Monday, August 31, 2009

The Space Needle

We caught the city bus downtown on Sunday morning, heading for the Space Needle. The Needle was built for the 1962 World's Fair and has become a symbol for Seattle.

It is 605 feet high (60 stories), slightly shorter than the St. Louis Arch.

This was an employee out walking "on the edge".
I asked him why on earth he was out there. He said he goes out in the winter because of icicles that form. To avoid the chance they'd fall on people, he harvests them in bags. He was out there Sunday because some of the air vent covers under the edge of the observation deck had corroded and he was taking measurements in preparation for replacing them.

As seen from below.

Ed at the top of his game.
A view from the elevator coming down.
The Needle has a revolving restaurant several stories down. We thought it'd be nice to go there for Sunday brunch until we found out it was $45 a person -- for brunch!!!

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Public Market in Seattle

Saturday, bright and early at the crack of noon, we headed back downtown -- this time with my camera AND its charged battery! We had figured out the bus system by this time, which made the trip easier. The bus system is really dependable and easy to use.

It turned out to be a great day to go to the famous market downtown. Ed didn't think so because there were so many people but I thought it added to the frivolity of it all.

The place is known for the fish stands where they make a show out of throwing the fish someone wants to buy to the guy behind the counter. The guys working there yell and chant, which makes it all the more entertaining. There are always lots of people watching, far more than buying.

Naturally, I couldn't stop looking at all the lovely flowers. Many of the vendors were Oriental and they were diligently making up bouquets. The combinations were stunning.
The mixture of people was amazing and we were surrounded by all sorts of languages. We saw more homeless people than any place we've been. Seattle is known for helping homeless people and obviously, the word gets out. Melinda Gates is going to have a big shelter built so they hope to get many of these poor people off the streets.

We also observed that 80% of the people were on some kind of electronic gadget texting, talking or using headsets. Someone pointed out that Seattle is the home of Microsoft and, which might have something to do with that.

Ed had his salmon and we ate outdoors down by the water. The weather has been absolutely lovely the whole week with the mid-70's during the day.

We're going to Butchart Gardens in Victoria, B.C. on Monday. After all the effort to get our passports set up, we'd better use them, eh?

Friday, August 28, 2009

Passport Problems

We've had several problems with our passports. When we went to our safety deposit box to get them, we discovered that Ed's expired at the end of July. Mine was up to date because when we were in Montreal a few years ago, it was stolen and I got a new one.

Ed went to great lengths to jump through all the hoops for his passport, which is Canadian. There was no indication how it would be sent out but we assumed it would be the mail, which would then go to our mail-forwarding agent. Turns out it was sent by FedEx, so naturally we weren't home and it was returned to Canada. Wednesday, he talked to someone in Canada and we were amazed that his passport arrived to our RV park Thursday morning.

These biggest surprise of all was when the gal from Canada called about a half hour later to be sure the passport had arrived. Can you imagine OUR "gummint" making a follow-up call like this?

Meanwhile, I carefully brought my passport and put it in a safe place in the RV -- I thought. Well, actually, it was in such a safe place that not even I could find it. I called dear Jim Bowman to check a couple of places at luck. I searched daily for over a week. Finally, I found it Thursday.

The good news is, we will be able to go over to the city of Victoria on Vancouver Island in British Columbia. The next challenge is to figure out how and when to go. Taking the RV turns out to be the most expensive and inconvenient way. To be continued.....

Boeing Tour - Ed's Report

Amazing is the only way to describe our visit to Boeing in Everett, Washington! The assembly building for the 747, 777 and the new 787 is measured, NOT in square feet as in a Walmart Supercenter, but in ACRES!! 93.2 acres (about the size of my mother-in-law's whole farm)!!
That is 75 football fields WITH end zones! Imagine three rows of 25 football fields and you get an idea.

It's as high inside as an eleven story building! By volume it is the largest building in the world by a huge margin.
Each of these doors is the size of a football field.
We were standing on the 11th floor observation deck and it didn't look so big because the space, as far as the eye can see, is filled with huge, partially assembled airliners....but then you realize that the ants you see under the planes are humans and the scope of the building makes you shake your head in wonderment.
The Dreamliner is is Boeing's newest plane. It's the first plane not built of aluminum but put together with fiberglass reinforced plastics that that are glued, not riveted. It will be lighter and more fuel efficient.

