Living in Seattle(ish), Day 193(ish): where do I begin?

I consider y’all to be part of my family (well, minus those of you that sent me messages threatening to kill me this weekend, but that’s a different story), which is why I looked to you guys for suggestions when I pondered a move last year. I ended up moving to Bellevue, Washington, and in my first few weeks there had a few posts sharing my experiences, which can be found below:

Living in Seattle(ish), Day three(ish): 10 things I’ve learned
Living in Seattle(ish), Day eight(ish): regret in a screenshot
Living in Seattle(ish), Day 18(ish): Time for the mortuary, and I’m a bad driver

Anyway, I’ve been asked by several people for a follow up post now that I’ve been “settled” in the Pacific Northwest for over six months, so here we go…

My ten day forecast is better than your’s

The title of the post sharing my day eight impressions was “regret in a screenshot,” comparing the weather forecast in Tampa and Seattle. I made a statement — “Florida, I’m sorry I left you! Take me back and I’ll never leave you again!” — which I desperately have to apologize for and take back. Tampa, you can take your thunderstorms and temperatures in the 80s and shove ’em up your you-know-what. Look what I got:

The weather the past week (of which I’ve been gone five days) has been stunning. And it’s not just the sun and the temperatures in the mid-60s, but equally the lack of bugs, which means you can actually enjoy a nice day, unlike in Florida. There’s also something that feels so “fresh” about the air. I’ve literally found myself just sitting on a bench on the side of the street breathing deeply for an hour at a time, as the weather is that gorgeous. On top of all that the days are long… really long, which means even more sun. But the best part of the weather isn’t even the weather as such, but the visibility. On a rainy day the views from from Bellevue are non-existent. On a sunny day the views are stunning, with mountains and lakes everywhere.

And it’s only April, so the best is yet to come…

Going from flying for all but a weekend per month to flying only a weekend per month

With the above in mind, I love the way my schedule looks for May. In January I literally spent all but a few days on the road, because everything about Bellevue was miserable. But aside from a weekend trip to Colorado Springs I have zero travel plans for the month of May, and I hope to keep it that way. There are actually two reasons for this. The main reason is that I’m still struggling a bit with my Royal Jordanian flight, so I’m not excited about the idea of doing all that much flying. But that works out rather well given the weather.

While I won’t be flying, I will be traveling. It’s definitely time for some weekend trips to Leavenworth, Portland, and Vancouver, and a day trip to the San Juan Islands. If someone has other suggestions for must see destinations, please let me know. The ability to do trips like this is actually what I was most excited about in moving to the Pacific Northwest, though I’ve been waiting for the right weather… and this is the first time since moving I have it.

Shady foot massage parlors

Admittedly Florida is a bit of a cultural cesspool, and one thing that’s completely new to me since moving to Seattle are Chinese foot massage parlors. I’m a sucker for massages, so I was quite excited by the fact that every shady strip mall has at least one “herbal” foot massage parlor which offer massages for reasonable prices.

Well, about a handful of massages and what feels like four broken bones later, I’m convinced these places are fronts for other things (or maybe I should be ordering off the “special” menu or something). The quality of the massages suck, and are usually performed by people that legitimately seem to be angry and are letting out their frustration on your feet.

I was a bit puzzled when after my first massage I was given a small mouthwash-size cup with a clear liquid and told “drink it, it’s good for you.” I looked at him confused and asked what it was. Apparently it’s water. So while in Asia you get tea or something, in Bellevue you get two ounces of water. Shady, shady stuff…

Whole Foods gets old

When I first moved to Bellevue I was obsessed with Whole Foods. Once I discovered their pretzels and pretzel bread sandwiches I couldn’t stop and figured it would never get old. Well, I don’t think I’ve been there in a month.

Tired of balls, though Drive Thru Boba still entertains

If there’s one thing I was deprived of in Florida it’s decent Asian “influence” (food, drinks, etc.). That’s not a problem in Bellevue — you can get every type of Asian food or drink, though no decent Hispanic food.

