The week of our eighth wedding anniversary was just crazy. For months, we had been planning on celebrating our anniversary with a dinner home and one out, on the 20th and the 21st respectively, and then a festive trip out to Seattle for Ben and Lise’s wedding, followed by a drive down the Washington/Oregon/California coast. But the Saturday before the 20th was Karen’s birthday celebration, at a not-to-be-named popular North End restaurant. We had a great time, meeting old friends of Karen’s and talking about math and CTY and New York with them, and seeing lots of Park Street friends too, but then Robert became very sick from an apparently bad plate of mussels fra diavolo. So since food poisoning kept him home all day Sunday and Monday, and Tuesday consisted of taking it easy on the body and the stomach, we celebrated Father’s Day with Dick and Helena a few days late, on Wednesday the 21st. I was therefore more than a little rushed and crazed heading into our trip on Thursday, but by the time we were actually sitting in our exit row seats on a nonstop Jet Blue plane, eating the Vietnamese cold-cut sandwich and shrimp summer rolls that I’d picked up for us earlier, all was well, and we were in anniversary and vacation mindset. A lot of fudge, a Netflix movie on my Mac laptop, and a little nap also made the time fly by.
Upon arriving in Seattle, we grabbed out checked luggage and picked up our rental car (Chrysler Sebring convertible Touring Edition, in silver, from National—we love Thrifty, but they couldn’t give us a one-way rental to San Jose, sadly). We drove straight to the Mediterranean Inn, where we’d be staying along with Ghaz and Alyssa, Bernie and Stu, and Noah and Joel (the last two rather unmatched couples, since Elaine and Jackie—respectively Bernie’s and Noah’s wives—couldn’t make the trip out because of babies and work). The hotel advertised high-speed internet access, but the “high-speed” part is clearly false advertising, and the “internet access” was therefore also rather spotty. The room was small, but not ridiculously tiny, and though the bathroom was no-frills, the water pressure was good and the bed was comfortable. Ben and Lise left a gift bag for us in our room, with a bottle of sugar-free marshmallow syrup for coffee and a bag of Tim’s dill pickle flavored potato chips; Tim’s is a Northwest favorite brand we’d first tried in Alaska, and the dill pickle flavor is really delightfully vinegary—all I ask for in a chip! I have a suspicion other more alcohol-inclined friends received wine and potato chips, but we were clearly happier with our gift of choice.
We woke up around 7:00 Friday morning and couldn’t go back to sleep because of the time difference, so we got ready leisurely and wandered out of the hotel on foot, into the surrounding Queen Anne neighborhood, around 8:30. We walked a few blocks in either direction, and checked out Dick’s drive-in on one side and another burger, shake, and garlic fry joint on the other side. Apparently, true Seattleans—though passionate about coffee—are also obsessed with burgers and shakes and fries. We settled on coffee for breakfast, though, instead of burgers, going to a cafe down the block from the hotel. Robert had a coconut steamed milk and a blueberry coffee cake and I had an iced Americano with hazelnut syrup (and my favorite cereal back at the hotel). We sipped outside in the sun and read the local paper while watching people leap on busses and run by—after all, it was rush hour, and some people had to go to work on this take-your-dog-to-work day. (We only saw one dog, however, and it was a guide dog, so I don’t think that counted.) From our observations, Seattle seems a lot like Berkeley, at least in the area we were staying.
After breakfast we went into a Safeway and looked at all the flavors of Tim’s chips and Jones soda (another Northwest favorite) and the Alaskan imported fish (I keep thinking just how close we are—relatively speaking, of course—to Alaska) before going back to the hotel and meeting Stu for an expedition to the Boeing plant north and west of Seattle, in Everett.
The Boeing plant was very impressive—a third of a mile wide by half a mile long, it’s the world’s largest building by volume. With 22,000 workers working around the clock, it can produce nineteen planes a month, though it usually operates at lower output rates. The tour is fascinating because you get to see not only the tunnels underneath the plant, but also the factory floor, with huge sections of planes being picked up, moved around, and attached to each other around you. I was surprised at how much of the work is done by hand, rather than machine. There’s a nice small museum (the Future of Flight, it’s called), which you can see before or after your tour, and the tour itself has some of the best rules we’ve ever seen posted anywhere: no purses, infants, cellphones, cameras, or fanny packs allowed. (For the rest of the week, whenever there was an obnoxious baby around, I would whisper to Robert, “Boeing rules. . .”) After the tour, we went to Casa El Dorado Tortillera y Restaurante, which had delicious, juicy, moist tacos al pastor, carnitas, and lengua, all served with beautifully fresh tortillas—really some of the best we’ve tasted anywhere.
We went back to the hotel to park, and then we walked over to the park area around the Space Needle, where we met up with Joel, Noah, and Bernie and all went into Paul Allen’s science fiction museum. Though photography was prohibited, some of the displays were limited, and Babylon 5 was entirely ignored, we still had a good time. Afterward, I went back to the hotel to change and shower before the bridal shower, while the guys went to the Experience Music Project museum next door (also courtesy of Paul Allen and Microsoft).
Leith and Robert then dropped Katie and me at the bridal shower, before heading back for the “groom’s shower” festivities. Lise’s friend Tracie hosted the shower, and Lise was showered with much love, advice, and gifts (mainly of the lingerie variety, though there were quite a few kitchen items as well).
Above left, Lise's aunt and first cousin once removed enjoy the bridal shower festivities. Below, host Tracie looks on as Lise opens lingerie; Lise opens a present from Ben's mother (a (picture of a) kitchen scale, to be shipped to her at home); and three other bridesmaids look on happily.
We finally met up with the men at a bar in Ballard, near the shower, and after one drink we headed out into cabs back to the hotel. Getting to see Bernie, Stu, and Noah running down the street behind each other, waving wildly at the cab, was quite a sight.
Below left, Bernie attempts to blind Robert and me with the flash on our camera; he half succeeds. Below right, Bernie succeeds in nearly blinding Joel with the same flash. You think digital cameras make fun toys in the hands of children? Try drunken high school friends in an out-of-state bar!
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Created: 7/3/06. Last Modified: 7/3/06.