Revisiting Seattle in 2017

Made it all the way back to Seattle, but on a slightly tighter budget this time.  But I have more than just 2 days this time.  Skipping the tourist locations I visited last time, ie. Pike Market.



I’ve only been on the light rail once here and I like it.  $5 roundtrip from Tukwila International stop to Stadium stop.  Well kept modern stations.


Museum of Flight in Tukwila is right next to an operating Boeing Field (I forget what it’s called now).  Every first Thursday night of every Month is free, from 5 to 9p.  And everyone seems to know it.  You can see planes take off from the airport.  Good gift shop.



On Aug 3, the Blue Angels were in town for the next few weekends.


Seattle Chocolates also has a factory tour in Tukwila.  But even if you chose to skip how they make the chocolate, there are free samples, including a new pairing of dark chocolates and hard cheeses.  A kind of deconstructed milk chocolate I guess.  On every second Saturday, they sell their “seconds”, or their imperfect chocolate truffles (I mistimed my visit) for a discount.  Everyday, they sell chocolate by the pound.


Tukwila also has a great Westfield Southcenter mall, if you want to get your shop on.  But importantly it has affordable food court for those of us on a budget.



The Boeing factory tour is in Everett, 30min north of Seattle.  It is called “The Future of Flight”.  For $25, you can see operating factory floor of the largest building by volume in the world, according to Guiness.  It’s not like a car assembly line yet.  No cameras or electronic devices allowed on the tour, but they have free lockers.  The tour will take hour and a half.  But a great gift shop.


Before the factory tour, you can look through their exhibits on their current model of Boeing planes, and the technology that goes into them, for about 30min to an hour.


Outside you can see all the new Boeing planes on order, on various stages of testing, on the way to their buyers.  They’ve even been painted with the colors of their airline they are going to.

outside.from deck.JPG


Hour and a half north of Seattle, is Anacortes.  Site of where ferries to San Juan Islands live.  You can pay $13 for a individual roundtrip, thru Puget Sound to Friday Harbor, which you have a ever so slight chance of seeing a whale or orca.  But there are dedicated whale watching tour packages in the location, so if you are only there to see the whales, they will go whale chasing (while the whales would feel the need to chase the ferry for you to see them on the ferry).  If you are feeling international, the ferry can also take you to Victoria in Canada.  But added to the price of the ticket, is the cost of parking which is $10/day.

Seattle Chinatown

Somewhere hidden away in Downtown Seattle, is a small little Chinatown.  But what is truly important about this location, is that it is a 10 walk away from Safeco Field.  And there is food, coffee and tea shops that are still open, when the baseball game is over. $4 ice tea at Oasis.  $9 Cantonese roast duck and roast pork over rice special.  $9 hearty Vietnamese pho noodles.  $9 self cooking premium fried rice on a hot skillet in front of you at Ironsteak?





Seattle, Starbucks Reserve Roastery

It’s  nice place for a gift shop, but much too busy to sit and relax.  It feels more like Disneyland Food Lines as a child, but for adults.  But you can try out some of their newer roasts, and product trials as higher end productions.  You even get to see a demonstration of one of their packaging machines.

Mets at Mariners, Jul 30, 17

I’m starting to feel like that Indians fan from the movie “Major League”.

Indians Fan #1: No way, too high.  Too high.
Indians Fan #2: “Too high”?  What does that mean. “too high”?
Indians Fan #1: Too high, I thought.  Because of the trajectory of the ball, it looked way too high.

-From the movie “Major League”, courtesy of


-Courtesy of Nelson Cruz

You know it was hit hard, if the pitcher (Lugo) and catcher looks up like gophers and the pitcher doesn’t even react.  That happened way too often.

But before the game, it’s nice to see the players still interacting with the fans for autographs.

But the game itself.  Clockwise , from upper left.

  • Nice play on a Jay Bruce liner to second
  • Liner by Granderson, to right.  Great sliding play not pictured (queue Indians drums)
  • Granderson realizing how the game was going to go
  • Nice play at second by Reynolds on a grounder in the hole
  • Intensity at the plate by Cespedes
  • One of the errors by the Mets on grounder to second (queue Indians drums)
  • Nice play at short on a grounder
  • Armchair General of the Mets assessing the situation
  • Cespedes again
  • Nice play at second, again by Reynolds
  • Granderson lining up a shot up the middle for a single
  • (Bottom) d’Arnaud looking the fastball into the mit.
  • Wilmer Flores looking the ball into the mit.
  • Nice turn at second, for the double play
  • Nice backing up the right fielder, by Comforto
  • d’Arnaud, late on the high heat (queue Indians drums)
  • (center on way up) Granderson and Comforto have a moment
  • Just out of reach by the shortstop on a hard hit grounder in the hole.
  • Mariners love their big Canadian pitcher (except when they goto Mt Rainier)
  • Reyes hit on forearm by a pitch.  (queue “Wild thing, you make my heart sing…”)
  • Throw back to first
  • Another error by the Mets, Cespedes loses a fly in the high sun (queue Indians drums)
  • (center) Rip by Cano, over first baseman.

