Friday, July 31, 2009

Where The Buffalo Roam

Mike's annual family vacation was this past week. His mom had picked Yellowstone earlier this year as our rendezvous point. What was fun about this trip was that it incorporated our most favorite activity, the road trip, with a week full of family togetherness (Mike's parents, two siblings, three wives (Mike's oldest brother wasn't able to join us) and their five kids). Plus, it took us on a route that we had never been on before.
We left Wednesday morning for Missoula, MT, home of the University of Montana and right on our I-90 route. Our friend, Laura, had suggested we stop there for the night, rather than power through to West Yellowstone in one day. Apparently, Laura's not familiar with our driving endurance, but we decided to take her advice since we had an extra day to play with.
Missoula is adorable. A super cute college town in a super picturesque setting. Right on a lovely river that we wish we'd had more time to enjoy. We arrived around 4PM and immediately set out for a walk to the downtown area. Laura had suggested we stop at The Rhino because of their vast selection of micro brews. Mike really enjoyed sampling their IPA selection, and he probably would've stayed all night if Desi hadn't wanted to see more of the town. Afterwards we dined at the Dinosaur Cafe, which has the most delicious catfish po boys that will most likely be craved fortnightly. Thursday morning we hiked up to the M on the mountain before setting off for West Yellowstone. We took a very scenic route through Ennis and past Earthquake Lake arriving at our hotel around 3PM. We rendezvoused with Mike's family around 6PM. Our stay in Yellowstone was fantastic! The weather was awesome, consisting of phenomenal thunder storms, hail, and beautiful warm days. The park didn't seem very crowded and wildlife was plentiful. At last count we had seen two black bears, herds of elk and bison, two coyotes, multiple deer, and a bald eagle, complete with nest and baby.
video
In addition to getting to spend some quality time with Mike's family, our friends, Luis & Alysha, drove up from Salt Lake to spend a quick day with us on Saturday night. On Sunday morning we drove to Big Springs, near Island Park, and did a nice hike/walk together before going our separate ways.
When we left on Tuesday morning, after spending Monday checking out the Grand Tetons and Jackson Hole, we were wishing for more time to stay and play in Yellowstone. We could've used at least two more days for hiking and exploring. But, even with the seemingly short stay, this truly was a great vacation and one we hope to enjoy again someday in the future.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Seattle Happy Hour Favorites

Recent favorites include any place with drink specials and at least one food item containing truffle oil and/or salt.

Troiani - located in downtown Seattle, this lovely new experience includes $5 truffle French fries, $3 flat bread pizzas, and $5 lemon drops. On a recent trip we also discovered their free WiFi. Happy hour is from 1PM to close (seriously!) M-F and 5PM to close on Saturdays, which is perfect for post-show libations. The only downside is the parking situation. But, on a recent weekday visit, street parking was eventually found.

Smash - located in Wallingford, this neighborhood spot has sidewalk dining available, $9 truffled white cheddar macaroni and cheese, $6 fruity martinis, and $5 sangrias. Happy hour is from 5-6:30PM. Besides being in Wallingford (nightmare traffic situation), the only downside to this spot is the duration of it's happy hour.

Noc Noc - located in the seedy part of downtown Seattle, this old standby has no food specials containing truffled anything. In fact, I'm pretty sure if you asked for anything truffled you might get your ass handed to you by both the staff as well as the clientele, as it should be. With $5 PBR 40's, $3 food specials (including tater tots), and $10 bottles of wine, you don't really come here for the class. It's a good time, plain and simple. Huge, comfy booths and amazing people watching. Downside? There is no downside.

Dragonfish - located in downtown Seattle, this is an amazing happy hour spot for sushi lovers. However, there are several downsides. First of all, this place is very popular and there is limited seating. There is often a wait list for happy hour seats. Secondly, happy hour ends at 6PM so it's possible to still be waiting for a table when happy hour ends. Additionally, parking is terrible and the location, right next to the Paramount Theatre, is great for the restaurant but horrible for the customers because show nights make it ridiculously crowded.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Mike's Tattoo Experience

Mike's 33 year old arm, as it's always been
Mike being educated by Coyote at Apocalypse Tattoo
The stencil has been placed
And so it begins
Almost done
1.5 hours later, the finished product

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Mike's Big Day

Mike had a big day today. First of all, he officially became a professional artist. He was paid rent for the use of his painting at a city event for youth violence prevention. This painting was done as a group project during his 2nd-year painting class at the Seattle Central Community College. At this event he met a number of influential people, one of which was the mayor of Seattle, Greg Nickels. His painting instructor has become his mentor and is shepherding him through the process of becoming a community artist. She is the one that facilitated the introductions to Mayor Nickels and other city dignitaries. She is also the one that got Mike's art displayed at this event and has also mentioned the possibility of grants to create art in some select Seattle parks. Finally, today was also the day Mike got his first tattoo. After years of planning and careful consideration, he finally did the deed and now has a very beautiful piece of body art. Both of us are very happy with the result of his careful planning and both agree that today was a very good day for Mike.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Happy Anniversary!

We celebrated our 10 year wedding anniversary this past Thursday, June 25. We had a small celebration at The Local Vine post-work but saved the bulk of the celebration for the weekend when we would be celebrating in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.

After 10 years of living in Seattle, it feels as though we have been woefully neglectful of our neighbor to the north. We have only been to Vancouver thrice before and anywhere in British Columbia only 3 additional times (Whistler once, Victoria twice). Six times in 10 years, when less than 3 hours away from Seattle, is a sad commentary on our weekend priorities. What have we been doing with our time?

We left Seattle leisurely on Saturday morning and arrived at our hotel mid-afternoon. We were staying right on Robson Street, the main arterial north/south through downtown, at The Blue Horizon. We had dinner reservations at The William Tell and then strolled through the city for the remainder of the evening.
On Sunday we had breakfast at the crepes restaurant next to our hotel, did some shopping, and then jumped in the car to explore some of North Vancouver's parks. We drove through Mt Seymour Provincial Park and Lynn Canyon Park. We stopped in the former for a few pictures and just drove through the latter due to crowds. No hiking for us this time around.
After a sushi lunch outside of Lynn Canyon, we started States bound. We had such a great time on this trip that we've already got our next Vancouver weekend planned. It'll consist of Rodney's Oyster House in Yaletown, probably the same hotel, and a bike ride through Stanley Park. Plus, there was this restaurant that served only desserts that Desi really wanted to try but the timing just didn't work out. Next time, though, we'll be sure to plan around it.
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