When I first moved to Bellevue I had bubble tea with boba almost every day. I loved boba. My boba loving phase is over.

That being said, I am beyond obsessed with Drive Thru Boba, which is quite possibly the most bizarre run business ever. While they publish hours, the only place to see when they’ll actually be open is on their Facebook page. And those hours never match their posted hours.

On one hand the place is ridiculous. They’re never open when they say they are, and in reality are probably open 15-20 hours a week. They usually post hours the night before, if not day of, or cancel last minute. And they run out of “supplies” almost every day as well, so end up closing early. And that’s in a good week, as they sometimes close for weeks at a time. And in their free time they even sometimes tell their customers to #*&% off when they complain about it (their January 31 Facebook post is pretty entertaining). As if that’s not enough it’s a drive thru, so when they are open the line is probably a dozen cars deep, and the line takes about 45 minutes.

Given those things, as much as I should dislike them, their drinks are so damn good. They have specials like black sesame smoothies and taro smoothies which sound horrible (to me at least), but are possibly the tastiest things ever. But the problem (both for my wallet and my waist) is when they actually have them and you wait in your car for 45 minutes you can’t justify doing that for just one smoothie. So I usually get like six, drink them till I get sick, and then put the rest in the fridge to drink later in the day.

Fun times.

Bellevue is a bubble, and that’s not totally horrible

When I first announced I was moving to Bellevue most people were surprised. While Seattle is a “real” city, Bellevue is a bit of a faux city. Aside from Singapore I don’t think there’s a city that’s more of a “utopia” of sorts. There’s virtually no crime, it couldn’t be cleaner, and you literally have everything you could possibly want (other than anything interesting, though we do have excellent food) within a half mile radius.

On one hand that’s annoying and I’ve been considering moving across the lake to to the “real” city when my lease is up. On the other hand after driving around DC last night, I couldn’t help but appreciate how simple life is in Bellevue. While DC was beautiful for the short time I was there, holy cow, what a cluster#$*&. I’ve never seen so many nine-way intersections and contradicting signs. Then again, I’d expect nothing less from the city where our laws are made.


I think I’ll leave it there. Time for me to finish the trip report for my trip to Amsterdam and get started on the trip report for my trip to Koh Samui. Besides, gotta finish those up so I can post about my excursions around the Pacific Northwest.

Filed Under: Misc.
  1. Lucky – having only visited Seattle for short trips, I can attest that April is one of the best times to visit. Enjoy it! As far as DC – I too was at FTUDC, and have lived in the general area for the better part of 12 years. Tyson’s Corner has changed more in the past 5 months, than Delta’s SkyMiles program — I was even getting disoriented with the new buildings, under construction metro lines and inexorable construction. — That said, you rocked at FTUDC.

  2. Lucky it appears you made the same wrong turn to the airport I made in DC and I had lived there for 10 years……….But your presentations this weekend showed no after effects of all the stress of RJ………..SF also has no mosquitos but we’re having a heat wave in the 70’s……..thanks for your contributions to the conference………..

  3. All things considered sounds like your move has been a great success! Not sure if you’re kidding but I don’t think those massage parlors are…for your feet? Gross, Ben!

  4. Hi lucky. Funny how you mentioned the drive thru bubble tea shops. If you ever want to entertain or make it yourself, I work for a company that sells the supplies online.

  5. Really? Royal Jordanian gave you that much of a scare? Maybe you should take up drinking 😉

    In all seriousness it’s probably no different than being in a car accident. You’ll forget about it in no time.

  6. @ Trevor — Thanks for the kind words and for attending! To clarify, while Tyson’s Corner was a mild mess, I actually drove into DC last night, and *that* was a disaster. Have only seen more disorganized traffic in Vietnam.

