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Mon
22
Feb '16

Trip Report: Winter Break With Bliss – The Train Home

After a lovely couple of days in Santa Fe, it’s time for the relaxing train ride home – and our train is on time:

And before long, Bliss and I are settled into our compartment which is called “The Family Bedroom“, meaning no toilet/shower en-suite.

Here is the diagram from the Amtrak sight so you get a feel for the room configuration:

The Family Bedrooms are on the lower level and stretch side-to-side so you get lots of pretty picture taking opportunities:

Here is a short (one-minute) clip of the above…

As the sun goes down, we head into the dining car for dinner:

We both had the steak dinner and got our desserts “to-go” after dinner. Meals are included when you book a sleeping car. And it is nice to be able to stretch out – AND have a place to put your luggage since se don’t have any children with us.

Slumber time followed by a 5am breakfast call – because of the schedule it’s a short (1-hour) breakfast – and I noticed MANY of the Sleeping Car passengers just skipping it. As for me? I just went back to bed after.

Train was early into Los Angeles’ Union Station so we hung out in the Metropolitan Lounge in the station – it’s for the use of Sleeping Car passengers and Business Class passengers on the Surfliner.

9:30 they rousted us to the platform. It’s a bit of a hike, but walking was quicker than waiting for Red Cap service – and since we’ll be sitting for the next two days, best to walk.

Our train (The Coast Starlight) backing into Union Station:

After getting settled I took a shower (down the hall) which I probably should have down after breakfast on the Southwest Chief. I might have been less cranky. Or maybe just a Screwdriver with a splash of Pomegranate Grenadine:

Orange Juice (and coffee) courtesy of Amtrak. Each Sleeper Car has a coffee pot and juice station. These days it’s only orange juice, in the past it was orange, apple, and cranberry AND actual oranges and bananas and the complementary mini-bottle of sparkling wine when you boarded. Yes, the quality has gone down on Amtrak trains in the last couple of years – no amenity kits any longer as well.

But where did we get the Pomegranate Grenadine? Well, in addition to the 6 bottles of hard liquor I bought in Santa Fe, and the 6 bottles that Bliss bought – my sis-in-law also gave me the remnants of my late mother’s liquor cabinet. If you are keeping score, four people have given me their liquor dregs (one in recover, one dead, two people moved). No bourbon left, but things like the Grenadine, Blood Mary mix, Crème de Menthe, odd mixers…

Next up, a Bloody Mary with cracked pepper on the top (courtesy of Alaska Airlines – for the pepper) complete with swizzle sticks (courtesy of Cathy Pacific and oddly in my laptop bag):

Beautiful views as we sit down to lunch. The section between Los Angeles and Santa Barbara is really stunning:

And lunch isn’t bad (these would be the bar-b-qued lamb shanks with garlic mashed potatoes and a side salad, plus iced-tea…

More scenery shots from our room after lunch:

Tanks of Fire Water – like moonshine? And the rolling hills outside of San Luis Obispo:

San Luis Obispo is also a smoke stop (or in our case, a stretch your legs get some fresh air stop):

Random tourist, the guy in the engineer’s hat is a regular at the station – not an employee, but “challenged” guy with a love for trains (notice train band radio attached on his back pocket), and our conductor Joy – who I’ve had before so he knows the drill (with the help of a $20) about keeping us stocked with ice – LOTS of ice:

While we are stocked on booze and ice, after several days on the train we are running low on Ginger Ale – luckily, after dinner we are passing through Emeryville and a couple of texts to Lunetta & Onyx, we have more mixers, and a wine shipper (much better than the WalMart cheap duffle I bought in Santa Fe) and a bonus of a bottle of their Honey Mead – and a platform visit!

And said box of supplies:

Time for bed as the Emeryville stop is at 10pm.

Breakfast at a more reasonable hour (7am) but I still went back to bed after:

Because outside it looked like this.

By lunch, the weather has improved:

But we are an hour behind schedule because of signal problems in the mountains (most likely from the now). Every Amtrak trip I have to have the Angus burger at least once:

It’s a mouthful but I cut them in half.

I’d planned on getting out for a stretch in Eugene, but when I got to the door – it was dumping rain. Back to the couch for me.

Almost an hour late getting into Portland – and rain – a parked a long way from the terminal, no Metropolitan Lounge in Portland stop for me this trip – and they cut the time of the stop in half to make up ground.

