Epic birthday

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In the e-mails leading up to the trip, Bryan had been putting together an epic ride plan. He described a crazy-talk route that basically climbed up to a ski-resort (for ~23 miles.) A few of us said they’d be in (yours truly with the caveat that I would be turning around if it was too “epic” for me… ) But when I woke up to rain on the morning of the actual ride, I figured it wasn’t actually going to happen and headed down to enjoy another ridiculous breakfast. (This morning it was sponsored by our team: T’s bagels, pork sausage from our meat share and a wonderful veggie scramble.)

As we sat in the living room, working through our food comas, the discussion turned toward the day’s itinerary and whether or not the “Soul Crushing Death Ride” (as it was now known) was happening. The weather was steadily clearing up and becoming not much of an excuse. Bryan masterfully worked the group, first getting agreement from the obvious candidates – Khai & Dave and then turning his attention to T & I. T promptly threw the decision into my camp, saying he’d do whatever I wanted to do. (Bastard.) So, it was left to me to wuss out or not. I figured what the hell and decided to go for it. We set a time that still allowed a comfortable amount of getting ready/continuing to chill/even take a little nap:

The ride started with a 45 minute drive down to Oregon (WW is about 20 miles from the state line) and then parking on an ordinary looking country road. (Sadly, I didn’t take any pictures of said road or the ride that followed, though I wanted to take a ton – I just didn’t want to get off the bike to take them… ) The first few miles of the ride were a pretty decent climb – not horrifically steep, but definitely a climb. Khai, Dave and Bryan took off first and rapidly dropped T & I. I assumed that T was just being nice and staying with me, until I turned around to talk to him and he wasn’t there. I stopped and waited for him to catch up, assuming he’d dropped his chain or something. It turned out that the CrossFit workout was much tougher on him than expected and he was having a rough time. At this point, we’d been climbing for about three minutes, so I encouraged him to stick with it for at least another 15 minutes and if he still wanted to quit, we’d head back.

The ride was really beautiful, which always helps when you’re climbing. The weather was pretty much perfect, not too hot and not raining and even had patches of sunshine. You could see out over the valleys and farmland for the first five miles or so and then you got into pretty trees and forests. Jenn & Bryan told the story of the first time they’d ridden this and how they’d stuck with it for so long because they thought it was going to flatten out. I could easily see how this happened, because you’d climb up a section and there would be a little downhill or some flat and then it would go up again. After the first part, there wasn’t too much steep, just long slow uphill. This is my favorite kind of hill to climb, so I was perfectly happy with it. And T was feeling better and grateful to not have to keep up with the boys.

We just kept climbing and chit-chatting (and occasionally singing sections of the Nicki Minaj song I’d been playing on the car ride on Friday. Sorry, locals!) As we neared the 2 hour mark, we saw Bryan heading back down. We assumed that they’d stopped at a market or something and he was seeing how far we were from there, but it turned out he was turning around due to lower-back pain issues. We decided to climb until we reached the two-hour mark and then turn around, as it was getting foggier and colder (and T had forgotten his bike jacket, so I was already concerned by how cold he was going to be on the descent.)

We figured Khai & David were going to go all the way to the top, (and they were a separate car) so we headed back down the hill, hoping Bryan didn’t have to wait too long for us. As always, the descent was fun/terrifying and made you appreciate exactly how much you’d accomplished. There were a few sections of up on the way back that I hadn’t remembered the corresponding downhill or appreciated properly, but by and large, it was large awesome sections of flying down the mountain, without even having to pedal. I saw a cyclist ahead and was surprised when it turned out to be Bryan. We passed and T offered him a draft but then promptly dropped him (I told you he was a bastard!) which tells you how bad Bryan was hurting.

We flew down the last section to the car and waited the few minutes for Bryan to arrive (T had given him the car keys when we’d initially met him on our ascent/his descent.) We didn’t have to wait too long, enough time to load the bikes and stretch a little bit. We texted David that we were heading home, so he’d know what time we’d left and hit the road. Despite wanting to get home, we were also hungry and T had been promised ice cream all weekend. The only place we knew about was a fancy gelato place in downtown Walla Walla, that I wasn’t particularly enthused about but I wasn’t going to deny T ice cream a third time. Then Bryan mentioned he might know of another ice cream place much closer to where we were.

That ice cream place was the most perfect post-ride place ever:

In case you can’t read the sign, the place is called The Iceburg and their subhead is “Experience the Legend” and experience it we did!

Few things in this world taste better after a long bike ride than a fresh banana milkshake and french fries. Awesomeness. Then after we got back to the house, we hit the hot tub for some post-ride recovery (ahhh… ) Then it was all about the wine/food/birthday festivities!