Seriously, they might have been trying to climb the barbed wire last night.


Mt Rainier

Entrance fee is $25/7days.  Note, Mt Rainier is a dormant volcano.  Mount Ranier has a northwest entrance at Mowich Lake, but you can’t get to the rest of the park thru by car.

But the southwest Nisqually entrance is the start of a road that takes you along the southern border of Mt Rainer National Park, and then north from Ohanapecosh campground, the eastern border of the Park, to the entrance to the White River campground and Sunrise Visitor Center.  The drive is stunning around the edge of a mountain and several switchbacks.

The Sunrise Visitor center is the highest elevation that can be reached by car, and you get to see a great snow cap of the glaciers here.


But I think the better view of the mountain is at Paradise Inn (or on google, Henry M Jackson Visitor Center) on the southern observation, where you can see several glaciers and wildflowers in bloom.  And even hike further up the moutain.  I think because it’s next to the Inn, the visitor center is nicer looking too, with a nice cafe.



As you pass the Nisqually, you can have you’re first picnic at the day picnic area at Cougar Rock Campgrounds in southwest, where they do have fire grills pictured below.  Ohanapecosh campground at southeast entrance, also has a day picnic area with limited firegrills to use.


At Longmire, you can see the cross section of an old Douglas Fir, outside the museum.


This is the Nisqually River, with Rainier in background, before you reach the road to Paradise Inn.  All along the road, there are pullouts where you can park and hike the trails or just enjoy nature.


Past the Paradise Inn, is a lake where you can see below Rainier.


This is probably red state humor, and the car is only just from Canadian.


Before you get to the Nisqually entrance, you can visit the Trout and Salmon hatcheries.  You can see the little trout.  It won’t take more than 10 to 15minutes to see each, but if you’re on the way to the southwest entrance anyway.


And see the salmons stairs attracting salmon, from the river.


And they have a cute state highway symbol.

Mt. Saint Helens

Ok, if you want to see the crater, goto the northface.  Search on GPS for the Johnston Ridge Observatory.  It’s incredible to see what happened to this mountain.


But on the South side of Mount Saint Helens, is a lava tube, that might be fun as a group halloween stunt, called Ape Caves.  It is a old lava tube, that cooled.  They haven’t lit the cave at all but the tube is like 12ft high.  You need to bring your own lights.  Highly recommend something very bright.  A camera flash will help with photograph of the walls.  It is $5, but the drive is so long that you will likely not be able to see the Johnston Ridge Observatory and Ape Caves in one day.

But there are several stops along the way to get a view of Mt Saint Helens.

There seems to be a retention wall where they hold back all the debris from the original mudflow, but I didnt see anything interesting to actually divert to.

You can see what seems to be either cooled lava with water flowing over it now (maybe it’s just hor the dirt looks now).


But Johnston Ridge Observatory is really where the incredible view is.



Portland, OR, Again 2017

Was here 5 years ago.  And I find myself doing the same things again.  Alder Street Food trucks.  Stumptown and Southeast Grind Coffee houses.  Streetcars around downtown.

Alder Street Food Trucks.  Asian Food.  BBQ.  Mexican.  Indian. Mediterranean. Get it while it lasts.  Downtown is building new buildings.  That parking space is going to be valuable one day.

Stumptown Coffee, a local favorite.  But closes by 6 or 7p, usually.


Southeast Grind, 24 hours


Greasy Fried Rice hits the spot sometimes, and Thai Basil Fried Rice with chicken has become a favorite, $7.  Now, if I only can find a dirt place with Kim Chi Pork Belly Fried Rice.


This time, able to explore Beaverton, Mongolian Hot pot at least.  All you can eat for $20 at Little Sheep.


Not NBA season, but home of the Trailblazers.IMG_8568.JPG

If you want to see downtown, parking is mostly pay lots only.  You may want to consider parking on the east side of the river, and taking the streetcar ($2/ride) to the other side (what the modern chicken does).


Tom McCall Waterfront Park on the west side of river, has a nice view of Mount Hood.


Columbia River Gorge National Scenic Area

It’s FREE! Hallelujah!  But it’s packed on weekends.  Good luck with finding parking between 11a and 3p.

