2014 Christmas Seattle Trip (last updated on 2015/10/23)

2014/12/21 To Seattle

To the airport

Left home at 3:40pm, drove on a tollway to the airport and arrived at offsite parking at 4:25pm. The road was not packed but still a little jammed for the holiday. The shuttle van picked me up but then waited for a while to look for another, I guess I was the only one at this moment. He took me to the Terminal C. On its way, the driver told me about his experiences in Seattle, trying to tell me a good restaurant and his upcoming holiday plan. Checked in with automated machine and passed the securty with my carrying bag. Walked to the gate at 4:45pm after grabbing a dinner for tonight from Einstein Bagles.

Going to Seattle: UA310 IAH(5:58pm CST) - SEA(8:45pm PST)

The plane was prepared for departure and I get on board at 5:50pm. As people board the plane, the captain announced that the second half could be bumpy. The plane had weight and balande issue so they relocated people from back rows for the balance, then pushed back at 6:20pm. The plane took off at 6:30pm at 15R, turned right to northwest toward Seattle, and 4 hours and 40 minutes to go. I was feeling sleepy so slept for two hours. When I looked the outside, the sky was clear and I get to see the stars, as well as a shooting star. Watched the plane flew over a city around 9:00pm CST, then hitting the turbulent air. I thought it is going to continue but stopped. The descending started from 8:45pm PST and the plane approached from the north, passing downtown then landed at 9:17pm PST.

UA310 at Houston

Departing from IAH

Flying over downtown Seattle

Check in at the hotel (Done)

Airport, and hotel room)

At gate 9:23pm after taxing a while in dark. I got off from the plane, walked to the baggage claim to pick up my bag. I already know that it should be possible to walk to the hotel so I walked out from the terminal, toward light rail station and the hotel was right across from there. Checked in at the hotel, they did not carry any juice so walked to a seven eleven near by. It was a bit chilly compare to Houston. Going to bed at 11:00pm

2014/12/22: Boeing Tour, Museum of Flight

Getting a rental car, Boeing Tour

I woke up at 5:00am, stretched my body, Took a shower, then went to buy breakfast at 6:20am at outside. It was 46F, so walking under dark sky felt a bit chilly. Had breakfast, then left the hotel at 7:15am and walked to the airport terminal. I took a shuttle bus to rental car station located north of the airport. I got a Buick this time and began driving north to Everett. I took I-5 north and navigated through the downtown part in traffic jam with freeway. At point to point, they had a sign boards indicating the speed limit which change Getting off from the freeway and took a path at local raod for a while  rest. Finally arrived at Boeing facility at ?

Shuttle bus to Rental Car Center

Driving on I-5 with posted reduced speed limit with Seattle downtown in sight

Paid $18 for a ticket, another $1 to use a small lock box then I took a tour from 9:00am. There were about 30 people in the tour, begining with on board and a bus took us to B747 line first. From the observation view, right hand side had several bays of nose section assembly, and other side had a final assembly, starting from wingbox, with fuselage and wings attached, finally with gears, then engine before leaving the plant. The buidling has about 40 soccer field, with underground tunnel networks. After a short bus ride, I was at B787 and B777.

B747 One side with nose section assembly, Another section with #1 Wingbox with wings, #2 With fuselage, #3 With engines and gears, #4 Chairs, then before line out.

B777 one side with fuselarge assembly, front and aft coupled,  and another side with #1 Wing box waiting, #2 Fuselage, #3 gears, #4 engines, then for roll out.

B787 2 lines of #1 Wing with wingbox, #2 with fuselage, #3 engines, #4 finish up

Dreamlifter departing from Boeing Facity

Some Photoes from the museum


A section of B787

Dreamlifter heading out to pick up parts

As the bus was coming back to the tour building, the guide noticed that a Dream lifter is on the move. It took off as soon as I went up to the observation deck. I have seen it many times at Centrair but not in that close.

West Point Lighthouse, Alki Lighthouse

After walking up and down the gift shop, could not decide what to buy, I only picked up a small model of B787 since they were all 20% off for the Christmas season. I left the Future of Flight Museum at 11:10am, drove south to the West Point lighthouse. It was located inside a state park so the parkign requires a permit.

West Point Lighthouse

I decided to have lunch at Salmon Bay at a place called Little Chinook's as I was driving back from the lighthouse. On the menu, they shows where those fishes are from so I was happy to enjoy something local. I then stopped for lunch. I drove to another one Alki. There was a beach

Lunch, combo seafood

There is no place that I can park nearby so I turned around and found a spot by the beach. I walked around the bay, took a picture of the lighthouse, found a libarty lady,  before heading to the next light house.


