My First Tsunami Warning

We first noticed the crawl across the top of the TV screen- tsunami warning for all of Hawaii. A tsunami had been generated from a 7.7 earthquake off the coast of Canada. Earlier that Saturday evening we received text messages from our state Office of Emergency Services saying,”No tsunami warning for Hawaii.”

Cars lined up at a gas station.

We are close to an evacuation zone, but not in one. I didn’t know what to do. Was the earlier text correct or the current TV warning? Just then, we heard the first tsunami siren go off in our neighborhood.

Mark and I both jumped up, grabbed our emergency supplies and our kits, added a few items, and drove off.

Within 15 minutes, we saw lines at the gas stations, traffic on the streets with cars driving erratically, and turnouts along the mountain roads already filling up with cars. People were moving to higher ground and staking out spots to stay until the warning was over.

Traffic on the rainy streets after tsunami sirens sounded.

It turns out the tsunami was minor. Many sirens weren’t working and a few other glitches happened, but overall, I’m taking this as a good practice run. State Civil Defense gets a chance to fix the sirens and we get a chance to refill our emergency kits. (We moved a few weeks back, and not wanting to move our extra water, we drank it up.)

The following day, we left the tsunami in Saturday and focused on Sandy, the monster storm, about to hit the East Coast.



Yearning and Appreciation

Yesterday my Facebook feed had stunning photos of fall colors from my friends around the country. Beautiful reds, oranges and yellows lined my computer screen, until I came to my friends from Lake Tahoe. The colors abruptly stopped and I faced whites and browns. Snow. Inches of snow already piled up on decks and chairs and tree limbs in Tahoe.

I had so missed the season changes a few weeks ago. I craved a big city where I could walk down a street with coffee in hand, browse through bookstores, and maybe throw a scarf around my neck to keep warm.

Hello, Seattle. We took a journey to the Emerald City two weeks ago. After arriving at our hotel at 11:00PM the first night, we slept until 8:30 our time. Which meant we wandered into Pike’s Place Market and asked for breakfast at noon Seattle time.

After breakfast, we walked the market and found a bookstore, an independent bookstore, whose owner said, “As long as there are books, I will be here.” I purchased a few books I had wanted, but couldn’t find on O’ahu.

A colorful corner of Seattle

We then found small cafes and coffee shops scattered around the neighborhood. In one, Mark said, “ If it rains tomorrow, we can stay in here, read books and drink coffee all day. “ My idea of a perfect day.

Space Needle on a sunny Seattle day.

It didn’t rain and since we didn’t have a car, we took public transportation (which is very good) to the Space Needle. We ate at the revolving Sky City restaurant. My favorite part was when I saw a note and a pen sitting in the windowsill that remains fixed, while the tables revolved. A kid had written:

My name is Alex.

Yours is______________.

I wrote, “Cynthia. Nice to meet you.” I placed the note back in the window frame and watched it circle away from us. Soon, another note appeared. This one asked where we came from. People from Texas, Oklahoma, California and Utah signed the note.

As a former teacher, I love this kind of interaction with kids.

Saturday, we went to the USC-UW football game. We caught the USC marching band as they entered the stadium. The “V” sign was everywhere for a minute or two, then they disappeared into a tunnel to their seats.  During the game, we wondered if Pete Carroll was sitting in the stadium somewhere, watching his former assistant coach on the field.

Did I mention I try to be gluten-free? Inside CenturyLink stadium there’s a gluten free food stand. I doubt I’ll ever see one at Aloha stadium.

Our last day in Seattle, a friend picked us up and drove us far into the state. Through the eastside neighborhoods, we drove until we reached the country. We stopped at Snoqualmie Falls, where we admired the view through a veil of steady rain.

Colors of fall in the Washington country

We drove and drove through trees and grasses of beautiful fall colors. I was getting my fill of autumn. We drove all the way to Alaska. Okay, not really, we drove to Roslyn, which was the setting for the TV show, Northern Exposure.

Roslyn,Washington where the TV show Northern Exposure was set. It was supposed to be a town in Alaska.
Cicely, Alaska, the town in the show Northern Exposure.

After dinner at a seafood restaurant along the Seattle waterfront, we returned to our hotel where I reflected on the sights I had so missed.

Fall colors

Evergreen trees

Coats and scarves

Clouds and fog

Farmland with streams and rivers

Coffee shops and bookstores in every neighborhood.

The USC football team, band and fans.

Yes, I had yearned for the mainland sights, but when we sat in our seats on our flight to Honolulu, I couldn’t wait to get home. Home to warm weather, friendly people, a slower pace, the beach, and THE COFFEE. I had spent five days in the coffee capital of the U. S. and I missed Hawaiian coffee.

I wanted to go home and wondered why I had been so anxious to leave it. Was I one of those people who always looked forward to the next thing and missed what was in front of them? In this case, I think I was. My friends had taught me the importance of being present and somehow I had forgotten to appreciate the moments. Seattle was fun to visit. I took in as much of the experience as I could, but I vowed not to miss the everyday of my life.

I don’t want to leave here anytime soon.  Nothing on the mainland beats a Hawaiian morning on the beach wearing shorts and a t-shirt and drinking local coffee.

Appreciating the moment.