Posts Tagged With: Washington State

Lounge Review: Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse at Seatac (WA), 03 Dec 2015

Seatac Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse Location, location, location. It is a pretty small lounge, but it is very modern, and clean, and offers the same amenities (sans ample bathrooms) as the D concourse, but probably at about half the size. But as it is located at N concourse, where many Alaska Airlines flights depart, its location is a selling point, if you are flying Alaska Airlines.

I was there on a Thursday morning (~9 am), it was not too crowded. There are two seating areas divided by the entrance. To the left, there’s a co-working table, and some tables, and the right are the TV screens, with some sofas and tables. The more relax-y half of the Boardroom is also where the bar is located.

Seatac Alaska Airlines Boardroom N Concourse

Despite its compact size, it offers about the same things as the D concourse boardroom – pancake printer, Starbucks machine, etc. The power points are also pretty adequate, and the boardroom offers tarmac views.

So, how do you choose between the two? Well, it really boils down to which terminal you are flying out of. It is nice not to have to leave the D concourse Boardroom 15 min before boarding to hop on the train. Now you just have to roll out 5 mins before boarding if you are flying Alaska Airlines.

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Olympic National Park, USA: Camping at Lake Crescent, 17 – 18 July 2015

Some kind friends invited me on an overnight camping trip to the Olympic Peninsula, a UNESCO world heritage site because of its biodiversity. We left Seattle at around 7 am, and hopped on the 8.50 am ferry from Edmonds, for the 2 hr drive from Kingston to Lake Crescent, arriving at Fairholme Campground close to noon. Camp sites (88 total) are available on a first-come-first-served basis. Although the sign outside indicated that it was full, be sure to drive in and check, as it was not updated, as was our experience. When we drove in, we found some availability. You can check out the different camps and their facilities in the link above (Fairholme Campground).

How securing a campsite works at Fairholme Campground:

There are three ‘loops’ of campsites, and located near the wash facilities is a board where you can check for availability of campsites, and how long campsites are reserved for. A blank space indicates an available campsite. The board is not completely authoritative, so the best thing you can do is to walk/drive around, and see if a campsite is indeed reserved. After you choose a campsite, fill out a little slip, and pay the fee ($20 per night).

Campsites differed greatly in size. The larger ones were snapped up pretty early, and because there were four of us and two tents, we also needed a largish campsite. After driving/walking around for a bit, we found a sufficiently large campsite on Loop C. I highly recommend Loop C. Loop C is the furthest away from highway 101, and some of the campsites are actually beside Lake Crescent itself. The only downside to Loop C is that it is a walk-in site, so you cannot drive/park your car right beside your tent. As long as you do not have too much stuff or have enough muscle, that should not be a great challenge. The views from the campsites on Loop C are priceless, and really worth the extra walk/work.

The ones by the river are numbered 81-88, I think.

Lake CrescentAfter eating a sandwich lunch at our campsite table, we headed to Hurricane Ridge, which is some 1.5 hrs drive from Lake Crescent. Hurricane Ridge offers gorgeous mountain views, and sound views from the lookout, which is a short walk from the visitor’s center. There is also some wildlife to be spotted – we spotted a deer. After our short walk in the short loops at Hurricane Ridge (we had a lil two year old trekker), we drove back to the campground for a dinner by the fire pit. I tried to wake up before sunrise for a blue hour shot of Lake Crescent, but well, I slept through it. Oh well. Nevertheless, it was amazing to wake up to bird song, and a picture-perfect turquoise lake. Hurricane Ridge

Hurricane RidgeLake Crescent

Lake Crescent

After breakfast at the campgrounds, we decided to head down the Peninsula to check out some of those glorious beaches. We passed by the town of Forks, which is now famous for its association with Twilight and had brunch at a diner.

