PNW Trip, Weekend Update

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I’m sorry that you haven’t heard from me in a while. The vacation has been going really well, but this has been a busy weekend. We have left Seattle and I am writing this from our new location in Vancouver, WA. For those of you who are interested (and it seems that there are a lot of you all!) this post is just a quick (or as quick as possible) update about the last few days activities. Also, Michele has encouraged me to set up a Facebook page for this blog here. If you would be so kind as to click over there and “Like” it, I would love you all just ever so slightly more than I already do. It doesn’t look like much yet, but I promise that it will be all nice and redded up soonlyish.

Friday was a pretty chill day. We spent most of it going over logistics and strategy, before we went out for something to eat. Michele found a nice (read: inexpensive) teriyaki joint down by our hotel. They have a big pot of free soup for any customer right up front by the register. I wouldn’t recommend it to anybody. Everything else was delicious. But trust me on the soup.

Photo: Free Soup

Free Soup! It Was The Consistency Of Room Temperature Snot

Photo: Udon Soup

Elijah Had The Vegetable Udon

Photo: Yakisoba

Michele Had The Vegetable Yakisoba

Photo: Spicy Chicken Teriyaki

And I Had 3/4 Of A Chicken Grilled And Basted With An Extremely Spicy Teriyaki Sauce

We then went back to the hotel so that I could get ready to go meet a couple of people for a bit of hang out time. Of course they had to cancel; and of course the message saying that things came up didn’t hit my phone until I was on the I-5 during rush hour with my celly in the back seat. Anyway, I’m up in Greenlake with nothing to do so I drive around for a bit. By now my chicken teriyaki is wearing off, so I drop into the bar that the meet-up was originally supposed to happen at. St. Andrews was absolutely fantastic. Had a nice soup and salad combo, did a bit of writing, and gazed in awe at their Scotch menu. I was honestly locked up mentally for a bit, and almost couldn’t decide on what to order. The selection and prices are amazing. I would live there if I could.

The best part about St. Andrews is that it is right across the street from Green Lake Games. This place was amazing. A great classical game shop, with board games shoved in every corner, polyhedral dice rolling around the floor, and a stack of RPG manuals tucked into one side of the place. I resisted every urge to walk out with Axis & Allies under my arm. If Michele and Elijah had been there with me, I’m sure that we would have ended up blowing the rest of our trip money on the rest of the add-ons for Carcassonne. Unfortunately they didn’t have Formula D, the game that Elijah wants right now.

Apparently Friday night is the night for the Magic: the Gathering tournaments. What’s great about that is that Green Lake Games is a fairly tiny shop crammed to the gills with boxes of games and manuals and whatnot, so the tournament can’t entirely fit inside the store. That means that a lot of the matches had to happen across the street at St. Andrews. Oh, yes. I got to sit in a bar, drinking twenty-dollar an ounce Scotch while sitting next to kids deep in the middle of intense Magic battles. Life was pretty amazing there for a bit. It was almost as unexpected and glorious as the time that I randomly (luckily) caught the 1997 MTG World Championships on ESPN2. After all of that excitement, it was time to head back to the hotel. On the way back I got lost took a short detour through Seattle and drove past the hipsters out on the prowl for drinks and diversion.

Photo: Docks

Commerce!

On Saturday, we slept in a bit and started the preliminary packing. In the afternoon we went and hung out with our friend Erin and her mother, who are in the middle of doing an almost total remodel of Erin’s house. I somehow was only somewhat miserable, instead of the expected completely miserable, hanging out in a house with a cat and two dogs. Though, I still think that one of those dogs is actually a small horse, or maybe an anorexic Shetland Pony, and not a Great Dane as I have been led to believe. After the grand tour of the work site, all of the humanoids climbed into our car to go get some lunch.

