Puget Sound for the uninitiated

k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love.2^<3Registered User regular
edited May 2013 in Help / Advice Forum
Hi.

I've seen a lot of threads about the Seattle area, so I figured I'd pollute this forum with another one.

I'm moving to Puget Sound (near Bellevue) starting next month for a summer internship and have inquiries about various topics. I'm going to have much more disposable income and time than I'm used to, so I'm trying to fill it up with actual productive/fun activities rather than fueling my typical self-destructive and reclusive tendencies. Never been to Seattle, so figured asking questions here is better than parachuting blindly into foreign terrain.

* Public Transportation (i.e., I don't have a car):
How is the public transportation to and fro Seattle and Bellevue and within the respective cities? I'm not expecting to own a car, and will be commuting within Bellevue for the majority of time. But, I do wish to visit Seattle on the weekends and possibly in the evenings during the week. Am I in for a lot of pain? Also, how does it work? Should I get like a monthly pass or whatever? Where do I buy these?

* Getting my first driver's license (segued from previous question):
Due to a variety of shitty factors, I'm one of those people who never got around to getting their license. I've gotten a permit multiple times, and generally know how to drive, but could never coordinate a driving test. Would this be feasible to achieve in Washington within the course of three months? Is it worth it?

* Biking:
I'm not going to bring my bike, but would very much like to cycle to work and for fun. Is there somewhere you can rent a bike for three months or borrow one for free? How bike-able is Bellevue?

* Recreation:
- Hiking/Outdoors: I'm really into mountain biking, so if there are nice places to do that I would like to know. Also, what parks are generally nice to go hiking and such?
- Bellevue: am I going to be bored out of my skull in Bellevue? Or is it generally self-sufficient in terms of, you know, doing stuff. I'm the type of guy who is usually pretty satisfied with a decent movie theater, non-shitty bookstores, and a coffee shop.
- Cultural: Museums/landmarks I should visit?
- Food: I'm a huge foodie, so pretty much anything that's good or unique to Seattle.

* PA: I know PA HQ is around there, and obviously that doesn't mean I can just walk up and stalk their offices (although....). But are there any PA-oriented social activities to partake in? I know it's a generally decent community so I thought I might ask.

* LGBTQ: I know it's a fairly progressive/liberal city, so this is kind of a no-brainer. But, I'm not really into the bar scene (also, I don't drink); was wondering if there is any very low-key events to just meet people in the LGBT community.

* Drawing classes/cartooning: I'm an absolute n00b when it comes to drawing. I've no pretensions of going on Strip Search next week or anything, but wish to develop rudimentary skills to be able to communicate ideas visually and/or comical way. Are there any open classes anywhere that offer this that I could take in my free time?

Thanks!

k-maps on

Posts

  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    I don't know Bellevue specifically, but for the Seattle area, public transportation (at least to me, having escaped from georgia before moving there) was really great. I could get pretty much everywhere by riding the ferries and buses. Here's the site for your info: http://metro.kingcounty.gov That should cover pretty much everything you'd need.

    Also there's a LOT of great hiking and biking opportunities in the area. The Cascades are just east of you and they are the mountains that all mountains aspire to be, with waterfalls and glaciers and pointiness and lovely evergreens and wildlife and a few volcanoes (don't worry, mostly not active). And yes, you can take the bus: http://www.wta.org/hiking-info/basics/how-to/how-to/how-to-bus-hike

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    For the most part, bus service on the east side (anything on the east side of Lake Washington, which includes Bellevue) is spottier than in Seattle proper. This is largely due to the east side being more suburban sprawl and less densely populated. It will largely depend on where exactly you live regarding how (in)convenient it is to bus into Seattle, you're looking at about 40 min to an hour once you actually get on the bus depending on the route and how traffic is. For the bus system, I'd recommend getting an Orca card which is an electronic fare payment card that works on pretty much every transit system in Seattle and surrounding areas (Community Transit, Everett Transit, King County Metro Transit, Kitsap Transit, Pierce Transit, Sound Transit and Washington State Ferries). With the orca card you can either put a monthly pass on it and then you get unlimited rides (but only for the system you got a pass for), or you can just load a balance onto the card and then every time you swipe it, it'll deduct the correct fare and automatically track your transfer for you. Loading an e-balance is going to be more flexible as it'll be accepted on any of the above transit systems, but if you ride a particular system pretty much daily, then it may make sense to buy a monthly pass for that system. You can just get a Puget Pass on the card, which also covers all the transit systems for the month but is also quite a bit more expensive than just getting a monthly pass for one system that you primarily use.

    Being on the east side, you'll mainly be using Sound Transit which does include routes into Seattle, but once you're in Seattle then getting around will mostly be on King County Metro's system. So that can be a bit of a pain if you're getting a pass.

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  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    @Druhim: Thanks, that's about what I wanted to know re: public transportation. It takes me about a month usually to figure out the ins and outs of a new public transportation system (depending on complexity and spottiness). I think I will get the Orca card as you suggested, and then get an appropriate pass depending on my weekly commuting patterns. Since everything is still so nebulous, I will wait a week or two to figure what to use, and opt for the flexibility of an e-balance meanwhile.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    And you can reload the card online after registering it on the website. There are also machines you can use to load more balance onto the card, but those are only downtown at the tunnel stations.

