Sunday, February 12, 2017

Seattle visit with Meg

Sunset over Seattle downtown
I spent two days in Seattle and this is as close as I got to seeing the sun!  Not bad, actually.  And since I live in Rochester I am kind of used to it.  After four days in the San Francisco area, I flew to Seattle to spend a couple of days with Meg.  She is here spending a well-earned sabbatical from her teaching at Lawrence University in Appleton WI.

Meg at the Pike Pub for lunch
I left heavy rains in San Francisco for constant rain in Seattle.  Fortunately the flight was on time and Meg picked me up in her Cooper Mini convertible.  There was room for me and my bags and that was about it.  He headed downtown to Pike Street and the market area.  We had lunch at the Pike Pub.  Meg stuck to her vegan diet but I had a luscious bowl of mac and cheese with copious bacon bits sprinkled on top.

After lunch we walked around the Farmers Market area and, of course, the fresh fish markets.  There were plenty of photos to be taken with so many interesting people and neatly displayed seafood and fruits.  There was a street band outside with one actual instrument as far as I could tell.  A lone guitar was accompanied by a washboard, tub bass, and a jug or two.

After we wound our way through several venues, Meg took me to the chewing gum wall.  What, you might ask, is a chewing gum wall?  Well it is a wall covered with chewed pieces of gum of various colors and consistency along with business cards randomly set into the gooey substrate.  I know it sounds distasteful and  it might but it is striking.  There are several photos in the album but a video is probably the best way to view it.

After this, we walked several blocks--up hill.  I learned that you are either going up hill or down hill in Seattle.  Rare is a street that is level for more than a block of two, especially downtown.  Meg's big secret surprise for me was a visit to the Starbucks Reserve Roastery, a place where everything Starbucks is available.  It is also an active roastery as the name implies.

We spent almost two hours there enjoying the physical location as well as a coffee tasting with a flight of four coffees followed by a tasty truffle specialty.

After I checked in to the Green Lake Guest House, we joined Meg's housemates, Trish and Kat, for dinner at Razzis Pizza.  You can see more photos of this first day in Seattle by clicking here.

The next day we got started around 10:00 in steady and heavy rain.  We decided this would be an indoor day and made our way to the Museum of Popular Culture or MOPOP.  The purpose is well stated on the web site:  "The Museum of Pop Culture is a leading-edge nonprofit museum, dedicated to the ideas and risk-taking that fuel contemporary popular culture. With its roots in rock 'n' roll, MoPOP serves as a gateway museum, reaching multigenerational audiences through our collections, exhibitions, and educational programs, using interactive technologies to engage and empower our visitors. At MoPOP, artists, audiences and ideas converge, bringing understanding, interpretation, and scholarship to the popular culture of our time."  The museum was initiated by Paul Allen, a co-founder of Microsoft.  It is housed in a 140,000 square foot Frank Gehry designed building.  The museum is adjacent to the Space Needle but the rainy weather convinced us not to visit there that day.

We spent almost three hours going through the permanent and rotating exhibits.  There is a special focus on the Seattle (Northwest) music scene.  The favorite, at least of Meg's, is the Star Trek exhibit which has many of the original props and costumes.  There were several models of the Enterprise which were used to film all those flybys.  Below is my humble effort.

A special treat was waiting next door at the Chihuly Gardins and Glass.  These dramatic glass sculptures are some of my favorite and it was great to be able to see them up close.  Due to the inclement weather, it was difficult to take photos outdoors. I was able to get a few good ones of the interior exhibit.

We decided to go to the famous restaurant Ivar's Salmon House.  The salmon meal was delicious and the view would have been spectacular with just a bit of sun.  Still it was lovely scene out the window looking toward downtown.  Click here to view more photos of this day in Seattle.

I left early the next morning and was treated to a nice sunset scene at Dulles Airport as my plane was leaving for Rochester.  The big snow storm missed Washington and Rochester as well.

Friday, February 10, 2017

San Francisco and Santa Cruz

Washington-Dulles with setting sun reflecting on clouds to east and an almost full moon risingh
I have just returned from my annual trip to San Francisco to visit Sean, Julie and Sam in Pleasant Hill.  This year I extended the trip a bit for two side trips.  First was down to Santa Cruz to visit Robert, Galen and Laura’s eldest, who is a third year student at UC-Santa Cruz.  The second was a bit farther, to Seattle, to spend some time with Meg who is on sabbatical there.  As I begin writing this I am flying home from Seattle.  Fortunately I will be connecting through Washington-Dulles which missed the brunt of the Nor'easter that is is dumping a foot of snow on New York airports and causing cancellations into Rochester.

