Friday, September 30, 2011

Sunny Seattle Trip - Day 3 - EMP, Savor Seattle & Space Needle

Day 3 of our trip to Seattle included A TON of walking!

Since we only had one activity planned for the day in the afternoon, The Hubs and I decided to do our own walking tour of Seattle.

We ended up walking from our hotel in Pioneer Square all the way to Seattle Center, where the Space Needle and the Experience Music Project (EMP) are located.

Our Trek across Seattle
We explored Seattle Center to see what it had to offer and decided since we had  a few hours to kill before our afternoon activity, that we would cruise through the EMP and check that off our "must-do" list. It was a  pretty cool place, especially for my guitar loving husband! We were also impressed with the level of interactive technology in the museums and attractions. There were iPods and touch screens everywhere, often instead of the traditional and boring placards.

Here were some of the highlights from EMP:
  • A special Avatar exhibit where we got to see artifacts from the movie and got to interactively partipate in learning how the movie was made. 
  • An interactive area where you can learn how to play musical instruments and mix your own tracks
  • A guitar sculpture that was over two stories high and actually played music 

  • A history of Nirvana and Washington native Kurt Cobain (totally brought me back to the 8th grade!)
  • An exhibit on the the evolution of the guitar

After EMP, we hopped on the monorail, which conveniently dropped us off in the shopping district of Seattle and near where our Savor Seattle Gourmet Food Tour started. This 3 hour walking food tour was an amazing way to see the city and learn more about it, while tasting some delicious food that we wouldn't normally eat and drinking some yummy adult beverages.

Sangria from Andaluca

Duck cake from Andaluca

Pike Brewing Company

Pad Thai from Thoa's
Is your mouth watering yet??

I would recommend a Savor Seattle Food Tour for tourists and locals alike. They have quite a few tours to choose from and I will definitely do another the next time we are in Seattle (the Capital Hill Chocolate Indulgence tour is next on my list!)

Since our tour ended relatively close to our hotel, we stopped back there to rest for a bit. We knew that we had more walking in our future, as we wanted to spend the evening at the Space Needle. We had a special ticket where we were able to take a trip to the top both during the evening and during the day, as long as it was within a 24 hour period. So... we treked back across town towards City Center, stopping for sushi at a place recommended by a friend (it ended up being just ok and the service was less than stellar...)


At the Space Needle we were pleasantly surprised that there was no wait to travel to the top. I was a little worried about the elevator ride up, as I'm not that great with heights, but it was a really great ride. And at the top, the view of Seattle was AMAZEBALLS!

After we got our fill of gorgeous views, we took the monorail back in order to cut our walk in half. When we FINALLY got to the hotel, we both plopped into bed! Walking back and forth across the city 5 times was great exercise, but exhausting!!!

** Need to catch up on our trip to Sunny Seattle??**

Sunny Seattle - Day 1 - Pioneer Square
Sunny Seattle - Day 2 - Boeing and Snoqualmie Falls
Sunny Seattle - Day 2 (Evening) - Sunset Cruise

Thursday, September 29, 2011

Sunny Seattle - Day 2 (Evening) - Sunset Cruise!!

Back to our regularly scheduled blogging...

I decided to dedicate a whole post to what became our FAVORITE part of our trip to Seattle (Warning! Lots of pictures ahead!).

After returning from Snoqualmie Falls and another drive around the greater Seattle area, we stopped at the room for a quick rest before walking to the Argosy Cruise  dock to board our ship for our 2 hour Locks Sunset Cruise.

Since we got to the Pier a bit early, we decided to hit up Elliott's Oyster House for Happy Hour. Might I say, they have an AWESOME happy hour. We ate these delicious tequila lime mussels, as well as tried a couple of different oyster types. I drank white wine, while The Hubs tried an assortment of drinks, including a Bloody Mary which he DID NOT like! The whole bill didn't total more than $40 which was AWESOME for the amount we ate AND drank!

