>Seattle Story III

>Hello and welcome to the third of four-part series in which I narrate my experience during the trip to Seattle my friends and I took on the Labor day of 2008. The series is titled “The Seattle Expedition” and you are here by given full authorization to dive head first into the penultimate day of the trip in which we move away from nature trails I described in the previous chapter and shift to explore some of modern man’s astonishing accomplishments on land and air.

Disclaimer: All names, places, accounts and events mentioned in the narration can be partially or entirely false. Reading this narrative can cause sudden increase in awesomeness and attractiveness, blinking-eye syndrome and body hair. Other Side effects include loss of time, increased knowledge, read rage and erectile dysfunction.


August 31: Kingdom Of Crystal Skull

It was a long time ago, since I had been to a small town/village and it was almost new to be in a place that had no trace of urgency, whatsoever. Not that I am too busy in phoenix, but the idea of having no tight schedules, tight corners with yield signs and blaring horns was such a refreshing experience. Morton, the place where I woke up on today (story’s today, not the actual today), was the place I described in the previous sentences. Yesterday (again, Story’s Yesterday) we visited Mt. Rainier and since due to weather conditions, we couldn’t reach the top and had to turn back, today we planned to visit another active strata volcano St. Helen. I am not sure if the residents thought if they named it after a female Saint the volcano might feel indecent to throw up all the hot lava when everyone is watching, but apparently, the name had no impact on its behavior. She blasted her nice tapering cone in 1980 during a violent eruption caused as an effect of a 5.1 Richter scale earthquake, drastically changing her and her surrounding’s appearance forever. The current crater on the top is a direct result of that eruption and she has been blowing up in smaller scales since 2004, which finally subsided in July 2008. So, that’s where we were planning to go. And we picked the city of Morton for its closeness to St. Helens.

After the nice shower and having previous night leftovers for breakfast, we marched out to our car and began the journey. We drove along the irresistible beauty, which is Washington’s greenery, which we were getting used to by now. The road started to get narrower and the trees started to get denser as we moved closer to mountain and as we got closer to within a few miles from it, the rear side of luck showed its metaphorical face as we entered the road that leads the foot of the mountain off the main intersection. Apparently there had been a bad rain a few weeks back, which resulted in a land slide which ‘slided’ the land, which was a part of the road we were supposed to travel. There was a big signboard along with the area map of the landscape, showing another roundabout route to our desired destination, but that would offset our overall travel plan by several hours. So, we decided against it and traveled back to or starting point- Morton which would lead us to our next destination, cheap lunch.

It was disappointing- not being able to set foot on a very recently active volcano and that too after being so close- and on top of that we had wasted that many hours driving to and fro without any apparent gain. Anyway, I think almost all of out miseries can be fixed by a good lunch that doesn’t cost that much. Enter Subway Five-Dollar Sandwich. With 5 types of bread, a couple of them actually tasting well, around 10 types of dressings and even more number of questions from the sweet girl behind the counter, its hard not get satisfied. And that’s the Lunch.

Since we were not about to scale the height of the volcano, we decided to go higher- Aviation. Again, since we couldn’t possibly learn all the principles of aviation and start flying in the given time frame, we decided to visit the flight museum is Seattle. The drive was long and at the end of it we were out of the real woods and into the wilderness of concrete jungle called Everett in Seattle. Inside the museum they had all kinds of aircraft, real and scaled models, civilian, space and military, those that land on runways on earth and those that land on the surface of the outer planets. Another category is those that you can touch, and those that you are only allowed stand behind a counter and just look. I worked on these categories for sometime before typing them. There was the SR-71 Blackbird which was used as a spy plane during cold war, there was the Boeing 747 – 1 which was basically the first 747 ever built, and then there was British Airways’ Concorde, yes I mean THE CONCORDE. And then they had lots of other planes. The museum had an actual size air-traffic control room where they had the actual air-traffic monitoring equipment with little buttons when pressed or turned will give the sound or the indication of the actual flight conversation. If you are an aeronautics freak like some friends’ of mine, then you’ll love it a great deal. If you are not into planes but go crazy for super sized toys, like me, then you will love it even more. There was the Air-Force One used by former presidents like Johnson, Nixon and Kennedy, and the Lunar Rover which was used by the Astronauts during their terrestrial exploration of Moon. Outside the Museum, arranged by a private group was a Bi-Plane ride, which you can see in the movies about world war. Couple of colleagues of mine decided to air raid the imaginary Nazi-Occupied area over Seattle bay and went on an excursion, which seemed like an ecstatic experience. If looking at and touching the planes was fun, actually riding it must be surely nothing less than a thrill. You can see them all (not all, a few of them) here.

By the time the Air-attack ended the sun had half settled on the western horizon and we decided to visit Seattle downtown, and once we reached there, we started on foot hunting for a coffee shop. Apparently, on Sundays, they close the coffee shops after 5-ish pm. In the unofficial home of American Coffee-Seattle, we roamed around fruitless-ly for about an hour before we could locate a Starbucks. After the caffeine fix, we headed out for the next reach for the sky, the Seattle Space Needle.

The Space Needle was built as an icon of the American achievement in science and space constructed in 1962 for the World’s Fair held in the same year. It was during the era of space war between U of SSR and US of A and this tower was seen as a symbol of the heights that American innovation had scaled and its future. Indeed, once you visit it, you cannot resist going up. The tower is 605 ft (184m) from the level to the air-traffic beacon on top and it houses an observatory, revolving restaurant and, as mandatory in all American landmarks, an over priced gift shop, at the floor level. It houses an elevator, which carries tourists at an astounding speed of 10 mph (16kmph) reaching the top in 43 seconds. All said and done the view from the top is stupendous. We were lucky to get fogless night that day, and the city of Seattle simply shined with little blue, red, yellow lights. There were on-board cameras at the top providing panoramic 360 degree view around the needle. It takes no effort to understand the size of this tower and almost too easy to appreciate the splendor it provides to the landscape. We got so immersed in it that we forgot about dinner, till our stomach’s reminded us with the typical grumble.
We enjoyed a nice dinner at an Indian restaurant and bagged some for later. We drove to our hotel room in Seattle, which was comfy enough for a round of cards. As expected, I was ruthless in my victory and when they could not take it anymore, I called a satisfying day and went to bed.

Coming up next, our final day in Seattle, when we visit Boeing’s cave where they magically turn toy planes to real ones and a market that reminds me of home!!. Join me for the fourth and final installment of “The Seattle Expedition”.

Click here for Pics