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Uncle Markie out and about.

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Jan '18

Home Report: Home For The Holidays

Yep, it’s already a third of the way through January, and I’m finally documenting my Christmas/New Year fun.

After visiting friends in Forks the first two days of Mark and Onyx’s visit, I returned home to a full holiday feeding schedule. Look at the Beef Wellington that Onyx (and Mark) made for a group dinner at his cousin’s house in West Seattle:

I brought a 3-liter bottle of Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volante Blanc – a replacement for a bottle that died a year ago Thanksgiving. We put a good dent in it!

Talk about a WONDERFUL meal:

Next up on the holiday parade was dinner up north at mutual friends, Seth, and his daughter Maia. As you can tell, it was a mess of wrapping paper:

More dinners with friends but no photographs….but I did get photos of Mark helping me with making some pillow covers at xMess presents:

And, mind you, I’m also working the shop in the holiday season:

Christmas Eve dinner found me working until five, while Onyx and crew worked on a Beef Bourguignon
in my kitchen:

It was a nice hearty meal to go with our Christmas Eve snow…

And it’s not the holidays unless the plumbing goes south, first it was the dishwasher not draining, and then all the connections to the kitchen sink dripping…

As you can tell, this isn’t the first time – the above is with all the racks ripped out. And below with a heater drying everything out:

Having the Ford Escape DOES help in the repairs:

I used basement subflooring turned the wrong way to give the cabinet a waterproof base:

And because of the cold, the outdoor icemaker stopped working….

Between Christmas and New Year’s, more Bay Area friends showed up – and out to lunch we go, to try the new Mexican restaurant on 14th:

Excellent food, but a bit on the pricey side….


And for dinner, Roxy and his boyfriend showed up for shrimp fried rice:

Eating well this holiday season!

Trip Advisor sent me this little video about my 2017 Travel:

And the plumbing issues continue…, now the washer/dryer combo is washing, but not drying – time to rip that apart when I start running out of clean clothes. Oi!


For more posts from the blog, CLICK HERE.

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Aug '17

Trip Report: Mid-Week Getaway To Birch Bay

Apparently, I can’t really stay at home, but we all new that.    

Booked a couple of nights at the WorldMark Birch Bay, next to the WorldMark Blaine (which I like better, it’s smaller).

Packed up the ragtop, headed out for lunch with my buddy Seth, who works at the Nuclear Reactor Machine Shop at UW (technically, it the Center for Experimental Nuclear Physics and Astrophysics (CENPA)). Went out for a nice lunch at a local chain of three restaurants, Ba Bar.

Seth’s combo Pho bowl thingee….

And my duck breast, which the ever-skinny Seth helped me finish…

After lunch, I actually found one of the four free spots near UW Surplus, which is only open on Tuesdays from 12-5. I once bought a station wagon there!

Didn’t find anything that made me want to stand in line to pay – and headed off north to the condo.

Not a bad unit, one-bedroom, handicapped.

Guess I’ll have for find some company for the shower!

And I have to say, that I spent a lot of time in this position….

The views were scenic…

And made some nice meals…

Had some fun with an old friend (seven years now). Packed up, came home.

Just a couple of nights across the street from the water.


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Sep '16

City Report: Two Tours Not Open To The Public

Being in town the week – I know, how unusual – got to keep busy. I set up these two tours a month or so ago for when Jonathan is out of school (and not working).

Tour Number One:

Not open to the public, it just happens that my buddy Seth is one of three machinists at the, part of UW’s Nuclear Program.

What you need to understand is that Jonathan is an engineering student at South Seattle – so this is cooler for him than me, that and I’ve been here before to meet Seth for lunch.

Here is the overview of the place – a view I HADN’T seen before:

And some of the individual machines….

Most of the equipment is World War II vintage – but as you can see, has be upgraded to the modern world. I wouldn’t want to help move ANY of these machines.

One of my favorites of this shop is how they recycle stuff that has served its original purpose, but is now “upcycled” into other useful things:

Nice reworking of Lucite shipping mounts.

Tour Number Two:

This tour WILL be open to the public in about a year and a half – it’s of the Amazon Fulfillment Center in Kent, Washington. Turns out that I know the guy that is in charge of all the center tours in the US – like the one that I had booked in Indiana for October 4th, that I cancelled when I got a much better option called, no airfare, hotel, rental car, just ugly traffic.

The downside, blogging wise, is that it’s a photography prohibited area, so, you get the outside…

And the lobby signage:

And the secure nature of the faculty – badge coming in, metal detector coming out – my buddy has a plastic belt buckle and a wooden watch (I kid you not, CLICK HERE for Wooden Watches on Amazon) to speed the process (and the watch is cool!)