One of the more unique things about the Pacific Northwest Beaches are their driftwood and black sand. I have been to Kalaloch a number of times, but every time I do go there again, I get reminded of how beautiful it really is. We stopped for a bit, and let the little tyke have some fun digging in the sand. The sand has an awesome texture – fine grain. For some reason or other, there were lots of dead jellyfish and crabs, which washed ashore as well. As we neared late afternoon, we started our drive back, passing through the town of Aberdeen, which is the birth place of Kurt Cobain. I’ve never done it, but apparently you can do some sort of Kurt Cobain tour if you are in Aberdeen. We mostly stopped for food, because the little tyke wanted to be fed.

All-in-all, a nice little weekender! Kalaloch

Costs:

Edmonds to Kingston Ferry: $29.65 ($13.65 for vehicle & driver + $8 per adult passenger. Tip: I usually drive this route in reserve, because you do not have to pay passenger fares from Kingston to Edmonds – You just have to pay the vehicle fare, saving $8 per passenger)

Camping: $20

Gas: ~$30 (335 miles. cost depends on your gas mileage, but at 30mpg and $3 per gallon, works out to this sum)

Parks pass: $20 (though not all areas require a pass)

Views/experience: priceless

Total: ~ $100 

Categories: Beach, Camping, Nature, Travel Tip, UNESCO, USA | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

USA – Crystal Mountain WA, 17 September 2014

Crystal Mountain is a short 2hr drive away from Seattle. It’s usually visited in the winter, for some reliable skiing. I’ve not actually ski-ed there, but most of the more advanced skiers I know seem to prefer it. But, since I suck at skiing, I did something else – I went in summer.

What’s there to see/do on a ski mountain in summer? Well, if you’re into hiking, apparently it’s awesome, as is Mount Rainier national park. But well, I don’t really have friends who’re into hiking. Most are couch potatoes. So what did I end up doing? We took the scenic gondola ($22) on a half-cloudy day, and wound up doing some reading at a very scenic spot.

If you don’t want to climb anything for a viewpoint, but want a great view of Rainier, look no further. This is your thing! If you have some extra spare Andrew Jacksons, they also have a restaurant at the top of the gondola. We packed our own lunch up. Be obsessive about checking the weather forecast for a perfect day.

The view
Mount Rainier from Crystal

I worked!

View from work today

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USA – Westport (WA), 07 June 2012

After two years of reading myself blind, I passed my PhD general exams, as of 30 May. What does this mean? I’m moving back to Asia semi-permanently. The last two years in Seattle have been magical, and I am really sorry to leave. If I could choose, and had no responsibilities, I’d have stayed, because I fell for this city. Anyway, couldn’t leave this state without going surfing the Pacific, so off I went with a partner-in-crime!

Choice? Westport. After some research about surfing in Washington State, I found a beginner’s beach break in Westport. Westport is a coastal town along the Pacific, that’s about 2.5 hrs drive from Seattle. Whether the weather cooperates, mission on!

I *erm* woke up late after pulling a late-nighter for my paper, so had a late start at 11 am. Picked up S, and then, we started the drive to Westport. Truth be told, Seattle weather wasn’t that kind. Rain, rain, low visibility. But nothing shall derail this mission. Onward!

Strangely, despite all the crazy rain, I think the heavens must have felt some pity for the heavy heart I have, for leaving this magical place. When we drove into Westport, it was actually clear, and blue. 1 pm, lunch time. I did some homework on Tripadvisor and we ended up at Bennett’s Fish Shack. It was decently fresh seafood, a simple place, whereby the entrees hovered around $10. Portions were definitely big. I had fried oysters, S had fish and chips, and a clam chowder. That chowder was almost solid in texture!

On our way to the Marina (Westhaven Drive), I spotted Steep Water Surf Shop, so after lunch, we turned back, and got our rentals there. The guy, Matt, is friendly, and helpful with information (e.g. daily state park pass that you needed to get, showers), and gave us a 1 min quickie lesson. His equipment was also in good condition, and it’s on the way to West Haven State Park. Random note – maybe I’m not clued into this, but bring your own shower amenities and towels. They have hot water shower, requires 2 quarters for maybe about 5 mins of hot water.

