June 02, 2001

USSR: Union of Seattle Socialist Republic

Days Nine and Ten: Portland, Seattle, and Bainbridge Island

The last couple days of our 2001 Pacific Northwest adventure were rather low key. I wanted Hoang to be able to hang out with her little sister (who lives out there) without me - the doofy boyfriend of only a year and a half at the time - bothering her. Turns out, I'm far more exciting to hang out with than Quynh, so I never made this concession again. (Just kidding, favorite sister-in-law of mine!) After our hot night of hip clubbing in Portland, we woke up late and made sluggish attempts to beat the required check out time. If my memory serves, the cleaning crew began knocking down our door at checkout time while we moaned and groaned. We finally got our butts in gear and hit the road north back up towards Seattle. The weather had finally turned "Pacific Northwesty" as a chilly, foggy rain greeted our trek. The one planned stop for the day was Mount Saint Helens National Volcanic Monument. It was more-or-less on our way and it was certainly a place that interested both of us. I drove to the park headquarters a little ways off of I-5 while Hoang slept.

Once there, we learned all about the 1980 eruption and the remarkable recovery the landscape has - and hasn't - made. We learned about the stupid people who thought they were immune to boiling mud and searing ash. We learned about how there are other active and dormant volcanoes in the chain of Pacific Northwest mountains that could very well erupt within a few generations (Mt. Rainier included). It was all very interesting and well done. Plus, the building itself was pretty cool. (Just check this out. I don't know how the space octopus put the aliens in the volcanos, but then again I'm only a Thetan Level 1, so i don't know anything: Before and After shots.

Then we learned that any drive into the Monument itself would be pretty useless, as the fog and rain only worsened as the elevation increased. I noticed a hint of joy in Hoang's face when the ranger told us this so I didn't push the issue at all. Apparently the "hot night of hip clubbing in Portland" had "tired her out" quite a bit and she just wanted to get to a comfortable bed or couch in Seattle. That's how she do.

I was a bit disappointed - by the weather, not by Hoang. If it was sunny, we definitely would have poked around the park a bit more. Though there was definitely a, "Hint of joy" on my face as well, secure in the knowledge that by not entering the Monument I was saving $15 bucks. That's how I do. On the drive back out to the highway, we passed another yard artiste's house. As you'll recall back on Day 1 of this trip, we passed this crappy place. And here, on the last day of driving, we passed a guy who makes Sasquatch's with a chainsaw. I probably don't have to tell you that carving wood with a chainsaw isn't the most precise or aesthetic way to sculpt. In fact, it sucks; it really sucks.

If you're wondering, Sasquatch/Bigfoot is said to roam the forests between Northern California and British Columbia. A year later, in 2002, Hoang and I did spot something in the woods... But you'll have to wait and see what it was. (Hopefully I'll have figured out how to configure the little video by then.) We drove straight to Quynh's place in Tacoma, did some laundry, repacked our stuff, took naps, and waited for her to finish her work day. We ate dinner somewhere and then drove up to Seattle for our last night out west.

Despite being a bit tired from our adventures, we made ourselves pretty and hit the town with Quynh's big city friends, including some MIT guy named Julian. Of course none of you care about Julian... But Quynh does now in 2006 ifyouknowwhatI'msayin, so that's all that matters. We hit a few different bars and I distinctly recall one horrible band at some communist themed bar. Ah, Seattle. A few of us hit a McCormick and Schmick's for some late night appetizers and a nightcap. I'd never been to this semi-upscale chain restaurant before and I was most impressed by the bartender. This place does it old-school, and just making a drink was elevated to an art form. All the mixer juices were squeezed fresh and "shaken" was taken to a new level; not cornball TGIF's "flair" levels mind you, but a level that almost justified the ridiculous prices.

We spent our last night at Quynh's friend's parent's apartment overlooking Pike's Place market and Puget Sound beyond - rather impressive. The next morning, we slogged our way through the rain to a fantastic breakfast place and then explored the Fremont Art District. It was populated by the expected hippies and freeloaders of course, but I didn't expect Vladimir Lenin to be there as well. Ah, Seattle:

I'd like a burrito with my Communism, please.

We had one more place to visit before returning to Connecticut; Bainbridge Island. Hoang's friends from her days at the University of Rochester lived out there at the time, so we made plans to hook up with them. We made our way to the ferry, passing the creepiest lunchtime performance ever. Some Christian Youth Choir from Idaho was singing on the pier which was all well and good. Except for the fact that the group consisted of, literally, 100 or so blue-eyed blond-haired perfectly behaved kids. You do the math: Idaho, Aryan youth, coordinated chanting... We were thankful when the ferry arrived.

We crossed the choppy Sound in a drizzle and met up with friends Jen and Dave on the docks. Wow, these guys lived in the middle of nowhere! The place was modern but in a primitive setting and beautiful. Dave had a workshop where he crafted handmade kayaks which I thought was the coolest. I'm just not sure I could live tied to the ferry schedule, that's all.

The 6 of us went out to dinner at a Thai restaurant on the island and fun was had by all. Except for me, who was missing a certain someone for the group shot:

After dinner (at which Quynh's friend attempted to eat the hottest peppers possible and subsequently took a few years off of his life), we ferried it back to the mainland, chilled at the apartment above Pike's market for a couple hours, got a ride to SEATAC airport, and took the red eye home to boring central Connecticut.

So that's it, our 2001 Pacific Northwest Trip. Our first trip anywhere together; one which Hoang deemed a "test" back before we did it. Although that designation offended me a little bit at the time, looking back I guess it was a sort of test. Fortunately, we passed with flying colors; we did everything we planned, I never took a wrong turn driving, the weather for the most part was perfect, and we had a great time. Such a great time, in fact, that we returned the following year to do it again! (Though we went to entirely different places, as you'll be reading about in due time.) Actually, looking at my list of trips to write about, the focal point of the next one a mere 5 months later was a little something about a diamond ring and a romantic setting... Keep reading!

Back to Day 8
Pacific Northwest Trip 2001 Home
Vacations Home
eXTReMe Tracker