  7. I saw you just liked the Drive Thru Boba page on facebook haha. Is that the only way to get their hours?

  8. @ Lola — Hah, to clarify, I’m going there in hopes of a legitimate foot massage. What they’re actually offering I don’t know and also wonder about…

  9. I hear you on DC. I’ve spent a good amount of time there in the past thirteen years, and some of the road layouts still confuse me. It’s your typical grid system, but then diagonal streets were overlaid, hence the multitude of multi-street intersections.

  10. @ WanderingEntrepreneur — It is indeed! Wish they’d just send out email blasts when they have black sesame or taro smoothies. Mouthwatering.

  11. The trips you have mentioned are all great. I would add to the list a trip to Hurricane Ridge (preferably on a sunny day), the Hoh Rain forest and La Push beach. It is a lot of fun to do those all in the same weekend. If you want to plan this far in advance, schedule in the Fremont Summer Solstice parade. The Gorge Amphitheater is ridiculously stunning and I highly recommend it for a concert.

  12. Someone needs to open a DTB-esque shop [but with regular hours and regular supplies!]. It’d be a sure-fire success.

  13. Ben, so glad you’re starting to see some of the great weather that you get out there. One thing I really enjoy when I’m there is to just take the ferry and go for a drive through the Olympic National Park.

  14. You never drive in DC. You ride the subway/metro. Anyone who visits or lives in the area will tell you that. Kind of like not driving in London, Paris, etc.

  15. For Hispanic food go east, at least for Mexican, although other CA/SA countries’ cuisine is available but with fewer restaurants to pick from. If you’re in Leavenworth head to Wenatchee. If you go to wine country (pretty much continuous from Yakima to Walla Walla), it’s the most plentiful non-fast-food option. May through October there is almost zero rain out that way, too, so when the clouds start to feel oppressive, it’s a good break.

    I can give specifics if you want but you’ll have to narrow it down a bit for me first!

  16. I have family in Seattle and try different road trips when I’m there. I enjoyed a trip up to Vancouver (stayed at a Kimpton), the ferry to San Juan Islands, we stayed at Orcas island, we did some hiking but it’s about disconnecting and relaxing which is often hard to do. We then drove around Olympic National Park going out to Forks and then around back to Seattle. I love their ferries and going to Bainbridge or wherever the shortest line takes me. obviously Mt Rainer is a great day trip. have you taken the Seattle underground tour yet? A definite must for some history of the city IMO – at least I enjoyed it.

  17. Lucky, I’m a huge massage fan myself and I love feet and scalp massage the best. I also need it on my back from sitting in a chair all day. I’ve had thousands of massages over the years. Everything from the no-name Chinese places at the local strip mall to deluxe high end day spas. I can tell you in no uncertain terms that if the massage is bad enough to be uncomfortable then it’s your obligation to say something. Don’t suffer in silence. And if saying something doesn’t fix the problem then it’s your right to pay only for the partial time you used and leave. As for the “special” menu I have no idea where you’ve been going, but if you can’t tell a legitimate massage place from the other type of massage place then you probably need to improve your situational awareness skills. There is no way an observant adult should be able to miss the multitude of clues. It’s not like they want to trick you into wasting your time and theirs with a task they’re not intending to perform. Everyone makes mistakes, but if you’ve been “tricked” more than once the joke is on you.

  18. So you’re the one that’s making DTB run out of ingredients!
    The San Juan islands may be tiring to do as a day trip unless you’re already planning to be up north. Driving to Anacortes, waiting for the ferry, and the actual ferry ride will probably be 3hrs at minimum. Hopefully you’ll get to see some whales =)

  19. I second the suggestion to head to the eastern side of the state. I spent a good amount of time in Walla Walla, and, while it isn’t a mecca for loyalty travelers, spring and summer there are gorgeous. If you’re looking for good wine (mostly reds), plentiful sun, and beautiful countryside, it’s definitely worth looking into.