But it was an amazing tour – it was an incredibly efficient Rube Goldberg Device of pick, pack, robots, multiple sorting, dump it on a truck. Our hosts quest is to eventually make this the “gold star” tour of fulfillment centers in the US, to couple with the tour of Amazon Headquarters that Mags and I did in August. CLICK HERE for ink to that post.

If you’d like a list of Amazon Fulfillment Centers that are currently open for public tours, CLICK HERE. Mind you, they are popular and book up quickly.

So, that’s how I spend my non-travelling weeks, exploring the odd bits of my region.


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Feb '16

Trip Report: Annual Victoria Getaway

Well, with all the other travel, and the Coho Ferry (Port Angeles – Victoria) being dry-docked longer, only one trip planned to Victoria this winter.

The trip didn’t start well – my Uber driver was stuck on 1 minute away for 15 minutes, killing any spare time I had to get to the boat – I ended up driving after finding out he a flat (which I didn’t find out for 20 minutes because he wouldn’t answer phone or text) – it, worrying that the car wouldn’t start when I returned from Victoria since the battery is weak and I’d had it on the charger all the previous night. Not the way I like to start a trip – stressed. You all know how I am about getting to airports/ship terminals/etc. in plenty of time.

This helped the stress:

This is Maia’s second trip with the boys to Victoria. Maia belongs to Seth. Maia likes my roller board and wants to help even though she has two bags of her own. Good Maia:

That would be Daddy Seth‘s foot to the right.

Miracle of miracles, our condo is ready – before noon! Usually, check-in time isn’t until 4pm. We have a 2-bedroom Penthouse unit on the second floor (yes, Penthouse doesn’t mean the top floor in this case, just the level of creature comforts – like our own personal hot tub):

And the view is good, even if it is the second (out of eight) floor:

You can sort of see our “pet”, Jonathan, in this shot – here is a better one:

And no – we don’t feed him – that’s against the rules.

Lunch out is at the Blue Heron Bistro, in the same complex as the grocery store. I start with a Caesar – which is a Bloody Mary made with Clamato. The Canadians are crazy about Clamato:

Lots of fun stuff on the specials menu –

I went with the Rabbit & Chorizo Poutine – that is French Fries, then a layer of cheese curds, then a Chorizo Rabbit Gravy over the top – others went for the duck curry:

Nap time for DancingBear and me – while Seth, MoSis (his BF), and Maia went out to explore the city.

But soon, it was time for dinner….and the couple of racks of ribs I brought up from the states.

Did I mention we bought a little duty-free booze? And here is the dinner, ribs on the upper right:

We do eat well on holidays. And we do relax well on holidays as well…

This is how DancingBear and I spent our time in Victoria, in bathrobes, cycling in/out of the hot tub, reading, playing Word With Friends, staring out at the planes landing on the Inner Harbour.

That and cooking:

Yes, Seth is having greens and sauerkraut with his eggs, babel and cream cheese (where is the salmon I brought?)

More relaxing for DB and I on Wednesday, with the rest of the kids out exploring (aka trying to run Maia out of energy) while we worked on dinner which included a vegan (it was supposed to include TWO vegans). Apparently we were having too much fun to get any pictures of the second night’s dinner which was olive tapenade stuffed portabellas for the vegan(s) and chicken cordon blu for the rest of us.

We were a little short on guest this visit at our favorites RobinHood and CrowDog are on the Sunshine Coast mourning the loss of a close friend – guess I should plan for next year in Victoria!

Before you know it the last afternoon is upon us – and a BIG shout out to DancingBear for renting a full-size car to get us around town and occupy us on the last day when checkout is at noon, and the boat is at five.

Final lunch was at Nautical Nellies – Seth’s suggestion and it was a good one.

I wanted light, so I went for the tempura green beans…

Fish Tacos for MoSis:

DancingBear went for the Cheddar and Crab sandwich – which I really should have taken some of:

And before you know it, we are back on the boat headed out of Victoria –

And eating again….

Cheese, crackers, Chicken Caesar wrap, leftover cranberry juice and vodka we packed for the trip…

The car started when I got back to the garage. Because of the discount from The Clipper, parking was $30 for the three days rather than the $61 that was on the ticket. In the end the price was probably cheaper than Uber to/from.


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Mar '15

Trip Report: Victoria, British Columbia

The plan: two nights at the WorldMark Victoria in the handicap access Penthouse with its own hot tub and BBQ with DancingBear.

