Getting There - Aneel's Travelogue

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Seattle Seattle, WA, Monday, 22 August 2011 12:57am

I've spent the past nine days in Seattle, staying in my friend Lauri's guest room, enjoying the famous Seattle sunshine, and being a tourist. I got one of the City Passes, which gives discounted entrances to some of the city's biggest tourist attractions, and I managed to use every one of the ticketsÖ

Space Needle: it was a clear day, so the views were great. I read the informational signage about how the structure was built, which was surprisingly interesting. It's shocking that the tower was finished in time for the World's Fair, given how much of its construction was made up as the builders went along.

Experience Music Project/Science Fiction Museum: this made me feel really old, because there was a special exhibition about Nirvana, who became extremely popular while I was in high school, and I got to hear kids asking their parents how Kurt Cobain died. I thought the best part was a room full of video recordings of various Science Fiction authors and Musicians talking about various topics (e.g. Octavia Butler talking about deciding to work for herself, or Henry Rollins talking about what it takes to run an independent record company).

Pacific Science Center: I'd been here before. It's more kid-oriented than I'd remembered.

Harbor cruise: Another clear day, so I got more great views. There's a floating radar station in the harbor for repairs. According to the cruise narrator, it could track a baseball hit out of Wrigley Field (some 3000 miles away from here).

Seattle Aquarium: A nice small aquarium. I got to see some of my favorite tropical fish (including the Thornback Cowfish that I'd hoped to see in Indonesia, but didn't) and some of the local fish and mammals. The octopus was being unusually active. There was a collection of gorgeous photographs of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill.

Museum of Flight: A very impressive museum, with a huge collection of restored or recreated historic aircraft. I got to listen to a docent talk about the Navy A-4 Skyhawk, and it turned out that he had actually been a test pilot for the things back in the 50s. He talked about how various problems surfaced during testing and how the design was tweaked to compensate. It was fascinating to see the exhibits about the period when wooden planes were starting to be replaced by all-metal models.

Other touristy things I did: took the Pike Place Market Ghost Tour (Seattle has some bloody characters), visited the Smith Tower observation deck (once the tallest skyscraper outside of New York City), Ye Olde Curiosity Shoppe (mummies and shrunken heads), and Kubota Gardens (a Japanese-American's attempt to create a Japanese-style garden using native plants), and ate at Ivar's Acres of Clams.

I also met up with friends a number of times, got a lesson on basic Fiore Longsword fighting, saw a play at a Fringe Theater (Penguins 5 at the Annex), went to a wedding reception (one of Lauri's cow-orkers), went to the park where Lauri's 3 year old son likes to play, and had dinner at an excellent Vietnamese restaurant with college friends. All in all, a great visit.

I stopped by the Seattle REI a few times to pick up some more camping food and to refine my load out. I'm replacing my down pillow with an inflatable one that I think will be more comfortable (and take up a fifth of the space). The plan is to head east tomorrow morning.

135mi in 9 days