All the weeks of waiting for permissions and settings and design changes have finally culminated in tangible charts. Our dashboard is coming alive! This has been a quite timely occurrence, for we only have 2 weeks left and a big demo before we end our summer. Back-end, no matter how hard and exciting, rarely makes for a good demo without a satisfying UI/UX front-end. Our immediate team as well as extended leadership eagerly anticipates our metrics dashboard, so we’re trying our best to finish strong.

The first event of the week was Intern Hunger Games. It’s everything you imagine, except with Nerf guns and flag belts. We were told to begin lining up for the showdown at 4:30 PM. After tying my belt around my waist and wearing my black bandanna, I soon realized the actual event wasn’t going to start for another couple of hours. Apparently, the delay was so we could develop an interactive strategy to survive. I thought my time could be better spent, so I took public transport to the Museum of Pop Culture (MoPop). Neha — who leaves work absurdly late (relative to me)— was also on the way, so we both traveled into the city together. My favorite exhibit at MoPop was the Marvel showcase. It had cool statues and real set items from the Avengers series, the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise, and Black Panther.

Posing with Spider Man but for some reason no web came out of my fingers.

This week, we also had one of our Rice only intern events, hosted by our awesome campus recruiter, Brian, and university recruiter, Minji. We went to Alki Beach to compete in [Root]Beer Bike, a play on the Rice tradition of Beer Bike. We all rented out partner bike carriages and approached the start line. After chugging a Talking Rain each, Teju and I, pedaled furiously.

At the start line for [Root]Beer Bike!

The route was to a Hawaiian restaurant a mile and some away and back. Though we began super strong, on the way back, we met a random dude who wanted a ride for $1. We brought him on and the carriage immediately got heavier and thus harder to propel forward. Teju and I gave up on the race and chatted up this random guy instead. Once everyone had made it back, we all ate food from Marination Ma Kai — a Hawaiian-Korean fusion restaurant. Later, after some ice-cream and a gorgeous sunset, I carpooled back to Capital Hill to end the night.

A gorgeous sunset at Alki Beach.

I’ve been doing a lot of cardio lately, grinding just before college starts again. After working-out, on Wednesday, I crashed another Camp Microsoft group’s rooftop barbecue. I saw Neha there and even met a guy from Texas! It was really close to my apartment so I decided to bike through Lime. I must say, I was very impressed with the service: it was so easy and seamless and as a college student, it only costs $1/hr, which is a steal.

Later in the week, as a Camp Microsoft group, we all checked out the Envisioning Center. It’s housed in Building 33 — the executive business center — where Microsoft brings all its clients. The center itself is concept art, showcasing technologies Microsoft believes will revolutionize cafés, homes, and workplaces. We walked around highly intelligent boards powered by Cortana and new meeting spaces with wiggly chairs and hexagonal interiors.

An inspirational, highly aesthetic display outside the Envisioning Center.

The end of the week marked the transition to one of Seattle’s best party weekends: Capital Hill Block Party. The three-day festival was unique because it occurred at the heart and streets of Capital Hill, where I lived. In fact, on Friday, while on the way to the Connector stop to get to work, I saw people putting up fences and working on the main stage.

All the apartments near the concert stages got 50% off tickets and some apartments inside the fences got free tickets.

I was sure I wasn’t going to buy tickets because I could hear and see most of the music from the streets and my apartment, but in hindsight, I should have purchased tickets and sold them later.

After getting back from work, I immediately went to our rooftop to check out what all I could see for free. Unfortunately, the stages were just out of view, though I could see a swarm of people. There were just enough buildings to muffle the music into noise. I had to find a better spot, so I spent about an hour walking around the fences scouting for a good view. That’s when I met Ana.

I was standing beside one of the fences, watching some local band perform and the security guard nearby was getting more and more impatient. Luckily, I struck up conversation with a lady also watching — some might say more legally— from the entrance to her apartment complex: Ana. Her backdoor was 5 feet away from the stage and so she got free tickets every year for the inconvenience. She had no one to go with this year so she sold her passes and instead watched from her place. I don’t blame her. Long story short, I asked if I could watch with her and she said yes! I told her I’d be back later for Quinn XCII.

To satisfy our hunger, Edward and I tried our hand at grilling. We bought some lean beef and turkey and headed to the rooftop. The food was delicious and I felt like an American dad on 4th of July. Then we joined Ana to watch Quinn XCII kill it on stage.

I watched Quinn XCII for free from Ana’s apartment complex.