We boarded our narrated cruise at 6pm with blue skies and blue water around use. As we pulled away from port and into Elliott Bay, we were able to take pictures of the AMAZING Seattle skyline. I know it doesn't always look like this (with the crazy amounts of cloudy/rainy days Seattle has), but we were lucky enough to experience this gorgeous weather every day on our trip!

Here's the skyline looking at the south side of Seattle.

And another, albeit a little farther out, looking at the north side. You can see the Space Needle at just a little left of center. It looks so small and not quite as spectacular as some of the other building in the skyline, but it's a Seattle landmark so I had to make sure it made it in one of my skyline pictures!

We cruised around Elliott Bay and headed for Puget Sound as the sun began setting in the sky. I was able to take a montage of some images of the sun actually setting. It was a gorgeous sight that reminded me of our Honeymoon Cruise to Mexico and the many beautiful sunsets we saw there!


The sun finally disappeared as we arrived in Puget Sound. There we were able to see Ray's Boathouse, where we had our first dinner in Seattle, from a different perspective. 


We then looped around and began to make our way toward Lake Union. Here's a picture I snapped looking back into Puget Sound. Aren't the colors amazing??? It's like a postcard!

Seattle has TONS of bridges (obviously) with all of the lakes and bays in the area. We were able to pass under this draw bridge without a problem (although it was a close fit), but a boat behind us required it to be lifted. You can see two kayakers also enjoying this beautiful evening on the water.

Now for the reason this tour is called the Locks cruise (which we had NO idea about at the time of booking). The Ballard Locks provides a link between the salty Puget Sound and the fresh water of Lake Union. Since the two bodies of water are at different levels, the boats are moved into a container area.  The image below shows our "cruise" ship in the area, with the big doors closing us in.

Then the US Army Core of Engineers (who maintains and runs the locks) pumps water into the contained area raising our boat up like 10 feet. It was SO cool! Here is us at our new elevation, making our way into Lake Union.

The other really cool thing about the locks, is that it is on the route that the salmon take to get from Alaska to their breeding grounds. To aid in their ability to navigate the locks, a fish ladder was created for the salmon to easily move from the salty Sound to the fresh Lake Union. They swim against the current and jump from one rung of the "ladder" to the next. Since we were visiting during the salmon migration, we had the opportunity to see quite a few salmon jumping out of the water. When we went back to visit the Locks, we also went to the visitor center where they have windows at the water level so you can see the salmon swimming in the ladder.

The sun finally set and darkness fell and all images that I began taking didn't turn out as well as I would have hoped. Some highlights from this part of the tour were seeing one of the Deadliest Catch boats, The Wizard, docked for the season, as well as the Sleepless in Seattle houseboat (I really need to watch that move again soon!). It was hard to see the houseboat since it was dark out, but you could identify it by the cute twinkle lights decorating the outside. Here are some images I found online to jog your memory of what they look like.

Image Source: Discovery Channel
Image Source: Brian Teutsch

 We made it back to port to amazing view of Seattle at night, although the pictures I took while on the cruise didn't turn out great. I took some better ones of the nighttime skyline from the top of the Space Needle, which I'll share tomorrow!

** Need to catch up on our trip to Sunny Seattle??**

Sunny Seattle - Day 1 - Pioneer Square
Sunny Seattle - Day 2 - Boeing and Snoqualmie Falls

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Blogging...

I thought I would interrupt my scheduled "Trip to Sunny Seattle" updates to share the new shows I've added so far to my Fall TV line up.

Although I threaten to cancel cable because it's a HUGE rip off, I sure do love the Fall Season when there is a pleathora of new shows to try out and old shows are new again.

This season, I have found quite a few new shows to try out. We'll see I stick with them for the whole season, but so far the Pilot's have peaked my interest.

