Hello Seattle, feat. Woodland Park Zoo

Our fourth and final activity included in our Seattle City Pass—after the Seattle Aquarium, Space Needle, and Chihuly Garden and Glass—was a trip to the Woodland Park Zoo.

I’m a big fan of animals, and I enjoyed the aquarium, so I thought the zoo would be one of my favorite attractions of the trip, but unfortunately, it was massively underwhelming.

A lot of it probably had to do with the fact that it seemed like over half of the zoo was closed due to COVID-19. There were signs everywhere directing human traffic in one-way directions so people wouldn’t have to walk in close proximity of one another. On top of that, for the exhibits that were open, it seemed like the animals just wanted to spend the day hiding out today.

Apparently the Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle is frequently rated as one of the best zoos in the country, so I imagine that I would have to come back some other time if I’m ever in Seattle again after the pandemic, but for now, based on the very limited zoo experiences I’ve had, I’d say that the Henry Doorly Zoo in Omaha was much, much better.

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

Monica and I spent a total of over three hours at the zoo, and towards the end, I was getting a bit discouraged and started taking random photos of signs, placards, and empty habitats because there was seemingly nothing else to photograph. I think the following picture captures the core sentiment of what I felt like I got out of this experience:

Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle, WA

 

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Hello Portland

Setting the record for what I believe is the most I’ve ever driven in a single day, Monica and I set off this morning for Portland, Oregon, a three-hour drive down south from where we’re staying in Seattle. Unfortunately, our Seattle trip isn’t long enough for us to be able to spend more time in Portland, so we were only able to allocate a single day for the cause, and did the reverse three-hour drive straight back to Seattle upon nightfall.

Our former PUBG Coach and Manager, and current Acquisitions Assistant, lives out in the Portland suburbs, so we stopped by to visit him while we were in the Pacific Northwest. We grabbed some dinner together with him at a Korean barbecue restaurant, during which we proceeded to literally somehow start a grease fire at our table. After that gem of an experience, we grabbed some boba tea and went sightseeing around Portland.

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

Portland, OR

Portland was nowhere near as interesting as I thought it would be, but at the very least, I can now check off Oregon in my list of states that I’ve visited.

 

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Hello Seattle, feat. Chihuly Garden and Glass

After our visit to the Seattle Aquarium and the Space Needle, our final stop of the day was at Chihuly Garden and Glass, a museum and exhibit of Dale Chihuly’s glasswork.

I adore animals, so out of today’s three attractions, the aquarium was my favorite, but the glass museum came in a close second. I had never seen any­thing like this before, and it was interesting seeing something seemingly as plain and boring as glass be sculpted into such interesting art pieces.

Similar to the aquarium, the glass museum also had both an indoor and outdoor portion. The outdoor segment had glass art pieces mixed in with the gar­den, and it was interesting not only to see man-made art mixed in with nature, but to see the reflections of surrounding attractions on the glass.

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

Chihuly Garden and Glass

 

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Hello Seattle, feat. views from the Space Needle

After our trip to the Seattle Aquarium, our next stop was the Space Needle, a spire and observation deck in Seattle Center.

With a name like “Space Needle,” I thought this would be an astronomically tall structure with explosive views in every direction. Unfortunately, I was a bit disappointed, as it was actually only 605 feet tall.

To put that into perspective, the condominium I live at in Las Vegas stands just shy of 500 feet tall, and the Stratosphere nearby on the Strip stands nearly double the height of the Space Needle, at 1,149 feet. I had actually also recently dined in at the Top of the World restaurant on the 106th floor of the Strat. Considering that, coupled with the fact that the view of my balcony is about the same height as the Space Needle, and you can imagine that I’m pretty desensitized to heights.

With that being said, it was still a nice view, and I think anyone who doesn’t already live the high-rise life would definitely appreciate it.

Space Needle in Seattle, WA

These are photos of Seattle from the observation deck, going counter-clockwise.

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

I still haven’t managed to figure out which mountain is which, and every time I ask, I usually get the answer of “I think that’s Mt. St. Helens, but I’m not sure” … so here is a picture of downtown Seattle with a mountain in the background, and I think that’s Mt. St. Helens, but I’m not sure.

View from Space Needle in Seattle, WA

And here’s Monica. I’m definitely sure that this is Monica.

Space Needle in Seattle, WA

 

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Hello Seattle, feat. the Seattle Aquarium

I tasked Monica (Tempo‘s mobile esports manager) to build us a fun itinerary for our stay in Seattle, so she got us some city tourism passes that lets us see a handful of different attractions for a discounted price. Our first stop was the Seattle Aquarium.

