Wednesday, September 22, 2010

The (mis)Adventure Part 2: Seattle; or, I Hate Arachnids

I have been telling people that this trip was both the most stressful and the most relaxing trip I've been on in a long time. That's probably a lie: I'm pretty sure my most stressful trip in recent memory was the one where I ended up in a hotel in Paris, caught in the middle of a fight between my pregnant sister and our mother. But this one had its fair share of stress, some (most) of which I could very easily have dealt with before leaving town, if I had just been brave enough to deal with it instead of a procrastinating mouse.

At any rate, what did I do in Seattle? Absolutely nothing. Nothing of any intrinsic touristy value, that is. I arrived Friday evening, and we pretty much just spent the weekend eating
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and drinking
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around the table, playing Sorry and a slew of other board games that they'd accumulated over the years.
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(By the way: Sorry when you're drunk = teh AWESUM. I love being mean.)

I'd brought a bag full of (slowly fermenting) blackberries up from the Portland area (Steph and I had gone stabbing our hands into the bushes along the Willamette River), and my friends' property in Kirkland was surrounded by more berry bushes. On Saturday Uck and I decided to pick some more and experiment with jam. Thirty minutes or so of picking, another hour or so of boiling down, and we had these:

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Eight jars of preserved goodness. Yes, on the right that does say Blackberry and Black Pepper — it was my idea to throw some ground pepper into the jam, and it came out surprisingly good. I'll have to try that again sometime.

When I arrived in Kirkland, after being ritually greeted by Windy ("TITS! Get in here now, young lady."), and presenting my gift cases of Anchor Steam (apparently Puget Sound is lacking in the good microbrews), I was asked the most important question of the weekend: "How do you feel about spiders?"

Later, I found out why that question was so important:

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Now, this is not the largest uncaged spider I have ever come face-to-face with in the wild, but ugh! My sleeping pallet — for lack of a better term — was pretty much on the floor, in a room with lots of great hiding places for many-legged creatures to creep. After seeing this lovely palm-sized octoped, I spent a lot of insomniac hours jumping at every tickle before I finally gave up and just went with it.

Beyond a breaking point on around Tuesday (poor Emily had to deal with a grumpy, weepy me), the rest of the week was pretty smooth sailing. I saw Emily, of course
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and spent that week working out of my company's Seattle office.

One of my favorite perks in working at this company is the fact that we have an office in nearly every major U.S. city, and a few offices overseas. And the nature of my current position means that I can pretty much work out of almost any one of them. Not everyone is fond of a working vacation, but I've (ab)used this privilege to my own advantage: I get to visit friends, spend some time on vacation, without using paid time off. Plus, I get to meet coworkers from around the country. It's ... well, it's really swell.

In this case, our Seattle office is the one my direct supervisor actually works out of, and it was fantastic to actually get some real face time with her. That, and the truly beautiful commute over Lake Washington every day, even with traffic, made me sorely tempted to just stay another week (or so) up in Seattle. Stupid duty calling in San Francisco.

The one touristy thing I did end up doing while in Seattle was visiting Pike's Place Market. Three times. (One of which was a mission! to buy salmon! That's not really being a tourist, right?)

And I did take pictures of this, which was parked in a lot between 2nd and 3rd Ave.:
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Really great pulled pork, by the way. I went there twice for lunch in the week, it was that delicious. And by the way, the license plate? "SOMEPIG".

On Friday, my boss and some coworkers took me out for happy hour, and I ended up staying out until around 12:30 or so drinking and BSing. (Another great thing about working out of other offices on your vacation: you get to talk with people who actually understand what you're bitching excited about!)

The trip home was uneventful, except for the fact that I came thisclose to unknowingly transporting guns across state lines. Glad I didn't have to worry about that. I stopped over in Eugene, OR, to spend the night with my cousin and his girlfriend — thank you, Ryan! I had a great time, even if it was brief. I owe you ice cream — and then drove eight-plus hours straight in the rain on Sunday to make it home. Trust me, no matter how much you love your vacation, there's nothing to make you want to get home more than a workday's worth of driving in the pouring rain.

Monday, September 20, 2010

The (mis)Adventure Part 1: Oregon; or, How I Didn't Die of Dysentery on the Oregon Trail

I am home. And I survived, despite the actions of that darned Higher Being who is out to get me.

Have to wonder what I did to deserve that.

We left off last entry with the smashed toe. It was still hurting the next day, Labor Day, when I left for my trip, and by the time I'd been on the road several hours (and made it to Crater Lake), had turned a lovely shade of blackened-blue.

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That picture isn't even the most colorful it got. Another 24 hours gave it even a wider palette of hue, but by then I was too busy with Not Dying of Dysentery on the Oregon Trail to take a picture.

