Monday, July 26, 2010

Michelle Visits - My 27th Birthday Celebration

My dear friend Michelle is a teacher and during her spring break was able to visit me for an entire week in March/April. I took a couple of days off and we managed to fit a lot in while she was here. (And, like great friends do, we also relaxed a lot and talked about anything and everything.)

Michelle arrived on March 27, one day before my 27th birthday. Because it was a Saturday I wanted to celebrate that night, even though I knew it would require Michelle to be a superstar dealing with jet lag. Normally, I don't need to do a lot to celebrate my birthday. But I felt like 27 was a big deal; my entire life I've always wanted to be 27. I guess I've imagined that 27 is an age where you are still considered young, but you're old enough to be confident and know your place in the world. So I wanted to do something a little special for this birthday. First, Robb, Michelle, and I ate dinner at Wild Ginger in downtown Seattle. I had been eager to try this Asian-fusion restaurant before we even moved to Seattle. While the food was good, I was a little disappointed. I think part of it is because I'm used to Asian-fusion and have tried a lot of it; this restaurant didn't present anything especially unique. Also, you know when you're excited to try or do something for a long time and you anticipate it and build it up in your mind? The problem was I'd been looking forward to eating here for, literally, years, and I don't think it could live up to my over-sized expectations.
So we finished up dinner and made our way to the Waterwheel Lounge in Ballard. I had done some research and discovered that this bar was supposed to be phenomenal for karaoke. I had never sang karaoke before, and it was on my list of things to do before I turned 30. I thought it would be fun to sing karaoke with one of my best friends in attendance and as a birthday celebration. Another friend, Doreen, met me at the karaoke bar and I started getting prepared with some liquid courage. This karaoke bar was packed and the list of people signed up to sing was a mile long. Doreen had arrived at the bar earlier and ended up letting me use one of her karaoke spots so I could sing. I chose "Joker" by the Steve Miller Band and the karaoke host quickly told everyone that I was a karaoke virgin and it was my birthday; with all that, I had quite the crowd paying attention to me. I had a great time. Robb took video (when I got the courage up to watch a few days later, I discovered that I was pretty bad, but I gave it my all and had fun - which is all that is important in karaoke right?)
The next day we woke up to a rainy, rainy day for my actual birthday. (Actually, the entire week that Michelle was here it was a miserable, rainy week. Sure, Seattle is expected to be rainy and cold during the spring. But this weather was not typical Seattle mild rain and temperatures. We had a week of downpour after downpour and very cold temperatures.) At any rate, we weren't going to let the weather stop us from playing tourist. We decided to spend the day inside and visit the Experience Music Project and Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame. This tourist attraction is in the Seattle Center area (near the Space Needle) which provided a great opportunity for Michelle to take touristy pictures of Oreo. As I mentioned, Michelle is a teacher and throughout the year the students in her 4th grade class have been taking turns bringing a stuffed monkey home with them to take pictures and write stories about what Oreo does and sees. Michelle decided she would take Oreo to Washington for spring break; and we spent WAY too much time coming up with cool poses for Oreo throughout the week.
The EMP presents the evolution of music, with a strong focus on guitars, Seattle's music contribution, and hands-on exhibits. My favorite exhibit actually was a selection of the most important and best photos of rock.
The Science Fiction Museum and Hall of Fame is somewhat connected to the EMP. While Michelle and I were interested in checking it out, Robb was fascinated with the place and spent a lot of time looking at props and placards about sci-fi movies, books, TV shows, etc. He took way too many photos and eventually we tore him away from the place.
The next few days Michelle was on her own as I went to work. She hung out with another local friend for a couple of days. And one day she and Robb did some touristy things together, like visiting Ye Olde' Curiosity Shoppe, taking the Underground Tour, and visiting Pike Place Market. Since I didn't join in on those activities, I can't really speak to them. But in a future post I'll talk about the rest of Michelle's visit and our tourist destinations.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My First Comic-Con and Kerry Park

I'll admit it. I have a husband who likes comic books. When we started dating in high school I knew this, but it seemed like he wasn't really into comics anymore. I had assumed he was growing out of them. He's carted around with him, during our various moves, boxes of comics, but I thought it was a nostalgia thing. But in the past couple of years he has started to pull out those boxes and read them again. He's started visiting the local comic store and looking for books to fill out the series. I'm still not sure how I feel about it, but I figure it's a pretty harmless hobby. Plus, in the grand scheme of things, he isn't a real comic book guy. He likes a few series, but is not crazy about it (at least not like a lot of Comic-Con attendees!)

