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The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:08 pm

An ad for the DC-8 in Life magazine (April 1, 1957):

What will it be like to fly in a jet?

Your first jet flight will add a most meaningful dimension to your life—a new measurement of time and space.

You settle in your deep, soft seat in the graceful plane with the swept-back wings.

A short, swift run—and you are airborne. The nose points up eagerly and the earth drops away below you.

You climb steadily, serenely, quietly. The muted sound of the jets falls quickly behind, for in the DC-8 you move almost as fast as the speed of sound itself.

The splendor of the stratosphere

Up you go—up, up beyond the limits of today’s planes. Up seven miles from the earth, and now almost eight.

You level off in the stratosphere. And even though the DC-8 puts half a mile behind you with every breath you draw, you feel no sensation of speed or flight.

Just outside your window the temperature in the thin air is 60 degrees below zero. But the air in the cabin has the soft touch of a June day, fresh and sweet and comfortable.

The view of the earth moving lazily and distantly below is exhilarating, with glimpses of fields and towns and mountains in miniature, or silver stretches of the seas.

Up this high, too high for the longest fingers of weather to touch you, you sense a tranquility, a detached peacefulness, a freedom of spirit. You share a feeling of majesty with the sun and moon, often seen hanging in the sky together.

During the day, the sky is an ocean of shining blue. In the evening, the blue deepens into dark velvet. The moon sends forth its milky light. The stars loom larger and brighter, and you are enthralled by the ghostly radiance of the night sky.

Witness to a miracle

Now, almost unnoticeably, you are descending from your secret corner of the sky—down to earth again.

On the ground, you realize how far you’ve come in how short a time. Realize, too, that you have witnessed—and even played a part in—one of the miracles of our age…the miracle of commercial jet flight through the stratosphere to distant places; so swift, so convenient, so beautiful and rewarding as to leave all other ways of travel in its wake forevermore.

When I first read those words in an exhibit at the SFO Museum a few months ago, I knew I had found the perfect way to communicate how I felt about air travel. You put all of that together and you can’t help but see just how right it is. Or you could disregard all of that and jump out of the plane...

Welcome, fellow A.netters, to my latest trip report! I’ve been on 18 flights since we last met, including one new airport, two new airlines, and three new airplane types. If you’ll just die unless your curiosity is satisfied, let me know; I’ll give you a summary of those events. In the meantime, this report will cover the four days I spent in Seattle—and a party celebrating the exploits of a fellow we’ve come to know as D.B. Cooper. If you haven’t heard of him, here’s the quick version:

A man calling himself “Dan Cooper” bought a ticket for Northwest Orient Flight 305 (Portland to Seattle) on November 24, 1971. During the flight, he handed a flight attendant a note saying that he had a bomb. He told her his demands, which she relayed to the flight crew. Upon landing in Seattle, Cooper was given a bag with $200,000 inside and 4 parachutes. The passengers and two flight attendants were allowed to deplane. He instructed the pilots to fly the Boeing 727-100 to Mexico City at 10,000 feet and 100 knots, with the flaps and landing gear down for the whole flight. The co-pilot told him that the plane didn’t have the range under those circumstances, so they agreed to refuel in Reno, Nevada. Somewhere near the Washington/Oregon border, Cooper took the money and a parachute, opened the rear airstairs, and jumped out of the plane. He hasn’t been heard from since. In the hoopla surrounding this brazen skyway robbery, the media erroneously referred to him as “D.B. Cooper”, but the name stuck. The biggest clue as to Cooper’s fate was found in 1980: three bundles of $20 bills whose serial numbers matched those of the original ransom money.

When you read into it, you’ll see that there are many reasons to believe that he did not survive the escape. Of course, it’s also possible that he did survive. (I give it about a 34% chance that he did. Stranger things have happened, you know…) Each year in Ariel, WA, people gather for a party to celebrate the possibility of the latter. It is that party that is my main objective for my trip to the Pacific Northwest!

After seeing a documentary about the Cooper incident, I thought it would be really neat to go to that party. Given that it would also be the 40th anniversary, I started seriously toying with the idea. I obviously looked at staying in Portland first (it’s a lot closer), but Seattle presented itself as the more attractive option. Also, (with no offense to Portland) I had briefly been in both cities last fall, and I enjoyed Seattle a lot more than Portland. I put some ducks in a row and the details were soon nailed down…

If you’ve read the SFO leg of my first TR, then you’d know that I became very curious about Virgin America while I was there. They happen to serve DFW, roughly a 3.5 hour drive from my house (according to Google). VX also serves SEA, so I booked DFW-SFO-SEA. (It was almost three months before the fact at the time; it was oddly satisfying to look at the seat map and see my little white square as the only occupied seat.) We fast forward to the Friday after Thanksgiving, where the action begins:

(Some of the nearly 670 pictures have been omitted for your convenience. If you wish to see them all, feel free to follow the link: Slideshow for The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, and Me)

The drive was probably the one part of the trip I had the least desire for; it required that I wake up at a draconian hour and drive my half-asleep carcass to Dallas. I would much rather have taken a plane, but I decided that this would be a place where I saved a few bucks. Long story short, it went as planned and I got to DFW with plenty of time to spare. I arrived at the gate where “real steel” (formerly “midnight ride”) was waiting for me.

