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Published: March 1st 2018
Rhododendron Botanical Garden
It was cold that weekend! Icicles formed underneath leaves and tree branches, making for great photo opportunities.
Getting to Seattle
My spouse Jeff was selected to judge a springboard and platform diving competition in Federal Way, located south of Seattle, last weekend. I decided to join him for the weekend. I had been prewarned that Seattle was unseasonably cold and that there had been snow, so I was prepared accordingly.
I arrived in Seattle on Thursday, February 22. The scenery on approach to Seatac Airport was amazing, with the ground blanketed in white and spectacular snow capped peaks on both sides of the approach path. After arrival, I took a shuttle to the hotel, collected my key from reception (Jeff has already checked in a day earlier) and walked to the nearby strip mall to enjoy a bowl of hot pho
. After that, I napped until Jeff got back from judging. That evening, we celebrated National Margarita Day with his judge friends at a Mexican restaurant.
Making the Most of a Snow Day
I decided it would be prudent to stay within the vicinity of Federal Way on Friday because snow was forecasted for that afternoon, and I didn't know how well Seattle handled snow. After Jeff left for the aquatic center, I set out
Weyerhauser used to be housed on this beautiful campus. This building had one of the first ever green roofs. The land has since been sold and it was eerie walking around the empty trails and roads. My understanding is that the new owner plans to develop the site, which would be a huge shame.
to find a bonsai museum located about 1.7 miles away. The walk took me past strip malls and then a residential area before arriving at the Weyerhauser campus where the museum was located. The Weyerhauser campus, which is currently vacant, is a huge campus with lakes, forests, and a building with a green roof. It was a little eerie walking along the empty, snowy footpaths - it almost felt like the set of a monster/horror movie. I got to the bonsai museum soon after.
The bonsai museum was amazing. Each of the exhibits was well labeled and I learned a lot. I always thought that specialized plants were used for bonsai; I was surprised to learn that bonsai were made from actual trees - I saw pines, firs, and beeches - which are trained to stay miniature. According to the literature, the health of the tree is paramount to the bonsai practitioner. While this may be true, I couldn't help but think of this as the topiary equivalent of foot binding. I was most surprised to find a ʻōhiʻa bonsai. ʻŌhiʻa is a culturally important tree in Hawaiʻi, and it typically forms the second canopy (beneath koa) in a healthy native forest
. Part of the exhibit was indoors, but the majority of the bonsai were outdoors, with each bonsai held
Pacific Bonsai Museum
Prior to this visit, I thought bonsai practitioners used specialized plants that stayed small; I didn't know actual tree species were used. This is an ʻōhiʻa, a culturally important tree native to Hawaiʻi. In a healthy native forest, they grow 60-80 feet tall.
in a sheltered space and kept warm by a little heater. I had a very enjoyable time walking on the snow covered path that wound among the bonsai. Admission to the bonsai museum was by donation and I gladly made one as I exited.
Next to the bonsai museum was a rhododendron garden. This garden had an $8 entrance fee. I debated about paying this fee but I finally gave in because I wasn't sure what else I could do in the short time I had before the forecasted snow was to fall. The garden itself was pretty but I normally wouldn't have paid $8 to see this. There weren't any other paying guests when I was there. But, I had some awesome photo opportunities in this garden as there were unmelted icicles on some of the plants.
After the gardens, I booked an uber to take me the short distance back to my hotel because there weren't sidewalks for much of the walk over, and I didn't want to deal with walking on icy roads. Besides, it was almost 2pm. Back at the strip mall, I ate a soul warming soon dubu
lunch at a Korean restaurant.
Pacific Bonsai Museum
This was my favorite bonsai, a tree without leaves but with sakura flowers. There were a few bonsai without leaves; I suspect that those were the non-evergreens and they flowered and dropped their leaves in concert with the seasons even though they had been artificially miniaturized. This bonsai was in the outdoor section of the museum; note the small heater to the left of the bonsai.
Not long after, the snow started falling. Jeff texted me from the pool all excited about having a snowball fight and making snow angels. I had to burst his bubble by telling him that the snow wasn't going to stick. Late that afternoon, I braved the snow for about 45 minutes to catch some rare Pokemon that spawn in snowy weather, ate some chowder, and then stayed warm in the hotel room.
Venturing Further Afield
I had a full day planned for Saturday. Waking up, I peered out the window and saw that the snow had already melted. I set out for the nearby transit center to get to the first of my series of quests for the day - to geek out at a Pokemon Go Community Day event at Green Lake, north of downtown Seattle. The express bus to downtown took a little under half an hour. My initial plan was to transfer at downtown to a local bus to Green Lake, but since I was near Pike Place, I made a spur of the moment decision to visit the area and then uber it up north. I spent a fun 45 minutes exploring the market,
Just a selfie at the chewing gum wall at Post Alley.
watching the fish sellers tossing a salmon, visiting the world's first Starbucks, and the chewing gum wall. After this, I hailed an uber driven by a delightful Vietnamese immigrant named Canada(!), and then enjoyed three hours geeking out walking around Green Lake with hundreds of fellow Pokemon trainers hailing from a wide range of demographics.
After the Pokemon Go event, I waited at a nearby Starbucks for Paulette (my classmate from junior college (equivalent to high school/college prep) in Singapore), and her husband Larry. We drove to Redmond for Malaysian food (there aren't any Singaporean/Malaysian restaurants in Hawaiʻi), and then we drove to Woodinville for wine tasting. We attempted to go to the Chateau Ste. Michelle winery, but the grounds were closed for a private function. After that, we drove towards Boeing's 737 factory in Renton and surveyed the airfield from a viewpoint above it. We then stopped by their home to feed their cats before they drove me back to Federal Way. Later that evening, after completing his judging duties, Jeff and I drove to downtown Seattle to have dinner with his cousin.
The next morning, Jeff and I had breakfast with Nathan and Liz, with whom
Boeing's B737 Factory
As seen from a viewpoint above the airfield. This is a MAX-8, obviously bound for Shanghai Airlines.
I shared many adventures in Laos on the slow boat down the Mekong
, hiking and exploring Luang Prabang
, and tubing in Vang Vieng
. After breakfast, we made our way to the airport and flew home.
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