll see that our home is pretty darn interesting!  There are things to do and places to see.  We plan ahead and make extra time because, well, we might make it from point A to point B by a certain time but it depends if we stop and enjoy the trip along the way. Seatac Victoria MapAs it turned out, the two miss-informed business colleagues were so thankful to our friend (and now theirs) that they accepted her invitation to have lunch at her home and make new plans.  After shortening their trip considerably and slowing down to enjoy themselves they returned to the city and eventually back to the Flat Lands with a new perspective of the Pacific Northwest.

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