Virgin America 1853 DFW-SFO
Scheduled: 09:05-11:10
Actual: 09:01-10:31
Airbus A320-214 (N629VA)

It was now time for me to put Virgin America on trial. I booked Main Cabin Select, so there would be plenty of chances to put them through the wringer. I will now present some pictorial evidence:

Simple boarding passes

Legroom…pretty nice

Looking back

Looking forward

I refrained from takeoff pictures as I imagined a flight attendant might see me through the transparent bulkhead. (Following the rules when someone might be watching you? What a shock…    ) Thus, we’re already in the sky by the time the next photo comes along.

Flag on the wingtip fence

Hello, Red (pink headset = effective anti-theft system)

Among the movie selections: POTC: On Stranger Tides

Food and drink. The Holiday Turkey Sandwich was quite tasty. (Virgin’s description: Make it a moveable Thanksgiving feast with roasted turkey, cornbread stuffing, creamy brie, provolone, cranberries, and crisp lettuce piled high on thickly sliced wheatberry bread. Served with a TCHO chocolate for dessert.) And if I’m watching Captain Jack Sparrow, I have to have rum!

There was one drawback to the club atmosphere, however. All of the window shades were shut before we boarded and the cabin remained dark for the entire flight. Good for viewing Red, but bad for viewing the sky and ground. As a result, I restrained myself to only periodic glances through the window. It was rather cloudy for most of the way, so I didn’t have to open it much. But I was still somewhat antsy when I felt that my shade was down for too long…

We were somewhere over Utah before I saw the ground again

Mono Lake (California)

Oakdale, CA

Cities, from bottom to top: Salida, Ripon, Manteca; also, the Stockton Metropolitan Airport (SCK / KSCK) is at the lower edge of the cloud cover

The map

Antennae poking through the clouds

Just about to land…

And there it is

N633VA, “the tim clark express”

There’s always a Frontier animal somewhere…

A final, incredibly obstructed view of my plane

Virgin’s first crack at me went swimmingly, but they still had one more chance if they wanted to screw things up. Before they could do that, though, I had about three hours to burn. First, I explored Terminal 2 for the first time:

Ya know, I was expecting Terminal 2 to be less sterile than this. It certainly looks like it’s fresh, but if it looked more like the T2 ticket counters, then they’d be getting somewhere.

Nice bathroom, though

With the museum closed and nothing else at the airport really piquing my curiosity, I still needed to deal with the boatload of time that I had. BART to the rescue!

I’m a bit of a sucker for buildings that scream “Yeah, we’ve got the money and the power. What of it?” Hence a trip to the Civic Center was in order. (Speaking of which, the large presence of homeless persons there put a nice coating of irony on the situation.)

Looking down Fulton Street

City Hall

Christmas tree…I mean, Holiday Tree. I really hope I don’t get sued for that…

SF Public Library

Asian Art Museum

Pioneer Monument

Statue of Simón Bolívar

Going down the United Nations Plaza

Houses smushed into tiny spaces…not my idea of fun

Your typical BART train car

There was almost a nasty surprise as I tried to clear security for my next flight. My kiosk-printed boarding pass from DFW caused some befuddlement at the SFO checkpoint. They apparently hadn’t seen that kind before, but a careful check ensured that all of the required information was present, and on I went. There was further befuddlement at the gate, where the gate agent also expressed her surprise at this different boarding pass. Leave it to Texas to try to screw things up…   

At any rate, the bird to Seattle would be revealed to be “jefferson airplane”.

Virgin America 744 SFO-SEA
Scheduled: 14:45-16:50
Actual: 14:42-16:37
Airbus A320-214 (N625VA)

I’ll spare the inside photos for this flight because it was much the same as the previous flight. The one big difference was that most of the window shades were up to begin with, so mine and most everybody else’s stayed open the whole way.

Upper Klamath Lake (Trivia: it’s the largest freshwater lake in Oregon)

Crater Lake

I know you can’t make anything out, but it’s Lake Merwin, and I’d be in that general area soon enough…

A big mountain; I’ll give you a few seconds to guess which one

Lakes, left to right: Steilacoom, Gravelly, and American

Joint Base Lewis-McChord (TCM / KTCM)

Port of Tacoma and Commencement Bay

Mount Rainier—it’ll cause a lot of havoc if it blows its top; for now, it’s sitting pretty

Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (SEA / KSEA)

Downtown and water, top to bottom: Lake Sammamish, Lake Washington, Puget Sound

Safeco Field and Port of Seattle

Yet another happy landing

Delta and British widebodies

jefferson airplane taking a brief rest at the gate

Virgin America ended up leaving a good impression upon me. Sure, they may be experiencing some growing pains financially, but you can’t say that they don’t look good doing it. The flight attendants were friendly, even if it was purely on-demand service. They got my bag to Seattle in one piece. They kept me entertained in spite of the closed windows.   I can’t really think of anything bad to say about them yet. I would certainly consider flying them again if the opportunity came along.

Moving on, here’s what I saw as I made my way to baggage claim:

Christmas display. Oops, I’m sorry…I meant “Holiday” display.

Hanging planes

The next stop was to the rental car counter to collect my ride, then a drive to the hotel. As you can imagine, there were more than a few people in the downtown area at the time, resulting in the aggravation you get when you have to fight through a horde of people to achieve an objective, especially the Black Friday crowds. With that said, I made it to the parking garage without incident.

