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Wednesday, September 20, 2000

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Visiting Boeing

I took Lauri's car to visit Boeing and couldn't get it started this morning. I always forget that you have to hold the clutch down to start it since I could just put the pickup I had into neutral and start it. I went back up and she came down and started it right away. I felt bad since I got her out of bed. It turned out to be a drizzly kind of day so I was glad to have a car to drive.

My son is on loan to Boeing in Everett right now so he got me a ticket for the tour but when I got there he had a ticket for that afternoon since they were very busy that day. I decided to drive up the the medical center since I had forgotten my volkswalk books yesterday and needed to get them stamped, then I wandered around Everett because I always find it interesting to see what a new town is like.

Everett seems to have been built on a hill next to the waterfront. On the east side it falls into the valley that I-5 runs through. It's a blue collar town due to it's origins in shipping and lumber and now aircraft manufacturing and industry. The whole county is rapidly becoming a bedroom community for Seattle but the waterfront and farming towns have been around long enough to still keep much of their own character.

Touring Boeing was very interesting. There was a film that showed a speeded up view of putting together an airplane, then they loaded us on a bus to take us to the main building which is the largest building, by volume, in the world. It is huge. We walked under it quite a ways in the maintenance tunnel and then took an elevator up three floors to a deck above the floor to see planes being put back together.

It is really amazing to see how big the planes are. These are the 700s, up to the 777s, and they dwarf the people working on them. The one right below us was a cargo plane since it had no windows. It never occured to me that they made them differently for cargo or passengers but it does make sense. I used to work at an aircraft manufacturing plant but we just made executive jet props which would look like toys next to these.

Watching people in a large plant like this work is like watching road crews work, they don't like they're doing anything most of the time. Working on a plane isn't like an assembly line as it takes them several months to put a plane together and, I'm sure, people were doing all kinds of things inside the plane, but where we could see it just looked like people were wandering around and talking to each other. One guy was doing stretching exercises and people in golf carts were wandering around.

Then we walked back to the bus and they drove us around the grounds and across a bridge that crosses WA-526 and is built to carry the weight of the planes. There were a couple city buses waiting to pickup the workers. I noticed there were a couple buses that only ran at rush hours to Boeing. One went down to the ferry so there must be quite a few people who take the ferry to work.

On the other side are the paint sheds and rows of planes that are waiting for finishing, testing or pickup. They are tested from Paine Field which is next door. My son said he got to go on his first test flight a couple weeks ago. The pilot and copilot are the only ones on the first flight and then the engineers are on the second one with a console of testing equipment that is bolted in. He said his attention was split between the screens and the scenery.

I had noticed a larged wooded area when I took the bus into Everett and drove into it to find it was like a miniature rain forest. It's called Forest Park on one side but changes to another name down by the water, which I don't remember. That it was drizzling made it seem more like a rain forest but it looked like a great place to hike through. Just driving through was refreshing.

Today is what I have been told the weather around Puget Sound is usually like. I rather enjoyed it. I don't know if months of it would drive me up a wall but I've always enjoyed drizzle and fog and months of blue sky in Tucson irritate me and make me wish for some nice gloom.

I also read two more books today. I love having time to read on vacation. Too often I'm moving so fast I don't have time. "Deception Pass" by Earl Emerson was the first one. I picked this one up at Powells since we stopped at Deception Pass the other day to take pictures of the great looking bridge. This is a Thomas Black mystery in which he tries to find out who's blackmailing a client even though she won't tell him what she's being blackmailed about. Thomas and his wife, Karen, the lawyer who got him into this find they've become involved in the backlash from a very high profile, vicious crime from several years ago. Questions arise as to how saintly their client, a high profile philanthropist, really is. This is an excellent book and watching the action take place in locations that I've been to this year made it all that much better.

The next book was "Bloody Kin" by Margaret Maron. Maron is always so good and I enjoyed this book thoroughly. Kate has come back to live at her dead husbands's farm in North Carolina, carrying his child. Among loving friends she finds quite a bit of animosity and fear and then a stranger is killed that is linked to her husband's service in the Vietnam War. There are thefts and attempted murder before the mystery is resolved. I don't think I've read a mystery by Margaret Maron that I haven't liked.

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(c) Rachel Aschmann 2000.
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