Urban Adventures 7/18/10

Time to start exploring more of Seattle.  Our first stop today was Ballard, and the farmers market.  We didn’t take any pictures but you can see some on this site = http://www.myballard.com/ballard-sunday-farmers-market/.  They have quite an interesting variety of things for sale, and we were surprised at the number of vendors selling meats/fish/chicken.  Organic of course.  Most of the FMs I’ve been to don’t have these items at all.  But it is a cool district with lots of nice looking restaurants.  We stopped for burgers at Hamburger Harry’s.  Burgers were ok, but good fries – mine were sweet potato. Yum!

Then we went to Discovery Park, which is south west from Ballard. 

We started from the south east area of the park, and walked towards the bluff overlooking the sound.  It was comfortably cool and overcast.  It was an amazing view from up there.

We found a road that took us down to the water level, and to the lighthouse out on the point. The clouds burned off as we went along.

What a lovely day it turned out to be!  Then we headed back.  And then we realized that we had to go back UP the steep incline that we came down earlier.  UGH.  As we went along the trail, we came to a set of stairs.

And then another…

And then another….

Finally, we made it back to the top.  Whew, that was more than we bargained for, but we did pretty well for a couple of old farts. 

Another excellent adventure complete.  Now, off to the winery for summer concert #2! 

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“Summer” Concert Series #1

I put the quote around summer as it sure hasn’t felt like it around here yet.    I don’t think we’ve even had a day that hit 75 degrees.  But we went to our first concert at the Chateau Ste. Michelle last night to see Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers.  We all know Steve is a great comedian, but he’s an awesome banjo player.  I’ve known that for a while, but never saw him perform until last night.  While it was really chilly, we still had fun.  We packed in our picnic of roast beef, rolls, cole slaw, grapes & strawberries.  Our wine selections were Riesling and Cinsault (red blend).  They were delicious.  We also bought ice cream from one of the on-site vendors.  Mine was chocolate therapy – much needed and so delicious, and Greg had vanilla.  Yum!  The band was really good.  They had a fiddle, mandolin, guitar, upright bass, and a banjo player in addition to Steve.  I also did not realize that he wrote the songs, including a hymnal for atheists!

You can listen to some of his music here = http://www.last.fm/music/Steve+Martin/+tracks

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Our Easter day adventure

We went to breakfast at the Crystal Creek cafe, where they have a plane hanging from the ceiling.  It’s sort of a WWII themed place. 

Afterwards we went to the Olympic Sculpture park.  Some interesting items here. Like the aluminum tree, the typewriter eraser maximus, and the Calder. 

This is an interesting ART installation.  I love how it set over a railroad track & street.  Just so unexpected.These eyeball benches are really cool.Interesting how the place it around the train tracks.

The Calder is so great at different angles.
  The Space Noodle!

Saw this house on the drive home.  Thought the fake dogs in pots were pretty interesting!!

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Our wonderful vacation Dec 09 – Pt. 2

Day 8-

§  Today’s stop is Dominica, one of the least developed of the islands, very green and hilly. 

We rode a bus to our destination which was a river for tubing.  On the way we stopped at a waterfall site. 



§  At the tubing spot, there was a welcome dance by the Caribe Indians, the original inhabitants of the island.  Fun adventure, but bumpy, long ride there and back.

§  We finished watching Vicky Christina Barcelona back in our room that night.


Day 9 –

§  St. Maarten.  Our excursion for today is the Rhino riders – they are like the mini boats and a waverunner combined. 

However, the bus ride took forever – an hour instead of 15 minutes due to traffic.  That cut our time short, and eliminated the chance for us to get into town to shop & explore. 

§  By the time we got back to the dock area, there were only 45 minutes left before sailing.  We were able to poke around in a few shops and grab a few souvenirs. 

§  Back on board, there was a sidewalk type of sale in the shop area, and we bought a few more things there.


Day 9-

§  Heading back to Florida now.  Our plan for this morning was to get up early to catch the sun rise as it was to be on our side of the boat now, but it was cloudy so we just went back to bed. 

§  Brunch in the main dining room.  It was quite an event.  Ice sculptures (Santa with a "bag" full of shrimp!), chocolate (milk & white) fountains, and a ton of food. 

