Summer in Seattle

Hello again! For those who’ve been reading my posts, you’ve probably gathered that I live in Los Angeles and went to college in San Luis Obispo (SLO). Well I’ve also lived outside California! In Seattle to be specific, three months for an internship and one year for work. This is my internship post.

Note: This post is about my internship from a travel perspective. There will be tidbits on my work, but not much.

Second Note: This post covers an entire summer (mostly just the weekends, but still). Therefore, it is long. Just wanted to give you a heads up.

Alright, lets begin.

WEEK 1 – I took three days to drive to Seattle from San Luis Obispo, then got the keys to my subleased apartment in the U-district.

My first week I was lonely. I didn’t have any friends in Seattle and didn’t know much about the city. During this time, I explored my new neighborhood and the nearby University of Washington (U-Dub). I also watched the World Cup and a lot of movies and also started reading a book.

University of Washington (16)

The University of Washington is gargantuan, the biggest college I’ve ever seen. The above picture isn’t the main quad, it’s just a quad. I’ve never seen a school like this (some UCs come close, but in terms of sheer scale, U-Dub has them beat).

University of Washington (18)

U-Dub has really eclectic architecture: everything was huge, and architecturally, the buildings were either modern looking or very old. Also, keep in mind that I went school in SLO, a city that doesn’t allow any building over three stories tall (the one exception is the Cal Poly library). Going from that to this was a big shock.

University of Washington (23)

U-Dub’s football stadium. Football is a big deal around here.

University of Washington (27)

U-Dub neighbors Lake Washington, the second largest lake in the state. This is my first glance of it, not counting views from my car.

University of Washington (33)

A house on frat row. U-dub has real frat houses, not dinky suburban homes like in SLO (SLO doesn’t allow more than five non-family members to reside in the same house. This effectively bans large frat houses, although one frat got around this by buying an apartment complex instead of a house, and another frat got around it by buying two houses right next to each other, then knocking down the fence between the two).

Reading the captions above, it might sound like I’m hating on SLO. I’m not. I love that city; it just wasn’t as massive or impressive as U-Dub; it was however, much more inviting and homey and personal.

For my first weekend in Seattle, I met up with my aunt, uncle, and cousin who live in the city. My cousin took me to a party at a mansion on the Puget Sound, it was owned by the former ruler of Iran (I think it was Iran) who fled to Seattle after a coup in his country in the early 1980s. Unfortunately, I didn’t get any pictures of his place.

The next day, my aunt took me to another mansion, this one on Lake Washington and owned by one of the former top top top employees at Microsoft (the Microsoft guy’s wife was my aunt’s friend from high school). It was another amazing place.

Microsoft House (5)

Lake Washington, as viewed from the Microsoft house. I’m not going to show the house itself since a family actually lives there and I’m not sure they want pictures of their house posted on the internet.

Downtown (17)

Last thing I did my first weekend in Seattle was visit Seattle’s most famous hamburger chain: Dick’s. I heard people say Dick’s was Seattle’s version of In-N-Out, and while it was good and very competitively priced, it was not In-N-Out.

WEEK 2 – I started my internship this week. I actually started the previous Friday, but that was orientation; week two was when I actually started work. My internship was for Boeing, and this was where they put me:

Factory (2)

Boeing’s Everett factory, where the 747, 767, 777, and 787 are assembled, is the biggest building by volume in the world. Each door in this picture (plus several more out of frame) is the size of a football field. The building is large enough to house the entire Disneyland Resort. This building is so large that when it was first built, clouds formed under the ceiling and a moisture removal system had to be added to remove them.

Balloon

My work group greeted me with this. It made me really happy.

I spent my first week getting familiar with my assignment, which involved flight control modeling/programming for the 787’s high lift system (flaps and slats). And that’s all I’ll talk about work-wise in this post.

Over this weekend, I mostly played soccer at U-Dub (coming from Southern California, my skill level went way up in Seattle) and watched movies. I still hadn’t met any friends yet, but don’t worry, that’ll change next week.