About 30,000 people work at Boeing on three shifts. They do not allow cameras in this building so no photos inside. We had a great time.
Mary was interested to learn why the humidity is so low inside a plane. That's because moisture is what can cause corrosion. In the new models, the air system will include a filtering system that will prohibit ANY spread of flu, pneumonia, or any other disease.

Aloha, sayōnara, Au revoir, Adiós, Over and Out!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Our Duck on Land and Sea

We headed out this morning, drove to the Park and Ride free parking lot and got a bus downtown to Pike Place Market. The Seattle greater area is 3,500,000 and we really got that "big city" feeling downtown....such a great place for people watching. We started at the Pike Place Market, famous for its fish market. I got out my camera and guess what I forgot....the battery was back at the RV in it's charger. We decided to save the market for another day -- with camera.

After a Thai lunch, we took the monorail to catch the "Ride the Duck" tour. The DUKW was an amphibious landing craft developed by the U.S. Army during World War II.

The tour around the city was about an hour on land and a half hour on water. They tell all sorts of silly jokes and play crazy music, which made for a light, fun afternoon.
We still have the Space Needle and our trip back to the market to look forward to another day. Ed's especially looking forward to touring the Boeing Factory, which we might do on Friday.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Desolation in East Washington

The drive from Post Falls, Idaho across Washington state was a surprise. I don't know what we expected but what we drove through were miles and miles and miles of the most desolate country we've seen. There were some areas with greenery but that was only because of irrigation.
We stopped at an observation point that overlooked the Columbia River. Ed was intrigued by these rocks and how they were formed. Some of them almost looked like a man-made retaining wall.
Columbia River

The rugged mountains were a refreshing change from the miles of boring land, even though it was a long haul through the Cascades.

Our RV park is here right in Seattle and we'll be able to use buses to go downtown for sight-seeing. Today was a catch-up day for laundry and bill paying. Going paperless with our bills has been a real bear but worth the hassle.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Tally Ho in Idaho

Missoula, Montana is a city of about 90,000. They have a Costco, Walmart and 3 big RV dealers. We planned to stay a couple of days to shop and get a part for a broken bay door.

Meanwhile, our mail-forwarding service sent our mail (we tried to go totally paperless but forgot a few businesses) to our campground in Yellowstone and there were several things that need to be handled by phone. Problem -- Missoula is situated in sort of a low bowl, especially our RV park and we had no cell service.

After one night, we headed west on I-90 and ended up in Post Falls, Idaho. (It turned out to be only 12 miles from Spokane). I had sort of a fibromyalgia meltdown and was hurting and exhausted so we stopped early at an RV park right by the Flying J where we had filled up on diesel. Ed went to the pool for a while and I rested and napped. We considered staying to tour Spokane but didn't read about anything unique or exciting enough to motivate a longer stay.

It's now about 10:30 am Pacific time and we're heading to Seattle. There should be plenty to see there. At least I can say I slept in Idaho.

Wonderful Wildlife in Yellowstone

There is just something so exciting about seeing animals in their natural habitat, especially when we're talking about ones that you've never seen except in a zoo.

On Friday, we saw a gray wolf (it was black in color) across the way. I watched it with my binoculars. Ed took pictures but even with his zoom lens, it wasn't easy to see. That was a very lucky siting, not seen by many.

A guy in our group spotted the wolf. When we stopped so did others, not even knowing what we were watching.
Here was Ed's photo with his telephoto lens.

At least with cropping, we could see the wolf, who was carrying something that appeared to be a small animal in his mouth.

This is another example of a shot from far away. I thought Ed captured this crane and its reflection beautifully, in spite of the distance.

We saw lots of buffalo -- you don't have to worry about missing animals because there is usually a traffic jam of people stopping to take pictures.

Hey, buddy, how's it going?

Sunday morning as we were leaving, there were lots of cars in the Hayden Valley and traffic was barely creeping. There were large herds on both sides of the road and we could see one lying down on the pull-out area. As we approached, we saw that a calf must have been hit and it was lying on its side dead. That was so sad.

We had visited Mammoth Hot Springs on Friday and our guide was disappointed that the elk weren't there. As we were leaving the park on Sunday, we passed through there and the elk all over the place! There were several rangers directing traffic because the elk just walked across the road whenever they pleased.

If it itches, scratch it!

Whew! Think I'll take a break.

We also saw a mountain goat and an osprey nest but we didn't get pictures. We saw a mama moose and her calf on our way to Cody last week - too bad I couldn't get my camera out fast enough for that.