Revised plan: add a date for myself since its two bedrooms with queen-sized beds in both.

Outcome: FAIL.

I think that I set a new record in travelling with a “high-maintenance” guest. It is surprising that there wasn’t a death on this trip. Oh, let me recount the “I need it this way” ways:

  • No meat other than chicken (which has the highest rate of E.coli of any processed meats)
  • No seafood other than Salmon (and he’d probably be happy with Farmed Salmon filled with food coloring)
  • Two pairs of underwear PER DAY, the morning set and the evening set
  • Which requires AT LEAST showering twice a day
  • And when people pack THREE different things to wipe their bum with in between all those showers….

And then there is the constant “chatter”. God forbid there should be a moment of silence. My nickname for him is “SeaPrincess”, while DancingBear prefers “Magpie”, so he will be Christened Magpie SeaPrincess throughout the land.

Dear Load, the boy is HIGH-maintenance. My evidence:

That would be MY toiletry bag, next so some of his “wipes”.

That would be Magpie SeaPrincess’ toiletry bag, NOT including any of the wipes. And let’s not talk about all the towel exchanges through a two-night stay.

Before the trip when I inquired about luggage (I drive a Miata and so there is only so much space for luggage) his response was 14x18x22 which is carryon size…that was NOT what showed up at the dock.

Lemonade out of lemons? You do what you can do. I felt particularly bad for DancingBear who signed on for a relaxing holiday, and got less than that. He was amazingly helpful at offering tips to get the poor (and unemployed) boy’s life back on track. Way more patience than me, but luckily all the knives in the unit were dull as dirt.

But I digress, the trip:

Arrived in Victoria and got the shuttle to the rental car place, where Magpie when into overdrive flirting with everyone trying to get an upgrade. There was a possible plan for going to the West Coast of Vancouver Island on a day trip so a bigger car would have been nice.

I’m No, No, No, and the agent is coming Down, Down, Down in the price of an upgrade, whispering so the other clerk doesn’t hear (actually guessing that they didn’t have our car class), and when it was $10 CAD ($7.50USD) per day for twice the size I finally bit.

With the ferry arriving at 11:30, and a hold-up in immigration because DancingBear and some other Canadian fugitive have the same name, it’s noon-thirty when we get to the WorldMark Victoria. Not surprising that the room isn’t ready (though it was on the January trip which was a total shock). Off to Santiago’s we go for, as DancingBear would call it, an expensive lunch, even if the drinks were cheap by Canadian standards.

As we are putzing around afterward I check email – apparently calls weren’t coming through but email was – unit is ready!

Check in, get everybody keys, send the boy out to explore, DancingBear hanging in the apartment, me chopping for groceries….

Did I mention the muffins – poppy seed, like the ones from Costco. 15 freaking minutes in the store looking for Poppy Seed muffins (had to settle for Cranberry Orange, which, of course he didn’t eat – though I did and they were damn tasty).

The meal plan, grilled salmon the first night (wild caught, none of that farmed crap) and a roasted chicken the next night.

But, again, I digress from the good parts of the trip. Maybe some photos will help. The waterfront at sunrise:

I hate getting up this early, but it is a really nice view of Mount Rainier (Tahoma) with the Edgewater Hotel to the left.

This would be DancingBear and myself on the boat:

Red Baron anyone…

And where was MagpieSeaPrincess?

Blessedly at the back of the boat taking pictures. An hour in and we were already trying to ditch him.

Welcome to the Inner Harbour of Victoria.

Lunch at Santiago’s….our entrees. DancingBear’s burger:

My ceviche…

MagPieSeaPrincess’ quesadilla:

Company for dinner tonight… though not Royce (who came to dinner my last visit), who I found at the grocery store working his shift:

It was just DancingBear, UncleMarkie, MagpieSeaPrincess and Elliott “The On-line Psychic”.

A good time was had by all, but I have no photographic evidence. Pupu Platter, slab of salmon on the grill, big salad, bread (except for Elliott who has issues with gluten). No pictures of the hot tub party (just as well). Elliott brought the wine, we supplied the hard liquor. It was a fun evening.

There was a concept of taking a drive up the West Coast of Vancouver Island. It soon became clear that DancingBear wasn’t going along on a 4+ hour “journey from hell” (his words), and I wasn’t up much for it as well, so we cast off the boy to make his own adventure, and DancingBear and I went out for lunch and shopping. I needed lunch, DancingBear needed shoes (and lunch).

