• JP

Let's go back to Seattle ..

Visiting Seattle for the second time was much more enjoyable than the first.

There was much more advanced planning, and understanding this time around. I had already been around the block, and had a good memory of what to expect, traveling to Washington State. This made the experience more enjoyable all the way around.

I left on Wednesday, August 1st 2018. I was set to arrive early in the evening, until Alaska Airlines emailed us a notice saying that the flight schedule had randomly changed. The new flight arrival time would be 10:00 at night. This would have been a brutal day, because after scrambling through the crowds at Sea-Tac to get my luggage, we had over an hour worth of bus/train rides in order to get to where I was staying. To avoid an exhausting night, I took a connecting-flight option instead of the original flight. Instead of going from OKC straight to Seattle, I took a 40 minute flight south to DFW (Dallas-Fort-Worth) Airport at 10:00 am, to then go to Seattle.

During the Dallas to Seattle flight, we flew over my home NASCAR track. I have been to Texas Motor Speedway such numerous times, for races, camping trips, fan events, driving schools, and I have seen the stadium from so many different angles. This view from above however, is the most awesome of all. Even from 30+ thousand feet in the air, TMS looks massive. It towers over everything around it.

The flight to Seattle with Alaska Air lasted nearly 4 hours long; only 30 minutes more. This time however, I had bought a GoGo inflight WiFi pass in advance to keep myself occupied. in 2017, I regretted not doing this. All I had was an old book that I had read a thousand times in 2017.

The views of Mount Rainier were breathtaking as always. I enjoyed how instead of landing straight into Sea-Tac Airport, we kept going North, and circled back around the city to come land. As the plane banked left, the entirety of Seattle was right in front of my window. I took as many pictures as I could. The flight attendants had already made the call for everyone to put their bags under their seats on the floor, and prepare for landing. This prohibited me from grabbing my wide-angle lens for my Nikon DSLR that I brought along; so I did the best that I could with my Galaxy S5 phone camera. There was a slight layer of haze/fog between us and the buildings, and this degraded the quality of the pictures, unfortunately. If I were using the DSLR, I could have zoomed in, and/or used a filter/setting to fix this. Oh well, what's done is done. These views looked so much better in real life than the pictures give them credit for.

I definitely like the fact that I got done with the traveling process in the day, instead of late at night. After getting settled, me, my mother, and a friend went to their favorite burger joint to catch up, and admire the Seattle skyline. I was so excited, and could barely contain the urge to go sightseeing the next day.

The first day of sightseeing included going to the famously known Kerry Park for the first time. Kerry Park is known for being the vantage point of many famous postcard photographs in Seattle. There was a slight drizzle all morning that Seattle is famous for, prohibiting me from using the DSLR again. I could not risk getting the components of my camera and/or lenses wet. The view was still worth the short walk from the bus station.

The skies cleared a great deal by afternoon. By the time we went sightseeing in Bremerton, WA visibility was much better. A tradition with us in Seattle, is taking a ferry across Puget Sound to Bremerton. Bremerton is a small town, but it is just fun to get away from the bustling city for a few hours. I spent most of my time standing on the outer decks, and taking in the wind, and views. The temperature was perfect for a day outside. This was the first time I got to use my DSLR.

Every August in Seattle, the Blue Angels flight team comes to town for the "Sea Fair Air Show". I had so much fun using my telephoto (ultra-high-zoom) lens and trying to capture the jet pilots practicing in the distance. This is also another opportunity to capture the city's major landmarks in one shot.

The hands-down most fun thing to do/see, is the U.S.S. Turner Joy display at the harbor front. I got pictures there that I wanted to get in 2017, but missed out on. Some of my favorite souvenirs of the entire trip came from their gift shop.

The next day, was a long, but satisfying day. In return for everything that my mother, and her boyfriend did to enable me to come visit, I treated them to an adventure in a helicopter. I booked a Seattle tour with Classic Helicopter Corp for all of us in Auburn, Washington. What wasn't clear at the time I ordered the tour, was that the Sea Fair airshow practices resulted in the airspace over Seattle being unusable for anyone but the Blue Angels for the entire day. Commercial Airliners, and all aircraft had to fly elsewhere. Classic Helicopter notified us about this dilemma less than a week away from our reservation, which made us quite ticked, but we still took their offer for a tour over Tacoma, Washington instead. It took us just over two hours to get to Auburn, Washington via public transport to meet with our pilot.