Robb was interested in visiting this year's Comic-Con. He told me I didn't have to go, but he thought I might find it interesting. So, because I love him and like to hang out with him when he actually has a weekend off, I said I would go. The people in costumes were pretty interesting. We didn't watch any of the presentations because most of them wouldn't mean much to us. I spent a lot of time waiting as Robb looked for specific comics. The whole idea of Comic-Con actually ended up offending me. Basically you have to pay for the privilege to get into a giant room where you spend more money on the comics you want to buy. I ended up enjoying the hour long show by Unexpected Productions. This is the local improv group (we've gone to their shows a couple of times.) They did great skits based on all things comic-book geek. Quite a few of the jokes I didn't get because I didn't have the base knowledge, but overall I could appreciate the humor.

The part of our day I did like was my first visit to Kerry Park. Before we spent our afternoon in Comic-Con, we decided to start the day with a picnic in Kerry Park. Robb had told me about this park; he had accidentally driven past it before I moved to Seattle. But he hadn't been able to find it again. He knew it was somewhere in the Queen Anne neighborhood, among the mansions, but hadn't been able to locate it. With the GPS we got at Christmas though, it's become quite a bit easier to find places of interest in Seattle. Kerry Park is a tiny strip of land that has the most incredible view of downtown Seattle, the waterfront, and even Mt. Rainier on a clear day. The view took my breath away. We had a lovely picnic lunch and enjoyed looking out on our Emerald City.

Capitol Hill, Columbia City, and Georgetown

So because I'm so behind on my blog, I use my husband's blog to remind me of what to post about next. I can read his and remember what we did and when we did it. Then I can write my version of the day and post my favorite pictures on my blog. It works pretty well. Until he forgets something, like our mini-neighborhood tour one Sunday.

So I'm pretty sure that in February or early March we headed first to the Capitol Hill area. We visited Dick's for the first time - an iconic burger chain in this area. The burger was pretty good, but for a Seattle chain, I like BurgerMaster's better. (Of course the best burgers ever happen to be here in Federal Way at Burger Express.) We then decided to use our City Walks: Seattle cards to give us a mini-tour of Capitol Hill, specifically the Broadway area. We saw a beautiful Gothic-style Baptist church, apartments that used to be an old fire station (the arched doorways were built to accommodate horse-drawn fire wagons), and Cal Anderson Park. Cal Anderson Park is built on top of a reservoir to provide the community a green square with really beautiful fountains.

Our next stop was Columbia City. The Columbia City neighborhood is attempting to revitalize itself and its main street is really cute. They've got a tiny library that is in the Georgian Revival style and built in 1915. Our biggest reason to head here was to visit the Columbia City Bakery. Robb has long been wanting to visit this famous bakery. We were not disappointed. We tried a few pastries, coffee, and a savory egg concoction that was delicious.

Our final destination was to Georgetown. We understood this to be another neighborhood that was attempting to revitalize and was somewhat funky (if a little industrial.) We drove there and found nothing. I've been told that they've got a pretty good bar scene - but at 5 in the afternoon on a Sunday, there's not a whole lot going on.

Our camera had technical difficulties, so we only have a few shots that we took with our phones.

Our First Snowshoeing Adventure

The weekend after we got back from sunny Hawaii we headed for the snowy hills of the Cascade Mountains. My running club has a "snow day" every year where members meet in North Bend and head to a snow park for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. I was really looking forward to this little day trip. On my 30 Before 30 list I had written down that I wanted to go snowshoeing. But I was too nervous to do it on my own. So I was really happy that I knew people who knew what they were doing and could show us where to go. (That's right - us! Robb had been interested in snowshoeing too and was able to take the day off and go with me.) We rented a couple pairs of snowshoes from REI the day before the trip and got up early the next day to head to the mountains.
As I recall, the weather was pretty good. We had an unseasonably warm and dry winter, and that day was warm enough that we didn't need heavy coats. The problem with the dry winter though was it hadn't snowed in quite some time, which meant there was less fresh powder (which I'm told makes snowshoeing more fun.) Our group kind of got separated into two and we found ourselves with a group that snowshoed along the John Wayne Trail. I think this part of the trail used to be train tracks, which allowed for a lot of room and a clear path. With hindsight, we think it would have been more fun to snowshoe through the woods and make our own trails, but as this was our first trip, I was a little nervous about leaving the trail by ourselves.

We really did enjoy ourselves and wouldn't mind owning our own snowshoes and doing this more in the future. So if anyone wants to provide a random gift, keep that in mind!