§  A quiet day for us, we spent some time in one of the lounge/bar areas and no one else was in there, very relaxing. 

§  Gym time, then snack. 

§  Greg wasn’t feeling well, so he rested in the room, and I wandered about.  We had dinner in the cafeteria for the second formal night, and then sat in the hot tub. 

§  There was a card room area that also had some games and when we went to take a closer look we found there was a Yahtzee game, our favorite!  Even though it was missing parts, we managed to grab a few dice from a Monopoly game.  Greg kicked my butt twice.  Time for our glass of port, then off to sleep.


Day 10 –

§  Another sea day and it’s raining.  The ship is rocking a bit more today and making weird creaking noises. 

§  I bought the 2 CDs of the string quartet, we’ve really enjoyed them. 

§  Hit the gym. 

§  There was another wine tasting but today it was about pairing with food.  4 wines – Riesling, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon, and plates with different foods to taste with each.  It was interesting and surprising to see the difference in the tastes of the wines with the various foods. 

§  Dinner in one of the specialty restaurants – the Tuscan Grill, an Italian steak house. This time we dressed up a bit (but not quite up to formal).   Then margaritas, Greg was fascinated by the twisted straw covers!

 Of course we had filets and they were so good.  We also ordered one of the pasta dishes that included Kobe meatballs.  Wow, they were great and the noodles were delicious. 

§  We made one last round of the ship, and had to go back to our room to pack.  They take the bags at 11pm.  Sad to know this part of our adventure is almost over.


Day 11 –

§  We’re back in Fl, and we are able to get off a bit early.  There are busses that will take us to the airport so we can pick up our rental car for the next part of our adventure – Orlando!  

§  First, we make another stop at the liquor store to get Bryan some Glenlivet.  We looked at all the duty free shops and this place had the best prices.

§  Then we hit the road to Orlando, it’s about a 3 hr. drive. 

§  After unloading our stuff, we headed to Downtown Disney.  There are the usual shops and restaurants, but what used to be Pleasure Island is no longer an adult’s only place but they sell liquor from kiosks.  We stopped at one and ordered a Mai Tai, and whoo, they were really strong. 


§  We cruised through the shops and went to dinner at the House of Blues. 

§  Across the way was a giant 24-plex movie theater where we saw “Up in the Air”.  It was pretty good.  Back to condo & sleep!


Day 12 –

§  Went to the Magic Kingdom Park today, Xmas day.  Holy cow, it was really crowded.  I wasn’t expecting this, but we had a fun time though.   And at one point it rained really hard.


§  That night we went to the Grand Floridian Hotel via the monorail for dinner.  I forgot what a beautiful place it is, and it was so lovely with all the holiday decorations.

§  When we got back to the condo, we rode up in the elevator with another couple.  They asked us where we were from, and after talking it turns out we live right near each other in Bothell! 


Day 13 –

§  Disney Hollywood Studios.  We were really hungry and after checking the map, we went to the Sci-Fi Theater diner.  It was really cool – the seats were set into convertible cars and it looked like a drive-in theater.  On the screen they showed science fiction previews. 

§  E wandered around and then went on the Tower of Terror ride, it was pretty great and Greg had not been on it before.


§  We then went to Epcot, with the plan to have dinner there and see the special Siemens Base 21 area. This is a special lounge for Siemens employees.   But by the time we got there, the Siemens access was closed.  Boo.


§  As we walked around the country area trying to find somewhere to eat, we found the restaurants all booked up.  After a while we were so tired and hungry we ended up in the American cafeteria place, another burger style place. 

§  On the way out we ended up near a new ride – Test Track.  It’s like an auto test facility and the cars go really fast at one point. 

§  Back at the condo, we hit the hot tub and it felt good, but they are never as good as our one at home.


Day 14 –

§  Kennedy Space Center – Another ridiculously crowded place, they even mentioned it was the most crowded day of the year.  Argh.  Fortunately most of the way to see the place is via bus tour.  It is an amazing place.  They give you a sense of the size of the building where the shuttle is put together.  On the side of the building is the flag – each star is 6 FEET across!!


