Thursday, August 28, 2008
We packed a lot into this Saturday. We started off by eating at Dick's, because I can't visit Seattle without doing so. Then, I took Rick to Fremont and we checked out Archie McPhee. The pictures of us trying on wigs still makes me laugh. It was kind of a drizzly day, perfect for visiting the water, so we drove down to Ballard and hit the locks.
It's been a while since I visited the locks. There wasn't much boat traffic, so it wasn't as exciting as it could have been. Still cool, though. We also checked out the fish ladder, and there were tons of salmon going through. There were also tons of people crammed into the viewing area, and I uncharacteristically told of a kid for having no manners as he pushed past us on the stairs.
We looked around the botanical garden a little, but it soon started pouring. It as kind of warmish out, so I liked it. We met up with an old friend of mine for some fish & chips and beer at the Lockspot after that. I'd only ever had fish from the walk-up counter before and remember it tasting better than it did that day. Oh, well.
After we said goodbye to Chris, I drove Rick up to Gasworks Park in Fremont. The sky had gotten really pretty, and the water on Lake Union was kind of rough. We climbed up to the sundial and then went down to the bulkhead, as you can see in the picture above. I really like the views of the city from Gasworks. We didn't stay there very long, but it was nice. Does anybody know what the concrete arch thingies are there? I've always wondered.
After Gasworks, we drove back up to the U-District, where we saw a gorgeous full rainbow. I stopped on Roosevelt in front of the yarn store and took some pictures. Speaking of pictures, I look at mine from this trip and laugh about what I focused on and what I totally neglected to snap. I'm so weird sometimes.
Wednesday, August 27, 2008
We went to Canada on our seventh day, which was a Friday. It was an easy, quick drive up to Vancouver. We stopped on the way in Skagit County for a coffee, and I was surprised and happy to see Scott, best friend of my brother and sister-in-law at Starbucks. I knew he managed a store up there, but had forgotten and didn't know which one. It was nice to see him.
As we got back on the road, I realized that I'd accidentally pulled the hood release when I got out of the car at Starbucks. I knew my shoelace had caught on something, but didn't really think about it. Oops. Luckily, the hood just bounced a little as I got on the freeway, and we were able to pull off and fix it before it could fly open. Sometimes I astound myself with my brilliance. Let's just say this wasn't the only driving/car related snafu on the trip that can be credited to me.
We got across the border into Canada pretty quickly, for a weekend morning, and made it to Vancouver and parked off Robson with no real hassle. Then, we basically spent the day walking all over town.
Robson wasn't that interesting to Rick, with all it's shopping and stuff. Both of us were hungry, so we pretty much immediately went into Tsunami for sushi! I dug in immediately, grabbing my first plate from the boats before my ass was completely in my seat. Rick noticed that as people were seated at the bar, they all did the same thing as I had. I'd never really thought about it because who wouldn't grab sushi as fast as the could? And we did put away our most expensive meal of the trip in about 15 minutes, so I guess I'm right.
Then we decided to go into a couple of stores, like Roots, the custom t-shirt store, and the salmon place. Retail fatigue set in pretty quickly, though. Rick was interested in going to Gastown, and I'd never made it there before (Robson and Granville streets always suck me in for my entire visits). So we hoofed it up to the waterfront, looked at some big ships, and then found Gastown. It's smaller than I had expected, and not as nice (in my opinion) as Pioneer Square in Seattle. But we did have the pleasure of seeing a flotilla of junkies on a very stinky street.
After Gastown, we thought about walking to English Bay, but then decided to get the car and drive to Stanley Park, another place I'd always meant to see. After some navigational issues stemming from incorrectly guessing which streets terminate in a turn-only lane, we made it into the park. We basically just drove almost all the way around it, pausing for Rick to take a few pictures here and there, and finally parked at Beach Number Two. That's a pretty creative name, there.
I think I was getting tired at this point, and we ended up just walking up to English Bay and getting gelato and sitting near the beach for a little while. It was a beautiful day, and there were lots of people hanging out, but I was pretty much mentally done. I think I cut Rick's Vancouver experience a little short, which kind of sucks.
After collecting the car, we drove through nasty weekend traffic to the border, where we sat for over an hour waiting to get through the US side. Why is it so much easier to get into Canada than the US? I sort of forced Rick to take the wheel while we waited to cross, and he ended up driving all the way to Marysville.
After I took the wheel again, I drove him across the flats and stopped at Langus Park, so he could see the boathouse and the river where I rowed in high school. It was just dark, and it reminded me of being there after hours for high school shenanigans.
