Friday, April 28, 2006

Seattle

So here I am in Seattle… I’m actually in the plane right now running a calibration, and I thought that since I am up to date in my data reduction (from the last 4 flights), and that I’ve finished what my boss wants me to do for my performance assessment that I would pass the time while I wait for my calibrations by writing something for our somewhat neglected blog.

Seattle can be a rather pretty place when it's not gloomy. We've been fortunate that we haven't had more than one day of rain so far - I attribute that to the fact that I bought raingear soon after arriving, but more for the cold than the wet. This is my first time in Washington, which means that I’ve got one more state, although I’m afraid I’ve lost count of how many I’ve got now. I think it’s somewhere around 34, although it depends how you count them. (I include the three states where I’ve only been in airports, and I also include D.C. - although it really isn’t a state, but it is a separate entity - which goes against some people’s rules.) Anyhow, I didn’t expect to see quite so many mountains here in Seattle. The mountains are a lot further away here than they are in Vancouve. I guess it’s more like Surrey, where you can see a whole mountain range off in the distance. Here, however, there are ranges on almost all four sides - the cascades go from the north to the south on the eastern side of us, and the Olympians go to the north and south off to the west. They’re much more jagged and craggy than the mountains in Colorado, and it seems strange to not see foothills in the foreground. They’re stunningly beautiful from the ground as well as the sky. A few days ago we flew a flight track that took us by Mt. Bachelor for a fly-by of the peak which was pretty fun. There is a research station near the peak so the idea was that we could intercompare with them by getting really close. The best part was that we were told the previous day on the flight plan to “be sure to bring our cameras.” The best part was that the flight was only to be 4 ½ hours long - it felt more like a scenic outing than a research flight.

Sunday was our first hard down day, so I took the opportunity to do something I haven’t done in a long time: I went to Canada! I haven’t been on Canadian soil since May 25, 2005, so it was nice to go “home”. After a quick drive up I-5, a colleague of mine and I were crossing the border, and soon after that we were in Vancouver. We didn’t do anything really special up there – the two touristy things that I’d thought up were really expensive (who wants to pay $30 to catch a lift up Grouse Mountain?!), so instead we met up with my good friend Pete, had lunch at this fabulous little Panini place, wandered through the market on the Quay in North Vancouver, and drove Pete back to Surrey. The best part? We stopped at Tim Horton’s and had coffee – my first Tim’s coffee since the morning of May 25, not including the ones that I made from the can that Brenda brought us last month. I miss my Timmy’s. It was good to see things hadn’t changed too much, but I was weirded out by the TV screen mounted up in the menu area perpetually churning out Tim Horton’s images.

I’ve got 5 more days to go until I get to go home for a week. If it’s anything like the last week and a half, it’ll go by quickly and without a lot of fanfare. Hopefully between now and then I’ll actually go INTO Seattle – we’re living in suburbanland in a community north of Seattle called Lynnwood, and we work out of Paine Field base in Everett. Lynnwood is I’m sure a very nice place, but the hotel that we’re staying in is surrounded by large stores such as Best Buy, Famous Footwear, Nordstrom Rack and Babies R Us. Within a 10 minute walk we have a huge mall, surrounded by a number of chain restaurants, but thankfully there are a few that aren’t chains. (I’m not a snob about chain restaurants, but if I’m going to eat out in a different city, I want to eat something that I can’t get everywhere else in North America.)

Paine Field is where Boeings are built in what *used* to be the world’s largest building by volume – not the VAB, surprisingly. Evidently, there is a new building that has taken over that title. Nevertheless, it’s a rather old airport, and I’m not even sure there are commercial flights that take off from here. We don’t have a hangar, so the cold, wet, damp Seattle mornings are not too friendly to us when we have to work outside, but it’s been warming up during the day. We are parked on a tarmac right beside on old derelict B-52. It has 8 jet engines, wheels on the tips of the wings, and you can actually go stand up inside the bomb bay – not that we’re supposed to be doing that. A couple days ago some of our mechs were standing on ladders and peering into the windows like little children at Christmastime.

1 comment:

Pete said...

I like that blog but mostly because I am in it.