I took a few minutes to compose myself in my hotel room before venturing out into the rat race once again. I stayed at the Grand Hyatt in a room on the 26th floor:

My view for the next few days

Near to far: Roosevelt Hotel, Nordstrom headquarters and flagship store, Macy’s, etc.

One of my attractions to the downtown areas was that so much of everything was so easy to get to. One of these places was the Dahlia Lounge, a restaurant a few blocks away from the hotel. Along the way:

You see that group of people at the intersection? They’re Occupy Seattle protesters. There were a fair number of police officers looking on, but it was all peaceful as far as I could see. Nevertheless, I didn’t hang around there too long.

The restaurant was dimly lit and quite busy. Getting unobtrusive pictures was a challenge, but here’s what I came up with:

Under the table

Blurry shot of my Dahlia Manhattan

The Tuscan Grilled Bread Salad. (with pesto, olives, mozzarella, spicy coppacola) Pretty darn good.

Finally, a decent interior shot!


I decided to take advantage of the fact that it wasn’t raining—a fact that weather forecasts were eager to change—to see what night photography I could pull off. It’s a combination of shots from my point-and-shoot and my “real” camera. But before I could do that, I had to go back to my room and retrieve the memory card I accidentally left behind.   

The Grand Hyatt

26th floor elevator lobby

Perhaps they could get Boeing to sponsor the hotel and call it the Hotel 737 MAX?

Space Needle down the way


Space Needle a little closer

A display of some sort in front of the Needle, but I’m afraid that I’ll call it the wrong thing…

Seattle Monorail (I got out my wallet to pay the conductor, but he let me ride for free. Thanks, conductor!)

Thank you, Starbucks…

Continued below…
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:13 pm

We left off with an overflowing trash can. Here’s something easier on the eyes to start Saturday:

Good morning, Seattle!

Good morning, ferry!

Another great advantage to the room was my convenient viewing angle of the arrival flightpath:

A look at the local weather newscasts showed, to no surprise, that it would be cool with bouts of moisture. According to the prognosticators, Saturday would turn out to be a halfway decent day—at least it wasn’t going to be miserable outside. That information in mind, I dragged myself out of my kick-ass bed and spent some time in my kick-ass shower. One kick-ass bathrobe later and I was ready to take on the day! (As much as I would have liked to wear it outside, I opted for regular clothes.)

Breakfast would be provided by Top Pot Doughnuts, a local institution. The President even stopped by for some doughnuts there, so it must be good, right? There were plenty of people chowing down and standing in line, so I guess there was something to it. It got even more crowded after I got there, so I considered myself lucky that I was able to find a seat. What you’ll see below are an apple fritter and a chocolate feather boa. The latter was as good as most other similar doughnuts I’ve had, but the fritter was very nearly transcendent. They managed not to muck it up by cooking it for too long or burning bits of it, resulting in pleasing textures and a more pleasing taste.

Top Pot atmosphere:

From the doughnut shop, I made my way back to the Space Needle to go to the top. Night is all well and dandy, but there’s something to be said for seeing things during the day.

Queen Anne Hill; between the towers is a former high school built in 1909. It’s now luxury condos. (Thanks to the tour guide for that information.)

Some runners

The EMP Museum, a Frank Gehry creation; I’d be down there next

Ferry MV Hyak, usually assigned to the Bremerton route

Headquarters of the Seattle Post-Intelligencer; the globe reads “It’s in the P-I”



My hotel

A jet going to SeaTac (see the tower?)


US Airways A320

Virgin America A320 (N622VA “california dreaming”)

Delta 738

Stadia close-up

Whoa, who is that?

It was considerably warmer and drier in the café

I went back down to the ground and walked on over to the EMP Museum, where one can take in all of the pop culture stuff one wants.

My first stop was the Avatar exhibit:

I need one of those—wouldn’t it be cool if I wrote a report in Na’vi?

Can anyone say “size discrepancy”?

The create-your-own-plant station. Gee, I wonder who made that one?

Then there was the horror film exhibit:

Sculpture - IF VI WAS IX: Roots and Branches

History of the guitar

Then it was on to the Olympic Sculpture Park:

See the Delta A330?

Along the Alaskan Way

The Alaskan Way Viaduct

Time to go up the Harbor Steps!

Actually, I didn’t go all the way up. If I did, I would have passed Post Alley and the chewing gum wall therein.

Aforementioned gum wall. Editing note: person obscured for courtesy

Pike Place Market

Pike Place Chowder turned out to be another popular establishment. The line for the restaurant went all the way through the building and past another restaurant inside. I wondered how it felt for them to see all of those people lining up past their place to get to another one… I had a cup of smoked salmon chowder; it came with a piece of sourdough bread. I hope you can imagine what salmon chowder and bread look like, because I didn’t take a picture of it. I can tell you that I was not disappointed after the wait.

I finished up that bit of sightseeing (and narrowly escaped a brush with Scientology) and got ready for the haul down south. The drive is roughly 2.5 hours from Seattle to Ariel. It’s thankfully a considerably more scenic drive than, say, going across Kansas. From the flight deck of the rental car:

I didn’t know what was tying up traffic on the other side, but I was glad it wasn’t on my side.