By then, we were pretty hungry and we wanted Burgermaster. I thought I'd be wise and hit the one in Silver Lake/Mill Creek because I thought it would be closer to my parents' place. I had forgotten how far east that place really is! It took forever to wind through the suburbs to get there. I should have just gone to the one in North Seattle and then turned around. But we made it with a half hour to spare before closing, and I had the tastiest cheeseburger I'd had in a long time and a root beer shake. So good.
When we finally got home, my mom had a replay of Olympics opening ceremony on, which we'd missed. So we watched that for a while before hitting the sack. I crashed so hard that night.
Sunday, August 24, 2008
i wonder if I'm going to make it through the whole vacation before I've been home a whole month.
Rick finally got a break from me for a while on Thursday, when Mom and I went to the spa. I finally got my haircut, and now that it's eight inches shorter and has more layers, I actually wish I'd cut more off. I really like my new hair guy, and think I'll see him again at Christmas. Gail did my pedicure, and it was amazing, as always.
After that, we visited my grandma, who seemed to be having a good day. The respite caregiver is nice, and I'm glad my parents have found good people to help take care of Grandma.
That evening, we had dinner out with my folks and my brother and his family before going to the Aquasox game. Unlike the Mariners, the 'sox seem to be having a decent season. The game was fun, and our team won. Weirdly, the online schedule said Everett was playing Vancouver, but when we got to the game, the opponent was the Tri Cities Dust Devils. Still cool and all, but we were hoping for some international rivalry.
You know what I like about baseball? It's a sport that's exciting to watch, but games happen at a pace that allows for lots of conversation. My nephew didn't seem too interested in the game, but he did want to explore the floor of the stadium. That kid is really patient for 18 months. He doesn't even really need toys to entertain himself--an empty water bottle will do. And plenty of attention. He definitely likes an audience for his jabbering. I liked playing with him, and seeing for myself how much he's learned and changed since I saw him in May. It's disconcerting that I'm missing so much of him growing up, but luckily for me, his parents are great about taking pictures and letting me know about his latest tricks.
Wednesday was packed with stuff. We started off the day earlier and went to northeast King County. The original plan was to take bikes and ride the Burke-Gilman trail to Woodinville to see the brewery and wineries, but I neglected to get the keys from my dad before he left for work. So I drove us over to Bothell, where we checked out the UWB campus. This was where we visited the first of four libraries I dragged Rick to.
From there, we went to the Red Hook brewery and took the tour. I'd never done it before, and found it to be less a tour than a lecture with plenty of beer drinking. I approve. Having five different beers I probably never would have selected for myself made me realize what I like. I've had samplers at McMenamins and Widmer before, but this time I paid more attention. For those keeping track, I liked the Blackhook porter and the Summer Blonde the best. After the tour, we proceeded to eat way too much food and drink more beer at the Forecaster Pub.
After that, we went down to the UW Seattle campus. We knocked around a little, going into both the Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Suzzallo, bringing the library count to three. Then we met up with Chelle for eats at the Thaiger Room and then walked over to the College Inn for librarian pub night, which was fun. I got to see grad school friends, Washington librarian friends, current colleagues from Wyoming, and a new friend from UNLV all at the same time.
From there, SJ joined us for some additional fun. Because we hadn't eaten enough all day, we went to Pies & Pints, where we had some good food covered in beer cheese sauce and terrible service from a cute, but distracted waitress/bartender. As always, it was great to hang out with SJ, and I think Rick had fun, too.
Thursday, August 21, 2008
On Tuesday, our first full day in the Seattle area, we got off to a slow start. Once we got some errands out of the way, we drove up to Granite Falls and hiked Mt. Pilchuck. Despite growing up a stone's throw away and even going to a high school with Pilchuck in its name, I'd never hiked there before.
It was a warm, slightly muggy day, but the tree canopy kept us shaded at least half the time. Hiking at much lower altitude was nice, as we breathing was so much easier. I wasn't a total superhero, though; I was pretty tired from three days in the car and was a little draggy and very sweaty from the humidity. We didn't summit, but it was a really nice hike.
Afterwords, we stopped at the fish ladder at the falls. Here, I did feel pretty awesome after walking up 88 steps without getting at all winded. The fish ladder here is kind of disappointing, as you can't see the fish. The falls were pretty, though.
On the way back to my parents' place, I jumped of Highway 9 in Marysville. I wanted to drive by my childhood house, but all the new construction in the area confused me and I drove right past the neighborhood at first. Weird. It's strange to feel completely disconnected from the place I lived for 18 years of my life.
On the way home, we picked up some pork chops and other stuff for a barbecue with my parents. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew came over, too. I think Rick had a nice time, but after two nights with my family, I think he was ready to get out and do something more interesting for his vacation. We'd been in town 24 hours and hadn't really gotten near Seattle.
Up next: beer, libraries, more beer, and pies and beer.
