Sunday, August 17, 2014

Olympic and Mt Rainier Trip: Side Notes

Of course there were more than mountains, glaciers, flowers ..... the wilderness that we experienced during our trip. There were a few interesting episodes in the domesticated world as well.

Watching World Cup Game at DFW Airport Terminal

The day we left for the trip was also the final day of FIFA world cup preliminaries. There was one burning question for us - could Team USA advance to the round of 16? There was one more question for me - could my favorite team- Germany- win?

We checked the updates on smart phones from time to time while waiting for boarding our flight. USA - Germany were tied at the end of regulation, and overtime started. We could not bear the suspense any more, the boys went to a restaurant to watch the game live, and I followed a few minutes later. Germany won, and we stayed on to watch the Portugal - Ghana game wishing Portugal could win so that team USA would still advance. The latter game went to overtime as well ... one minute left and Portugal held a 2-1 edge .. but Ghana was getting close to evening the score,  the boarding of our flight started, and Lily's text came urging us to return to the terminal! Hold on just 30 seconds more, would you? Finally the whistle blew, the game was over and team USA advanced despite the defeat.

In about 8 minute span we watched 2 overtimes in two exciting soccer games - the suspense, the thrill, the excitement, the despair in defeat, and the relief ...

We were all satisfied with the outcome, and happy to board our flight to Seattle. It was a  good start to the trip!

Meeting friends at Seattle

We have a few friends at Seattle. Due to our tight schedule, we only had chance to have a get together with 2 of Lily's friends at a Korean restaurant on the evening we arrived at Edmonds, a suburb of Seattle.

With three families, 10 people, a full table of delicious food (we ordered too much food!) , a lot of conversations, it was a very pleasant dinner "party".

One will never get the tangibles in a face to face meeting from a social media connection.

Ferry,  Space Needle and Food court at Seattle

Lily and I have vivid memory of our first car ferry at Seattle some 20 years ago when we were still graduate students. The second ferry ride during this trip was from Bain Bridge Island  to downtown Seattle on a sunny day en route to Mt Rainier. The ferry was very fast for a big ship with hundreds of cars and their passengers.

Bridge to a Ferry
A short time after the ferry left the port, we saw a snow covered mountain in the southeast of Seattle, Mt Rainier! We knew that the mountain was close to Seattle, but did not expect to see it. This was a clear indication how tall the mountain is relative to its surroundings.

A few more minutes later, with a turn in direction by the ferry, Seattle downtown was in sight.

We walked around on the upper passenger deck to enjoy all the vistas.

Seattle Downtown
a Sculpture 
Space Needle was the main attraction for us at Seattle. It was worthwhile to get to the top of Space Needle - as we walked around the observation deck, we could see Mt Olympus in the Northwest, Mt Rainier in the Southeast, Mt Baker in the Northeast, ..... and of course the Seattle downtown under our feet!

When we looked far away from the haze, it was very beautiful all around.

Seattle Down tow with Mt Rainier in the background - view from Space Needle
Justin suggested that we went to a food court at Starbucks HQ for lunch after the Space Needle visit. Why there? I asked. He could not give a clear answer. I guessed that it was his curiosity combined with the myth and halo of Starbucks to young people. We went there.

a food truck at Starbucks HQ
The Starbucks HQ is situated at a non glamorous part of Seattle. There were 4 food trucks. There were a few tables along the pedestrian street outside the Starbucks building, a couple of tables were fully occupied - apparently some sort of lunch meetings. We ordered some Cajun food and ate at a table in the street. Not bad!

Good Food

We had only picnic food when we hiked in the mountains or along the coast during the trip, with exception for one lunch, which was at first beach of Olympic National Park, at Water's Edge, where we had great seafood, so I purposely steered the family away from fast food when possible. We had formal dinner almost every night during the trip: a Korean restaurant in Seattle; Log Cabin Resort Restaurant, Hungry Bear on 101, Pacific Pizza after visiting the rain forest, and the high end Lake Crescent Resort Restaurant - the setting was elegant, service was great, the food was delicious, and we were within Olympic national park. At Mt Rainier, we enjoyed great dinners at Paradise Inn Restaurant and National Inn Restaurant.

Water's Edge at First beach of Olympic National Park
Mt Rainier Indoor Activities

One great advantage and benefit of no wireless access or WiFi  is that we could focus on the real world, on the people we are with, and on things we do at the moment.

Because that there was no online chat, no Facebook, no online games ....the boys actually interacted with each other and played chess together - definitely a rarity.

Similarly Lily and I had no chance to check emails, LinkedIn, or read online newspapers. We went to a couple of rangers' programs in the evenings at Paradise Inn to share some interesting and enlightening moments with rangers and fellow outdoor enthusiasts. She read more chapters of a novel, and I enjoyed more sleep. It was total separation from work, and it was very relaxing.

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