The downside of the current Coast Starlight schedule is with an 8pm arrival time in Seattle you have dinner service starting at 5pm – and we had lunch at 12:30. For dinner I opted for the crab/shrimp cakes like the previous night’s meal (more shrimp than crab), but without the side salad – and I still only made it through one of the two cakes – still full from lunch!

In the end we were only ten minutes late into Seattle where we split up and ordered up Ubers home. (Click on the word Uber to sign up and get a free $15 ride).

08:32pm
269-299 S King St, Seattle, WA
08:47pm
1029-1045 S Rose St, Seattle, WA

CAR
uberX

miles
6.41

TRIP TIME
00:15:01

$15.00 from the Amtrak station to my house – not bad. I’m sure Bliss’ was less than $8.00.

[215.0]

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Fri
19
Feb '16

Trip Report: Winter Break With Bliss – The Beginning

One of my self-serving pay-it-forward (can you actually do that?) is to put together trips for friends (and me) who are of more limited means – example – friends of mine who are teachers, lower level office workers, etc. This week’s trip is for my buddy, Bliss, who is on winter break from the school where he teaches IB (International Bachelorette) English to high school kids. Talk about a 12-hour-a-day job plus weekends grading all those college-level papers you’ve assigned.

He needs a break. And it doesn’t’ start well – his alarm didn’t go off. Luckily (for me) we are:

  1. Travelling separately to the airport
  2. On different record locator for our flights

Luckily I’d been texting him my progress through the morning and he finally got a clue it was time to get out of the house – and he’s a SLOW one in that regard. That said, I can chill in the Board Room. If he misses his flight, he can try for the Tuesday flight. Breakfast is served! Well, OK, it was self-serve with the exception of the Red Baron, which they have to make:

Followed by one of their world-famous Bloody Marys:

He finally made it with just enough time to slam down two drinks – which he’ll need since he’s in coach and I snagged an upgrade to my favorite seat (1C). Funny thing happened at the end of the boarding process – a customer from the shop (Madrona Wine Merchants) went flying down the aisle with her daughter in tow. Later I can to find out that her daughter noticed me and said to mom, “The think I just saw our wine guy sitting in First Class.” Bliss used miles (plus I think $5 or something like that for a ticketing/tax fee), I had a $138 one-way ticket – which when you end up in First Class for the non-stop Seattle to Albuquerque isn’t bad.

Nor was lunch:

It was only a two-hour flight, but it was nice to get a hot sandwich (and a couple of cocktails).

Landed, grabbed bags, grabbed the shuttle to the Rental Car Center (I hate those things – a giant time sink), got what they call an economy car (Nissan Altima with Bluetooth phone connection) and off to Santa Fe we head. With a stop at Albertsons where I picked up four half gallons of Evan Williams and two fifths of Swedka Vodka, a six-pack of Vernors, and a twelve-pack of Canada Dry Diet Ginger Ale – Bliss picked up six (count ’em six) bottle of Jose Cuervo Cinnamon Infused Tequila, which he likes, and was on closeout, and got an additional 10% for buying six (as did I).

To save on expenses we are staying with my sis-in-law who is married to my bro-in-law. How that works is that she is my dead brother’s widow, and Kennan is her husband. It’s amazing to me that this extended family likes each other, actually loves each other, warts and all – and enough to have me AND a friend stay over.

Tonight’s dinner is:

Minus the dressing step which makes me want a crock pot – guess I should forward this to Salamander and DancingBear, who do have crock pots.

Beautiful sunset before dinner:

Watched the Academy Awards and the Pruett/Souder/Girdner clan headed to their usual early bed.

Slept in, and then it was off for some sightseeing that included hiking (yes, I said HIKING)

I was surprised that on a Tuesday afternoon in the middle of February that the parking lot would be close to capacity!

Best fuel ourselves up with a Green Chile Cheeseburger at the gift/snack shop at Bandelier National Monument:

Messy but good! I feel a Trip Advisor review coming on.

