Fish Out of Water

Musings and observations about life from an East Coast native now living on the Left Coast in the California State Capitol since 2004. This fish has made her home in Madison, WI (7 years); Portland, OR (2 years); Las Vegas, NV (7 months); Middlebury, VT (3 summers); Marne-la-Vallee, a small town east of Paris, France (6 months); Middletown, CT (3 years); and Marshfield, MA, the fish's coastal hometown 40 miles south of Boston (17 years).

Location: Sacramento, California, United States


Travels in the Pacific Northwest

Thursday 8/11
S was kind enough to agree to airport transportation in addition to cat care, so she picked us up @ 5:15am (yawn) for our 6:20am Alaska Airlines flight to Seattle. Given the early hour, we needed some coffee by the time we arrived, so we stopped at an airport Starbucks on the way to bag claim, figuring we had plenty of time before fetching the suitcase. However, by the time we strolled to the bag claim area, everything had been unloaded! We spotted our lonely suitcase in the Customer Service area and were reprimanded by an Alaska employee when we asked for the bag - Me: "We stopped for coffee along the way." She: "We need you to come get your bag right away and get coffee later." !!! We then headed to Avis to get our rental car and hit I-5 south towards Portland.

Our destination was the Lucky Lab Brew Pub on SE Hawthorne, where we met up with Ch, Sc, and Cl for lunch. Tasty food, but rather slow service. Great to catch up with friends and see how much Cl has grown over the past 3 years! We made a quick stop at a running store to look for Mr. E's favorite Avis shoes on our way to chez W & M.

While Mr. E napped, W, M, and I took a walk around the neighborhood and chatted. W made a great dinner with fresh veggies, poached turkey, shrimp, cheese, and bread, followed by homemade fruit sorbet and fresh blueberries. Yum! So nice to have quality time to visit with W & M, given that we last saw them in November 2010 for A's wedding, which didn't provide lots of time for in-depth chatting. I'm so glad they're both planning to retire next year and take advantage of the opportunity to enjoy life and their time together, given W's health challenges. Off to bed relatively early to catch up on some sleep...

Friday 8/12
I enjoyed a 40-minute run while Mr. E slept in and took a quick drive to the nearby Safeway to procure some Starbucks for the morning. We decided to eat breakfast out at Shari's Restaurant, a local chain with decent prices and fairly tasty food. The cinnamon pecan roll, however, was waaaay overboard...

Back on I-5 to Seattle, with a stop at a Mt. Saint Helens Visitor's Center about 40 miles off the highway to view the mountain. We considered doing a helicopter tour of the crater but decided to postpone that activity to another time. This turned out to be a good decision, as we encountered some unexpected traffic as we continued northward. Bleah!

Finally arrived in Sea-Tac around 4:30pm and checked into the Airport Doubletree. Fresh, warm chocolate chip cookies - yum! The parking fee was $20/day, but as we approached, I noticed several other airport parking options with lower rates, so we parked across the street at Wally Park, with an advertised rate of $13/day (yeah, sort of... more on that later). Mr. E did a short workout before we took the hotel shuttle to the airport Sound Transit light rail station to head to SafeCo field to see the Red Sox vs. the Mariners. Very convenient mode of transportation (and cheaper than parking near the stadium!). Our seats were in the right field bleachers - e.g. full sunlight - so we wandered around for awhile to check out our food and drink options. I got some treats at the bulk candy store (only stadium that I've visited with this amenity - yay!). I finally decided on a bento combo box that was a great value for the price ($12). Mr. E was less satisfied with his final selection of encased meat, but he did enjoy some beer.

We had agreed to meet at our seats, but when I got there, I realized the bleachers were just benches with limited space and no cup holders. In addition, the guy next to us kept spitting on the floor. GROSS! Not sunflower seeds, not even tobacco/chew, just plain ol' spit. EEW! I really couldn't stomach that, so I headed down to the next level to wait for Mr. E (handing a napkin to the spitter as I left and suggesting that he might need it to wipe up what he'd spewed on the floor). We sat at a table to watch for awhile and then spotted some empty seats in left field, so we walked over and enjoyed the rest of the game from that view. The only danger was the seagulls that wheeled in during the later innings and "bombed" some of the seats!!! We managed to avoid that outcome and decided to look for seats in a similar section for the next night.

