Vacation to the Pacific Northwest - onward-ho!

Took some time off at the end of the year with the significant-other unit to celebrate Christmas with him and our niece, and then to take a vaca in the lovely Pacific Northwest. Though we saw nothing of the lovely Pacific, we did see plenty of lovely Seattle.

Seattle seems to mix the best of all worlds: urban center, outdoor sports, temperate (if a little wet) climate. As a center for a couple of industries (retail and gourmet coffee with Nordstrom and Starbucks/Seattle's Best/Tully's, computers with Microsoft and Google, and manufacturing with Boeing and many others) it showcases good dining, great shopping, an urban (walkey) feel, and plenty of things to do and see.

I thoroughly enjoyed the great Seattle Space Needle at Seattle city center, which also featured the really awesome Science Fiction Museum. The architecture was very a multicolor, very creative, array of metal that reminded me of the music stand at Chicago's Millenium park.

Science Fiction MuseumSeattle Space Needle and Monorail

And of course, no visit to Seattle is complete without a traipse around Pike Place Market.

On this trip I focused mostly on aerospace engineering and history through the Museum of Flight and Boeing's Everett manufacturing plant tour. Why? I really miss my annual pilgrimage to NASA in Houston every year from the mid 1980s until the early 1990s. This was a new branch to explore in a similar discipline.

Museum of FlightBoeing, Everett Washington

I learned all about the principal elements for flight: thrust, lift, weight/gravity, and drag. I learned about the most amazing historical engineering feats, and the courage that military men (and women) exhibited during the world wars.

Check out my Flickr account for additional images under the Washington State collection of photo sets.

Speaking of drag...we also got to visit Vancouver. It was an underwhelming experience...very gray and an intensely-populated urban area. I was expecting so much of my preferred North Americans, and yet there was so little that jumped out at me...

There was an agricultural plain immediately upon entering the border which progresed into Surrey, British Columbia. After Surrey you continued past into a Mexico City-suburb-like Vancouver, and forward-ho into what is downtown Vancouver. Very cute cobbled streets on the very far end. Lovely pub. Cute tourist trap stores...excellent Rogers Chocolates and Maple Delights shop. But else? Not much.

I noticed no special preparations in the city or water front for the Olympics...something folks at home and the rental car attendant had told me to look out for.

I wish I had more time to enjoy some of the natural wonders, such as 10-hour long tours of the Olympic Penninsula, Mt. Rainier, or forays into the Cascades. I think this is one of the cities where you can be the most outdoors-active in the US year round (snow, mountains, hiking, boating). Lots of walking! Loved every aching minute of it...especially coming up the oh so steep climb from pier 56 up to 4th street! San Francisco eat your heart out.

Seattle is very different from the California vibe, but knows how to show guests and locals a great time: lots of good food and healthy living.