Home Safe and Sound

Wow, what can one say when they are sad to leave a place they are visiting.  That’s how we felt about the Lake Crescent Lodge and the Olympic National Park.  I would encourage all of you to put it on your bucket list and get there.  We thought we could take a more scenic route back into Sea-Tac but that didn’t work out since we wanted to visit the Museum of Flight at Boeing Field.  Where else can you go inside a British Airways Concorde and tour SAM 970 which was  Air Force One until it got upgraded to SAM 26000.  It was amazing to walk through such a piece of history.  The SAM acronym stands for Special Air force Mission.  The plane we toured was the plane that Johnson took to Dallas the day Kennedy was assassinated.  It felt like you were walking on history.




Where we put our carry-on were berths for sleeping.



The conference room looks rudimentary now but was state of the art at the time.


We especially loved the “Doggie Door” entrance to the Presidential office and immediately thought of our Izzy and Fiona tramping through regardless of any national crisis.


There were safes on board which contained nuclear launch codes whenever the President flew in the plane.




The communications center was a blast from the past and sorry, but I didn’t get the wall hung pencil sharpener from all of our grade school rooms in this picture.


We were also able to go inside the Concorde from British Airways.  The plane was unremarkable in terms of interior which only proved that it’s value was speed.



So now, home it is for a while but if you need to travel vicariously I would recommend our friends Heidi and Art on their nostalgic Amtrak trip to Los Angeles.



How do you leave a place that captures a special moment in your heart?

The last three days at Lake Crescent Lodge have been spectacular.  Not only is there unrivaled scenic beauty, the sense of history, place and being caves a special place in your heart.  So tomorrow we have to leave, head back into Seattle and prep for our flight home.




Today, we went to the hot springs of Sol Duc.  We aren’t much for a communal pool so we took the briefest of cures and then showered off and headed home.  Plus the whole place had the eggish sulphate smell.    We tried to figure out how the whole thing worked but they didn’t have great information on where the water came from and how it got into the pool.  One the way though we saw some special sights.  The Salmon Cascades are a wonder.  Unfortunately due to over fishing and pollution there are very few salmon who make the trip.


A still picture doesn’t give you the full impact of the power of the cascades.  Here is a video link with sound that helps put things in perspective.  Upon our return, we found that Donald and Daisy felt free to just walk into our cottage and a deer  who will have some handsome antlers at the end of the season ambled up to say hello as well.  I guess this is living with nature!



More tomorrow.


A Healthy Good Night

Goodnight and fare thee well.  We are heading to dinner for a special meal prepared by the chef.


Our Gifts to Us

Wayne and I make a habit of watching CBS Sunday Morning with Charles Osgood every week.  Each Christmas season they devote an entire show to the gifts Americans have given themselves; our National Parks.  They celebrate newly acquired parcels of land that have been named National Parks, Forests, Seashores, and Wildlife Refuges as our Gifts to Us.  Well there is no better gift than Olympic National Park.  And lets just get it straight right now, any person in congress who proposes slashing a single penny of the budget for our parks and wilderness should be hauled away in short order.  I didn’t post last night because the wi-fi here is a little iffy but this afternoon it has picked up steam and seems to be cooperating.

Yesterday Wayne got up early and guess who were at our door?  That’s right, Donald and Daisy waiting for the cafe to open.  I know, I know don’t feed the wildlife but I did some research and found it was healthy to feed them whole grains which we did in the form of a gluten free cracker.  IMG_5542

When they are literally at your doorstep what do you do?  This morning they almost came inside our open door.

The morning was clear skies and sunshine and all the Inn staff agreed that it was the perfect day to explore Hurricane Ridge.  It’s amazing how different mountains are formed by different geological events.  The Olympics were formed from the Pacific Ocean up.  Literally millions of years of sediment formed rock at the bottom of the ocean that was pushed by tectonic plates into the mountains we see today.  There are glaciers and snow almost year round.  And those of us from Chicago who whined at our winter, these mountains can see snow that would add up to a six story building.IMG_5495


We took a picnic lunch and thanks to the clued in staff at Lake Crescent Lodge we knew the secret places to go which most folks pass without knowing.  Here’s our picnic table.


With this view, some cheese, olives and crackers, who wouldn’t be happy?


After hiking into the mountains for a bit, we headed home and yes, Donald and Daisy were right there waiting for us.

Dinner tonight was a plate of seared Sea Scallops with lemon foam and caramelized Brussels sprouts.  Nicholas, our favorite person for food, had the whole thing arranged for us and made sure our meal was. . . flawless.




This morning we decided to take a walk around the Lodge and ended up walking three miles to Marymere Falls.




