August 30th – Flowers, Flight and Fun

     Just as I hoped, today was much calmer than yesterday. I still spent a lot of time out and about, but I took a slower pace.

     I started the day with a peaceful walk through the Kubota Japanese Garden. From what I read, the unique aspect of the garden is that it follows Japanese principles of design while utilizing plants native to the area. I only recognized a handful of the flowers (that is quite normal for me when visiting gardens) and was greatly impressed with the variety of colors on display – in both the flowers and the plants themselves.

     I also enjoyed the bridges and waterfalls that fit in seamlessly with the environment. There were several main paths with side paths branching off, leading to different levels of the waterfalls. I followed the side paths and thankfully managed not to get lost!

     My next stop was the Museum of Flight which is located next to Boeing Airfield, and (as you’ll see) it contains a lot of Boeing Airplanes and historical information. I spent at least five hours exploring. It was huge! I started in the main building which had six enormous rooms full of planes that spanned the history of mechanical flight from its beginning, through both World Wars and up to the Korean War. There was also a section on the Space Race.  I saw the Boeing 1, the first plane William Boeing made (he even flew it himself apparently).

     I learned that mail delivery was essential to the development of airplanes – it provided the economic opportunities that attracted businessmen like Boeing. The use of planes in World War I encouraged further improvements. The airline industry really got started soon after that, as courier planes started carrying passengers along with their packages. The Boeing 80 was one of these planes and had a compartment for mail in addition to a cab that could fit 18 passengers.

     In other rooms, I saw World War I and II aircraft from many nations. My favorite plane was the M-21 Blackbird, which I saw when I came back into the main room. This was a variant on the A-12, which was eventually developed into the famous SR-71 Blackbird, a super-fast, long range reconnaissance plane. The plane on display (the M-21) was modified to carry an unmanned aircraft for further reconnaissance work. Only two of these planes were made. The first one was destroyed in a crash with its drone and this is the only other one of its kind.

     There was another building (with only one room) that was devoted to the Space Shuttle program. I skimmed over that one because it contained mostly videos and information boards, with information that I could read in a book. I walked through that building and found a large outdoor display area which contained another impressive collection of planes, including modern passenger jets and more war planes.

     I didn’t take pictures here because I was almost airplaned-out after touring through the exhibits inside. I did still enjoy looking though. They had a B-17 Flying Fortress – a World War II bomber so famous that even I know about it.

     They also had the first two super-successful modern airliners, which were made in the late 1930’s; the Boeing 247 and DC-3. Apparently, when William Boeing came out with the 247, he would only sell it to United Airlines, so McDonnell Douglass made the DC-3 and sold it freely to all airlines. Because he had a larger market, Douglass outsold Boeing by a wide margin and set Boeing a few steps back in the airline business.

     Of course, Boeing survived and has made thousands of passenger planes since. The museum had many of them, including the 707 (Air Force One), 727, 737, 747, and 787. Think of how much space those five jets alone take up! And they filled only filled about a third of the pavilion!

     Even though I was tired of looking at planes, it was hard to leave. This was an incredible museum and I wanted to go back over what I had skipped. But I called it quits and drove to Gas Works Park, which sits across the bay from Seattle. The equipment at the park was used to make gas out of coal and oil for the first half of the twentieth century. It shut down when Seattle transitioned to using natural gas. about twenty years later, after the city opened the park up to the public.

     Several people told me that there are two great places to view the Seattle skyline. One is up in the Space Needle and the other is at Gas Works Park. The first one is expensive and the second is free, so I picked the second. The view was worth every penny I didn’t pay! I walked around the park, then sat down to write and read a little. Finally, I gave my mind a break and took the opportunity to just enjoy the view.

       For dinner, I met my Uncle and Aunt at a restaurant in the Capitol Hill district of Seattle. Since I don’t know the fancy names for what I ate, I’ll just have to say that I had steak with small sides of salad, pickled blackberries, turnips, and flatbread. When dessert came, I discovered that a new favorite ice cream flavor – cinnamon basil! Yes, it did taste like both cinnamon and basil, and yes, the flavors mixed wonderfully! I doubt that I will find another place serving it, but I enjoyed it there.

     That wraps it up for today and just about wraps it up for Seattle as well! Tomorrow I will leave civilization behind me and drive over to the Olympic Penninsula.

3 thoughts on “August 30th – Flowers, Flight and Fun

  1. Your experience at the flight museum caused me to have a nasty flashback of being dragged around the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum by an enthusiastic space nerd…one can only look at so many space shuttles before wishing to overdose on space ice cream (it’s a thing and it’s super gross).

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