See the dome of the Washington State Capitol? (Trivia: it’s the tallest self-supporting masonry dome in the United States, and fourth tallest in the world, according to Wikipedia)

The GPS would bark orders at me every once in a while. I followed them like a good little boy. After enough barking, the Ariel Store was in sight. I was finally at Cooperland! Cars were beginning to line up along the sides of the street, so I put mine at the back of the line and jumped on in, so to speak.

Continued below…
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:14 pm

Right off the bat, I found a couple of Coopers willing to pose for a picture:

In a side room was a parachute that all the guests were signing. I summarily added my John Hancock, plus a little extra. I hope you don’t mind! (If you do, I’ll bleach it out the next time I make it up there.    )

There was understandably a lot of memorabilia on the walls:

Another trove of posters: Mount St. Helens

The time ticked by and more and more people jammed their way into the tiny store. “Standing room only” didn’t begin to describe it, as it soon became an arduous task to get from one room to the other. There were certainly in excess of 200 people there at the height of the activity.

A couple that I chatted with soon after arriving recommended the stew, the store’s specialty. It was indeed good.

The band

Another Cooper; he would go on to win the look-alike contest

As I made the rounds and talked to more people, I became something of a hit when I told them that I came from Oklahoma just to be there. I know of a fellow from Arkansas and one from Tennessee who were there, but I suppose they were old hat at it. Anywho, my long-distance travels earned me some recognition in front of the crowd and this license plate frame:

A reporter from CNN (I checked later. He is with CNN.)

Yet another Cooper; he was handing out “D.B. Dollars”, seen below

Fancy this: even Santa joined the party!

The look-alike contest.

A Cooper Dollar of a different sort

There were apparently a few celebrities at the party as well. Among them, Pat and Ron Forman, authors of The Legend of D.B. Cooper: Death by Natural Causes. Ron and I had a chat and he gave me his card.

This fellow is Brian Ingram. (I checked; he’s the real deal.) In February 1980, the eight-year-old Ingram unwittingly became part of the Cooper legend by finding three bundles of the ransom money along the Columbia River. (Interestingly, he was born in El Reno, OK; actually, quite a few people had Oklahoma connections):

The woman in the middle of the frame is (theoretically) Cooper’s daughter:

It had been about five hours since I arrived, but the music was still playing and the booze was a never-ending fountain. I did note that more than a few people were in varying states of blitzed-ness, so I took that opportunity to bid my newfound acquaintances farewell. These people, who I had no awareness of when I woke up that morning, were talking to me as if I were an old friend. What’s more, it wasn’t just a bunch of old coots and their crazy stories—there were plenty of people in my age bracket there, too. And yes, some of them were actually interested in Cooper. (I’m sure some of them were just there to drink…) It’s safe to say that these people won’t let the legend of D.B. Cooper die anytime soon.

If any of you are interested in this sort of thing, you might want to stop by the Ariel Store next November. The scenery alone is enough of an excuse to go up there, but the experience is something that I can’t quite describe. It wasn’t all just about Cooper; we spent a lot of time just having a good time and getting to know each other. For the record, there were quite a few people there who thought he’s still hanging in a tree somewhere in the forest.

Continued below…
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:18 pm

Sunday morning started off as expected: cool, windy, and rainy. This being Seattle, I anticipated as much. But there was a miracle in the early afternoon: the rain stopped. There were predictions by the meteorologists that the day would be miserable, and it was pretty close for a while. But the weather was downright decent for the rest of the day once the water works ceased. I did keep those who ran the Seattle Marathon in mind, though, as they were in the dreadful weather.

Good morning again, Seattle!

I suppose they think it’s too windy for the flag—it’s coming down

As for me, I was getting ready for a trip to the Boeing factory. I had the TV going as I put myself together; there was one story that caught my attention:

You guessed it: they were talking about the 40th anniversary of the Cooper incident. In case you didn’t know, there was a symposium in Portland about said incident. There were a few people at the party who also attended the symposium. Speaking of which, I turned to another newscast where I saw this familiar face:

More morning-after news: The Columbian: Captivated by D.B. Cooper
The Daily News (Longview): Lookalikes and fans celebrate 40th anniversary of D.B. Cooper disappearance

A journey to Everett was next on the docket. But before I go forward, a tip of the cap toward my chariot for the trip:

The drive north was uneventful. My excitement increased exponentially when I saw some tails beyond a fence:

Caution: Boeing does not allow photography on the tour, so you will be subject to a simple reporting of the facts for this section.

There were about 35 or 40 people in the tour group. The first portion of the tour was in the auditorium, where we saw a 5-minute video about the history of Boeing.

After that, we boarded a bus and made our way to the assembly building, which you probably know is the largest building in the world by volume. Along the way we passed the flightline where we saw ANA’s growing fleet of 787s. Also on the line was United’s first 787. The door to the paint shop was open, an oddity according to the tour guide. In the shop was a British Airways Cargo 748F with its tail halfway through the open door.

Our first stop was the 747 assembly area. There were three fully-assembled 748s on the floor (except for the internal bits), one Intercontinental and two freighters. There were more 747 sections scattered across the floor. It provided a sense of scale as to the vastness of the building. The three completed planes took up maybe a third of the section.

We exited that bay and went back to the bus. From there we moved on to another widebody assembly area. Along a far wall was a banner celebrating the 1000th 767, but you couldn’t quite see anything else. On one side of the viewing balcony was the 777 line. On the other was the 787 line. Highlights from the 777 side included the 98th 777 for Emirates and one for Air New Zealand sporting a black rudder. Be on the lookout for a 777 celebrating the All Blacks sometime soon. (I like that livery, and think it will look excellent on the 777.)