On the way we got sidetracked and ended up following signs to “NatureBridge”.  Which in our innocent minds meant a bridge that nature made.  Well it turns out to be quite different.  Naturebridge is a non-profit that specializes in providing wilderness experiences for students of all ages from first grade into college.   A class of students may decide that they want to learn about nature and reserve a three to five day trip to this camp where educators will teach them about the environment, ecology, geology and give them a nature experience unrivaled.  The organization works with several National Parks.  Robert, the caretaker at this location took us all over the property which they were just opening up for the summer season.  It was clear he loved his job and loved the fact that he had a part in teaching youth about nature.  He told us that when they host a class from a rough urban environment this is the first time that many students feet touch natural land.  Some of them are even frightened by the wilderness and open space.  I was very impressed with not only their commitment to the land but also their respect for preserving history.  They took over this camp which contains the old “Rosemary” lodge where Roosevelt stood on the porch and declared this peninsula a National Park




Here is the dining room housed in the original lodge.


After that walk we came back and had some olives and cheese to tide us over until dinner.  Nicholas won’t be here tonight but left a note that we are to have a special salmon dish and allow the chef to riff as he pleases.

What a day!  Tomorrow Sol Duc Hot Springs?


A day of transition beauty to beauty

We started again with the prescribed rasher of bacon and after a quick work call we began our adventures.  First off was the Smith Tower.  An amazing “skyscraper” that for years was the tallest building outside of New York.  It was built by the man who owned Smith Corona typewriters and made all his money in that business.  The tower went through many owners and during the tech boom was home to many start up companies.  After surviving many threats it is still standing and proves that quality ingredients make a quality building.





The elevators still are operated by hand and the original motors are in place.


We are whisked to the 35th floor Chinese Room which contains a “wishing chair” given to the building owner by the Empress of China.  It is said if you sit in the chair and make a wish it will come true.  The owners daughter sat in the chair and wished for marriage and was betrothed in the Chinese Room in a year.


During the renovations, they removed mechanical systems which left enough room for a private residence above the 35th floor.  Now a single family has a long term lease on the space and one can only imagine what life would be like if you lived there.


After our trip down to ground level, we hightailed over to the ferry to Bainbridge Island.


On schedule and nothing as intense as a Martha’s Vineyard Ferry.


After a two hour drive through incredible scenic vistas we arrived at the Lake Crescent Lodge, our home base for the next four days.  We are staying in a “Roosevelt Cabin”  (clink link for a tour) which have been placed on the national register of historic places for very obvious reasons.  The only problem we see is making the decision whether to stay here or explore Olympic Park. I’m sure we’ll do both.

Who could resist this view from your room?




We had dinner at the lodge with a main course of salmon that had been caught 45 minutes prior to laying on our table.  It was succulent.  Our waiter Nicholas knew where everything on our plate was sourced and had an amazing command of wine combinations.




And the setting could not be more perfect.




Our new friends Daffy and Daisy have become our pals and appear each time we sit in our chairs.  Yes they want food but they also lay down right in from of our feet.


And now, farewell the beauty.











Boeing, Boeing, Gone

Little did we know that the entrance to our inn was also a pick up location for Microsoft employees.  I came out to the street to be faced with a gaggle of young, jean clad techies who were all waiting for their ride.


Today started with an early wake up due to time changes and then another camp breakfast before we headed out to the Boeing factory in Everett.  It is the worlds largest building by volume and is about to regain its claim as the largest building by square footage once they finish their additions for the 777x.  As many of you know,  I’m an airplane aficionado and can basically tell which plane is flying overhead by the sound of the engines.  Needless to say, I was in heaven.  They are very strict to protect their manufacturing processes so no cameras or cell phone are allowed on the tour.  You can see them online if your are interested.  The volume of the space was overwhelming when driving by.




It’s one of those instances when you cannot grasp the breadth of a space with a picture.

On the tour we watched 747-8, 767, 777, and 787’s being constructed.  My interest in Boeing and their processes is rooted in my experience in healthcare.  There are three million parts from over 500 suppliers that are combined to create a 777.  Boeing has developed a system that each part is electronically tagged, assigned to specific work processes, and verified after installation.  I think about this and look at our healthcare system that still cannot reduce the number of retained surgical items left in patients after procedures.  This happens up to 6,000 times per year.  Let’s just take a knee replacement for example.  In healthcare, a surgeon can decide how he wants to do the procedure, if they want to have someone additional assist them, what instruments they will use based on the technique they learned, and what implant they choose based on many different variables.  Well, this is not standardization.  It wouldn’t stand at Boeing.  And I think we can all agree that if Boeing planes harmed 6,000 people per year it would make the news.  But healthcare does the same and it goes unnoticed.  OK enough of my podium.


