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Alaska 2005 Trip, Seattle Layover

June 21, 2005
Copyright 2005 by Richard Elgenson

Today is the day to get out of town.  Due to a late booking, I am faced with an 8 to 9 hour layover in Seattle Washington.  I was excited to have a whole afternoon to explore, since my last layover in Seattle did not allow for being a tourist.  My ride to Long Beach Airport got me there by 5:45 AM.  After settling an issue of one too many checked items, I waited patiently for the boarding call.  Eventually, the MD-80 aircraft was loaded and instead of being pushed back at 6:45 AM, we sat for an extra 75 minutes while a fueling issue was resolved and we took off approximately 8 AM.  I already had a dislike for MD-80's since I work near them often and find them extremely noisy compared to other commercial airliners.  At least they are very fast!  The flight took us up the middle of California with nice views of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the east. I typically select my northbound seat to take advantage of checking out the mountains.  Since I am a native Californian, I spent plenty of time in the Sierra Nevada mountains, checking out Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite National Parks.  Since this was a morning flight, the sun made photography diffiicult.  However, Yosemite and Lake Tahoe were visible.

Lower left, the rock El Capitan in Yosemite is barely visible on the left side of the valley.  Lower right, El Capitan is center of frame.


Between Yosemite and Lake Tahoe, more valleys are visible.  In the distance, more mountain ranges are visible past the Sierra Nevada range.

Below left, Mono Lake on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevada range is visible in the right center.  Below right, is another view of Mono Lake which has been a center of controversy in the past regarding the City of Los Angeles Department of Water and Power diverting water and lowering the lake surface.


Lake Tahoe is easier to identify with Fallen Leaf Lake on the right.   After the winter 2004 with almost 38 inches of rain in Southern California, the mountains retained their snow until July.



After Lake Tahoe, my camera batteries were depleted and I figured I would buy batteries in Seattle.

We landed at Seattle-Tacoma Airport only half hour late and I left as soon as possible to check out downtown Seattle.  I took a bus from the airport terminal to the International Tunnel stop and immediately tried to find batteries with little luck.  My location was near the trolley line, but I walked up the main street on the bluff overlooking Alaskan way and had lunch at Pike Place Marketplace.  Seattle is know for the renaissance of brewpubs and that was my first stop for lunch and beer.  I continued my walk down a set of stairs to Alaskan Way along the waterfront then towards the Space Needle which is where I found an overpriced set of AA batteries.  I had visited Seattle on a family automobile trip in the early 1970's and remember the Space Needle very vividly.  In 2004, while on the Amtrak Empire Builder 75th Anniversary train, we crawled past the Space Needle on the last leg to King Street Station.

The Seattle Space Needle offers beautiful views of the area.  I had a cloudy somewhat rainy day with limited view as far as Mount Baker.  Mount Ranier, a 14,400 foot volcano to the southeast was not visible.  The following 4 photographs show part of the harbor panning across a portion of Puget Sound with a ferry visible.  Immediately below left, the football and baseball stadiums are visible in the center west of King Street Station.  A double deck freeway structure skirts the westerly edge of the stadiums.




Above right shows the waterfront trolley line named for former Seattle City Councilman B.B. King.  A trolley car barn is out of view to the right of the parked trolley.  The line parallels the BNSF Railway which sends freight to points south.  The city struck a deal with James J. Hilll to build a tunnel and remove the tracks from the waterfront.  The north portal is down the line to the left.  A new museum is to be situated on a vacant lot upslope of the railroad.  The lot is blocked by the buildings in the center of the below views.  Pier 70, which marks the northerly tourist business district limit,  is visible in the left center.  There are restaurants, commercial businesses and museums along the Alaskan Way waterfront south to the King Street area.


Seattle Layover Page 2