Visible on the 787 side were United’s second and third 787s and Ethiopian’s third. Along another wall was a 787 in the Japan Air Lines scheme, seemingly close to being released from the factory. I have to say that the 787 has really grown on me from a visual perspective now that I’ve seen them in person. It’s still not at the top of my list, but I can at least add them to the “good-looking” list.

Fun facts: the temperature of the building is kept comfortable by the body heat of the 38,000 employees that go in and out and the one million light fixtures. There are 31 miles (Or was it 32? Or something completely different?) of tracks along the ceiling for the cranes to move various pieces. One of the Tully’s coffee shops in the building grosses more money than every Tully’s in the whole of western Washington. If you’re a hockey freak, you could stage 800 hockey games simultaneously.

The tour ended there; the bus brought us back to the gift shop, where I made a purchase (see below). Before we exited the bus, the tour guide told us to, on our next flight, tell the gate agent “If it’s not Boeing, I’m not going!”—the famous phrase. I didn’t have the heart to tell her about the main fleet makeup of my two airlines for this trip: Virgin America and Frontier. Likewise, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that of the five manufacturers whose planes I’ve been on—totaling 99 flights at the time—Boeing was in a tie for third…   

I looked around the Future of Flight Museum (not to be confused with the much larger Museum of Flight) which, as you will see, allows photography. Here’s what’s there:

From the observation deck:

Left to right: Air India 787, China Southern 777F, United’s first 787

British 748F, assorted 787s

More Dreamliners; a test 748 is at the far right

Cathay, Korean 748s in the distance

I spy a China Southern Dreamliner…

The aforementioned purchase

Following the museum, I made my way to the next scheduled food stop. My choice was Red Mill Burgers. I attempted to go to the 67th Street location, but there was no parking to be had and I could see a gaggle of people stuffing the seats and standing in line. They fortunately have a second location on Dravus Street, which was slightly less crowded, but with much more parking. Here it be:

And here’s what I had: a simple Deluxe Red Mill Burger, sans cheese. I figured that if it’s so darn good, I don’t need something covered in cheese and sauces and bacon to prove it. (They do provide large stacks of bacon to that effect, if you prefer.) The burger was alright; I didn’t think anything spectacular of it at first, but it got better as I went along. I wouldn’t go quite so far as to put it on the exalted pedestal, but it’s still a tasty treat. (I may have been lenient in judging the burger as I gave them full marks for the all-female staff.    )

This was the point in the afternoon that led to some random adventuring. I had planned to stop by the Woodland Park Zoo, but I wasn’t particularly keen on being in the elements as it hadn’t stopped raining at that point. That, and they’d probably have many of the animals inside under those circumstances. Another part of my plan was to take a water taxi to Seacrest Park and hang out around there for a while, but I smartly decided to check the schedule one last time in the week before I left; I saw that it doesn’t sail on weekends. I scrambled for an alternative to fill the time—I settled on taking the ferry to Bainbridge Island. Let me tell you, I sure picked the right horse with that one!

My car on the ferry

From the deck of the MV Wenatchee

No, I will not be reprising the roles of Jack and Rose


See the Delta?

MV Tacoma

Approaching Bainbridge Island

MV Puyallup and MV Chetzemoka (I couldn’t see the name of the middle ship)

I wondered what awaited me beyond the rails of the ferry. I knew a little bit about my first destination after running across it on Google Maps, but I knew nothing else about the island. It’s been my experience that good things usually happen when randomly exploring places, so I was hoping my luck would hold out.

This is The Harbour Public House, a neat little establishment on the waterfront:

I started with a Silver City Winter Bock, a beer from a Bremerton brewery (not pictured). Another salad was on deck, this time the Smoked Salmon Tartine (Pub-smoked, Pacific wild salmon, goat cheese, capers and red onion served on fingers of grilled organic whole wheat sourdough bread on a bed of organic salad greens.) As I sat at the bar waiting for it, I saw my server go into a cabinet and produce food for two other patrons. I was in a brief state of bewilderment before I put it together: a dumbwaiter linked the restaurant with the kitchen downstairs. While I waited…

My salad made its trip upward and landed in front of my face. It didn’t stay for long. It rivaled the Dahlia Lounge salad in every aspect. This time, the food didn’t need the help of an all-female staff, though that’s exactly what there was on the main floor.

The rain had largely ended by that point, so I took the time to just walk and look around. Bainbridge Island is just about a polar opposite from downtown, as you can very well imagine. Life seems to run at a much calmer pace—it’s peaceful, quiet, and the surrounding landscape is beautiful.

The marina

Pegasus Coffee; I made a note of it for later. I stopped by before I left the island for a cookie and an espresso shot.

The Bon Bon, a candy shop. I bought some things to serve as spoils of victory for the family.

Random boats. From left to right: Impatience, unknown, Tortuga, and Elysium

If someone were to knock me in the head and drop me off there, I’m pretty sure I could deal with the island. Those things I saw along my path, I enjoyed each of them. Yet more proof that there are gems to be found off the beaten path. I certainly wouldn’t mind making another stop on Bainbridge Island if my travels take me anywhere near there in the future. Alas, it was time to go back to the concrete jungle…

Returning to the ferry

A few pictures from the deck; the Wenatchee would again take me across the Sound.