This is the Finest At Sea food trailer in their parking lot – much easier than putting in a full kitchen, and if it doesn’t work out, you sell the rig. We both had the Halibut and Chips (one-piece for me, two-piece for DancingBear) which was stunningly good. I’d had their rockfish cakes in January and was impressed. Guess it’s time to dust off my TripAdvisor account.

Next stop, shoe shopping (for DB, not me). But before we found a cheap shoe store we found a Target that was going out of business. All the Target Stores in Canada basically filed for bankruptcy. They were even selling off the store fixtures:

DancingBear ended up buying an iPad for his husband at 10% off (when do you ever see Apple Products discounted!) before we found him some shoes at the other end of the mall at 50% off, plus the 20% off discount because the Canadian Dollar is in the toilet compared to the US Dollar.

UncleMarkie with shoe (and cocktail):

Another evening, another meal where I forgot to take pictures. Lemon stuffed roasted chicken, salad, bread… but it seems someone forgot that there was going to be dinner and gorged on Chicken McNuggets. Clueless youth. Home cooked food vs. industrial food.

In my defense, I offer the following photo:

Ah, youth. When your beauty fades, may you have an interesting life, as the fortune cookies says.

The boy was off in the morning – at least he’d learned that until I’ve had my coffee, best to not try and engage me in conversation. Having decided to turn in the rental car at exactly 48 hours rather than 53, we were in a rush to get out of the condo…but someone decided to do a load of laundry with everything he had to wear, because “those clothes are dirty, I can’t be seen in public in “dirty” clothes”. He’d already called the front desk and brow-beat them into a late checkout (for him), DancingBear and I were out at 11:30. God know when he actually got out of the condo, and I’m hoping my stellar reputation with the WorldMark Victoria hasn’t been damaged.

For our part, we loaded the car, I dropped DB at the ferry terminal to check out bags, I gassed up, dropped off the car (and saved $50 CAN by not needing the extra three hours) and had a lovely QUIET walk back to the ferry terminal. I could have had the shuttle drop me, but a quiet walk with no one yammering…was delightful – and it let me pick up the schedule for the IMAX at the Royal Museum since we don’t sail until 4.

The film was something about the Grand Canyon – which I spent 3-weeks rafting through many years ago. My assignment was to show up with 115 liters of wine – and it wasn’t enough. My blog posts HERE, but I’m guessing the picture links are dead.

On my Victoria post for January I have a picture of Seth and this bear (which is in the gift shop of the IMAX theatre):

That killed an hour and then I found a great way to kill more time – DRINK! Did I mention we had lunch and drinks before the movie?

Inside the Empress, there is a lovely lounge (and restaurant) called the Bengal Lounge – VERY East Indian in theme:

Complete with Curry Buffet (lunch and evening $30).

And my drink, a LOVELY Manhattan, complete with Luxardo cherry:

And my new favorite bartender, Len:

From the Empress we decamped to the ferry terminal – we had boarding number in the 100-150 range, so with luggage already checked, it was fine to be at the end of the line. I was shocked we got a table upstairs on the way home (a first for me).

In the end, MagpieSeaPrincess didn’t show up for the boat home, he’d “fallen in LOVE”. Instead we got 50-75 Junior High School Band Camp students, who strangely were quieter than the Magpie.

And in the end, we returned to this:

Customs was a breeze – they held off the (two) band camps until the rest of us had disembarked which is good because that many kids, passports, birth certificates, oy.

In all of this I realize that I haven’t given you any pictures of the view from our condo, which is one of the major reasons I go to Victoria, so I’ll close with these:


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Jan '15

Trip Report: CanadaLand With The Boys (And A Little Girl)

This week’s adventure involves LOTS of people (well, for me). First through the door are Seth (31) and Maia (the little girl – 5½ years old). They drove up from Corvallis for our little adventure. Before long they set off for the airport to pick up Lunetta and Onyx who flew in from San Francisco.

Dinner for five – rib-eye steaks, saffron rice, salad, couple of bottles of Bonny Doon wine…rice instead of bread as I broke yet another bread machine a couple of weeks ago – probably should say “wore out” rather than “broke”.

And a good dinner it was…finding places for people to sleep was a little more problematic.

  • Maia in the single bed in the office so we could chat into the evening
  • Lunetta and Onyx in my bed
  • Seth and in in a double sleeping bag on the living room floor (until he couldn’t take it anymore and crawled in with the boys)

Up at 5am so we could get out of the house by six to catch our 8AM Victoria Clipper to Victoria, British Columbia.

At least it was a “pretty” early morning:

A pleasant trip north after a take-out breakfast at the Clipper Café (who also does the catering for the boat as well), though I’ll admit to sleeping through most of it – even forgoing my usual mimosa.

