Nixon’s toilet

Dave - @9:48 pm

And so we find ourselves on the final full day of our trip. Tomorrow is the flight back to the UK, which will be the usual drudgery of dragging luggage around, sitting around waiting for things to happen and being generally dehumanised by the airport experience. So today was our last chance for tourist fun in Seattle.

As it was, we both got to today having exhausted all of the things that we wanted to do in Seattle and so we were at a bit of a loss for how to fill the time. We decided to Google around for things and found that Seattle’s Museum of Flight was a highly recommended way to spend half a day, so we decided to travel down to the south end of the city to visit.

With no car we were forced to rely on public transport to make this journey which, in Seattle, means figuring out the bus system. My only previous experiences of travelling by bus in the US were the film Speed and a particularly terrifying ride from Malibu Beach to downtown LA a decade ago, which skirted the edges of Compton, Inglewood and seemingly every area of LA that hip-hop rappers have spend decades portraying as deeply scary places. So I was a little apprehensive.

As it was, the bus service in Seattle is lovely – straightforward to figure out and regular, with friendly drivers that let you know when you’ve reached your stop. We arrived at the Museum of Flight with no trouble.

The museum turned out to be huge, and concerned itself not only with exhibits on aeroplanes, but also had a huge amount of space stuff. There was a genuine Soyuz capsule, which had very obvious markings from re-entry burns, an ISS training module and the Space Shuttle cargo bay simulator. It was all very interesting, especially the stuff on the moon landings.

The aeroplane section was similarly fascinating, consisting of a huge exhibit hall with full planes strung from the ceiling and parked on the floor. A couple of these planes had cockpits that you could climb into and play around. Naturally, I jumped at the chance to do this and patiently waited my turn, but found that I was consistently being beaten to it by the endless school children that were also visiting. Eventually, Michelle had me form a queue with the other 9 year olds and gave any kids that were thinking of jumping it the skunk-eye until they hastily changed their minds. Yay! Gave my best Top Gun thumbs up and played with the “stick” for a while.

You can be my wingman any time.
You can be my wingman any time.

By far the most interesting section was the Air Park, outside the museum itself. This area had a number of actual planes parked and open for wandering around in. These included a Boeing 787 Dreamliner (which was huge but not particularly interesting) and a Concorde (impressive, but surprisingly normal inside). Best of all was the Air Force One plane used by Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon. It was fascinating to walk around the control panel that might have been used to approve nuclear strikes or see the toilet that Nixon presumably launched a few of his own missiles into.

Great men did great things in here.
Great men did great things in here.

For lunch, we stopped by the museum cafeteria and ordered a couple of pita sandwiches. One of the odd things we’ve noticed about eating in the US is their peculiar bread. It seems that they have an array of bread types that any European might expect to find (pita, pannini, baguette) and they all look perfectly normal when viewed from a distance. But if you actually touch them, they all seem to be made from the same kind of foamy, white bread material. The bakery aisle in a supermarket is like a wax museum for bread – it looks right, but everything there is just a painted facsimile.

Odd bread aside, we really enjoyed our trip to the Flight Museum and definitely recommend it.

On the way back to the AirBnB condo we’re renting, we were unexpectedly joined in the lift by the building concierge. You’ll remember that we’d previously been given instructions to not mention AirBnB or anything to do with AirBnB to the building residents and its staff. So we were a little uncomfortable when the concierge introduced himself and asked us how long we were staying. Surprised, I trotted out the arranged cover story about staying with a friend and discovered in the process that I am useless at lying under pressure and made a mental note to never have an affair. The concierge raised an eyebrow and was clearly not even remotely convinced. We hastily exited the lift, scampered back to the apartment and spent the rest of the night expecting a knock at the door and a hasty eviction or something.

As it was, nothing untoward happened, but it was a little annoying to have that as a worry on our final night. I like AirBnB, and our two experiences were mostly excellent on this trip, but in future I’d definitely stick with houses rather than apartments.


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