Monday, December 12, 2005

Seattle and such...

I had a great time in Seattle this weekend with Kayur and I am very much looking forward to an opportunity to go back to Seattle. Well, first I guess I should say a bit about Vancouver. The weather there was beautiful and so I walked around for a while. I went to the art museum, which was very nice. Then I met Chris and Angela from the train for lunch. When I went up to the restaurant Ryan the attendant in my sleeper car was sitting there waiting to have lunch with another woman who worked on the train. That was an amusing coincidence. They were spending the night in Vancouver and then VIA was flying them back to Winnipeg the next morning. Lunch with Chris and Angela was pretty good. It was an all-you-can-eat sushi and japanese restaurant, but there wasn't much sushi selection on the all-you-can-eat menu. Then Chris took us on a tour of Vancouver. I got some good pictures and Angela even took a picture of me. Vancouver is a beautiful city. There are all sorts of neat things to do and the mountains are right there. The city has an awesome view. Chris said there are ordinances controlling how high they can build new buildings so that the view is not blocked. Vancouver is building a lot of stuff right now for the Olympics in 2006 or 2008 or whenever. They also have recently built and are still in the process of building a lot of new high rise condos. They are beautiful buildings that probably have amenities I would never dream of, but they also cost A LOT of money. Many of them are right on the waterfront with a view of the mountains, ocean and your very own yacht.

I left Vancouver at 6pm and headed for Seattle. The Cascades train that goes between the two is really nice. I found out that Washington state owns 80% of that train, so they've invested a lot into making it nice. It's a very modern train compared to the other trains that Amtrak runs. There are motion sensor glass doors and outlets at every seat and a nice snack car too. There wasn't much of a view since it was dark the whole way down, but it was a nice trip. We got into Seattle about 45 minutes late, but Kayur was wonderful and came an picked me up. It's nice to know someone with a car. :)

Friday night we just went to a diner for some food and then went back and went to bed. We slept in on Saturday until about 11am, which was very nice given that I didn't get much sleep my last night on the train. Kayur had a lot of school work to do that day, so I headed out on my own. First I did some laundry, which was great to be able to do. Clean clothes are wonderful when you are on a trip like this. Then I headed out looking for food. I didn't end up finding anything exciting, since I wasn't exceptionally hungry. I just had a slice of pizza. I caught the bus downtown and headed to the library. Kayur had sent me there first and I am really glad he did. The Seattle Central Library is this architecturally stunning building and filled with probably hundreds of thousands of books. I could have easily just wandered around there for days, just picking books off the shelf and looking through them. The library had a copy of James Morrow's latest collection of short stories, which I now am desperate to pick up in somewhere along the way. He is my absolute favorite author of all time. He's an amazing writer. The cover of the short story book, which came out in 2004, said that there is another book he wrote that should be released in the US soon and that he's working on another novel. SO EXCITED!!!!!

After the library I headed to the Bank of America building. They have an observation deck that is supposed to have one of the most amazing views in all of Seattle. However, the stupid place is closed on weekends. How freakin dumb is that? Whatever. From there I went down to the waterfront area. I got some nice pictures from the ferry building. On the way back up into downtown I stopped at a Dr. Martens store, but didn't find anything. However, I did realize that I desperately need some new boots. That may be something I either ask my mom to get me for Christmas, or just get myself. I continued walking around downtown and found Pike Place Market. That is a great place to walk around in Seattle. There are all sorts of interesting stores and vendors. It's also where the famous fish market is. There are guys screaming fish orders and throwing fish around. It's very interesting. I found some presents for people in one of the stores on the lower floors and from an artist who has a booth set up outside. Very exciting. While I was there Kayur called me, so I started making my way back to his place via the bus. I met up with him at school and he showed me around the building where his office is. He has a nice office in a beautiful building that was, at least partially, funded by Paul Allen. From there we stopped back at the house so I could get my laundry out of the dryer. Then we ran over and picked up a ticket for me for Narnia later that night and then we went off to find some quick Thai food. We ate at a place called Thai-ger Room on University Way closed to the University of Washington. The food was EXCELLENT. I got yellow curry with chicken and Kayur got something with tofu and yummy peanut sauce. We also got Thai spring rolls for appetizer. It was all so very delicious. I love Thai food. There's a lot of it in that area and Kayur says a lot of it is very good. It's also very cheap. Our whole dinner, which was so large we got leftovers enough for two more meals, was only $20. Yay for cheap eats. Narnia was a great movie. I'd really like to go see it again on a much larger screen. It'd be great if it was in an IMAX theatre somewhere in Berkeley or LA. It stuck to the movie fairly well. There were some things that they changed that I wasn't real fond of. But, overall it was very well done. After that we went and hung out at a friend of Kayur's house and played Taboo.

Yesterday was good fun. We woke up and got ready and headed out to have brunch at the Seattle Space Needle restaurant. It was $50 each in the end, but the food was great and the view is really nice as well. I had Seared Ahi Tuna appetizer, King Salmon with roasted pear rice and tarragon-pomegranate dressing and Turtle Brownie a la mode. Yummy. From there we went up to the observation deck and took pictures. Then we went over to the Science Fiction museum. That was cool. Very dorky, of course, but I'll happily admit to being a dork. They had some neat bits of science fiction history, including lots of props from the Star Trek series and movies, as well as props from other popular movies. They had one of the aliens that they had used in the movie Aliens. Now I really will absolutely never ever watch that movie. That thing was huge and scary and that movie scares me already and now that I've seen the thing in person, I can't even imagine trying to watch the movie. I'd end up curled up under the couch with my eyes tightly closed and covered.

So, that was the SciFi museum, sponsored and nearly fully funded by Mr. Paul Allen and his wife. They also funded the Experience the Music Project, which is connected to the SciFi museum. That had pretty much used up all the time that Kayur and I had for the day, so we headed for the train station. The train station happens to be conveniently, or inconveniently in my opinion, located right next to Qwest Field where the Seattle Seahawks play football. Of course, unbeknownst to Kayur and I there was a game yesterday. So, we get down there and the streets are blocked off and cops are directing people around where we need to go and there are hundreds of crazy football fans wandering around. Kayur dropped me off and I just walked over to the station. That made more sense than us trying to wind our way back to the station.

That leads us to where I am now, on the train. I've managed to hold out and remain in coach. I'm rationalizing that if I can hold out and stay in coach, I'll stay at the Holiday Inn in Chicago as a treat. It's actually not too bad since it's pretty empty. Not a lot of people traveling through the middle of nowhere by train right now. I have to say though, my childhood dreams of moving to a ranch in Montana have been renewed. I woke up this morning in Whitefish, MT, which seems like a resort town centered probably around skiing and a lake. Since then it's been amazing moutain views and just beautiful landscapes. It's incredible out here. I really want to live somewhere this gorgeous. Just mountains and trees and your own little cabin in the middle of nowhere. We ran along the southern edge of Glacier National Park this morning. I will definitely head back there to do some hiking and camping and what not. So, today during the daylight we will be going through the rest of Montana and we may see a bit of North Dakota while it's still light out, but it looks like most of North Dakota will be in the dark. Then tomorrow daylight will be through Minnesota, Wisconsin and then into Chicago at around 4pm, as long as we stay close to on time. I hope we are on time so that I don't have to walk to the hotel in the dark. Anyway, now I'm hungry, so I'm going to grab some cheap lunch from the snack car.

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