Wrangling a child means you are the last people off the boat and near the end of customs/immigration – which went smoothly as I’d warned Seth that he needed at a minimum a letter from Maia’s birth mother authorizing taking her out of the country. Seth made EXTRA sure and brought the custody agreement with him. Good boy.

Walked to the WorldMark Victoria, expecting to stash are luggage because it was noon, and check in is 4PM. To our surprise, our unit was ready – which rarely happens that early, but often does more in the winter than summer. Dumped everything in the room and headed out to Moka for Grilled Ham and Cheese with Potato Soup – seriously, we all got the same thing (limited menu). Thanks Lunetta for treating!

After the early morning, it was nap time for Maia, Onyx and myself – we send the engineers to the store for supplies that we didn’t bring. I’d packed:

  • 4 racks of lamb
  • 2 packages of shrimp (meant to bring the white fish to be breaded with the Panko, except for Maia who would get corn meal)
  • 2 cubes of butter
  • 1 pound of bacon
  • Artichoke Bruschetta
  • Cornichons
  • Corn and Bean Salsa
  • Panko Breading
  • The WorldMark Bag (pre-packed olive oil/balsamic, curry, brown sugar, flour, skewers, birthday candles, McCormicks Steak Seasoning, coffee meat rub, Korean hot sauce, etc.)

But you also need:

  • Salad (and dressing)
  • Bread
  • Eggs
  • Mixers
  • Cheese
  • Gluten Free Crackers (Maia goes bi-polar when she has gluten)
  • Corn Chips
  • Portabellas (to stuff with the Artichoke Bruschetta and top with the Panko Breading)
  • Etc.

Of course when you sent two engineers to the store, you get MANY more things in addition to those on the list. Take the generic category “Mixers”. They came back with:

  • 12-pack of Tonic
  • 12-pack of Diet Ginger Ale (mostly for me)
  • 6 pack of tiny Cokes
  • 100% Cranberry Juice
  • Handful of limes

Why so much? Did I mention what we picked up at Duty Free on the boat?

That would be 4 liters of hard liquor for a party of 9 adults tonight and 4 adults for the second night – and those Canadians like to drink hard at Duty Free prices ($85 for all four). And the guests are showing up with wine to go with dinner. And what a dinner it was:

In the foreground, the racks of lamb, Then the Stuffed Portabellas – which were a HUGE HIT, not just with the Vegetarian and Vegan guests (one each). For Maia it was an “adult night” when she was allowed to stay up until she collapsed.

Good food, good conversation (though not around the dining tables since it seats 6, not 10), good hot tubbing after dessert (thanks RobinHood and CrowDog!)

A late night, but luckily not an early morning – Seth was reading the schedule I sent out a laughed when he got to the first morning there, where it said brunch at noon:

The Boys Go To Victoria 




Seth arrives at UncleMarkies



Lunetta and Onyx arrive at Sea-Tac. Seth picks them up


UA 492 









Out of the house



Check in and grab breakfast at the Clipper Café



Clipper leaves for Victoria



Order Mimosas and Duty Free 



Clipper arrives Victoria



Out of customs/immigration 



Drop bags at condo and roam the city like a pack of dogs


Or grocery shop for the items we didn’t bring 



Check in at the condo — 


Could be early, they will have my number 



Cocktails with RobinHood, CrowDog, Royce, Kyle, + 1



Dinner with same Royce = vegan)



Hot-tub Party 



Sleep in, make brunch, explore 









Hot-tub Party 






Check-out, leave bags at desk 



Check in for Clipper to Seattle



Boat leaves



Order cocktails and Duty Free 



Clipper Arrives Seattle



Pick up car from garage and head home






Late Dinner if we didn’t eat on the boat 



Cocktails with Bliss



Dinner with same Royce = vegan)



Boys Uber to the Airport



Lunetta and Onyx fly home


Yep, guess that makes me anal retentive in my planning – but that’s how it worked out.

The boys and Maia set out to explore the city while I stayed home for some quiet time (much needed after all the excitement). My job was to fill in the gaps in the night’s meal (smoked fish, more cheese, and chocolate) and to grab a little lunch snack for me at the food truck in front of “Finest At Sea” a local fish wholesaler that has a small retail shop in the back:

I got the special – three rockfish cakes with hot dipping sauce. I had one, saved the other two to share with tonight’s pupu platter. After the shopping, NAP TIME!

Tonight’s menu (after the pupu platter):

  • Curried Shrimp Skewers
  • Salad
  • Bread (not for Maia!)
  • 3 bottles of various BC Red Wine

Life is HARD on the road.