As I do every couple of years I decided to purchase the yearly National Parks Pass which has some useless name like “The Inter-Agency Multiple Park Pass”. The real name is Interagency Annual Pass (aka The America The Beautiful Pass) – but here it hangs on my rear view mirror. It was $80, but the entrance fee to Bandelier was $20, so all I have to do is visit Rainier (where a car is $30) a couple of times and it will have paid for itself. I find it odd that the individual park entrance fees have gone up, but not the price of the pass. I try to buy my passes at the smaller national monuments because they get to keep a chunk of the pass money and they need all the help they can get.

Bad shot, but you get the idea – I put this on mostly for my buddy Sierra who is a park ranger. Speaking of which, he is at Denali this summer – might have to use the pass again up there!

I’ve been to Bandelier many times but this is a first for Bliss – a lovely day for a light hike:

It’s a pretty amazing place just an hour twenty minutes from Santa Fe, very close to Los Alamos if you want to combine a trip – no time for us this round.

Got back to the house in time for cocktail hour before Jen and Kennan got home from work to make Ginger Scented Shrimp (sorry, no recipe or picture). And then after dinner drinks:

I guess we know where my priorities lay…

Up earlier the second morning in Santa Fe – want to hit a museum or two before we leave for Albuquerque in the afternoon. But first, breakfast at Tia Sopia’s just off the plaza. Bliss had the Wednesday Breakfast Special (quesadilla) and I had the Green Chili Stew with flour tortilla:

Tia Sopia’s is just across the street from the Lensic Theatre where my mother often saw shows:

Bliss really wants to see and original Shakespeare
Folio at one of the museums – it takes us two museums to actually find it – both pretty much on the plaza of Santa Fe – and both members of the North American Reciprocal program which I got because of my Tacoma Art Museum membership (see blog post here on what I saw and why I joined).

The Folio itself was not terribly inspiring…

And the rest of the surrounding exhibition looked like an afterthought – they should have combined the two exhibits (there was peripheral materials at the New Mexico History Museum), but it was nice to spend some time downtown…

After the musems, it was time to return to Albuquerque, and because we had the time, stop by the Gruet Winery for some bubbles! Some of you will remember my post from December on the sparkling house the Gruet built. I didn’t even have business cards with me this trip but we managed to get the production manager to AGAIN give a tour – when I found out the disgorgement line was running I got super excited. This is the process where they freeze the necks of the bottles and blow out all the yeast before adding back a little wine and sugar to get the bubbles going.

And then onto popping the corks, refilling, and cork/wire/label:

So fun to see the process in action – and so fun to taste the results!

The unlabeled bottle is of a “no dosage” Rose sparkler – the advantages of being in the business is you get to sometimes taste “experiments”. I highly recommend stopping by for a visit if you are in Albuquerque.

They even have a little museum of old champagne equipment:

But we are on a schedule – next up is to find some distilled water for Bliss’ C-PAP machine, grab lunch (the Sonic Burger joint does a Green Chili Cheeseburger that is REALLY good), gas up the car and return it to the airport – did I mention gas is cheap in New Mexico?

Dropped the rental car and hailed an Uber for the trip to the train station with our many bags and boxes.

Next up, the train from Albuquerque to Seattle via Los Angeles.

[? ? ?]

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Sun
26
Jan '14

My Dinner With Bliss.

Someday I’ll have dinner with my friend André, but in the meantime it’s “My Dinner With Bliss”.

And yes, there was a lot of talking – over cocktails before and the chicken and asparagus for dinner.

How’s that for a weird selfie… at least it’s a great picture of Bliss (and yes, you can take that both ways).

Had I not left my phone on his coffee table and had to go back for it, it would have been a perfect evening.

[208.6]

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Wed
18
Sep '13

And Back In The Air For A Blissful Dinner In Seattle.

No upgrade on the return – actually a downgrade from 6C to 30C – at least when I got to the airport there was a middle exit row seat available. Who thought a 4PM flight would be so popular? I was number 14 of 46 people wanting upgrades.

Waiting in line for my flight – goofing around.

What went down to California as wine came back as whiskey – that should hold me for a bit. Got the box of booze and picked up the car and headed to Senor Bliss’ place for dinner. Well, I though he was cooking, but instead after a couple of martinis we went out to Manhattan, a Capital Hill steakhouse.

