Friday, January 20, 2012

Domestic Plant Trek - Week 1 to 2 - Transition to Warmth

Day 7 – Day Off!
Today was our first and only day where nothing was scheduled.  Unlike the day we flew in and the day of our Boeing Tour, both of which were sunny, our day off dawned grey and damp with snow/rain in the forecast. I was lucky enough to have a friend in Seattle, my best friend from high school, and so it was great to spend a day with her and her boyfriend.
With great company in Seattle
We took the monorail into downtown, walked through the Pike Place Market, where we got some of what we had for dinner and got to try chocolate pasta (yes it has chocolate in it, but has enough regular pasta ingredients that it looks and feels like pasta).  Unlike vegetable pasta which I swear is only colored differently and has little flavor difference, you could taste that there was chocolate in the pasta.  We went into a shop called Bavarian Meats, where every product inside was European, mainly German, we went into the original/first Starbucks and had a nice time strolling around even though the weather was rather miserable.

We went back to their apartment to drop off our food purchases then headed out by car around the city to a bunch of the different neighborhoods.  We stopped for lunch at a place called Pie (you could guess what they sold – Liz – if you and Peter come to Seattle – you should go!), and then got warm beverages from another place (so many coffee shops!) in Fremont if I remember correctly.
Some of the view from the roof deck of their apartment building
Finally the sun started to come out.  After lunch we drove past the university, went down to a park on a canal with locks, went to another park that used to be an army base that had nice views of another lake, stopped at a grocery store they often shop at and then an ice cream place called Molly Moon’s which is local to Seattle and everything they use is organic and ideally local.  I tried both the strawberry balsamic and the cardamom ice cream and they were both fantastic.  I would totally go back there.

The biggest treat though was yet to come.  We went back to their place and her boyfriend, who went to culinary school and is currently running a food truck, made us dinner.  We had salmon (fresh from the market) with a cider beurre blanc sauce and orzo cooked with shallots and some black truffle.  It was super tasty and much more enjoyable than going out.  We also watched a bunch of the BBC show Top Gear.  Good times.  I’m sorry I just had the one day off, but maybe that means I’ll have to come back again for another visit.

Day 8 – Flying and warmth
After another free breakfast at the hotel in Seattle, we boarded a bus and headed off to SEA where we would be flying to Phoenix on Southwest.  Things went smoothly, but the plane did have to be de-iced because it was snowing (rather than sleeting like the day before) in Seattle and sticking some on the ground, the plane and all over.  Of all the destinations of the first part of Plant Trek, I did not expect Seattle to be the cold one with snow.  Crazy!
Rainy snowy slushiness at SEA
We landed in Phoenix, AZ mid-afternoon and, rather than charter a bus, all of us took a bus to the light rail station to the hotel.  We ended up in a group of a dozen or so, had no problems getting to the hotel and had the evening to ourselves.  It was refreshing that when the train doors opened on intermediate stops, the air rushing in was not chilling.  Skies were overcast and the air temp was in the 60s.
Warm and dry in Phoenix though!
Since we had an unlimited ride rail/bus day pass in Phoenix, some other folks and I took the light rail to Tempe right by ASU where there were a lot of restaurants and more nightlife. I felt that in Arizona, one had to have Mexican (or almost Mexican anyway) food and so we ended up at a place called Canteen for tacos and margaritas. The tacos were not as filling as they thought they would be so a subset of us went further to a second dinner or snack if you will at In-N-Out Burger. This was instigated by students from the west coast and I went out of curiosity. It was the first time for me to have one of these burgers with a cult following. The burger was good, the price made it even more impressive (<$3!) and the whole adventure added to the fun of the evening. We took the light rail back to the hotel, got in around 10:30 and then went to bed.
The view from the hall on the floor of our hotel

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