And before you knew it, it was time to check out – this is what we put in storage since the boat doesn’t leave until 5PM:

Not like we pack light. The plan for today:

  • Store luggage
  • Head to the Royal BC History Museum and watch an IMAX film (mostly to entertain Maia)
  • Have lunch
  • Go to the boat

Here is a great picture of Seth after the movie (in the gift shop):

Lunch was at Santiagos, which is close to the ferry terminal (though we had to backtrack to grab out luggage). I’ve eaten here often because they always have muscles on the menu, AND they have HUGE drinks by Canadian standards, and cheap ($11) – again, but Canadian standards.

I had the Thai Mussels, Seth and Maia the HUGE nachos, Lunetta and Onyx the Ceviche and the quesadilla. We ended up taking a bunch of the nachos for the boat trip home.

Did I mention the pitcher of Sangria? And my favorite shot of the lunch:

Yes, they supply crayons, which was great for entertaining Maia.

Got to the terminal later than I wanted, but we were already checked in and had our boarding numbers, it was just the line to check in luggage that was a pain. And luggage we had – four checked bags.

But we did get a table for all of us. Here is Seth sating his Solitaire addiction:

Technically that’s 8 seats, but on the inner section so less coveted.

Three hours later and the last people through customs and this is the scene:

Four and a half people and their crap in a Saab. Tight quarters, luckily for only 20 minutes.

Once back to the house, an exhausted Seth and Onyx claim the big bed, Maia in the small one, and the Marks (Lunetta and UncleM) on the floor after staying up for hours beyond the others.

Seth /Maia/Lunetta/Onyx were out of the house before I was up – Seth /Maia headed home and dropping Lunetta/Onyx at the Rental Car Center at Sea-Tac to pick up a car for the overnight.

Work until 4:30 for me, then back to the house to prepare dinner for the boys, Bliss and myself for the final night of the CanadaLand holiday. Tonight’s menu:

  • Little lamb chops (LOTS of them)
  • Salad
  • A Spanish Red

After another late evening – it was time for me to head to a real bed, albeit a tiny one in the office.

I was out of the house for work before the boys were out of bed, feeling a little spent. While fun, it wasn’t one of the more “relaxing” holidays I’ve had recently.


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Feb '14

Trip Report: Oregon

This week I’m off to Oregon for a couple of days – after dealing with cancelling my Microsoft Alumni Network medical insurance now that the Washington State Health Exchange has figured out what I deserve. I could have saved $375 if they’d gotten their act together in December. At least I’ll have MUCH cheaper coverage going forward. At least I saved almost $500 by protesting a damage claim by the Enterprise Rent-A-Car Bozeman unit. Me thinks they are looking to pimp out their cars before selling them… mine (see post) had almost 30,000 miles on it AND the inner side of the front tires were bald – bad alignment, previous wreck? It certainly wasn’t the vehicle I requested.

All that is water under the bridge – of which I’ll pass over many on my Oregon road trip to deliver the Winter Faerie Gathering directories to Breitenbush Hot Springs. Here is the route:

Lots of time on the freeway – 3 hours to Julian’s house, 2 more hours to the Breitenbush.

Left Seattle around 12:30 for a slow leisurely 10mph over the speed limit drive to Portland… but had to stop for lunch, then a Goodwill, gas… got to Portland a little before 4pm at the nephew’s place (after a further stop at the liquor store for more supplies – I only brought 6 liters of wine!)

I brought down salad fixing, four massive steaks:

Julian did a couple of additions – a marinated radish, red union, red wine vinegar salad topper (along with the feta crumbled and yellow pear tomatoes), and a stir-fry of zucchini, bell peppers and onions. Here is the radish dish:

These are REALLY tasty – try them sometime.

But before dinner could commence, we (Mark & Onyx, Seth, Julian, Me) had a craft project to do. Wine charms made from foreign coins Julian has collected in his travel and ring binders.


  • Pliers (to hold coin)
  • Drill with bit large enough for the ring
  • Leftover coins from foreign travel

I think they came out really good – might have to produce them for the shop!    

Pick your coin – get it drilled, apply. I actually think they would go through the dishwasher with no problem.

We were having too much fun and totally spaced on the after-dinner activity, going through Alan’s discarded shoes – two garbage bags full of lightly used 10-11 (Men’s) shoes. Damn.