The city’s getting bigger, and I think the blurriness is because of an earthquake they’re having…

See the column of brake lights just left of center? That’s a bunch of disgruntled Seahawks fans going home following their team’s loss a short time before.

Just so you know: The Wenatchee is a Jumbo Mark II Class ferry, capable of transporting 2,500 passengers and 202 vehicles. The ship is over 460 feet (140 meters) long and 90 ft (27.4 m) wide. Along with her sisters Tacoma and Puyallup, they are the second largest double-ended ferries in the world. (The Washington State ferry system is itself one of the largest in the world.) The name comes from the Yakima word wenatchi for "river flowing from canyon."

Another note regarding Seattle: to my recollection, all of the places I ate at had something to do with local growers, or organic foods, or farm fresh this or that, or something along those lines. Even Virgin America got into the act a little on that front. Something of an unintended consequence, I suppose, but a welcome one. (Indeed, I was on an escalator in Denver the next day behind a person with McDonald’s, and I didn’t think too much of the smell of their food.) Also, if you’re going to stay in downtown Seattle, I would recommend the Pacific Place parking garage. It’s affordable and I was able to find a space rather easily, even on Black Friday.

Continued below…
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:20 pm

Ahhh, Monday. I was looking forward to two good flights with Frontier, but I wasn’t really looking forward to having to leave. Even worse, I would have to tread through the circles of hell and go to work again on Tuesday. Each item I packed in my bag was an ugly, loathsome reminder of that fact. I attempted to put those odious thoughts out of my mind and instead wondered which animals I’d get to play with for the next few hours. But there was one thing that caught my eye.

Hmmm, I wonder why it’s so bright out here?

Wait a minute, do mine eyes deceive me? What in the hell is that? Oh my goodness, it’s the freakin’ sun! How the [expletive deleted] did that happen?!? I took advantage of the gaseous orb making an appearance and took pictures of things.

You can even see mountains in the distance:

One of the water taxis that eluded me because they don’t sail on weekends

I got to the point where I could no longer stall for time in the room—it was time for me to go. So I checked out and drove to the airport and returned the car. I went to the ticketing area to get my boarding passes and drop my bag off:

Surprise, surprise—there was quite a line snaking back from the ticket counter. I wasn’t worried in the slightest, though. Fortunately, I was able to join the cool kids line. (Read: only one person ahead of me). I stepped right up and waited my turn. A passenger on the other side of the barrier, slightly harried-looking, engaged me in conversation:

Passenger: “That’s not the line.”
Me: I look back at the sign for Summit and Ascent members to make sure I’m in the right line; “Sure it is.”
Passenger: “No, it isn’t.”
Me: “Well, I’m feeling lucky. I think I’ll take my chances.”

The ticket clerk called me up shortly after that exchange. I’m not sure what the person thought about the situation. Like I said, there was someone in front of me when I got to the cool kids line, so that should have been some indication. Oh well. At least they weren’t nasty about it. I’ll cut them some slack since it was the tail end of the hectic Thanksgiving travel days.

Security was a breeze, all things considered. I made my way to the appropriate concourse where I looked for a quick bite to eat. After the last few days, I was kinda sad that I’d be back in the land of chain stores and foods with Biblical shelf lives and artificial preservatives. I joined another line and got a bagel which I ate on the plane as boarding commenced.

Speaking of the plane, I saw it pulling up shortly after I claimed the bagel. Continuing with the Pirates of the Caribbean theme, a sea turtle pulled up to the gate:

Frontier Airlines 846 SEA-DEN
Scheduled: 10:52-14:23
Actual: 11:01-14:10
Airbus A320-214 (N210FR)

This flight would be semi-special, as some of you may already have gathered. In case you haven’t been following along, do you remember the “99 flights” bit I mentioned at the end of the Boeing tour? Well, some math (or “maths”, if you prefer) will lead you to the inescapable conclusion that F9 846 would be my 100th flight all-time. I was glad that it could be with Frontier, as I have a bit of a soft spot for them. Thank you for putting up with this gooey show of emotion. On with the show!

Boarding passes. Hold on, there’s something different since the last F9 pass I’ve seen… Oh, I see: the “S” word!

Behind Sheldon is a Delta A320 (N314US)

Hawaiian 763 N588HA

More VX: N638VA “san francisco pride”

Washington State Cougars logoprop N401QX. I daresay the plane had a better weekend than the school whose logo it wears—the Cougars lost to the hated Washington Huskies.

On the takeoff roll

Mountains and snow and clouds…what’s a person with a camera to do?

