Day 1: Thursday May 5th, 2005 View Photos for This Day

Funny date to start a trip on, but it was easy to remember! We left from San Jose on a 9 am Southwest flight. Jessie gave us a ride to the airport. Neither one of us had gotten very much sleep (Adam got about 3 hours,) so we were both pretty tired. We chose to have a sugar rush in the form of Cinnabon. Every time we get these, we realize we could share, as neither of us ever finish. But we always forget the next time.

Our flight was just a couple minutes late taking off. We grabbed an aisle and center seat, but the plane wasn't completely full. Adam slept for most of the flight, where I read and listened to music. I think I was able to doze of for about 10 or 15 minutes. The flight seemed to go rather quickly, and I was surprised when the pilot announced the decent into Seattle.

We landed and got off the plane. Our flight was continuing on to Spokane, so not everyone got off. Our baggage was waiting for us by the time we made it down to the baggage claim. It took a few minutes to find the car rental counters, but luckily there was only 1 person in line at Hertz, so we didn't have to wait very long. Now, I generally consider Hertz to be a pretty high class operation, but this was my second experience in 1 week (the last was at LAX with the water polo team,) where they had overbooked the cars and had difficulty providing what you reserved. Unlike LAX, the Seattle Hertz was able to upgrade us with no extra charge -- it was a total surprise. The guy at the counter had said they were waiting on compact cars (which is what we had reserved,) and so we had to wait for about 8-10 minutes before they could assign us a car. We picked up our keys from the counter in the garage, and walked to space 236. It was a Ford Escape, hardly a compact car! At first we were nervous they had told us the wrong space, but the keys worked and when I glanced at the rental contract, low and behold -- Ford Escape. That was a nice surprise.

We made our way out of the airport, and began the drive into Seattle. It was about 11:45 or so, and check-in wasn't until 3, so we had decided to spend the afternoon at the Seattle Center. We were able to find it very easily, but had some trouble finding a place to park that was attended. One of the drawbacks of the Escape is that the trunk is open, and we had all of our luggage stored back there. Unfortunately, the only attended lot employed a very scary looking guy, so we ended up self-parking in the lot right across the street from EMP.

The Experience Music Project (or EMP) is a museum dedicated to the development of modern music, instruments and other music related media (like MTV etc.) The building is very cool and is an art piece in of it self. I was really hungry, so our first stop was the little restaurant in the lobby. Adam was a little leery of eating in a museum restaurant, but the menu looked good and was reasonably priced, so we gave it a shot. It ended being a pretty good choice. I had a chicken sandwich of foccacia, with a little salad. Adam had a sausage calzone. Both were very good. The only downside was my Diet Dr. Pepper was mostly syrup, with very few bubbles, so it was very sweet -- I mostly stuck with water.

We bought our tickets, a combo pack that included both the EMP and the Sci-Fi museum next door. We saved about 7 dollars by buying both. We made our way through nearly every exhibit in the 3 story museum. It was a neat combination of music and cultural history, memorabilia, technology and art. They had a section devoted to the music scene of the Pacific Northwest, tracing the “grunge” movement from the 1800's to Nirvana and Pearl Jam. We found out that Seattle was home to Sir Mix-a-Lot of “Baby Got Back” fame, and Heart.

Next we went in the guitar gallery, which showed the changes in guitars, again from the early 1800's to the present day. It was cool to see how guitars were made louder before electricity (one “”Hawaiian” or steel guitar was attached to a horn to amplify the music.) There were about 100 guitars, amps and basses in the exhibit.

Other exhibits were a tribute to “pop” music, with outfits worn by Brittany Spears, 50 Cent and Eminem. There was an interactive exhibit on songwriting, including both the lyrics and the music. You could play with all of the different elements, like tempo etc. There was also a short film featuring a ton of famous (and some not very famous!) songwriters talking about their craft. We also walked through a small Beatles collection, showcasing a ton of fan memorabilia, from board games and ticket stubs to nylon stockings and fan mail.

On the third floor were more interactive exhibits. You could play guitar, bass, drums or keyboards in these little booths that were linked together. You could play alone, or join up with other booths. There was an opportunity to record your own CD, but considering my absolute lack of musical talent, that wasn't something to waste our time or money on! The third floor also had excellent exhibits on Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

The focal point of the museum is an enormous 2 story sculpture created with hundreds of guitars and other instruments. It's sort of tornado shaped. The coolest part was some of the guitars are hooked up to machines that play them, and there are headphones around the sculpture that let you listen to the sculpture. Very cool. This was the only thing outside of the lobby that you could take a picture of.

We walked over to the Sci-Fi Museum next door. It's a bit smaller, as most of the memorabilia were books, posters, manuscripts and movie props. Still, it was pretty fun. A couple highlights: the handwritten manuscripts of Neal Stevenson's The Baroque Cycle, the “Danger Will Robinson” robot, and the headpiece the actor wore to play the alien in Predator. The museum also had a ton of interactive video screens, including a database of all of the most famous space vessels from all of the movies. It had footage from each one and showed you the strengths etc. It was funny to compare the Millennium Falcon with the Planet Express space ship from Futurama.

We were both feeling a bit run down, so we headed to the hotel to check in and relax. Adam was able to nap for some time, while I watched some TV and snuck in a short catnap. Our friend, the 8 month pregnant, Cathy was going to meet us right before 7 to go to dinner a couple blocks from the hotel, at a restaurant called Wild Ginger. It is sort of an Asian fusion restaurant, like a more upscale and more diverse PF Chang's. The food was fabulous, and we ate a ton, including some great beef satay (beef on skewers) that had been flavored with Chinese 5-spice powder. It was delicious. We wanted to see Cathy's house and she wanted to take us to a yummy dessert places, so we hopped in her car and headed out to the suburbs.

We first went to Fremont, where the “Just Desserts” shop was. We split 3 pieces of cake, and none of us could decide which our favorite was. It was really fun catching up and telling stories. We even had the girl running the store laughing too! Cathy drove us to her house, which was so adorable. It was not hard to see why they're happy living up here. We finally met Riley, their miniature schnauzer who looks almost nothing like Indy, but still, was so similar in terms of his stance, and noises, it was a little scary. He was super cute and followed us around as we were given a tour of the house. It was getting late, so both Cathy and Riley drove us back to the hotel, where I promptly fell asleep!