Slept in on Wednesday morning until 10am… joy of joys… and slowly rambled out the door around 12:30 to grab lunch at The Fishwife – my North Portland favorite restaurant – for their $6 Daily Fish and Chips Special and a fresh-squeezed grapefruit mimosa (also $6). For $7 I could have gotten the Oyster Shooter/Bloody Mary combo. No Julian to join me – on Sunday he was sledding in the snow and pulled a Sonny Bono (sideways into a tree, though I think Sonny did a face plant – and now I read an article [looking for a link] that it wasn’t an accident, but I digress) resulting in some seriously bruised ribs.

Went back to the house for a bit – then a little before 2pm it was off to the Bush to deliver the directories for the Winter Gathering that JustJack, HisPartner, DancingBear, and I put together on the night before I left on this trip. Talk about cutting it close:

Here is the final result, first closed:

8.5×14 edge wire-o bound, vellum cover weight stock (translucent) with 60# Springhill Digital Gray for the interior pages.

Now open:

No other photo directory for the Gathering has looked like this. 8.5×28 when laid out open – and it reads from each direction signifying “no beginning and no end”. Though I haven’t talked about it no “call” to the Gathering has looked like it either – usually 4 pages or so, the one for this Gathering… 14 pages. MUCH on-line drama about “changing” the gathering. A better phrase would be, a different vision.

Got to the gathering a little before 4pm, shortly after my cabin-mates:

But the work wasn’t done yet – the QR’s (Queens Registrar) had more plans for the directory… double wrapped as scrolls with ribbons. That was the after dinner work. Don’t they look pretty in the wooden boxes I used to haul them south in?

All wrapped up scroll-like and ready to be delivered on the opening day of the Gathering.

The highlight of my night is a cuddle date with Seth before beddy-bye time, yes, I have a bit of a crush on him. I have a crush on him even though he has a 4-year-old wickedly cute precocious daughter.

Thursday morning was another luxurious morning of sleeping in – wish I’d just spent the night cuddling (don’t we all). Seems neither of us sleep apart all that well. Lesson learned.

Had lunch in the lodge:

Though it’s winter in this picture, it’s not this winter… add 18″ of snow. They almost cancelled the Gathering. But it does show the lodge where the meals are served.

A little after 3pm I was on the road home… just in time for hellish rush hour traffic, partly caused by a narrow 1-5 Bridge over the Columbia that Oregon and Washington are fighting over.

  • Washington State wants a bridge with light rail connecting Vancouver, WA to Portland, OR – the rail line already goes within ½ a mile on the Oregon side
  • Vancouver, WA (the city) has council members opposed to Light Rail
  • Both Oregon and Washington are having troubles passing bills to fund the bridge

Meanwhile – it takes me an hour and 15 minutes to get around the “ring road”.

Luckily at the north end is a Burgerville and a Safeway for groceries and gas. A nice Pepper Bacon Tillamook Cheeseburger and a glass of Merlot (yes, a burger chain that serves wine by the glass, at least at the Vancouver, WA location at the intersection of I-205 and I-5).

Finally home a little before 10PM – time to set the alarm to get up before 8 to take the Miata for new paws and an oil change.

Nice to be in my own bed tonight.


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Feb '13

Off To The Bush.

Apparently I needed sleep, like 11 or 12 hours of sleep because I didn’t get out of bed until noon. Another good reason to just go buy some chains today and drive to the Bush (Breitenbush Hot Springs) rather than carpooling with Mark and Onyx. Means I’ll miss Seth’s company on the return ride back to Portland on Monday, but it also means that I’ll get to Seaside at 4pm rather than closer to 7pm which wouldn’t work since both the Seaside Boy and CaddyDaddy are meeting me at the condo.

A lovely Heavos Ranchero breakfast from the talented Julian, a little computer time, a quick shower and shave and it was out the door by 2pm… in search of chains for the Miata.

No updates until Monday – I’ll still be writing it just that there is no internet in the woods, or cell phone coverage, but there will be ice since I packed the ice machine.

[? ? ?]

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Aug '12

Got The Boyz Off.

Got the boyz out of the house around 10:30, they were headed to the market to see ThunderCloud before heading south to visit Seth in Corvallis.

In some ways, nice to have the house back to myself – now I just need to do many, many loads of laundry – sheets from two beds and all the other stuff that is piling up.

Managed to make it over to Jim’s to pick up the electric burner for the still, but no time today to try it out.

I did get some work done on the dining platform and I learned the following:

  • Yes, my old multi-meter just had a dead battery – thanks JoeFico for the new fancy one
  • No, the batteries aren’t holding a charge so it looking like it’s going to be expensive
  • That there is a safety switch that basically keeps the lift from moving unless it’s closed (but a squeeze clamp bypassed that)
  • That it’s no fun to work in a confined space doing electrical work – had to put on a new terminal end

End result – more work to do, most likely involving 4 expensive batteries and more working in a confined space.