Hart of Dixie
Image Source: CW
This is definitely a chick TV show (ala Dawson's Creek and OC), but that's never stopped me before. The premiere episode reminded me of a mix of Grey's Anatomy and Sweet Home Alabama. Rachel Bilson is cute and fun to watch. I could definitely have a girl crush on her!  The story line is predictable, but I'm a sucker for that sort of thing!

Pan Am
Image Source: Facebook
I DVR'd Pan Am at the last minute and I must say that I'm intrigued. I love shows that are set in the past. I also thinks it's interesting to see how flying was such a luxury in the past. It's a little bit romance, a little bit mystery. I'm also hoping flying virtually through the TV helps with my fear of flying! hehe :-)

Image Source: Yahoo
This show is HILARIOUS! The Hubs and I were watching it in bed and I totally thought he was asleep when all of a sudden he burst out laughing hysterically. Let's just say it involved a sexy nurse outfit and filling out forms! Ha! Whitney is also taped in front of a live studio audience which I think is cool. 

The Sing Off
Image Source: Yahoo
How did I not know about this show before??? Thanks to Twitter last week, I found that TONS of people love the Sing Off, so I DVR'd it on a whim. It was SOO enjoyable. I think it is amazing what these groups can do with just their voices. I especially love when they take a modern song and do it acoustically with a different flair.

Being the TV addict that I am, I've also got Revenge, The New Girl, and Up All Night DVR'd, but so far they haven't made a big enough impression to make my top new show list!

Are you a Fall TV addict? What did you add to your DVR this season?

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Sunny Seattle Trip - Day 2 - Boeing & Snoqualmie Falls,

Monday morning (Labor Day) we woke up bright and early, stopped at Starbucks for coffee (not the original one, this time, but a nice new one half a block from our hotel) and headed north to the town of Everett, Washington.

Everett is where Boeing assembles their fleet of large planes that go overseas including the 747, 767, 777, and the new Dream Liner and where we would be taking the Boeing Future of Flight Factory Tour. The drive north from Seattle was amazing. It reminded me of driving around Tahoe while on vacation. I couldn't imagine having such a pretty commute to work everyday!

Upon arrival at Boeing, we awed at the parking lot of planes and landing strip that the company uses for its test flights.

Plane Parking Lot and Landing Strip - (ugh..more black spots!)
We then went into the visitor center where we watched a short movie about the history of flight and Boeing' s huge impact on the industry.  After the movie, we loaded onto buses that would take us to the manufacturing floor. Let me tell you...the building where Boeing assembles these planes is HUGE. In fact it is the LARGEST building in the world! Unfortunately, we couldn't take any pictures while on the tour (they were SUPER strict about leaving all personal items in the car).

We did see numerous planes that were in the process of being assembled and the guide explained Boeing's revolutionary way of slowly moving the plane up through different stations creating a makeshift assembly line. The Hubs and I were really interested in how the planes were built since we are both materials engineers. We were especially interested in the new 787 Dream Liner which is an all composite (instead of aluminum) plane that will be the most fuel efficient plane available. The Hubs and I both enjoyed the tour and said we would definitely like to take it again, except next time we'd take it on a weekday when people were actually working!

Here's a few images of what we saw on the tour from the Boeing website and "If its not Boeing, I'm not going!":

Largest Building in the World! ~ Image Source: Boeing

Image Source: Boeing

After the tour, The Hubs and I sat in the car to decide what to do next. The remainder of the day was unplanned so we went to our list of possible things to do. The first thing that caught my eye was a cruise on Elliott Bay. I went to the website on my handy dandy Smartphone (SO glad I got one of those!) and discovered that the VERY LAST sunset cruise of the season was taking place that evening. The Hubs is ALWAYS a sucker for a good sunset, so we decided to purchase tickets. Awesome! Evening activity planned...check!

We still had a few hours to kill before we had to get in line to board our cruise, so we went on a recommendation from a friend of my mom's to head east to see Snolquamie Falls. It was great because this was a FREE activity where we could just relax, walk around, and enjoy the beauty of the Falls. This would definitely be a great place to take a family for a picnic!