First there was some pink champagne, while Erin kicked T’s butt in Scrabble:

Followed by an amazing BBQ dinner and some wonderful red wine. Then post-dinner, homemade cupcakes by Jen (complete with candles and singing.) It was a really great birthday and I appreciate having all of the elements of my life (health to ride my bike for ridiculous distances, a wonderful spouse and fantastic friends) that made it so. Despite all of my snark, I do appreciate how lucky I am.

I’m sensing a theme…

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Our arrival in Walla Walla was uneventful and despite a crappy weather forecast, we actually woke up to sunshine. Our group for the weekend consisted of Jenn & Bryan (with their girls Greta & Tyr), Erin & David (with Lucky dog), Timmon (dog-free), and Khai (also dog-free, who had driven down from Vancouver, BC.) We’d brought Smokey Joe, but boarded Wally because I wasn’t sure how well he’d do with all of the dogs and didn’t want to take the chance of it being a big nightmare. The best part of this group (aside from the witty banter) is the variety of crazy food skills.

Khai brought along coffee that he’d roasted himself, as well as a super cool antique coffee grinder:

We’d teamed up on meals, so Team “Culinary Dreamcrushers” (aka Jenn, Bryan and Khai) threw down with some home made waffles, ebelskivers, bacon, eggs, fruit and yogurt. It was an awesome spread:

Greta took over kitchen supervision duties from Smokey Joe, (who’d relocated to under the table):

Tyr was more interested in what was going on outside:

There was also a very impressive wine line up (for later in the day… )

After breakfast, (and some laying around the living room) we decided to head out for a little bike ride. The riding was as lovely as I’d remembered. But unfortunately, another theme started to show itself…

We knew the road from the house ended in a gravel road, so that wasn’t such a surprise. (Plus it let us get a little warm-up in before tackling the big hill by the house.) But after climbing and descending the big hill, we turned onto a nice country road that Erin & I remembered riding last year:

Oops. At least it gave us a chance to re-group. Here’s Khai rocking his awesome bike. (love, Love, LOVE the vintage saddle bag… )

After we rode back to the place we’d turned off, some of the group decided to head back to the house and a few of us decided to keep riding. Khai & David were faster than T & I, so they dropped us pretty quickly. (Especially when I stopped to take a picture of these cute baby horses)

Worth it! When we got to a fork in the road, I knew one direction went back to the highway, but I’d remembered riding up the other direction last year, so we chose that way, even though it contained a crazy hill (that I’d had to walk part of last year… ) This year, I made it all the way up but had forgotten one little detail:

Yes, that’s right, it’s the official sign of this ride:

At least we’re having fun!

And it’s pretty!

At that point, we decided we’d had enough riding and took the highway back to the house. After a little lunch, we headed out to do a little wine-tasting and meet up with the group. We even stopped at “lazy hippie coffee place” that we’d been to last year. (And yet again, they did not disappoint by shutting down their espresso machine 15 minutes before closing time. Sigh.) They did give me this rad shot, so I can’t be too mad at them:

Bryan and Timmion had been taunting each other with a CrossFit workout and even with the wine-tasting, it actually came to pass. I decided to pass in favor of a slow (and super ugly) run, but T joined in. (He crazy!)

After all of the exercising, it was time for more epic food – this time from Team “TMT” (Timmion, yours truly and T.) We did a big taco dinner, which turned out very well, if I do say so myself… There was also much delicious wine and some hot tub time. A girl could get used to this…

Fingers crossed

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We’re about to head out of town for a fun weekend in Walla Walla, but before we can hit the road, we have to take care of one piece of business: get the boy a job. (Hopefully) At the last minute, he’d had an opportunity to interview with an interior architecture firm in Bellevue. Here’s the boy all dressed up and in preparation mode:

While he was busy strutting his stuff, I had some time to kill in Bellevue. I decided to walk up to the shopping center to see if anything was open (or at least get out of the drizzle.) On the way, I took an opportunity to snap a picture of my favorite “bad pun name for pho place.”

Yes, it’s “What the pho?” I also really like the discount gun place in the same shopping center. Talk about one stop shopping!

We’re still waiting to hear the results of the job interview, but the position sounds perfect for T and they asked for references, which is always a good sign. So, everyone send good job karma his way and keep your fingers crossed. Should he land the job, you will probably hear my cry of jubilation from where ever you are… 😉

Spring!

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This week we finally got some blue skies and sunshine in Seattle. If live in the Pacific Northwest or have a Facebook friend from here, you’ve no doubt heard a lot of whining about the cold, rainy, craptacular spring we’ve had. So, the sight of beautiful weather outside made everyone a little giddy. And it felt like suddenly everything was in bloom!

M invited me to her place for lunch and despite the fact I was supposed to swim, I happily accepted. We had delicious leftover risotto and kale salad in the sunshine of her backyard. Inside, her kitties celebrated the sunshine feline-style:

It was impossible not to rumple Fergus:

I may not have been very productive training or work-wise, but since we don’t get these types of days very often, I’m not going to sweat it.

