wandering amphibia

A few weeks in Seattle (part 1)

Sweet. I figured out a way to link my Evernote travel blog to the WordPress one, so rather than writing jumbo posts that cover months at a time, I’m going to try to link up a bit more realtime. I still have at least a year’s worth of travel to blog about… but here we go, less complaining, more posting!

So after Miami, we headed off to Seattle for another three-week training session. I really like Seattle; I find it to be one of the rare cities in the USA that I could definitely live in. So spending three weeks on a corporate training there seemed like a spectacular idea.

We stayed at the usual Westin, which I actually rather like. I hear the Andaz is neat (Gary from View from the Wing incessantly drools about it, so much so that I think he lives there…). I’m a Starwood guy, so Westin it is for me.


Seattle street:


Seeing as Seattle is full of rich people (who could be sitting on the corner homeless, as the famous maxim goes), there are nice cars every once in a while. Consider this one:


A 427 Cobra, of course. These go for what… $300K or so these days? If you can find one.




Climbed up onto the Space Needle to watch the sunset.



It did not disappoint!





Mt. Rainier in the far distance.



Sunset behind the Olympic Mountains. Not quite as pretty as from the Tantalus Lookout in Honolulu, but a sunset is pretty irrespective of where you are in the world, since it is always completely different from the last one.



Night view down from the Space Needle. Once again, does not disappoint.



The next day being a God-given day off (might have been a Sunday, or might have just been a corporate-defined statutory holiday, with the end result being roughly similar), we decided to hop in the car and go for a little drive. As I mentioned, I’ve been to Seattle before a number of times; but besides visiting the Air and Space museum on a supremely rainy day and spending a good, solitary 10 minutes inside the Concorde with absolutely nobody in sight (because seriously, who the hell goes to the Air and Space Museum on a Saturday morning at 10am in the pouring rain – and doesn’t even go for the main exhibit, but runs across the road to the satellite exhibit? Well, apparently, me), I’ve done little else. So a friend told me that there is a lot to see in the naval department – I was skeptical, but after a bit of research I realised two important things: one, there really is a decommissioned destroyed you can walk around in, and two, there’s a place where they retire aircraft carriers – where you can’t really visit them, but considering how massively humongous they are, you don’t really need to worry about not being able to see them. So here we went. But of course, that means handing our driver’s license to the … tame car rental counter agent. Some say this agency has nothing but BMWs. Others, that they will invent car classes so that they don’t have to upgrade you. All I know is I have the run of the lot – and I’ve never had a garbage car so far, and it’s called Sixt!!!!!




Came across this beauty as well when I was driving. This guy really does win the license plate war – and he’s not even playing.



Anyway, so going to the shipyards meant having to take a ferry, of which there are a multitude. We went on the one that had an Alpina B12 on it (oh, it also went in some direction, but I really couldn’t be bothered) – a 850CSi conversion by Alpina of which there are only 97 in the world (there’s also an even more rare one, a B12 5.7, of which there are – go figure – 57). Anyway, one of 97! Not bad.




Yeah. My V12. Such it, you bandit.



This was our boat. Pretty sure it had more than a V12 in it.



The Seattle skyline in the far distance…


Our first stop was the USS Turner Joy – a destroyer decommissioned in 1982. The really interesting part of this trip is that the friend who was with us – who actually served on the USS Enterprise – had a number of stories to tell about how people lived and worked on these ships, and so a dead hull became far more than a museum exhibit – but rather, a story unto itself. It’s hard to replicate it all here – hearing it in first person was certainly quite fascinating though. The best I can do is throw up pictures.

I’m entirely unclear why that building needs an address, but anyway, here it is:





Supply officer room:


The “we can fix everything” room.



The “how to fix everything” manual.

Just kidding. Communiques and the like.



Engine room.






Mig-29 cockpit.

Kidding. Just lots of dials and pressure gauges.


Mess room where dem big eats happen!


Daily routine. Note conspicuous absense of “check email” task.


Radio and radar room.


Marina. The water was completely still, and perfectly reflected the sky. Very north-North American (the Canadian Laurentian forests tend to have idyllic landscapes like this, as well).


View from the bow.


More views of North American idylly.


Contrasted with, you know, torpedoes.


Command deck.


Map of Japan!


Radar room. Looks sort of like out of Command & Conquer.


Captain’s quarters.


As we walked around, my friend told us various tidbits about life on the ship. The routine, the ranks, the life on land and away from land, the postings, the travel to various locations and so on. He talked about how they sailed to the Philippines, other places in the Pacific; how they got mail better than they got it on shore leave (since mail is the only thing connecting them to the world, it was apparently quite punctual – and found them wherever in the world they’d be). How there’d be crazy days of just doing nothing in a storm, where everything is buckled up and people are just wildly throwing up all over (I guess even a huge whale like the USS Enterprise will get rocked about). At the same time, the plane launches and all the “activity” were spoken of rather fondly. Overall, a spectacularly educational visit – much more than I could have otherwise hoped for. And it was only fitting that we ended it with a visit to the Bremerton Shipyards – more specifically, the decommissioned aircraft carrier section.

Taking pictures of these monsters was very hard. I had no lenses wide enough to take a full shot – you have absolutely no idea how massive these beasts are, until you stand next to one. It was a little bit sad to see them in such disrepair, though – just rusting there… but such is life.

The USS Nimitz is there…

_MG_5833 _MG_5838



… the USS Kitty Hawk – and the USS John Stennis visible far in the background.


We took the Spokane ferry back. Came across this carrier of dreams and aspirations – the Oosterdam of the Holland America Cruise Line. For some reason, for most people, a cruise is the epitome of luxury, success and disconnectedness (!). For me, it’s a few thousand people stuck on a few square feet where everyone pees in the pool and collectively gets sick when a cook doesn’t wash his hands. You can tell I am not a fan.


So ended a day of wandering around looking at artefacts and relics.

On one of the other days, I went for a walking tour of Seattle. Cal Anderson Park had a nice view of downtown, as usual…



And it was off to the hotel at the end, with a decent view of nighttime Seattle.