After getting everything, and loading up the car, we drove to West Haven State Park. Just cut through the bushes, and you’ll hit the beach. It’s a fairly typical Pacific Northwest beach … Driftwood, black sand. It was a beach break as promised, and had right and left breaks. Weather wasn’t exactly kind, but soldier on, we did. S was a total trooper in this mission. I did not manage to stand on the board, but for the first time, I learnt how to position to board to catch the wave. So, I will no longer require the services of surfer boys. Waves were breaking too fast for us to catch them.

All in all, it was an amazing day. I finally got to surf the great Pacific. Next stop – world domination!

Bennett’s Fish Shack and Westhaven Drive

Gorgeous Westport

Loaded up car with surfboards

Categories: Activities, Beach, USA | Tags: , , | 1 Comment

USA – Everett, WA, 28 December 2012

Everett is a small city that is about 40 miles from Seattle, and takes about 1hr by bus to get there. The downtown is probably about 8 by 5 blocks or thereabouts, and well-connected to other cities by the rail and also metro. It is also home to Boeing Airfields and another airfield, and in terms of sports, it’s home to single-A Seattle Mariners-affiliate Everett Aquasox, and WHL hockey team, Everett Silvertips. It is by the Puget Sound, so some water yews are to be had.

I got there around noon, and was in the mood for a snack, so I tried Taco Del Mar for he very first time. The fish taco is pretty good, and comes with jalapeño slices at request, so it packs a punch. Definitely a repeat on my list! They have some nice old buildings and cool quaint cafes that I planned to check out. But the chosen workplace for the day was the Everett Library. I wasn’t expecting much going in, but that is a pretty library – high ceilings, double-storied windows that has a view of the Puget Sound. I was pleasantly surprised. They also have a decent cafe in the library, so that ended my day.

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USA – Snoqualmie Pass, 13 Dec 2011

Winter has come early, and I was itching to do some winter sports. H has never skiied in her life, and the various ski parks near Seattle were having a half-priced Tuesday, so off we went.

Having been to Stevens Pass and knowing how daunting it can be for first timers, this time I suggested we try Snoqualmie Pass instead.

Snoqualmie Pass is an easy hour drive on the I-90 from Seattle, and it’s probably passable to get there without snow or sports tires. An when we pulled up, I knew we made the right decision. We could see the whole bunny hill, whereas the bunny hill in Stevens Pass wasn’t quite that easy.

Being a Tuesday, there were few people and tonnes of space to slowly ski around and no lines at the lifts, so that was great for the two of us. Staff there are also friendly and nice.

My only suggestion is to pack some food, because the food at the cafe is forgettable and expensive.

All in all, a fun day out!

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USA – Bainbridge Island, WA, 02 Jan 2012

Bainbridge Island is about 30 mins from Seattle via the Washington State Ferries ($7.50) and seems popular for riding bikes. It is, however, also accessible on foot.

I got there around 10am and following the excellent signs, managed to end up in the cute downtown of Bainbridge Island, with the purpose of looking around. But mainly, I wanted brunch. The signboards and maps are like super helpful. With the aid of the map, I found out about the best brunch in town – Streamliner Diner – and headed there. It was packed to the rafters, but the wait was ok. I got a Southern Eggs Benedict, which featured poached eggs on a biscuit with bacon and sausage gravy. This was served with a very generous serving of hash with lemon pepper. Set me back by about ten bucks. They also have a lovely bookshop on the strip.

After a short stroll, I wound up at Pegasus Cafe by the waterfront. It is a full-service cafe with alcohol. It had a really friendly atmosphere and the coffee was nice, too. Spent a few good hours there.

As the time neared for me to get back to Seattle (I set out wig he intention of going back in time to see the Seattle skyline from the ferry at sunset ~4), I decided to try out the waterfront trail. It was an easy walking trail. I only wish it wasn’t drizzling. Would have been a pleasant walk otherwise.

I got back in time to check out the Seattle skyline from the ferry. It was a shame that the weather wasn’t cooperating, otherwise there will be some amazing pictures.