After enjoying a lunch of a Haagan Daas ice cream bar (for me) and a Butterfinger bar (for The Hubs) we headed back downtown to get ready for our next activity.

In our next installment of Sunny Seattle, I'll show you the beautiful pictures we took from our FAVORITE part of our Seattle trip!

**Need to catch up on our trip to Sunny Seattle?**

Sunny Seattle - Day 1 - Pioneer Square

Monday, September 26, 2011

Sunny Seattle Trip - Day 1 - Pioneer Square

  **This is the first installment of our trip to Seattle. I'm going to apologize in advance for some of the images and the horrid black spots. Our camera was biting the dust. **

The Hubs and I have been wanting to go to Seattle FOREVER, however my fear of flying has always been the limiting factor.

After realizing that I maxed out on my vacation after not taking one since our Honeymoon two years ago, we decided it was high time to take a REAL vacation and that my fear of flying was NOT going to get in the way.

So on the Sunday before Labor Day, the Hubs and I arrived bright and early at the Oakland airport to make our maiden voyage to Seattle. I was obviously a nervous wreck and almost in tears before the flight. But a suggested cocktail of Xanax and a glass of wine did the trick and before I knew it we were in the sky.

I listened to blaring country music, watched part of 27 Dresses and soon we were descending into Washington State. At this point, I was feeling relaxed enough to look out the window. I was so glad that I did because Washington is beautiful from the sky on a sunny morning. All the lakes and trees were amazing! Unfortunately, I didn't get a picture, but just so happens Molly Mesnick (from The Bachelor and one of many I stalk on Twitter) just Tweeted a picture of Seattle from the sky. Perfect timing!

Image Source: Molly Mesnick's Twitter
We decided to rent a car so we had the freedom to explore the greater Seattle area at our will. I had a few major activities that we knew we wanted to do planned, but I left plenty of extra time for some exploring.

Our first stop was our hotel in Pioneer Square. I chose the Best Western at Pioneer Square because it had good reviews, was close to the waterfront and relatively close to some of the attractions we were interested in (within a couple of miles and I considered walking distance). It was an old time hotel since Pioneer Square is the heart of "old-time" Seattle, but I was really impressed with the hotel's quality. The bathroom was REALLY clean, probably one of the cleanest I've seen!

View from our hotel - across the street

View from our hotel looking West

 After settling into our hotel we took a drive around Seattle. We were so surprised to see how hilly it was! I don't know what made me think Seattle would be flat, but that is sort of what I pictured in my mind. We drove straight through downtown Seattle and our first impression was that it was like San Francisco except cleaner and with a lot less traffic. I love SF, but Seattle was really nice! Seattle had these beautiful hanging baskets that really brightened things up. The Hubs and I were amused to see maintenance crews going around and watering them. The upkeep we saw city workers doing REALLY impressed us!

Beautiful flower baskets hung all over Seattle.
Downtown Seattle

Friends had recommended trying out Ray's Boathouse for dinner so we decided to make that our first dinner of the trip. We procured a table right by the window and enjoyed looking out a the sparkly blue water and bright blue sky.

Bright Sparkly Seatle Day!

For our meals, I had halibut with a cous cous side, while the Hubs had a fish sampler with salmon, crab cake, and black sablefish. Neither of us had ever heard of sablefish, but I had read reviews about it on Yelp about it being yummy. Boy were they right! It was melt in your mouth delicious! We wanted to savor every last bite! We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and both of us thought it was the best of the trip!


Fish Sampler - The sablefish in the center was delicious!

The views on the dock by Ray's were amazing. We got out of dinner just in time to see the sun setting. (We'd see many beautiful sunsets on this trip!) We also saw some standing paddlers enjoying the weather. We wondered how they were able to do it with no wetsuits in what we thought would be extremely cold water, but when we later put our hand in the bay, it wasn't so bad.

