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Roadtrip 2014 – Day 6

April 25, 2014

I have been anticipating and waiting for this day for quite some time. Ever since flying back from San Diego back in 2012, and hearing that this place existed, it’s always been in the back of my mind, hoping to one day come to the front. Today was the day!

We started today by heading out to Everett Washington to go to the Boeing Future of Flight and Factory Tour! Yep! We got to go to the largest building (by volume) on the planet, and see where they build airplanes! Katherine summed it up quite well when she said today “You know that they have to build them somewhere, but you never think about how big the building has to be!” Today we found out!

It’s a short drive from Seattle, I’d say around 30 minutes to the Boeing Factory. We arrived a little early, so they put us on a tour early too! First thing though, no cameras, or cell phones or any electronic devices are allowed anywhere on the tour, so we had to leave them in lockers. So sorry, no pictures of the tour, although we have pictures of their future of flight exhibit after the tour!

It starts with a short 6 minute video clip that talks about how a “first class, sailboat trip took like 14 months to cross the ocean, and how Boeing took over 10,000 hours off that trip with the first of their big airplanes. It was a good video, ending up with some summary information about their latest jet, the 787.

Then we hopped into a bus, and headed over to the assembly building.

We actually had to walk through a large tunnel under the building to get to this massive elevator so we could look down on the assembly floor from above. (I apologize in advance, but my writing will not do this place justice, so bear with me!)

The first line we saw was the 747-8 line. The original 747 was first built back in 1970! Yes, 1970! That’s like 44 years ago, and they are still building them today, although much updated. We watched how they assemble each piece, and then put them together in an assembly line fashion. They are massive! And they’ve built a lot of them! Number 1,500 was just about complete and ready to come off the line and head for painting! FYI – something like 6 millions parts goes into a 747.

Then we went over to see the 777 line, which is more modern, and this one is built on a moving assembly line! The line moves at about 2 inches per minute, and they figured they’ve become much more efficient in building them. One of the cool things of this line is the fuselage and nose section are actually carried and worked on parallel (physically) to each other until assembly, and then the plane is attached together and finished. One thing that we found interesting is the firstclass seats (before they are installed) actually have red Lamborghini colours to differentiate between coach seats. The tour guide says this is because they cost as much as a Lamborghini!;)

Finally we got to see the latest 787 assembly line! Many things were fascinating about the 787 including that it is not made of aluminum or metal like all the other planes, but rather a carbon fibre composite “skin” that is super light. It has great range. The lighting inside is setup to simulate your destination, so you can start getting acclimated and reduce jet lag. The windows are HUGE (like 60% larger) and rather than pull shades, they are electronically dimmed (closed) or made transparent. It’s a super efficient plane, and much lighter than anything else.

We were all very impressed!

One of the things that really stood out to me was each plane had a massive “sticker” on it, I would say at least 10 feet long, and 4 feet wide that said which airline it was being built for, and how many they had received in total. Like “This plane is going to British Airways, it is the 13th of this model they’ve received” It was amazing.

After assembly, they are taken across the road and painted, and then tested, and delivered.

It was truly awesome, and if you are ever in the area, you really need to check it out – you can’t go wrong! (Other than be prepared for a lot of walking!)
This first picture is of the three of us on the roof of the future of flight building, looking across the runway at the many many planes currently in testing, or awaiting pickup. It was super windy, so we didn’t stay up there long!
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Katherine checking out one of the many informational videos:
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A Rolls Royce Engine mock-up
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Here is part of the landing gear – check out how big the tires are!
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A mock-up of the inside of an airplane, so things can be tested like how the seats fit, etc.
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These pictures are an actual 747 cockpit. None of the electrical components are connected to anything, but you really get a feel for how complicated flying one of these is, and how cramped everything is! It was hard getting Josh and Katherine out of there! Everything physically worked including the yoke, and all the switches and levers!
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Here you can see the size of a cross section of the 747:
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As we were driving by, we snapped a quick picture of the assembly line building. We just caught a small portion, but it’s a reminder for us!
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We had a great time at the Boeing Factory and did a lot of walking!

We were starving by now, so we stopped at a Taco Bell / Pizza Hut for lunch:

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After a short break at the hotel, and a little bit of swimming, we headed over to the Space Needle. This is only about 2 blocks from our hotel, so we walked over!

It was GREAT! We had a 360 degree view of Seattle, from 520 feet up! But the folks who run it have done a bang up job making things more interesting! There are free telescopes and binoculars mounted outside all around it, so you can look around and zoom in on points of interest. Inside there are a couple of TV’s connected to remote-controlled video cameras outside, so you can look around and see lots! there are touch screens with pictures of Seattle, and things you can click on to learn more information! There is even a four screen panoramic picture of Seattle, that you can change the time on and see what the view looks like at different times of the day, in 1 minute increments! So you can see traffic moving, boats coming and going, sunrise, sunset, mid–day, mid-night. It was fantastic! Plenty of times you do these “tower” visits, and after 5 minutes you’re like “Now what?” We were up there almost a full hour and a half, and if it hadn’t been so windy outside, we likely would still be up there! Everyone should make this a must-stop part of their Seattle holiday!

Here are our tickets!
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Katherine and Josh outside the observation level
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One of the interactive displays
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We took this green screen picture, and could put us in any background!
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Josh making yet-another-pressed-penny
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We finished off the evening with supper at a seafood place. We’d all been looking forward to some good seafood on this road trip, and tonight was the night! We went to the Crab Pot restaurant, on Pier something, down by the ferries! It was a packed house, and they can pack a lot of people in! We had to wait about half an hour, but then we had the most fun at a meal all week long!

I had a cup of Clam Chowder, they say it’s the cook’s special recipe that he’s been using for over 30 years – and it was spectacular! Definitely the best Clam Chowder I have ever had! And no fishy after taste! Just scrumptious! Then Katherine had a Salmon Taco, and Josh and I shared Snow Crab Legs!

Get this, they put wax paper on the table between you, give you bibs, a fork, and a mallet each, and then they dump a bowl of crab legs, potato’s and corn on the cob right on the wax paper! I have never seen so much crab at one time! There were FOUR huge chunks of FOUR massive Crab Legs! Josh and I ate and ate and ate! It was truly incredible, and the best crab I’ve ever had, and so much meat! We were a mess, and Josh was laughing and grinning the WHOLE time! The three of us had so much fun eating and visiting and commenting on the amazing taste of the food! We even splurged and shared a mud-pie for dessert. (Hard to believe normally one person can eat the helping they gave us)

We had so much fun eating and visiting, it was definitely Josh and Katherine’s highlight meal of the week!

Posing for pictures outside the Crab Pot

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Found this guy waiting too:
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Still waiting for a table, with our sad faces
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Josh digging into the bread we had before our meal was ready
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An incredible feast of crab! And one person is supposed to eat this?!!!
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Todd and Josh in our post-crab eating frenzy
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Our mud-pie dessert
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Today was such a fun day to share with Katherine and Josh! Everyone finished with big smiles on their faces, and looking forward to our last day in Seattle Friday!

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