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  • RankenphileRankenphile Passersby were amazed by the unusually large amounts of blood.Registered User, Moderator mod
    Bellevue, Redmond and Seattle are all very positive to bicycling, and there are a lot of paved and off-road trails to explore the region. If you do get a car, it will grant you access to tons of great parks and trails. We're right in the foothills of the North Cascades, and there are a ton of hills and state parks within an hour's drive that offer lots of great mountain biking.

    Museums? We have quite a few good museums and other landmarks. SAM frequently has new awesome exhibits, the EMP/Sci-Fi Museum often has cool things going on (although it's fairly expensive, much better to wait until they have an exhibit you really want to see), lots of other good stuff.

    LGBTQ community: Can't speak to it personally, but Seattle is extremely lgbtq friendly. Do some looking around (or pick up a copy of The Stranger, Seattle's weekly culture newspaper) and you'll find something, I'm sure.

    Art: There are a lot of different art programs in the region, from regular classes to casual drop-in events like Burlesque Life Drawing and all sorts of other stuff. If you're into digital art, lots of folks from ArenaNet offer classes at FuturePoly in Bellevue (I think), where they teach all sorts of art for the games industry. There is an absolute wealth of structured and casual opportunities to learn more about art.

    Food: Good golly, Seattle loves a foodie. Especially if you like sea food. There are tons and tons of great places to eat, great markets with fresh meats and produce and spices, lots of places that offer cooking courses, all that good stuff.

    Druhim covered transit. It's not bad, and you can definitely get around once you get the hang of it. Getting the app OneBusAway is basically a must, although Google Maps app does a good job of helping navigate transit, too.

    As far as PA events, there's, you know, PAX. Not a lot beyond that, although there are probably lots of small events for little subgroups that form on the forums and such. I think the Enforcers have a few parties a year, if you join up with their crew.

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    Druhimmrt144RoyceSraphim
  • MayabirdMayabird Pecking at the keyboardRegistered User regular
    Re: food

    Try some geoduck if you can find any. It is pronounced "gooey-duck" and you will earn one point for saying it correctly.

  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Rank mentioned the SAM which is a great museum, and there's also the Seattle Asian Art Museum extension up on Cap Hill. Both have free admission on the first Thursday of each month!

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  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    Also, if you're jonesing for some really solid, old school sushi (no modern fusion stuff like avocado) with old school service at a reasonable price (still pretty expensive, but a great deal for the high quality) then hit up Shiro's in Belltown. This is not trendy, modern sushi.

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  • grungeboxgrungebox Registered User regular
    There is a group called Seattle Gaymers, I think through Facebook or Meetup. Try that maybe? Seattle is super LGBTQ-friendly. I know some of my friends organize a board game night at the Raygun Lounge on Tuesdays, it used to be and maybe still is co-hosted by Seattle Gaymers. I moved away last year so I'm not sure of the status.

    Seattle has lots of foodie places, not really in Bellevue. Peruse the Stranger for tips, Ballard or Capitol Hill are arguably thr centers of that stuff. A few off the top worth visiting are Quinn's, Skillet, and Smith Pub. There are probably better suggestions than those.

    I think the PAX forum on here has a pinned "meetup in Seattle" thread for anyone in the area. I went to one a few years ago in downtown and had fun, but I was definitely a bit above the median age :)

    Quail is just hipster chicken
  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    Thanks guys, looking forward to it.

    Now, to find a place to live...

  • DehumanizedDehumanized Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    When you get in the area, do yourself a favor and get to Paseo. Arrive early. Bring cash.

    Both their locations would leave you in a good area for a day of sightseeing or hitting up various local establishments.

    Dehumanized on
    Usagi
  • Pure DinPure Din Boston-areaRegistered User regular
    k-maps wrote: »
    @Druhim: Thanks, that's about what I wanted to know re: public transportation. It takes me about a month usually to figure out the ins and outs of a new public transportation system (depending on complexity and spottiness). I think I will get the Orca card as you suggested, and then get an appropriate pass depending on my weekly commuting patterns. Since everything is still so nebulous, I will wait a week or two to figure what to use, and opt for the flexibility of an e-balance meanwhile.

    You might also want to check with your internship to see if public transit is included. I think that's standard for places like Microsoft or Amazon that have lots of perks, and even for smaller places it's pretty normal.

  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    edited May 2013
    @Rankenphile: thanks for all the awesome tips. Never heard of OneBusAway, which you wouldn't think given my carless existence.
    @Druhim: I will murder for some honest-to-God sushi, or any fresh seafood for that matter. I've been landlocked for too long!
    @Dehumanized: now you have me intrigued.
    @Pure Din: I'll look into it, although I'm pretty sure they decided just to give me a lump sum to take care of everything. Which is actually nice because I get to allocate my own resources, and keep whatever is left. I'm trying to be less of the dirt-cheap student I usually am though.


    k-maps on
  • RikushixRikushix Registered User regular
    @k-maps: You're in luck, you'll find good sushi in spades. It is the Pacific Northwest after all. Inhale all the salmon you could ever dream of!