Sunset over Puget Sound
Standing Paddlers

After dinner we headed back to Pioneer Square for our first major activity. I scheduled us to take the X-Rated Underground Tour. Not many people know that Seattle was once set at a lower elevation than it is today and that when the city was rebuilt after a major fire, the original street level in Pioneer Square was preserved. The tour we took was for adults only, included a cocktail and gave some history about the debauchary that took place in Seattle during the 1800s and early 1900s. Although what we saw wasn't really what I expected (basically just a dirty basement, with some staged items), we still enjoyed it and had a good laugh.

A picture from the underground

 After the tour. we were fairly exhausted, so we headed back to the room to catch some zzzz's.

Next up, I'll recount our Labor Day trip to the Boeing Factory (perfect for nerdy engineers) and two spontaneous unplanned excursions, one which became our favorite activity of the whole trip!

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Sunday Celebration!

Today I am hosting a baby shower for my friend Teresa. I decided to go with a fall flower theme instead of something more traditional. I was inspired by all the beautiful flowers I saw at the grocery store.

I even decided to buy a flower pot for each guest as a favor. I used some yellow ribbon and a hand made tag for each one.

Brunch type items are on the menu and good conversation is going to be the entertainment!

Only a couple more weeks until we get to meet Baby G! :-)

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Kindle Read - "One Day, All the Children..."

Image Source: Amazon
Although this book isn't a Kindle Read, I still wanted to post a short review on it since I found it very interesting and inspirational.  I actually found this book on my company's book exchange shelf. I probably never would have read it (or even know about it), had I not just happened upon it as I was perusing the books while my lunch was heating in the microwave.

It's no secret that I LOVE school. Sometimes I still think that teaching might be in my future...

So I was really interested to hear how a recent college grad, Wendy Kopp, created one of the country's largest teaching movements, Teach for America. I didn't know much about Teach for America prior to reading the book and personally only know a couple of people who have been involved (including Kimberly Michelle).

I enjoyed reading about how Teach for America started and the struggles and triumphs of these young college grads in building a national non-profit core of teachers from the ground up. It was so inspiring to hear how Wendy and her team persevered through times when they almost couldn't secure enough fundraising money to make payroll. They were all so committed to making sure that children in low-income areas received the same educational opportunities as children in more well-to-do areas that they weren't going to be knocked down that easily!

I think my favorite chapter by far was one where Wendy traveled to different schools to see Teach for America teachers in action. By doing this, she was able to see what set some teachers apart and made them (and subsequently their students) more successful. She noticed that to be a good teacher, you needed to be a good leader. Someone who could set goals and motivate students and their parents to help him/her meet those goals. A teacher needs to work relentlessly to achieve the goals they have  set and constantly assess their effectiveness and improve their teaching techniques over time.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading inspirational book and who is interested in education.

Do you have any inspirational books (educational or not) that  you would recommend?

Friday, September 23, 2011

Fall Loves

Image Source: Here

 I love the first day of fall!

Although some people may think that the first of the year is a great time for new beginnings, I think that this time of year is just as good. Fall means school has just started for the year (a time I LOVED and sometimes wish I could go back to). It means mornings when you can walk outside and smell the crisp autumn air. It is where the days get shorter and its time to light pumpkin spice or cinnamon candles. It's a time where you know the holidays are just around the corner. It is college football time, where the Hubs and I can root on our Golden Bears. It's the start of a new Fall TV season where the Hubs and I get to curl up and watch our favorite shows, both old and new. It's a time when I get to pull out my sweatshirts, comfy PJ's, and slipper socks. I do LOVE fall!

It wasn't until recently that I really realized that FALL was in fact my favorite season. And this year I fully intend to embrace the fall season and ENJOY it!

I'm hoping that with the start of fall, it can also be the start of a new season of blogging. I miss having a journal and a place where I can look back on what I've done and what I would like to do.

So here's to this to making this Fall a season to remember!

Do you love Fall as much as I do? What's your favorite part?