  20. Take the ferry to Victoria. Take the train down to Portland (or further). Go sailing. See if you can get up to Alaska in the summer.

  21. I have also lived in Seattle for around 230 days. Now that it’s nice out I also intend to explore the great Pacific Northwest more. I intend to take advantage of the weather.

  22. @Cirian: Great call on the train trips! Seattle’s historic King Street (Amtrak) Station was just reopened after a rehabilitation two decades in the making. The Spanish-designed Cascades trains, as well as the two long-distance trains serving Seattle, are some of the best products in the Amtrak system.

    Most importantly, Lucky should appreciate that Amtrak Guest Rewards is a pretty rewarding little program, with benefits that many FF addicts might find surprisingly relevant. This period of post-RJ jitters might be a good time to explore that. 🙂

  23. Ben, when you do visit portland (where I grew up) and if you like sushi, u gotta check out Saburo’s open at 5pm till 9, lines usually start at 4:30. Huge good portions for a great price. I always go once when I visit.

  24. Politely, you don’t need to drive in DC because we have public transportation… unless you go to Tyson’s. Also, try not to conflate Tyson’s Corner with the city or close in areas. Let me know if you ever want to see the more interesting parts of the DC area.

  25. Lucky, it was great seeing you again at FTUDC – thanks for the great presentations. I strongly second Olympic National Park/Hurricane Ridge, but check first to see if the road is clear (it’s at 5000 feet). Ditto for driving to Rainier National Park (wildflowers at Paradise usually peak in early August). And Victoria is stunningly beautiful, as is Butchart Gardens nearby.

  26. Taqueria Venadita in Issaquah (on Gilman). A very simple place with great good. Make sure to go to Hurricane Ridge. They just opened the road.

  27. Lucky – the Chinese foot massage places are based on the study of “reflexology” and the masseuses are “reflexologists,” basically believing that pressing certain parts of hands or feet have health effects. The masseuses you’re dealing with are, from what I’m told, treated with nearly the same respect as doctors in China and are always upset because they are seen far lower in the US.

  28. It’s not for everyone, but look into the Gulf Islands as an extension of a Vancouver getaway. Def a place to really unplug (not many/any points-redeemable accommodations there), which can be a pro or a con depending on your preferences. And if bungee jumping is your thing, or simply a bucket list item to be checked off, there’s a nice (scenery-wise) place en route in Nanaimo.

  29. While they are no longer an Alaska Airlines partner (redemptions weren’t great anyway), Kenmore Air flies float planes off Lake Union up to the San Juans. If you’re feeling up to a small plane, it’s a great way to visit the islands for even just an afternoon.

  30. Those very painful foot massages are the standard Chinese foot massage. I had one once and that was enough for me, lol. Regarding the “extra” services, most of the time if the place is a bit secretive or the door is always locked and they have to buzz you in, it IS a front for other activities.

  31. Since you have a PPL, I would strongly recommend renting a 172 or similar to fly to the San Juan’s. It’s a short flight (especially from KPAE) and you can cover multiple islands in one day.

    I’ve done both Orcas and Friday Harbor with friends and they’re blown away by how easy it is to get there the aerial route as opposed to by ferry.

  32. Biz on Main in Bellevue is a terrific restaurant. Also, in Portland, make sure you hit the original Powell’s bookstore on Burnside.

  33. You should definately to Olympia National Park, Mount Ranier, Victoria, the San Juan Islands. If you drive to Victoria you can take the ferry through the San Juan islands to or from Victoria. Also a ferry to downtown Seattle from Victoria.

    I would take a week or so and drive U.S. 2 through leavenworth. Then over to Glacier National Park. You could cross into Canada and go to Banff and Jasper National Parks there.

    Travelling by car long distances is one of my favorite pasttimes. The lower 48, Alaska and all the Canadian Provinces and territories have been done on long vacations over the years.

