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Fish

May 13, 2007 Leave a comment
While in Hawaii we went snorkeling several times. I bought an underwater camera once and have posted the photos. Unfortunately, the photos are under-exposed and don’t look to good after cropping them, which I had to do since the cheap underwater camera uses a wide angle lens.
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Categories: Travel

Back from Hawaii

May 10, 2007 Leave a comment
For Valentine’s Day, I surprised Tracy with a trip to Hawaii, or natively Hawai`i, for our 5th wedding anniversary. We arrived home from that trip last Sunday, and even though I posted photos prior we haven’t had a chance for too much more because we just closed on a house today! More on that later.
 
We had a good time, but right off the plane and traveling through Honolulu in our Ford Mustang convertible Tracy received a bad sunburn. We both applied sun screen liberally from then on.
 
We spent the first few days in Waikiki and, to be honest, I didn’t really care for it. Bad traffic, too many people, and expensive shops; we can visit all that in Seattle. The highlight was seeing friends that live just a few blocks off Waikiki beach. On Tuesday Will taught Tracy and I how to surf. Tracy was doing better than I did, though I did get up for a couple of seconds on the last run before I lost the will to go on. See, I wasn’t wearing a rash guard and the surfboard gave me a horrible rash and I was actually bleeding out. Tracy had a rash, too, but not nearly as severe since she had a bikini top on that also covered part of her stomach. It was worth it, though. I did buy a rash guard later that day but, unfortunately, didn’t have the need later to use it at the North Shore, famous for its surf. The season was over and the waters were calm.
 
Thanks to Rachel Ray, we also found a couple of good places to eat down there that weren’t too expensive and had fresh native fruits. We ate quite healthy down there and are trying to do a better job back home now.
 
On Wednesday we made our way along the east coast of Oahu – stopping to see some sights along the way – till we got the Turtle Bay Resort. This is a nice but very expensive resort that, but we had some most-helpful help from our friends. We enjoyed our stay there, and even got to see Mila Kunis (That 70’s Show; Family Guy) since a movie was being shot there. We visited quite a few places, and I finally got Tracy to try SPAM in a SPAM roll at another place Rachel mentioned up on the North Shore in Hale`iwa. I loved it and Tracy thought it was okay. Now the way is paved for me to make grilled SPAM topped with fresh pineapple! Truly scrumptious.
 
It was far more relaxing on the North Shore, and I was later told to "get away" the place to go is Kauai, natively known as Kaua`i. Probably next time much further down the road.
 
I’ve posted a few select pictures below, but for the full experience go to Photos and select the album "Hawaii".
Categories: Travel

Flat Tire

March 16, 2007 Leave a comment
Monday night I drove my friends, former interns, and now Microsoft MVPs here in Seattle for the MVP Summit around. We went out for dinner with Tracy in Redmond, then I drove them back to the hotel via the long route, stopping up on Queen Anne where I took shots sometime back like you see below. It was night, but still beautiful.
 
The next morning I got in my car and started driving, but it felt squirrelly. Turns out I had a flat. I hadn’t gone far, so I pulled back into my parking space and fixed it. As usually, it wasn’t hard to change once I figured out where to put the jack. There’s a picture, but it’s not specific to my car so it was a little different.
 
Even though I have a full-sized spare, I figured I’d better get my now-spare fixed before I get another flat. That’s just my luck. I took it to Les Schwab – a place that specializes in tires around this part of the country – and they patched it from the inside, then put the original tire back on (since differences in tread wear can affect all-wheel drive). While it normally costs $12.50, they didn’t charge me. Must be lucky, having been a first-time "buyer". I know I’ll be going back there should I ever need to again, though I hope I don’t.
Categories: Travel

Snowing Again

March 2, 2007 Leave a comment
We have several inches of snow again last night at this low elevation (about 90 feet). Fortunately the beautiful, sunny day today made short life of the snow and traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as it was last time.
Categories: Travel

Back from Vacation

October 4, 2006 Leave a comment

Last week was our annual tailgating event at Jack Trice Stadium, home of the Iowa State Cyclones. Alumni and friends gather from all over the country. But before Tracy and I head down to Ames, Iowa, we stop in for some extra time with our friends in Minnesota.

On Friday our friends and we went to the Minnesota Renaissance Festival. There Tracy and I – after 3 years of saying we were going to do it – picked up regalia for costume parties and future festivals around the country, including here in Washington. I got a kilt in the Royal Stewart Tartan while Tracy got a dress to go along somewhat with it.

Saturday went down to Ames to see lots of friends, but two of our friends weren’t able to make it up to Ames. One of them decided to instead go into labor Friday morning and have a baby! Congratulations, Anne and Jose! We’re deeply sorry we didn’t get to see you. Iowa State won by a single point, which wasn’t a great feat considering we are Division 1A while Northern Iowa is Division 1AA. What happened after the game was truly spectacular, though: a long fireworks show! It’s the only one Tracy and I got to see this year after the mis-information given to the public by Kirkland, WA. That is, there was no fireworks show we saw on the 4th.

