Thursday, July 02, 2009

Seattle - Day 5 and Final Thoughts...

Day 5. Last day...sigh...

It's your last day in Seattle. What do you do? Well...for me, I visited all the places I wanted to go to before leaving and also did another trip back to Pike!

After again enjoying the free breakfast at the hotel, drove to Lakeview Cemetary which was only about 10 minutes away. A cemetary? Why would anyone visit a cemetary when on vacation? Well, you do if you're in Seattle and you're a fan of Bruce and Brandon Lee.

Lakeview Cemetary is where both are buried and as a fan and former student of martial arts, I felt it was only right to visit their graves. I arrived at the cemetary and asked a groundskeeper where their graves were. He volunteered to lead me to them and I realized I should've just followed the people. Even on a Tuesday mid-morning, there were 4 others like myself who wanted to pay their respects to the legend.

The first thing I noticed when I got to their graves was that they both had such beautiful headstones. They were truly works of art.

Then I took a closer look at their headstones and read the quotes dedicated to them. Master Bruce's quote simply read "Your inspiration continues to guide us toward our personal liberation." Nuff said.

But I was truly touched by the quote on his son Brandon's grave. I feel it warrants a repeat here:

"Because we don't know when we will die, we get to think of life as an inexhaustible well. Yet everything happens a certain number of times, and a very small number, really. How many more times will you remember a certain afternoon of your childhood, some afternoon that's so deeply a part of your being that you can't even conceive of your life without it? Perhaps four or five times more. Perhaps not even that. How many more times will you watch the full moon rise? Perhaps twenty. And yet it all seems limitless."

Wow. After reading that, I just stood there and reflected on it. It really made me realize that I should appreciate all that I have and cherish it, for who knows when...I hesitate to finish the thought.

After paying my respects I was getting ready to leave when I realized that I should leave a gift or offering behind. But visiting the cemetary was a spur of the moment decision and I had not stopped to buy flowers or any other gift. So I ended up scouring my rental car for anything suitable and I ended up leaving an apple for Master Bruce and a 50 cent coin for Brandon. I rationalized the gifts by thinking to myself that the apple represented "health" in the afterlife and the coin represented "wealth".

After my moment of reflection at Lakeview Cemetary, I was ready to move on with the day. Decided to stop by the Pike Place Market again to look for omiyage and souveneirs. Did a little bit of shopping, bought more fruit, and then enjoyed a Greek lamb gyro for lunch at a nearby park.

Then, since I still had some time left, I made a quick stop at Cow Chip Cookies at Pioneer Square, a place I had read about on the internet for their awesome chocolate chip cookies. I bought one cookie, just so I could taste it. Pretty good!

Then, sadly, it was off to the airport and back home to Hawaii...

So what are my thoughts on Seattle?

1) I thought the people there were tremendous. All the people I talked to and met and interacted with were so friendly. Sure, a lot of them were service industry types but even the people I met on the street or on the tours were very nice. A very friendly city!

2) The sun goes down at a crazy hour in June! I swear, the sun doesn't set till about 10:00pm! It's crazy!

3) There are tons and tons of restaurants all over the city. I tried a whole bunch of them and only got through about half of the list I brought with me. I think it's a great town for foodies.

4) The hilly streets in Downtown combined with the Waterfront reminded me a lot of San Francisco.

5) The street signs and street names kinda suck. What the hell with street names like NE 1st Ave N? Huh?

6) It seems like a very fit city. All over, you'd see people jogging, running, walking, or biking.

Overall, I really enjoyed my getaway to Seattle. I avoided the overly touristy things for the most part and yet still feel like I experienced a lot the city had to offer.

Seattle - Day 4

Day 4...running out of time!

Day 4 was a day trip to Olympic National Park. I was debating between Mt Rainier National Park and Olympic National Park but a recommendation from an associate swayed me to visit Olympic in Port Angeles.

Again, got started a little later than planned and didn't leave the hotel until about 10:30am. In order to get to Port Angeles from Seattle you have to drive and catch a ferry so traveling times can vary but it should take about 3 hours on the average.

But with my bad luck, I got to the Edmonds ferry port just 5 minutes after the previous ferry left so had to wait nearly an hour till the next one. Then, got lost between Kingston and Port Angeles because the Google Maps driving directions were way off! WTF!

FINALLY got to my destination at about 2:30pm. But oh man...was it worth it! I visited the Hurrican Ridge portion of the park and talk about majestic! Can you imagine...mountainsides covered by tens of thousands of trees, and then their crowns capped with snow? In late June? Are you kidding me?

Not to mention the wildlife! There were tons of deer literally running around all over the mountain, just a few feet away! Then, when you reach the top of the hiking trail, you can find marmot, a groundhog type animal apparently indigenous to the area. Cute little suckers!

The Hurrican Ridge Trail is about 1.6 miles one way from the Visitor Center and it shouldn't take more than 90 minutes round trip but there are so many scenic spots along the way that you have to just stop and take it all in.

What a beautiful place...I shall let the following pictures speak for themselves...

Would you give a f*** what kind of pants the guy who shot you was wearing?

The best lunch spot ever. Stopped to have a sandwich and fruit lunch on this bench. Breathtaking.

Cute little marmot!

Check it out...snow in June!

After that awesome day trip, it was back to Seattle for dinner.

Went back to the Waterfront to dine at Elliott's Oyster House. If you are an oyster lover, you have to come here. They have over 3 dozen different variety of fresh raw oyster for your choosing. If you can come at 3pm, they have an oyster happy hour when oysters are just 50 cents each! Wow!