Oddly enough we both had the exact same meal:

  • Barrel Aged Manhattans (when in Rome)
  • Wedge Salad (iceberg with blue cheese dressing, bacon and tomatoes)
  • The Steak Oscar (5oz filet mignon topped with crab cakes and hollandaise sauce, served with mashed potatoes and asparagus)

And we passed on this, though it sounds great:

  • Cornbread Blueberry Cobbler

Was home around 9:30 but not before snagging this off the side of the road – a bidet. I didn’t take the matching toilet as it had a broken lid and there was no room in the car… who would leave a perfectly good bidet by the side of the road?

And why would I pick it up.

[? ? ?]

 

 

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Sun
7
Jul '13

Wild Sunday At The Shop.

And Dinner With Bliss!

Well, it wasn’t the usual Sunday at the shop, early stuff, middle stuff, late stuff. Four digits on a Sunday – record news.

Guess “Sunday Sippers” is working out. Or its summer, or ….

After work it’s off to Señor Bliss’ place for cocktails on the roof:

Yes, that is a sliver of the Lake Union in the background.

And a close-up of the cocktail tray. Yes, in the background is the Saké from yesterday. Now made into Tokyo Martinis.

Mr. Bliss isn’t teaching so dinner wasn’t hurried – that just means that I’m home late.

Tomorrow is another day.

[205.2]

 

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And Dinner With Bliss!

Sun
9
Jun '13

Dinner With Bliss.

Sucko day at the wine shop – I think the weather has everyone gardening and not sipping wine.

First sale wasn’t until almost three, and we open at eleven. Last hour was good, just needed several more good hours.

Swung by Harbor Freight on the way home – zip ties (which I didn’t know I needed until I saw the price) and a couple of four piece anti-fatigue mats that I like to use camping.

Tonight’s dinner?

A pork tenderloin covered in bacon spread from Skillet:

$14.95 – click on the photo to go to their website. This was a gift from Swanda – we used it as a topping on last night’s rib-eye steaks (with deviled eggs and green bean salad). Let me tell you … it kept the tenderloin moist and tender.

After dinner we did something I haven’t done in what feels like years… watched a DVD. An oldie but a goodie.

This movie came out the year I graduated from high school (1974) and it is as funny today as it was then. Click on the DVD cover for more information about this wonderful Mel Brooks comedy. And I did something I haven’t done in a decade — made popcorn for two people who try and avoid carbs. I didn’t even know I had popcorn kernels – must be left from a couch surfer.

Maybe I should reinstate movie night….

[206.6]

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Sun
5
May '13

Sunday Dinner With Bliss.

Art opening this afternoon at the shop, leading to a decent (for Sunday) sales day.

After work it’s steaks off the grill and coleslaw al fresco – the first outside dining of the season. The reason, it hit 83 at the airport this afternoon.

And this just in from Saturday’s party, a picture taken by the birthday girl:

How odd that FaceBook puts a black border around pictures. That would be me on the right, wearing my derby-day hat.

[206.2]

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Sun
24
Mar '13

Work.

Dinner With Bliss.

Cocktails With Swanda.

Sunday at the shop wasn’t too bad, not as good as the last three Sundays, but respectable for a Sunday.

A big shout to Swanda – today’s “whale” who called in two orders (first was six assorted Sauvignon Blancs under $15, second was for two Proseccos, also under $15) over the course of the afternoon. It’s nice to have some people’s credit cards on file in the safe for these “emergency” white wine orders.

After work it was off to dinner with Bliss – grilled chicken, asparagus, salad, wine – after a martini, of course. I’d ask him to read scholarship applications but he’s an International Baccalaureate teacher a local high school – just what he needs: MORE papers to grade.

Left around 7:30pm so he could get back to grading those papers – a task that fills most evenings and weekends. After seeing his workload I have extreme sympathy for every high school English teacher.

Next stop the apartment – two weeks til Swanda moves. I see boxes awaiting filling, but with only 600sq/ft it won’t take long. He shared some interesting news which I’m not going to share – let’s just say, things are looking up.

Home by 9:30, in bed by midnight, for tomorrow I work at 10.

[207.2]

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Dinner With Bliss.

Cocktails With Swanda.

Sun
30
Dec '12

My Dinner With André At Bliss.

Dropped Sven in Pioneer Square at the Klondike Museum, the smallest National Park in the system – a store front museum really.

After the museum he was headed to the Seahawks game. He wanted to see a US football game, though probably didn’t realize exactly how expensive a good ticket at a football game where the team is headed to the playoffs… $242 is the answer ($131 was the original ticket value). But he got a good seat:

Yep, that’s the 50 yard line. Definitely a great seat – first row of the “charter” section.