Sunday we met my cousin and his fiancé in Owatonna, MN, at Famous Dave’s right by Cabela’s. We talked for a couple of hours and enjoyed some really good BBQ. We can’t find any Famous Dave’s BBQ Sauce up here in WA.

Monday we almost didn’t get our plane. Despite having picked seats about 1.5 months before our flight, because Northwest overbooked we didn’t even have seats. We got some seats together at the very last minute while everyone was almost boarded. We made it home in time to go pick up Suzie at Paradise Pet Lodge in Woodinville. Suzie seemed very happy and the place costs the same as every other kennel around here. We have also had good luck with PetSmart in Woodinville, but prefer this place because it resides in the woods where the dogs can get out and get walks and the air is fresh. It’s also a more beautiful drive to pick her up.

We had a great time and were glad to see so many friends.

Categories: Travel

No Self-Service Gas Stations in Oregon

September 4, 2006 1 comment

While on our trip in Portland, Oregon, I tried filling up at a gas station only to be told that self-service pumps were banned. It turns out that New Jersey is the other of 2 U.S. states that do not allow self-service gas stations. From various news clippings online, it seems that Oregon doesn’t trust its residents to handle dangerous materials such as gasoline. I guess with staggering numbers of people igniting themselves in the other 48 states at the gas pumps, it’s no wonder.

So, if you’re traveling in Oregon or New Jersey stay in your car and let them do the work, but I wouldn’t recommend using a debit card. Giving away your pin code is just asking for trouble.

Categories: Travel

Portland

September 3, 2006 Leave a comment

Tracy and I finally decided to head down to Portland, Oregon, for Labor Day weekend this year. We didn’t decide to do so until a few days before hand so we had to make plans quickly. I also called my cousin who lives in Portland to arrange to meet him for dinner Saturday night.

After dropping Suzie off at the kennel since we were staying in a hotel the first night, we packed up the car, top off the gas tank, and 2 hours later we were a mere 45 miles from the gas station. We left around 2:40 PM on a Friday on Labor Day weekend, so the interstate was jam-packed with people who seem to fear S-curves.

With little time to spare, we attempted our arranged stop at Mount St. Helens. It was an invigorating rush to drive to Coldwater Ridge – about 45 miles from I-5 – before the sun set. It’s a good thing German-engineered cars are designed to handle such terrain. We made it with enough time to capture a few shots like you see below, as well as just take in the majesty of such destruction but blossoming life.

We made it into Portland late and got a little lost, finding the rather shady side of town often found near airports. Once we got there, our hotel room was quite nice and a welcome comfort after quite a long drive. The next morning we slept in a little and went to Multnomah Falls. I’ve wanted to get down there since my parents told me of it, since I happened to mention such a tall fall they had a picture of. Tall it is! Unfortunately, the sun wouldn’t peek out from behind the cliff but I think the shots still came off good. Tracy found out that the best time of year to go when the sun is shining on the falls is afternoon around June 15th.

After stopping by a couple of other falls, like Horsetail Falls where we took a picture of ourselves (my odd hand position is me pressing the remote to our camera and not thinking to hide it better), we went back to downtown Portland. We walked around and had a good lunch, then went to the Pearl District for an art festival. There were quite a few interesting and beautiful things there. We also thought Portland was like a cleaner Seattle: less trash, fewer vagrants, and well-kept walls and sidewalks. The streets weren’t quite as narrow either, which is wonderful consider how often a two-lane road in Seattle is no better than a single lane. We did find a Columbia Sportswear store. I do like Columbia. I’ve been looking for a waterproof soft shell (breathable and versatile) and found one there for quite a bit cheaper than at REI. We also found me a couple of nice shirts that are a bit different than what I have already. Now that I’m losing weight some of my more baggy clothes need to go.

Finally, we decided to find my cousin’s house. We met his girlfriend and another friend of his, chatted, and went to dinner at a fascinating and delicious restaurant. This place is a small chain that buys old properties and converts them into restaurants, hotels, and even theaters. This particular property was an old school, where the detention hall was a bar (there were several) and it had two restaurants and a movie theater. The gym looked like a banquet hall and there was still more we didn’t fully explore.

We did want to go to Cannon Beach where the famous Haystack rock formation is, but we wouldn’t have made it by sunset. Even before we left for Portland we doubted that we’d find a campsite since all tent sites were first-come, first-serve and it was Labor Day weekend. Now that Tracy has a different role, though, we’ll have more weekends to do things like going back down there. I’ve seen a lot of spectacular photographs of Cannon Beach at dusk, and it looks very romantic. We ended up chatting a little longer at the restaurant and headed back to Seattle. Traffic wasn’t nearly as bad as when we left and we made it back safely.

Categories: Travel