This is what my backyard looked like when I left.
When I arrived in San Francisco, Sean met me at the airport since he had returned from a business trip earlier that day.  We used his car srvice for the trip to Pleasant Hill.  My flight had been delayed because of ATC issues at San Francisco:  heavy rain and winds had reduced landing traffic to 50 percent of the usual.  Thanks to some nifty maneuvering through downtown San Francisco the driver got us to Sean’s in a normal time.  Ten minutes later or a less skillful driver would have meant an exgtra hour at least.

And this is what Sean's looked like.
Julie works about half the time from home so she was there when we arrived.  It is always good to see her and experience her hospitality.  Sam was staying after school for band practice so I got to hear a bit of that when Sean and I went to pick him up.  

The next day was the last day of Catholic Schools Week with a special day at Christ the King Catholic School, part of the parish they belong to.  As part of the celebration, students were to bring a special person to school for a Mass and then a visit to the classroom.  I was honored
Sam in his classroom
to be Sam’s special person for this day.   We got back home and enjoyed a delicious lunch of Mexican food from Dos Hombres, one of their favorite places in Pleasant Hill.  I went to the Y as Sean’s guest for a workout.  The constant rain made walking out doors inadvisable.

After dinner, Sam had two activities.  He has been taking dancing lessons and is enjoying it.  His teacher, Tímea Potys, has always loved dancing but her father made her get a masters degree in engineering before she could follow her love of dancing.  Her day job is a faculty member at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.  She teaches modern dance with a strong Latin pop music focus and it was really cool watching Sam get into it. She calls her studio Sizzling Latin.

However, he needed to leave a bit early in order to make a basketball game.  It was a scrimage against another CYO team sponsored by the parish.  Sam’s team enters the league playoffs as champions of their division.  I have been watching Sam play basketball for five years or so.  I have seen him improve every year and this year was no exception.

The next day was Saturday and Sean and I drove down to Santa Cruz to see Robert.  This season has seen a lot of rain in California and we could see the results especially on route 17 through the Santa Cruz Mountains:  mud slides and accidents.  While we were able to get down and back home without a problem, that road was closed to all traffic two days later due to massive mud slides.  

We got to Santa Cruz early having allowed extra time in case we were delayed.  Santa Cruz is actually not really awake at 10:00 on a Saturday morning and that included Robert.  Sean and I spent some time just walking around downtown and visiting a bookstore that Sean knew about.  Around noon the pedestrian traffic had clearly picked up.  We met Robert at the Hexagon House where he lives.  This is four blocks from downtown Santa Cruz rather than close to the University although this is not a big city by any means.  Last year Robert joined the TKE chapter here.  While Greek houses are not permitted by local ordinance, all the students living at the house are brothers although not all brothers live here.  We met several of his housemates and they were very personable and cool to talk to.  Of course, Robert, I think. defines the cool college student.  Just look at him in his bedroom at the house!

After lunch downtown, we made our way back to Pleasant Hill.  On our way down and back we listened to Patton Oswalt whom I knew for his acting especially on Justified.  I was not aware of his stand up comedy which was hilarious if a bit risque from time to time.  As always it was nice sharing time with Sean.

Sam as lead server at Scout Sunday Mass
The rain continued that day and for the rest of my visit.  It was particularly heavy on Sunday which was Scout Sunday at church and, of course, the Super Bowl, the event that typically determines the date of my visit to San Francisco each year.  The game was one for the ages with that tremendous comeback by Tom Brady and New England.  At the end of the first half, I along with all family and friends in Western??S new York were ecstatic thinking that finally New England would get what was coming to them.  It turned out they did.  As hard it is for folks in Western New York to admit, Tom Brady is the best quarterback to ever play the game.  While this comeback was not technically the biggest in NFL history, no one will remember Buffalo’s comeback from 32 points against Houston.  This Superbowl will be The Comeback against which all others are judged.

The day following, Sam did not have school.  After I worked out again with Sean at the Y, Sam and I went to see Rogue One; Sam had seen it already but was clearly up for seeing it again.  We got home in time for Sam to go to altar server training.  He is one of the senior servers and was there to help out with the training.  After dinner, he had basketball practice.  He is one busy guy!

Click here to view the photo album of the visit.

I hopped BART the next morning and made it to SFO for my on time flight to Seattle but more about that in another newsletter.