Alki Lighthouse

Statue of Liberty Lady at Alki Beach

Alki beach
Lighthouse at Alki, they had a Statue of Liberty

Museum of flight (Done)

Arrived at Museum of Flight at 2:20pm. The entrance displays a series of jet fighters like F-14 and Av-8C. In the inside, they had several exhibitions sections. A big room with SR-71 and other big planes, Outside displaying B-787 #3, Old Boeing factory, Space themed annex and a field holding the first B737 and B747, Concord. After passing 4:00pm, they began to close the place Drove to a nearby a cafe to waste time until the dinner time. I was wrting up my journal before head out.

More pictures

Meeting with my friends from Wichita, Night view of Seattle

It was hard to find a parking because I was not familar with the location, dark, and many places already had cars. Found a place a few blocks away. I wished they had their own parking but soon the selection of the restaurant was worth it. I was able to meet with two of my friends who I went English Language school in Kansas together. The resutaurant had many ingredients from Spain, including the wine I had. We finsihed around 9:30pm and drove to Kerry park around 10:00pm, looking at Seattle downtown. Drove back to the airport, parked my car at garage parking by the hotel. It was 36F and walking back in to the building under chilly night air. Going to bed after midnight

Seattle Downtown at night

2014/12/23: State Capital Visits (Washington, Oregon)

To Evergreen Air and Space Museum (McMinnville)

Woke up at 5:00am, stretched my body, went outside to buy breakfast for myself and took shower to get ready for the day. Leaving at 6:45am, it was still dark and raining. Managed to get on I-5 south near airport.  The rain was causing me a bit of stress, the traffic was busy. Arriving at Tacoma under rain, the trucks carrying timbers were something new tome. Entering Vancouver and cross state line at 9:15am into Portland, OR. Changed the road from I-5 to 99W to McMinnville. Arrived at Gvergreen Aviation and Space Museum at 10:37am. There was a B747 on their property in foggy condition. The museum had a unique collection of aircraft, including Hughes H-4, MiG-29.

Heading down from Tacoma

Driving along Columbia River

Crossing into Oregon on I-5 south

Driving on OR-99W toward McMinnville, OR

Foggy road

More Pictures

To Salem, OR

The museum was so interesting and I could not leave in 1 hour but finally left at museum at 11:50am, drove on country road toward Salem, OR. For every quarter mile, I see signs of winery, cheese, and other items. Took OR-153, 154 then 221 toward downtown Salem. The road was mostly straight but foggy condition made me difficult to drive. Drove past a shopping mall before the Christmas, then made a quick stop by the state capital at noon. I used a street parking which I only could afford 10 minutes worth of coins. I ran back to my car and felt hungry but moved on.  Took 213 to northeast, I can see the green field and mountains in far which looked so beautiful even under cloudy sky. Arrived at Gordon house at 1:10pm as they were closed today. I just walked around the house and took pictures. Left short time later and took a local road until reaching at Oregon City. The road was winding and sometimes need to go slow when crossing a town but surely I made it.

Still foggy, driving on a country road

  State capital of Oregon

heading northeat toward the Gordon House

Gordon House


Grape Trees

To Oregon City

Short Stop at Portland, OR (done)

Had McDonald's for lunch at Oregon City 2:00pm, I was behind of the schedule but I can hold on to hungry and thirsty for not for long. One of the credit cards has a $5 back offer with $5 purchase so I am saving some money. I continue my drove to downtown Portland to buy postcards. A construction work caused a long delay so I needed to worry about the gas in tank also. Stopped at a gas station after getting back on normal traffic, and realized that Oregon only let store worker to fill.

Kept driving toward Portland downtown to make a stop at Visitor's center to buy postcards. Driving through the center part of the city and found a place to park, bought parking ticket for 15 minutes. I ran to a nearby mall to buy postcards. The city was busy with people coming for the christmas shopping, the plaza at the center of the city was in cheerful mood. The city also has good publc transportation system, I see many light rail lines running and busses.