§  On the drive back, we stopped at a Wal-Mart to get a duffel bag as we needed more room for all the things we bought.  We saw these cute Coke bottles there.  (Yes, I am easily amused and I don’t go to Wal-Mart very often.)

§  Then we tried to find somewhere to eat but couldn’t find anything until we were back near Orlando.  We tried to go to Outback but it was full and most of the other places were super busy.  We ended up at a Lone Star steak place and had to wait a bit but finally ate, and it was almost 9pm by then. 


Day 15 – 12/28

§  Our last day.  We packed up and loaded the car and headed back to Epcot. 


We were able to get into the Siemens Base 21, and it really wasn’t that big of a deal.  They have a meeting space, and provide drinks and a place to relax.  The best part of it we had access to the front of the Spaceship Earth ride in the big dome.  As with most rides, there is a point where they take your picture.  At the end of the ride, there is a display area where you interact with your pictures and it makes a little video.  Apparently Greg made a funny face and waved his hand when the picture was taken as there was a weird shadow on his face.  They emailed us a copy of the video and it cracked us up with Greg’s goofy expression.  Go to my Youtube channel (lisacagle) and check it out.

§  We also used the fast pass process to get another ride on the Test Track later.  Such a fun ride!

§  In the meantime, we went to the country area.  In the Norwegian area, we went on the Viking Maelstrom ride, not terribly interesting.  We ended up getting lunch at the German buffet.  The food was pretty good and near the end of our meal, the German band came out to perform.



 We went back to the Test Track ride and then headed to the airport. 

§  Just after we got into the car, I felt a stinging on my neck and thought mosquito.  Brushed at it with left hand and it landed on my right.  Looked like an ant.  I shook it off and after it landed I squished it.  It really stung for about ½ hr.  When we got home, Greg figured out it was probably a fire ant.  Other than that, very little insect activity which was great.

§  The plane ride home was fine, but long.  No upgrade, but we at least had legroom in exit row.  We are very glad to be home after our wonderful adventure.

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Our Wonderful Vacation 12/13 through 12/28/09 – Pt. 1

Our Vacation 2009



Day 1 – 12/13

§  Fly from Seattle to Miami, shuttle to Sheraton hotel in Ft. Lauderdale.  Get in late, have dinner in the bar and off to sleep.  Ship leaves tomorrow.


Day 2 –

§  I realized that I have no flat iron, so we get cab to take us to Kmart and while I run in to get flat iron, Greg went to the liquor store and nabs large bottle of Grand Marnier for $22!  Score. 

§  Shuttle to ship terminal, got right on board with no problems.  The ship is amazing!  So beautiful. 

This is the view from our veranda.  We didn’t realize the life boats were right there.  But it was ok.  Now we know for next time.



§  Hot tub time.  We get out there around 8:30 and there are almost no other people out on the pool deck.  It’s weird, almost creepy, but nice too.  We had the whole place to ourselves. 


Day 3 – 

§  Excursion presentation, but didn’t really learn much more than what we’ve seen on the TV monitor in the room and the booklet they provided.

§  Pool for a while. 

§  A wine tasting in the afternoon.  There were 5 wines and a sparkling wine.

§  Cellar Masters wine room.  It smells like leather but is a cozy place.  The string quartet was playing – they are excellent.  We also find a cake in our room – they figured out that our birthdays were fairly close to sailing (his 11/14, mine 12/3).  Nice! 


Day 4 –

§  Decided to eat in the main dining room for the first time.  Turns out it’s not only lunch time, but an hour later – we passed a time zone overnight! 

§  Went to the gym.  It’s got a great view. 



§  Relax by the pool, life is rough. 

§  Dinner in the main dining room but Greg got busted going in with shorts on.  He has to go back to the room and put his black slacks on.  He remembered his dress up clothes for formal night

§  After hitting a few of the bars, we ended up in the main theater and the show that night was a Vegas entertainer named Mario D’Andrea, and Italian that grew up in Australia.  He was pretty goofy – played guitar, sang and told jokes – very “loungy”.   


Day 5 –

§  Our first stop of the trip – St. Thomas.  We have some time before our first excursion, so we walked into town. 