Meanwhile, I went to work for a “morgue-like” day. Don’t know what it is about Sundays that are so slow.

Off at five and over to Bliss’ for My Dinner With André, who was visiting from Portland with his boyfriend. Sven showed up a few minutes after me a bit chilled from being outside all day – good thing the meal is homemade chili with cornbread muffins. Nice warm comfort food.

A couple of bottles of wine later it was home, with Sven nodding out about 11, and me about 12:30.

[210.8]

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Sun
25
Nov '12

Dinner With Bliss And Friend.

OK day at the shop – at least I made better than last year in sales. Maybe I should stop tracking day/week comparisons to last year. People buy or they don’t, we market, sometimes hit helps.

But the high spot of the day was dinner with Bliss and a friend of his. Cocktails (the olives in the martinis were our salad), and the tasting bottle I brought from the shop (no good by Wednesday) to accompany a lovely stew/soup with tiny cornbread muffins from scratch – and yes, I succumbed to the lure of carbs, cornbread carbs.

It was an early night as Bliss has a ton of papers to grade – the joys of being an International Baccalaureate English Teacher.

Tomorrow is a champagne tasting in the afternoon and then dinner with Daniel.

In the meantime, I dream about the next motorhome, the Airstream Interstate that seats 8 for travel, 2 for sleeping.

Now, if I just had a spare $120K.

[212.8]

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Sun
18
Nov '12

Dinner With Bliss

Most of the day was as dead as a morgue at the shop, even with the art opening for Suze’s sky paintings… luckily there were a couple big spenders at the end of the day that pulled us to where we needed to be. The odd Sunday conundrum – how to get more sales on Sunday. Maybe I should open a nice bottle and call it Super Bottle Sunday.

Off to a dinner with Mr. Bliss after shop hours. Chicken parmesan minus the noodles as we are both on low-carb routines, a little asparagus, a nice salad, and the remnants of the tasting wines from today.

I did get a chance to scope out the condo next to his – 1300 s/f, two bedroom, $399K, $700 monthly maintenance dues… think I’ll keep my little place in the hood.

Back home before 8 to print up the postcard calls for the winter gathering.

[214.8]

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Sun
29
Jul '12

Work, Then A Last Minute Dinner With Bliss.

Today’s big excitement at the shop is the closing reception for the current artist at the show. Not much of a wine drinking crowd, so I bugged out at 4:30 since Jim and Suze would be taking down the show after closing. Let’s hope they at least bought some wine on the way out (the art patrons that is).

It was so quiet for sales during the reception that I had time to book a return ticket on BoltBus from Portland to Seattle in late August — cost? $6, plus a $1 transaction fee. Had I gotten it together a day ago, could have picked it up for a buck (plus the $1 transaction fee). The first seat on each bus is sold at a buck, and since my ticket is A-02, that means I missed it by one seat. The A is for first boarding.

Home to start working on dinner with a stop at Safeway that changed the menu. Was going to be chicken breast BBQ’d with a nice green salad. Turned into to racks of ribs and cole slaw.

Looks yummy doesn’t it?

What I can’t believe is that we finished both racks with the exception of one lone rib.

[209.7]

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Sun
20
May '12

A Blissful Dinner After Work.

Slow day at the shop even an hour into the Greek Wine tasting, then it picked up – blame the weather? Finished out the day not too bad – half of our Saturday take. Guess I should really thank our bus driver customer who can’t come in the shop but gave me his credit card number and told me to pick out of case of interesting and varied white wines for him to try as he’s switching from red to wine to cut down on the teeth stains. A little Gruner, a couple of different style Pinot Gris, an unoaked Chardonnay, a little vino verde, a Torrontes – a nice mix. In the box I also put the tasting notes for all of the bottles so he can keep track of what he likes.

Today’s picture:

Hard at work picking wines.

After work (Jim stayed to close) which I’m thinking about moving to 6PM on Sundays as we always have a little rush at the end, it was off to see Bliss for cocktails and dinner. A little salad, some grilled asparagus, some grilled pork loin and three partial bottles of wine from the tasting – a white with the salad course, and the two reds with dinner.