Quite dinner at home after what seems like a week of entertaining.

Off to a wedding tomorrow.


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Mar '12

Run, Run, Run

Out of the house at 10:30 and didn’t get back until 2:30, moving the whole time:

  • To the apartment, put load of laundry in, check mail, pick up new parking pass, report that something is backing up into the kitchen sink
  • To Costco to pick up more Alli — which they don’t have so I leave without buying anything
  • Back to the apartment to move the laundry into the dryer
  • To rehab center to visit Swanda in his new digs
  • To the store to drop off a couple of pieces of wood and pick up my K-1
  • Back to the apartment to pick up laundry
  • Home

And even then no rest, as I’ve company coming to dinner and its ribs off the grill, which means 3-4 hours of smoking.

Seth and Maia showed up at a little after 4 to beat the traffic into town. Dancing Bear showed up at 5:30.

Maia is one seriously cute ginger.

And she loves her ribs!


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Aug '09

Dog Tired In The North Bay.

A good morning shagging and it was out of bed at 7 to get the Bangladeshi Hottie to work by 8am. Hopefully he’s OK with how quite I am in the mornings as compared to the evenings — I am a little better after a couple of cups of coffee and the morning news. Wish me luck getting him to come to dinner on Saturday.

After dropping him at work it was back to bed after finishing the USA Today — which doesn’t take that much time as it’s not much of a newspaper, nor was the “breakfast lite” they served downstairs. Toast and orange juice makes a good breakfast for my mother if the toast is made from a rustic loaf, but this was “bag-o-bread”. That said, the gentleman and the front desk was good for the recommendation (and the coupon) for last night’s dinner and with a call later in the day saying I’d left my toiletries and pills in the room. Opps. Guess I’m going back to the hotel again….

But after going to get a bagel at “The Better Bagel” just up the road (stunning good by the way!), the office in Santa Clara, and then Costco for something that they don’t carry down here, and then to M. Lowe and Companyto see Margo (and get my ring buffed and my ruby robo-washed), and then onto the boys place to keep working for a few more hours.

Dinner tonight is what we do in this house when we are all exhausted from long days and long nights. Order food to be picked up and brought in. Actually it’s the same Ethiopian Restaurant (Addis) that I mentioned on my last visit that I’ve already forgotten the name of, but you should try because it’s so good. There is one of the dishes that you can get raw — and we did, with the spices on the side so I wouldn’t have “ring of fire” in the morning. And we aren’t talking the Johnny Cash song.

So, it’s a quiet night around the house. Me blogging, Lunetta debugging, Onyx with his feet up in the poppa son chair reading. All downstairs in the daylight basement because they are having a heat wave in Berkeley — maybe that’s why I’m dog tired.

[? ? ?]

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Apr '09

Berkeley Sunny Sunday.

26hat a glorious day to be inside working on getting the laptop tweaked to perfection. Luckily the 26 downloaded updates take time to install so I can go out on the deck and sit in the sun and read the New Yorker.

The boys are working about the house and I’m working in the basement. All is well.

Tonight we are getting take-out from a local Ethiopian restaurant — damn good, though I’m expecting “ring of fire” in the morning. For those of you who don’t know the concept of Ethiopian food — it is served on the thin round pieces of spongy bread know as injera which is also used to pick up the food. Typically you would get several dishes and share. For our dishes it was this raw beef thing, a couple of orders of a lentil stew, something with chickpeas, or maybe yellow lentils, a kale dish, and a chicken dish.

I guess I should have take a picture of how nicely Onyx arranged the platter.

Interested? Here is the website: http://www.addisethiopian.com/

In other news, my upgrade came through for tomorrow’s flight back to Seattle — though not as good as I’d like. 1A (window) rather than 1C (aisle).

Poor me.

[feeling chunky]

Jul '07

Impromptu BBQ.

Got back from Oly mid-day…. made a run to the grocery store and came home with meat — must mean that I should call someone and grill.

Hello Larry — bring a guest (Fred), sure. 6PM so you boys can go out and be bad.

Steaks, chicken, salad, wine…. somehow sounds very familiar.

Gnarlene comes over after dinner for drinks, then Jen (Green Fire Candles) and Seth (Theatro Zinzani) show up to drop off a label printing job and do a little Wii Bowling. Didn’t realize how much much we were having until they left at 1:30am!

Well, now I have something to do for tomorrow — labels.

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