Light rail and shuttle back to the hotel. Late night, but at least we won 6-4.

Saturday 8/13
Weight room and treadmill workout for me while Mr. E snoozed. Used our Hilton Honors meal vouchers for coffee and breakfast at the Espresso Cafe in the hotel, which serves Starbucks (good for Mr. E). Mr. E got in touch with D & L to make plans for lunch, and we used the computers in the lobby for directions and info for Chateau Ste. Michelle and Red Hook Brewery for our afternoon activities.

When exiting Wally Park, we encountered an unexpectedly high cost, due to some nasty taxes. Grrrr. The promised $13/day became $20/day - yikes! A very helpful employee asked if we had any coupons or discounts, and we discovered that AAA gave us 25% off, so we ended up with a final bill of about $16. Much better and still less than at the hotel. Phew!

Met D & L @ 11:30am by the brass pig at Pike Place Market. They kindly treated us to lunch, and I opted for a coffee & sorbet combo as we'd eaten breakfast so recently. Great conversation, great people, wish we could see them more often...

Headed out around 1:15pm for wine-tasting at Chateau Ste. Michelle, a quick look around Red Hook, and a tasing at Januik (thanks to D & L's suggestion). Then back to Seattle to work out (Mr. E) and read (Dr. J) before the game. We had realized that the light rail station was a short walk from the hotel, so we hoofed it to the station rather than waiting for the shuttle.

With Beckett on the mound, we figured we'd have a positive outcome... until he gave up a home run to Ichiro on the very first pitch of the game! *sigh* At least we had good seats with no spitters, and we hung in there to the end, cheering on our boys as they rallied and almost came back but ended up with a 5-4 loss. Drat!

Back on the light rail and walk to the hotel. At least we had lots of other Red Sox fans around to keep us company.

Sunday 8/13
I had a lovely swim in the hotel pool before we repeated our breakfast favorites from the Espresso Cafe. We decided to skip the day game and head to Vancouver in the morning with plans to find a sports bar to catch the end of the game once we were over the border.

We'd gotten a great rate through Expedia on The Sutton Place Hotel in downtown Vancouver. However, the $40/day parking rather was rather unappealing, so I had done some research to find long-term airport parking at $8.50/day thanks to a coupon. We left the rental car in the lot, took the shuttle to the airport to find the TransLink light rail station, and enjoyed the quick ride downtown.

The first room we were assigned wasn't yet cleaned and prepped, so we had a slight delay as we got another room. Mr. E asked the concierge for recommendations of nearby sports bars, so once we dropped off our bags, we headed off to G Sports on Granville Street. Got there around 2:45pm to find the Sox game on 1 screen amidst many screens of soccer. Only a few other folks in the bar, mostly Brits (including the female server). We were just in time to order the yummy BC Benny off the breakfast menu (eggs benedict with smoked salmon!) and to watch the end of another loss for the Sox. This was also Wake's 3rd failed attempt to reach that elusive 200th win. Darn! So glad we didn't stay in Seattle to witness that in person!

Back to the hotel to rest for a bit before going out to explore the Gastown area. Mr. E got another recommendation from the Concierge, so we ended up at The Pourhouse, a lovely spot that reminded us both of The Shady Lady here in Sacramento, but with more "regular" folks rather than a mostly young-ish crowd. Mr. E enjoyed his beers while I stuck with a local wine. We both had some tasty snacks - Devils on Horseback and a Scotch Egg for Mr. E, Broccoli w/ Almonds and a Lemon Tart for me. The live jazz trio provided great background music, and we discovered that our waitress will be moving to Sacramento later this month. Small world! She's a newlywed, and her spouse is attending McGeorge Law School, so they'll be living in the Land Park area.

On our way back to the hotel, we bought some souvenirs and a bottle of local red wine. Very friendly folks at the wine store, both of whom had visited (or at least driven through) Sacramento.

Monday 8/15
I did a 50-minute run along the seawall from the Burrard Street Bridge almost to the big metal sphere (some sort of science museum, I think). We grabbed breakfast at Starbucks while waiting for the free shuttle to the Capilano Suspension Bridge. Mr. E was determined to explore the whole area, despite his occasional fear of heights. We crossed the Suspension Bridge (230' high - about the same height as the shoulder of the Statue of Liberty), caught an informative 30-minute guided tour, tackled the Treetops Adventure and the Nature's Edge Boardwalk, and finished up with the brand new Cliffwalk. Mr. E was a bit light-headed by the end, so he sat for awhile as I picked up some souvenirs. Took the shuttle back to Canada Place and got lunch at Subway.