A stop at Swandas to fix his CPAP machine and it was home before 11.

[212.9]

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Sun
22
Apr '12

Sunday Dinner With Bliss.

Opened the shop this morning and we were pouring four wines in honor of Earth Day, and on the way out I packed out some of the excess boxes – a constant problem. What you can’t see is that the front passneger seat is full of recycling as well.

Tonight’s dinner is with Mr. Bliss – and this is the view from his rooftop deck (well, the building’s roof top deck):

And with Mr. Bliss himself hanging out in the sun having a cocktail:

Dinner was a lovely large salad of greens with some chicken breasts and the remaining wine from the tasting bottles.

I have a great idea for a hallway table for him, now I just need to sand and finish the slabs of black locust, which apparently glows under black light.

[210.4]

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Sun
11
Mar '12

SunDay At The Shop

SunEvening Blissful Dinner.

Slow day people wise at the shop, but OK moneywise as the guy who ordered a case of moderately expensive French wine last Sunday paid for it this Sunday, but since he’s a Metro driver, I had to deliver it after dinner since he also lives in South Park.

I had time to get the website revised, adding some specials to spice up the front page (http://www.madronawinemerchants.com), downloaded a bunch more of my photo archive from Ovi (who is stopping that line of their business), and got two more issues of Sign of the Times artwork scanned into the system.

Dinner tonight with Mr. Bliss took an amusing when I went to take the foil off a bottle of white, to completely take off the top of the bottle:

And the closeup:

Ouch. After that we just decided to move to Prosecco:

Which really bubbled nicely in SurfBetties pilsner glasses.

Dropped off the wine after dinner and ended up chatting with the customer, who has some seriously nice inkjet printing technology in his house.

[213.8]

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SunEvening Blissful Dinner.

Wed
29
Jun '11

The Dinner Parties Continue.

Bliss Is In The House.

Today was cleaning day with Moonsong. Slowly but surely he is scrapping 50 years of accumulated burnt on crap off my Wolfe Range. Not my burned on crap, the previous owners burned on crap.

After a year of nagging from MoonSong I finally ordered replacement filters for my vacuum cleaning… the set of four set me back almost $50 with shipping. Good thing I only need them every 10 years (should probably do them every couple of years.

Another purchase was for car camping. I would have stayed longer at the Longhouse Gathering this May, and probably longer at American Ridge last year had I one of these puppies:

I was online looking for camping cots when this popped up on Amazon. I’d really like the wider, longer version of this, but it has a different folding leg mechanism which doesn’t break down small enough for my trunk. This one clocks in at 7″x7″x39″ when packed in its bag, or you can just use it as a cot. And yes, you can click on the tent and go right to Amazon and order one for yourself.

Here’s the description:

Versatile Kamp – Rite Collapsible Combo Tent Cot spells elevated comfort! Fully assembled, it’s a Tent and comfy Cot in one for full “above ‘n below” protection from weather and wet ground. Don’t need the cot? Simply unzip the tent and use it separately. Using somebody else’s tent? Of course the cot section works by itself too. Smart! More: Sets up in about 3 minutes, however you use it; Heavy-duty powder-coated steel frame; Rugged 210D nylon tent material, with no-see-um mesh on all windows and entries; Fully taped seams and included rain fly make sure you stay dry; Folds down to just 39 x 7 x 7″; Bed size is a roomy 80 x 28″; Triangular windows can be closed while inside the tent; Superior-quality clips, buckles, and corrosion-resistant buckles; Includes ground pegs, rain fly, and carry bag; Fully-assembled size is 80 x 28 x 42″h. Weighs 15 lbs. 300 lb. weight limit.

And in TRULY INTERESTING NEWS my former house a.k.a. “The Church on Lopez” is back on the market after the current owners truly pimped the place out. New roof with rigid insulation, skylights, hot tub/spa, and all for only $100K more than I sold it for, and I’m guessing they spent most of that in the upgrades. Check out the pictures:

http://www.windermere.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=listing.listingDetailUpdated&listingID=130115991&paginate=true

Tonight’s dinner guest is Bliss (as his last name) for a roast chicken dinner with broccoli and some fresh bread. And, of course, we had to do more product testing on the martini glasses before dinner.

[229.1]

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Bliss Is In The House.

Sun
18
Feb '07

Day 4. Bliss?