§  Rode a gondola near the port – got a great view of harbor.


§  Found a K-Mart and got Greg a pair of lightweight chinos to wear in the main dining room so he doesn’t have to use his heavier slacks, great deal at $15.00. 

§  Our excursion for the day was a mini-boat ride to a couple of snorkeling spots.  The first stop was a lovely beach, and then we went to a little cove. On the way back to the dock, we rode past Eric Claption’s boat, the Blue Guitar

§  Back on the ship, we had a late lunch and hung out by the pool until the ship left port.   


Day 6 –

§  We knew we were going to get up a bit early for the next shore stop, so we ordered breakfast in the room and ate on the balcony. 

§  This stop is St. Kitts, and we didn’t find any shore excursions we wanted to do, so we just walked around and did some shopping and photography. 

§  Back a bit early as the ship was sailing at 3pm so  we got in the pool as it had been hot and humid in town. 

§  We went to the gym, then dinner in main dining room. 

§  Back in the room we watched Bride Wars. (Yes, we know, but not a lot of other options)


Day 7-

§  Arrived in Barbados and we went on a boat that took us to a snorkeling spot with some wrecks

§  We went on a bus tour of the other side of the island. 

Back at the port, we shopped around a bit, but not much of interest. 

§  Had a great dinner – filet mignon for each of us and we shared the turkey entrée.  That’s the cool part, since the food is included, you could order as much as you wanted.  But overall, we really didn’t pig-out.

§  Later in the café bar in back, we tried to order the drink special of the day but got mixed up on what it was.  The bartender made this awful drink that had cherry liquor and it was really bitter.  We gave them back and got the right one – a snowflake martini.  It had raspberry liquor and was much better.  

§  Greg mentioned that he was not feeling great – stuffy nose so we headed back to the room.  We started to watch Vicky Christina Barcelona, but fell asleep half way through.  Such party animals!


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The Herbfarm Experience

We are members of the Chateau Ste. Michelle wine club.  We get 2 bottles of red wine a quarter.  This gives us the opportunity to try different wines, and also entitles us to advance notice of the concerts they host during the summer.  They have lovely grounds and you can bring your own picnic items or purchase food from a few vendors at the site.  We’ve been to concerts a few times for the last several years.  Each year they also host a wine club members event and offer us a choice of 2 free tickets to one of 2 concerts.  This year we chose Dave Mason.  We got to the site a bit later than we usually like to arrive, so we were somewhat flustered while trying to get settled at the last minute.  But we were able to get our free wine glasses (for the wine tasting, but we missed that), and throw our tickets into the raffle bucket.  The line at the wine tent was pretty long, so I decided to go into the wine store and get our concert supply.  When I came back, Greg said "guess what?", and I was worried that something went wrong since we were a bit out of sorts.  Turns out we WON one of the raffle prizes – dinner at the Herbfarm.  This is a restaurant across the street from the winery that is part of the Willows Lodge hotel.  It’s a small boutique hotel, and the Herbfarm is a 5 star, gourmet restaurant and probably the most expensive in the Seattle area ($195/person).  They do a 9 course meal which lasts 4-5 hours.
For our evening, it was a special event to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of a joint project between a German winemaker and the Chateau for Riesling wine.  Hmmm, my first thought was – damn, I don’t think I even like Riesling,  I’m a red gal.  But I’ll put up with it to get into the Herbfarm.   It was truly an amazing experience.  The seating was interesting as there were tables of varying sizes, and we ended up at a table for 8.  Across from us were 2 women that worked at the winery.  They were very nice and shared a lot of interesting information.  At each place, in the folded napkin was a booklet describing the restaurant, the special event evening, the menu and the staff.   Here’s a page that described the basis for the event:
Here is the menu, also in the booklet.   The name card was at our place setting, and the "small treats" were what is shown on the menu as mignardises.  After the appetizer – Treasures of the Salish Sea, the chef, Dr. Loosen and the winemaker from the Chateau stood up and described the remaining dishes and the paired wines.  It was really interesting.  The food itself – not sure I would ever choose to eat some of these things – "crispy duck tongue"??  But they did an amazing job with the wines, and I found the Rieslings to be very good.  There was one selection that was served from a magnum bottle which was only 1 of 3 remaining.  Quite yummy!  And the servings were quite small or one would never get to the end.

