We made our way through the morning traffic and rain to Everett, north of Seattle, to see how Boeing planes are made.
The factory is huge – it’s the biggest building in the World by volume. You can try to imagine it if only the doorways are 120 m wide and it holds the production lines for the biggest airplanes piercing the skies today.
We went on a tour and even though the tour was only a glimpse of the big picture it gives you a nice insight into the level of organisation and technical difficulty behind constructing an airplane. If you are into engineering or construction you will have a blast seeing the beams supporting the roof and the cranes. All the equipment, materials and even temporary offices near the bodies of the planes are on wheels to keep up with the 1 inch an hour moving platforms where the planes are put together.
The factory is the size of a town. It employs 41 000 people, the parking lot is so huge, that they have shuttles to pick up people from the far end. They have about 40 cafeterias and most importantly – free massage for all employees!
After seeing all the innovative ideas to lift the man from the ground we decided to … get connected. We did some research, asked around and decided to go with AT&T-s “pay as you go” mobile hotspot for wifi. That means more posts in the blog! 🙂
The day after seeing Boeing factory we headed to Seattle. Equipped with tips from Jake and Alonso and from the research we had done before, we went to tackle the sights in downtown.
KITT or Siri weren’t there to help us find a parking spot for our van. So after paying for the parking in a shady lot near Pike Place Market a homeless man emerged from the corner to “go to work”. A moment later two youngsters used the same corner to escape this world with the help of some substances. Not too encouraging, but we took a leap of faith and hoped our “home on wheels” will be fine when we return.
The Pike Place Market is a must see. A hipster heaven with all the retro stuff, the first Starbucks and a bunch of quirky cafes. Other attractions include flying fish, when tossed by the fishermen at the fish booth, the world famous gum-wall and the general feel and smell of the oldest continuously running marketplace in the US. An iconic experience of the emerald city.
What’s the most iconic experience of Seattle? The Space Needle of course! But you don’t want to go in to the Needle to look at it so we headed to the Columbia Center’s 73rd floor aka the Sky View Observatory which is the highest public observation deck in the Northwest. So we were looking down on the 1962 World Fair marvel and the city surrounding it. The visibility was pretty good – the only thing we couldn’t see was Mt Rainier. And whales, we didn’t see whales from the tower.
From the tower we plunged straight down to the gutter and took an underground tour at Pioneer Square. Although crowded and touristy it was interesting and so funny, that it even got the Estonians giggling. Starting with a brief humorous introduction into the early days of the city and the exploding toilets and continuing with an actual walking in the underground spaces around the old building beneath the streets.
Long story short – Seattle was built on low land that was flooded by high tides. When the tide was coming in it was pushing the sewage backwards and out of the toilets. At first the city did nothing but when a big fire took down most of the buildings and they had to be rebuilt they decided to make the ground higher. As it was a slow process the buildings were completed earlier than the streets. Not to bury the windows and doors of the buildings only the middle of the street was raised and then the sidewalks covered that space making the second floor the new first floor.
Seattle has a history almost as rich as Bill Gates, Amazon or Starbucks, who all, by the way, are native seattleites. It’s totally a city worth visiting, even by “prefer to go up a mountain” people, like us.
This leg: 99+129 km
Total: 1235 km
Nights in the car: 3
Nights in a real bed: 1
Rooms checked before picking a motel to stay: 3 😉