(It wasn't really dysentery, but I did end up getting that stomach flu from my nephew. I made it all the way to Portland, and promptly threw up upon arriving at Steph's place. She must really love me.
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Then again, maybe not so much.)

The drive up was beautiful, at least, and before my abdomen started feeling queasy, I spent some time at Crater Lake taking a bunch of pictures:

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Basically reestablishing that Crater Lake is the most beautiful place in Creation.

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There was a forest fire burning up the woods to the north of the Lake. Fortunately, not near enough to the route I had to take that it would delay my drive to Portland.

The roads to and from Crater Lake are beautiful, but the northern route — taking OR-138 through the Umpqua National Forest — feels like a drive into forever. Beautiful forever, to be sure, but forever. I didn't get a chance to take pictures (I was on a mission to get to Portland before it got too late), but if you do it, I highly recommend taking the time to meander through, and maybe spend the night at some lodge along the way.

At any rate. I didn't realize that all this time my body was busy incubating the most horrible 24-hour virus known to Sarahkind; the effects didn't start to be felt until about an hour outside of Milwaukie, where my friend lives, though I guess I should be thankful that everything stayed in until I actually got to a toilet. To be crude: I spent about 18 hours purging my digestive tract of every foreign substance. From both ends. (Fortunately not at the same time.) To be even cruder: by hour 12 or so, when there wasn't much of substance left to eject, it started to have the color and texture of baby poop.

Steph spent a lot of time laughing at the sounds I was making. I had to laugh, too, between the crying and the cursing of that Higher Being.

It took a few days to fully recover (my appetite), but I did manage to venture out for decent food, wandering around the Hawthorne area and, of course, a required pilgrimage to Powell's Books. Sadly another pictureless adventure, but it was also a short trip, since I think Steph got a little bored by hour two, whereas I could have probably lasted until closing the next day. I made it out with a paper-bagful of books, and a total cost to me of about $34 (thanks to Lauren for the $30 gift certificate he gave me last year!).

Most of the time with Steph was necessarily laid-back. My stomach couldn't take much food or drink, and I tired easily what with still recuperating. We did do one Big Night Out(tm) to Pok Pok and had a drink at the Gold Dust Meridian, and I was very pleased with myself for actually being able to enjoy the entire thing.

And I think that's it for now. Next time I'll cover the Washington portion of my trip, which involved less bodily suffering, and more dangerous close encounters. Stay tuned.

Monday, September 6, 2010

For the Un-Win

From time to time, I have my suspicions that there is some higher being, watching us all and making his/her presence felt.

Today, I am sure of the existence of that higher being. And I am also sure that said higher being really doesn't want me to go on my road trip.

First, it was my poor, beloved car, slowly dying and forcing me to admit that she was no longer road trip-worthy. Fortunately, my family was able to provide me with another car — my brother's — which was expected at any time to have a new stereo installed (it came without, being the cheapest thing on the lot when it was purchased). One attempt to ruin my trip thwarted.

Then, my entire family came down with the stomach flu, right in time for the weekend that my brother was supposed to get a stereo held for him by a friend installed for free. Again, that obstacle was overcome (and again with parental assistance) by the simple expedient of my going down to San Jose and getting the damn thing bought and installed myself. (Lesson learned: if you want/need anything to be ready by a certain time, never trust anyone else to get around to it. Hercules helps those who help themselves.)

But finally, tonight, as everything was falling into place — offerings of beer purchased, laundry in the process of being done, bags being packed — that higher being made one more try to keep me here in San Francisco. The metal leg of my desk chair may have won the battle between itself and my right fourth toe, really. That toe may well be broken (it hurts enough for that). But by the Belt of Orion, I am not going to cancel this trip because of a small digit of pain. I don't care if I end up limping around the entire Pacific Northwest; I'm leaving in the morning, and that's that.

So, higher being, here is a big old middle finger salute to you. You will not ruin my vacation. You will not, you will not, you will not.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Immaculate Conception

This was the view of Twin Peaks last night, as seen from Market Street:

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I promise you, it's completely unedited. No fog was removed from this picture ... because it wasn't there. Beautifully amazing, I know.

My vacation is just a taste away, and to begin the festivities early I ended up going for a drink and dinner with my friend Claire from Krav.

We went to Contigo, a relatively new restaurant in Noe Valley that I've often walked by, but never tried. We were lucky: walked in without a reservation, and just as we'd decided a 20-minute wait for a table wasn't worth it, two seats opened up in the front bar area just for us.




We ordered appetizers of squid (yum!) and tripe (the most tender and melty tripe I've ever had). I got the halibut so that my friend could have the very last order of skirt steak. I'm thinking I got the better end of the deal (though trust me, the steak was awesome ... the halibut was just better, and more of it).

In other words: highly recommend this restaurant.

And sorry — I had to show off a little gratuitous bruising from this week of Krav:


I'm liking September already.