|One time when we were living in Plano, Texas, Steven and I had spent nearly two full days deep cleaning our home. Tara, who must have been two at the time, toddled up to us and asked, "Are we having company?"
She is nothing if not perceptive. :)
It is true, that there is no better motivator than company when it comes to tackling projects that have long been put on the back burner. My friend Dana was arriving for a five-day visit, so now we had to face what we had been avoiding - shampooing carpets and our living room furniture. It was long overdue, and Dana's arrival was just the push we needed to get the job done.
I have known Dana for 23 years, though we have seen little of each other for nearly a decade, and not much during the decade before that. We worked together at a small PR firm in Dallas during the late 80's. We bonded instantly, and despite not seeing much of each other over the years after moving on from our jobs, that bond remained intact. So when we reconnected on Facebook earlier this year, we decided a visit was in order. Since Dana had never been to the Pacific Northwest, she was thrilled to be able to travel to see us. And we were thrilled to show her around our adopted city.
Dana arrived Saturday morning, and after dropping off her luggage at the house, she and I headed out for some lunch and a driving tour, stopping along the way at some of the more scenic sites. A friend of hers had mentioned she should try the pie at Twede's in North Bend, made famous by the coffee-swilling, pie-eating agent Cooper from "Twin Peaks". Along the way we stopped to visit Snoqualmie Falls and take in some beautiful fall colors. The weather could not have been more perfect, though the pie left a lot to be desired. Steven said we should have had the cherry pie, not apple, but in any case, the pie sucked, and it was expensive.
After a lovely dinner of grilled salmon, we turned in early to rest up for our very busy Sunday. Our first order of the day was to drive to the Fall City Grill for breakfast, which included their famous Oatmeal Blueberry Pancakes. I don't eat these often, but when I do, I slather on the butter and syrup and enjoy every last bite. These pancakes are such a fan favorite that the restaurant was included in our local PBS on-air cooking fundraiser, and the recipe is in the cookbook, which I own. I think these pancakes will be among my favorite when we are full-timing. Following our delicious breakfast treat, we wandered down to the Snoqualmie river for some photo opps, then on to Remlinger Farms in Carnation before heading home to pick up Steven.
Our ultimate goal for the day was to head into Issaquah to attend the 40th annual Salmon Days Festival. This festival is a big damn deal around here, and with the sunshine and mild temperatures, we were among the 180,000 enjoying the sights, tastes and sounds of Salmon Days. The highlight, as always, is going to the fish hatchery next to the creek filled with thousands of salmon returning from the Pacific to spawn and then die. The salmon journey from the Pacific Ocean through Puget Sound, through the ladders at the Ballard Locks, through Lake Union into Lake Washington, then up the Sammamish River into Lake Sammamish, and finally they miraculously find their way home to Issaquah Creek and the hatchery. Given the journey those fish had to take to get back to Issaquah from the Pacific, I can assume with a reasonable amount of certainty that they are tired and somewhat pissed off. I would be. They looked gnarly, and there was a fair amount of fighting going on among the larger of the males. And those dudes have some serious teeth! I did not know that.
Many of the returning salmon spawn in the creek, but some make it up the fish ladder of the hatchery and into the holding tanks. Their spawning efforts are helped along by hatchery staff who harvest eggs and sperm, then send along some the fish remains to various processing companies that turn the salmon into a multitude of things, including pet food. Others are returned to the creeks to become nutrients for future generations of salmon.
All in all we had a fabulous time at the festival. I gave into my once-a-year desire for a big fat block of greasy curly fries, which were delish.
Monday morning Steven, Dana and I headed into Seattle for the must-see trip to Pike Place Market. We were also scheduled for the 2-1/2 hour Argosy cruise from Lake Union through the locks in Ballard. It was another gorgeous day, and we enjoyed our outing very much. Afterward, we snagged some fresh crab, pears, gorgonzola and sourdough bread for our dinner, and then headed home.
Tuesday was Dana's final full day, so we opted to drive to Tacoma to see the Museum of Glass and all the installations of Dale Chihuly. Dana is a fan, as are we, and Steven and I had not yet been to this museum. Though Steven had to work early, he was home by 9:30 a.m., so while we waited for him to return home, I went online to print driving directions. It was then I learned that the museum was closed on Tuesday. ARRRRGH!!
We decided instead to visit the Seattle Art Museum, specifically to see the Andrew Wyeth exhibit. We found a fabulous parking space right across from the front door of the SAM. We could not believe our luck! Of course, the reason for this is that, like the Museum of Glass, the SAM is also closed on Tuesday. Double ARRRRGH!!!! Why it didn't cross my mind to check that out online I'll never know.
In any case, we headed into Pike Place Market for a second trip through the shops. We wandered through the alleys and backstreets, and passed by Kells, an Irish pub. The lunch menu was too much for Steven to pass up, so in we went for some corned beef and cabbage, Irish stew for me, and Dana's lox and brie sandwich.
After lunch we headed to the Space Needle and went up to the top to take a look around. It was a beautiful day, though a bit of haze prevented us from experiencing Mt. Rainier in all its glory. Still, it was all beautiful.
Twice we had visited Beecher's cheese shop, and we decided that their famous Mac and Cheese would make an excellent dinner. We opted to buy it at our local grocery store rather than schlep it home from downtown Seattle, and it was as good as I remembered it to be.
Since Dana had an afternoon flight on Wednesday, we drove into Issaquah for breakfast, then visited the Boehm's Chocolate shop. We had hoped to take a tour of the facilities, but naturally, they only give tours on TUESDAY, so we missed out on that, too. Dana and Steven bought chocolates, however, so not all was lost.
After dropping Steven off at home, we loaded up Dana's luggage and headed for the airport. Five days just flew by, and it was sad to say goodbye to my friend. I was so glad to have this opportunity to reconnect. We laughed so much recounting all the situations we managed to get ourselves into back in our PR days. We really had so much fun, and it was fun to share all our stories with Steven. Thank you, Dana, for taking time and making the effort to travel to see us. I love you dearly. :)
With Dana's trip complete, I am now completely out of distractions. It is time to pick up where I left off with packing. I am dreading it, as always, but still determined to make progress.