so here's the plan which can be altered at any time without penalty so if something better comes along (zyrc?) I can change everything around. the cheapest thing to do was rent a car for two weeks ($225 for two weeks. unlimited mileage. can't beat that!) so I'm going to be in Seattle from Aug 17 - 26. I'm driving back somewhat leisurely in order to take in some northern california trees and beaches.
that's it really. not as exciting as the three hours I spent tracking down fares and rates and fees would have seemed to suggest. the only questions at this point are: stop at Powells on the way up? and stay another night north of SF before driving back into the city?