Time machine

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I don’t know if anyone else does this, but I often find myself ruminating on what it would be like if I could hop into a time machine and visit myself at various points in my past. Well, tonight was probably the closest I’ve come to doing that in real life. We went to a benefit performance of Mike Daisey’s “How Theatre Failed America” to help the employees of the recently closed Intiman Theatre (which was the site of my first professional theatre job and where I met T.) The occasion was obviously bittersweet on it’s own, but it was the first time I’d been to a theatre industry function since I hung up my directing hat seven years ago.

Because the show’s subject matter is geared more to the theatre communities, the audience was mostly theatre workers and you can tell right away that it’s a totally different crowd. First of all, theatre folks spend the time before the show starts looking around to see who else is there and who they know. The more flamboyant ones tend to stand in the center of the house making sure they’re seen. (To be fair, we do this all the time, it’s just more obvious (and hilarious) in a room full of people doing it.)

The show was really good and brought up a lot of memories for me, especially since I’d worked with Mike in Seattle during the time period he references at some points in the show. The show definitely brought up some emotions, but for the most part it was interesting how dispassionate I felt about the whole thing. At one time, I’d have been much more invested/upset at the state of theatre in this country. Lord knows, I’ve had hundreds of conversations about it in my lifetime. But now, I’ve sort of made my peace with the whole thing. I’d long been frustrated by how regional theatres operate and despite the hand-wringing about getting young people to care about theatre, how reluctant the old-guard that runs these institutions is to pass the torch to the younger generation and actually change what they are doing. So, it’s hard to feel bad that they are dying off.

It was an interesting evening and a fun trip down nostalgia lane, but I’m glad I quit doing theatre and joined the world of livable wages, health insurance and savings accounts. 🙂

Syttende Mai

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Although much of my ethnic background is Norwegian, I must confess that I am fairly ignorant about the customs and culture of my psuedo-native land. So, when M invited me to a parade in our highly Scandinavian neighborhood on the 17th of May, I figured it was just one of those wacky Seattle things. It turns out that the 17th of May is sort of a Norwegian version of Cinco de Mayo and is apparently kind of a big deal.

We walked down to the parade route and were shocked to see tons of people lining the streets:

I must confess that after being traumatized by junior high marching band that I’m not a big fan of parades. There’s usually a lot of standing around to watch random crap, but Ballard kicks the people watching up a notch. (Plus, M & I always enjoy a healthy dose of snark with our people watching… ) We were in a spot looking into the sun, so my pics weren’t too great. Luckily, M backed me up with her mad photo skillz. So, without further ado, I give you my favorite moments of the 2011 Syttende Mai Parade:

This kid is rad:

We saw a surprising number of antique strollers, but only one mom was smart enough to put a modern car seat in hers, so we didn’t have to worry for the safety of the baby’s spinal cord in the bouncy old-fashioned stroller:

This marching band was playing Quiet Riot’s “Cum on Feel the Noize” (although I’m sure their sheet music was the radio-friendly spelling of the song title… ) which was super awesome, but made me feel very old. (That song was popular when I was in marching band. In 8th grade… )

Other marching band gems included “The Final Countdown,” “You Can Call Me Al” and “Beat it” (which I also played in junior high band!) Now I feel ancient, especially since the junior high kids look like babies…

We were also treated to the dorky stylings of the Ballard High School robotics club:

The animals of the parade were just as awesome. There was a Swiss Mountain Dog that was happily eating candy off the ground while his poor oblivious owner waved at the crowd. She’s going to be so surprised by the terrible diarrhea from her surprisingly hyper dog…

There was also a younger Smokey Joe look-a-like with this adorable Newfie:

There were also a special (unknown) breed of horse that they were leading vs. riding and the worst job in the parade:

There were even some floats. This one had a fire-breathing dragon and a Norwegian spitting fish:

In the spirit of multi-cultural inclusion, we got to see the Scottish highland team (complete with bagpipes):

We were also treated to the comic stylings of the Swedish pancake flipping team, who actually flipped a pancake from frying pan to frying pan:

And a person dressed as a pancake being chased by a person dressed as a frying pan (not pictured)

But the biggest surprise of the parade was the unbelievable number of middle school children on unicycles. There were no less than five different groups of them, but this one was the most impressive…

And our final photo from the parade was the hippie school with their hula hoops and streamers. (Not to mention sandals with socks… ) M & I spied a young boy in an orange shirt in the front row that we think is T of the future (Love you, honey!)

Happy Syttende Mai, everyone!

Bus stop love

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This appeared at our bus stop this morning. Ain’t love sweet?

As is my custom when I see stuff like this, I wonder about the story behind it. What does Emily think about it? Is the guy that did it someone she actually likes or some creepy guy with a paint marker? I, of course, like to think it’s the latter.