The River has several waterfalls on the Oregon side.  You can see 5 driving on US-30 or Historic Columbia River Highway Scenic Byway.  To get there from Portland, on US-84E, exit for the Vista House at Crown Point, which is 20min east of Portland.  There you get a great view of the Columbia River, a huge cousin of the great Mississippi River, but looks cleaner.  FREE!

Next is Latourell Falls, if you can find parking.  I gave up, so no pictures.

Next is Bridal Veil Falls, again if you can find parking.  Again, no pictures.

Next is Wakeena Falls, which also has a small picnic area (maybe a campground, but I saw no tents) across from it.  Parking is cuthroat.

Past Wakeena Falls, is Multnomah Falls, which is the one to see, if you had only time to see one. You can actually reach it from US-84E, there is an exit there for it’s own parking lot from I-84, and a short walk. The parking lot for I-84 might actually be bigger than the one on US-30. So if you only want to see the Multnomah Falls and nothing else, the interstate is probably the way to go and only 30min east of Portland. FREE!

Then past Multnomah Falls on US-30 (not the interstate), you see Horsetail Falls.

Once past the falls, you need to get back on the interstate. You can head back west to Portland, or head east and stop to see Bonneville Dam.  There is a great display in the basement of the Army Corp of Engineers (yes, that’s correct, they have a visitor center for the dam) in the basement for seeing salmon (and a lot of pacific lampreys/eels) swiming upstream, from the fish stairs they built so they can get past the dam.  You might actually be able to see them jumping the stairs too.  And you get a great view of the dam and pass the locks that allow ships to pass through.  FREE!

If you choose to keep going east, you can see the city of Hood River, an hour east of Portland.  There in the summer, you can see para-sailing, and windsurfing on the Columbia River. You can also see the houses on the Washington State side of the river. What a great view, during the summer.  Cost to rent equipment is unknown, but there are signs up that this is a day use fee area.  LIKELY NOT FREE, BUT YOU GET TO DO MORE THAN LOOK AROUND.


Oakland A’s vs Tampa Bay Rays

I don’t really care about either team, but baseball pigs are so funny.  But uhh, this one has elephant ears.

The A’s (like the Mets) found a way to lose the game.  They did it in the 9th, when their closer was unable to do what he’s there for, and gave up 2 runs.  Clockwise, from upper-left.  Tue evening, 7/18/17.

  • Ceremoniously named Rickey Henderson Field
  • Starting A’s pitcher, who knows.
  • A’s mascot getting hammered by a fan.  Good thing he has a job already.
  • A’s fan heckling a Rays pitcher who was taken out by coach.
  • Stolen base.  Third baseman dropped ball.
  • What a beanball looks like a split second before the batter reacts.
  • Opposite field squibber, or what happens when a second baseman is lazy on his heels with a left handed batter at the plate.
  • Pulled single past shortstop.
  • Longoria swinging through a pitch.
  • Rays Manager getting tossed.  Is he smiling because the visiting office in Oakland is comfy?
  • Starting Rays pitcher, who cares.

San Francisco, Silicon Valley, Berkeley

Silicon Valley, if you’re a techie fan, has a campus for many of the tech companies out there.

Intel has a museum.  Google has the android foam scuptures outside it’s headquarters and separate visitor center gift shop.  Apple, Inc has a gift shop for visitors.  Facebook has the big thumbs up.

Ferries leave from several piers in San Francisco.  Pier 33 is where Alcatraz Ferries lead from.  Pier 1 is where the Embarcadero Food Market is located and ferries to Sausalito. Fisherman’s Wharf is around Pier 40.  Gharadelli Chocolate has great sundaes for around $12.


Alcatraz in the summer is booked for at least 3 weeks into future.  Take heed.  Book reservations well in advance, if you want to goto prison.


Oakland Colliseum from BART, the regional rail system, that converges on San Francisco, leads across the bay, and separate lines go north toward Berkeley and south toward Oakland and beyond, just short of Silicon Valley.  Inside San Francisco is a series of buses and above ground trolleys, that take exact change only, $2.75/ride.  All day passes are sold for $15.


Golden Gate Bridge only accepts electronic payment.  No cash.  If you do not have the electronic pass, you can pay in advance thru their website, as long as you know the day you will be passing through.  The toll is only south-bound, or traveling into San Francisco.


Mr. Rex is famous in Cali!  Like a beloved Dinosaur.


He even is a 49ers employee in Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, 45min south of San Francisco.  I think he’s riding a segway to compensate.



Oakland.  Oracle stadium where NBA champ Golden State Warriors play, and Oakland Colliseum where not so champion today (but 4 time champ) Oakland Athletics play.


Planet Granite in Sunnyvale (Silicon Valley).  Bouldering and rock climbing.  Partner belays.  Both lead and top rope.