Overall, Bainbridge is a great place to daytrip to. It had a chill atmosphere, and clear signage for people who are visiting for the day. I highly recommend it.

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USA – Whale-Watching Day Trip: Coupeville/Whidbey Island WA, 27 March 2011

Twas grey whale watching season, and since company was in town, what better time to explore the Puget Sound area, and watch some wildlife along the way, no?

We signed up with Victoria Clipper for a Sunday day trip that’ll bring us whale-watching with trained marine biologists who work in the area, and included a two-hour stop at Whidbey Island, one of the many islands in the Puget Sound. The Victoria Clipper also offers ferry services to Victoria, British Columbia, and trips to other islands in the Puget Sound area.

Honestly, after watching the whale surface just an itsy bitsy bit, I was quite contented with my whale sighting, and just proceeded to snooze until Coupeville in Whidbey Island. Other people were certainly more determined, and some braved the relentless drizzle for more sightings of the whale, and the perfect photo to bring home. Well, it’s 10 am on a Sunday morning, and I do what I like doing best – snoozing.

After all the excitement about the whales, we arrived at Coupeville around noon, and were given two hours to explore the town. The ‘commercial’ area was pretty small, and there were quite a few restaurants near the pier. It has a small town feel, and although there are some historic sights, it would have required a car, and definitely more than two hours. With two hours to spare, what else better to do than to stuff our faces? 😛

Anyway, it was a good choice. M ordered a pasta after her first choice of clams was sold out, while I ordered a mussels in white wine sauce. The portions were generous, the price was fair (mine was 12 bucks), and it was delicious!

After our leisurely Sunday lunch at Coupeville, we boarded the boat and returned to Seattle to end our little day trip.

Grey day for Grey Whale Watching

Coupeville, Whidbey Island

Lunch of Mussels in White Wine Sauce in Coupeville

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US Spring Road Trip: Nevada, Arizona, California, 17-26 March 2011

Took a road trip during Spring break. Here’s the itinerary:

17 March 2011: Seattle, WA – Long Beach, CA – Las Vegas, NV

18 March 2011: Las Vegas, NV (Ski trip)

19 March 2011: Las Vegas, NV – Boulder City, NV – Grand Canyon, AZ – Flagstaff, AZ

20 March 2011: Flagstaff, AZ – Grand Canyon, AZ – Peoria, AZ – Grand Canyon, AZ – Las Vegas, NV

21 March 2011: Las Vegas, NV – Death Valley National Park, NV/CA – Las Vegas, NV

22 March 2011: Las Vegas, NV – Los Angeles, CA

23 March 2011: Manhattan Beach, CA

24 March 2011: Los Angeles, CA

25 March 2011: Santa Monica, CA

26 March 2011: Los Angeles, CA – Seattle, WA

Categories: Itinerary, USA | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

USA – Stevens Pass Ski, 02 January 2011

The highlight of the trip – my first time skiing. We went to Stevens Pass, which is actually a real near drive to Seattle and the Eastside, for those who live there (~1-2 hours in good traffic). Anyway, it costs like 50 USD for the ski lift ticket, and equipment rental was another 30-35 USD. I don’t remember the exact details.

Erm, well, let’s just say, not a good introduction to the sport. The Stevens Pass ski was built for adrenaline junkies, but their version of a beginner’s hill was actually real scary (after having been to a real beginner’s hill). It was much closer to an intermediate hill, as there were some seriously steep straight stretches, and there were points where it was just hard to slow down, or make turns for beginners. The first time I went down, I basically just tumbled down. I almost thought I’d become a gigantic snowball mass in a cartoon fashion! Let’s just say, it was an incredibly scary experience, and it didn’t get any better the second time.

To make my money’s worth, I think I actually went about six or seven times, and after the first two times, it certain got much better. But let’s just say the first two trips were really scarring, and I started to make my way down the slopes like a granny. I think skiing is pretty fun, but I don’t think it’s going to be like what surfing is for me. 🙂

Stevens Pass

Chair Lift

I look like Krusty the Clown

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