Monday, August 18, 2008
This weekend was great, kind of an extension of vacation. After getting home at midnight on Wednesday, I spend a little time in the office getting myself organized, but mostly I just hung out with friends. On Thursday, I had wonderful dinner with Addie and then met up with some more people for drinks. Then on Friday, I braved the rain to buy some veggies at the farmer's market before they closed up due to weather. Then there was a second night of drinks out, this time with a larger group.
On Saturday morning, Elsa, Rick, and I went up to the Snowies for some hiking on the Lakes Trail. The weather was cool, which was nice. It was still pretty wet from the rain the night before, so we got pretty soaked from the brush, but it wasn't too muddy. I'd never been on that trail before and I really liked it. There were tons of gorgeous views, even with all the fog and grey clouds everywhere. All the lakes made the mountains look even more amazing.
That evening, Addie had a dinner party, which was really fun. I can't remember the last time I met that many interesting, fun people in one night. She made Malian food, and it was delicious. Everything was awesome, actually.
Today, I met up with Addie and then Rick downtown for a bluegrass festival. Eventually, almost everybody I know was there. I had heard of some of the bands, but had never heard any of them until today. All of them were great, and I even danced to Jalan Crossland. Fun times.
I can't believe I have to go to work for real tomorrow. Maybe two weeks of vacation was a bad idea, because I don't want to go back.
So, we entered Washington. I made the stupid mistake of driving through Spokane instead of avoiding it like the plague. We were on Highway 2, also known as my favorite road in the land, but I didn't realize I should have taken I-90 to get past the Spoke. Anyway, that burned up about an hour we didn't need to waste. This was a theme for the whole day.
I know I'm totally biased, but Washington state is gorgeous. I think Rick liked it too, especially how the landscape kept changing as we traveled west. A friend camping in Chelan invited us to stay there and play in the lake, but we didn't feel like we had the time to spend. I would have liked to just stay the night there and continue on in the morning, and in retrospect, it would have been a great idea. Instead, after some unnecessary driving around in Wenatchee, we stopped at Lake Wenatchee for a very brief swim, which was a nice break from the car. I also drove through Leavenworth, so Rick could see the weirdness of a fake Bavarian village packed with tourists.
The drive through the North Cascades was stunning, as always. Stevens Pass is such a pretty one, and it was fun to show it off to somebody who had never been to the area. We jumped off 2 in Monroe and hit 405 to get to my parents' place. Again, a good plan in theory, but I should have gone all the way to the end of the highway in Everett and taken surface streets down to Lynwood. Rush hour in the PNW is much more annoying than the fifteen minutes of tiny congestion we get here in Laramie. We got in to my folks' place just before 8pm.
My parents had dinner ready for us, and we ate outside in their newly arranged outdoor dining room, which I love. I really miss eating all my meals outside all summer and fall. Rick and my parents got along well, and the dogs even mostly behaved themselves. It's always difficult to predict how they'll react to my friends. Abbie's really jealous, and she's been known to whine and moan if anybody sits next to me. She did stick pretty close to me. Nala immediately adopted Rick as her new best friend, sitting at his feet at dinner and then sleeping outside his bedroom every night. I wasn't a blip on her radar.
We were pretty tired after all that driving, so pretty much the only things we did after dinner were bring in our stuff from the car and figure out our plan for the next day.
Friday, August 15, 2008
We got up and ate breakfast with Mary Ann before hitting the road for our longest driving day of the trip. From the research station, we drove through Yellowstone. We didn't stop in the park, but we did get to go slowly enough to gawk at the scenery. If we'd seen any big animals, I'm sure we'd have stopped. Strangely, we didn't see much either in Teton or Yellowstone. Last year, I saw a bear, deer, bison, and more.
Because we were headed for Montana, we exited in West Yellowstone, where we bought the most expensive gas of the trip. We called it "tourist gas." Then we headed out on I-90. We'd both heard that Butte is a cool town, so we decided to wait to eat until we got there. It was a very cute little town, but it took us a while to find a park. Finally, we found one with a gazebo and had our picnic lunch. We sort of lollygagged a bit, but finally had to get going in order to make it to our destination before dark.
The drive through Montana was beautiful. We were driving alongside water almost the entire time. I'd been on the I-90 stretch once before, but this time, we headed up north to an area I'd never visited before. We reserved a U.S. Forest Service fire lookout in northwestern Montana, on the top of Yaak Mountain. It's pretty close to the Canadian border, so it was way up there. The scenery was gorgeous, but we were both nervous about driving up the mountain and packing into the tower in the dark and we were getting tired of being in the car.