WEEK 3 – I met some friends through a carpool, and the following weekend we went to a club (where I got hit on by a gay guy; it was really awkward), wakeboarded on the Sound, and went to at a beer festival downtown.

Lake Washington (17_2)

On Lake Washington with some jet-skiers. Mt. Rainier is visible in the background.

Lake Washington (27)

This is me wakeboarding. I will do better later on this trip.

Lake Washington (43)

Bill Gates’s house. Everyone in Seattle knows this house, so I think it’s okay to post this picture here.

Lake Washington (56)

Sunset on the water

Downtown (9)

The Seattle International Beer Festival. It wasn’t all you can drink, but it was still fun.

Downtown (13_2)

The beer festival was located in the Seattle Center, home to Seattle’s iconic Space Needle. I didn’t go to the top because I went as a kid and remembered it being underwhelming.

Downtown (8)

In addition to the Space Needle, the Seattle Center also contains: a Science Fiction Museum (pictured), the Pacific Science Center, Experience Music Project, the Kobe Bell Meditation Garden, a garden and glass museum, Memorial Stadium, KeyArena, Mercer Arena, Fisher Pavilion, Seattle’s top ballet/opera house, an IMAX theater, an outdoor amphitheater, several other live theaters, a skate park, a monorail, a huge fountain, and a piece of the Berlin Wall. It is a really happening place.

WEEK 4 – The Fourth of July was on Tuesday this week, so I organized an intern BBQ at Gasworks Park.

4th of July (4)

Gasworks Park used to be a coal gasification plant, and when they converted it to a park, they left the old infrastructure intact. This makes Gasworks Park the coolest and most unique park I’ve ever been to.

4th of July (6)

Gasworks park is also cool because it has views like this.

4th of July (21)

Barbecuing with the interns. I put on a pretty successful event!

4th of July (32)

It rained during our barbecue, but only for 30 minutes. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t rain much in Seattle, only 36 inches per year (one inch less than the national average). The thing is, unlike the rest of the country, Seattle almost always (every season but summer) has rain clouds in the sky, thick ones that completely block out the sun. This, not actual rain, is why Seattle’s weather is so terrible.

4th of July (15)

During our barbecue, I did an interview for a documentary on America. I don’t think the film ever got finished though, I never heard anything and I’ve looked around but couldn’t find it.

4th of July (36)

From what we’ve heard, Gasworks Park is the best place in Seattle to view Fourth of July fireworks, and the crowd here definitely reinforces this. 

What we heard about Gasworks Park was right: it is the place to view Fourth of July fireworks. And the show itself was the best fireworks show I’ve ever seen.

For our Week 4 weekend activities, six fellow interns and I went to Victoria, Canada. Victoria is located on Victoria Island and it is the most British part of Canada.

Victoria (229)

We drove through the Olympic peninsula to get to Victoria. These were some funny statues saw on the way.

Victoria (34)

We took a ferry to get from the Olympic Peninsula to Victoria. Our ferry left just before twilight and as we crossed into Canada this was the view we had.

Victoria (40_2)

Victoria at night

We spent our first night partying and drinking. No pictures though, I don’t think you want to see a bunch of college kids drunk.

The next day, we went to Victoria’s main attraction, the most amazing flower garden I’ve ever been to: Buchart Gardens.

Buchart Gardens is a collection of flower gardens developed by the wife of a cement tycoon. The majority of the gardens were built between 1909 and 1929, although other installations were added as late as 1964. Today, the gardens are known worldwide and are also designated as a National Historic Site of Canada.

Victoria (90)

The Sunken Garden, the oldest and most famous garden in Buchart Gardens.

Victoria (143)

The Rose Garden

Various flowers and gardens throughout the park.

Victoria (112)

I took selfies before they were cool. Actually, that might not be something to be proud of.

Victoria (164)

Another tourist in the park. This guy, and I’m not exaggerating, this guy was the scariest person I’ve ever seen. Not dangerous scary, but his look… he looked like death. He had no energy, no excitement, didn’t even have color in his clothes, and his expression… his face… he was terrifying (I’m not the only person who felt this way, one of my fellow interns said the same thing later in the day).