Berkeley, considered one of the most diverse colleges in the USA.  The surrounding businesses show it.  The students love it so much, the campus is even busy in the summer.

Oakland has a less acute homeless problem than Los Angeles, but that may simply be because there are better options than tents here.



Los Angeles Greater Area

Coastal Southern California by far has been my favorite place to visit.  The weather is nearly perfect, ranging from 75 during day to 65 at night.  In land, the temperature can be as much as 20 degrees higher.  Go out to the Mojave, and it’s even hotter.  There’s a cool breeze constantly blowing off the water.  The coast has beautiful beaches all along it.

The coast between Oxnard and Santa Barabara has an army of RV’s parked for the opportunity to camp along the beaches of the Pacific.

And the art has been fun and eccletic.  They have so many homages to Mr. Rex’s plight.

San Clemente Beach is a hour south of Los Angeles.  It costs to park at a state park.  Maybe $12/day.  But you can explore the cliffs, as long as it’s isn’t along the private property further down the beach.  But if you like seeing gorgeous houses, this is a great hike down the beach (they may have to listen to the railroad, but it might be worth it).

Pacific Coast Highway, US-1 along the coast of Los Angeles has great views of the beaches.  North of Los Angeles, US-101  is a bigger highway that runs along the coast, but US-1 is right up on the beaches.  Below you can see Laguna Beach.


Huntington Beach, is in Orange County, between Los Angeles and San Clemente.  $15/day to park.  One of the great appeals of this park are the first come first serve firepits to have BBQ’s or bonfires.

Mesa Verde is along the southern coast of Los Angeles, west of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.  It’s mostly on a cliff, and coincidentally enough, nearby Trump National Golf Course.  It’s got a great view of the western coast of Los Angeles.  The is still a small seating area with a free parking lot for the view.

Redondo Beach, is a beach with a municipal parking lot nearby with hourly meters.

Caltech is in nearby Pasadena.

Monterrey Park has an asian majority, with plenty of asian restaurants.  Bubble tea shops that compete for the Starbucks market in that local market.  Where else are you going to find Shanghai style fried dumplings?

Burbank has all the Hollywood studios, and the first Bob’s Big Boy.  Universal Studios has a tour/amusement park.  Warner Brothers studio has a tour/amusement park.  I think Warner Brother tour admission was $62.

Chinatown nearby downtown Los Angeles.  Where else can you find $10 lobster?  But the most popular place I saw was Howlin Ray’s Nashville Hot Chicken, which had huge lines.

Little Tokyo is slightly north of Chinatown.  Sushi and Ramen shops.  You’ll see some shops with “cute” merchandise.  Anime shops.  You might even see the occassional Cosplay on weekends.  The Rubik’s cube in front of the Museum is moveable.

Koreatown is north of Little Tokyo by about 15 minutes.  South of Thai town.  Korean BBQ’s.  Korean mall.  H-mart supermarket.  On both sides of Wilshire Blvd.

Fourth of July in Santa Monica.  Park all day for $5 on weekends or $12 on weekdays.  Tons of great looking sand that leads up to the water.  Fireworks were in Marina Del Rey (between Santa Monica and Venice Beach), but you can see them from the pier, if you didn’t want to make the walk.

Venice Beach I think has lost some of it’s “Muscle beach” attitude and gentrified for the tourist crowd.  But the basketball courts are still there with pickup games.  The gym and exercise equipment has upgraded.  Some of the graffitti art has been “preserved” to some parts.  But there is still the occaisional tagging on the businesses.  Nearby is the Venice Canals which is also gorgeous to look at, if you like looking at houses.  They are more cozy, unlike the fantastic houses on the cliffs on the coast.  But the beach’s great appeal is the abundant businesses on the Boardwalk which offer all kinds of food fare, and souvenirs.

Malibu has Pepperdine University nearby.  But the “town” actually seems rather small.  A parking lot serves the nearby beach for $5.  A lot of the cars are parked on the Pacific Coast highway with surfboards.  It might be mostly a locale for very expensive houses.

Oxnard has also some gorgeous houses on the beach.  The drive into town, you can see some California agriculture at work.

Oldest operating McDonalds (under renovation, so this is probably the last time it will look vintage)

Plenty of shopping.  Del Amo Mall near Redondo Beach is a good place to juts hang out, and shop.

Not pictured is the tremendous homeless problem Los Angeles seems to have.  It’s difficult to tell sometimes bc there is so many RV vacationers along the coast, such as the Westphalia vans at Venice Beach which are likely temporary.  But when the sun comes down, the tents come up downtown.  And they are all along the walls of industrial buildings without doors, for blocks and blocks.  Roughly, around 5th St.  But it’s tremendous, and I lived in NYC in the 90’s.