  34. As a PNW’er I’m naturally in to the outdoors, I dont know how much you are but you should for sure go hiking in the areas around Seattle and then come to the Portland area and maybe do a day trip around the Columbia River Gorge… and also check our weather down here in PDX compared to SEA.. its even better 🙂

  35. Clean and no crime? Sounds like Japan and a major selling point! How is public transportation to airport from Bellevue?

  36. Check out Victoria – island off of vancouver and stunning. Great westin property there too – as a plat I got an upgrade to a two bedroom two bathroom suite with kitchen!

  37. Hey Lucky, hope the anxiety with flying gets better soon. I did give myself a break from flying when I suddenly had it. Although my break was more like a year, which I don’t think you can do, given your occupation 🙂
    Anyway, good luck, and know that you aren’t the only one, and that most of us get over it.
    PS – you are really making me want to visit the Seattle area. your plan sounds great!

  38. Have you checked out Irvine? If I had to pick a gated community/faux city, I think that might be my preference.

    I don’t disagree with other people’s suggestions above.

  39. Hey Lucky. Am totally jealous of your living out in the northwest. My wife and I spent time in Vancouver and San Juan Islands on our honeymoon and consider one of the best trips we have ever made. We stayed in the San Juan Islands at the Friday Harbor Hotel which was absolutely amazing . We could stare all day at the ferries coming in and out from our room. If we had the time and money we would go back in a second.

  40. Yeah, I don’t think I could live in Florida because of the bugs…especially the palmetto bug. That name makes them sound so classy, but they are really just gigantic cockroaches from hell.

    Don’t take too much time off from flying. Often the best way to conquer an anxiety is to experience it. Just think of the airplane as a giant aluminum horse that you fell off of — you have to get back on.

    As for DC traffic, you get used to it. The city has a lot of other stuff going for it: nice architecture, decent public transportation, smart people (aside from members of Congress).

  41. If you want superb food, I highly recommend Willows Inn on Lummi Island. It’s expensive, but if the Michelin guide ever made their way there, I’m sure it would get at least 2 stars.

  42. Thanks–that recap was worth the wait! When you go to Vancouver, spend time at Stanley Park with its great walks and scenic views. No far-away airplane travel in May? I may go through withdrawal without pictures of copious buffets and glasses of pre-flight vodka. 😉

  43. @ Peter — Hah, worry not, I’ll have plenty of pictures of nuts and Diet Coke thanks to the trip reports I’ve yet to post.

  44. Take a short Alaska flight (or make the rather long drive) to Kelowna, BC – YLW. The Okanagan Valley is British Columbia’s Napa. Beautiful scenery with great wines and dining. Stay in Kelowna, Penticton, Vernon or Osoyoos.

  45. I work near DTB, but am scared to go there bec of the 45-60min wait. One time, the owner complained about people who bought more boba tea’s than people in the car; now I know who did that. haha.

  46. When my husband and I were in Singapore last month, we decided to try foot massage in Chinatown. At the end, we were given a small cup of “warm water” to hydrate our body. It sounds like those massage parlors in Bellevue are doing the same thing!!!

  47. Doe Bay resort on Orcas Island has a clothing optional spa with soaking tubs overlooking a spectacular view. No need to bring calculators there….

    Kenmore air from Lake Union to Victoria is a great flight on a float plane. I liked it better than Maldivian Air Taxi. Although you can redeem Alaska miles, they used to have cheap flights on day of or close to date of travel where you can earn instead of burn Alaska miles.

    Circle trip Kenmore to Victoria, Pacific Coach to Vancouver (takes you downtown Victoria to downtown Vancouver on bus and BC ferries through Gulf Islands), back to SEA on Alaska Air or bus.

    Gulf Islands are also a great trip; just north of the San Juans.