That’s all for Buchart Gardens (although there are many more photos I could post). Afterward we went back to Victoria, where we had a calm night drinking in our hotel’s pool.

For our last day in Victoria, we woke up early and watched Italy beat France in the World Cup Final (this was Zindane’s last match, the one where he infamously head-butted another player in the chest). It was an exciting game, and afterward, back in Victoria, one sole Italian was cheering in the streets.

Victoria (213)

We watched the game at this restaurant-by-day, strip club-by-night business. We were the only ones there.

WEEK 5 – We had planned to go white-water rafting with Boeing’s white-water rafting club this weekend, but the trip was canceled literally one day beforehand. So instead we did what turned out to be my favorite weekend of the summer: Mt Rainier.

Mt Rainier, part of Mt Rainier National Park, is the tallest mountain in the Cascade range and the most prominent (and second tallest) mountain in the continental US. The mountain is also a volcano, and due to the 26(!) glaciers that surround it, Rainier is considered one of the most dangerous volcanoes in the world (volcanoes and glaciers are a really bad combination). Scientists estimate a St Helens sized eruption from Rainier would result in a lahar that could reach as far as downtown Seattle, destroy everything in its path along the way. The eruption could also cause tsunamis in the Puget Sound.

That’s the bad news. The good news is that escape plans are in place for towns in the disaster area, and the even better news is that Rainier shows no signs of imminent eruption.

More good news, not really news but more good things: Mt Rainier National Park is amazing. Its not the most beautiful national park nor the most impressive (although it is up there for both), but my visit here was without a doubt the most fun I’ve ever had at a national park. Check out my pictures to see why:

Mt. Rainier (23)

Seven of us went to Rainier, and we were there for two days and two nights. This is where we slept.

Mt. Rainier (116)

We hiked the six-mile Skyline Trail our first day. The hike starts in Paradise, a 5,400 foot summit on the south side of Rainier, then rises up an additional 1,700 feet (Rainier itself is 14,500 feet in height) before looping back to to the beginning. The above picture was taken just outside of Paradise.

Mt. Rainier (160)

Before we knew it we were hiking on glaciers, not dirt or grass.

Mt. Rainier (166_2)

The view from the top of our hike. Pretty impressive.

We hiked up the glaciers but we went down like this. And this is what made Mt Rainier more fun than any other national park.

Mt. Rainier (248)

Back at the bottom, where it’s green and warm(er) and still beautiful.

Animals we saw on our hike (a deer, marmot, and chipmunk).

Our campsite didn’t have showers, so for our last day in Rainier, we swam and cleaned ourselves in a glacier lake. And while the water was cold, the lake was beautiful and it was a great swim.

Mt. Rainier (263_2)

The lake we swam in

Mt. Rainier (286_2)

Goodbye Rainier! You are awesome and thanks for making this a great visit.

WEEK 6 – This weekend, I abandoned my intern-friend group. They kayaked the San Juan islands (which sounds amazing) while I went skydiving.

Skydiving is unbelievable; it is one of the most exciting things I’ve ever done. It is also super safe: the first time you dive you are attached to a professional, they do all the work and you just hang on for the ride. And even doing it this way, skydiving is great!

Skydiving (1 smaller)

Getting ready to go. This is the plane we’ll be jumping out of.

Skydiving (7 smaller)

I thought it would be hard to jump out of the plane but it was actually very easy. You feel super safe and there’s a line of jumpers going before and after you, so you don’t want to be the one who holds up the pack. Because of this, when it’s your turn to go, you just go!

Skydiving (43 smaller)

Skydiving is awesome. And the pro I was attached to was really cool.

Skydiving (119 smaller)

I was given no warning when the parachute was pulled.

Skydiving (122 smaller)

Our view as we glided to the ground. We also saw Rainier in the distance, but I didn’t get a picture of it.

Skydiving (129 smaller)

Coming in for landing. God those last five minutes (the ninety second freefall in particular) were fun.

Sunday I had an easy day; I played soccer and watched movies and relaxed.

And that takes us to the midpoint of my Summer in Seattle; if you’d like to read about the second half, continue onto Part 2!

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