3-Day Weekend in Seattle

The boys’ schools had last Monday off, for a teacher in-service day. Given my time off work, James and I (Jeremy) decided to make a trip to Seattle for the 3-day weekend. We had a relative there that we wanted to spend some time with, and hadn’t been up there in 4+ years.

Seattle in October can be somewhat variable weather-wise, but it was absolutely gorgeous during our time there. The sky was largely clear, the fall leaves were changing colors, the lakes were shimmering, and the temperature was mid-60’s F. We were told that in October,  the weather is like this roughly a third of the time – the rest are the more typical cloudy and rainy. We are happy that we hit the weather jackpot.

We took the Southwest flight up on Friday afternoon after James got out of school. It’s a relatively short 2 hour hop from the Bay Area. That said, it was still after 10pm by the time we arrived, got a rental car, and checked into the rental condo.

We stayed in urban Seattle, near Chinatown/International District and Pioneer Square. As a caveat, this neighborhood has some rough edges – maybe I should have figured this out from the relatively low price. That said, it was a reasonably close walk to Pike Place Market, near some good restaurants, and in a brand-new building with underground parking (I debated about whether to get the car or not, but this seemed to make a few aspects easier). It was interesting observing the rapid pace of change in Seattle – I imagine this neighborhood might look different in a few years.

The next morning, since we were up before many things opened, we drove across Lake Washington to briefly see Bellevue/Redmond, where I had spend the summer as a Microsoft intern 20 years ago. It was so beautiful when crossing the Lake Washington 520 bridge – I wish I could have taken a picture, but alas, it’s not safe to do so while driving. We did a quick drive around the Microsoft campus, though, and took a few photos by Lake Sammamish.

Our first main stop on Saturday was the famed Museum of Flight near Boeing Field, which James, as an aviation enthusiast, was looking forward to seeing. We spent much of the morning/early afternoon until about 1:30pm, exploring this museum. His favorite section was the area where you could board a Concorde, a 747, an Air Force One, a 787, and probably some others. There were several other sections – including early aviation, WWI/WWII aviation, space travel, and other areas. Apparently, 100 years ago, Boeing used to make airplanes out of wood, with aluminum nailed on. The museum itself was down the street from Boeing’s “Seattle Delivery Center” where fresh planes were being delivered. James really liked this museum.

After that, we drove back to our rental condo, leaving our car in the garage there. We had a few hours to walk around the waterfront and core downtown areas before we had dinner planned at our relative’s place. We walked from our place near Pioneer Square to the waterfront, then to Pike Place Market (naturally watched the place that throws the fish), and made it to Seattle Center, where the Space Needle is located. We didn’t have time to go up to the Space Needle (our plan was the less-busy Monday morning), but we did take the Monorail back to Pike Place. We had an enjoyable “tourist walk” through these core areas.

We spent Saturday evening with our relative, catching up, which was great. We had a later start on Sunday, but took a walk that morning from the relative’s house in the north part of Seattle, to the nearby Ballard Locks, which is a series of boat locks connecting Lake Washington to the Puget Sound. There are some “salmon ladders” as well, to enable them to swim through the locks, but we didn’t see any fish there.

The neighborhood of Ballard had a beautiful Sunday morning farmer’s market, and for lunch we got sandwiches at a place near the  market. From the farmer’s market, we took a long-ish walk along the coast via Shilshole Bay to Golden Gardens Park. There were plenty of people out, relishing the great weather. The water on the beach was fairly calm, since it was the Sound, not the open ocean, though it was definitely too cold to swim in. James enjoyed making some sandcastles.

We walked up what seemed to be a few hundred steps from the beach to the heights (picture from there above) and walked down through the neighborhood. I can see why so many people are drawn to the Seattle area – this weekend was a great advertisement for Seattle. =)

For dinner, we ate near our condo in Chinatown/International District, which was good quality.

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On Monday morning, our plan was to go to the Space Needle, which we got to just before it opened at 10am. We had to check out of our condo, and we put our car in a 4-hour street parking spot (roughly $5) nearby the Space Needle, where we left our car for the remaining time before having to head towards the airport.

The Space Needle was fun – though the clear glass walls and the glass floor on the lower level were a little scary! Since we went first thing on a Monday, it was relatively uncrowded, and we walked right in.

After that, we took the monorail back to Pike Place market. We hung around the market and the waterfront for a little while (see his new Seattle t-shirt by the shop we got it), knowing that the weekend would soon be over, walking by the convention center, and then eventually back to the car.

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We had gotten a bit of clam chowder to tide ourselves over until a late lunch, which we had at a fast food place closer to the airport (wanted to leave time to deal with potential traffic). We then turned in the car, and headed back on Southwest to the Bay Area.

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