Our name card was in a brass cat holder!  Each setting had a different animal. Here is the dining room viewed from a loft library room.  Hard to see with the beams in the way.  We were in the middle table of 8.

There was even a separate booklet describing the coffee & tea selections, and each was served in an individual french press, with a strainer on the side.  And the cream was served in different animal servers – ours was an elephant.  All of the staff was involved with the serving process, even the owners.  The photo card on the right, was in a packet with a shortbread cookie that we got on the way out.
Overall, I would only do it again if it were free.  Quite an experience and glad we were able to do it.

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Another get-away

Greg and I are in Whistler, BC.  I found an opening at the condo group I belong to (Worldmark) earlier in the week and we decided to take a last minute trip.  We could only get Fri & Sat night, and decided to book a hotel in Vancouver for Thursday night so we could have as much time as possible up here.  It’s about a 5 hour  drive from Seattle, but we didn’t know what kind of border traffic we would encounter, so we thought the head start was helpful.  And it was.  We were able to sleep in a bit, and by the time we got to Whistler, it was about noon, after a stop for beer & wine.  Of course it was too early to check into the condo, so we wandered over to the village.  The condo is right as you enter the village area, so it’s very convenient (Cascade Lodge).
We found a place we went to last time we were here (Nov. ’06 – someone’s 50th) – Black’s Pub, and had lunch.  There is a nice patio that looks onto the Whistler base where they have a mountain bike course.   And I had some delicious Pear Cider – not too sweet, 7% alcohol.  Nice buzz mid-day.
Then we decided to do one of the adventures we had been planning – riding the Peak to Peak gondola.  You ride to the top of either mountain – Blackcomb or Whistler, then take another gondola across to the other side.  If you want, you can go down the other side, but even better – you can go back & forth as much as you want until closing time.  We rode up the Whistler side and there is a day lodge up there.  It’s really nice, they have great facilities for the skiiers.  I’ve skied there twice before – awesome.  So we went to the patio of the Roundhouse lodge and saw something I’ve never seen before (photo on right):
Of course we had to stick around for that!  It was still too early for the BBQ, so we rode to the other side, Blackcomb Mountain.  Holy crap – it was so cool! 
We checked out the other day lodge which is also very nice, and walked aroud a bit then headed back to Whistler.   We had a very delicious dinner – huge buffet and they had chicken, various cuts of pork.  The ribs were seasoned very well.
After we got back down, we wandered around the village a bit, then went to the pool at the condo.  It is much warmer up here than I expected, so it was very refreshing.
Today we went to breakfast in the village, wandered around a bit more – I was looking for a small day pack so I wouldn’t have to lug around my ginormous purse.  Found a good one at the Eddie Bauer store.  Tried to find something Whistler logo’d, but the only stuff like that was for the 2010 Olympics and looked more for a 10 yr. old.  Then it was pool time again as it’s very warm wandering around the village.  After we cooled down a bit, it was time for a late, light lunch and our next adventure – ATV ride.  We were taken up to a spot just northeast of the village.  The trails we took were considered "intermediate" as we’d done this several times before and didn’t want to get bogged down by the beginners.  But it was a bit of a challenge anyway as it was a lot of traversing over big rocks.  We did fine, and it was just 4 of us in the group which helped us keep up a good pace.  We bought a dinner package and were expecting the usual sandwiches or bbq, but instead they dropped us off at the Jack Nicklaus country club restaurant!  And here we were all dusty and messy.  It was great – Cesear salad, salmon, and chocolate cake for dessert.  I saved most of mine to have back at the condo as I needed to finish the bottle of Shiraz we opened last night.  Mmmm, love red wine and chocolate.  We’ll have pictures later of the ATV ride.
Tomorrow, we are thinking of going for a bike ride, then back up on the Peak to Peak gondolas.  We bought a 2 day pass as it was only $10 (CAD) more.  That was a great idea.  I can’t wait to go back up.  And then, we’ll head back to Seattle after another wonderful adventure. 
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