Seattle Trip Report – LONG!

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How much it costs:
Car rental – $163
Gas – $200~
Lodging – $60 (meal for friend who hosted me)
Food/Water – $60~
Parking/Toll/Entry Fee – $50~
Total – $533~

General things and thoughts from the trip:
– I got this exciting sensation and adrenaline about the trip while driving in the AM after midnight toward Seattle and singing my tunes, which were what kept me going at those crazy hours with no sleep. Why? I came to realize that the job and all the money I make/save is to allow myself to do these things – going on these little adventures, having the chance to visit different places, and seeing different people and friends.
– Yes, it may seem like it costs me a bit, but I think very well controlled. Either way, I still think this trip is worth it. No guilt about any of the spending. It’s important to know that money is not for hoarding. Money is an enablement. We save so we can invest in our own happiness.
The best part of the trip came at the end of…actually, I should say after the trip. The friend I met up with is from UK, who I knew from my undergraduate days on the fencing team. He was there during my junior year. I’ll call him J. J wrote me an email about how we haven’t seen each other for about 4 years and 2 months but “Despite the long time, it seemed to me like we got on as if there’d been no time at all.” WOW! It’s amazing because I had the exact same thought when I was on my journey home. I thought about how there are people I see everyday but never came close to getting along like with J. And I doubt it’ll ever happen. I suppose that what real friends are. It’s not about how long, but about how well you can share with, communicate to, and understand each other. I will never trade a friend like J for anything.
– 12 hours continuous driving is about my limit, which is one way from South Bay to Seattle.
– Never ever ever get a Mazda3 for long drive. Actually, I don’t recommend renting or buying for thie following reason… Their seats are so bad ergonomically that forces you into a hunching posture, which in turn causes serious neck and shoulder pain and tension. My warning for buyers of Mazda3 2007 model.
– For long drive on rental car, bring one thin AND one thick pillow/cushion for rental cars so you can get comfortable if the seat and its adjustment are horrid.
– Long Beach, WA is not that impressive and definitely not worth the 3-4 extra hours diversion from driving to Seattle . The beach is really long, so you can go there if you want to try drifting your car. There is also horse back riding but that’s about it… I thought Half Moon Bay is a lot nicer. Oh yeah, I was the only Asian I saw in town while there.
– Report your frequent traveller credit through Hertz by going to their website –> Customer Support –> Frequent Traveler Credit. Good for mileage in the last 6 months.

If you have no interest in visiting Seattle area or details about my trip, then you can stop reading here. Otherwise, read on!

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07/13/2007 – Touring and things about Seattle:
– The area is much smaller Bay Area. I stayed in Bellevue and thought it’s 30 minutes apart from Seattle because I was looking at the map with Bay Area scale. It only takes 10+ minutes. I enjoyed the short distance while it lasted.
– The city is also much smaller than San Francisco. I can walk everywhere quite comfortably and maybe even bare-footed. Can’t say that for San Francisco.
– City parking is quite outrageous. I saw $3 for each half hour…what…
– Starbucks charges sales tax in Washington, which I never saw here in California (Do they include it in the price here?)
– The underground tour at Pioneer Square is interesting and worth it. You can get to understand the city’s history a bit while seeing the old Seattle that the current city sits on top. The guide of my group cracked a lot of subtle jokes and puns that were not understood by a majority of the crowd. I suppose people are either not paying attention or just lacking a sense of humor. Tour fee is $12.
– The aquarium is quite nice inside and worth a visit. The variety of organisms is decent. It can take up 1.5-2 hours depending how much time you spend trying to capture the animals in photos. Entry fee is $15.
– There are a multitude of pig statues around the city, to which I am not sure why.
– Pike’s Place Market is just a fancier farmer’s market.
– There were a mad amount of people visiting the 1st Starbucks but most of them did not get coffee.
– The observation deck at Columbia Center (aka. the Bank of America building) that oversees the city closes at 4:30pm. The one at Smith building near Pioneer Square opens longer and also provides a good view to the city.
Gaswork Park is a wonderful area that’s across Lake Union from the main section of Seattle. It provides a great view of the city and the skyline. I actually made the best use of my tripod so far there taking pictures of Seattle at night. It also has a playground area for family fun. I only wish there is such a park near me here in Bay Area.
– Housing price is on par with Bay Area’s. But there seems to be so much more things in the Bay Area, which leads to me to think that it’s also outrageous.

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07/14/2007 – Hiking Mount Rainier:
– Mount Rainier is an excellent choice for a view of nature and hiking, gogogo if you are visiting Seattle.
– It takes a little over 2 hours to get to Sunrise area from Bellevue.
– I went to the Sunrise area and then hiked up Mount Burroughs Trail which was not too difficult in my opinion. there was a nice view of a variety of greens and Mount Rainier that I never got tired of looking while hiking. There’s also the Frozen Lake along the way. I was able to reach the second summit of Mount Burroughs(8000-9000 ft high) in 2 hours, which had a few slippery(dangerous?) spots of ice & snow along the way but the trail wasn’t too bad in general. It can be probably done faster because I paused frequently for taking photos.
– I got sun-burnt a little, which is rare so pack your sunscreen for Mount Rainier!
– I also suggest some bug repellent if you are afraid to get stung by wasps and what not. Who knows if they carry mutated virus/bacteria at that sea level :P

Well, I think this should be long enough… to make up for the past 2 weeks :) Hope you haven’t fallen asleep reading.

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