Variety of fresh oysters. Should've ordered more!

Smoked sampling platter

Manila clams in garlic and white wine sauce. Honestly...the one at Uncle Bo's in Kapahulu is better.

I'd recommend Elliott's for the fresh oysters but the rest of the food was just okay if you ask me.

Aw...last night in Seattle!

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Seattle - Day 3

Got up a little earlier today and was intent on having brunch at Dahlia Lounge, the first restaurant by famous Seattle restauranteur Tom Douglas. To be honest, this was probably my favorite meal of the entire trip. Everything from the service, to the atmosphere, to the food was all top notch.

Bag of cinammon donuts. The 2 spreads accompanying the donuts were so good I wanted to buy a jar to take home. Oh so ono!

Gotta have fruit for brunch!

Kale soup with hamhock. Sounds gross but tastes good.

Halibut! Yum!

Tom Douglas's famous crab cakes...crispy on the outside, moist and flaky on the inside.

While eating brunch I heard a lot of ruckus going on outside on 4th Avenue and then discovered that there was a Gay Pride Parade going on! Cool! I only watched for like 20 minutes but it certainly was fun. Lots of flamboyant floats and performers paraded the street, not to mention the onlookers! It was a gay old time!

The "Gaywatch" bus

After lunch, went to The Center for Wooden Boats near my hotel on Lake Union for a free boat ride. This was a very cool wooden boat museum but the highlight of course was the sailboat ride on Lake Union.

Every Sunday at 2:00pm, the CWB offers free sailboat rides around the lake and it was so much fun! I had never been on a sailboat before and it was so exhilirating. Sitting just inches from the water with the breeze in your face, amazing views of the surrounding was an experience that will never be forgotten. Did I mention it was free? How can you beat that?

Hydroplane (is that what they're called?) landing in the lake

Some of the many boathouses on the lake

Hows my ride, yo? Nah, not my boat but it could be yours! It was on sale.

After a quick change of clothes, it was back to Downtown.

I really wanted to check out the Seattle Public Library. This visit was definitely a highlight of the trip. You're's just a library, right? No. This building is an architectural marvel. Just looking at it from the outside you can tell that it is a beautiful building. But once you walk around inside, you can definitely notice all the care and attention to detail in its design.

Seattle Public Library

Admiring the beautiful building from the inside
I highly recommend visiting this building and taking a good 30-40 minutes walking around inside to witness this feat of engineering and architecture.

Then it was on to dinner at Wild Ginger. This was probably my 2nd favorite meal of the trip.

Wild Ginger features mostly Southeast Asian cuisine and the food was fabulous. Combine the good food with beautiful decorating and ambiance, and I am sold. What a delicious meal!

Chicken satay

Buddha rolls with pineapple dipping sauce

Seven flavor beef

Szechuan string beans...I couldn't stop eating these!

Green chicken curry
Ginger ice cream and vanilla blackberry ice cream

After dinner, topped off the evening with some jazz at Tula's. Tula's is one of the best jazz clubs in the nation and every Sunday night they feature a big band act led by Jim Cutler. The band played for over 2 hours and they only charged a $5 cover! Can't beat that kind of value.

After a day of gays, sailboats, books, and jazz, it was time to call it a night...

Seattle - Day 2

Day about sleeping in! Didn't leave the hotel room till about 2:00pm! Auwe!

I saw the Seattle episode of Man v. Food on the Food Network and the host was eating at Red Mill Burgers and once I saw it, I had to eat it. Even at 2:30pm the lines were super long and leading out the restaurant's entrance. I decided on the Verde burger and it was super good. I think I may have to give the edge to The Counter at Kahala Mall but this was a pretty damn good burger too.

Verde burger. Oh yeah!

Double bacon cheeseburger

Onion rings with tartar sauce. Yummy!

After the late lunch, went to check out the Underground Tour in Pioneer Square. I was a bit iffy about this tour as I'm not really a big tour taking guy in general but surprisingly, it turned out to be very entertaining as well as educational! The tour lasted 90 minutes and the guide was very skilled. Honestly, there isn't that much to see on this tour besides the basements of current buildings (used to be the first floors) but it was very interesting to learn about the history of Seattle and how the city rebuilt itself after the major fire in the late 1800s. Combine that with the cheesy but funny jokes mixed in at what seemed like a joke per 5 seconds, it was a very satisfying tour.

By now it was time for dinner so went down to the Waterfront to have dinner at The Crab Pot. The Crab Pot is in essence a gimmick restaurant geared to tourists but it wasn't bad. Their gimmick is to eliminate the need for all silverware and plates by bringing your food to your table in a big stainless steel bowl and then literally dumping the contents onto your table. All you're given is a mallet and a small fork. The dinner I ordered included Alaskan king crab legs, Dungeness crab legs, snow crab legs, mussels, clams, shrimp, Andouille sausage, corn, and red potatoes.

The Crab Pot

All they give you is a bib and a mallet.

Ready to eat!

After dinner, walked down a couple of piers to the Washington State Ferry dock to catch a ferry to Bainbridge. Since it was so late (caught the 11:00pm ferry), basically just caught the ferry to Bainbridge and came right back to check out the city lights from the water. The view of the lights from the water was pretty amazing. The ferry was a pretty cool ride. Very spacious and lots of seats offering great views from the water.

Can you make out the Space Needle in the background?

By the time the ferry trip was over, it was past 1:00am. Time to go to the hotel and sleep!