After Quinn XCII finished performing, I met up with Neha and her friend visiting from back home, Sarah. The headliner for the night was Dillon Francis but he was performing on the main stage. Ana led us to her main lobby which exited straight inside the fenced area. We were now inside the wristband-only zone with a clear view of Dillon Francis’s set. It was unreal!

We watched Dillon Francis shred the stage with his biggest hits — all from inside the fences.

Due to city law, the entire party had to move from the streets to inside venues like nightclubs and bars at midnight. After exiting the streets, we made new friends with some people in Ana’s building. One guy, Eddy (who has an adorable dog named Mr. Pepper’s) had a fire escape just outside his apartment. He led us up some old, rickety ladders until we reached the roof. We chilled there for a bit before heading back to my apartment. Neha and Sarah’s night didn’t end there but mine did — I had to get up early for Mt. Rainier the next morning.

Mt. Rainier as seen from Reflection Lakes.

Saturday was the annual, intern Mt. Rainier hike. Over 250 people had signed-up and I really didn’t want to hike with such a mass of people, let alone show up at Redmond all the way from Capital Hill at 8 AM for the bus. Thankfully, my amazing mentor and outdoor enthusiast, Vinh, was down to hike with me. He picked me up, along with another SWE intern on the team: Keyan. I caught up on sleep during the ~3 hour drive to the national park.

I made a new marmot friend — he responded to ‘Marvin’ so I guess that’s his name now.

Vinh has been to Mt. Rainier many times and loves it enough to take people again and again. I told him to guide us through his favorite trails to give us the best experience. We started trekking on the Skyline Trail, which began with a steep incline and then continued relatively flat. A few minutes into the hike, I had a close encounter with a cute marmot sunbathing on a rock.

Vinh doesn’t mind hiking trails at Mt. Rainier again and again because every time is different and he sees something new.

We took a short detour about 2 miles into the trail and branched off into the High Skyline Trail. Evident by the name, it followed almost the same path except higher. I was getting pretty hungry, so we stopped to eat lunch. At this point, a fog had consumed the entire mountain. We were in the clouds!

A surreal experience in the midst of the clouds!

We walked through a lot of snow and at one point I even slid down a slope — wearing a trash bag like a diaper. Once we had completed about half of the trip, we took another detour. Vinh promised us the extra mileage would be well worth it. Almost suddenly, the snow morphed into greenery, filled with trees and meadows. Miraculously, beautiful flowers juxtaposed a snowy backdrop.

Meadows of blossomed flowers filled the slopes.

While finishing up the last mile of the hike, we saw a few big tour buses and remembered all the Microsoft interns somewhere on the mountain. Just before leaving, I had to get a picture of me sitting in the middle of the road. It’s a reminder of how small I am compared to the nature around me.

I’m tiny compared to everything around me.

Vinh was nice enough to drop me back home and I was exhausted. I took a shower and then joined Edward for dinner at a ramen place right in front of my apartment: Betsutenjin — one of Heath’s favorites. After dinner, Patrick joined us and we headed to Neha’s rooftop party. The sun glow was real, so we took a cute squad photo.

I’m blessed to have such amazing friends (PC: Neha)!

The party was fun and I got to bond with some new interns, from both Microsoft and Amazon. I never get tired of the sunsets in this city, so here’s some beautiful orange streaks again.

The sunset from a rooftop in UW.

My Sunday started off slowly. I woke up late and cooked myself some breakfast. It was Sarah’s last day in the city and she desperately wanted to get out onto the water, so Neha took her on a ferry. I had already been to Alki Beach several times over the summer, but had never gotten there via boat, so I also joined. We realized we could take a water taxi for free with our ORCA card. Clutch! The weather was incredible and seeing the city from the water was breathtaking. Also, though it takes like 40 minutes to get to Alki from Capital Hill by road, it only takes 15 minutes by water (pro-tip!).

Shadows at the Alki Beach harbor (PC: Neha).

After some Hawaiian-Korean food, we headed back to see Two Feet at Capital Hill Block Party. Once again, we joined Ana from her sweet viewing point. The concert was awesome and Two Feetrocked it live. He seamlessly played riffs on the guitar while smashing the vocals to his songs. To end the night, we all got Molly Moon’s and chilled in the park. Sarah wanted a taste of Seattle ice-cream and we didn’t hesitate when picking the best.

Two Feet absolutely killed it live.

This past week was an absolute blast. It may have been one of my most action-packed weeks yet — complete with museums, intern events, sunsets, concerts, and outdoor activities. Looking back, I feel so accomplished and glad I’m spending quality time outside in the beautiful, breezy summer days.