Our pilot was a really cool guy, and made a silver lining of our situation. In retrospect, I'm still glad we did this. It was so odd, and unique to feel yourself hovering, and slowly going straight up. You could feel the helicopter wobbling side to side in your seat because of it being a small, vintage helicopter. Some might not like that feeling, but I loved it; I love doing crazy, dare-devil things. It's almost a surreal experience; one I and them will never forget. Being in the shotgun seat of a helicopter is something that cannot be explained until you have done it too. We soared over Lake Tapes, downtown Auburn, and the Tacoma shipyards.

While over Tacoma, I zoomed all the way in with my telephoto lens, and was able to capture some of Seattle to our left in the distance.

After the helicopter tour, we made the 2 hour trip back to downtown, and went to Sky-View Observatory at the Columbia Center building. The Columbia Center is the tallest building in Seattle. The observatory is an astounding 72 stories high over the streets of Seattle! As advertised, it is "The Tallest Observatory In The Pacific Northwest." I'm surprised that this is not a more popular attraction than it is. The 360 panoramic view from nine hundred feet in the air is amazing.

We could see all of the bustling traffic below, all of the intertwined overpasses, and streets in a web. The Space Needle made for a spectacular shot from the Columbia Center. Seattle Seahawks football stadium is close enough, that we could see the scoreboard/TV monitors. People on the ferries/ferry terminal below looked like tiny ants. Cruise ships could be seen coming in to port from the channel north of the city which leads to the Pacific Ocean. SeaTac Airport is visible as well. Well worth coming to see. This was a first time for all of us.

That night, we met with some more old friends at the Hard Rock Cafe along the waterfront, within a block of Pike Place Market. In 2017, we took a brief stroll through Pike Place Market, but did not stop, and really take in the full experience. This time though, we did. I saw the "gum-wall" tradition for the first time, as well as the "fish-toss".

Day four had allot of jet-engine action involved. As it sounds, Saturday, was SeaFair day. The event is held at Genesee Park. The entire park is like the biggest carnival imaginable. Food trucks, concession stands, games, trade show displays, they had everything. It all led to a cove, with hills that spectators sat on, to watch the hydro-boat races, and the airshow.

The airshow was one of my favorite sights of the trip; F-18 hornets flying by at 700+ miles per hour for hours, in different formations/maneuvers. I loved the noise lag between the jets going by, and the "sonic boom" hitting you. It took about 4-5 seconds from the time the jets flew by, before the noise reached us on the ground. The anticipation is the best thing ever!

After SeaFair, we went to the newly renovated Space Needle. The renovations included "the world's first glass floor" as advertised, and an all-glass wall surrounding the observation deck, instead of the old metal structure around it. A cool, and almost terrifying thing about the new layout, is that the glass wall "hangs" outward at an angle. Small benches are mounted on the wall, and visitors can lean on the glass, and look straight below them (literally). I didn't mind, but I probably know people who would get quite anxious sitting on those benches.

Sunday was a pretty quiet, and relaxed day compared to the rest of the trip. It started at Pike Place Market, to see the few things we missed. Back at the apartment, we watched the NASCAR Cup Series Race Broadcast from Watkins Glen. We were cheering for Chase Elliott as he got his first win. After the race, we took a stroll along the beach in West Seattle. We went to their favorite BBQ joint, and had pull-pork sandwiches that were almost 6 inches high! I could barely eat half of it in one sitting! Pecos Pit Bar-B-Que is some of the best BBQ I have ever ate! Can't over-sell the place.

Seeing the scenic side of Washington State, away from all of the city lights, was fun as well.

Leaving on a Monday, saved allot of headache at the airport. I arrived two and a half hours prior to the flight to get in line for security. The reason for this, was because we were anticipating the lines to be horrid like they were on Friday in 2017. The lines were reasonably long, but surprisingly, they moved incredibly fast. The TSA workers did a great job of getting everyone through in a reasonable amount of time. SeaTac airport had definitely stepped up their game since I visited prior. It only took me 30-45 minutes to get through the security checkpoints, and walk into the terminal. With just under 2 hours to kill at Sea-Tac airport, I strolled, checked out the eateries, and bought a few last-minute souvenirs before it was time to say goodbye. Seattle is one of my favorite summer vacations to this day.