To Olympia, WA

Leaving Portland, OR finally at 3:50pm and I was able to call my friend in Olympia, WA. The traffic was pretty slow on the bridge but safely crossed back to Washington state at 4:20pm  The sun is down and the surrounding is dark.
Arrived at Olympia, WA around 6:00pm, I drove to the capital site and took a picture of the capital building. Drove to a bar to meet up with a friend who works in Houston and lives here. After a

Slow moving on a bridge

Dark and Rainy condition making things hard to see

Current and Old state house of Washington

Back in Seattle

Left there under rainy condition, kept driving although it was such a hard to drive condition. I lost
30 minutes to Tacoma, and another 30 minutes to Seattle. The rain continued all way so I was very tired
Filled up gas before going back to the rental car station, which was built quite new and I could not find it on the GPS
Returned the car at 9:55pm, jump on a shuttle bus leaving at10:00pm to the airport. Walked back to the hotel under rain and took shower. Went to bed around 11:00pm then fell sleep with the lights on.

Pretty tough driving condition Almost back to Seattle

  Buick Verano had a collision avoidance system, which was a good help during long drive in rainy condition is tough to navigate

2014/12/24 At Seattle Downtown

Seattle Downtown Tour

Woke up at 6:00am, stretched my body and get showered. I was tired from long drive yesterday. The hotel check out time is at noon, meaning that as long as I come back here by noon, I can keep my bag. Stepped out and walked to the lightrail station. Bought a ORCA card at 8:00am, $25.00, with $5.00 fee. Get on a train at the airport station at 8:10am. The train was very smooth ride. It started from elevated then moved along street then going under the street level. Getting off at University Street station. The station was designed so a regular bus can also share the same platform. While there is no train, buses comes in and make unloading and loading.

Getting on the lightrail to the downtown

tapping ORCA card for fare


First walked to Market Place and saw the original starbuck being packed with asians. I gave up going in and walked around. Walked to a several cafe and had my breakfast at ? then walked back to the same station I got off. Catching one at 10:50am and back at the hotel.

Original Starbucks Coffee

Space Needle, Pier, Aquarium

Check out from the hotel at 11:30am, walked to airport's check in counter and gave my bag to the staff. Now I can go without carrying anything. Get on a train again and headed to downtown Seattle again. This time
Have my at at 11:50am

Get back on at noon
Getting off and began walking toward space needle, I did not know the exact way so I just followed the
Get down after a short observations


Walked down to pier


Lunch, Soup and Cod sandwich


Space Needle again,

Watched the sun setting to the island at west of Seattle across the bay.

Decided to go up the needle, walked from the market. The sky was getting

Seattle at sunset

Space Needle at night

Took pictures but no more surprise. I have nothing else to see. Checking on my list of To-dos and realized that I have not been to Hard Rock Cafe in this city. I called the location, and they are open until 6:00pm.


Monorail connecting between the space needle and ?

Hard Rock Cafe


Getting on monorail at 5:38pm, I needed to

Stopped by Walked to the cafe and bought several items and left the place. There were number of homeless people who probably know how to distiguish people between visitor and local. I have not seen that mamy

Getting on the light rail at 6:00pm at University place. I travelled back to the airport station in dark, looking out the dark outside.

Back to Houston: UA1129 SEA(11:20pm PST) - IAH(5:29am CST)

The train arrive at the airport station at 6:40pm, I walked to the terminal with the boarding ticket in my hand. The place was almost empty, and I can go through the security check without wait At the same time, I realized that many stores inside also are closed already. I did not want to lose my meals so I ate my piroshki. The salmon had creamy and pasty filling inside, and beef and potato was almost made me feel like eating a pie or croquett. The city has been trying hard to conserve environment, so there is a place to dispose the liquid only and a filling station inside the gate so you don't have to throw the bottle as a trash. Passed the security at 8:00pm. bought a bottled water water. I still have more than 2 hours so I find a electrical plug by the gate and plugged my iPhone and took nap until the boarding time. I get on the place at 10:40pm, and mostly spent sleeping inside the cabin on the flight back to Houston. I saw a guy nearby eating desert served. Maybe I should not have fall sleep. The plane landed at 5:09am CST. Walked out from the cabin shortly after the plane arriving at the gate. Time to go home.

UA1129 arrived at Houston before dawn

Coming home

Reached to the baggage claim at 5:30am, but the conveyor didn't start for 10 minutes. I was hoping the one of the first ones are mine but needed to wait for another 10 minutes to get mine. Walked to catch a shuttle van, and it took me to the parking since I was the only one. Left the parking at 6:10am after paying the fee. Drove on toll road with very few traffic with the east sky getting bright. At home at 6:45am, took shower and went to bed at 7:00am. I was tired and would not do this hotel money saving trick again.



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