Monday, October 29, 2007

Museum of Flight

Sunday 10/21/07: A fun learning experience at the Museum of Flight in Seattle. Nate, Shaun and I spend our times there longer than we intended to. It's interesting to see not just how much Boeing has contributed to history of aviation, but also to World War I & II and Space Research (NASA). We enjoy walking through the history of aerospace, viewing from Boeing's first airplane to the world's fastest jet and NASA space ship.

One of Boeing's earliest planes, equipped with wooden propeller.
Early  Boeing plane

Lockheed SR-71, a.k.a "The Blackbird", is claimed to be the world's fastest jet ever built. It can fly 3 times the speed of sound. Currently no longer in service.
SR-71 - Boeing Museum

Another no-longer-in-service jet: Concorde, a co-production of France and Britain, the fastest commercial aircraft.
Concord - Boeing Museum

Concorde stretches 6 to 10 inches at supersonic speed.
Concord - Boeing Museum

Friday, October 26, 2007

Vancouver "Bumpy" Road Trip

My friends Nate and Shaun from Kansas City are over for a conference in Seattle. They decided to fly here a few days earlier to hang out with me and tour the Northwest. It's a good opportunity for a reunion since I left Kansas City 6 months ago. One of the top things we've planned to do is to visit Vancouver, Canada since it's only 3-hour drive away.

Friday 10/19/07 6:30 PM: Off we go on a rainy evening. Shortly after we pass Seattle my car is making a rattling noise I never heard before. The noise seems to come from the AC fan. I am like "Oh O! This isn't good.". So I have to pull over, pop the car hood, and take a look. We still can't seem to find what causes the clicking noise. So we decide to go buy some tools from the auto shop nearby to do further inspection. We still couldn't find anything after a thorough look at the fan and things around it. But this time the noise is gone. I guess we magically fix it. We joke about quitting our jobs and open a mechanic shop :). We think this could be some little thing stuck in the fan and just fell off.

So we continue our trip to Vancouver. Everything seems to go well and we get to the USA-Canada border. Surprisingly, we see a long line of cars ahead of us and a very slow bumper-to-bumper move across Canadian border. Oh Canada!! An hour later, we're still in the line. Then suddenly I hear something snap from the front of my car as I'm trying to turn to cut the line. My power steering is not working anymore. The Battery light is on. The engine temperature gauge points to Red which indicates the engine is really hot. This time is serious. But I'm getting close to cross the border. I can't just stop in the middle of hundreds of car. I want to cross the border, get out of the endless line and take a look at the car or get my car towed to Vancouver.

Half an hour later, without much choice, I manage to drive my car across the border despite all the problem indications. We stop and take a look at the car again as soon as we cross the border. Still we don't find anything breaking or leaking. We're only about half an hour away from Vancouver. We continue to drive for about a mile but the engine temperature gauge is pointing red again. So we decide it's better to stop driving and call a tow truck. Twenty minutes later the tow truck arrives. The truck driver seems friendly and asks us what is wrong with the car. Fortunately he knows something about cars. After taking a look in the hood, he points out that the Serpentine Belt is missing and is the cause of all these problems (Now it makes sense to me: the rattling noise as it's wearing out and the snapping sound at the border as it broke). He says getting the new Serpentine belt replaced is not very expensive and will fix the problem. I'm relieved to hear it's not somethings major with the engine system. But if I kept driving longer, the engine would likely be fried.

Now my car is being lifted and towed and the three of us are riding in the truck by trying to sqeeze in the passenger seat that supposedly accommodates only two people. The truck driver recommends to get my car fixed at Canadian Tire as they do "first come, first serve" service 7 days a week so that I probably can get my car fixed by tomorrow. Trying to cheer us up, the driver does the guiding tour for us as well while we're heading our way to Vancouver in the middle of the raining night. But all these don't come in cheap.

Eventually we get to Vancouver, drop the car off at Canadian Tire, pay the expensive tow (but admittedly the tow guy was really helpful to my car) and check in our hotel around 2 AM. Exhausted and hungry, we order the pizza and pass out immediately after.

The next morning we check out the hotel, walk around the city, take some pictures and do the local brewery tour at Granville island while waiting for my car to get fixed. Vancouver is a beautiful city indeed despite the cloudy and rainy day. The city's hype, the surrounding nature and the architectures are well blended with each other. At about 2pm I get a call from Canadian Tire that my car is fixed. What a relief! Our plan doesn't get ruined! We then go get the car and drive back to Seattle and go to the NBA game (Seattle Supersonics vs. Houston Rockets) as planned. It feels good to drive and be on the roads again!

Shaun, Myself and Nate at a park in Vancouver.


A little celebration after going through all the troubles.
Grandville Brewery, Vancouver