Amazing how routines are easily established.

Coffee, Computer, Lunch, Soak, Nap, Cocktails, Dinner, Show, Cocktails, Sleep.

A meltdown last night… napped out of site of most, trying to get back to bliss.

Soon, the real world will be coming back. But not now.

Fri
8
Sep '17

Home Report: Hospital Time

Many of you know my aversion to hospitals – and my one week in town has me visiting TWO friends in the hospital and or in-patient rehab for long periods of time.

My long-time friend and travel-buddy Bliss fell off a 22-foot ladder, found by his neighbor at his Hood Canal cabin, MedEvac’d from the beach by float plane (no place to land a helicopter). Coma for a week and a half. He won’t even be able to put any weight on his left leg until the 9th of October. Cracked pelvis, 3 broken ribs, screwed up left wrist. It’s going to be awhile before he is back at home, longer to get back to teaching. Lots of Physical and Occupational Therapy. Oddly enough, he’s in a Kosher care center, his room has a beautiful view of Lake Washington, and he’s 15 minutes door-to-door from my house (closer than his apartment!).

One visit — it was Physical Therapy time (which is a couple of times a day).

When I was there last – he was finally in own clothes.

As for Dwight, another long-term friend and occasional travel-buddy, after a week plus, he is still in the hospital with a quarter of his bowels missing (which, by the way is VERY serious). Downside for me visiting (which I did last Friday) is that he’s in Olympia, an hour away.

Lots of tubes and hoses – at least today, he got the nose tube out.

What is sobering is that these guys are 4- and 8-years my junior. Oy!

Please keep them in your thoughts.

[221.4] Not really happy with that.

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Sat
3
Sep '16

Trip Report: ROAD TRIP!

What happens when there are no cheap flights during the summer? ROAD TRIP!

Though I didn’t realize it at the time, it turns out to be a parade of visits to friends that I’ve known for years:

  • Cathy = 46 years (stop 2)
  • Dwight = 31 years (stop 3)
  • Peppermint = 22 years (stop 6)
  • Yusaf = 19 years (stop 6)
  • Rache = 21 years (stop 7)
  • Bliss = 24 years (stop 8)

And the weather was stunning – probably got more sun than I should have.

First stop was to see Cathy – and drop off some cookware from my mother’s estate. She had many dinners at my parent’s table and reveled in the fact that my mother had nice things – and used them everyday. I passed on a Dansk 60’s turquoise double boiler and a Le Creuset orange saucepan with lid.

It was good to catch up in person with here rather than email/Facebook.

Next up – Dwight. My overnight stop. The photo from Dwights:

He does stock the bar for me! There was also a “handle” of Evan Williams Black. Dinner tonight was lovely Steak Fajitas delivered in (by a cute delivery guy). I got the “blow-up” queen-size bed in the spare room. We don’t get to see enough of each other – one of the reasons is that he has cats. I just doubled up on the antihistamines!

Morning found me early out of the house – Portland bound. I’ve got to hook up with Peppermint at his shop and head to a food show in SE Portland. Somehow I didn’t get a picture of Sunnyside Espresso.

I did get a couple of pictures from the food show – spread over two floors:

And this is a serious “cold press” coffee machine – using ice water:

On the way to my evenings lodging I passed the corner that was a block from where Jimmy and I lived in Northwest Portland – which was a corner market/butcher shop – now it’s a Mcmenamins Bottle Shop.

Tonight’s lodging is with Yusaf and Peppermint – who have also rolled out the red carpet! Here is the “Love Shack” that is my home for the night:

Complete with turquoise appliances!

And power!

They sacrificed an animal for the grill in my honor:

I brought a couple of bottles of a 2005 Bordeaux that we have at the shop – was $25, now $14 – and drinking GREAT!

There where even vintage “gay” magazines in the “love shack”!

They are from 1974 – when I was a senior in high school. I had to borrow them to scan and return. The T-Shirt Princess will love the images.

Slept in late, knowing that “breakfast” will be at Burgerville – my weakness in burger places – and the St. John’s one had a full parking lot and a drive through line that stretched onto the street:

After the “Devil’s Burger” it’s on the road to Long Beach (Washington, not California!) for an overnight with Rache.