    Ferries – Washington State, BC, and Alaska Marine Highway. None of these are operated by Royal Jordanian

  48. Take a look at this if your going to do Leavenworth
    Picked giant sand dollars on the beach in Westport, drive on the beach and do some donuts at ocean shores. But don’t be like me and get stuck in the sand :p
    Other things people have mentioned San Juan (Went to Orcas and Friday Harbor in the last month), on the way up to Vancouver White Rock is cool little place, it’s just west of the US/Canada border.

  49. Let me second the Columbia river recommendation, inland from Portland. I’ve stayed in a cabin at Carson, WA, and done dinner and wine tasting at Hood River, OR. Very pleasant towns, but it is the nature around there that is simply majestic.

  50. In Seattle: Fremont Troll (Fremont is an interesting area), Pike Place Market, Green Lake (mostly to people watch), Golden Gardens park, Seward Park, the Water Tower in Volunteer park. International District (Uwajimaya’s best store is there). The GIANT Goodwill store near the end of I-90. Alki! (eat @ Spuds)

    Around WA:

    Deception Pass (bridge, park, & beach). While near there, La Conner & Tulips (if in season. Fort Casey (all the old circa WWI forts around Puget Sound are neat)

    Northwest Trek.

    If going to BC, hit Bellingham WA. Great Bagelry (daytime hours). Many late night good food spots (college town), Dashi would be my pick (till 2 am). Jalepeno’s (501 W Holly) is good Mexican. Cafe Rumba is Peruvian (no ceviche last time I checked).

    Down by PDX:

    Stonehenge (bit far east in the desert) is worth a trip. Get the story on the old roads leading to it. Art Museum nearby (grounds worth a visit / museum depends on the show).

    McMenniman’s near Troutdale is interesting (heard the food has gotten pricey though).

    Longview WA, Monticello Hotel area: Squirrel suspension bridge, cute park, hotel had good food.

    PDX itself: All the “normal” suspects: Saturday Market, Voodoo Donuts, OMSI. I’ve been tempted to go to the vegan strip joint, just to say I had. Pearl district, Hollywood district (the Tuesday Morning in a basement is odd), trendythird.

  51. For good Mexican food try Ooba’s which is on 108th NE just South of 8th Avenue NE…it is in a dump looking building next to two tall office buildings on the west side of the street. YUM!

  52. @Lucky: Have you been to Issaquah?? It is a super faux city that makes Bellevue look like a sprawling metropolis! After about 11 p.m. you will be the only car driving on the road.

  53. “The weather the past week (of which I’ve been gone five days) has been stunning. And it’s not just the sun and the temperatures in the mid-60s, but equally the lack of bugs,”

    OOOOH! Don’t say that in (international) public! People will want to come, and then they’ll want to stay!!

    MileBucket and others says Hurricane Ridge — let me fifth that, and suggest a couple-day trip up to Port Angeles (at the top of the Olympic Peninsula) — it’s a good ‘jumping off spot’ for the drive up to the Ridge, for the ferry to Victoria (you can even just ride the ferry there and back for a fantastic boat-outing!), for Sequim, for the Olympic Mtns…. Just use it (or Sequim) as a “base” for day trips around the Peninsula. Hit Port Orchard on thew way up or down. You can use the Bremerton ferry to cross the Sound. If it’s sunny, hit Gig Harbor for a very pretty little town with an astonishing view of Mt Rainier (or Mt Tahoma, as the locals call it!). (And driving to Pt Angeles via Gig Harbor gets you across the Tacoma Narrows Bridge — ever see the old footage of “Galloping Gertie” — the older bridge that twisted and bucked, and then fell into the Narrows!?)

    You can make a fantastic couple/several day trip all around the Peninsula and see amazing things. (Also recommend catching the Tacoma ferry (Point Defiance Ferry) up to Vashon Island, then a lovely drive across the whole Island, and then the ferry back into Seattle. as yet another gorgeous way to go to or from the Peninsula. (Can you tell I used to live in Gig Harbor?)

    Oh, and the Dale Chihuly Glass Museum in Tacoma is great. (I love Tacoma, more even than Seattle!)

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