We went to Los Tinos, an absolutely wonderful little Mexican restaurant. This place is the real deal, none of that SoCal fusion or TexMex BS. Just straight, simple, and filling authentic Mexican food. I destroyed a plate of Huevos con Chorizo and Elijah continued his new-found love affair with refried pinto bean tacos. I don’t remember what anyone else had, because I was too busy pouring all of the kinds of hot salsa over the fresh tortilla chips to notice (or to be honest, care) what was going on with anybody else!

Then it was back to the hotel to finish packing up our bags so that we could head out to the new hotel in Vancouver, WA. My friend Don, who I missed hanging out with on Friday night, ended up not being able to hang out Saturday night either. But he did make sure to make me jealous by informing me that he was eating dessert at Hot Cakes. The jerk even sent me a photo of what I was missing out on!

Photo: Don Gunn's Bread Pudding

Bread Pudding À La Mode

In the morning we packed up the car and started on our way.

Photo: Packing The Car

“Shit! I just made a Tetris and half our luggage disappeared!”

Our first order of business was to hit up the Asian Markets. Living in Pittsburgh where there is not a large Asian population, we don’t have many Asian grocers, let alone the kind of giant mega-mart that the people on the coasts take for granted. The first place we went to was the Uwajimaya in Renton, but that place wasn’t Asian enough for us. We needed a place that didn’t cater to Western tastes or sensibilities at all.

Photo: Great Wall Shopping Mall

You Know It’s Asian Because The Name Of The Place Makes No Sense At All. What In The Hell Is A 99 Ranch? Why Has A 99 Ranch Been Converted Into A Market? Why Don’t I Shop Here All Of The Time?

Once we got to the Great Wall Shopping Mall, I knew that we had hit the right place. The place had everything. There was a massage/reflexology place, a video and cd store that seemed to be stocked entirely with J-Pop and V-Pop bootlegs, and a full on Chinese apothecary. There was even one of those tiny little package mailing places that looks to be nothing but a stack of cello-taped boxes and a guy sitting at a desk looking bored. Almost all of the shops had no English on any part of their signs. Along the back wall was the 99 Ranch Market. We hit it up pretty hard. I pretty much lost my cool when I saw all of the sake and soju bottles. Michele might have had to physically drag me away.

Photo: Sake

I’ll Take One Of All Of Those Please. Ooh! And Two Of Those!

Michele insisted on actually looking for, and buying useful groceries.

Photo: Frozen Isle

“Why does everything have MSG in it?”

I, on the other hand, was more interested in other products.

 

Photo: Gatsby Wax

More Like “Great Gatsby Wax”, Amirite?

Photo: Face Mask

And Whatever This Shit Is…

And finally I hit pay dirt on my quest for some hot chili sauce.

Photo: Ginger Chili Sauce

Delicious Spicy Goodness

I looked for several minutes, trying to find a sriracha or chili paste without chemical preservatives in it. This Ginger Chili Sauce hit the spot. No preservatives and a short list of ingredients. Also, for added awesome, the stuff seems to be made by a company called “Comrade”. Plus, you have to shark the bottle before you use it.

Photo: Shark Before Serving

I Sharked The Shit Out Of That Bottle!

Once we had our loot loaded into the car, it was off down the I-5 towards the hotel. A short (at least it seemed short to me, I slept the whole way) two and a half hours later we were in lovely downtown Vancouver USA and checking into the Hilton. We settled in and then ordered a massive amount of room service as a treat. After looking at the massive amount on the total line on the bill, we decided that we’d had more than enough treats already and are relegating ourselves to bread and ice water for the rest of the trip. Though, I did sneak the wife downstairs to the lounge for a quick beer at last call. I’m only willing to sacrifice so much.

Next Time: More Logistics, Picking Up Packages We Mailed Ahead Of Ourselves, Electric Kettles, Laundry

For anybody reading this who’s coming out here for Life Is Good, the Parham Family is in room 314!

william parham

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Movere voluntatem montes. Sapientiam ut non desiderant.

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