It’s odd to pass through Seaside and not visit Seaside Boy – who actually is in Blaine these days:

Tried to find some new cargo shorts – after four stops, found some Ralph Lauren “not cargo” shorts, but they had a nice feel and were new at $10.

Stunning lamb dinner of the grill with Rache:

Again, my host is out of the house before me – and I’m on the road for the longest leg of the trip. But the top is down, and all is fine in my world.

Until I hit a backup – only 15 minutes:

And a blog update stop in a roadside rest stop:

The last stop of the trip is an overnight with Bliss. And the Cowboy Bed!

And the view isn’t bad:

Little did I know what was planned for my visit – a whirlwind of cocktails, boating, oysters and dinner! Bliss making scratch thermos’ full of Piña Coladas for the boat.

Bliss’ contractor has a boat and friends…I have a Speedo!

And even I went swimming in Hood Canal:

We did a little motoring around before heading to Union for beer, and as it turns out, oyster samples:

After a little ass-grabbing (NOT on my part, well, the ass was, not the grabbing) it was time for a sunset dinner with the guys – what a lovely end to the evening!

Not a bad road trip. Got stuck in a little traffic around Tacoma on the way home, but it was nice to sleep in my own bed.

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Tue
7
Jul '15

Trip Report: Whistler, BC, Round Two

This trip to Whistler was the one originally planned, not the one to just get more use out of my Season Peak-2-Peak 360 Pass. It shares a theme of students/teachers just out of school – this one would be the teacher – International Baccalaureate High School English – and boy does he need a break.

Bonus points for me not having to drive.

More bonus points for a ragtop with more room than mine.

First stop was Heritage Railway Museum in Squamish, British Columbia:

On the last trip I saw the sign and looked it up. Worth the $15 entrance fee for the number of cars you can actually go through:

 

But soon, it was time to hit the condo….and a little time in the hot tub…

Tuesday breakfast starts with a travel tradition, the Bloody Mary! Though, as its Gin based, that would make it a Snapper…but because it uses Clamato (which would be a Caesar – VERY popular in Canada for some reason) who knows what it really should be called other than tasty. Glad I packed the olives:

And the breakfast wasn’t bad either…

Off to the mountains we go – actually made it onto the lifts by noon:

Destination: 7th Heaven Express. But first the two-stage lift to the top of Whistler, then the Peak-2-Peak, then the 7th Heaven Express, which is an open lift rather than gondolas:

I have a little ritual at the top of the 7th Heaven Express (which is about 7,000 feet above sea level) – a shot of cognac!

Of course, it being Whistler there are all sorts of signs about drinking…

And since in Canada they only pour strict 1 ounce shots – at least at that altitude it feels like more. The other reason for going to 7th Heaven is to look at all the cute snowboard and ski boys:

And, of course, the views…

After our little libations it was back down the lift…for a little hike (about a mile).

Yes, I was hiking in my Santa hat – the staff loved it.

Couldn’t stay in that spot too long for fear of getting hit…

With all the warm weather the flowers were starting to come out…

Time for lunch so down the Blackcomb side since Christines, my favorite mountain top restaurant is closed for renovations until November…

Had a lovely lunch at Milestone’s – meatloaf sliders with Kobe mustard for me, curried shrimp for Bliss; Raspberry mimosa for me, Mango Bellini for Bliss:



And then back up the hill for more hiking….

Still know on parts of the trail.

At least we were eating well on this trip. One night we roasted a chicken and served it with some of the leftover stuffing from the pork roast the first night:

And on the mountain top, Kevin went for the pulled pork poutine. For those of you not familiar with poutine, its French fries covered with cheese curds, then drowned in brown gravy, this one topped with pulled pork.

Needless to say he went on a long hike afterwards without me to burn off the carbs. I, on the other hand, opted for fish and chips and a tiny bottle of Merlot.

Nice views from the Roundhouse Lodge Cafeteria.

Before we knew it, our time at Whistler was over. We left early enough to stop by the BC Mining Museum, which isn’t really worth the $27 entrance fee, even if it is 20% off with the exchange rate, and even with the rail ride into the mine which doesn’t really go far enough. But it makes for a fun picture:

You can’t tell from this angle, but I only come about halfway up one of those tires!

Alas, the border crossing awaits us. 45 minutes for everyone else, maybe 10 minutes for us since we both have Nexus cards:

Home again, home again, only to travel again.

[201.8]

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