While we were eating, I glanced out and saw someone who looked just like Carla from "Top Chef" several seasons ago. Mr. E confirmed her identity, so as we left I quickly approached to tell her how much we had enjoyed watching her cook. :)

We rented bikes from Spokes to ride around Stanley Park and part of the seawall along the West End and Coal Harbour. What a beautiful day! We were blessed with amazing weather during the entire trip - sun, 70s, light breeze - perfect. Walked back along Robson Street and identified where we most likely had stayed during our first visit in 2003 (8 years - wow!). And Mr. E saw Carla again as we strolled - small city!

After we returned to the hotel, we went to the Business Center to look up some options for dinner only to find that there was a charge for basic Internet access - $6 for 20 minutes - WHAT?! And this was supposedly a luxury hotel with full amenities. Ha! I was quite annoyed. Especially since the Seattle Doubletree had provided both free Internet and free printing. Grrrr. So I consulted some of the guidebooks in the hotel room, and we headed toward the Yaletown Brewing Company for dinner. Mr. E had a tasty burger, and I had a fabulous Nicoise Salad with fresh salmon. Yum!

We asked our server for a recommendation for drinks, and she suggested Rodney's Oyster Bar a few blocks away. I was a bit hesitant when she described it as "very lively," but we figured we'd take a look anyway. Not only was the place very crowded, but it was also quite noisy - not my scene. We continued strolling along the street and found Society, which looked appealing thanks to its dessert menu and incredibly reasonable drink prices (starting at $6.95). I'm not sure I would have chosen this place if we'd seen the web site in advance, but it ended up being the perfect option for a Monday evening. We grabbed seats at the bar, and I ordered the Candy Collins, which came with a full poof of fresh pink cotton candy on top! Most unique (and tasty). We also learned that Mondays are movie nights, so "Forrest Gump" began showing on a big screen in the dining area behind us. This was accompanied by freshly-popped popcorn, which a server kindly brought us once it was ready. Mr. E had a couple of really good beers, including one that was a sample and not on the menu. We also left with a big ol' slice of chocolate cake for him to enjoy back at the hotel.

Our final stop was Yaletown Gelato, where Mr. E got a small cup of Stracciatella and I splurged on a big cup of Chocolate, Pink Grapefruit, and Raspberry (all nonfat dairy-free sorbettos). We managed to get back to the hotel with most of the frozen treats still intact...

Tuesday 8/16
We had a notice that the pool was closed under our door the night before - another strike against this hotel, as that amenity was one of the reasons we chose this location. Instead, I did Pilates and yoga in the room as Mr. E slept. We opted for a local Blenz coffeehouse for breakfast on our way to the TransLink light rail station to head back to the airport for our car.

Then on the road towards Seattle to catch our 5:40pm flight. We encountered a delay of almost 1 hour at the border - yikes! Good thing we'd left early. And good thing the weather was so lovely!

We reached Sea-Tac around 4pm and discovered that our flight was overbooked, so we'd have to wait for our seat assignments. As we whiled away some time looking around in case we ended up stranded at the airport, I happened to glance at the Departures monitor and noticed that our flight was delayed until 7:20pm. Hmm. We found a Customer Service area and learned that our original plane was delayed in Sitka, Alaska due to mechanical issues, so we'd instead be on a larger plane coming from Phoenix. The good news in this, of course, was that we would no longer have to worry about being bumped. But we did have to figure out how to spend the extra 2 hours in the airport. Lucky for us that Sea-Tac has a Vino Volo wine bar! We enjoyed several flights of wine and some snacks as we waited. A bit of a splurge, but at least it helped compensate for the inconvenience of the delay.

Our flight left around 7pm, so we landed in Sac @ 8:45pm. Luckily, S was flexible enough in her schedule to still come fetch us, so we got home to the kitties by aroun 9:30pm. Not too bad, but later than planned, of course.

Truly a fabulous trip, and one that gave us several ideas for when we return...


Anonymous Anonymous said...

My mom and dad really enjoyed your visit! I am so glad you had a good trip :). A

4:00 PM  

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