After the Boeing tour, we decided to try our luck at finding our way back along the shore and ended up at Edmond for a seaside lunch of clam chowder and Caeser salad.  I was pondering our previous experience.


After driving back to our accommodations, I gave in to the tourist feel of the day and went a few blocks to trolley up to the Space Needle.  It was tacky, filled with screaming children, but at the same time, if anyone asks, I can say, “Yes, I went up in the space needle.  It did afford a few views that were special and it was a sunny day.  So, why not.  Plus another view of Mount Ranier.




The space needle is on the Seattle Center Campus (remnants of the world fair) and is currently featuring a Chihuly exhibit of incredible glass.



Tomorrow we are going to tour the Smith Tower, ferry to Bellingham, and then off to the Olympic National Park.



Getting into the Seattle Groove

It was a very easy flight (calm, but every seat full) and we even got a great view of Mount Ranier.  I didn’t know that it was on the list of the most dangerous volcanoes on earth.  It has an incredible amount of glaciers on top and even though nothing has happened since the 1800’s it is still considered an active volcano.


Once we collected our things, we found our way to our room at the Inn at El Gaucho, a 19 room boutique hotel that was built in the 20’s.  It is in the “trendy” Bellwood neighborhood that has a great vibe and much diversity.  There are a series of hotels along 1st Avenue that were built at the turn of the century and into the 20’s as maritime hotels to provide housing for the crews aboard ships that docked in the Seattle port.



We can see the iconic space needle from our window and it really is a blast from the past.


We decided we would play tourist and walk down to Pike Market for dinner.  But, we were stopped by the perfect corner table at the Virginia Inn.  We just happened to show up at the end of the “happy” hour and all small plates were 50% off.  We shared a great dinner of crab cakes, calamari, and fresh smoked salmon with a feta tapanade.  Delish.  With a view of the harbor t couldn’t have been better.



After dinner we strolled the neighborhood and ended up at the market where the only thing left where scraps for the birds.


We sauntered back to the hotel and took in the views and special flourishes that help this neighborhood maintain its distinct character.


Tomorrow we are up early and have to hit the highway slab to get to the Boeing factory for a tour at 10:30.  I can’t wait. . .

Once again, leaving on a jet plane

We had a smooth trip to O’Hare this morning to  start our trip from rainy Chicago to sunny Seattle. More topsy turvey weather.


You can just see the tail of a Qatar airways 777, a direct flight from Doha. I found it amazing that the folks at the CDC quarantine operation at O’Hare  were unaware of any direct flights from the Middle East. Not only had I just flown direct from  Abu Dhabi but I went to  Flightware.com and found the flight from Doha as well. So much for surveillance. We had just enough time for a camp breakfast at Wolfgang Puck before heading to our flight.




New Zealand Summary

I’ve done a slide show of quite a few pics from New Zealand.  I quickly realized that there were too many so will give you all a break and do the same for Australia and Abu Dhabi in the next few days.  I’m also going to check with the hosting company to learn how I can save all of this in a specific place if you ever want to come back for a refresher.  Thank you all for putting up with my beginning skills in this area and hope you have enjoyed.


Link is here.



Abu Dhabai Bye

Well, the business is over and was successful so this afternoon Wayne and I went for a little sightseeing in Abu Dhabi.  We took a shuttle into the city center from our hotel on Yas Island.  We were dropped off on the Corniche which is a man made water feature that runs through the city.  IMG_5105

It is an incredibly beautiful structure with tile work that goes on forever.  We hopped into a taxi and went to the new cultural center being constructed on Saadiyat Island.  The Abu Dhabi Louvre is scheduled for opening in 2015 and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi designed by Frank Gerhy is scheduled to open in 2017.  This is definitely a land of no small plans.  Here is the model for the Guggenheim.



In fact, there is no stopping of building in the entire area.




No wonder Christchurch New Zealand cannot get any cranes for rebuilding because the skyline of Abu Dhabi is filled with them.

We took a brief break at the Emirates Palace Hotel.  Needless to say, at a construction cost of $6B US it is way over the top.  Cars pull up to the entrance on marble inlaid drives.






If that were not enough excess we went to the Grand Mosque.  The carpet in the main section weighs 35 tons.  The capacity is 40,000 and it is clad in a special marble.  The 96 interior columns in the main section are inlaid with mother of pearl.  Stunning.









We have been away for over 30 days at this point and are actually looking forward to climbing aboard Etihad flight 151 tomorrow morning.  Our pick up is at 6:45 AM but when I checked flightaware I found that it is habitually is late so we could be facing a five or six hour wait at the airport.  I’ll do a summary post when we are home and have everything settled but for now, thank you for taking the journey with us.  Farewell for now.