Favourite Corners

Project 2012: Day 269

Of all of the cities in the USA, why would you visit Seattle? After all it’s known as the “London of the US” with an estimated 300 days of rain, right in the corner of the Pacific North Wet!! It doesn’t have Broadway, Disneyland, NASA, the Rockies, or Casinos. Neither is it known for beaches.

But I love this little city. It really is one of my favourites. Much of this love comes from my time at Microsoft, and the slightly more than annual visits. Of course, I’ve only once visited in the winter 🙂 but all the times I’ve visited in the summer, this place is spectacular.

From the Experience Music Project (& Sci Fi) Museum, to Space Needle, Pike Place Market and the Pugent Sound, there’s a lot to enjoy. There’s the idiosyncratic, like my aforementioned Golden Aged Collectibles, and the downright crazy, like Utilitikilts. And I didn’t get to go to the Boeing Museum. Something about the girls’ (lack of) interest – it’s ok, I’ve been before.

Mostly though, like all of the places we love visiting in the world, it’s about sharing experiences with friends.

We stayed with our good friends Sean and Renee & their kids, Hannah, Liam, Caleb & Tyler out of town in Fall City. And as much as visiting Seattle was great, heading out of town to the surrounding countryside was awesome. I definitely recommend staying with friends, rather than in a hotel, to really experience the authentic culture.

We also had a great afternoon, with new friends, Greg & Lorraine who live in Port Angeles on the Olympic Peninsular. And their daughter Genna (I think that’s how you spell it) who is Amanzi’s US doppelganger in interests. They were my first hosts on the Top Down Tour, and amongst the friendliest, most hospitable people I know.

Convinced to visit Seattle yet?

Then there’s Seafood.

Clams, Mussels, Crab, Prawns, Halibut, and especially, Wild Alaskan Salmon are all delicacies of this place. If you like seafood you can get Clam chowder pretty much everywhere (don’t get this from Lowells in Pike Place Market – terrible experience, and overpriced)

We were treated to the World Famous Sea Feast at the Crab Pot by Greg & Lorraine. Literally a smorgasbord of seafood upended onto the table, which you smash your way through using a mallet & board, then dip in melted butter…

…Not for the weight conscious.

To add to that, on our last evening, we went with Sean & Renee to “Salty’s on Alki” which is a fine dining restaurant in West Seattle that has views of the city. The (sea)food, views, and especially the company, were simply fantastic. Priceless in fact.

So if you’re planning a US holiday, I wholeheartedly recommend Seattle. Pick your time for sure, and expect a little rain even, but don’t bypass this great little jewel of a city.

 

 

Getting Close Now

Project 2012: Day 227

Update 1 – Planning

Travel

The planning phase for my Bucket List Ride, the Topdown Tour of the US 2012 is really starting to ramp up now. I’ve booked and paid for most of the bike rental. I pick up the bike in Seattle on 9th September from Motoquest. My flight is booked, as is the Vancouver to Seattle bus.

I’ve also paid for a return flight from Long Beach to Seattle for the 19th September, when Lucy and the girls fly in to the US.

Safety Gear

Because I’m riding alone, I wanted to ensure that people could track my progress, and that I have a way to call for help, or alert Emergency Authorities even if there is no cell signal. To this end I ordered a SPOT GPS Messenger, which does exactly that.

You can follow my progress on the page on this blog. I’ll also be testing it on my Black Dog Ride week-end that you can check out at http://blackdog.rog42.net. Feel free to sponsor me 🙂

The one frustration is that a device that costs just $99 in the USA (which is about AU$93) is charged at $200 here in Australia. “On Sale”

I also ordered a UTAG ICE Dog Tag. This is a USB device that carries all of my personal, identification, medical and emergency contact information. Along with insurance details. If I’m unconscious, I want to ensure that people can rapidly get the information they need to treat me. Especially insurance in the USA, not to mention my rare blood type.

This is a cool device that hangs around your neck, just like a dog tag, but plugs into any USB drive.

Home from Home

Camping

I’m planning to get off the beaten track, and at least half of my nights will be camping. Partly to minimise cost, but mostly because I actually enjoy getting out into nature, and the ride from Top to Bottom on this continent’s coast has some of the most spectacular nature in the world.

Now Air Canada is quite strict on their “1 bag 23kg” policy, so I’ve been researching light, strong, weather proof, compact, yet large enough, inexpensive tents. 🙂 No mean feat. Especially when this has to include my Helmet, and Riding gear.

After weeks of research, including building an Excel model, looking at tents both locally (more expensive, have to include in flight weight) and in the USA (less expensive, have to bring it back, potential warranty issues) I ended up finding a tent left over from the Aldi “Extreme Hiking and Mountaineering Sale”

Alloy poles, gear loft, alloy pegs, taped seams, bathtub groundsheet, 2 entrances, 2 vestibules, in a compression dry bag, at only 2.5kgs and just AU$70 – bargain. 🙂

Especially when you have 60 days to return it if not satisfied.

Now I’m doing the same with both sleeping bags, and hiking self inflating mattresses. I’m also looking at a dry bag for the camping gear on the back of the bike.

At the moment I’m unsure about cooking equipment, as I may just eat out all the time. I’d rather not spend too much time shopping at supermarkets.

Electronics

Another big issue is what to take in the way of electronics. On the one hand I don’t want to spend all my time editing, and posting etc. On the other this is a “once in a lifetime” opportunity and I don’t want to leave the SLR at home and then get to experience a shot that I’ll never get the chance to see again.

Of course all of you get to live life vicariously through my lenses as well.

;

Suffice to say I’ll have:

  • Contour GPS Helmet Cam
  • iPhone 4S for most Instagram and Candid Shots
  • Canon 550D with twin lens for serious photography
  • All three of the above devices take HD video – but I may try and reclaim my Flip Camera from the friend I lent it to a year ago
  • For editing and Internet, I’m tossed between the iPad and the MacBookPro. I’m erring toward the iPad at the moment because of battery life, ease of charging, limited replacement cost should something happen to it, weight, and the limited functionality will minimise the time I’m messing around with electronics. Mostly this trip is about disconnecting.

To that end, I’ll be testing the iPad this week-end as well. If it works, I’ll leave the MacBook at home. I can pretty much do everything on the iPad and iPhone.

That’s it – I’m getting the riding gear together as well, but I’ll leave that for another update.

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