As promised in my previous post, here is a run-down of my recent trip to Seattle.
I was in Washington state from Sept. 2 – 8 (and for a final day before flying out of SeaTac after visiting Portland); this included three days on the Olympic Peninsula and the remainder of the time in and around Seattle. I stayed with a friend from university, but also toured around by myself while he was working during the days. I had a great time there and hope to visit again. Seattle is obviously booming and there is plenty to see and do. It does seem like an expensive city to live in; and, like Portland, I found it took longer to get around on public transit than I anticipated, so I had to resort to calling a cab (my friend informed me I should have tried Uber instead) or making a mad dash more often than I would have liked.
One of the great things about Seattle is some of the iconic and ground-breaking companies that call it (or the area) home: Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Boeing. There are unique things to see and do related to these companies and their founders, which I'll describe below.
I'd say the top three highlights for me in Seattle (visiting Olympic National Park was another highlight of this trip) were, in no particular order:
- Going kayaking on Elliott Bay with Alki Kayak Tours. I went on a two-hour guided tour that included views of the waterfront, ship traffic and barges, sea lions—getting any closer would have been uncomfortable, because those things aren't small!—and a Superfund site.
Touring Boeing's Everett assembly plant where they build 747s, 777s, and 787s. (I don't have any photos because cameras are not allowed on the tour). The main building is the largest indoor space in the world and the tour is very interesting. Because the planes they build are so large, it actually looks more like a permanent (and very well-organized) construction site than a typical factory. They have scaffolding, laydown areas, and 40-ton cranes, and a lot of stand-alone equipment rather than a single centrally-controlled assembly line.
Going to a Seattle Seahawks pre-season game.
Some other fun things I did included:
Seeing the iconic Seattle sights of Pike's Place Market and the Space Needle, and walking along the waterfront and downtown. I was blessed with pretty nice weather while I was there.
Drinking lots of coffee! I really enjoyed Street Bean Espresso and Monorail Espresso. I saw, but didn't bother waiting in line to get in, the original Starbucks' location in Pike Place Market. The Starbucks that I did go to in Seattle was their Reserve Roastery location, where you can watch beans being roasted and bagged on the other side of a railing from the coffee shop. That was pretty cool.
Going to the Seattle Aquarium. It is a medium-sized aquarium that is very well laid out and presented, in my opinion. I especially liked some of the tanks that have simulated waves.
- The Asian Art Museum (and the nearby Conservatory, both located in a park with a nice view of the city). The art museum had a piece by Ai Weiwei, some fine Chinese ceramics and sculptures, Persian/Moghul paintings, and some calligraphy, among other things. Even better, the art museum and the conservatory were both free on the day that I went (the first Thursday of the month).
- I went for a nice walk along Lake Union out to Fremont. Along the way, I took a look at the boats moored at the Center for Wooden Boats, which has an inspiring vision of preserving the local maritime culture, mentoring youth, and building community around boat-building and sailing.
- Right before leaving for Portland, I briefly dropped in to an environmental networking event in a cool space in SODO and had fun meeting some people.
There were some other things to do in the area that I came across but didn't have time to really check out on this visit. Many of them are connected to some of the prominent people and companies from around Seattle:
The Museum of History & Industry (MOHAI), with the Bezos Center for Innovation.
The Living Computer Museum, supported by Paul Allen.
Milepost 31, an interpretive centre for the largest on-going tunnelling project in the world.
For my next post, I plan to discuss hiking in Olympic National Park, along with some analysis of rainfall data from a temperate rainforest there.