Chester Morse Lake

Tri-Cities: Richland (by engine); Pasco (near side of river); Kennewick (far side of river)

Tri-Cities Airport (PAS / KPAS); also, Vista Field. Also also: Yakima, Snake, and Columbia rivers. Also also also: Oregon is that parcel of land at the top quarter of the frame

Vance Brand Airport (KLMO)

Boulder, CO and Boulder Municipal Airport (WBU / KBDU). Also: Hayden Lake (by airport), Leggett and Hillcrest, Valmont reservoirs

Stan at the adjacent gate, Benny taxiing out

The flight went by just as expected: smooth, comfortable, and plenty of cookies to go around.    My TV screen went on the fritz about an hour before we landed, but it wasn’t the end of the world. I’ll refer you to some of my other works if you are really itching for pictures of DEN, but there is one worth mentioning…

You may know about my habit of going to Denver’s Concourse B and walking from one end to the other whenever I have the time; Monday was no exception. Seeing the transformation of United’s territory to fit the new brand has been interesting. I saw workers going down the line, gate by gate, replacing panels and signs as I walked past on a previous jaunt. Besides all of that, there was always one curiosity on my mind since the merger was announced and the brand decision made. Each time I went through the middle section, I wondered when the day would come when the giant tulips would be relieved of their watch over the vast hall. I received an answer:

I’m not necessarily a die-hard tulip loyalist, but I have to admit that it looks unusual to see nothing on that wall anymore.

I realized that I was going to reach the end of quite a few things in the coming minutes. Unless anything crazy happened, this would turn out to be my last flight for this year. Furthermore, it would also be my last opportunity to taste the goodness that is Caribou Coffee for this year.    I got to the gate and saw Montana the Second (the A320) sitting there, so I figured that I was in for another ride with him. I set up for this farewell photo concerning the two entities mentioned above:

But a few minutes later, the jetbridge pulled away and Montana pushed back. Turns out that our plane was late in arriving, so it was still a mystery as to who would be my last animal sidekick for 2011. Shortly before the scheduled boarding time, a killer whale pulled up to the gate. (For the record, Frontier would like you to call him an orca as opposed to “killer whale”.) Ozzy would be the one to fulfill the coveted role today! A second take at the farewell photo was in order:

Charlie the Second: another desired conquest

I was able to score a move up to seat 3A before we boarded. And then, after all of the moving and shaking and fun and frivolity, there was nothing to do but wait to fly away…

Frontier Airlines 138 DEN-DFW
Scheduled: 16:06-18:54
Actual: 16:30-18:53
Airbus A320-214 (N205FR)

Earl and Chocolate

We steadily climbed into the sky as the sun steadily descended from it. The fading light shone on our engine before subsiding completely:

Soon, we were sailing at 38,000 feet over western Oklahoma and north Texas, the darkness broken only occasionally by waves of city lights.

Lawton-Fort Sill Regional Airport (LAW / KLAW) is roughly in the center of the frame

The engines throttled back and the nose pitched down all too soon. Not long after that, the darkness gave way one last time to a great spread of lights, but Dallas would not loosen its grip on the night. We flew past the airport before lining up to land.

The blurry semicircles of DFW

And land we did. There was still the matter of driving back home. The only saving grace about that was that it wasn’t four in the morning.

And that’s the way it was. To put it briefly, Seattle is a wonderful city. The weather was nice for most of the trip, for which I was extremely grateful. If you are into a lot of good things being close to where you are, then the downtown area is a good place to be. I was glad that I could walk to all of the places that were close by. I consider it a good mark for the city that I eventually got my bearings without a map. Even on the island, I left the car parked at one place and walked around everywhere else. Moral of that story: slow down and you’ll see some stuff.

And what can I say about our friend with the sunglasses? He has captured the imaginations of people over the past 40 years. He has eluded the best efforts of the FBI to bring him to justice, be he dead or alive. Whatever you believe about his fate, this bourbon-drinking renegade will continue to spark the curiosity of people for years to come. I am grateful to have been a part of that celebration, and doubly grateful that he chose such a nice region to make his jump.

Thank you for reading; feel free to leave comments: good, bad, or indifferent. I’ll see you for my next adventure, whenever that is!

Tigerguy’s Tales:

The Top Ten (Leg 1/7): Texas Two-Step Featuring: DFW, IAH
The Top Ten (Leg 2/7): How To Book a Guilt-Free Trip Featuring: LAS, with SLC
The Top Ten (Leg 3/7): Masochism for Dummies Featuring: ORD, JFK, ATL, with LGA
The Top Ten (Leg 4/7): Phoenix Rising Featuring: DEN (A/C), PHX
The Top Ten (Leg 5/7): Dash to the Rockies Featuring: DEN (B)
The Top Ten (Leg 6/7): SoCal Featuring: LAX
The Top Ten (Leg 7/7): NorCal Featuring: SFO
Jet Be Nimble, Jet Be Quick! – A DC-9 Story
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 7:42 pm

Very impressive report - I can only imagine how long it took to put in all the photo tags  Makes me want to visit Seattle - seeing DB Cooper was the icing on the cake!
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 10:06 pm

Hi Tigerguy

I really enjoyed your latest travels. What a great trip!

I read lots about DB Cooper a few years ago, and the story intrigued me. I really enjoyed your trip out to Ariel to take part in that 40th anniversary event. I guess it's a story that we may never know the ending to - but I hope that we find out one day what happened that night. Over the years, I've seen pics of the B727 involved, and last I read, it had been scrapped a few years ago.

Nice review of VX as well. Thanks for that.

SEA looks like a great city to visit. I flew through there in 1997 on may way from Charlotte to Vancouver. Sadly I dont remember much about the bus trip I took from SEA to Vancouver. I do remember the border check and being grilled by Canadian Immigration as to why I was coming to Canada!

Nice to see all those critters as well at DEN. Nice stuff.

Thanks for taking the time to post a really detailed report.

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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Sun Dec 04, 2011 11:33 pm

Great report and photos!