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  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    Oh god, so much good sushi in Seattle, and it's pretty cheap. Also the concept of Happy Hour is taken to awesome heights in a lot of places.

  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    @schuss: Psyched about the sushi; unfortunately no drinking for me ]:.

  • schussschuss Registered User regular
    k-maps wrote: »
    @schuss: Psyched about the sushi; unfortunately no drinking for me ]:.

    I was actually talking about Happy Hour food, to be honest. I was in Seattle last week and both Ume Sake House and List were 50% of normal cost during happy hour(s).

  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    Oh, didn't know this was a thing. I'll def look out for those then.

  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    I have arrived. So far I've been to Elliot's which was pretty amazing. Some of the best crab cakes, oysters, and ceviche I've had in my life! Now to find temporary housing for three days until my lease starts....

    Druhim
  • DruhimDruhim Registered User, ClubPA regular
    You should also head out to Ballard sometime and have dinner at Ray's Boathouse. Great seafood with a fantastic view, especially during sunset.

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  • RoyceSraphimRoyceSraphim Registered User regular
    edited June 2013
    Druhim wrote: »
    And you can reload the card online after registering it on the website. There are also machines you can use to load more balance onto the card, but those are only downtown at the tunnel stations.

    They are also reloadable at the Bellevue Transit Center, many of the sounder train stations, and a few transit centers like Federal Way, but not Renton Transit Center.

    Driver's License
    Seattle is filled with a lot of people getting enhancements for Canada passes so any time you get it will be useful. They are also quite popular and will make the lines longer than they seem. If the staff are smart and confident, they will divide the lines shortly after opening and make things move faster. It would be pragmatic to get it because while there are a lot of bus routes, there are substantial gaps in service once you get out of Seattle and get into the weekend. As a biker, the community is quite open and ready to give advice. I recommend Ghy bikes because they are near my house and I have given them lots of money.
    k-maps wrote: »
    * LGBTQ: I know it's a fairly progressive/liberal city, so this is kind of a no-brainer. But, I'm not really into the bar scene (also, I don't drink); was wondering if there is any very low-key events to just meet people in the LGBT community.

    There's a substantial difference in Seattle between nightclubs, bars, and lounges.
    Nightclub: Loud music and booze, some places call themselves lounges but they are nightclubs. Can't talk over music.
    Bars: Drinking and pool. Can talk between booze.
    Lounges: Drinking, live music, and talking. Can talk whenever you want and make friends.
    Before you go anywhere, find out about it from friends, coworkers, and past police reports.

    RoyceSraphim on
  • superhappypandasuperhappypanda Zug Island Sport Fishing SeattleRegistered User regular
    @k-maps. If you'd like someone to give you a tour of Seattle and show you around Ballard, gimme a PM. I'm between jobs right now and am coasting on my severance so I've got tons of time right now. Ballard is awesome.

    As for not drinking, I wouldn't worry about it. Even going to some of the bars and whatnot around town and just having a Coke will help with getting to know folks. There's also coffee bars all over (and tea if you don't drink coffee).

  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    @superhappypanda: PM'd you.
    @RoyceSraphim and @Druhim: duly noted. I'm loving the Orca card, it's super convenient! I wish I had this in my home city. I'll check out Ghy when I'm finally settled down. Thanks.

    Druhim
  • k-mapsk-maps I wish I could find the Karnaugh map for love. 2^<3Registered User regular
    Just a short followup.

    @Druhim: For the record, Bellevue is mostly King County Metro as well, so a pass for that system pretty much covers all my needs. Alas, the public transportation outside Seattle is pretty spotty. Reading the schedule is as reliable as a horoscope, but between gmaps and onebusaway it's okay (sort of ..). With a bike+bus it's actually not that bad to get around, but you can't stay outv later than 11PM because then you'll be stuck when the buses stop at midnight.

    @grungebox: <3 the Raygun lounge. I went there with a few friends of mine on a whim without realizing you had mentioned it. Apparently they are still having gaymer events on Tuesdays, so I'll probably check it out at some point. I generally <3 capitol hill..it can get a little too hipstery at times, but mostly it's the right geek-to-hip ratio with tons of cool bookstores, places to eat, and generally friendly atmosphere. It also helps that it is essentially the lgbt capital of Seattle. Ugh, I will miss this place. For POSTerity, anyone going there should check out Ada's Technical Books. So. Rad. I'm infatuated.

    @RoyceSepharim: I've had only the best experience with the DOL. I already have my learners permit and on my way to getting my license. All my interactions with them have been extremely efficient, electronic (when possible), and painless. Do not take this for granted; other states are so fucking backwards about this stuff.

    I kind of just want to turn this internship into a job and call it a life. But noooo....I'll SHOW YOU THE LIFE OF THE MIND x 15

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