Whidbey Island – June 29, 2018

Whidbey Island is the largest of the islands that compose Island County, Washington. It lies about 30 miles north of Seattle, in Puget Sound and forms the northern boundary of the sound. According to whidbeyisland.us, the island is approximately 55 miles long and 1.5 to 12 miles wide making it the 4th longest island in the United States. It is the largest island in Washington State.

As you can see in the pictures, the island’s terrain is rugged and is composed of farmlands, forests, hills and beaches. It lies between the Olympic Peninsula and Seattle Metro and is home to Naval Air Station Whidbey Island. The coastal towns of Oak Harbor, Coupeville and Langley have boutiques, cafes and galleries.

Museum of Pop Culture aka Experience Music Project

The last time I was in Seattle back in the mid 90’s, the Frank Gehry designed Experience Music Project wasn’t built yet. So this time around, this was really the draw for me to accept a friend’s invitation to visit her in Seattle. I wanted to see, even just the exterior of Gehry’s much applauded (and equally derided) building in Seattle especially how it compares to his Pritzker Pavilion in Chicago. (The building then known as Experience Music Project is now called Museum of Pop Culture.)

Pritzker Pavilion, Chicago lit up blue during the night

Well, it is similar – with its trademark steel fabrications that look like armadillo or pangolin armors – except for the colors! While Prizker looks like a crab nebula, this one looks like a creature that came from the sea, or as some other critics say, like smashed guitars, but the colors are wild. Pritzker is all silver/chrome while MPC is saturated with silver, copper, reds, blues … incredible. I haven’t really seen the totality of it as it is a huge building and it seems to me that there is no vantage point for photographers to take a picture of it as a whole … But it is all about details … and here they are in the short time that I was there (sorry, I am too cheap to go inside).

Pike Place Market

Flower vendor, Pike Place Market, July 28, 2018

Pike Place Market in Seattle is one of the oldest continuously operated public farmers’ markets in the United States. The major attractions for me were the fish market where employees throw fish rather than passing them by hand, the farmers market with Washington farmers selling their fresh produce and specialty farm products, the flowers sold by Ilocano farmers, the buskers – different kinds of street entertainers – one even brought a piano with him – and of course the different restaurants including the original Starbucks.

I spent only a few minutes in the market because I had to meet up with a group somewhere else for breakfast (my host also didn’t realize that I needed to photograph details and kept hurrying me up). (Guess where we ended up eating – of all places, McDonald’s! It was because they couldn’t find parking anywhere, except at Mickey D’s.) But at least I got to see the market again. I’ve been there back when there were no consumer digital cameras yet. So this time, I came back with a vengeance. Well, except that I really didn’t get to spend more time. Well, maybe next time.

Overnight on the Coast Starlight: Seattle to San Jose

Cascades Mountain Lake

The Coast Starlight is regarded to be one of Amtrak’s most spectacular train routes, passing through great cities on the West Coast – Seattle, Portland (Oregon), Sacramento, SF Bay Area, Santa Barbara, and Los Angeles to name a few. It also goes through or pass along the Cascade Ranges and Mt. Shasta and the lush pine forests, fertile valleys and long stretches of Pacific Ocean shoreline. Having just known this, I immediately changed plans – instead of flying from Seattle to San Francisco, I booked a ticket on this particular route.

It didn’t matter that the trip would take 24 hours from Seattle to San Jose and that I would miss the leg that runs parallel to the Pacific Ocean. I’ve been on an Amtrak train before – from Chicago to New York – several times, and it is not that bad. The seats are wide, the leg room is spacious and the windows are huge and good enough for photography. This time though, I booked a business class ticket – to ensure I have wi-fi, extendable seat, extendable table, free bottled water, a 6-dollar voucher for food in the adjacent lounges (a cafe and a restaurant) AND a dedicated car – less foot traffic. Because the car was not full, the guy sitting next to me moved to another seat, so I had two seats that I made into a bed for sleeping.

And I would at least spend time, albeit very brief, in Oregon, a state that I haven’t been to.

Portland Oregon

The highlight of the trip really was the Cascade Mountains – we went through it at sunset – and I was at least able to capture some of its glory. The pine forests, lakes and rivers along the mountain route were also spectacular. It was just difficult to take pictures of them even if I went to the observation deck – as the views were in both sides of the train.

Here are iPhone photos of the trip from Seattle to San Jose.