We finally arrived at the mountain around 8pm. It took a little time to find the FS road, then we had a slow, steep drive up on gravel. The road was in great shape, though, and we managed to get there and our stuff inside before dark. We even had time to take a little walk before it got totally black out. We saw some grouse and a deer, as well as some tiny little rodents that moved very, very quickly. We also saw some scat that let me to believe something large was around. Freaky!
I had been worried about climbing a ladder to the tower. Actually, I was more nervous about climbing down four stories in the dark to get to the outhouse, truth be told. But we had stairs, so no biggie. The sunset was pretty, but my pictures didn't turn out very well, I'm afraid.
Dinner was sandwiches, fruit, and beer and was fun. We didn't stay up super late because we didn't think to bring cards or anything to keep us entertained in a cabin with no electricity. Being a lookout, the place was all window, from knee high to the ceilings, so I expected the sunrise to wake me. I actually woke up before dawn and got some pics of the sunrise, but Rick refused to leave his sleeping bag to join me.
After our yummy breakfast of greek yogurt (a new favorite thing) and granola, we had to get going. We both wished we had more time to hike and stay another night. We realized what a cool retreat that place could be. Imagine getting away and just writing up there. In any case, we left and headed toward Sandpoint, Idaho, about 30 miles away once we got to the highway.
Once on the road and coffee-ed up in Bonner's Ferry (great name), we were off. We ended up stopping for second breakfast in some small town in Idaho, not too far from the Washington border. What was it called? Priest something? Rick, help me out. I ate my weight in hashbrowns and biscuits and gravy for about $5. Not bad. It was about this time when we turned our clocks back an hour to Pacific time, so we experienced 9am for the second time that day.
This is really part of day 3, which I'll get to next.
This will take a while and likely be filled with more detail than strictly necessary for anybody but me. I'm doing it anyway.
We started out early on Saturday, at my insistence. We'd spent much of Friday shopping and other last-minute errands and mostly packed the car, so we were able to get on the road before 7am. I've made that drive before, but it's one of the prettiest I've seen in Wyoming. I especially like the mountains as you approach Lander.
We took a break for a picnic in Dubois, but managed to make it to the research station by 1:30pm. When I pointed out how much of the day we had to spend in the park and asked Rick if he was glad I made him leave so early, he said, "No!" I don't believe it, though. We went for a walk up over a hill with a great view of Jackson Lake and the Tetons, and sat on the dock drinking beer and eating chips with our hostess, Mary Ann. It was great.
Then Mary Ann took us to Two Ocean Lakes for a walk on the trail. There were tons of wildflowers, and Mary Ann knew what they all were, which was really cool. On the way back, we stopped at a lookout and saw a huge herd of elk. We also saw some herons that day. It was really nice. Rick and I headed to the dock to catch the sunset before dinner. It got dark pretty quickly, and I was amazed, once again, at how bright the stars were.
We had a late dinner with Mary Ann and her sons and their girlfriends. We had great company and before long, a few hours had passed. We were really tired, and opted not to have drinks on the dock. Once we settled in our bunk beds, I fell asleep immediately and slept really well up there in the quiet mountain air.
13: number of amazing days
600: number of dollars spent on gas
4.06: average price in dollars, per gallon of gas
6: number of U.S. states visited
1: number of Canadian provinces visited
15: national forests visted/drove through (Medicine Bow, Bridger-Teton, Flathead, Gallatin, Helena, Kootenai, Coeur d'Alene, Targhee, Colville, Okanogan-Wenatchee, Mount Baker-Snoqualmie, Wasatch-Cache, Umatilla, Wallowa-Whitman, Boise)
2: national parks visited (Grand Teton, Yellowstone)
4: beers consumed by me
12: cups of coffee consumed by me
1: hikes taken
1: city bus taken (Metro #70)
1: rainy days
3: days above 90 degree
1: meltdown by me
1: times swimming
36: dollars spent on most expensive meal for two (Tsunami sushi)
3: dollars spent on least expensive meal for two (Dick's Drive-in)
*NOTE: I just realized I messed up this map. We really took US-2 from Montana and across Idaho and Washington, not I-90.
Tuesday, August 05, 2008
This was a view at dawn on Sunday. Waking up on top of a mountain in a fire lookout with 360 degree views is definitely a cool thing to experience.
The road trip is well underway. Day one was amazing, and the two that followed were good, too. I think the driving time was pretty long, but I don't regret planning it that way because I wouldn't take back anything we saw and did along the way. Well, maybe driving through Spokane. That was pretty unnecessary.
More to come!
Friday, August 01, 2008
Here's the plan, stalkers. I'm so excited I can't even explain it to you. I've been trying to scheme out how to see everybody I know and love without totally hijacking the trip--after all, it's Rick's vacation, too. If you're one of my PNW friends, I can't wait to see you! Everybody else, expect tons of pictures.