I had my first aquarium visit over three years ago at the Shark Reef Aquarium at the Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas (this was back when I still lived in Southern California). Then about a year ago, I went with Monica and one of my former co-workers to the Henry Doorly Zoo and Aquarium in Omaha, NE. Today, Monica joined me again for my third aquarium visit.

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

Seattle Aquarium

This aquarium was an interesting hybrid of a multi-building indoor/outdoor aquarium. I don’t recall the Shark Reef Aquarium too well, and the aquar­ium in Omaha was mixed in with a zoo, so I’d say that this aquarium in Seattle was the most memorable aquarium experience I had. I have a lot more photos from the visit, but as you’d imagine, it was pretty dim inside the aquar­ium, so not too many of my photos came out nice and crisp.

Out of the three attractions we visited today, I’d say that this one was my favorite one.

 

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Hello SeaTac

I flew into Seattle–Tacoma International Airport today to visit some friends, do some exploring, and work on a project with Tempo‘s game development crew. I’ll be sticking around for a day shy of a week.

Mt. St. Helens, I think?

Western Washington state was one of the most interesting places I’ve flown into because of the unique and dynamic terrain. The first notable thing I saw in Washington was Mt. St. Helens… which I’m not actually entirely sure if it actually was Mt. St. Helens, because I’m not familiar with the area. It could have possibly been Mt. Adams or Mt. Rainier, or maybe the mountain in the background of that first photo was Mt. Adams or Mt. Rainier.

Flying into Seattle–Tacoma

In order to align ourselves properly to land on the runways at Seattle–Tacoma International Airport, we did a little loop up by Seattle and got pretty close to downtown. My window wasn’t very clean so the photos didn’t end up as crisp as I would’ve hoped, but I think they’re still pretty decent shots.

Seattle

Seattle

I think Delta Airlines is the best domestic U.S. airline when it comes to COVID-19 response. Back when I flew back home to Las Vegas from Orlando, I intentionally took an inefficient flight path through Minneapolis–Saint Paul just so I could fly Delta Airlines instead of American Airlines, because I trust Delta far more than American. (I flew American outbound to Dallas–Fort Worth, and it seemed like American wasn’t even blocking off middle seats anymore.)

Delta recently made it into the news because it had an incident where it literally brought a plane back to the gate to eject two passengers because they refused to wear face coverings. I was already committed to flying Delta whenever possible before that, but with that news, I knew that Delta would be the best choice.

It seems like Delta is continuing to emphasize their customers-first attitude, because after I woke up from a one-hour nap during my flight, I found this handwritten thank you note sitting on my arm rest.

A postcard from Delta Airlines

 

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Hello SoCal

Glendale, CA

I’m notoriously bad at taking photos while traveling if I’m actually having fun. I had a travel companion for this month’s Southern California trip who made it a lot more interesting, so I don’t have too many photos.

What I do have photos of, though, is meeting a glorious little puppy named Fernie.

Adam with Fernie the dog

Fernie the dog

I met Fernie when I stopped by the Tempo content house in Beverly Hills. One of our producers is taking care of Fernie, who is from Mutt Scouts, a 501(c)(3) non-profit dog rescue based out of Los Angeles, California.

Fernie has an interesting story—she has a weak esophagus, so she needs to be held upright after she eats, otherwise she may choke and die. We’re hoping that Fernie’s esophagus strengthens as she gets older, but for now, our producer helps Fernie stay alive by sticking her into a little vertical container with blankets inside and holding her upright after she finishes a meal.

Snacks

Flight attendant: “Would you like Veggie Straws, banana chips, or cookies?”

“Yes.”

Ok, that’s not literally what she said—she just replied “one of each”—but I felt like this was the perfect context for that meme, seeing as most people just select one snack … heh.

 

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Goodbye Orlando

Florida’s weather is some of the strangest weather I’ve ever seen in my life. A single day can go from partly cloudy to blisteringly sunny to pouring rain to sunny again, then repeat the entire process the following day.

West Lucaya in Kissimmee, Florida

Another observation I’ve made while in Florida is that the drivers are equally as wild as the weather.

Within the first day of arriving in Orlando, I nearly got into a collision while coming back to our Airbnb after picking up sushi because an oncoming vehicle wasn’t paying attention to the curvature of the road and nearly drove head-on into me. I managed to avoid it by swerving sharply off the road and going up onto a curb. Luckily, I was perfectly fine, though Monica’s boba was not… and I spent a few minutes soaking up tea from the floor mats of the rental car.