Your trip brought back many memories for me from our trip to SEA last year! My fiance and I had a great time there last year; our hotel was very near the Space Needle and we did everything we possibly could in our 5 days there! Love the city; could live there in a second! We also flew Frontier back to MSP through DEN ...  Frontier: A Whole Different Animal? (MSP-SEA-MSP) (by 767747 Sep 11 2010 in Trip Reports)?threadid=176037&searchid=176135&s=767747#ID176135

Virgin America looks very nice; will have to try them sometime!


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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 9:35 am

Whoa, a really fun and full trip there.. For the first time the bits other than the actual flight were so much fun that I admit to skipping in-flight shots!
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:53 am

Quoting Tigerguy (Thread starter):
Christmas display. Oops, I’m sorry…I meant “Holiday” display.

WTF! Is it supposed to look like the trees after Mount St Helens exploded in the 80's?

Quite and inetersting TR although I have to say I gave up once you got to Seattle as I was starting to loose the plot... perhaps a tad too many pictures?

I'll come back to it eventually and try and read the whole thing.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 2:07 pm

WOW!! What an amazing trip report - I loved every sentence, every picture, every moment!! I'm actually sitting here wishing that it wasn't over, but I guess you had to finish somewhere. 

Thanks so much for putting what, to me, was a pretty darn perfect report together.

Oh, and who cares what people say...have yourself a merry little Christmas!  
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 4:06 pm

Hey Tigerguy,

Really enjoyed the report! I've always wanted to attend D.B. Cooper Days, maybe I'll make the effort next year...

Lots of great pics, looks like you enjoyed your time in our neck of the woods! Looks like you made the most of it--really impressed with your choice of excursions/recreations. Come back in the summer when its the best place on the planet!  
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 6:32 pm

Great report as always, but I did not see your usual Carribou Coffee picture. Are you switching over to Starbuck's?
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Mon Dec 05, 2011 10:05 pm


Nice and well detailed trip report, Seems like VX and FR treated you quite well
The SEA area looks amazing! These are pics to keep in mind as this destination is on the top of my list

Next trip report: Well worn A330s and Hassle free MUC transfer
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RE: The Pacific Northwest, D.B. Cooper, And Me

Wed Dec 07, 2011 12:00 am

Quoting jetblast (Reply 5):
Very impressive report - I can only imagine how long it took to put in all the photo tags Makes me want to visit Seattle - seeing DB Cooper was the icing on the cake!

Let's just say that the photo tags were a labor of love.   

Quoting palmjet (Reply 6):

Thank you much, palmjet!

Quoting 767747 (Reply 7):

Good report; I'm glad that you had a pleasant Frontier experience. Looks like Domino, Yukon, Sally, and Grace treated you well!

Quoting leftyboarder (Reply 8):

Thanks for dropping a line, kind citizen!

Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 9):

WTF! Is it supposed to look like the trees after Mount St Helens exploded in the 80's?


Quoting TravelsUK (Reply 9):

Quite and inetersting TR although I have to say I gave up once you got to Seattle as I was starting to loose the plot... perhaps a tad too many pictures?

I'll come back to it eventually and try and read the whole thing.

Cheers and Merry Christmas!

I will be honest here in that I did consider the picture situation carefully. I decided to leave the lot of them in because I like the reader to see exactly what I saw. If I say that an airline or a hotel (or whatever) is rubbish, I also would like people to see what I think rubbish is, and chime in accordingly. Likewise for what I consider to be good. I'll welcome you again with open arms when you are ready to take another crack at it! Oh, and Merry Christmas to you as well!

Quoting BAViscount (Reply 10):

Thanks for the kind words, Viscount, and Merry Christmas!

Quoting Gunsontheroof (Reply 11):
Hey Tigerguy,

Really enjoyed the report! I've always wanted to attend D.B. Cooper Days, maybe I'll make the effort next year...

Lots of great pics, looks like you enjoyed your time in our neck of the woods! Looks like you made the most of it--really impressed with your choice of excursions/recreations. Come back in the summer when its the best place on the planet!

I did enjoy myself in your neck of the woods! Speaking of which, if you're at liberty to say, where might that be for you?

Quoting EricR (Reply 12):
Great report as always, but I did not see your usual Carribou Coffee picture. Are you switching over to Starbuck's?

Oh dear, that would be like me switching over to Southwest...   

Worry not, the caffeinated caribou is there, but you have to look a little harder than normal - they weren't close-up shots. When I'm in Denver waiting for the next plane, keep your eye on the window ledge. It had face time with New Montana and Ozzy.

Quoting MSS658 (Reply 13):
Nice and well detailed trip report, Seems like VX and FR treated you quite well
The SEA area looks amazing! These are pics to keep in mind as this destination is on the top of my list

Thanks, Marc! The two airlines did treat me well. VX seemed to live up to the hype, and F9 added to the list of good times I've had with them.

I'm glad to see that so many of you have (or want to have) some sort of positive experience with Seattle. Like I said, I thought the weather would be more of a factor than it was, but it ended up being nearly perfect. I fortunately arrived the week after some nasty stuff moved through, so there was a bit of luck involved! If you're looking for stuff to do there, there's plenty to keep you moving around. I know I barely scratched the surface in that regard - all the more reason for me to return!
Good night, and keep watching the skis. Uh, skies.

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