Not only that, but all drivers in general seem to be a bit strange. Nowhere else have I seen people not follow the speed limit so badly… in both directions. I very rarely saw cars driving at the speed limit—it was either 15 miles per hour above the speed limit… or below it. I mentioned this to one of my col­leagues, and he suggested that the reason for this is likely because those driving under the speed limit are retired, and those driving over it are sick of the retired people.

On a related note, my rental car this time around was a Jeep Grand Cherokee Trailhawk. I obviously put in a reservation for a full-size pickup truck, but they only had one more available on the lot, and there was an­oth­er guy behind me who actually needed a pickup truck, so I let him take it and I took an SUV instead.

It was nice re-experiencing what a mid-size SUV feels like, because I hadn’t driven one of those for a while (I’m so used to driving huge vehicles now that a mid-size SUV feels very small and agile), but my overall con­clusion is that it’s wildly overrated. Of course, there was just the inconvenience of not having a massive cen­ter console like I usually do in full-size pickup trucks, so once I had two drinks, I didn’t have a place to put my phone and wallet. But, for a vehicle that appeared like it was optioned to MSRP at just shy of US$50,000.00, I’d rather get a luxury pickup truck any day.

One of the more irritating things about the SUV was that it had air suspension. Normally, that’s considered a good thing, but I like having a high ride height, and every time I set the suspension at the highest level, it would automatically lower when I exceeded a particular speed, then show “aero” on the gauge cluster. I’m not sure if there’s a setting that stops it from doing that, but I didn’t bother spending the time looking into it.

Orlando International Airport

After we took care of all the business we needed to address in Orlando, we booked our flights back to our respective homes—Monica back to Dallas–Fort Worth, and me straight back to Las Vegas this time. Of course, it wouldn’t be a trip with Monica unless she provided me with a final troll to say goodbye.

After returning the rental car, we walked through the airport and approached the security checkpoint, when Monica told me that she didn’t have her boarding pass and hadn’t checked in yet. Of course, I facepalmed, then told her to check in so we could get through security. She fumbled around with her phone for a few minutes, then told me that she couldn’t check in.

I took her phone from her and looked through her American Airlines mobile app… upon which I discovered that the option to check in wasn’t there. I grabbed her record locator and went to the AA.com website… upon which I discovered that the option to check in wasn’t there either. Confused, we found a place to sit, powered up my mobile hotspot, whipped out my lap­top, and tried to check in from a regular browser… and the check-in link wasn’t there either.

I told Monica that there was clearly something wrong with her reservation, and that we prob­a­bly had to check in in-person. We exited the main area of the airport out near the en­trance and went on one of the American Airlines self-service kiosks to check in… and we couldn’t check in there either. Now just bewildered in confusion, we stood in the line for customer service and waited for a representative to help us out.

The representative helped us discover the problem. Our travel date was July 30. Monica ac­ci­den­tal­ly booked her flight for August 13.

Hyatt Regency Orlando International Airport

Orlando International Airport is interesting. It takes the concept of “airport hotel” to a whole new level. I’m not sure if this is more common in other countries, but throughout all my travels, I have never seen an airport hotel actually physically literally be inside the airport. Apparently that is the case for Orlando.

After we made it through security, unfortunately, I discovered that The Club MCO in Terminal B, Concourse 4 was temporarily closed due to COVID-19. I could’ve gone to the one in Terminal A, Concourse 1, but because of the way that Orlando International Airport is laid out, that would mean I would have to exit security, go back through security on the opposite side of the airport, then exit security again and come back to the security check­point on this side of the airport to board my flight. I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble, so I just found myself a nice wooden bench to sit and work on.

Departing Orlando International Airport

I’m not really a big fan of how American Airlines is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. Apparently they aren’t blocking out middle seats, and the flights are packed way too full—Monica and my flight from DFW to MCO was nearly at capacity. Because of this, I decided to take Delta Airlines back home (which is my preferred airline anyway), which meant my layover back to Las Vegas was in Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport instead of Dallas–Fort Worth International Airport.

I visited Minneapolis once before for X Games Minneapolis 2019, so it was nice seeing it again.

Approaching Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport

Taking the inefficient flight path via Delta up northwest instead of straight west did mean that my travel day was right around 8 hours instead of 6.5 on American (or potentially as low as 5 if I took Spirit or Frontier, but there’s no way I would’ve done that), but I personally think it was worth it for my own safety. At least I got some extra Delta Medallion-qualifying miles for the extra distance traveled.

Lake Mead

Home, sweet home.

 

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